For almost a month, Bowser followed along with Ganondorf’s at-home work out regimen. Ganondorf had offered it to him free, it helped his algorithm and he needed the feedback for opening the classes up to a wider audience. Ganondorf had followed up with Bowser about making a vision board and a plan for success, but Bowser always seemed to have something that he had to do when Ganondorf tried to schedule, and eventually Ganondorf gracefully stopped calling so much.
Bowser had been having dreams. Nightmares. He was being haunted, not by Mario or Luigi. He was seeing visions of his past self. In his nightmares, Bowser cowered under a massive 8-bit version of himself. Terrible. Majestic. An endless parade of Peaches wept and tore at their hair at the sight of him as he laughed above a river of flames. His shell was like iron. He was 40 lbs thinner. And it was beautiful until a scared Peach and Mario approached him and begged for help. He tried to explain that he was King Koopa, he was their great adversary, but they insisted that he was their friend, their pal. Eventually, he accepted, and as he prepared to fight his 8-bit self he reached for a weapon and grasped…an old-fashioned tennis racket. And then he woke up.
The dream was coming about 2–3 times a week, and this time it woke him up fast, only around 11:15pm. He rubbed his eyes and heard something. Rattling. It was his phone on the nightstand. Who was calling at this hour? He picked up his phone and saw a large “W” on the screen. He sat for what felt like five minutes looking at that screen. He thought of the nightmare, and the many nights he’d had it, and slowly he slid his claw across the phone to pick up the call.
“…he…heheh….hehehh…he.hehehe…” Someone on the other side was already laughing.
“WAAAAH HAHAHAHA Bowsah, we are a’going out, you should a’come down!” It was Wario, and Bowser could hear what was probably Waluigi laughing in the background.
Not many people called Bowser. Fewer still invited him out. “Oh man guys, I dunno, it’s already pretty late.”
“BOOOOOOO!!!!! You are being a’STUPID! You should come outa with us!”
“YEAH, come outa with us!” Waluigi screamed in the background.
Bowser rubbed his temples and laughed, “You guys are insane hahaha where even are you?”
“We are a’driving around! You a’coming out with us? We come we pick a’you up!”
Waluigi was screaming at someone else in the background.
Bowser smiled. They would even offer to pick him up? “Ah fuck it. I’m not getting much sleep these days anyway.”
Laughter and screaming erupted from the other end of the phone, followed by a screeching sound, and more yelling. That went on for about 30 seconds, and Bowser waited patiently until he heard, “Wah, we pick a’you up, we be a’there in ten minutes!”
This felt good. The impulsiveness. The late night. The booze he was sure he would smell on their breath. This felt like villainy. This felt sort of what he remembered it feeling like. He got out of bed and threw on some clothes. He considered putting on something cooler than usual, but he knew the Pseudo Bros better than that. He put on his spiked bracelets and got to the front of the castle, trying not to wait too eagerly.
A ’96 Ford Taurus came tearing up the driveway, clanking over the speed bumps. Music and cackling leaked out of the windows. Waluigi leaned out of the passenger side window.
“WWWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!” he screamed at Bowser, at the night, at no one at all. Wario laughed. Bowser leaned out the window and roared. From far away he heard the brothers whoop and laugh for his roar, and he sped down the walkway to the car. He opened the back door and looked in to see a few cans, a t-shirt, a few receipts and other papers, and a bag of empty chips bags. Bowser paused momentarily before diving headlong into the car, wallowing in the oily and stained seats, letting himself really feel it get on him. The Brothers let out another scream to each other and they got rolling. They drove a little too close to a Koopa who was guarding the gate, Bowser made a note to apologize to that Koopa tomorrow.
When the brothers spoke, it was often on top of each other. They yelled and layered their words over each other like a sort of language lasagna before inexplicably resolving the confused speaking into a chorus of agreeing “WAAAH HA AHAH HA HA”s. When they weren’t speaking, they were morosely silent. Bowser would wonder if they were mad at each other or just too deep in whatever drugs they were on. That night it was mostly talking, but Bowser could see even from the back seat that their eyes were sunken and glassy. Waluigi, as if understanding Bowser’s gaze, reached back and passed him a thick joint. As Bowser set the joint to his mouth, Wario tossed him the hot coil electric cigarette lighter. Bowser’s hands were too thick to get burned, but it still caught him off guard, and the brothers simmered with giggles. Bowser took a pull and exhaled as he asked “what’s in this?”
Through a mishmash of words and sounds the brothers told him it was some weed, some valerian root, some “synthetic weed”, tobacco, and a little bit of ketamine. Bowser was glad for his massive body’s ability to tank drugs without him feeling them too fast, but he was feeling good and wanted to push the night into the next gear. He started to pass the joint to Waluigi, and as Waluigi reached for it he pulled it back, set it back to his mouth, and in one massive huff, pulled through the whole thing.
