Nov 03, 2023 10:23 PM
hey larry. call me back when you get this. sorry about losing
that match.it must have just been an off night you know? i just
wanted to make sure we’re good and frankies good too. call me.
Nov 04, 12:08 AM
hey larry still havent heard from you. just wanted to check in again to
see if you got my message. call me back ok? thanx.
Nov 04, 08:27 PM
larry i just landed back in vegas if you wanna meet up to talk or
somethin. i’m real sorry about losing and all that. you ain’t done
nothin to frankie tho, right? call me.
Nov 06, 12:29 PM
god fuckin dammit, call me larry!!!! i’ve tried and you aint fucking
answering!!! answer the fucking phone!!!!
Nov 06, 01:38 PM
hey sorry about that. i just lost my cool. still waiting to hear
from you tho. this is daytona btw. thanx.
Nov 06, 02:00 PM
Just sent some pictures, Daytona. 🙂 They should be coming through.
We’ll talk real soon. Ta-ta!
PS. Help me make some of my money back and lose to Max Kael in
your next match like a good boy. Thank you!!!
[Picture 1: Dark room. Brick walls. Dim overhead light. Frankie. Handcuffed. On his knees. Two black eyes and a busted lip. Blood running down his chin.]
[Picture 2: Same room. Different angle. Frankie is on the concrete floor. Jimmy Knuckles and Hugo Alvarez loom over him. There’s a pained expression on Frankie’s face.Hugo is already rearing back his leg to deliver another kick.]
[Picture 3: Frankie’s screaming. Jimmy Knuckles is holding his wrist tight while Hugo positions one of his fingers between a pair of pruning shears.]
[Picture 4: Close-up. There’s blood everywhere. One severed index finger lays on the concrete floor.]
Nov 06, 02:02 PM
holy shit what did you fuckin do larry?! what did you do?!
I. Turn On
November 23rd, 2023 8:41 PM
The Desert Dream Motel, Room D2
Daytona Diamonds had spent the better part of November in a stupor. Granted, he’d spent the better part of his whole life in a stupor, but this time was different.
There was the usual habitual drinking and the obligatory snorting, of course, but excess had begun to encroach on insanity. Daytona had spent the whole month dredging the depths of his soul, weaving back and forth between righteous anger and outright depression, riding through the wreckage of his life on a horse knee-deep in blood… and, well, who could really blame him?
Everybody has problems. Daytona, though? Well, there’s problems and then there’s what he had. Some people would call it an overabundance. The wordy assholes amongst us would call it multifarious. The wordy assholes who didn’t like Daytona would probably call it schadenfreude. Whatever the word might be, the point was as sharp as a knife through the heart: Daytona had not been having a very good time with this whole life thing.
Money, or lack thereof. Larry Lawson. Lawson’s goons. Frankie, his soon-to-be fingerless brother. His father’s disdain. Lindsay Troy. Kaz Troy. Ami Troy. The whole damn Troy Family harkening back to the Stone Age. His hat. A barely controlled cocaine addiction. Don Winters trying to recruit him into a cult. Chandler Tsonda. A loss to Chandler Tsonda. Max Kael. The possibility of a loss to Max Kael. Sleepless nights in a shitty motel room in the worst part of Las Vegas, the same shitty motel room he was in right then, sitting cross-legged on a lumpy mattress across from his sorta-girlfriend, Bambi the Showgirl.
“So, wait,” Daytona said. “What’s this shit called again…?”
“5-3CB-MeO-something-another,” Bambi said. “But people just call it Yellow Submarine. Get it? Like The Beatles song.”
She was talking to him, but her attention was fixed on the little glass vial in her hand, carefully stirring the yellow powdery contents with a toothpick. She’d been at it for fifteen minutes straight.
“It’s this new research chemical,” Bambi explained. “I think it’s derived from like… toad venom? Or maybe it’s extracted from anteater shit? I dunno, something like that.”
“Alright,” Daytona said. “What’s it gonna do to me?”
“So, like, you’ve tripped acid before, right?” Bambi asked. “It’s a lot like that, but imagine you ate the acid on top of an eighth of shrooms and then chased it down with a hit of DMT. It’s pretty much the strongest hallucinogen in the world, I guess. So, it’s probably going to make your brain melt a little bit, baby.”
