Lindsay Troy must REALLY hate the Love Convoy to subject them to you like this again.
I mean, don’t you think? It wasn’t enough for you to choke out Darin Zion at Great American Nightmare last summer…it wasn’t enough for you to choke out Jonathan-Christopher Hall last month. She’s offered you the full set of necks, which is great for you, you know? As a collector of necks. It will look great on the mantle to have the complete Love Convoy Neck Set in mint condition.
There’s not a neck-trading market out there in PRIME yet, which is a shame, but I get it. Can’t really go up to Phil Atken (if you could even get a hold of Phil) and ask to trade one of yours for his 10-out-of-10-graded S-Tier Brandon Youngblood Universal Championship Neck, especially now that it’s appreciated in value again (that surly bitch). Or, in a pinch, wouldn’t it be great if you could go up to Nova and offer him his own neck back in exchange for his old Anger Gollum collar from back in the early days of ReVival? Tricky logistics, I guess. He wouldn’t understand – most idiots in the locker room wouldn’t understand. The collective roster doesn’t collect as ruthlessly as you do.
Time will tell how valuable your Arthur Pleasant neck becomes – though you’ve heard a rumor that he’s getting more bitey ever since he fought you. His teeth grew teeth, which is marvelous, but no guarantee of future appreciation in the PRIME Necks economy.
That complete Love Convoy set, though…now that’s something. That’s good enough for a shirt. Poster…mug. We’ll put a pin in it for now. Pending further gluemination.
We need to put a pin in it because look – over there, to your left. Your other – yes, very good – look what fresh new environs await you. It’s a window! To outside your hotel room! The rumors are true, FLAMBERGE – many people experience raw, unfiltered, and unconditioned air, daily. I just – yes, I can see your question flaring up back here – I know that you’ve been frozen in the isolation of either your little flat or in hotel room after hotel room since Phil brought me here, and I am willing to accept responsibility. Some responsibility. Certainly not ALL of it, and I won’t accept anything like “blame” here, ok, not with the death thresher I’ve turned you into, so let’s just clear THAT air while we’re at it.
I’ll be honest with you, though. The rolling on the floor thing from last time freaked me out.
I know, yes, and you’re right, I really did an excellent job keeping my cool in a crisis (and let’s be clear, that was an extremely quiet and isolated mini-crisis). I just, you know – it’s like when you have a fat dog. You have to walk it every now and then before it loses a leg. From fatness. You’re my fat dog, is what I’m saying. You’re getting twitchy from all the raw meat I’ve been feeding you and the lack of external stimulation.
Get up, let’s go. Time for walkies.
Where is this – Denver? Denver, let’s see, home of the…I don’t know, man, Tour Guide isn’t my job. Not like you give “the damn”, which is fair, because look at all these cheery assholes outside today. This can’t be a place of culture. Cultured people aren’t this happy.
Let’s hang a left. Fewer people in that direction. It’s my understanding that it’s important to take your time when socializing your fat dog to strangers, or else they may become all Arthur Pleasant-y, which is to say, “mad toofers”.
It’s green all along the sidewalk this way, would you look at that? Nature, in all its-and there’s a dead bird, something’s eating it, ew, FUCK, turn around turn around deal with the people turn around get out of there EW. EW EW EW. YUCK.
…ahem. Nature! In all its majesty. What a world.
Keep it cool, though, kid, Jesus. If you make a whole scene of it, you’ll draw attention to yourself. And don’t look like you “accidentally went the wrong way”, either – FLAMBERGE doesn’t make mistakes. You’re not allowed. It’s counter to what I’ve built for you – and what Phil built for you. Find that sweet spot between nonchalance and…chalance. Semi-chalance.
Good. I think they bought it, which is to say, no one gives a fuck about looking over at the strange black foreigner with the out-of-control hair. Hang on, look on the other side of the street, is that? Another strange black possibly-foreign man, but with Very Controlled Hair. Hang on again. Look around at all these crunchy Denver people, this is…this is amazing. You’re perfectly camouflaged in a city like this, because it’s full of enormous weirdos. Oh, this is fantastic, kid. I’m pretty sure we just saw that lady openly take a hit off her vape pen and bite into a muffin before exhaling. Wow.
We’ve gone a couple blocks now – how’s it treating you? Let’s do a system check here – ok, good, nothing’s out of place yet. The simmering resentment numbers are looking good, the reservoir inside your Lake of Uncertainty is – wait, hang on. This can’t be right. Let me re-crunch the numbers.
(you crunch them once, you see, and when they look like THIS, you must give them a second crunch in hopes that the first crunch was Without Mad Toofers, and thus, incorrect.)
