True Story©... The Wrath of the Cicadas

(yes, y'all have seen this image before)

     Don’t call me.  Don’t call me unless someone is dead or fucking bleeding on the way to the upper room.
My first several years of reasonably-compensated non-retail employment involved being tethered to a phone and I have learned to hate that shit now, even when that phone is my wireless for most other communication than texts.
     June 18th, day 23 of furlough, my phone rings.  I ignore it from across the room while I play GRID on the PlayStation.
  it rings again.  I holler to my wife in her office in the back “what the FUCK, are you calling me!?”  She is either asleep or ignores me.
… it. rings. again.  What the HELL?!!?  I say as I pause the game and head over to the desk to take it off the charger.  It is a weird number, I Google and learn that it is from one of those weird Eastern European countries, like Moldova or Romania or Slavobia or whatever the fuck ever they’re named these days.  Well I ain’t calling it back because I ain’t about to eat any international long distance charges.  I wait, and it rings again.
Me: “Pool room.”
Caller: “I-I’m sorry, I thought I was calling--…”
Me: “Kidding, you got the right number I think.”
Caller: “My name is [redacted], directress of the international supervillain’s convention, and we wanted to ask if--…”
Me: “Wait.  Directress?”
Caller: “Yes”
Me: “Last dude that called me was a dude.”
Caller: “Indeed he was.”
Me: “Lemme guess, someone compelled him to participate and”
Caller: “You’re on the right track--…”
Me: “…  and he got motherfuckin' GREASED.”
Caller: “Absolutely he did.”
Me: “So what gives?  I been waiting two years, eleven months and twenty days for my chance to defend my crown.”
Caller: “And now you’re getting it.”
Me: “Well you gon’ have to come here and talk to me about it.”
Caller: “I will see you Saturday.”

     Now no longer captive to the phone call, I completed the next couple of races in the game and went outside to the garden to clear my head of all extraneous bullshit and begin formulating a plan of how to defend my title.
     Saturday morning, the phone rings I provide a time and place to meet that is NOT my place of residence.  I have ZERO intentions on bringing these motherfuckers to where I – and more importantly my wife and kid – lay our heads.  We chose the Greensboro Arboretum, place to walk and talk without prying ears.
To my surprise, she showed up to the meeting herself and without an entourage…
Directress: “Nice to meet again?”
Me: “Have we met before?”
Directress: “Yes, at the year you won.”
Me: “Don’t take it personal that I don’t recall.  I met a bunch of people that weekend and was defending my life.”
Directress: “No offense taken.”
Me: “So why now?  I mean, y’all could have called me the whole time and I might have considered it.”
Directress: “Do you remember the shit you did at that one?”
Me: “HA!  Yep!”
Directress: “Well the sheer terror that the mention of your name provided caused people to refuse to show if you did.”
Me: “I’m honored.  But how is that not still the case?”
Directress: “We’re doing them blind now.”
Me: “Nice”
Directress: “What the hell is that sound?”
Me: “What sound?”
Directress: “You don’t hear that loud chattery sound?”
Me: “Uhh…  oh shit!  Those are cicadas.”
Directress: “Sick-what?”
Me: “Cicadas.  What you hear is their mating song and they sing them in the hottest times of the year.”
Directress: “This doesn’t BOTHER you?”
Me: “It’s a part of summer here, I haven’t noticed it to care, and I will be 41 in a week and a half.”
Directress: “Amazing.”
Me: “Meh…  We deal.  So anyway, I was GOING to renew my passport after it expired in November, then Covid hit these skreets--…”
Directress: “… still underground, we will get you where you need to be without the need for a passport.”
Me: “Aight.”
Directress: “So can we count you as ‘in’?”
Me: “Tell me when.  I have to work this around my life schedule.”
Directress: “June 30th through July 4th.”
Me: “Can I be home by 5pm on the 4th?  I have a family involvement then.”
Directress: “That depends.”
Me: “On?”
Directress: “Your success in the competition.”
Me: “Are you doubting me?”
Directress: “I’m honestly kind of afraid to.”
Me: “Thank you.”
Directress: “We’ll send a car for you at 7am.”
Me: “You’ll send a car to this park, I ain’t bringing y’all to my house.”

     Two weeks later, the wife drops me at the park and I am shuttled to our regional airport and ferried to two OTHERS before being flown out on a larger one from one in the Caribbean which I will surmise was Cuba.  Last stop?  Who the fuck knows?  Probably Slavobia or Shankistan or some shit.  Fuck if I know, I’ve never been on a legal trip to Europe.

     By virtue of infamy, I drew the champion’s champion’s bracket, and with that a two-round bye.  I would not have to suit up and perform until everyone else had already done their own.
I will not bore you with the gory – and they WERE gory – details of what the others did, but I watched it all.  I studied.  I looked for weakness in their faces and gaps in their throughput.  Chinks in the armor if you will.
     Now it is Thursday, round three…

Directress: “You ready?”
Me: “Hell yeah.”
Directress: “A crisis of confidence is not something you often experience.”
Me: “Not when it comes to this kind of shit, no.”
Directress: “I don’t know whether to envy or fear you.”
Me: “Yep”
Directress: “What?”
Me: “Do both.”
Directress: “Wow”
Me: “You know how loud cicadas are in mating?”
Directress: “I don’t think you told me.”
Me: “120”
Directress: “W-what?”
Me: “A large male cicada up close can be up to 120 decibels.”
Directress: “…”
Me: “A jet engine at barely-safe distance is 140”
Directress: “How do you KNOW this shit?”
Me: “Never mind that.  It’s introductions time.  Get that mic and do your thing.”

