Renner’s Note From The Future: Hi! This story is no longer canon, under threat of owl. Please enjoy how silly it is without connecting it too much with the rest of anything that goes on in PRIME. Thanks!
“Hey, Connor,” Coral Avalon said on the phone, as he looked out the window of his 13th floor hotel room in the MGM Grand, watching workers dismantle what he helped build over the past week. The previous week had been spent preparing for the Survivor competition, but now that the next competition didn’t need him, he found himself without a lot to do. “You just got into Vegas, right?”
“Yeah, man.” Connor said, “Can’t believe you got the PRIME people to talk to me again.”
“You can thank that Melvin guy.”
Coral hadn’t had very many interactions with Melvin Beauregard, but he came to the conclusion that the man was an idiot. So, nothing’s really changed in Coral’s life. He was always surrounded by idiots. First, it was Allen. Then it was Mega Job. And really, once you become friends with Mega Job, your friendship circle is pretty much doomed and didn’t need further elaboration.
On the other end of the phone, Connor let out a breath.
“We even got Simon out to do this. You sure you want us to help train your new kids?”
“Yeah. I can’t believe I need to ask you to be Connor O’Reilly the pro wrestler again, but I need you to be the old you for a day.” Connor said.
“That bad, huh?” Connor asked.
“Do you remember how you were the literal worst when I trained you?” Coral asked. “You didn’t listen to me for the first few days of training. I was to the point where I was going to kick you out of the school. Quite literally. I was going to kick your ass.”
“Yeah. Good times,” Connor said, his tone of voice betraying a wide smile. “Are they that bad?”
Coral felt a headache coming on.
Connor O’Reilly got fired from PRIME years ago. Too many people in that place hated his guts, and his tag team partner was not the kind of man who’d step in to put a stop to it. He was, however, the kind of man who’d quit in solidarity. And when Simon lost the full use of one of his arms because of a suplex gone wrong, Connor retired in solidarity with him, too.
A noble gesture, but he also had no plan for what he’d do outside of wrestling before the cartoon came up.
Forward thinking was the domain of his twin, and his twin only.
Connor had mellowed with time. He wasn’t as angry as he used to be, and he looked back on that time of his life with no shortage of shame. The fact that Coral Avalon was asking him to be the old him again was a bad sign. It meant that things weren’t going well with the kids.
“They’re bad for different reasons, but still pretty bad. They didn’t give it any time to really gel as a team until they were suddenly doing this. They need a crash course, especially since they’re still in the Survivor competition. So, I’ll need your help. Just be harsh, but fair, and also an ass.”
“I’m still all of those things now, you motherfucker. You just want me to ramp up the harsh and the ass parts. I can do that.” Connor said.
It was always good to talk to Connor now that he mellowed out.
“So, who else came to Vegas with you?” Coral asked.
“Mega Job, Miranda, Kotone, Simon, and Cosmo. And no, I don’t know why Cosmo came, too. That guy was never in PRIME the way the rest of us were.”
“He probably didn’t want to get left out.” Coral said, “All told, I’m glad he’s hanging out with us instead of his old crew.”
Coral involuntarily shuddered after saying that. Thinking about the crew Cosmo was with before he joined the cartoon crew made every hair on the back of his neck stand straight up.
“So, it sounds like most of the gang’s coming to Vegas, then,” Coral said.
“Yeah. Any plans for tonight once we’re all here?”
“Well, hear me out. This is going to sound weird coming from me,” Coral said, already regretting what he’s about to suggest, “So, there’s a VIP Lounge at the Taco Bell…”
French Stewart had seen a lot of strange people walk into the VIP Lounge of the Las Vegas Taco Bell Cantina, but the three men who walked in that night were of a different breed.
The three men to walk in were two and a half men. Beef and El Janito strode in with their VIP passes proudly held in their hands. They had done it. They had made it. This was the apex of life itself, nothing else could ever top being considered VIPs of anything, let alone VIPs of a Taco Bell. Their smiles could have lit the whole of Las Vegas for a year.
Ten years ago, they were the laughing stock of the professional wrestling world. The jokes that other jokes would look at and go, “HOT DAMN!” If they ever won a match, it was because of the Herculean effort of someone else. We’re talking about a noble effort, the type that would go down in history as someone who overcame a situation even worse than a typical handicap match. The type of noble effort that went above and beyond contending for and winning the Universal Title of PRIME.
Or it’s because they got matched up with Jimmy Bonafide.
One of the two.
The point is, they sucked out loud at the wrestling part of wrestling. They made their bread by being entertaining, instead. Some would claim they didn’t even do that.
Today, it was the year of our lord 2022, and Mega Job was more relevant than ever.
Steve waddled in behind them, cool as a cucumber. He never needed to show his VIP pass, because everyone knew that Steve – all four feet of him – was the coolest dude. He probably had one well before Mega Job even became the zeitgeist of the cartoon world.
“Oh, man, are we the first ones here?” Beef asked his lifelong companions who somehow managed to tolerate each other without actually killing one another, “Sweet.”
El Janito and Beef found a table at a lonely corner, away from French, away from the throne that looked like George R.R. Martin’s wet dream of what should decorate a Taco Bell, and sat down. Steve, meanwhile, had decided to claim the throne for himself.
All hail King Steve of the Taco Bell, long may he reign.
“Man. Look at us. Who’d have thought?” El Janito asked. His suit was far nicer than anything he’d ever worn when he was still in the wrestling business. That included the weird superhero costume.
