36 hours before ARIII
An alarm goes off in the Jackson Presidential Suite of the Sheraton New Orleans. A hand reaches off and slaps the alarm off. The clock reads 5 am. Wevv Mang sits up in bed and moves to sit on the edge. He rubs his eyes. It had been a long plane flight for such a short trip. He hears the door to his bedroom open, and looks over to see Mr. Wang enter soundlessly, carrying a tray with a silver tea pot, and the morning paper.
Wevv: Thank you Kenzo. I’d like to get a quick work out in, before it’s off to the races.
Wevv stands up. He begins to stretch as Mr. Wang lays out his clothes. A song starts running through Wevv’s mind, but he can’t place it.
Wevv has showered and changed in his normal fine hand crafted Italian suit. He’s sitting at a table in his suite, with a beautiful view of the city of New Orleans. The sun is coming up. The sight is breath taking. Wevv glances up, and goes back to reading the paper, while spearing errant pieces of fruit with a long narrow fork. He takes a bite of melon, and glances at his watch. He chews and puts down the paper. He drains his Earl Grey tea, and stands up. Swallowing he says:
Wevv: Time to go. Have the car brought around. Then let Mr. Jeffers know that I am on my way to arena. I have to pick up a few things and then I’ll join you at the elevator.
Wevv heads into his bedroom, humming a song he can't quite place.
The stretch limo pulls into the VIP garage. Wevv is pleased to note the number of television and radio stations trucks and vans in attendance. He sees the WKBU, WQUE, WRNO, and even the college station WTUL vans, along with the production trucks of FOX 8, ABC 26, and WB 38. He also sees several ESPN production trucks. That brings a big smile to his face. Finally, respect from the “traditional” sports world.
Wevv thinks: John Skipper can kiss my ass. I’ll have to give our webs guys a raise. Who knew an Internet marketing campaign could reach so far. If I ever find out whom that GNR fellow was who spammed the ESPN boards with PWA rants so bad they crashed, I’ll buy him the best hooker that money can buy in his town.
The sight of people lined up, waiting to get in, makes his smile grow even wider.
Wevv is greeted shortly by the New Orleans Superdome management team.
Glen Manard: Mr. Mang! Everything is set up for the Fan Fest, per your requests.
Wevv: Thank you Mr. Manard. Your team has been a pleasure to work with. I have only one question. The Fan Fest should end around 6:30 PM. Will that be enough time to get everything ready for the show by 5:30?
Mr. Manard: Mr. Mang, you can rest easy. Our team can handle just about anything you can throw at them. We’ll be ready. You can bank on that!
Wevv: Thank you Sir. I’ll leave everything in you more than capable hands. I knew I could count on you and your team. I’ll let you get back to your work. Thank you for taking the time to inform me personally. You have my thanks.
Mr. Manard: My pleasure sir. Thank you for coming to N’awlins.
Mr. Manard walks off through a side door, while Wevv enters the main service entrance. He walks into the main arena. He takes a deep breath and smiles.
Wevv: AHHH! I love the smell of commerce in the morning! Kenzo, round up the PR and marketing teams, the road agents, the production team, the web teams. I want them in the Tulane meeting room in 30 minutes. I’m going to walk the floor for a while.
Mr. Wang bows, a little unnerved by Wevv using his first name, but he hurries off to do his masters bidding. On the floor, the smells of cooking, and the sight of event staff scurrying on last minutes tasks distracts Wevv from his manservant’s mood. Smiling Wevv descends into bedlam.
8:50 AM in the Tulane Meeting Room.
A video projector shows the days schedule on a screen behind Wevv. Wevv sits at the head of a table surrounded by around 30 staff members, wearing PWA security badges. One woman is reading off a clipboard.
Woman: ..and then at 5 Pm the final round of the King Of Gumbo contest will take place.
Wevv: Excellent. Everything looks in order. Well done people. I’m proud of you. Great work people. But let’s have legal on stand by, just in case. Better safe than sorry. TV and radio crews taken care of, meet and greets all day long, concerts read to rock, our boys have their schedules and know what they have to do?
