Led by David, Thomas and Hortense walk into the Promenade Ballroom. The buffet is in full swing, as CSWA wrestlers, road agents, production crew and other staff are enjoying the almost unheard-of occasion to sit down all together and have a meal. Road agent “Blonde Devil” Brian Nord is telling his whole table some old war story about his time on the road with P. Vicious. Steven Shane is at a table of guys telling stories about VP of Security Gregg Gethard, including the time he was hung from a cage by his underwear.
Presidential Champ Jay Phoenix carefully picks the filet he wants as newly-crowned US Champ Kin Hiroshi looks on impatiently, amazed that anyone would hold up someone of his newly-found stature. Cameron Cruise and little Billy Cundiff sit at a table with Steve Radder and Steven Savoy, making yet another one of the ‘Make-A-Wish’ kid’s dreams come true.
The evening moves quickly as waiters refill glasses while dodging bodies and the occasional dinner roll chucked at them by Timmy Windham. Dessert is delivered table by table as Shamon vocally protests that he “couldn’t possibly take another bite,” then snags two slices of cheesecake off a passing tray. High Flyer watches in amazement as the desserts are vacuumed up by the large Michael Jackson impersonator.
Cameron Cruise stands up and uses the standard spoon and crystal glass as an attention-getter, flanked by his lovely wife, Mercedes. It takes a while for the room to quiet down enough for Cruise to be heard.
CRUISE: I’m not usually one for speeches, and tonight’s no exception. But a good friend asked me to thank you all for allowing him to be a part of this evening. Mattie wanted me to tell you that he truly feels like his wishes have been granted by being allowed to be involved with the CSWA over these past few months. As his condition…
The former Presidential Champion stops for a moment, clearly emotional. Mercedes stands up next to him, holding his shoulder in support.
CRUISE: It’s likely that this cruise will be Mattie’s last chance to spend time with us. He asked me to let you all know how much it has meant to him, and that he would like to take a moment to thank all of you…with a song.
As Cruise and Mercedes sit, the overhead lights dim and the lights pointing at the ballroom’s stage begin to brighten. Little Mattie Cundiff steps onto the stage tentatively, looking smaller and frailer than any twelve-year old boy should. But there’s a gleam in his eye, a passion that shines despite the disease ravaging his body.
Music begins to play. Mattie raises a microphone to his lips and begins to sing as a large screen lights up behind him. Home movie scenes of a small child playing appear on the screen as the orchestral introduction plays over the loudspeakers. Even at a very young age, something is obviously different about this child.
MATTIE: When you wish upon a star…
MATTIE: Makes no difference who you are…
Grainy home movies of a child give way to clips of Mattie’s recent time in the CSWA. Hanging out with Cameron Cruise… being hung thirty feet above a ring inside a small cage… almost falling out of the cage and then dropping on top of Cameron to cost him the match.
MATTIE: Anything your heart desires….
Mattie’s ‘greatest moments’ fade away as the screen goes… not black, but gray. Behind the screen in shadow is a small figure, about Mattie’s size. Another figure enters in shadow and appears to lay something over the head of the shadow-child, almost as if blessing him.
MATTIE: Can come to you.
The blessing becomes a curse as the taller figure pulls up on a shadow-rope that is around the neck of the small shadow-figure, who begins kicking and waving violently.
The small figure drops to the ground as the larger figure runs offstage. The spotlight on Mattie intensifies as he appears to be emotionally distraught, his face buried in his hands. The orchestral music over the speakers changes from Disney to Phantom of the Opera-esque, taking on a sinister tone.
Mattie’s demeanor changes. His face isn’t buried in his hands; instead, his hands are actually… removing his face. The dark circles under the eyes, the bloated cheeks caused by aggressive chemotherapy, the large nose… all gone, revealed as masterfully-applied latex.
Several CSWAers are on their feet… and some have found their voices.
CAMERON CRUISE: MATTIE?!?!
SAMMY BENSON: NOOOOOOO!!!!!!! IT CAN’T BE!!!!
THOMAS: YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!? NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!
CSWA owner Stephen Thomas steadies himself on table as the rush of emotion makes him dizzy. Hortense tries to steady him, but she is as much in shock as the rest of the audience. Some don’t know exactly what is going on, but the performance itself has been tragic enough. And it is clearly obviously that Little Mattie Cundiff is no twelve-year old sickly boy, but a grown midget in his early forties.
Before the ballroom can erupt even further, Cameron Cruise does. He rushes the stage, clearly surprising the midget with his speed and fury. But contingency plans have been in place too long – the ‘waiters’ intercept Cameron, catching him in the side with a stun gun that sends him crashing against the stage. Mercedes screams and rushes to her husband’s side. Others, who up until now have found this one of the CSWA’s amusing comedy moments, begin to realize that this is something very different, as the various doors into the ballroom begin to slam shut and additional waiters-turned-armed-guards eliminate any exits from the room.
Those who don’t know the whole story voice their concern and amazement. Those who do are stunned by disbelief. Hortense swoons.
It’s not just that a cancer patient just revealed himself as a midget who was presumed dead by most – that would almost be old hat. But with armed guards? Singing?
THOMAS: What are you doing here, Lyle? What do you want from all of us?
RED: What do I want, Steve? I’ve got exactly what I want. But it’s not about that. It’s about what you need. And right now, you need to sit down next to your porker of a wife and enjoy the show.
THOMAS: The show? What, are you gonna shock Cameron again?
RED: Not unless I have to. There’s no need for this to become violent, Steve. Not like, say, hitting someone in the back of the head with a coconut and leaving them on an island.
THOMAS: That was years ago! And the raft never would’ve made it with your extra weight! Never mind that! What the hell is going on?
RED: It’s very simple. This lovely boat that you leased and slapped a name on… is no longer under your control. In fact, nothing right now is in your control. So for now, sit back and enjoy what I call “Stature: The Life, Death and Rebirth of Lyle Tallman.”
THOMAS: If you think I’m gonna be held hostage and listen to some ridiculous one-man show about your pathetic midget life, then you really did lose your mind on that island.
RED: As they say, “the show must go on.” Isn’t that right, Steve? Like how the show went on after I was hanged by your partner-in-crime and left for dead? Boys, take care of him.
THOMAS: What do you….
Three of the guards advance on the CSWA President. Hortense quickly jumps up to guard her man, but gives way when threatened with a stun gun.
GUARD: Right this way, Mr. And Mrs. Thomas.
THOMAS: You won’t get away with this, Red. You’re not smart enough. You’re not strong enough. And you damn well aren’t TALL enough.
RED: Ohhh, a short joke. Haven’t heard any of those in my life. Speaking of my life, now that the hecklers are gone… oh, and just in case any of you wrestlers decide that you’re big and bad enough to challenge some guards with stun guns..
Metal doors come down with a clang over every entrance to the ballroom.
RED: Only I know how to open those doors. So if something happens to me… well, you get this picture. And now, Marvin, hit ‘play’ over there, would you?
The screens come back to life as the first appearance of the Mighty Morphin Power Midgets from FISH FUND X in 1995. Red launches into song as a collective groan comes from the “audience.”