Posted on 03/18/23 at 9:51pm by FLAMBERGE
Event: ReVival 25
I’m so proud of you that if it wouldn’t undermine everything we’re hate-building together, I would cry right now.
It would come out through your tear ducts, of course, because physiology – but don’t stress about the mechanics of the thing, I’d make sure you’d detach yourself from the whole moment if that happened. Besides, it’s not going to happen! Forget I said anything about crying. Focus on the pride part. ANOTHER win, and now you get to turn another old barnacle from the roster into glue! In the main event, no less!
I think you earned a treat, Kid. You did real good out there, even when I agreed to let you dip your toes into steering the ship – you kept it bottled in, you swallowed it down, you didn’t let anyone get a peek under the proverbial hood – then, unleashment! You won! Again! And you know what winners get, don’t you?
They get the fame and the glory. They get shiny prizes, eventually. Look at you, all shredded and smoldering on that poster for ReVival 25…we made that, you and I.
Together forever. You’re the Protagonist of PRIME. A winner is you, my friend.
And you know what else winners get? Winners get the good brain juice. Little splishy splash of your old pal Dopamine. Don’t listen to the amateurs who call it the “happy hormone”, this isn’t for happiness. This is for achievement. You realize it’s been nearly six months since you lost a singles match here?
Hey hey hey – focus back on me. We can work on refueling those specific hate hormones from that smug sonofabitch Nate Colton another time, but that’s not why we’re here right now. Let’s spend a little time with the gratification of a job well done – not TOO much time, of course – just enough to remember why it’s good I’m lodged back here in my little cozy hobbit hole in your mind. Here we go, I just pressed the Minor Victory Reward Button, you should start feeling something here…
…..oh yeah. That’s the stuff.
Weird thought, but we’re only splish splashing for a little while and now’s the safest time to ask. What’s the main way you used to get this button pressed? Atken had it moved to my office when I got here, but he didn’t really explain where it came from. Probably for the best – we like to start from a clean slate. I think Phile calls it the…well, the Clean Slate method. Clears up some annoying cobwebs that can just get in the way of what we’re doing here – which is winning, right? Winninnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnng maybe you can tell I just pressed the button again you’re welcome.
He must have known where the button came from, right? You can’t move a thing without knowing where the thing started.
I’d ask you to full-on show me what used to give you a sense of accomplishment, but that’s too risky of being the other thing. We don’t do the other thing, we do this thing. It doesn’t matter where it came from. I’ll just put a pin in it.
Right, I think that’s enough time with the good brain juice. Let’s snap you out of it, here we go:
Haaaaaaa, that always works. See you later, Julien – welcome back, FLAMBERGE.
That’s one thing I appreciate about you now that I know you’re fully committed to our methods here – you snap back into place so quickly now. WAY better than those times before you met Phil, when you were running around with Darby for too long.
Yes, he’s calling you again. Yes, you’re going to let it go to voicemail again. That’s some good discipline. Like those dogs you see running those agility courses – you’re well trained. You know how to follow directions.
That’s a side of you I’ve been doing a little digging into ever since you started this little “look but no touch” war of words with The Anglo Luchador, by the way. There’s some sort of restraint you’re showing here that’s a little unusual to me, all things considered. You and Nate Colton, you and Brandon Youngblood? The two of you in the same BUILDING was usually enough to set off some sort of physical confrontation…what’s different about TAL, I wondered? Why haven’t you hit him, even once?
He deserves it more than most people in PRIME, after all. Self-important ass. Always making noise in order to be heard, always assuming he knows so very much, always ready to talk at you instead of to you. Especially with his thumbs on his smartphone.
I know you’re still on board with the plan about glueifying the son of a bitch, so as the captain of your ship, it’s important we examine this further. What’s different this time?