“Not me. I expected you to be dead in a ditch, and me to be at your funeral taking selfies with your tombstone.” Beef said. “Seriously, I thought that Jason Natas guy was going to put your head on a pike.”
“Right next to yours, probably.”
Beef nodded in agreement, “Maybe. We never did find out how closely associated he was with Satan. For all we know, he was all raring up to place us in the middle of a pentagram and melt our skin off to fill some dark ritual protein shake or something.”
“Dude. We’re in Taco Bell. At least wait until after we’ve eaten before you say something gross.”
French watched the two idiots banter about, and wondered if the standards of becoming a VIP in the Taco Bell VIP Lounge had gotten lower recently. With that Angelo DeLuchador or whatever his name was, it was a possibility.
Then he turned to look at the little person sitting on the throne. He looked like he belonged there. Like it was his throne to begin with.
Who was he?
French didn’t know.
But he was awestruck.
This man, this little man, was the true essence of what it meant to be cool. Not Cancer Jiles. Not Keanu Reeves. This guy. This little guy right here. He was the real cool. The truest cool. The coolest. A man so cool that he could comprehend the infinity of the universe. He was a man that had seen everything, and lived to tell about it. In fact, he crushed that shit. That shit was compressed, now. The whole of everything, compressed through the eyes of a man so cool that absolute zero wasn’t enough of a number for him.
French couldn’t speak to him.
He couldn’t say anything.
He was paralyzed, in that moment, through sheer intimidation. How could someone like this exist? How could he sit upon the Iron Throne of Tacos without even a hint of fear? Was he truly the rightful ruler all along? The long lost King of Taco Bell? Were all others who sat there before him like Mr. Karn and Mr. Loaf… were they all simply pretenders all along?
After surveying the VIP Lounge and taking it all in, Steve spoke for the first time.
He hopped off and went to the bathroom.
French watched him leave, and decided that he, too, needed to leave. Immediately.
Meanwhile, Beef and Janito were looking through the menu – yes, they’re literate, I’m as shocked as you are – and both of them, simultaneously, slammed their single digit brain cells together and came to the same conclusion.
“Oh, sweet, they got those Baja Blast Volcano Margaritas!”
“No way. We need like five of those. Each.”
“Make it ten!”
Somewhere, deep within the bowels of the Pentagon, it became DEFCON 4.
No one there knew why.
“Coral, we’ve known each other for how long?” Connor asked as he, Simon Knox, and Coral Avalon arrived at the parking lot of the Taco Bell.
Coral thought about it, and did some mental arithmetic.
“Yeah,” Coral said, “I didn’t even have the Blackberry mask yet.”
“Alright, so… we’ve known each other for that long. And all this time, I ain’t never heard of you suggesting we go to a Taco Bell. So, what the fuck?” Connor asked.
“This, I have to hear.” Simon said. He got out of the rental car with some difficulty – not having the use of your dominant hand would do that – and looked up at the sign.
As Taco Bells went, there was something ominous about the Vegas Taco Bell Cantina. It gave off an intimidating aura, the likes of which neither Coral nor Connor were ever used to. It was a place where, deep within, there was a forbidden room. The type of room only important people got to enter.
“Timo was talking about it. You know, the referee who paints his face. Apparently, he and Angelo… uh, the Anglo Luchador, got caught up in some crazy taco conspiracy. There’s a taco throne. But also, the crunchwraps here are good, and I’ll believe that more than I’ll believe in the Chalupanati or whatever they called the conspiracy.”
Simon just rolled his eyes.
“Well, it’s not exactly my first VIP joint, nor my first choice of one, really.” Simon said. Simon’s family owned a modest mansion on the outskirts of Providence, an empire built on the back of his father, the great wrestler and actor Earl Knox. The family fortune was currently under the control of Simon’s older brother, Soren. Earl Knox’s filmography rights alone would ensure that the Knox family could live comfortably even if Simon and Soren weren’t already acting themselves.
At least, the members of the Knox family that weren’t disinherited scums of the earth, anyway.
The three men looked around.
It was late that night, and both Simon and Coral were in clothes that could best be described as “low in business, high in casual”. Connor, at least, kept the waistcoat look he wore when he threw baseballs at the Winds of Change earlier that day. Simon had the decency to change out of his loud-ass Hawaiian shirt. A small group of people, non-VIPs Coral assumed, were loitering around outside the ornate Cantina.
“You guys go on ahead,” Coral said to the erstwhile Princes of New England, “I have to wait for Cosmo to get inside, anyway, since he’s my ticket inside. And it doesn’t look like Miranda and Kotone are here yet, either.”
There was a time when Miranda never really left Connor’s side, because Connor’s decision making was so bad that he needed someone to keep an eye on him at all times. Time and experience have gradually hardened Connor’s decision-making skills. Well, that and the harsh realities of rehab and realizing what kind of asshole he’d been this whole time.
Simon still kept him honest, at least.
The two men bumped fists, and walked into the Cantina.
Coral found a seat on the trunk of his car, and checked his phone. Jabber was the usual array of Timo and the Anglo Luchador’s banter, mixed in with a lot of talk about HIGH GRADE CRACK COCAINE (sic), which was probably different from NEXT LEVEL CRACK COCAINE (also sic). Coral didn’t know. He hadn’t spoken to Great Scott yet. He felt like he’d need some earplugs for that conversation. He wondered if you attached a “the” in front of it, or if his first name really was “Great” and it was his last name that was “Scott”.
Oh. Doozer said something nice to him. That’s great. A shame nobody could read his Jabber.
It went on like that for a time.
