Well over three hours into the “epic musical saga” of the Red Midget’s life, and the audience realizes that this is not only an evening of their life they’ll never get back, but one they may have nightmares about. The disjointed song-and-dance has leapt forward and back in time, showing Red’s “rebirth” at Thomas’s hands in one moment, then jumping back to flashbacks illuminating Red’s personal life.
Did we really need to see the breakup of Red’s marriage, as his ‘average’ wife vented her disgust at her husband, once a generally successful insurance salesman, becoming a midget Red Power Ranger for children’s parties and eventually a wrestling promotion? Becoming the butt of jokes from his beloved not only for his size and profession, but also for the fact that apparently he couldn’t father a child?
The taunting of his childhood, the ridicule from his wife, the outright disgust and hatred from his employer (Merritt) and the master-slave attitude of the other one (Thomas). All of it was put out for the CSWA world to see. The therapy sessions after being mocked and even physically attacked by Sammy Benson and Bill Buckley. The slide into prescription drugs after his ‘death and resurrection’ routine. The almost-final moments after he was “pooped” as part of a cruel joke on himself and former President Schmid.
But once again, Thomas brought light at the end of the tunnel. The man who once “brought him back” personally and professionally was there once again. Master called and Red went. Thomas promised a new career, one without the public shame, away from Merritt and his ilk. And so, he boarded the ship… the ill-fated ship.
(Clip from ANNIVERSARY 2001)
In many respects Thomas was a strong man. Physically he couldn’t lift his own weight, but mentally he often moved mountains. Yet as strong as he was, he wasn’t prepared for the drop.
The drop is every bit as dramatic as it sounds. For five thousand dollars he bought a ticket on a replica version of the Titanic. The tag line, catchy if not tasteless, caught him hook, line, and sinker. “Retrace and Win Back History.” For five thousand dollars he’d put the ghosts of the original failures on his back and take them safely to the other side. It’s where they should have been eighty years ago, and the thought of finally taking them there put an extra foot in his step.
Titanic version 2.0 made history. Sadly, Thomas’ money couldn’t see to it that he made the complete journey. The ship was strong, and fearless as it carved through the memories and delivered it’s patrons home. Stephen’s best friend however, was mad and cruel.
They searched for days, until the party was called off, a logical decision in the event of a man’s death. There was to be a funeral, and surprisingly, a dedication of the breaking of a new ground, adjacent to Merritt’s offices. The economy quickly took a turn for the worse. Chad said a prayer, begged for forgiveness, then ditched plans to immortalize his peer.
A co-founder of the CSWA was assumed dead. Thanks to the drop, Thomas was lost on a deserted island; for all practical purposes he was quite dead.
It’s been three years, but today a man... and a midget... have decided to rewrite history.
“Amazing. I once tried to hang myself with this rope,” the midget spoke softly. For years little people have dreamed of ruling the world, just his luck at last they’d have their chance, albeit it a small one. The island was his to govern well it might have been if Thomas hadn’t been a full three feet his master.
“You tried? How hard exactly?”
“You had to bring that up didn’t you.”
“I hate to be lied to that’s all it is. You tried, please. Be honest and admit your body weight wasn’t enough to do the job.”
As they finished tying the ends of a makeshift wooden raft together, Red swore he’d die trying to escape rather than suffer on the island at the hands of his oppressor.
“Look I didn’t ask to be stuck here with you, that’s for damn sure.”
“Quit crying Red and give me your finger.”
“We’ve survived this long without a woman, I’m not about to...” Thomas interrupted a second too late, “Just give it to me,” Steve tied a neat bow around the stubby index finger.
“We’re burning daylight, it’s time to shove off.” Red hopped on the craft believing he was about to be carted off. “I’m sorry kid.”
With a subtle bow Thomas racked a modestly sized rock against the back of Red’s neck, dropping the midget to the sand like a tree in the forest that no one would hear.
“Godspeed kid, I’ll come back for you I promise.” Thomas picked up the tightly wound pieces of wood that he hoped would carry him back to the edges of any society, and dove into the salty cold water. As he flew over the first wave, the tyrannical laughter from the bottom of his soul pushed the escape pod further and further away.
We’re treated to our own version of “Castaway”, a silent epic lasting another thirty minutes in which Red pantomimes all his daily activities on the island. Thirty minutes of him wandering around the stage, pretending to hunt crabs and to try and start a fire. Thirty minutes of him building a giant sand statue of himself.
And then, it happens. Thomas returns. Three years after the raft left, the tattered remains of both man and vessel return. And all he had to show for it was the overly-tanned body of a man who had been forced to do slave labor by a group of natives on a nearby island. Oh, and that awkward piercing of course.
The reunion is reminiscent of the movie cliché, as Red runs towards Thomas in slow-motion. Sadly, Thomas doesn’t hold up his end of the bargain, falling to his knees and weeping in front of the sand statue, bringing up memories of another movie ending.
For months, the pair lives on the same beach. Every attempt at communication by Red is rebuffed. Finally one day, Thomas simply starts walking. He reaches the end of their beach and continues walking, pushing his way through jungle without a sound. Two hours later, he pushes through foliage to find a beautiful cove. A place so beautiful, he thinks, that they ought to put a resort there.
And that’s when he sees the water slide.
If he had had his way, Thomas’s “rescue” at the Tradewinds Isle & Resort would have been a solitary one. Thankfully, Red had followed him at a discreet distance, giving him the opportunity to be saved as well. The shame he felt at having lived four years in isolation, just around the corner from a five-star secluded resort, was washed away at simply being rescued.
Until he came back to the “real” world. Arriving in Miami had been a thrill. He stepped off the plane, kissed the ground, and then turned to share his joy with Thomas…
…and watched as a car sped away. Thomas, on his way to reclaim a legacy; Red, left alone with nothing to his name, or his alias.
He hitchhiked his way back to Greensboro. It took days to get there, and then nights spent in a shelter as he tried to cajole his ex-wife, ex-friends, anybody he could find, into helping him get back on his feet.
And then the offer came.