Benny gave birth to Nintendo because she hated everything, but Charlie hated everything too, so they could hate everything together.
Charlie made or modified all those Easter dresses because she never wanted anyone to wear them (all the unworthy and jealous legions) (and Benny was the only one who knew this about her intent) only to sit on dummies in museums made just for Charlie’s legacy so Benny could be there hosting tours and say, “Ha ha, you dumbass. This is not for you. You’d make a dress like that stink too bad to wear.” Benny would be there with her every afterschool in the little shop Charlie made out back of her house, and Benny would be fiddling with a little needle and string like anything she did did anything to the dresses, but at least she’d get to say, “These are the dresses we made,” and feel a little less like she lied it. When the other kids called her weirdo, she always had the future worship of Easter dresses from God’s own patterns to laugh at those fools in secret.
Her greatest addition to the birth of Nintendo came from a mask given to her by providence. In her honest history she’d only confess to biographers on her deathbed, she stole the Nintendo mask from a girl in shop class everyone hated, Greta, the girl who tinkered with all the rejected machines like she cared and believed in something (idiot), and everyone on the planet made fun of her for it (everybody may’ve made fun of Benny and Charlie likewise, but at least they weren’t as low down as Greta).
Benny: “What’s this dumb machine you’re making, Greta?” This machine was a mask Benny put on (because why not?) that covered her face from forehead to chin with a flat mirrored surface like Cobra Commander.
Greta: “It’s a mask” (because maybe she thought obvious statements weren’t a total waste of time).
Benny: “Why would you waste time making machine masks?” As she spoke, she saw (the mirror was one sided) a pixilated face like old fashioned videogame faces appeared on the mask and spoke with an autotune voice.
Thus, Nintendo had a forgotten third mother (but once Benny made the mask hers alone, Greta was so gone forever from this business she’s hardly even worth mentioning) and the mask now was only something she found by chance in the middle of nothing. The magic of Jesus delivered the mask via thunderbolts of heaven to facilitate their destiny to go hardcore apocalypse on all of existence (or whatever). That’s around the time Jesus magic let her find the rainbowcolored Tasselactor wig in an old abandoned grown over park below an arch of chipped off gold like Jesus, in his cultural closemindedness, got the whole leprechaun gold and rainbow set up backward.
Then Benny saw the Easter dresses Charlie turned into drag dresses in her free time. The Easter drag dress Benny put on first to model was blue like Easter egg dye and patterns, like Paas made dresses, so it became the Paas Dress in their personal legends. It hung fine at the top but pooled below her like the whole thing melted into puddles (like fitting ever mattered for anything).
Charlie: “You’re too small to be a drag queen. Maybe I can corner the market on a line of short-and-small drag dresses.”
Benny: “Close your eyes.” Benny reached into her bag to pull out the Cobra Commander mask and rainbow wig. “Open your eyes.” But this greatness got no response at first. “What’s the matter?” The face came up the happy pixilated face on the blank mask, the electronic voice. “Don’t you think I’m pretty?” She stroked the long straight rainbowcolored hair. “My name is Nintendo. I always wished to be a real girl, and here I am.”
In this manner, Benny became famous.
Because Nintendo in this personal legend embodied all the most awful qualities of popularity and popular music (compounded with Benny’s conviction to delight the only one who knew the joke) she became the most famous pop star on the planet.
When Nintendo was a brand new creation, she played drag clubs where Charlie sold dresses. Soon she was in local papers and on talk shows as a musical oddity where she had to relate her origins anew to each interviewer.
Nintendo: “I was born a Nintendo. I wanted to be a real girl. If you dream hard enough…” And so on. It was that easy.
It was pop music created by people who hated pop music and hearts and love (Benny, at least, hated all music and made music only to show people they should hate themselves). To Benny, Nintendo’s music and the amount of people who loved it, nothing but hilarious. The songs weren’t hard to make, mostly beat presets in the too complicated computer system what’s-her-name put in the mask for no good reason. Add this to repeated uplifting pithy aphorisms in her computer voice like, “If you dream hard and your heart is big, you can have anything you love come true, true to you, true to you,” that sort of thing, random blather (like hearts and truth ever mattered for anyone but idiots and dumbasses).