The second rental car arrived about ten minutes after Connor and Simon went inside. He looked up, and frowned. It wasn’t Cosmo, so he wasn’t going inside yet.
Instead, it was Miranda and Kotone.
Miranda O’Reilly was Connor’s twin sister. They looked a lot alike. The same hair color. The same height. The same green eyes. Where they differed was in demeanor. Miranda was a responsible, caring, and driven woman. Connor was an ass, but at least a well-meaning ass. The twins couldn’t be more different, and yet, they’re often always around each other.
At least, that was before Kotone.
Believe it or not, Kotone was an alumnus of PRIME like everyone else here. Only, her job wasn’t on-screen. Kotone worked in costume design. If you saw Nova wear something spectacular on his way for a PRIME Universal Title match, or if you ever saw anything Hessian ever wore, odds were good she had a hand in it.
Kotone was almost a whole head shorter than Miranda. She was also a few years older. Her neatly-trimmed black hair was put up in a ponytail, and she dressed modestly with a long dress.
Their outfits were color-coordinated between them, because Miranda and Kotone were always together. They were, after all, wife and wife. They married three years ago.
Miranda was the one who cobbled together the concept for the cartoon, Kotone was the one responsible for designing the characters, and then somehow – miraculously – they put together Mega Job and the Ten True Fruits and made it the runaway success it was. Connor, Simon, and Coral – the erstwhile “Brotherhood of Awesome” – had merely been along for the ride despite ostensibly having
“Oh, Coral, you’re here already?” Kotone asked. Despite being ethnically Japanese, she was born and raised in America, and English was her first language.
“Just waiting for Cosmo. Connor and Simon already went inside.” Coral said.
Miranda had spent the time scanning the parking lot.
“Beef called a while ago and said that he, Janito, and Steve were taking an Uber here. I told them to wait, but they heard about a VIP Taco Bell and couldn’t wait to go.” Miranda said. Then she paused for a long time, and looked away from Coral, “Is that Wayne Newton?”
Coral looked up at Miranda, and then turned to follow her eyes.
“Yeah. That’s Wayne Newton.” Coral said. “Guess he’s arrived.”
There was an awkward silence that filled the air.
“You’ve been in Las Vegas for a while now, haven’t you?” Kotone asked, “What about your wife?”
“Annie’s fine, but I’m heading back to Seattle tomorrow to spend time with her.” Coral said, “About time, too. I can’t believe I got roped into this so thoroughly. Even if I managed to convince Joe and Sid that they’re not ready for this and they go back to working small shows, I think I stepped into a quagmire getting myself involved.”
“Yeah, well, that was the arrangement.” Miranda said. She ran her hand through her long hair, which usually thickly covered her ears. “That Beauregard… I don’t know if that man has any real sense of what we’re trying to accomplish. Or of anything, really.”
Coral could agree with that.
The man was an idiot.
And with the three of them being among the only sensible people each of them knew, they were used to being surrounded by idiots.
The perils of being adjacent to professional wrestling, they all supposed.
“So, they’re not leaving, I take it?” Kotone asked.
Coral shook his head.
“Therein lies the rub,” Coral said, “If you gave them a year or two to work out their kinks, they could be a good team. Maybe even great. But they came here too early. And because neither of them are all that experienced at this, they need their teamwork to be immaculate to even stand a chance. But since they’re too over eager to prove that they belong, their teamwork is still a mess because they’re still not accounting for what the other can or can’t do.”
The girls exchanged looks.
Then Kotone said, “Mr. Avalon, don’t you think they would’ve figured that out on their own?”
Coral frowned, and looked away.
Oh, hey, was that Frankie Muniz?
Just someone that looked like him. Really striking, though, the resemblance.
“Yeah, probably,” Coral said, “But look at the types of people in PRIME. The ones that aren’t taking part in Survivor. Youngblood’s here. Not as surly as when I had my battles with him, but I saw the way he suplexed that Cancer Jiles guy and I’m pretty sure Cancer’s a few inches shorter now. There’s roving time-traveling head punters. The number of probably homeless people working for this company is definitely a non-zero number. I’m pretty sure Ria needs therapy, or at least a big punching bag. And I think the Anglo Luchador is actually insane, just haven’t gotten the ‘a-ha’ proof of it.”
Coral paused, and he continued.
“And that’s the nice part of PRIME. I haven’t gotten into the cults. Cults, as in plural. There’s a guy going around with a giant mute trying to make glue out of twenty year veterans like me, or that French kid who openly screams that he’s going to stab you with his name alone, or the fact that Hoyt Williams has some kind of remorseless unstoppable golem of hate, or the fact that Cancer Jiles’ first name isn’t hyperbole, or that Nathan Filmix is a funhouse mirror version of myself, or the fact that Vickie Hall is the worst.”
When Coral was done speaking, Kotone and Miranda stared at him for a time.
Then they exchanged looks.
“So, not much has changed since I was here last, then.” Miranda said, when she turned to face Coral again.
Coral laughed darkly.
He nodded his head towards the Taco Bell, “By the way, you might want to go and see if those boys have gotten in trouble with some sort of Taco Bell illuminati. I think they serve alcohol in there.”
Miranda’s eyes went wide.
“And… Beef and El Janito are in there? And they went unsupervised?” Miranda asked, the volume of her voice raising several octaves. “Why didn’t you say anything sooner?!”
