So, this is it? This is where my newly resurgent career had led me? To Charles De Lacy? If I wasn’t just a collection of thoughts, laid out in a supposed cliched diatribe, I would sigh. Fuck it. I’m going to do say it anyway.
Heck, maybe I should try it in French in order to craft a facade of culture and elegance.
Nah, it sounds as hollow as those which are projectile vomited from between De Lacy’s lime-sucking lips. In that regard, Charles reminds me of Kenneth Branagh. He’s hailed by lesser minds as a phenomenal actor. But the truth is, he’s merely an eloquent public speaker. As an actor, he is decidedly average. The same can be markedly said about Charles De Lacy. He clearly knows his way around the word – likely written as much as spoken – but as a wrestler, he’s decidedly average.
And I should know…
…because I’ve spent half my career being (and battling to improve upon being) decidedly average.
We can smell our own.
At least, I can. Charles, however, appears to have not a single iota of a clue whom he is dealing with. Hence his current foray into the bowels of middle America to solve the riddle that is me. All the while making broad generalizations and statements as to my nature and abilities. All without a sense to the contradiction and hypocrisy he currently embodies. He seeks to know my soul yet claims to have already grasped the answers.
And that is why I will inevitably defeat him In God’s House.
Because while he flails like an infant in the crib, reaching for that which is perpetually out of reach, I know myself. And I know Charles De Lacy. I know his limits and, more importantly, I know my own. Hence, I know exactly where I need to push myself like never before in order to overcome my British foe. Meanwhile, his arrogance and hubris – the likes of which he has projected onto me – will simply aid me in bringing about his downfall.
Because, while Charles De Lacy clearly knows his way around an extensive vocabulary, I know my way around the High Octane Wrestling ring. While Charles De Lacy is clearly a man of words, I am a man of action. If Charles wasn’t so afraid of delving into the past, he would know that. He would know that Shane Reynolds has already forged a legacy – not just in the world of wrestling, but HOW itself. I was “toppling titans” as you said before names like Charles De Lacy or even Mike Best were blips on the radar.
Were he to explore the past, as I have, he would also learn of a certain name: Graystone.
Like Charles, he was a man of words. He was able to weave them in ways that I could only dream of. Even in my younger days, when I actually harboured dreams of being an author, I knew I could never hope to be even half as good with words as him. So, I turned my eye towards other skills. Those more easily learned and then honed. I turned myself into a man of action and violence. Charles, like Graystone, can keep his flowery words and pretentious turn of phrase. Because, at the end of the day, they mean nothing in the ring and decades of mastered violence will be the real deciding factor.
And that, once again, to hammer the point home, will be why it’ll be my hand raised victoriously in Miami, Florida. And it will be why, in time, the name Shane Reynolds will persist while names like Graystone and Charles De Lacy will be lost to the sands of time.
Charles De Lacy thinks that my mask hides a void of authenticity. He thinks that I’m a mediocre talent desperate for glory I’ll never achieve. And yet I’ve achieved the kind of glory he couldn’t even fathom. I’ve held championships for record-breaking reigns. I’ve won multiple War Games. I’ve emerged victorious from some of the most brutal matches ever conceived by Lee Best. I’ve defeated competitors so deranged you can’t even fathom. I’m a goddamn HALL OF FAMER!!!
And my mask hides nothing but a lifetime of violent experience – a scarred web of lessons learned, of a style honed to perfection to counter anybody I face or have yet to face. But, yet again, he’d know that if he did the merest research into the past. Instead, he is doomed to repeat the same history, the same mistake, as countless wrestlers before him. At least he can walk away knowing you got to compete against one of the best there has ever been.
Meanwhile, I am stuck with him…
…which, I guess, brings me around to what the point of this diatribe even is.
Is this really where what could be my final tenure has led? To Charles De Lacy?
My last pay-per-view match was fifteen years in the making. It was one of the most personal matches of my entire life. And now I’m competing in a match that is barely drawing any attention. Given my place in the rankings, I should be wrestling for the World Championship or even number one contendership. It should be me as one of the marquee names. Not Dan Ryan. Not Rhys Townsend.