Charlie plugged away at all the Nintendo dresses for every show she got booked in which seemed like every show that existed. She was there for Benny all that summer (like they’d always been there for each other’s summers).
Until she wasn’t.
Charlie: “I got this offer to go to Paris.”
Benny: “Why would you want to go to Paris? It’s awful.”
Charlie: “I kind of want to study design. Some people say my designs are good.”
Benny: “Who’s ever said that but me?”
Charlie: “A lot of people. Teachers. Then there’s also the people who offered to pay to send me to Paris. They kind of think my stuff is good.”
Benny: “They’re just having a joke on you, right?”
Charlie: “But you told me my dresses would be in museums one day.”
Benny: “When people stop sucking and we make them better.”
Charlie: “By doing what? Making fun of them?”
Benny: “By making them want to be like us. You and me represent the only non-sucking portion of the population.”
They had the whole summer before Charlie decided Paris was stupid (because of course she would, right?) (because anything like that had to be stupid, right?) but Charlie disappeared a lot (like a crazy person who just goes off and leaves loved ones for days) (it could only possibly be insanity). It started with the off and on no shows like Benny might expect her to be at a fitting for a pop festival Benny planned to destroy or a press junket or whatever where idiots would write her lies, but soon Charlie was only a void. She stopped being a real girl and became Benny’s eternal waiting.
Nintendo then went on stage in the same battered Easter dresses as always, including some nights the overworn Paas Dress from Nintendo’s birth, torn in secret absences never to be known in the mystery of Nintendo’s origin, but all the songs became about the awful inevitable failure of loving anyone, and her fans loved it because they’d had their heart broken like this, in the simpler but more incredible ripping away that leaves an unhideable hole, a heartbreak more intense and acute than any other possible pain, and Nintendo, as the hate monster she’d become, embodied all they needed. Nintendo didn’t hide her feelings, and her fans were people who couldn’t hide their feelings, who wanted to hurt along with others in the intensity of their openness, especially with the most open sentient computer who even had clothes disheveled by her misery.
But then Charlie came back.
Benny: “Where did you go?”
Charlie: “I don’t know. I go places sometimes.” She had a girl tagging along like some stray she picked up, face obscured by black hair, toes turned inward like eternally curled into shadow. “This is O. She’s going to be my assistant.”
Benny: “Your little orphan can go away. No one will be offended, and everyone will forget it happened.”
Charlie: “You’re having me make a lot of dresses. I need a hand.”
Benny: “When’d you find time for charity cases? You encounter a lot of crystal babies in whatever magical world you got kidnapped to?”
Charlie: “Okay, to be honest, as long as you promise to drop it, I’ll tell you where I go. I go to motels sometimes. I just find a motel and check in and stay there alone for days. I don’t tell you because I just want to go to motels, and I don’t tell anybody. But I go because, I don’t know, it’s quiet, and I meet people who don’t know me. I met O there and taught her a little bit about sewing. She seemed like she wanted to learn.”
Benny: “I can learn to sew.” (Why hadn’t she thought of that before?)
Charlie: “Don’t worry about it. You’ve got your thing. You’re the pop star. Go be the pop star.”
Benny: “I’m only that because you thought it was funny.”
Charlie: “Yes, you’re hilarious.” (There was no mirth, only tones of some new girl who sneaks off to motels and teaches random little bitches to sew.)
Benny wanted to walk away, but it would be so far and weird. They were on the stage for that night’s show, and the stage was covered in giant rainbow-colored stuffed animals, so big even the feet were taller than Benny. The rest of the theater was empty but Benny and Charlie and that new girl (who seemed to suck away any presence anyway like black holes). The empty sound of some machine click echoed. That girl remained (despite stares supposed to make her have multiple heart attacks) (she was only some lump of black hair, silence, and nothing but still refusing to be anything but solid).
Charlie: “We’ve got to go work on your outfits for tonight. You’ve got to practice.”