Everyone knew that the last thing anyone wanted was for Mega Job, already the most dim-witted people any of them knew, to get super drunk. Imagine a post-apocalypse, where the scattered remains of humanity had banded together in some horrible town that nobody would ever live in willingly unless it was the usable city left. Let’s say Boulder, Colorado. Imagine this thought-Boulder, barely scraping by a living in a ravaged world, only it’s inhabited by brain cells. Like, anthropomorphic brain cells. They’re all kinda anime, with their big eyes and how disproportionately large the female brain cells’ boobs are.
Everything’s going great and very stupid in this thought-Boulder. Some of the brain cells are wearing underwear on their head. Some of the brain cells are hitting on the large-boobed brain cells with the worst pick-up lines ever uttered by a brain cell. Some of the brain cells think that American Beauty is a good movie that definitely holds up in the year of our lord 2022.
It’s that kind of town.
And then you drop sixty-six billion liters of Baja Blast Volcano Margaritas on top of this thought-Boulder.
Not even the planet itself.
That’s what it’s like to have Mega Job on alcohol.
Well, specifically, Beef and Janito. Steve had an alcohol tolerance disproportionate to his body size. Coral wasn’t sure he’d ever seen that guy drunk.
“Yeah, uh… you… should probably go,” Coral said.
Miranda nodded, “Come on, Kotone. With any luck, nothing’s happened.”
Kotone nodded, and the loving power couple of the cartoon world left Coral alone on the trunk of his rental car.
Coral hoped nothing was going wrong in that place.
Everything was going fucking wrong.
It was going so wrong that it became right again, but then continued to be so wrong that it went to being double wrong. Which is almost the worst kind of wrong there was, but it was fast spinning more out of control. Soon, the double wrong will become a quadruple wrong. Then it would go an octouple wrong. After that, math would begin to fail. Numbers turn upside-down. Euclidian shapes became non-Euclidian, like some sort of H.P. Lovecraft wet dream. Mr. Pfefferman would cease to exist even more than he already no longer existed.
Two plus two equaled banana.
It’s already starting.
Connor O’Reilly was the first one in the VIP Lounge. He blinked.
“What the actual fuck…”
What he saw was El Janito standing on the Taco Bell throne, once sat upon by Home Improvement’s Richard Karn. He wielded a scepter – actually, it’s the bathroom plunger – in one hand. A pair of underwear sat upon his head, as though it were a crown. It was not his own.
The owner of the underwear, Beef, lay half naked with his ass hanging out, and that ass was moving to the beat of music that only he seemed to hear. He seemed to be in a fugue state, seemingly awake but mentally checked out. Well, more mentally checked out than he usually was. I mean, dude’s not even talking. He’s just… wiggling his ass.
Steve, the third member of Mega Job when he felt like associating with these two bozos, was stacking “Bolambadore Crunchwraps” into a pyramid. They were all for him. He knew, like anyone else knew, that the shits he would experience tonight would be the likes of which were unheard of in the modern understanding of the bowel system, and also unheard of in the discussion of the displacement of matter.
He wasn’t drunk.
He was simply so used to the antics of his fellow Mega Job brethren that nothing they do even fazed him anymore.
A terrified Ted McGinley sat in a fetal position in one of the big corner seats, unable to fully comprehend the madness that was unfolding before him in his late-night pursuit for a single, mouth-watering Bolambadore Crunchwrap. His brain was going through a factory reset at this moment, and it was clear that he would not remember anything of this night.
It was only now that Connor realized that El Janito was also wearing a cape somehow fashioned out of crunchwrap wrappers, covered in grease. It stained his suit something fierce.
“Oi, mate!” El Janito shouted, the grating sound of the worst attempt at an English accent ever uttered by a non-Englishman traveling through the air in the same way that a whale navigated the sky, “Hear ye, hear ye! Y’bloody wankers!”
Simon Knox walked in behind Connor at that moment. When he heard Janito and his accent, he wordlessly turned on his heel and walked right out the door, leaving his lifelong tag team partner to handle the mess without him. Connor did a double take when he realized he was immediately abandoned.
“Hey! Simon! What the fuck?!”
“As ya good and roighteous Taco King, First of My Name, I decree that all crunchwraps be hitherto known throughout the land as the El Janito’s Kickass Crunchwrap!”
“ALL HAIL THE TACO KING!” shouted Beef from the floor.
Or, Connor worried, Beef’s ass was the one doing the shouting. That voice definitely had a fart quality to it.
Connor wondered if he’d secretly done any hard drugs today, after being six years sober.
No. Simon would’ve definitely suplexed him with his one working arm if he did.
“FURTHERMORE!” Janito shouted at the top of his lungs, “I, the magnanimous Taco King, First of My Name, shall be taking applications to be thy certified Taco Bitch! And I bloody well assure thee, tis a right competitive position! There’s a whole fuckin’ tier list, which I done made on Tier Maker dot com, about the qualities that go into Taco Bitchhood! YEAH!!!”
Janito wobbled in his seat, just as much as his accent oscillated between different accents other than his intended English one.
“ALL HAIL THE TACO KING!” shouted Beef’s ass, again.
Yeah. No doubt about it.
That sound was coming from Beef’s ass.
“What the fuck,” Connor said.
The next person to enter the VIP Lounge was Wayne Newton, Mr. Las Vegas himself. Wayne brushed past Connor as though he were an obstacle and not a human being, and entered what he thought was a normal, everyday gathering at the VIP Lounge.
It was not. It was definitely not.
“WAYNE NEWTON, WE KNEW YOU’D COME!” Beef’s ass proclaimed. “AND SO HAVE WE.”
