The Hunger Games meets VH1's Mob Wives.
by ALEX NAGORSKI
It’s too bad, really, that they held the reaping in the parking lot in front of Chevy’s on Hylan Blvd. – one of the few places in Staten Island that can be pleasant.
The Capitol is what they called VH1. There were many different neighborhoods on the Island, each with its own strengths, but there were none that didn’t answer to the Capitol. One channel to rule them all. Any disobedience of their orders would result in possible cancellation or worse altogether … recasting.
As they stepped out of their cars, they slowly draped their shoulders with minks as their stilettos pressed down onto the asphalt. They strut through the crowd – a sea of clashing animal patterns and single feather earrings – to make their way near the stage. The stage where it would be announced that two peoples’ lives were about to drastically change.
The rules for the season one drawing were simple. Two tributes would be chosen at random by a proxy for the Capitol to represent neighborhood 12, also known as the area you’ll find on the last three stops on the X1 bus line. These two tributes would then face off against 22 other opponents, two each from the eleven other neighborhoods. The game? Outlive the other 23 players. The reward? Attention on a national platform.
“I love this part,” Wendy Williams chuckled as she reached her hand into the bowl that held all of the women’s names. “Our tribute representing those who were not born Italian and just married into Italian families is … Drita D’Avanzo!”
The crowd that had gathered for the drawing roared in equal parts terror and applause. People murmured about how Drita’s constant desire for bloodshed sparked rumors that she was actually a vampire in middle school. “Whoever faces her won’t even have a chance,” they all whispered to one another. The “housewives” phenomenon was about to literally get its ass kicked. And the crowd salivated for more.
“You wanna fuckin’ go to war wit me, mother fuckers? I’ll fuckin’ SKIN you douche bags,” a heated Drita yelled out to the crowd as she channeled her inner Fear-era Marky Mark and pounded her fist against her chest. Seeing this, Wendy rolled her eyes and stuck her hand back in the bowl.
“And the tribute representing our pure bread Italians will be …..”
The crowd stood frozen in anticipation as they waited to hear what name Wendy would read. “Girl, it’s Ramona Rizzo,” she declared.
Ramona shouted as loud as she could. If she was being given a chance at this kind of exposure, she would do everything possible she could think of to prove that, despite all the evidence pointing towards the contrary, she was in fact relevant.
“Stop!” screamed Karen Gravano. “I volunteer! I volunteer as tribute!”
Karen shuffled her way up the stage, her balloon-sized breasts knocking aside the women between her and the Capitol’s camera crew. “If someone is gonna take this bitch down, it’s gonna be me,” she threatened as her and Drita locked stares.
Meanwhile, in a cell right off of Father Capodanno Boulevard, Lee D’Avanzo reached for what was left of his body lotion.
A few weeks later, after a series of promotional photo shoots and manufactured viral campaigns, it was time for the season to begin. The women opened the doors to their homes for the Capitol’s camera crews and just like that, the gun went off signifying the beginning of season one.
Drita stepped outside and looked around her. She saw Carla, the tribute from neighborhood 6, guarding the stoop of Planet Fitness. “If she thinks the sanctuary plea will work just because she’s standing in front of my gym, bitch is dead wrong,” Drita said in her confessional. “You could go to the Coney Island Aquarium and even the penguins would know this cunt is a bigger piece of toast than the one Lee ate for breakfast.”
Just as she was getting ready to take down Carla with a metaphor, the most lethal weapon in her arsenal, Drita realized that she might need an ally in order to survive the hunt. An ally who she could mold into thinking they were on the same side. An ally who she could use and dispose of at her free will. Yes, Carla was weak and easily influenced. She would do.
But the moment Drita decided to propose this alliance to Carla, she heard the wild cry of what could only be a boar. Suddenly, Carla’s body twitched as the tribute from neighborhood 9, Renee Graziano, sunk her teeth into her neck. “This is for that thing that happened between our fathers twenty years ago and doesn’t impact our lives today whatsoever,” Renee screamed as she swallowed Carla’s raw flesh. “HOW COULD YOU?” she bellowed as tears streamed down her bloodstained face. And just like that, all that was left of Carla was the character description on The Capitol’s new casting notice.