Well, yep, that’s the same result, isn’t it. Shit. I expected it to be a LITTLE emptier now, what with you and your two well-hung compatriots (gluessociates?) sharing that special moment at the end of the last ReVival, but this? It’s as empty as it’s ever been, at least since I showed up. These are trash numbers.
Feeling like you’ve got it all figured out, do you? Wellllllllll that’s really unfortunate, now, isn’t it. Lots of positive traction being canceled out by that little stunt you three pulled. Guess I’m going to have to figure some other way, aren’t I, Fatty McLovesburgers?
Ooh, good, a flare-up, useful data…are you surprised by my reaction? Upset by it? I told you, FLAMBO – I’m a Phil Atken joint, not a Cecilworth Farthington joint. I was brought in with a specific purpose and directive, which was to bring YOU to the top of this company in Phil’s stead, at least until he comes back to PRIME…Phil and Cecilworth are close (were close? Used to be close? Do you even know?), but that means nothing in terms of my day-to-day operation here in your mind.
Cecilworth complicates things. TAB and his chiseled V-shaped abs that point straight to the bulging spot we’ve been eyeing lately – he complicates things. For me, at least.
You, you French child, think that this is the best thing that’s ever happened to you, don’t you? Glue Boiz with a fresh coat of paint! Have either of them come up to us and fucking thanked us yet? It was our work – MY WORK – that kept the Glue Factory relevant for the last nine months, the nine months it apparently took to birth this disgusting trio of skinny little apes that you all are. If I didn’t get placed here by Phil and perform my great works, if I didn’t drive you to become the type of killer that makes wrestlers cry out “oh god damn it” when they find out they’re facing you, you’d be doing even worse than the Love Convoy.
You know it’s true. Jonathan-Christopher just beat “Caner” Jiles, didn’t he? Former Universal champion. You couldn’t do that, at least not without me. Jiles crushed you back then. Without me, maybe the likes of the fucking Halls and the the Anglue Gluechador would be running this place. What a lovey-dovey thought.
Instead – THANKFULLY – we carried the Glue banner ourselves. Single handedly, on and on and into the aether, the pools and the lakes and the seas of uncertainty and doubt and anxiety and fear and mega-loathing carrying you onward and upward as you worked your way towards becoming something that, well…in my original vision, I call it Gorilla Glue, we can workshop the name before I accidentally cancel you…but the point stands. You were on your way to becoming The Guy, you asshole!
And now this lake is empty, and now my job is harder, because you three hooligans got all antsy in your pantsy and couldn’t wait until I turned you into the number one ranked wrestler in PRIME and/or the Universal Champion. UGH.
Ahhhhhhhhhhh hell. I can’t stay mad at you. Little shithead.
Hey, look over there. That’s a BIG playground, my god. They don’t make them this gaudy in Strasbourg, do they? There’s too many slides! One child cannot possibly ride down this many slides in a single afternoon. A million things to climb on and fall off of, to – ope, yep, that kid’s about to peel himself up off the dirt and see that his knee is scraped to shit. He doesn’t seem to mind, though – good for him. Definitely not a bitch Colton. How many kids are even here – 60? 80? Is this a birthday party or some shit?
Scan for balloons or cake or whatever (but don’t get your hopes up about that cake, fatty – …huh. Didn’t register a rise in you that time. Noted. All data is good.). Anything? Streamers? No…k. Just a bunch of kids running around and a bunch of parents sitting around the perimeter. Good people watching opportunity, FLAMBERGE, they’re too focused on their own shit to notice you. Don’t get too close or you’ll accidentally create some real creep-suspicion energy, just get close enough to see, then park it on a bench or something. I want to see if there’s anything I can work with here.
A few little pockets have formed, haven’t they? Little clusters of kids who know each other, little clusters of parents staring at their phones, before popping up and sharing some hot goss they just read on Jabber or whatever – is it Jabber? Or is Jabber just for the wrestlers? Is it just for the wrestlers? It’s just for the annoying wrestlers and also Cecilworth Farthington being hilarious and cool, got it, thank you very much for the clarification. These parents are probably looking at something else, then. Cool. You caught me, I don’t “get” to “understand” what’s “on all of the Internet” because “I’m stuck inside your head so I’m only experiencing what you’re experiencing and you don’t like people”. Doesn’t matter. Focus on the kids for now. Surely there’s a grubby little monster or two in there that I can use to tap into something back here. Something to replace the resources we lost from the Lake of Uncertainty.