The voice sounded labored, struggling to speak, like it was constantly choking on something. Which, given that we were in a Taco Bell…
Wayne’s reaction to this as his retinue walked in behind him was one of abject terror. He reached into his jacket, and pulled out a cigarette case. He knew this day would come. He knew it since the day the Taco Bell authorities took Richard Karn away.
“…How is it possible that you have been released, Buttholomew?”
Connor’s head whirled to Wayne Newton with an incredulous look on his face. Connor had been around Mega Job for years. He thought he knew everything there was to know about their harmless stupidity. Had he been wrong this whole time?
Wait, what the fuck was he even asking himself?
“You were removed from power decades ago, in a time before chalupa and gordita. Your great curse still remains with the Bell to this day, a curse to ruin all toilets everywhere. You were bound for all these years… how?”
“Silence!” El Janito proclaimed, thumping the end of his plunger scepter down on the armrest of the great Taco Throne. “His Majesty, Taco King Janito, First of His Name, speaketh to thee! Sir Newton! Thou shalt now be tried for thy crimes before my Taco court!”
Connor O’Reilly felt like the only sane person left in the world.
Wayne Newton’s retinue looked to Mr. Vegas with any sort of instruction. One of them even reached into the jacket of their suit, only to be stopped by Newton.
“No. Those are useless, here.” Newton said. “Go. Call D.C.”
Newton’s retinue exchanged terrified glances, as though they were just asked to kidnap the president’s daughter. But they complied. They took their leave, and left Newton with Connor and Mega Job.
Newton took a step forward.
Beef’s ass snapped towards him in a motion that Connor would swear to his grave was more like an angry crocodile than a human butt.
Newton took an unconscious step back, a primal response. It took Connor a moment to register that he’d done much the same.
Then Newton turned to El Janito.
“I don’t know who you are, but you… you are no Taco King. Merely a pretender. A Taco King requires the cane. Only the one who holds the cane holds the power here.” Wayne Newton said. His hands shook in sheer terror as he attempted to light his cigarette, “The only reason you command power at all is because of that… abomination. This mistake of Taco Bell’s past. The great curse of all Taco Bell that has long cursed Taco Bell’s food with the great shits… Buttholomew the Corpulent King. First to rule upon the Taco Throne.”
Connor looked at Wayne Newton, then looked at Mega Job, then back to Wayne Newton, and repeated this motion about a dozen times before he finally shouted.
“WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON!?” Connor all but screamed in frustration.
Behind him, his twin sister walked in.
“That’s what I want to know, too, Mr. Newton.” Miranda said.
The Cosmo Kid – real name: Lincoln Redgrave – stood out in a crowd.
You would, too, if you wore a luchador’s mask and a pristine white suit in your day-to-day life. His white suit was immaculate, and contrasted greatly with the black dress shirt he wore underneath it. He wasn’t a tall man. He wasn’t some imposing figure. But he was an implacable man. Nothing phased him. Nothing worried him. He went through his life like a drifter, falling from one crew to the next, but always content to do his own thing.
He was never in PRIME.
But he fell into this crew of ex-PRIMEates because they happened to be there when he needed to get the hell away from the poisonous friendship with Steve Knox before he self-destructed as spectacularly as he did.
He arrived at the Taco Bell to see Coral Avalon sitting on the trunk of his car, staring at his phone. Cosmo never knew how he fell in with the person Knox hated the most in professional wrestling, but Avalon was a cool enough guy in his book. At least he wasn’t an insufferable egomaniac.
“Hey.” Cosmo said, with a baritone so deep that it should’ve belonged to a much larger man who developed a smoking habit at the age of two.
“Hey, Cosmo,” Coral said to him, “What took you?”
“I was busy banging your mother.”
“I’m sorry. That must’ve been hard.”
“Yeah. I was very hard.”
The two exchanged a fist bump.
“Sorry about getting you to pick up those two idiots.” Coral said. “I know you’re busy, what with the mom-banging and all.”
“Doesn’t bother me,” Cosmo said, “Might’ve bothered me more if I found out that you weren’t going to have them picked up.”
“Relax. Joe and Sid just needed to sweat a little.” Coral said.
Besides, if it’d been Joe’s dad doing the training and not Coral, he’d have driven those two twice as far and then not arranged for them to get picked up. After all, Joey Malone was known for two things – his hardcore wrestling and his awful training methods. Only three wrestlers ever survived his schools long enough to become wrestlers.
Coral happened to be the best of the three.
Since then, Coral swore to be gentler in his methods, and he’d been far more successful as a wrestling trainer simply because he wasn’t training anyone to fight for goddamn Sparta.
“If you say so.” Cosmo said. “Word of advice? You shelter kids too long, and they won’t know how to deal with it when they encounter hardship.”
Coral raised an eyebrow.
Cosmo never gave him advice. Cosmo just was. Much like Mega Job, he didn’t know much of anything about him before he met him through wrestling. He only knew his real name because someone else had told it to him. Otherwise, he didn’t know where he was from, who trained him, or even what he was doing before he fell in with Knox and his crew of miscreants. He didn’t know if he had a wife or children. He didn’t know what his mother or father were like. He just was. He was Cosmo, simple as that.
“I’d ask what that’s supposed to mean, but I get it,” Coral said. He shook his head, “Look, Joe and Sid are here, now. I can’t change that. What I can do is give them the best chance possible to make it through this. We’ll navigate what to do afterwards later.”
“Right.” Cosmo said.
Coral waved for Cosmo to follow him, and he did. They walked towards the Taco Bell, side-by-side.
After a few steps, Cosmo asked, “So, how come Joe keeps taking Canadian Destroyers from that mannequin, anyway?”