“Listen, Bambi… I appreciate you n’ everythin’, but I dunno ‘bout this,” Daytona said. “I mean, don’t get me wrong or nothin’, I get where you’re comin’ from, but I don’t wan–”
“Nope, you’re doing this,” Bambi said. “Look, Daytona. You’re circling the drain. I can see it; anybody with two good eyes can see it. This stuff? It’s going to pry open your third eye and give you the insight you need.”
“… can’t we, like, try yoga or meditation or some shit first?”
“Meditation is for monks and yoga is for soccer moms,” Bambi said, pushing the vial of Yellow Submarine in Daytona’s face. “Here. You take it sublingually. Put it under your tongue, the powder will melt like cotton candy, and then just lay down, okay?”
“…okay,” Daytona muttered, taking the vial. “You ain’t goin’ anywhere, right?”
“I’ll be right here, baby,” Bambi said. “Pinky promise.”
A sigh. A nod. With trembling fingers and a heartbeat like a metronome, Daytona poured the powder beneath his tongue. It tingled like Pop Rocks as it melted, the taste somewhere between liquid smoke and raw sewage. Daytona made a disgusted face as he closed his mouth, settling back on the bed.
“Say, how long does this stuff take to kick i–”
Swoosh. And just like that, everything changed. The walls bent until they were concave, the ceiling stretching up into infinity. Every muscle tightened then released, a popping in Daytona’s ears like distant wardrums, every molecule that made him convening and then dispersing and then careening towards the void. He tried to look around; Bambi was there and then she wasn’t, the shape of her still outlined in his vision… and against the far wall, standing still in the corner, Daytona saw his dead mother staring.
Her pale skin was stark contrast against the jet black dress she wore. She was levitating off the ground and, when she moved, she glided across the floor. Daytona tried to scream, but nothing came out; not a yelp or a cry. Instead, all Daytona could do was watch as his mother came to hover over where he lay, floating parallel over the bed.
She was so much older than he remembered. Ancient. Older than time, older than the universe, older than God.
In her eyes, he saw oblivions upon oblivions, ends upon ends, all things folding into fractals and crystalline light, unfolding into darkness full of sparks and starshine and then…
II. Tune In
The first bomb felt like a wrecking ball.
The second, more like a freight train.
Major Diamonds awoke on the ramparts of Primeorilla Castle in a cloud of shrapnel dust and black smoke. Other men were shouting, screaming, their eyes blinded and their skin singed and their bodies mangled forevermore. Diamonds pushed himself to his feet and rushed to the wall, gazing out over the battlefield with bloodshot eyes. It was too late. It was already happening. The war had arrived at his doorstep.
For months, Queen Troy’s forces had fought to keep the encroaching horde of The Maximum Kale Hivemind at bay, but their efforts proved futile. Out on the fire-stricken battlefield, beneath a sky of thunder and lightning, towering waves of kale burst from warrens beneath the earth. A leafy-green apocalypse, swallowing the world inch by inch. Primeorilla Castle was the last bastion of hope, humanity’s final refuge, and it was about to fall to ruin.
Sergeant Diamonds rushed along the rampart with his rhinestone revolver in hand, down the stone staircase and out into the castle courtyard. The scene was chaos and bedlam, soldiers rushing in every direction with fear in their eyes. Among them, Major Don Winters commanded his Paladin Battalion forward, each holy warrior conjuring sacred flame to cast over the castle walls. Diamonds saw General Tsonda amidst the carnage, standing proud with his rapier in one hand and his Belt of Numbers wrapped tight around his waist. They all marched forward towards their doom, their demise, their end, but that wasn’t Diamonds’ concern; his eyes searched the crowd until they spotted the only person that truly mattered.
Private Frankie, his brother-in-arms and brother-by-birth.
The bombs had sent Frankie tumbling down from the ramparts. Now, he lay in the wreckage screaming in agony. One hand reached up towards the sky, a bloody river running down from the stumps where his fingers used to be. Sergeant Diamonds rushed towards his brother, calling out his name, but he knew he was already too late. War holds no kindness for the ones you love.
Sergeant Diamonds fell to his knees and cradled Frankie in his arms, the tears already welling up in his eyes before he even spoke.
“Frankie! Stayeth with me!” he cried. “I’m beggin’ ye, thou not kicketh the bucket on me!”