…yeah, see, look! Right over there! Striped shirt, one o’clock, big glasses, Supercuts hair, that one. Look at him sitting on that see-saw all by himself, unmoving. Yeeeees, goooooood, this is definitely going to turn into something – maybe his friends abandoned him, maybe his PARENTS abandoned him, and he’s clearly working through the murky turmoil of loneliness and despair, its roots young but already latched firmly, deeply, tangling beneath the surface, as he-
-he…oh. Damn it. Don’t look at eleven o’clock, let’s just – you looked at eleven o’clock. Cool, alright, yes, ok? Fine. His grody little friend was just having a little juice break and now she’s running to the see-saw. Ew. She could pass for a Colton or a Youngblood, that one. She needs to wipe her face.
Let’s see, let’s see, ok, well, hey! There’s maybe something here, take a look to the left, 9 o’clock – that poor lost little soul is just standing still, head buried in his hands, and would you look at that? He’s leaning right into that tree, forehead-first…geez, he’s really pressed himself into that thing. I think his eyes might even be closed – yes, they ARE closed! This is certainly some deep sobbing, his attempt at grieving in as private a manner as possible in such a public space. What dread it must be, what agony, to carry such an emotional overload and to also be forced out into the public eye and pretend as if the hurt didn’t exist, and he’s going to be ok one day, maybe, but he could also SUCCUMB to the sadness, the rage, absorbing the tears streaming down his Too Young For This Cold World cheeks, become something mo-
“nineTEEN, TWENTY! READY OR NOT, HERE I COME!”
…CHILDREN. QUIT GIGGLING. I NEED YOU TO HEAR ME THROUGH THE BRAINWAVES I’M SENDING THROUGH THIS ANGULAR FRENCH MAN: STOP RUINING THIS FOR ME!
The nerve! Ok, fine, give me a minute here. I just need to take a second, breathe, and recenter myself back here. It’s difficult, ok? It’s much easier when there’s a perfectly in sync childhood memory that I could pull from the vault and force you to relive, because those are pre-recorded! But I can’t always use that tool, and you know how much that hurts me? It’s my favorite tool.
I don’t have infinite footage, which is the problem, so I’m trying to improvise a solution with live-action Human Children who don’t understand the Atken plan. Cut me some slack, here. It’s not my fault that over the course of your miserable childhood you didn’t have some incredibly convenient scene about the traumas of getting nuzzled by a ginger that I could use to help you claim that Gladhappy neck.
The sad fact I’m coming to realize in this stupid joyful Denver playground is that most kids, in most families, most of the time, are just fine. You, most of the time, were – well, not after you got into LYCÉE, but most of the time before that? You were fucking just fine too. Alright? Ages 0 through 13. Definite pointed periods where things were real real bad, maybe slightly above the nationwide average, but nothing special.
Do you know how many of these little shits are going to grow up, hit puberty like a bus, and start hating their parents? Inventing stories, taking small miscommunications and turning them into declarations of war, you melodramatic little shitstirrer?
(ooh, there it is, starting to pick up the response I’ve been looking for…roger that, time to keep going)
14 and beyond? Sure, that’s an entirely separate conversation and I’m happy to have that with you some other time, but at least by that time you were able to start making a few decisions for yourself. Younger kids, kids like the ones here in this park…the fact that they’re in a park on this sunny and frustratingly comfortable day, running around, laughing – they don’t have burdens yet. At least not big ones, real ones. The ones with the real burdens aren’t at the park today.
They’re somewhere else, like…maybe for one particular example…she’d be nowhere. Nowhere you know about, at least, because she’s been on the run and it hasn’t been your fight yet.
No, Nora’s not at the park today.
That part of her life was taken faaaaaaaaaaar earlier than yours.
(internal note: the Lake of Uncertainty needs to be temporarily rebranded to the Lake of Revengeance, time TBD, due to rerouted flow and rapid intake)
Paxton Ray, now THAT’S the neck for the mantle. It’s not for every collector, but it’s the one for you. For this moment. He took this park away from his daughter, and now she isn’t here to learn how to cross the monkey bars two at a time.
We hate that, don’t we, FLAMBERGE?
We hate that. Very very much.
Oh woe is he who would pick a fight with you on your path to ripping Paxton Ray’s goddamn head off.
That’s it, isn’t it. That’s the proof that Lindsay Troy wants the Love Convoy dead and glued once and for all. People have noticed how you bristle up whenever Paxton Ray is mentioned…surely she’s seen how much harder you hit when you’re bristly and your eyes get all piercing. And BOY are you bristly right now. I know you can feel that tingle. Between Ray, this new Glues Glothers trio, and the general animosity after your little fireworks show of a promo last week, it’s no wonder the air is so sinister around you right now.
She knows you’re about to do something fucking dangerous. And he’s not going to understand what happened to him after it’s over.
Poor, poor Tristan-Crispin Gladhappy. It’s not your job, FLAMBO, to decide whether or not he deserves it.
Your job is to collect.