It’s Only a Pinky
“COOLOSSUS Season is back in full swing and my dick could not be any harder. The Bandits are becoming formidable. My ticket to paradise remains GOLDEN. Coral is rapidly ascending at a rate I haven’t seen before. Bobby’s more attentive and amazingly enough eating less. Well, a little less. Okay the same. Best of all though my plan is working.” — Jiles’ Journal, November 10th, 2023.
The Crew’s Mess on board the USS Octane is nothing fancy.
After all, she’s been built for war.
There’s a reinforced table for congregating, and a handful of reinforced chairs positioned around it. There’s also a reinforced stool or two that no one dares to sit on.
Not a typo.
The flooring in the Crew’s Mess is made up of red and black checkered tile; with multiple tiles having suffered the wrath of stress cracks and stool pranks. A few empty cabinets line the one wall, and alongside them is a white refrigerator with a jerry-rigged door handle. Next to that is a sink that could use Belle 2.0’s expert touch.
I reiterate that none of it, any of it at all, was, is, or ever will be fancy.
But, regardless of the lack of lavishness, that’s where we were…
…we, the eGG Bandits.
I had my T-shades on, and my hair was fantastic. Bob had his finger/entire hand in his belly button, and as such his humble Honaleean attitude was shining. Coral had his forehead out, but his second family that lives inside of it was not allowed to explore below the deck. Lastly, Laser was around, but was busy looking after the ship so he wasn’t with us.
As for what the three of us were doing inside the mess, well we were sitting around the table finishing up lunch, or first lunch as Bobby likes to call it.
Third breakfast is more like it.
The reason for our gathering wasn’t born of hunger, well two thirds of it wasn’t. More like half of it if we’re just taking into account body weight. Rather, it was because Coral had been out of the deep freeze for a little while and was raring to speak his mind. However, we ran into a few last minute problems with the construction of the set, and then he started to experience some residual side effects from cryostasis. Mainly, his brain was swelling since it wasn’t frozen anymore. It was nothing a couple of extra strength anti-inflammatories couldn’t fix; the poor guy just had to suffer through a short spell of catatonia before they could kick in.
Cryo. Who knew?
Then, he threw up the Tylenol we had given him. Meaning, not only did we now have to change his clothes, but Dr. Bob had to administer the medicine the old fashioned way.
Needless to say, after all that we took a much needed and well deserved lunch break. Coral’s brain needed the time, Bob’s stomach needed to be satiated, and I needed another good laugh. Sadly, at no point during our, but more so Bob’s meal could I smell the assortment of Chinese food that sat before me; seeing as my nose was still all jacked up from when Don Winters hit me in the face with a banana peel.
Also of note, my customary EB track jacket was free of my salty shoulders and safely tucked away inside my closet. While the bones of Nate Colton were not in there with it, Herpes Hanlon’s baseball bat, Crumblood’s sweaty singlet, the stopwatch JCH and Zion used to play seven minutes in Elysium, Stanislob’s bear rug, and Cecilworth’s bloody ascot all were, and still are.
Truth be told I had just gotten the collar starched and didn’t want Bob to accidentally get any food splatter on it. As such, I wore a meaningless throw away tee that PRIME handed out during last year’s other tournament. Ya know, the one no one cared about that was named after a reality television show. I can’t even remember who won the thing. Snozzberry was it? Crumberry? Forkberry?
It’s not like anyone cares.
Anyway, Coral had on an outfit that made his forehead look even bigger than it was. As in, yet again the poor neck-hole on his t-shirt was stretched out like it had given birth to a set of fully grown, healthy, Siamese watermelons. There was also text on both the front and the back of the t-shirt.
On the front, and situated underneath an arrow pointing upwards, the text read:
The only thing bigger than this forehead…
On the back, and situated on top of an arrow pointing downwards, the text read:
…is Justine Calvin’s ass!
And Bobby was wearing food. Duck sauce, spare ribs, and Lo Mein to name a few of the designers. Luckily, since he remained out of the Invitational he had on his funeral black’s underneath the cornucopia of animals gracing his person.