“T’s already too late, mine own broth’r,” Frankie sputtered. “Coequal anon, I can heareth the Lord’s angels singing.”
“Nay, nay, god dang nay!” Diamonds screamed once more. “Broth’r, thou art goin’ to beest fine! Ev’rythin’ is going to beest fine!”
“Nay, wonneth’t beest. I’ll soon be dead,” Frankie said, smiling weakly. “But thee’ll survive. And thee’ll avenge me. Wend f’rth and conqu’r the Maximum Kale, broth’r mine… and then wend furth’r still.”
“…broth’r?” Diamonds asked. “Broth’r…?!”
Before Private Frankie could respond, his eyes grew wide and his jaw went agape. Sergeant Diamonds begged and pleaded until tears streamed down his cheeks, but it was no use; his brother was gone, dead, robbed from this world. Diamonds laid Private Frankie’s body to rest there on the mud-soaked courtyard. He ran his palm over Frankie’s eyes to close his lids before wiping the tears away from his own eyes. Daytona stood tall, gritting his teeth as his blood began to boil and his vision turned red.
With his rhinestone revolver gripped tight, Sergeant Diamonds charged into the fray.
The battlefield was already a wartorn, rabid place. Soldiers fell atop soldiers in massive funeral mounds, their lives stolen by lumbering stalks of kale on the frontlines. Maximum Kale’s hivemind army slung fiery heads of lettuce from their trebuchets, exploding into the earth and forming massive craters in their wake. Diamonds fought his way on through the madness like a man possessed. The rhinestone revolver was hot in his hand, firing diamond-clad bullets that pierced his cabbage-adjacent enemies and tossed their salads.
Through foxholes and across firing lines, by derring-do or just dumb luck, Sergeant Diamonds found himself in the Kale heart of darkness. Beyond the battlefield and behind enemy lines, the demonspawn brain of The Maximum Kale Hivemind lurked behind a sea of green. Producing his broadsword from its hilt, Diamonds set to clearing the way, hacking through the vegetation for what felt like hours. The whole time, his own brain pulsed and shivered, filled with disembodied words; words of caution, words of hate, words like ‘Ţ̸͇̂H̴̤̄̂Ȩ̶͝ ̴̮̰̅F̷͎́Ḽ̴̤̎͘E̵̪̿͝S̴̠̎H̷̥̬͒ ̷̰̯̽̋S̶̢̺͝Ḣ̴͈A̷̬̞͆Ḷ̸̹̿̉L̷̨̘͋͑ ̵̡͗͜R̵͍̆Ë̶͔́̚N̴͚̱͛̐Ď̶̨͝,̷̢̀ ̵͖̒T̷̠͋̈́H̶̠̓Ë̵́ͅ ̴̻͚͛̀F̴̨̅Ľ̴̘̙̋Ę̷̝͛̀Ş̸͍̿͘H̸͍̲̎͠ ̸̹͌Š̵̝ͅH̵̗͛A̷̻͐L̸̺̰̐̽L̷̢̽ ̴͓̓̆S̷͓̅ͅŰ̴͓̜͋F̵̫̏́F̸͈̅Ë̴͙̪R̸͚̦͐̕’ and ‘N̴̡̒͝ͅǑ̷͇̦ ̴̙̟͐Ḿ̶̯̚E̵̘̝̚À̵̖̘̏T̴͎̰̐̚ ̷͎̤́̆S̶̨̅̾H̴̤͛͜Ä̷̠̘͊Ḽ̸̨̆͂L̵͕̉͒ ̵̩̓̄P̴͖̠̚͠A̸̠͆Ş̶͛̕͜S̴̻͑͠’’ and ‘D̶̺̒E̶̲̾̏Â̶̲T̵̝͔̓̓H̸̥̉,̴̟̹͠ ̷̏͜Ḏ̷̏̕Ẹ̸̈́͗Ả̵̠̿T̷͍̕Ḧ̷̯́,̶̬̂̔ ̵͈̏A̴͖̚ ̷̣̃Ț̶̄Ḧ̴̬̹O̴̘̐̚Û̷̫͗S̸̳͐͝A̴̘̮͝N̶̫̠͛̾D̸̹͊ ̶̪̮̉D̶͔̗͒E̸͎͊A̶̼͑͝T̶̅͜H̵̨͎͆͋S̸͕̆͝’… and then Diamonds emerged into a cavernous, cathedral-esque room of blackstone and shadow.