Coral remained silent all the way until they reached the door.
Then he admitted, “I don’t… know.”
“Miss,” Wayne Newton said to Miranda O’Reilly as she stepped into the room, “You’re very lovely this evening, but… this might not be the time to board the Wayne Train.”
“Shut up, Wayne,” Miranda said. She pushed him aside effortlessly, being a tall woman and him being a man in his 80s. “I don’t have time for this nonsense.”
On the throne that he claimed, the self-proclaimed Taco King raised and lowered his plunger, and the sound of its thunk against the armrest of the throne reverberated throughout the deadly silent VIP Lounge. “Silence! Thou standth before the Taco King, El Janito, First of His Name!”
It was worse than Miranda had thought.
She hadn’t seen either of them this blitzed since that Christmas party two years ago.
The property damage incurred immediately convinced Miranda to issue a company mandate – no more alcohol at any organized events by Visions of Mega Job, LLC.
But this wasn’t an organized event.
She had no way of knowing that the Taco Bell VIP Cantina had the almighty power of the Baja Blast Volcano Margarita when Coral Avalon had made the suggestion. Even Avalon himself had no way of knowing.
“ALL HAIL THE TACO KING!” Beef’s ass proclaimed, as it waggled back and forth seemingly independent of what the rest of his body thought of the situation.
“I’m going to kill them both.” Miranda growled under her breath. She took a step forward, only for Wayne Newton to grasp her by the shoulder in a panic.
“Ma’am, I advise you not to get near Buttholomew the Corpulent King,” Wayne Newton said with a serious tone in his voice. “It has been decades since he’s been in this world. Clearly, he has built up curses within himself this whole time. The miasma of fart gas he could unleash were he to be agitated could kill all of us and turn half of my beloved Las Vegas into a poisonous swamp desert.”
Miranda shot a glare at Newton like she might actually kill him first.
Mr. Las Vegas wisely backed away. Some women, clearly, did not appreciate his charms. Or his advice. The advice part should’ve come first, in retrospect.
Miranda calmly took off her cardigan, and rolled her shoulders.
“Connor?” she said to her twin brother.
Connor stood to attention, suddenly terrified of the presence his sister was giving off. “Uh, yes, ma’am.”
“Would you mind escorting my wife out of the Cantina for the moment?” she asked. Connor, realizing what was about to happen, quickly turned and politely escorted Kotone out of the Cantina. He wanted to be nowhere near what was about to happen in that lounge.
“Ma’am…” Wayne Newton said, attempting to intervene again.
It took a certain kind of individual to be able to keep both Mega Job and the Princes of New England in check. A certain terrifying type of personality, which only came out when things were bad. In those moments, Miranda O’Reilly went from the polite, calm central figure and CEO of a burgeoning animation studio to a hellion.
Without a word, she shoved her cardigan into Wayne Newton’s chest hard enough to send him staggering backwards.
She took a step forward.
“FOOL! YOU STAND BEFORE THE TACO KING!” Beef’s ass shouted, “KNEEL, OR PERISH!”
“Yeah! Thou shalt kneel before my parish!” Janito agreed.
“THE GREAT BUTTHOLOMEW THE CORPULENT KING DEMANDS YOUR OBEDIENCE!” Beef’s ass said.
Wordlessly, Miranda picked up one of the bar stools with one hand.
Coral knew something was wrong the moment he and Cosmo entered the Taco Bell.
A crowd of people were gathered in front of the door leading into the VIP Lounge. Connor was leading Kotone out of the lounge at that moment. There was the guy who looked like – but wasn’t – Frankie Muniz. Simon Knox leaned against the counter and was staring at his phone.
Miranda was nowhere in sight, and neither were Mega Job.
“Uh, so what’s happeni—“
Coral was interrupted by the sound of a loud crash.
Connor visibly cringed.
Coral froze for a while. Another crash was heard.
Then he marched past everyone and into the VIP Lounge.
“YOU FOOL!” screamed Beef’s ass, and that was the moment that Coral Avalon knew that his life up until this point had simply been waiting this entire time to pull a Crazy Ivan directly into the sun. He closed his eyes and wished to himself that he hadn’t just walked in on this.
“HOW DARE YOU ATTACK THE TACO KING? DARE YOU ATTACK BUTTHOLOMEW THE CORPULENT KING?! HOW DARE YOU!”
He felt a pang of resignation.
He wished he could just turn around and ignore all of this. But he couldn’t. He was already here.
“Great. We’re doing this today, aren’t we?” he asked himself.
He hadn’t even second-guessed the notion that the voice was coming directly from Beef’s ass. He just rolled with it. He’d been around these morons long enough to know that this was only the fourth or fifth stupidest thing he’d ever experienced while in their company.
El Janito was already unconscious.
A bar stool was left wrapped around his head, and he lay slumped on one side of an iron throne of tacos.
Miranda wasn’t someone that was known for violence. She was a pleasant person to be around, and she was hard to anger. But when she got angry, like really angry, she was the single most terrifying person in his life. He’d rather deal with Balaam the fucking Mask of Malice than deal with Miranda when she got really angry. She had the kind of anger you’d only hear about in the legends of Cu Chulainn. The kind that turned her into one of those Celtic warriors of old.
A toilet plunger was in her left hand, wielded as though it were a sword.
Beef’s gyrating ass, moving independently from the whims of the rest of his body, seemed to swell as it threatened Miranda and everyone else in the vicinity. Miranda paused, watching this butt with a simmering anger, but hadn’t made a move yet.