The cameras cut to the crowd’s reaction. On the big screens, the tributes watched as civilians reacted to Renee’s brutal attack. “Oh god, it doesn’t end,” a civilian known only as Big Ang from neighborhood 7, the collagen supplier, commented. “It was such a scene. Black eye. There wasn’t no doctors. Punched in the face. BLOOD. Skin dangling from her lips. Horrible.”
Hearing this, a lightbulb went off in Drita’s mind. “Renee’s been turning all these tributes into tombstones,” she confided in her audience. “If we work together, there’s no way that bitch Karen could beat us. Renee is such a loose cannon they could put her on top of like a castle.” She knew that until the Capitol inevitably forced them into a situation that would guarantee they turn their backs on one another, her and Renee would be invincible.
Yet seemingly out of nowhere, Drita spotted a figure in the distance. She couldn’t make out the face and the long dark hair was too dime-a-dozen to differentiate. The figure was wearing a sequined halter top with some sort of phrase on it. “In case you forgot, my father was Sammy the Bull,” Drita read as the shirt came into clearer focus. The time had come her to take down her arch-nemesis once and for all.
But just as Drita climbed her way up a tree to hide from Karen’s wonky-eyed gaze, she heard the shriek of the boar again. But this time, Renee was crying out in pain instead of triumph.
On the giant screens, Drita could see that in a twist nobody saw coming, Karen had managed to take down the mighty Renee. Her method was as simple as it was deviously brilliant. All she had to do was tell Renee that her ex-husband, Julian, had died. Immediately upon hearing this, Renee let out a howl so unnecessarily loud, that nobody could even hear her last words as she slit her own throat. Later in the editing booth, the Capitol would enhance the audio track for sweeps season. “I’ll see you soon, Julian,” Renee gasped. “I’ll see you soon, you little jerk-off!’
With Renee’s passing, only two tributes were left, both from neighborhood 12. Both from the land inside the last three stops on the X1 bus line. And there was only one thing left to do: Kill.
“Ladies, stop!” the voice of a strange man commanded from the speakers. They looked up at the screen and saw Bravo’s very own Andy Cohen, staring intently into the camera and giving it his smoldering signature you-know-you-want-to-sit-on-my-face look.
“Please, hear me out,” he said. “In order to keep these franchises healthy, we’re going to need to extend this fight into season two. We’ll cut right here and leave it as a cliffhanger. Trust me! I know what I’m talking about. I’ve been slowly accumulating millions by bossing around basic bitches just like you for years now. You don’t have to kill one another. You’re both winners.”
“NO!” Drita screamed as she reached for a jar of Ragu. “I would rather digest this factory-made poison and die a thousand deaths than live in the same world as this psycho whore.” Karen, upon hearing this, ran to Drita’s side. “Here, it’ll be faster if I help you,” she said as the two women unscrewed the top off the jar.
“You don’t get it yet,” Andy remarked as he looked down at the women from the giant screen. “These battles will make you famous. You can come out with your own line of perfume, your own cookbooks, dance singles, liquor brands and more! Don’t you see? Going to war with one another will give you all the fame and money you could have ever possibly hoped for. And then a little more.”
After a heavy three seconds of consideration, the women looked at one another and laughed. “We was always friends, you and me,” Drita said to Karen as they embraced. “Like family,” Karen agreed.
“Hey Andy,” Karen continued as she turned towards the giant screen hovering above them. “Just for the record, we’re on different channels. You didn’t have to get involved just because you saw a group of dangerous women on TV breaking jaws and ratings. But thank you anyway.”
The screens faded to black as Renee and Drita walked with interlocked arms into Applebees. But right before the credits began to roll, the cameras zoomed in on Ramona, seething with anger as she watched from her living room.
“If these sluts want to extend this bullshit into another year,” she said as she pointed to the freeze frame of Drita and Karen on her screen, “then by all means, be my guests. Because this time, none-a yous is getting out alive.”
… Maybe next season, we’ll find out what the conflict is.
Originally published on PopBytes