The brain sat unguarded in the center of the room surrounded by ropes anchored by four turnbuckles. It was grotesque and godless, a sight of horror and revulsion. It was only a facsimile of a human brain, covered in greenish pus and plant matter, chloroform blood pumping through weaving tendrils that draped down from the rafters. Diamonds stood in front of the abomination for only a moment before he lifted his revolver.
As his finger settled on the trigger, the brain began to shift and move. A wicked, grinning face appeared in the brain’s frontal lobe and, when it spoke, its voice was a raspy, wheezing noise.
COME TO SSSSSLAY
“Aye!” Sergeant Diamonds shouted. “In mine own broth’r’s name, I has’t cometh to slay thee, foul wretch!”
“THEN SSSSO IT SSSSHALL BE,
COME FORTH, BRAVE CONQUEROR,
AND CLAIM YOUR VICTORY.
BUT KNOW THISSSSS…
THIS IS A REALLY DUMB CONCEPT, MAN.
LIKE, WHAT THE HELL IS THIS? MAXIMUM KALE? THAT’S SUPPOSED TO BE MAX KAEL?, RIGHT?
THAT’S REALLY DUMB. WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING…?”
With no hesitation, Sergeant Diamonds pulled back the hammer on his rhinestone revolver. His finger squeezed the trigger. The bullet pierced through the brain and a tidal wave of white light spilled forth, so bright it was blinding. Sergeant Diamonds covered his eyes as the white light spread throughout the cathedral. Out on the battlefield, the gathered armies, from General Tsonda’s Viper Platoon to Major Don Winters’ Paladin Battalion, stood in awe as The Kale Horde wilted and shriveled away. When the brain exploded, it threw Sergeant Diamonds across the room, the cathedral already starting to break apart as ceiling beams and slabs of stone fell from overhead. A massive crossbeam fell on Diamonds’ legs and he screamed, every bone breaking in sequence as he stared wide-eyed up towards his own demise. Blood sputtered out from between his teeth, a preternatural cold overtaking his body. As he succumbed to death, a single question loomed and he spoke it then, the last words he’d ever say:
“Does… does this count for match relevance?”
III. Drop Out
Daytona awoke in his bed in a cold sweat.
He was tangled in his sheets, his heart beating so fast it felt like it would burst from his chest and go bouncing around the room. It was still dark outside, but the city skyline shined bright for as far as the eye could see. It took Daytona a moment to realize where he was.
Las Vegas. The Bellagio Hotel. The Honeymoon Suite.
A sigh of relief as he settled back into his bed, his new wife by his side. She mumbled and stirred as she turned over in her sleep, eyes cracking open behind a veil of purple hair. “Mm… Daytona? Honey…? You okay…?”
“Oh yeah, yeah,” Daytona muttered. “I’m fine, puddin’. Just a bad dream is all.”
Daytona turned on his side to look at her, a smile immediately spreading across his lips. There she was; his beautiful wife, his blushing bride, his everything… Ami Troy.
“I love you, honeybear,” she told him, a dollop of nacho cheese still glued to the corner of her mouth. “I’m so happy.”
“I’m happy too, puddin’,” he told her. “And I love you more’n you’ll ever know.”
As she leaned in to kiss him, the bed gave way and Daytona’s mind shattered as he fell deeper into his drug-induced phantasmagoria. Daytona was wailing as he spun adrift through the void, gnashing his teeth and grasping his hands against thin air until he plopped down on the couch in his father’s living room. A clock was ticking erratically, the old photos of wrestlers from yesteryear melting on the wall line a Dali painting. His father sat in his wheelchair across the room in his old ring gear, tears streaking his face and a crown of thorns placed atop his head. When he spoke, his voice boomed and echoed, all thunder and roar and bellowing anger.
“You did this,” he said. “You ruined the family name, boy. You ruined my legacy. You got your brother as good as dead. You, you, you, you. You’re a cancer, Daytona. A pox. A pestilence on my life.”