Coral found himself tense with a primal fear.
The fear of knowing that a fart was coming, and that it was going to be weapons grade.
Even Miranda, locked in an Irish warrior’s blood rage as she was, was frozen.
“No…” Wayne Newton said, near Avalon, “It’s too late… we’re done for.”
He sat slumped on the ground, clutching Miranda’s cardigan, resigned to a fate most terrible. He was probably also clutching her cardigan because it smelled nice. Coral wasn’t sure. All he knew was that if Beef or Buttholomew or whatever we’re calling him today were allowed to go off, the VIP Lounge was done for. Burn it to the ground, after that. Burn the ashes afterwards. Then jump on what’s left a few dozen times, just to be safe.
Behind Coral, Cosmo had entered the room.
He took one look at the ovulating ass of Beef from Mega Job, and casually remarked, “Oh. It’s Buttholomew the Corpulent King, huh? We might die.”
Coral turned to Cosmo, his eyebrow raised.
He wasn’t questioning the name. He was used to this kind of absurdity, because of the friends he had. No, he had his eyebrow raised for a much different reason.
“You’ve seen this before, Cosmo?”
“Pasadena. Twelve years ago.” Cosmo said.
“Ah,” Coral said, nodding in understanding. In truth, he had no idea what Cosmo was talking about, because no one who was ever in Pasadena on that day twelve years ago ever talked about it. It was a rule. A holy pact. All Coral knew was that something had happened in Pasadena. Something profoundly terrible and stupid. Coral supposed that some elements of it escaped into our reality from time to time. Just accept it, and move on.
“So, what’s the situation, as someone who’s apparently seen this before?” Coral said.
“Best case scenario, it’s nothing. Just a bad, wet fart. Gross, but nothing you don’t experience in your daily life being surrounded by other gas bags.” Cosmo said, “The other scenarios don’t bode well. Typical biohazard. Violation of at least some of the articles of the Geneva Convention. Extinction level event for the state of Nevada and possibly Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico.”
Coral nodded, as though he understood.
He didn’t, really.
But sometimes, you just had to roll with the punches that the Cosmo Kid gave you.
“So what does one do in this situation?” Coral asked.
“It’s volatile. Just like his ass.” Cosmo said, “The first question you should ask is, did Beef eat anything at Taco Bell before this started?”
Coral and Cosmo scanned the room. Both of their eyes fell on Ted McGinley at first, but realizing that he’d been shocked into a stupor, they turned towards Steve.
Steve was currently gobbling Bolambador Crunchwraps, but there were no signs that anyone had eaten anything else.
“Hey, Steve. Did Beef eat anything before he turned into that?” Coral asked, pointing at Beef and his gyrating ass.
“EMPTY.” Steve said.
“So, he hadn’t yet. That’s good.” Coral said. Cosmo nodded his agreement. Coral asked, “So, Steve, how did things escalate this bad?”
Coral and Cosmo exchanged looks. Neither looked terrified, but there was a palpable tension between the two.
“I think we can safely rule out the best case scenario, then,” Cosmo said, “Those Baja Blast Volcano Margaritas are not to be fucked with. We’re looking at the end of the VIP Lounge, at least.”
Cosmo placed a hand under his chin, deep in thought. Miranda, in the background, tightened the grip on the plunger in her hand. At any moment, that Irish blood rage was going to take over and she’d attack Buttholomew the Corpulent King. And that could mean the doom of them all.
Coral rolled with the scenario, as he did, “Just so we’re clear, there’s no way we could get him to Hoyt’s mega-church?”
“No way. Any wrong movement and we’re fart toast.” Cosmo said, matter-of-factly. “If we move him at all, it has to be sudden and quick. He could go off at any second.”
That’s when Steve got up from his seat and stepped forward.
He rotated his shoulders, as though getting ready for a difficult task, as he squared up in front of Coral ready to charge in on Beef’s ass.
“Uh, Steve? What’s up?” Coral asked.
“Whoa, hey! Wait, Steve!” Coral said. He reached out his hand, as if to stop him. But Steve was a force of nature, not a little man. You didn’t tell the wind where it could blow. You didn’t ask the tide to recede. You didn’t demand for gravity to lighten up. And you didn’t tell Steve to wait, if you knew what was good for you. To him, the word “wait” did not exist when he willed it.
Miranda turned to see Steve rapidly approaching, and charged in on Beef’s swelling ass.
Uh, that sure was a sentence.
Anyway, the two most terrifying forces in Visions of Mega Job LLC converged on this ass.
Time stood still in this moment.
For a short, terrifying moment in Coral Avalon’s life, he thought this was it. All of his trials and tribulations up until this point had been for naught, and he’d meet his end by the cheeks of this butt. It would be, in no uncertain terms and with the pun fully intended, the shittiest way to die.
He watched as Miranda shoved the plunger up Beef’s ass.
Seconds later, Steve hit Beef, lifted him up high over his head, and charged straight into the men’s bathroom.
There was a rumbling sound. The impact of Steve hitting the door caused something deep within Beef to literally shake the ground. Or maybe it was just Coral’s imagination, as terrifying as this moment was. His heart skipped a beat.
Then Steve roared in that single word, all capital letters kind of way he did, and threw Beef into the bathroom. Miranda immediately shut the door behind Beef, and the two valiant heroes dove away from the door just as the Taco Bell VIP Cantina shuddered. The sound of it was ear-splitting, wet, and gross. A fart with the volume turned up. A fart that could register on the Richter magnitude scale. A fart that, had it been any worse, would have shattered the fabric of reality itself.