     The introduction was something out of WWE, and I was introduced with a montage of my prior triumphs.  Smiles all around.
… then they showed the one where Santa got in my shit year before last.
     Luckily, he wasn’t there.  Apparently he was afraid to leave the North Pole due to Covid 19 concerns.  Whew!  My opponent was introduced more or less like a rookie, so his montage was more like someone being introduced on Chopped.

     He addressed me…

“The legend.  Your reputation precedes you.”
Me: “Good things, I hope.”
“Well you got owned by Santa Claus.”
Me: “That’s low.”
“Oh, I know.”
Me: “I also got rich on the way to it, remember that.”
“What does that have to do with anything?”
Me: “Heh.”
Me: “Wait and see, junior.”

     I was caught a little off by being reminded of Santa Claus.  I decided to employ the nuclear option right at the outset.  We approached one another in the middle of the arena.  As he approached the spot, I stopped short and snapped my fingers, he was immediately snapped up into a shark tank.
Me: “I got rich.”
“You asshole!”
Me: “Yeah, I know.  Enjoy.”
“Let me out of here.  This shit won’t net you a win!”
Me: “Oh, I know.”
     I turned and waived for his shark tank-turned-cell to be craned into a plexiglass box filled with cicadas.

“What are these things?”
Me: “We could let the directress explain it, but it has only now hit me that she has never seen them, only heard.”
Directress: “They’re not doing the thing, and besides how the hell did you get these here without us--…”
Me: “Relax.  This unfolds in waves.”
“Jesus, it is getting warm in here!”
Me: “Should get to about 86 degrees in there.  Worry not, the box is ventilated and you’ll be kept alive.”

     As if on cue, tens of thousands of cicadas started their mating song inside of a box with a man inside who was powerless to stop them and unable to escape.

Me: “I imagine his hearing is shot to shit by now, only a couple of minutes in.  Let’s see where we can carry this.  Who is hungry?”

     The incredulity on the faces that I would carry out something seemingly so simple and convene for lunch so quickly!  Assuredly, they thought I had gone soft.

Me: “And get this man some coffee!”

     Plan firmly in place, we went on to lunch.  My opponentvictim can’t escape and is fully hopped up on caffeine while his hearing is being assaulted by an army of insects each wailing 120 decibels of noise right in close quarters.
     After an hour away at lunch he was clearly disheveled, but I was in no mood for mercy.  Instead, I quizzed people in the audience over whether they had seen Tiger King and if they thought That Bitch Carole Baskin killed her husband, about what their favorite song was in Hamilton and why specifically was it Satisfied.  I swear I heard him scream in agony, but it sounded more like the groans of a monster in an 80’s B movie.  I was clear that his hearing was fully compromised, as probably was his voice from the yelling he may or not have done while we were away having lunch.

Me: “Cut him loose, but don’t let him out.”

     The crane comes back out, his cell is removed from the cicada case.  He looked at me pitifully, as if he wanted to speak.

Me: “Sir?”
Me: “Cicadas got your tongue?”
Me: “Dammit Phillip, you had the moment and you come with a fucking dad joke!?”
Me: “If you can hear me, signal to me.”
Me: “Blink once for ‘help’ or blink twice for ‘help-help’.”

Looks like the decision was made for me.

Me: “Put this motherfucker back in the cicadas, let’s go for drinks!”

     Apparently they don’t fuck with Tennessee or Kentucky bourbon in Slavobia, so I had to make due with vodka.  After what felt EXACTLY like the three hours we’d just spent bullshitting an drinking, we returned to the scene of the crimemutually-agreed combat.
Upon arrival, we found that my opponent had shit himself, thrown up and passed out.  I don’t know what the order of expulsions were, and I don’t particularly think I want to know.

Me: “MEDIC!  Make sure this hapless bastard didn’t Hendrix himself?”

They extracted the cage and doused him with water, he snapped to attention and immediately goes full tantrum with everything except the screaming. I slid a small pencil and a piece of paper to him. He quickly scribbles on the page “Omoară-mă, nenorocitule”

Me: “Translator!  What is this?”
Translator: “It’s Romanian…  Says ‘kill me, you bastard’.”
Me: “That is not nice.  Put him back in there with the horny bugs.”

     At this point, I was really just bored and perhaps a little drunk.  The man is already deaf, probably permanently and clearly maddened to the point of wanting to meet whoever he believes is his maker.  I petitioned the judges on whether my opponent requesting to die while I have not yet broken a sweat is sufficient for victory.  Five thumbs went up.  The cage was put down and he was released, he stumbled out and collapsed and began to cry inconsolably.
     This is day one for me.  I don’t have time to waste and don't want to try and be here clear through Saturday.  I asked who was next and punctuated it with “… and ain’t gon be no Santa Claus shit this time.”
     When I turned and surveyed who would take me up on the next round, there were only judges and the directress.
Apparently using something that southerners aren’t even bothered enough to fucking notice as a weapon with only a few days of planning is enough to scare international supervillains from THINKING of crossing you.


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