Benny: “I never practice. Because I hate it. We both hate it.”
Charlie: “You can’t hate all of it. I think the Easter drag dresses are great.”
Machine click echo.
Benny: “Me too.”
Charlie walked away with that girl. Off to sew. Or whatever.
But Benny had nowhere to go (alone and made microscopic by gratuitous animals) so she went to the sewing room and made her silence as offensive as possible.
Charlie (like everything was suddenly okay again): “O and I bonded because we both had dreams of being crucified in bloody and terrible ways. There must have been a thousand screaming voices in those dreams.”
Benny doodled O’s burning corpse on the fake set list for tech as she babbled vague lyrics for the nonsense she’d sing tonight (something about burning love and burning hate and crucifixion) (she hoped/wondered/didn’t care if crucifixion lyrics offended delicate ears) (something like, “hope you enjoy your crucifixion” (or whatever, didn’t matter)).
Benny: “Dream as in ambition or night vision?”
Charlie: “Why would we have ambition to be murdered?”
Benny fiddled with a flat pincushion pushing the pins through until they made a nail bed on the other side (she could make things as good as anybody made them) (they always called her the creative type) (creativity is a good name for things like nailbeds for torture).
Benny: “How’d you know she dreamed that if she’s a mute?”
Charlie: “What makes you think she’s mute?”
Benny: “I guess it’s only that she seems so, I don’t know, lacking in something.”
Charlie stepped out a moment to get whatever sewing stuff people like her needed, and Benny put her miniature nailbed down in front of O.
Benny: “Charlie said to put your hand on this hard until blood comes out. For sewing.” Benny grabbed her hand when she failed to respond, but O resisted. “Come on. She said it’s to fulfill a dream.” But Charlie came back before she could bring this creativity to completion. “We’re just bonding.”
Then later over the radio she heard about the Greatest Pop Star on the Planet Contest, created by the Electric Youth, an organization that does some stupid nonsense for pop music and some dumb charity for kids (like at this point in history anybody but Benny needed charity). She would win the contest, and Charlie and O would see her glory and bow down in supplication begging forgiveness for the great crime, whatever that great crime was.
So Benny ordered Charlie to make the dress the world’s greatest human would wear, and Charlie complied without complaining and brought her little grunt worker along.
Charlie: “O had a great idea for a dress for the Greatest Pop Star on the Planet contest.”
Benny: “Sounds terrible.”
Charlie: “You haven’t even…never mind.”
Charlie turned away, and Benny was sick of that sort of turning away, how dare she? Like she’s the one to be offended. She couldn’t let her get away with it.
Benny: “What is it then?”
Her real voice was always more innocent and desperate than she wanted it to be these days (like that fake Nintendo vulnerability had become a virus corrupting her real vocal chords).
Charlie: “Refurbish the old Paas Dress from back when we started.”
Neither one said a thing then or made a move to leave (though every muscle of everybody seemed ready to flee like prey animals). Charlie sat down to sew because all the shows gave her too much work to do to just up and leave like that (like lazy cowards). Then she started chitchatting (like that was something they still did).
Charlie: “Supposedly your big competition is this girl out of Korea called Met Gala, haven’t had time to look her up.”
Benny: “Why would you? This music is terrible. If I win this contest, I’m only winning at being terrible.”
Charlie: “There was a time when you liked some things. Remember that?”
Benny: “Yes. I remember that.” And Benny let her sew in peace (and left the room because she was the only one who had the power and right to leave).
For the Greatest Pop Star on the Planet contest, the whole stage was set up like a mini-Hoover Dam made of woven funhouse mirrors making all performers big and weird behind themselves.
Coquettish Korean teen pop star Met Gala was the first night headliner. She was a flaming black wall, six feet by six feet. When she approached the mic, the overwhelming sound, nearly blowing out the speakers, was a dozen screaming voices. The background music was still the regular pop beat. Here and there the mechanical beat would break and dulcet background refrains would counterpoint a “yeah yeah” but mostly the screaming.
The audience went nuts like this was the greatest thing, and Benny measured it against her own dumb audience (like screaming people can be anything but stupid).