Bobby Ventura, a real ace of a pet detective.
Now, If I had to surmise a good portion of our time during the meal, well I would say I hardly ate because I was too busy laughing about Hayes crying over the MAIN EVENT snub.
Then, more like finally though, after trying to gather myself a few times and failing, I was able to hold it together long enough to offer the newest Bandit some advice.
I mean, who better than me?
I’ve been there before. I’ve successfully hunted a bounty. I’ve made it past round three. I’m the hardest working man in PRIME. I’m his brother. Plus, he looked like he could use it.
So, I leaned forward in my chair, focused my eyes on Coral, of course from behind the comfort of two tinted mirrors, and said, “If I were you I’d make damn sure he knows that you haven’t forgotten about the past. It’s still fresh. It’s still there. It still bothers you.”
Bob snarled, or he snored. It was one or the other. I no sold him and kept on advising. “What he did to you… how he caused you to suffer beyond a rib injury, that’s where you hit him. And when you do it, you use that forehead of yours and you hit him so hard Vince Howard has to start pronouncing the T in his last name.”
JUST BECAUSE, JARRY MARKS.
Turns out it was a snore. The Honaleean did yawn against Crumblood, so it should come as no surprise he tires in strenuous situations. Like sitting down and listening. He did eat a lot too, so that could have something to do with it. Regardless, I continued to no sell and pressed forward with my preferred tips and tricks eggsclusive Bandit only package.
“The goal is you want him wondering what in the hell he’s going to have to do in order to beat you this time around, because rest assured this is not the same match that happened back then. When he realizes he doesn’t know how, and sure as shit he’ll realize it if you’re convincing enough, that’s when the anxiety will really start to manifest itself. The closer it gets to the match, the greater it will become; and people crack under that kind of pressure. I don’t care who they think they are or how much money they have.”
Pun intended or not? You be the judge.
Coral was wide-eyed and diligent. It warmed my COOL nonexistent heart. Truly, a worthy Bandit, and I assure you his stoic attentiveness had nothing at all to do with his minor brain swell. So, captivated by his diligence, I further plodded, “They say misery loves company, so share with him just how…”
“Yes!” Yeah, I exclaimed. “Tell him just how entitled you think he is. I promise you it will be okay. I swear it. Outside of a sunken toilet I have yet to do you wrong.” Mostly true. There was the whole pregnant hoe thing. I shrugged on the inside and kept going. “Trust me, bro.” My plea was real. My advice genuine. You could tell because my nose had remained the same length the entire time.
I was telling no lies.
Nor had I planned to.
“It’s okay to be human; even with a forehead like that.” I didn’t point. I am a gentleman. “You’re a Bandit now. We proudly wear our emotions on our sleeves like badges of honor handed out from the eGG Scouts of COOLYMPIA. It’s what we do. It’s our greatest strength, and eventually you’ll learn how to flex that strength so that fortune favors you.” I smiled. “For now I’ll gladly show you the way.”
Coral slowly nodded. He understood what I was telling him. I didn’t care if his face was still a little blue, and his nose matched the red tile on the floor. My words were not falling upon deaf ears, or invisible ears, or cardboard ears, or French ears, or adolescent chicken ears, or ears stuffed with grease and cholesterol.
“Knowing all of that, and this isn’t or wasn’t my way of trying to talk you out of something, AND I do like it, I swear, but are you sure you want the motif to be Wild West, Wanted Dead or Alive? I swear I love it. I do. The problem with the set should be easy enough to fix. GOD knows there’s no shortage of bars on this ship, and most of them are dusty to begin with.”
Hopefully I didn’t reveal my hand. I was trying to be eggstra subtle. He did ask for my advice. At least I think he did. So, he got it.
“Ya know, not to be too on the nose but Bobby does own a mini samurai sword of sorts. He was supposed to bring it out for lunch, but he must have fallen asleep before getting the chance.”
“He got it from an infomercial a little ways back. It’s used for thinly slicing sushi, but I was thinking we could use it for a yakuza bit.”
“Ya-ku-za?” The tone in which Coral responded led me to believe he did not share my same fervor.