Daytona tried to speak, but his words came out as hissing static. His father stood from his wheelchair and walked across the room on deteriorating legs, twisting and bending in every direction, eyes full of hate and malice. “You, you, you,” he spoke again. “I wish I had plucked you from your mother’s womb and crushed you in my hands. Every time you wrestle, I pray you’ll break your neck and never step foot in that ring again. I want to be in the front row when it happens. I want to sit there cheering while you scream, scream, scream.”
His father approached on uneven feet until he was looming over Daytona. One gnarled reached out to wrap itself around Daytona’s throat, squeezing with a vice grip. Daytona struggled and coughed, but his father only squeezed tighter, those echoing words the loudest thing he’d ever heard.
“In Memphis, I hope you die. I hope Max Kael strangles you just like this. I hope he cures this world of you,” his father said. “He won’t even know what a hero he is, but I’ll tell him myself. I’ll say, ‘Thank you, Mr. Kael. Thank you for ridding me of my awful son. Thank you, thank you, thank you.’. I’ll kiss his feet and dance on your grave, boy.”
Daytona’s vision began to darken, his lungs collapsing in on themselves, as his father grinned down at him. As the world went black, the hand released and once again, Daytona went ricocheting through inner space.
He saw severed fingers line dancing, each one singing without mouths in Frankie’s voice; “On the Wings of a Nightingale” by The Everly Brothers, but distorted and mangled and wrong, the lyrics all out of place and the music detuned beyond recognition. He saw Larry Lawson, flanked by Jimmy Knuckles and Hugo Alvarez, all three laughing hysterically as rhinestones poured from their eyes. He saw Lindsay Troy wearing a judge’s wig, banging a gavel, screaming obscenities… and then he saw himself.
He sat cross-legged, alone in the center of a wrestling ring. The ropes were all on fire as ash fell from the sky. As the fire spread across the apron and then engulfed the mat, Daytona’s self looked up and smiled just as the flames began to lick at his skin.
“Jesus Christ, ain’t it ’bout time we stop feelin’ so fuckin’ bad ’bout ourselves?” his self asked. “We’re Daytona fuckin’ Diamonds. We’re the god dang Rhinestone Cowboy. We don’t get all sad and mopey; we get even.”
The flames inched their way up his self’s arms and across his shoulders, through his hair until he wore a crown of fire. That smile only grew wider.
“What am I ‘sposed to do…?” Daytona asked. “I’m fallin’ apart here.”
“Well, first and foremost, we gotta stop actin’ like such a little bitch,” his self said. “Blow Larry Lawson’s fuckin’ brains out. Tell our dad to go fuck himself. If Frankie dies, he dies. Fuck PRIME, fuck the Troys, fuck all that. We ain’t no good guy, buddy. We’re a fuckin’ snake in the grass. Start actin’ like one.”
And then Daytona watched himself burn.
When morning came, Daytona woke up lying supine on the floor of his Desert Dreams motel room, his arms spread east and west. His clothes were gone, a migraine working its way across his forehead, and the world felt like it was spinning faster than it ever had before.
Bambi was gone and Daytona was alone, his brain still humming as the drug etched new thoughts through his neural pathways and the taste of chalk in his mouth. His head felt like a warehouse with no room to spare, overstuffed and crowded; it would be days, weeks, months before he could properly understand everything he’d seen during his trip. Pushing himself to his feet, he stood on baby deer legs, his eyes searching the room through blurry vision until they settled on a folder piece of paper lying on his nightstand, kissmarked and signed with Bambi’s name in cursive script.
Daytona stumbled across the room to where the note lay. He picked it up and unfolded it, eyes trying to focus as he began to read:
It’s Bambi, obviously. Sorry I left you alone, I got a call from work and had to go. I hope the rest of your trip went well… you were mostly just laying there muttering to yourself, if it’s any consolation. But hey… So, I’ve been wanting to tell you something I found out a few days ago, but I couldn’t figure out how to say it, especially with everything you’ve been going through. I figured this might be the best way, even if it’s… kinda lame. So, I’m just going to tell you.
I’m pregnant, Daytona. And it’s most likely yours?
So… call me when you read this, okay?
Daytona stared blankly at the piece of paper, his fingers trembling and quaking as a rush of anxiety made a beeline for his very being. Two words perched at the tip of his tongue, lingering there, hovering, waiting to fall forth into the world.
And really, that just sums up this whole life thing in a nutshell, doesn’t it?