…something’s lighting up on my switchboard back here, hang on. (gosh, by the way – have I told you how much I appreciate the way this whole system is set up? I tug and pull and poke and prod at these little synapse connections until answers to my questions reveal themselves? You’re doing a wonderful job letting me roost here. Most people, they do the other thing as a way to – how do they phrase it – “work through it”. You’re a leaner, FLAMBERGE – you lean into this shit all the way, and these daggers may end up stuck in here for a long time but that’s only because you know it makes you a machine in the ring. Kudos. And kudos for finding a way to ignore your mother’s push for the whole “therapy” thing – like we both know, we don’t do that other thing. Your mother’s great, which is a problem for another time, and you’re killing it at compartmentalizing this shit. This parenthetical is getting long. I’ll stop whispering.)
I don’t even think YOU know why this particular memory is lighting up, but I promise you Kid, it’s practically a Clark Griswold light show back here which is all the signal I need. Let’s just sink into it. I bet I’ll find it for you along the way.
We’re back in lycee, I see – you’ve grown another year. We’re back in the locker room, aren’t we – I remember here from last time. I assume that means?…yep, there’s Henri, and ha! They gave him a whistle and a clipboard! Marvelous, this is going to be horrible and weird, I can already tell.
Oh, oh, hang on, it looks like he’s going to say something, let’s watch.
Henri Lavigne: Attention, les hommes – aujourd’hui, nous organisons un nouvel exercice. Ça s’appelle courir. A la piste, vite.
Ah, running, that’s pretty normal…why does every high schooler in the room look nervous all of a sudden? Hang on, I need to dig through some files on this, I think.
One moment, one moment…ah!
This isn’t “a new drill called running” – he’s been doing this to you all every practice for the last month, hasn’t he. It’s not “running” to you guys – you all had a different name for it entirely. “Silent Running”, is it? I see two bullets written down on the record here, one of them’s a little fuzzy – wait, hold on.
One of the kids just sighed, we all heard it. Uh oh. We’ve seen that look from Henri.
…oh, you can’t shove kids off of benches, Henri. That’s a crime, probably – right? Maybe? I’m not an expert on that part, I guess. Ah, and now the kid is doing push ups. See this all tracks with the first bullet point I can read here pretty clearly – when it was time to run, you were all made to oblige silently. “Yes sirs” aren’t even allowed – huh, you’d think Henri would be all about that sort of thing.
Ok, so all the kids have to do this silently or they’re punished. I get that now – I think that’s a military thing, actually. Oh, one of the other kid’s moms was in the navy? That’s cool. It’s all clicking now, let’s carry on.
…boy, you look tired in this recap. How’s your sleep schedule? Was it as bad then as it is now? At least now, there’s the illusion of choice in the matter – you sure can anger-simmer yourself awake all night, can’t you, like a low French boil – but back then, that must have been an adjustment. You’re really struggling to make it to the track, aren’t you…but hey, credit, it looks like you’re doing a good job of staying quiet enough to avoid some wrath here.
The building door’s been flung open by one of your teammates, you’re all making your way outside – oh shit, kid, what time is it? Is THAT why you’re so bleary-eyed? The sun isn’t even up yet! …how early are kids allowed to be at school in France for this sort of thing? You didn’t ask? Fair. Scary question.
Alright, you’re all making your way over to the dirt track, looks like your classic 400 meters, let’s see how many laps you’re doing this morning. Take it away, Henri!
Oh, yep, ow – that’s the whistle they gave him! That thing is hiiiiigh pitched, Kid. How are your ears intact from that? Oh, you have a low level of tinnitus all the time now? And when it’s too quiet in your flat it’s all you can hear? And Phil said to think of it like resistance training? Cool. Cool cool, I dig that. Yup. Useful.