“Yeah.” I hollered back like I was about to sell him a used car. “You could use it to cut off a pinky finger as a way of expunging your prior shame.” Hard Boiled pondered. Well, at least it looked like he was pondering. I knew he was leaning towards the Wild West option; there was something about the costume that just made his forehead look smaller.
Neck-hole was elastic.
Being the bigger man, at least the one with a better win-loss record, I made the decision an easy one for Coral to make while not losing any face of my own. “Oh, and just to be clear, cryo isn’t effective on severed limbs.”
The Crownless King glanced around blankly. The proper colors were beginning to return to his face, and life was slowly deswelling from behind his eyes. Being so, his bushy tailed gaze eventually stopped upon the t-shirt he was wearing. Cognizant, he looked back up at me with a certain inquisitiveness. I stammered, “Uh, yeah. The neck-hole called on the I SURVIVED cryostasis for the second time t-shirt and said he couldn’t come in today because he was sick. Sorry.”
No, that didn’t happen.
I was just covering because that shirt, just like Jared Sykes’ chances at ReVival 39, did not exist.
“The Heart of PRIME. More like PRIME’s Manic Kin.” — Jiles’ Journal, November 15th, 2023.
There I am…
The righteous Eggsecutioner of the resurgent and revamped eGG Bandits. The unquestioned, unrivaled, undeterred hardest working, coolest sunglasses having, oiliest hair dripping, LION HEART OF PRIME. THE GOLDEN TICKET NOT BECUSE I HAVE ONE WHICH I DO OF COURSE BUT BECAUSE I’M CANCER FUCKING JILES AND NOT EVEN MAIN EVENT MIDAS IS STUPID ENOUGH TO TRY AND TAKE IT FROM ME.
…fixed atop my throne.
Oh, and the unzipped electric blue track jacket with the starched and popped collar is on my back again, so now would be as good a time as any to pucker up those cheeks and start worrying.
It’s round three.
Survival of the fittest.
All or nothing.
I’ve come too far to have my tiki torch extinguished.
I bellow, then smile for the cameras.
My smile vanishes like Hayes Hanlon’s friendship.
“Friend. Of. Mine.”
As long as Justine is around that is.
“This has been a long time coming, hasn’t it, Jared? In fact, it’s been so long that I’m struggling with where to even begin. Good versus COOL? Award winner versus award winner? Snozz versus Blue? Maybe with Hayes, aka the boy who plays with ties and stabs with knives? You in the back, and me in my heart.”
Ironic, and you’ll see why over the course of the next couple hundred words.
“Surviving round three perhaps?”
Confounded, I press my index finger against my lips, as if it would help clear the fog in my brain. Probably should have just taken some Tylenol.
“Or should it be the many stupid and silly nicknames you’ve slayed a dragon under?”
Be a bit long in the tooth.
I said it would be a bit long in the tooth.
“I got it; let’s go with how I admire your ultra impressive one loss tag team record.”
A split second passes.
“No, I can’t do that. Then I’d be lying right from the start and I usually save my fibs for later on in the serenade.”
That’s a lie.
With my right hand I make a stiff, obscene gesture and or jerking motion in regard to how I really feel about Jared’s ultra impressive one loss tag team record.
That was the truth.
“Damn, this is tough. Maybe your diligent love for the classics?”
“I just don’t know.”
If I seem bewildered, or even flustered, it’s because I’m setting up my next joke and not because Jared the Giant Slayer is intimidating.
See, I watched him up close and personal on the last show. I’ve seen his athleticism first hand, and while it was impressive, I’ve also seen how susceptible he is to the dark arts.
“Hmmmm, let’s start with the elephant in the room, shall we? Let’s start with what Twilight team you cheered for and how I already know it was Team Edward because of your stupid brooding face and your aversion to sunshine.”
I’ve never seen the movies. I just remember seeing all the hoopla on the gigantic collector cups from Bobby’s Arby’s runs back in the day. Three liters of Diet Pepsi, gone, like that. Catch him on the right day and he can still perform that same trick.