A round of “Yes Sirs” sounds out.
Wevv: Excellent. Any sign of Villiano? Or Lou for that matter?
The crowd goes deathly still. Finally, a brave man speaks out.
Man: Um, Villiano arrived last night, around 8 pm. He checked into his hotel. No one has heard from him, sir.
A woman speaks up.
Woman: Lou arrived around the same time, I called him to get his approval for today’s plans –
A quiet chuckle ripples through the crowd. Even Wevv smiles at the joke. Seeing Wevv smiling gives the woman courage.
Woman: He just said to let you handle it. Oh, and he said that Villiano will definitely be at the 5 PM Owner’s Debate.
Wevv looks off at nothing at that, and nods his head. He clears his throat and stands up.
Wevv: Yes, well. All right then people. Let’s open the doors and let those fans have a great time!
The group breaks up, with backslapping and cheers. Wevv calls out:
Wevv: Kate? Pierce? A word with you please. It’s about this SFS situation. I have some specific instructions for you…
Wevv is leaving the production truck, backing out, smiling and laughing with the crew still inside. With a final wave, Wevv closes the door. Mr. Wang is waiting at the end of the stairs.
Wevv stretches upwards. He heaves a big sign. He starts to walk towards the locker rooms. He hums a strange tune, that is still running through his head, that had been buried by the morning’s activities. He walks quickly, but somewhat nervously. He turns suddenly and speaks to Mr. Wang.
Wevv: You know Mr. Wang, watching through a camera is one thing, but I think I need to see how things are faring first hand. I think I have found a way to accomplish that without drawing too much attention to myself. Come, let’s go speak with the make-up artists.
Mr. Wang is puzzled, but shrugs and follows Wevv.
A very different Wevv is rolling throw the underground tunnels of the Superdome. The sounds of people yelling and screaming can still be fainting heard over the quiet drone of music. Wevv has been made to look like an old man. He wears a panama hat, and is in a wheelchair. Mr. Wang walks beside him, wearing a T-Shirt and shorts, with a lot of gold chains. A large black security guard is pushing Wevv’s wheelchair.
Wevv: This is perfect! No one will recognize me! I can mingle freely with our fans, and see what they like! Kenzo, I’m sorry, but even with your Mexican disguise, you stand out too much. I’m sure that Edgar here can protect me sufficiently. And I’ll be in constant contact.
The group reaches the ramp that will take them to the main floor. The sound grows to a deafening torrent. Wevv reaches out and grabs Mr. Wang’s arm. He pulls Mr. Wang in close, and whispers in his ear.
Wevv: Kenzo. I have a bad feeling I can't shake. I need you to keep your eyes, ears, and mind open. Villiano is up to something. We need to find out what. Be alert, and be careful.
Mr. Wang watches Wevv roll into the crowd. His eyes are narrowed, and his fists clench. He nods after Wevv and turns to head back down the ramp, seeking another way to enter the floor. Wevv makes sense, in that the two of them would probably be spotted quickly, but he doesn't have to like it. Not with so much riding on the outcome of one match.
Wevv is rolling along the concourses, watching the people spend money, and get their pictures taken, collect autographs, and basically have fun. The booths are doing a brisk business, and Wevv can mentally hear the cash registers ringing in his head. He approaches on booth, where people don't seem to be having fun.
Voice: Come on man! That’s not fair!
Vendor: Just try again sir!
Wevv finally can see what’s going on. It’s the Dunk A PWA Superstar tank.
Wevv watches as a young man grabs a baseball and throws it at a target. The ball bursts into flames before it hits, showering the bull’s-eye with ash. The crowd groans. Wevv can see the problem. Inside the dunk tank, sitting on the ledge, with his arms crossed and looking furious, is cYnical. The man throws up his hands and angrily demands his money back. Wevv quickly reaches up and places the tip of his cane nears his mouth, and covers his ears.