Everyone’s off to the races – you’re doing pretty well out there, aren’t you? First through the turn, that seems to be the normal state of things here, all your classmates seem to be following you in what can only be described as a Teen Herd. Who’s that one in the back sucking wind and falling further and further behind with every step? You don’t know him? Fair, why would you associate with someone like that? Ugly ass. He’s embarrassing the whole team out there with that effort. Does he have a name on his – yep, you can see it if you look in the right spot. You’ve actually seen it dozens of times out of the corner of your eye in the locker room, stolen glances here and there that you can’t help making. Right there in permanent marker on the back of the fat band of his hiked-up tighty whities –
Shut the front door – not THAT Jordan, is it?? NO, FLAMBERGE, STOP IT! That kid?? He’s the one you were all in a mess over with the plane ticket and –
Sorry, yep! I’m dialing it back in and putting a separate pin in that one for a moment. He’s not the reason we’re exploring this space right now, we’ve gotta refocus here. Jordan (heeeeeee, I can’t believe this, you stupid piece of shit) is clearly going to be in danger of getting lapped eventually – we can revisit that scenario later. You’re nearing the end of that straightaway and heading into the final turn of this lap. Looking good, of course, in front of the school of fish behind you (and the lone asthmatic straggler a full half-lap behind at this point).
Henri’s taking notes. Why is he taking notes? What ARE the notes? Let’s try reading his face, maybe it will give something away. … …..nope, stone-faced. He’s looking you dead in the eye while he’s writing…is it good? Is it bad?
You remember to focus on just the running and the silence and press onwards. Henri has flipped the page and is looking past you now, probably at whoever’s in second place. More notes.
Ahhhhh, the second little bullet point about this little Silent Running trauma is getting a little clearer to me.
It’s not just about your silence – it’s about your father’s silence as well.
Did he ever tell you what he was writing about you, FLAMBERGE? Did he ever tell you if you ran well, if you were improving, if he could see you were struggling?
…you’re on lap two now. A couple other kids on the other team who were almost as athletic are you, they’re catching up to you now. You know these guys, they’ve been friendly rivals with you for a while now. If I have it right, the usual bet was that whoever came in third out of you three had to do devoir de mathématiques for the other two that day?
Pretty good situation for you, all things considered. You never finished third, so you never had to do the work you didn’t want to do – and because your friends aren’t THAT smart, your grades were never high enough to draw any suspicions of cheating. Jordan looked like the kid that probably got high marks in math – another reason not to associate with him, I think (you fucking dork, I still can’t get over this, no YOU shut up).
…hang on. Your running buddies have fully caught up to you, and you’re running three-wide on the track. This is interesting! You’re nearing the back half of the second lap of the morning now – Henri’s whistle isn’t up to his mouth, so you know that this isn’t the last lap – so you’re keeping pace. Can’t burn through your energy too quickly or there will be nothing left at the end of training. Turning the corner now – one of your buddies ended up on your inside shoulder. You’re now in second place. Henri’s taking more notes – oh no. What’s he writing? Is he going to tell you that, either? Surely it’s gotta be something bad. You’re not winning anymore, which means you’re failing, which means you’re a failure…but just for now. You’ve passed the starting line again, 800 meters are complete. Henri has pulled the whistle to his fat sloppy-mustache-ass lips, it’s definitely final lap time. 1200 meters today – nice round number, I guess. It’s not any sort of official track and field distance, or anything, but your dad’s not exactly a track and field coach, either. Sometimes you all ran one lap, sometimes as many as six. Three feels pretty middle-of-the-road and unspectacular.
Hey again, poor sweet baby Jordan. You’re being lapped now. Oh, now that’s a little mean – your buddy on your outside shoulder kicked up some extra dirt as you all ran past Jordan and now he has to stop to cough through all the extra dust! It’s fair, though. He’s less than you. Everyone is…including your two buddies here.
It’s time to turn it up a gear, I can feel it too.
And so you go…you’ve always had that gear in you. Ever since you decided to take up sports. The “fuck you” gear, the one where you don’t mind damaging yourself if it means you destroy someone else…and this time, destroying means winning this race definitively. You figure your father has to be judging you for getting caught on that second lap, even if he won’t say a word about it. He wrote things! You don’t write things unless you’re judging, in one way or another.
