Marwood winced. In the short time he had known de Lacy, a half-hearted ‘blast’ was the closest thing he had heard to an expletive. But now, as his compatriot tore through the Arena dressing room like a man caught in the stormy aftermath of a fiery burrito feast, he was profoundly taken aback by the gratuitous nature of the Yorkshireman’s profanity-laden tirade.
“That juiced-up needle jockey! That swollen-headed simpleton! How very dare he!?”
The subject of de Lacy’s ire was Dan Ryan, a man who, thus far, could lay claim to being the only man (or woman) in HOW to successfully pin his shoulders to the mat. TWICE. Once, he could overlook. But twice!?
“He’ll rue the fucking day!”
“Charles, for god’s sake calm down.” Marwood appealed, meekly.
“Calm down? Calm down. I’ll have his guts for garters, the snivelling shitehawk!”
Finding this last invective wanting, de Lacy unleashed his frustrations on a nearby dresser, causing an eruption of shattering glass bottles – an assortment of exquisite colognes and exceptionally costly spirits – crashing to the floor.
The resulting cacophony echoed with the jarring intensity of a chimpanzee’s furious assault on its own reflection, jolting de Lacy back to reality.
He slumped to his knees.
“It was my last chance.”
As the bustling city of Chicago hums with the energy of its urban rhythm, an unexpected sight captures the attention of passers-by on the crowded L train platform. Amidst the diverse sea of commuters, a conspicuous figure leans sullenly against a wall. Dressed in a classic charcoal pinstriped double-breasted suit, de Lacy’s face betrays a contempt for both his humble surroundings and the people currently inhabiting them.
He adjusts his posture, straightening his back and lifting his chin in a gesture of defiance before clearing his voice to speak.
“Please forgive me my insalubrious surroundings. I realise they stand in stark contrast to the rapturous charms of México City. Here I find myself back in dear Chicago, where the wind blows as fiercely as the gossiping fishwives and the deep-pan pizza is considered the pinnacle of culinary sophistication.
Until now, my voice has been little heard. Aside from an all-too-brief introduction some months ago, I have neglected to address my adoring public.”
An ironic smile plays on de Lacy’s lips.
“Truth be told, I’ve been practically mute up to this point in time. Now, why would a man as naturally loquacious as I deprive you of my words?
Because I thought you undeserving.
Having spent more time getting to know you, the HOW faithful, my opinion… well, it hasn’t changed. If anything, it has grown stronger. Frankly, I despise you. I despise for your lack of class, your loose morals, for your choice of heroes.”
de Lacy surveys his surroundings scornfully.
“My choice of venue is no coincidence. The L Street station: a perfect representation of your mundane existence and lacklustre aspirations. I deliberately chose this setting to highlight the mediocrity that permeates your lives, as the nameless masses shuffle through their daily routine, oblivious to the grandeur of true excellence.”
de Lacy gestures to himself.
“Yet, even in my contempt for you, I cannot deny you the power of my own words. Words that hold influence and sway, even over an audience such as you. So, I stand before you, sharing my thoughts reluctantly, with a begrudging recognition of your unwitting role as recipients of my insights and witticisms. Perhaps, in some twisted way, my disdain fuels the fire that compels you to listen and engage, if only momentarily.
Anyway, on to business.
He spits the words out as if they were poison.
“I’m curious. Is that your real name or just an affectation? Because if it’s the latter, I couldn’t think of a less suitable moniker. There’s nothing “Hollywood” about you. You’re a Z-lister at best: pure B-movie fodder. An afterthought. An also-ran. You’re the Vince Vaughn… no… You’re the Lindsay Lohan of HOW. Perfectly competent, in your own way, but utterly underwhelming. A relic of another age. When was the last time anyone considered you relevant? Your days as a leading lady have long been and gone.
I am aware of your spell as World Champion. And ordinarily, this would give me pause for thought. Ordinarily I would offer a few words in deference to your achievement, even. A World Champion is nothing to be sniffed at, after all. However, it is an often-overlooked fact in our industry that not all World Champions are created equal.
Let’s examine your so-called reign, shall we? This just so happened to coincide with the great HOW talent drought of 2016, when true competition was as scarce as a braincell at a monster truck rally. Mercifully, those days are long gone. Sanity has prevailed and HOW is once again home to the cream of the crop, of which I humbly include myself.
I won’t mince my words. YOU ARE NOT IN MY LEAGUE. You are utterly undeserving of the patronage that comes with seeing your name placed next to mine on this or any other wrestling card, and the indignity of having to step in the ring with someone of your caliber is an affront to my aesthetic sensibilities. It’s like parking a Rolls Royce next to a Mini Cooper.
While my HOW career has followed an upward trajectory, culminating in a performance at War Games that saw me outlast half the roster, yours has stagnated. You sneaked into War Games through the back door, and you exited on your back with barely a whimper.
You see, War Games has opened my eyes to a number of things. Call me naïve, but it wasn’t until I saw poor Evan Ward, rest his soul, carted off on a stretcher that I realised just what it is at stake. HOW isn’t the place for idle threats and posturing. This is a platform for the survival of the fittest. Take that for granted, and you may just pay with your life.
So, what’s the key to survival?
Well, while Stronk’s success may suggest that brute force trumps technical know-how, I know for a fact that brains and brawn are the true ticket to triumph. I may be somewhat lacking in the muscle department, but I am a resourceful man. Oh yes, my cunning knows no bounds. Others may have spent the weeks following War Games licking their wounds and bemoaning their misfortunes, but not Charles de Lacy.
Twice that brainless beefcake Dan Ryan has taken advantage of my good nature. Is he a more proficient technician? Don’t make me laugh. A more capable athlete? Not a chance! No, what he is, is a brutish opportunist who on both occasions saw it fit to capitalise on my very British sense of fair play and leverage that Herculean might of his when I least expected it.
So, how can a man such as I respond? How can David thwart the Goliaths of the HOW roster?”
de Lacy disappears from view momentarily, reappearing seconds later brandishing a cricket bat.
“With an equaliser.”
“No longer will I sit back and watch the undeserving louts of HOW take the most coveted spots. I shall finally take matters into my own hands and defend this fair sport for all she’s worth.
Brian – you don’t mind if I call you Brian, do you?”
de Lacy smiles condescendingly.
“You shall be the first to pay witness to a side of me that hitherto has remained under wraps. A sadistic, monstrous side that knows no mercy. Don’t take it personally. Your misfortune lies in the questionable decisions of the booking committee. I don’t hold any animosity towards you. Hell, if you make it out in one piece, what’s to stop us burying the hatchet over a spot of tea?”
A mocking smile plays on de Lacy’s face before quickly vanishing.
“But until that time comes, who’s for a spot of cricket?”
With the cricket bat resting on his shoulder, de Lacy snarls into the camera.