“I bet he was your favorite character, too, you crumb.”
“I can see it now, Jared and Eddy slicing it up in the Razor Room.”
“Anyway, let’s talk about the true elephant in the room, a Mr. Hayes Hanlon. A person, a crumb, and a backstabber we both know very well for all the wrong reasons. I hate him, Jared. More than most, maybe any. Last year he did me so dirty I’m still not clean. I would need to kill him, go to jail, get out thirty years later, bring him back to life somehow, and then kill him again just to tip the scale a smidgen in my favor.”
My eyes close.
On the inside of my eyelids I watch the biggest match, on the biggest show, in the biggest spot all year. Then, as everything I’ve done is about to culminate with a career defining moment… it’s gone.
The everlasting agony of defeat.
My eyes open.
“Make no mistakes about it, Jared.”
For some, it might be family, it might be a broad, it might be a cardboard box, or church, or the inside of your car. Shit, it might actually be the place that you live. Or sleep in. Or fuck in. Or grew up in. Not for me though. There’s only one place I feel at home, and I caught a glimpse of it when I closed my eyes just then.
“Now, I’m not trying to compare scars here. You can’t even see yours when compared to mine so why bother.”
“What I’m doing is letting you know that although we come from different sides of the tracks, I empathize. I sympathize. I understand, Jared. I went there. I get it. So much so that if Wonderboy makes it to the final rest assured I’m going to crack open his skull like an egg and fry his brains like they are on drugs. You can even come down to the ring and watch. Cool?”
A smirk, and suddenly a text from PRIME’s counsel instructing me to stop immediately and that gimmick infringement will not be tolerated.
“Don’t worry about thanking me, either. It will be my pleasure. In fact, consider it a professional courtesy from one award winner to another.”
Truth or Dare
“He needed to know just how serious I was.” — Jiles’ Journal, November 16th, 2023.
Days had passed since Coral had come and gone. Sure, he was healed again, but at what cost?
He’ll find out in 75 years when the documents get unsealed.
Until then though, it was business as usual. However, every once in a while, in business, my business anyway, you have to do things you don’t want to. You have to go against the grain to instill a train of thought. You have to fight instinct to make sure that your message is heard. You have to do something bad, and it has to shock the shell off of someone.
Even if the person you do it to doesn’t deserve it.
Respect is learned, not given.
Sadly, that person was Coral.
Things were great. It was great. It is great. He is great and there’s no telling just how far we’ll go. But, great only goes so far when your closet is as occupied as mine is. So, I brought him back to the ship. Just for a check up, because… well you know why. So, after we took his temperature, orally, we told him to follow us.
Us, being me, Bob, and Laser. The boat was docked so there was no need for him to keep an eye out.
We started down a path.
Then we went down another.
Then down another.
Then, we found the door with many locks on it. Once Laser went through the twelve step process, the AA Door was opened. On the other side was a long staircase that went all the way down to the very bottom of the ship.
We call it the gallows. It’s where we keep our unwanted guests. It’s a very ominous place. Dingy. Harmful. Dangerous. Smells like chicken. Not a lot of good happens down there. The people aren’t very nice. As we walked past the occupants, born of flesh, bone, soul, and cardboard, we eventually made it to the last door on the left.
It was open.
A light shined through the doorway.
Inside there was a bed, a bucket, hot tea, and some sort of frothy nectar on the walls. I told Coral to sit on the bed. To relax. That it was okay. He was as good as gold. But, he also needed to know how things might end up. He needed to be aware that it’s not always omelets, cryo, and forehead measurements. He started to get a little nervous. I assured him he was fine, we just had to have a conversation down here so he could fully understand where I was coming from.
A picture is worth a thousand words.
He promised us that he would fight us to the death if we tried to keep him down there, but more importantly, that he was in. That, this wasn’t necessary and we could trust him.
I was shocked.
Of course I trusted him. It’s Coral Avalon we’re talking about here. I said to him, “This isn’t your room. It’s Jared’s. Now you’ll be able to check in on your buddy should the situation dictate.”
It was a tough pill to swallow.
But he got the message.