Way to pull away, Kid! I had a feeling you’ve always felt like you were the best athlete in the roo-ruh oh. You just slowed down. Now you’re skipping on your left leg – what happened? You can’t put any weight on your right calf. Is it a tear? Is it just a cramp? Hard to tell from here, all we can see is that you’re about to – yep, you’re curled up in a ball on the ground now. How are you still silent through this? THAT’S dedication to the bit, Kid. Well done.
Your buds just passed you. Did they even look back to see if you were ok? Hard to say from here – you were in a lot of pain at this moment, so it’s skewing parts of the playback from my end. Sort of like a lens refracting some light? It seems to be piercing pain, because the view keeps cutting for me in a piercing and jagged way.
There’s the herd of other kids passing you now. Silent, apart from the sounds of feet on dirt.
Your dad’s not coming over to check on you. He’s writing something down again, though. Just about everyone has crossed the finish line by this point.
…did Jordan end up stopping?
WHEW, welcome back. The Alamo! Chicken fried steak! Denim! – good, you’re with me in the present again. Here in shithole San Antonio in shithole Texas. You heard a bunch of the roster were going to hang out at the Riverwalk – and wisely, you chose instead to isolate yourself further. If no one’s allowed in, it means more time for you and me – which means I might press that good brain juice button again some time, if you do what you need to do.
Ok, let’s unpack now. Give me a minute, because I don’t think even YOU know how this ties into why you’re being so weird about The Anglo Luchador these days.
Let’s face it, first of all – anyone who wins the Intense Championship here HAS to be a little sick, right? Maybe that’s why he keeps talking about how he knows you. How he was just like you.
Like every other old fuck outside of Phil Atken has done around here.
Because here’s the thing – everyone here who says they know what it’s like to be where you are, FLAMBERGE, is telling you this because they want to control you. They want to mold you into some form of themselves they were unable to achieve in their own lives and careers. They want to sit in their wheelchairs one day when you’re on top of the wrestling world and tell their nurse just how much influence they had over your career by showing you some sort of truth or light or way they think they own.
Phil never said he was like you – he met you where you were. And instead of trying to cure you, he showed you how to weaponize me. Saint of a man. He observed without judging.
Henri observed and judged, but for the longest time, that judgment was kept hidden from you completely – months passed, years passed, always the same routine. The staring, the note-taking, the whistles. Always the shiver in the back of your neck when you thought you sensed something was off even when Henri didn’t speak a word, even if you knew he caught you sneaking a glance at Jordan or any of the other boys. And that particular morning, you were left to lay there on the dirt in the cold, your leg screaming at you for reasons still unclear as a result of your efforts in trying to be the best, always the best, only the best. And even THEN.
Even then, you didn’t know where you stood. And you will never, for your entire life, know how you stand with others.
The world has already forgotten your 5 Star Title reign, the blip that it was…you’re in the top 5 for the first time in your life (and remember when that was an end-all-be-all for you?), you’re on a poster, you’re main eventing a ReVival – do you think there will be a single sign for you in the crowd? Do you think anyone actually acknowledges who the hell you are and how far you’ve come? A year ago, you lost in your PRIME debut to a nobody that fucked off and ran away right after, and since then, you’ve put together the most undercelebrated and underappreciated rookie warpath of destruction and glue-making in major professional wrestling.
They don’t acknowledge it. They don’t acknowledge the You that you ARE. They acknowledge the You that they Wish You Were. The You that they would be able to recognize and, in some ways, control.
And so this time out, you could never physically touch The Anglo Luchador before you met in the ring. He’s been the greatest offender of them all. That man has decided to a T what he is so very sure that you are, this alt-universe recreation of his own career, that to punch him and prove him right would be the end of the whole experiment we’re running here.
Shiny prizes may not be on the line at ReVival 25, FLAMBERGE, but something else is. Destroy The Anglo Luchador, and you’ll know where you stand with yourself:
Surfing. Riding the front wave of the ocean that comes, the ocean we built together, as the dam bursts.
And all the while, TAL will be so very sure he knows what’s coming when you two finally fight…
…as all old horses do.