Everyone in the room reacted as though it were the possible end of the world.
And then, silence.
Everyone except Coral and Cosmo had ended up on the floor. Either they were on the ground because their legs gave out, because they’d thrown themselves to the ground, or they were already there in the first place. There was a long, heavy silence, as the fallout from what just happened began to settle.
That bathroom wasn’t going to be usable again without a full Taco Bell hazmat team and days of fumigation.
Coral watched as the eerie silence continued.
Then he turned to Wayne Newton, sitting on the ground, and said.
“We’ll take the Bolombador Crunchwraps to go, please.”
Of course he did.
God took care of the stupid ones, after all.
He woke up with no memory of what had happened. All he remembered was taking his first sip of a Baja Blast Volcano Magarita, and then his brain was pure fog. And butts. He also had to burn all of his clothes afterwards. At least, he burned what remained of them, anyway.
The Taco Bell authorities kept him quarantined within the now cursed bathroom of the Taco Bell VIP Lounge for most of the night, but once it was clear that Beef had no idea what happened or why, they couldn’t keep him there. They did, however, take away the VIP privileges of both Beef and El Janito. Since they caused the incident in the first place.
The incident would later be known as the CK-6 Incident in Taco Bell’s records. The “6” meaning it was the sixth time that the accursed Buttholomew the Corpulent King would rise in a Taco Bell location. No one was injured, except for El Janito, who sprained his ankle after Miranda hit him over the head with a standard Taco Bell stool.
Miranda O’Reilly and Steve were given the Purple Taco for their valor in defusing the situation.
Both of them were extremely confused that there was even such a thing.
Miranda didn’t remember much, either, once she calmed down. She later became convinced that the entire incident was pure fiction written by a madman. For their part, everyone agreed that it was better that she didn’t remember. It was worth noting that Kotone thought her wife was very hot at that moment, though.
Coral Avalon boarded his flight back to Seattle the next day, so confused by the entire incident that he couldn’t even bring himself to tell anyone on Jabber the specifics about what happened.
He wasn’t afraid of some sort of Taco Bell conspiracy going after him over it. He was pretty sure that didn’t exist.
If only he knew.
Steve Perry walked into the Taco Bell Cantina VIP Lounge two days later, a handful of plain fire sauce packets in one hand. He’d heard that some crazy incident had gone down in the Lounge which made the bathroom unusable, but otherwise, it was business as usual.
He walked in, and froze.
A figure stood at the throne, obscured fully by a black cloak.
Mr. Perry checked his cell phone.
No, it was definitely Monday. The black cloaks usually only visited the Lounge on Saturday. At least, that’s what he told himself.
It was what the figure held in his gloved right hand that caused Mr. Perry to freeze.
The gold cane, with a bedazzled metal taco at the end.
It had once belonged to Richard Karn, the one-time dean consigliere of the Taco Bell Cantina VIP Lounge.
“Hey!” Steve Perry shouted.
He moved to stop the figure from stealing the one item needed by Taco Bell law to proclaim oneself the Lord of Taco Bell. He spread his arms and tried to tackle him. But the figure blurred, as though illusory, and slipped right past Mr. Perry before he could grab hold of him. He fell to the ground, and watched helplessly as the figure made their escape.
“Aw, man.” Steve Perry said, as he lay on the ground, “They’re gonna have my head for this…”
Coral Avalon started walking to his rental car with his luggage in tow, ready to take his flight back home to Seattle, where his lovely wife awaited him. Coral had decided not to speak of whatever the hell happened last night. Although he was an ardent teetotaler, he felt like it would be easier to explain it all away as some sort of uncharacteristic alcoholic bender.
As he took the long walk through the parking garage to get to his car, a vehicle slowly began to approach him from behind. At first, Coral considered the notion that they were simply looking for a place to park. But when they passed by a perfectly good parking spot and kept following him, he grew concerned. He walked all the way to his car a little faster, popped open the trunk, and threw his luggage in.
As he did, the vehicle – a not-shitty scarlet hued Ford Explorer – pulled up next to him.
When the window rolled down, he saw two figures sitting riding up front.
The driver, wearing his face paint, was Timo Bolamba.
The one riding shotgun, wearing his colorful mask, was the Anglo Luchador.
Both were wearing sunglasses and dark clothing.
Coral saw this, closed his eyes, and counted to ten in his head. When he opened them and they were still there, he knew he had to say something, “Guys. I have a flight in a couple of hours. What is it?”
Timo nodded his head towards the back of the car, and said, “Get in. There is much to discuss.”
Coral looked at the door for a while, hesitant. Then he turned back to his luggage and pulled out two very important items – the Blackberry mask, and the lab coat. He slammed the trunk down, and Coral Avalon disappeared for a while.
In his place, Baron von Blackberry got into that car with Timo and TAL, and they drove away.
A man in a black cloak got out of his car, and walked into the deserts just outside of Las Vegas, Nevada.
In his right hand, he held the Taco Cane. With it, he held all of the power it represented.
In his left hand, he held a different cane, a simple black number with white tips.
With a flourish, he waved his left hand.
The cloak vanished like whispers of Great Scott, leaving a man wearing an immaculate black suit, made blacker by the dark dress shirt he wore underneath it.
The first movement of Tchaikovsky’s Serenate for Strings in C major, Op. 48 was heard immediately afterwards. The cane in his left hand disappeared underneath his sleeve, and he pulled out a cell phone with that same hand. The music cut off once he pressed a key on it, and he held the phone up to his ear.
Cut to black.