Wevv: Melvin! Get cYn out of the dunk tank RIGHT NOW! Whatever gave you the notion that was a good idea!?! I know it was my idea! I was joking you nitwit!
In seconds cYn has been replaced by Eddie Hooper, who promptly pisses off the crowd with taunts and gestures. The angry man plunks down a twenty. Wevv smiles, and motions to move on.
Further along Wevv, comes to the King Of Gumbo contest. An announcer calls the action.
Announcer: The first round of contestants is now placing their entries before the judges! Let’s take a second to introduce our judges! First we have from the New Orleans Culinary Institute, Director Robert Kohl and Chef Lonnie Varisco! (Polite round of applause), next we have from CBS’s Early Morning Show, He’s the Chef On A Shoe-String , Chef David Rosengarten! (More polite applause) Next we have N’awlins own, the PWA Superstar Son Of Repoman! (Huge round of applause, and a rousing SOR chant), They love you SOR! Next, we have the Royalty of the PWA, King N – P - D ! (Huge round of boos).
NPD does not look happy to be there, and it looks like he’s telling Marcell to yell at one of the techs, who has no idea what to do. Wevv signs and again speaks into his hidden microphone.
Wevv: Melvin! Patch me through to the tech’s headsets at the King Of Gumbo challenge….Good. Hello, this is Wevv Mang. I’d like for the tech on stage right now, the one being yelled at to hand over his headset to NPD. Tell them I said to put it on and listen.
The tech says something, and NPD looks around. He takes the headset and puts it on.
NPD: Is this some kind of joke? Who dares mock the King thusly?!?
Wevv: I do. You know my voice? Ah, I can see that you do.
NPD: Listen Wevv, the Kind is not fit to be see in the presence of these peasants, let alone lower himself to render his royal verdict on this…slop! I hereby decree that –
Wevv: Now listen here, your Majesty! I am personally asking you to take part in this contest. These people have never before seen royalty such as yourself, and it will bless their meaningless lives with something that they can treasure and pass on to their grandchildren. The day that true Royalty, Kind NPD, graciously agreed to lower himself to take part in such a mundane event as being a judge in a contest.
NPD: Evens so, these miserable ragamuffins do not deserve –
Wevv: Your Majesty, forgive me for interrupting, but this contest is the called the King Of Gumbo. It would not do to not have a King give his royal proclamation on who the winner is. So, if we cannot have true Nobility, well, there is a replacement…
NPD: You mean…that imposter?!?! You would not dare!
Wevv: I would so dare. Now, will you do me this favor? A favor, I might add, that I consider to be of great personal importance to myself, and will replay as such?
NPD: I…will grant your boon. The King so declares it!
Wevv: Your Majesty is truly worthy of such nobility. Thank you. Now, would you be so kind as to hand the headset back? Thank you. You there Melvin? Yes, we may need to have “King” Sick Nick on call in case things go south in a hurry. I’m on my way to see how Nick is doing. I’ll let you know.
Wevv rolls up to a stage, where “Sick” Nick has a microphone. He’s talking fast, and with obvious glee.
“Sick” Nick: All right ladies and gentlemen, let’s bring out our next round of contestants!
On stage, ten women in white T-Shirts walk out, as the crowd goes wild. The women shake their ample breasts, and dance in place. Nick grabs a hose and sprays the women. The crowd goes even wilder.
Wevv: Melvin, yeah, Nick is out. Check with Burger King to see if they can lend us a King for a day.
Wevv is rolling along the edge of the crowd, next to the Payroll radio booth, right next to the main entrance into the Dome, when Edgar leans over to speak to him. Wevv is humming a tune he still can't quite place, and is startled.
Edgar: The press conference is coming up soon, sir. Shall I start taking you back?
Wevv: What IS the name of that song! Hm? Oh, yes! Indeed! We need to get back promptly. Hm, Take us along the outside. That should save us some time, and I want to check out SFS’s stand.
