“It’s all my fault!”
A disheveled Lunchbox Larry sits in the middle of an empty training facility, slumped over a table with a cellphone sitting on it. His elbows are perched just above their like-sided knees while his large hands hold up his head.
A soft, calming voice comes from the phone’s speaker.
“Now Lare-Bear, why would you go thinkin’ that?”
Larry’s hands move up through his hair, before shooting out to his sides.
“I don’t know, Ma! Bob and I were supposed to win those matches at ClassicMania! And we both lost… BOTH OF US! I didn’t train hard enough, maybe? I didn’t do enough research into my opponents?”
“And how’d that have anything to do with your friend’s match, honey?”
Larry’s head drops. He takes a deep breath, shaking his head.
“What’s that, dear?”
“I had some bad thoughts.” The kid in a grown man’s body sniffles. “I thought that, if I could help Bob get ready for Frank and win that belt… and I won my match and became number one contender… then maybe… Maybe I’d beat Bobby, take the belt from him myself, and prove to him that I’m not just Some Man he carries around with him like all the guys in the locker room say.”
“Oh I’m sure they don’t say tha-”
“They say worse, Ma.”
“Well.. You wanting to prove yourself to your friend doesn’t make you bad. And it sure didn’t have anything to do with him losing his match.”
“What’s that dummy crying about this time?” A gruff voice jumps into the transmission from the speakerphone.
“I’m not crying!” Larry cries.
“Larry thinks that his bad thoughts cost him and his friend their matches at that last paper viewing thing they had.”
“Why would the idiot think-”
“Dad, I can hear you, ya know?” The clarification is needed for his technology illiterate father. “And why wouldn’t I think that? You and Ma told me how bad habits or thoughts can make bad things happen!”
“What in the world are you talkin’ ‘bout, boy?”
“Oh come on. It’s like the time you and Ma said my eyes would get stuck that way if I kept crossing them. Or if I kept catching frogs, I’d grow worts. Or if I kept sitting too close to the TV, my eyes would melt. Or if I kept playing with… Little Larry… I’d go blind.”
Awkward silence is awkward.
“You know that’s all just stuff parents tell their kids to get them to behave, right babe?” Mother Larry tries her best to put it nicely.
“You gotta be a real dolt to think that crap’s true at your age.” Father Larry doesn’t. “Tell me, boy… are ya blind now? ‘Cause we all know you didn’t stop that habit. Your mother showed me the socks to prove it.”
“I don’t think so…”
“You don’t think you stopped fiddling Little Larry, or you don’t think you’re blind? Can ya see me, son?”
Larry looks around the empty gym, confused, then turns his attention back to the phone.
“No! Are you here, daddy? Did it finally happen? I tried not to, I promise!”
“Marge, did the boy actually go blind? I thought you said that wasn’t-”
“Good heavens, no. You two silly fools. We’re talking on the phone, how could you see each other?”
“I thought we was time-facing or whatever?”
“Why would you think that?”
“Well isn’t that Larry on the screen?”
“That’s our background picture. Didn’t you think it was weird that he wasn’t moving?”
And now we know where Larry got his brains.
“Our son’s weird. Wasn’t sure, really.”
“Thanks, dad.” The Big Box Man shrugs his old man off. “It’s karma. Now I’m getting the ultimate punishment. I’m booked against this crazy Hawaiian dude who’s been groomed to destroy anyone he faces. And it’s the freakin’ Main Event.”
“Wait, that’s great Lare-bear!”
“No it’s not! All those people…” Larry shudders. “They’ll all be watching us. Me and this Hollow Mah-kay guy, or at least that’s how I think you say it.”
“Wait, you sayin’ you’re facing a Hawaiian named Makae?”
“I think so?”
“Makae… that’s Hawaiian for death. To perish. Beaten. Killed. Unfortunate.”
“You got this, hun. Need Momma to make you some sandwiches tonight? I can bring them over first thing so you don’t have to worry about food prep tomorrow.”
“Thanks, Ma… but I think it’s me who’s gotta make some sandwiches. I just hope Hollow’s hungry.”