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I Can’t

[Static.]

[Images flash on a screen.]

[Sat in the playground at school.]

[A bloody nose. Boy, did that hurt.]

“You can’t beat me Foley. I’m bigger, stronger and faster than you. No wonder you show up every day with all those bruises if you fight like that!”

[At home on the floor.]

[My ribs broken. Gasping for air.]

[Feet having not long kicked at them.]

“Why do you always have to look at me like that? You fucking piece of shit! You can’t just keep yourself to yourself, can you? You always have to get in my fucking way.”

[At School, the first time I defended myself.]

[Sat in the principal’s office.]

“You can’t just go around throwing punches, Master Foley. That’s not the way to conduct yourself. What would your parents think?”

[Damien Wolfe’s office, pleading to have my show reinstated.]

“You just can’t do that, Mr. Foley. You can’t be allowed back in front of the children. It wouldn’t be right!”

[Double Tap V.]

[Electricity courses through my veins.]

“You can’t win the Tag Team Championships. It won’t happen!”

[The Odyssey Pool.]

[Drowning.]

[Scissors tormenting me as I gasp for breath.]

“You can’t stop me Foley. You can’t take back control of me; you’re not strong enough, little dove!”

[Present.]

[I’m sitting in front of a VHS television combo and there’s static on the screen.]

“All my life I’ve been told I can’t.”

“I can’t beat up the bully. I can’t stop my pop from taking his frustration out on me. I can’t defend myself. I can’t impart my wisdom on the children. I can’t win the Tag Team Championships. I can’t stop Scissors.”

“The Arcadian Censorship Authority like to tell people they can’t. Whether it’s Tucker Goode telling people they can’t have sex or Sebastian Boswick telling people they can’t do a thing unless he agrees with it, their motto is that you can’t.

“You can’t retain the Tag Team Championships. You can’t say this. You can’t do that. Decorum, decorum, you can’t disobey the ACA.”

[That’s enough to make anyone shake their head.]

“All my life I’ve been told I can’t.”

“But then all my life, I’ve been alone.” [I smile.] “Until recently.”

“I’m not surprised to be told I can’t. I expect it now. I expect people to think I can’t do it. I expect them to think I can’t have it. The old me might’ve believed it, too. The old me might’ve bowed to the pressure of the Arcadian Censorship Authority and believed them when they said I can’t be one half of the Tag Team Champions.”

“But if there’s anything I can’t do….”

[I look across the room at Doom, who stands ominously.]

“You’d better believe that he can.”

[Doom steps into frame, his arms folded.]

Felix Foley