Outside the arena, near the back entrance, a stage has been set up. The NPR affiliate has a broken down van parked next to it. In front of the stage, a bunch of rowdy college kids and dirty hippies are cheering and taunting the performers. On stage, two hippies with acoustic guitars are singing and playing.
Hippies: …And the birds and the bees all say
Set SFS Free today!
For the animals and the trees
SET SFS FREE!
Mother Earth is on her knees!
Set SFS Free!
The hippies break intro a grove. SFS is sitting next to the NPR radio talent, and banging his head on the folding table. Next to him, Kate and Pierce, in black suits, talk to each other. SFS raises his head and says:
SFS: Please! Just one blow? Come on! A blow to the back of the neck right here will do it! I won't fight back! I promise! Just make it end!
Kate: Now, Mr. SFS, your contract CLEARLY states that the winner of this contest will be allowed to sing their protest song in the middle of the ring at ARIII!
Pierce: Yes! Just think! Your message will get out to millions and millions of people!
Kate: Pierce! I just got a great idea! PowerAde T-Shirts!
Pierce: That’s brilliant Kate! Right Mr. SFS? Ooh! Brainstorm! We can hand out Keebler Fudge Shop cookies! People love cookies!
Kate: Good idea Pierce! We can print up special “Fire SFS!” labels and slap them on the packaging! But I don't think the hippies will like the cookies part though…I got it! Nature Valley Granola Bars! Hippies love granola!
Pierce: Brilliant Kate! Just Brilliant! I’m calling marketing right now!
SFS stands up and yells out:
SFS: WILL SOMEBODY JUST KILL ME NOW! PLEASE! I’M BEGGING YOU! JUST KILL ME!
Wevv is laughing quietly. He speaks into his microphone.
Wevv: Melvin, tell Kate and Pierce they get a raise. Oh, and tell them to let SFS know that I’m adding three more months to his contract.
Kate and Pierce suddenly grab their earpieces and burst out with a cheer. They high-five each other. Kate then leans over to SFS and whispers in his ear. SFS goes white. He then lets out an ear-splitting scream.
He collapses on the table, crying. The Hippies look sadly over at SFS and go over to comfort him.
Hippie Woman#1: Look at what this greedy corporation is doing to this poor Earth Soul!
Hippie Woman#2: YES! We need to sing louder!
SFS is twitching is sheer misery as the two hippies start to scream their protest song.
Hippies: Baby Seals!
Like to Squeal!
Wevv motions for Edgar to move. He laughs to himself, as they roll along. Suddenly, a large tour bus rolls by. The bus tops ahead of them. Two familiar figures are waiting for it. The bus has a large cross painted on the side and the letter says “ Our Lady Of Prompt Succor”. The doors of the bus open and a stream of happy people emerge. Falcon greets them with a smile and a hug or a handshake. Another bus pulls up, behind the first. Similar to the first, this one has a cross and “St. Dominic’s” on the side. People come out smiling from that bus as well. They wave and call to Falcon, who, still embracing an elderly woman, waves back.
Sick Fixx stands to the side, looking uncomfortable, but with a big smile on his face. A third bus pulls up, this one saying “Divine Providence Full Gospel Church”. The doors open and a man walks out, followed by more people, The man walks over to Sick Fixx, since Falcon has been mobbed.
Man: You Japhy Sullivan, right? I’d like to thank you sir. God has truly blessed us with friends such as you. I’m Tommy Triplett, pastor of this church. You and your friend White Falcon has given us so much, words cannot describe it.
The man hugs Sick Fixx, who is speechless. Fixx tries to speak:
Pastor Tommy: The money you gave us will be a huge help in getting our congregation back on it’s feet! We can rebuild bigger than before! Lord have mercy, I’ve never seen so many zeros on a check!
Sick Fixx: Uh, thanks! But Celio didn't say anything about…
Pastor Tommy: I understand son. Talk about that kind of money makes people uncomfortable. Let’s just let it be. Bless you son! Bless you!