“rrrrWWWWWAAAAAHHHHHHHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!” Waluigi swung wildly at Bowser, who laughed big and snapped at him with his mouth. Waluigi retreated to the front seat as Wario bellowed with laughter. With the others laughing, Waluigi started laughing, too. That’s how it was with these two. You laugh through it all. You don’t let anyone laugh alone, and you never be the only one not laughing.
The joint set in on Bowser, and they passed around a bottle of cheap Irish whiskey and a vape. Wario was getting more and more intent on the road, angrier and angrier at other drivers at the road itself. He was screaming, and that would make Waluigi alternately scream or giggle or sulk. They pulled into a gas station to get some gas and snacks, and as Bowser got out of the car he could feel his body swaying under him. He felt warm and sort of puffy. “This is what an mp3 feels like,” he thought as he stomped past some kids in another car. They stared at him. He glared at them, but not for fun. He glared out of genuine fear and disdain and hatred. For their youth. For their lack of fear. One of them was pointing at his spiked bracelets and snickering. The bile rose up in Bowser’s mouth like lava from a volcano. He sneered, peeled the lips back from his massive teeth. The snickering died down. Bowser continued into the mini-mart.
Bowser bought all kinds of things that he didn’t keep in the castle. Three different full-sized bags of chips. A box of packages of Fererro Rocher balls. A 2 liter of coke. In the back, he ordered 2-foot long buffalo chicken hoagies. He shuffled to the register with his stuff and the fluorescent lights seemed to irradiate him, to pierce into him. He was sure they were drying him out. He was suddenly conscious of his stomach, and a sick feeling in it. The cashier said a few things but none of it registered, Bowser handed off his credit card without looking. The kids from the car were skulking on the sidewalk outside the mini-mart. They were looking at their phones, and at Bowser, and laughing. Bowser stared bleary-eyed and confused, but somehow instinctively embarrassed.
As he left the minimart he tried to get back to the car where the brothers were waiting. One of the kids yelled, “you looked better with fat tiddies!” Bowser froze. Even though he knew exactly what this was about, he turned around.
“The fuck did you just say?”
“I said I liked you better with that fat rack bro.” the kid held up his phone to show a picture of Bowsette, blushing, sweating, and heaving. The other kids were laughing. One of them moaned “ooOOOOoo fuck me Mario!” They all laughed louder.
“OK because that’s what the fuck I thought you said,” muttered Bowser as he swung his massive arm down at the kids. They dodged out of the way, and truth be told Bowser was purposefully swinging wide, but he left a hole in the pavement with dust rising in the hot summer night. There was a scream from another one of the kids, and then silence from them, silence from Wario and Waluigi in the distance. Then the brothers started laughing, and the kids started scrambling to get away. Seeing people running from him, things felt right. He let out a roar. He could see the sound make one kid stumble in fear. He roared again, but this time he let forth a belch of flames over the kid’s head. The kid went fetal. Bowser felt positively right with himself. He turned back towards the minimart where the cashier was calling the cops. He ran his harm through the glass walls and started to grab snacks and drinks, whatever he could. It was like a sensory echo, or like an actor playing a part he hadn’t played for a long time. The children scrambling from him. The cashier cowering. His absolute certainty that he was the thing that made their hearts race, their laughter fade. He grinned wider and wider. Through his bleary eyes, he looked down at his massive hands and they seemed pixelated for a second. He was glad those little shits had started something. “This is what I really wanted to be doing tonight, anyway.”
He turned back to the brothers, who had kicked a couple out of their Mustang. Bowser sidled over, ripped the back window out, and sat down in the hole. The Brothers erupted in laughter and took off, Bowser belching fire into the thick black night.
Around 3:30, the brothers seemed to have lost steam. Wario was falling asleep and Waluigi drove them to a townhome that had been divided a few too many times. He hit Wario awake and the two shuffled to a basement entrance, getting all the way into the door before Bowser said, “that was a great night.”
The brothers jumped as if surprised to see him there behind them.
“Oh. yeah. Wah”
Bowser began to make a gesture as if to inquire or imply about crashing on a couch or something, but the brothers just closed their door. Bowser sat on the sidewalk, not even really sorry for himself, just trashed out of his mind and confused. How could he get home? Didn’t he have a plan for this? Wasn’t there a Koopa team whose job it was to retrieve him? He gave up wondering.
Bowser woke up a few hours later at dawn. He had smashed the car down to sleep on in the night. His head was splitting, it felt like someone was packing ball bearings into it, and at any moment the load capacity of his skull would break. He could sleep it off here, but he knew, down to his marrow, that he didn’t wanna see the Pseudo Brothers when he woke up. He wanted to wake up in bed. At home. He checked his phone. 14% battery. If he was lucky, he had enough juice to get an uber back. He put in his address and hoped.