Benny: “Oh God, not this crap again.”
She made sure Charlie could hear her jaded and highly intelligent dismissal for some reason.
Nintendo called her Greatest Pop Star on the Planet Contest song as the second night headliner “The Single Sustained Note of Resurrection to Mend All Broken Hearts,” and in the elaborate costume Charlie and O designed to win the whole contest based on the refurbished Paas Dress from their beginning, Nintendo entered, played one note on the piano, let it reverberate for a good three seconds, and she left. There was no way to compare the audience reaction to Met Gala’s (because Benny wouldn’t give them that power).
Charlie: “What the hell was that?”
Benny: “Exactly what I said I was going to do in the title.” Benny gave a smirk Charlie couldn’t possibly see (but she should know it was there anyway) (because she was her and they were them). “Sorry if they didn’t stare at your dress for forever. I know how long you and what’s her name worked on it.”
Benny and O gave each other death eyes (at least Benny assumed O was giving them back under that black hair) (Benny could hardly tolerate weak people who hid their faces that way).
The final headlining act of the Greatest Pop Star on the Planet Contest was the river. The concert organizers gave no indication of what this meant, but everyone presumed they meant the nearest river, the Nagsissy.
On the night the river was supposed to perform, the cameras were trained on the Nagsissy River, waiting for anything. After hours of waiting (audience silent and tense like any great moment in music where silence leads to some even greater ecstasy) part of the river lurched from its banks like a worm lifting and wiggling its head out of a hole (the crowd gasped). Half a mile of the river jerked out of its banks and onto a nearby city street, jerking forward like a worm, knocking cars aside. Its head was a thousand writhing tendrils of water. It arrived at the stage for the Greatest Pop Star on the Planet Contest and took up the whole stage, tail trailing out the door. Its music was a thousand screaming voices, deep bass rumble screaming, the sort of voices that get right inside of you and vibrate all your matter away to replace with its own being, far more intense than the flaming wall or anything else possible in music. The audience degenerated into spasms of ecstasy, frothing at the mouth, eyes rolled back, orgasming simultaneously.
It was clear who won the contest.
Benny: “Please. Give me a break.”
Benny, wearing her Nintendo mask, watched from atop a sheer silvery mirrored Hoover Dam wall behind the screaming river. Charlie came up behind her.
Charlie: “You don’t have to do this.” She had come to apologize for what she did. “I don’t know why you’re acting like this, but killing yourself is stupid.”
Benny: “I am not Benny. I am only Nintendo.”
Charlie didn’t laugh like she was (maybe) supposed to.
O was with her, and she approached like she was going to save her from suicide and everything would be better, and everybody would be great heroes forever, but they were all too dumb to realize maybe Benny wanted to be alone and watch her own embarrassing uselessness play out on stage below. O reached out a hand to lift Benny up, but Benny jerked too hard and pulled O off the side of the wall, and down she fell (to death if Benny remained lucky) but Benny tried to stand up, lost her footing likewise and fell.
The damndest thing was Charlie didn’t reach out a hand for either one. Not even an arm jerk of a deep need to save her friend like her lifelong friendship wasn’t even worth instinctive responses.
Benny and O fell together through nothing. Maybe they were going to die together, break into a thousand bloody pieces indistinguishable in the final mess of carnage. An amazing final pop star act that might be the only way to equal the river.
But, no, they fell safe into the river water that covered the stage now. (Maybe Benny knew that would happen. Maybe Charlie did too.) (If that made anything okay, who knows?)
The audience in spasms of ecstasy followed the plummeting Nintendo into the river to take their ecstasy to the only possible place, inside the body of their new god.
Hundreds of people drowned.
It was the greatest pop concert ever.
Despite everything, Charlie went to Paris. O disappeared and nobody cared that the whole world forgot about her.
Benny only had herself now and nobody ever knew she was Nintendo. The Nintendo mask, once it hit the water, became no longer usable forever, and Benny didn’t even try to fix it.
She prayed every night for the sun to fall into the ocean and for all the world to die precisely the way they wanted to and deserved.