Pastor Tommy herds his congregation over to the mob around Falcon. Sick Fixx shakes his head and looks over to Falcon, who seems to be happy, but also very puzzled. He leans over to speak with one of Falcon’s church members, when he catches sight of Wevv in his wheel chair. Wevv motions for Edgar to keep moving. Fixx stares at Wevv, as he gets closer. He seems unsure. As Wevv rolls by, he lowers his sunglasses and gives Fixx a look. He raises his hand up in front of his face, one finger in front of his lips. The gesture is a familiar one. Shh. Fixx starts to speak, but is grabbed by a grateful man, who shakes his hand, and an elderly woman who gives him a hug. Soon, Sick Fixx is swept up in the throng of grateful parishioners, and is soon standing next to White Falcon, and is too busy signing autographs for fans young and old alike, to pursue Wevv.
Owners Debate End
13 and a ½ hours before ARIII
Photographer: Can we get a shot of you two together? To show that this is just a friendly competition?
The crowd roars approval.
Wevv, back in his suit, steps out from behind his podium, as Villiano across the way does the same. The two meet center stage, as the camera flashes go off. Wevv and Villiano stand side by side, an arm across each other’s shoulders, smiling, and waving with their free arms. Villiano leans over and says through clenched teeth:
Villiano: I’m gonna kill you for this Wevv.
Wevv: (Through a phony smile as well) Kill Lou. It was his idea.
Villiano: How you like my stunt with Ham?
Wevv: You can have him! The man is psychotic.
Villiano: I can control him.
Wevv: I’ve heard that before. Good luck with that.
Villiano: So, you really going to quit if I win? Leave for good?
Wevv: I said so didn't I?
Villiano: Just checking.
Villiano breaks free and raises his arm and yells to the crowd. Wevv is startled by Vil’s words, but soon enough, he steps in front of Vil and gives the Buddy Wevv. Vil looks over at Wevv and smiles an evil smile, before turning to walk offstage. Wevv’s smile falters, but he gets it back quick and turns to leave, in the other direction.
Once off stage, he says out of the side of his mouth to Mr. Wang.
Wevv: I was right. Vil has got a plan. Let’s get out of here.
The alarm goes off in the dark interiors of the Jackson Presidential Suite of the Sheraton New Orleans. The clock reads 5 AM. Wevv sits up, and moves to sit on the edge of his bed. He runs a hand through his hair and yawns. The traces of dream he was having fade from his mind. A song suddenly starts up in his head, and Wevv freezes. Mr. Wang enters his room silently. He flicks on a side lamp, giving the room faint light. He is carrying a tray with a silver teapot and the newspaper in one hand. Wevv turns suddenly, giving Mr. Wang a sudden stab of nervous tension as he sees the expression on Wevv’s face. Wevv speaks slowly.
Wevv: I know the name of the song, Kenzo. I have a bad feeling about this…
I'm waiting in my cold cell when the bell begins to chime
Reflecting on my past life and it doesn't have much time
'Cause at 5 o'clock they take me to the Gallows Pole
The sands of time for me are running low
When the priest comes to read me the last rites
I take a look through the bars at the last sights
Of a world that has gone very wrong for me
Can it be there's been some sort of an error
Hard to stop the surmounting terror
Is it really the end not some crazy dream
Somebody please tell me that I'm dreaming
It's not easy to stop from screaming
But words escape me when I try to speak
Tears they flow but why am I crying?
After all am I not afraid of dying
Don't believe that there never is an end
As the guards march me out to the courtyard
Someone calls from a cell "God be with you"
If there's a God then why has he let me die?
As I walk all my life drifts before me
And though the end is near I'm not sorry
Catch my soul 'cause it's willing to fly away
Mark my words believe my soul lives on
Don't worry now that I have gone
I've gone beyond to see the truth
When you know that your time is close at hand
Maybe then you'll begin to understand
Life down there is just a strange illusion
Yeah, yeah, yeah,
Hallowed be Thy name
Yeah, yeah, yeah,
Hallowed be Thy name
- Iron Maiden – Hallowed Be They Name