“Shane Reynolds. But, instead, I am stuck with Charles De Lacy.
And that is why, no matter what it takes and no matter what I have to do, I have to destroy him. Not because of a personal grudge. Not because I hate the man or think much about him at all. But because I need to make an example of him, so that an example be set for the rest of the roster. Because the fans and American citizens that he so disparages deserve to have someone in their corner, ready to dish out vengeful violence and spill blood in their name. And simply because any other outcome but an utter and resounding victory would be the height of humiliation.
The last few weeks, if not the entire month of October, had passed in an indistinct blur. And with it, so had Shane Reynolds’ passion dwindled. His world had never been one of bright and vivid colours – not that he would admit, at least. But even his comforting black and white had faded into a gray sludge. Even the seconds seemed to drag, making each day feel like an eternity, and everything felt like a chore. Riley insisted that it was a side effect of weaning himself off of the morphine he’d gotten so used to. However, Shane couldn’t help but wonder if it was a symptom of something deeper.
Shane emerged from his thoughts like someone snapping awake from a nightmare.
“I’m listening,” he said, instinctively, rubbing at the back of his neck.
“Then what did I just say?” Riley pressed, his emerald eyes piercing in a way none of his other followers would dare.
“His mouth farted something insulting of Miami, and America at large, before jerking off to the image of Prince Charles on a pound coin.”
“King Charles,” Riley corrected.
“What?” Shane muttered, already starting to lose focus once more.
Riley loudly clicked her fingers, bringing Shane back to the moment. “He’s the king now.”
“Oh wow,” Shane exclaimed, both his tone and his comically widened eyes sparkling with sarcasm. “I don’t give a shit.”
Shane forced himself to stand up from the armchair he’d been sitting in. Riley had been standing in the window, the neon lights from the street outside turning her into mere silhouette. That was especially so as she turned her eyes away. Shane slid up behind her, wrapping his arms around her petite waist. She melted into him as he pressed against her. He leaned his head down and whispered into her ear.
“So, what did you say?”
It wasn’t the sexiest of sentences to whisper, but it nonetheless had the desired effect. After all, Riley liked few things more than being of use – in this way as well as others. She liked to serve and be a more integral part of his mission than the rest of his followers. She liked to be his right hand and know that her voice was heard, that it mattered.
“He’s getting drunk,” Riley eventually answered.
“What?” Shane said, suddenly gripping her by the shoulders and forcing her to turn around. She turned her eyes up towards the dark circles that denoted his eyes in the mask. The light outside shifted to a bright red, bathing them in its bloody glow. And not bloody in the British sense.
“I said—” Riley tried to repeat.
“I know what you said,” Shane interrupted, slipping his fingers between hers and, lifting her arm above her head, he twirled her back towards the window. He would later learn how meaningfully ironic the dance-y manoeuvre actually was. In this case, however, it was merely to make it that there were both looking at the overgrown roach motel across the street. “I’m just surprised.”
And angry, Shane added, though only to himself and in the dark recesses of his mind. Shane didn’t know definitively had led to Charles De Lacy to staying in such grotty environs. But he had an idea. This was how he viewed America. It was a surface-level assessment, much like the one Charles had of him. Like far too many people, he was able to see beneath the gothic indulgences to the warrior, the survivor beneath.
“Tell me more,” Shane finally continued, the anger seeming to bring colour back into the grey that had haunted him over the last week. The hate seemed to provoke his heart to once again beat within his chest. And, in that moment, he needed more fuel.
Riley shrugged within Shane’s grip. “There’s not much to tell. He and that cartoonish friend of his checked in and they promptly started to get drunk.”
Obviously, they could see into Charles’ room from the building they were occupying. It had once served as an abattoir but had long since shutdown and been left abandoned after the neighbourhood tried to modernize. Not even the smell of death remained, much to Shane’s disappointment. And much to Riley’s, there was no blood. It wasn’t going to be a long stay, though. It was merely apt for a few hours in order to keep tabs on Charles. Normally, he would send one of his minions but Riley thought they should do it personally – to get Shane out of the house (so to speak) and away from just watching television and playing video games.
As loathe as he may be to admit it, Riley may have been right. This was more alive than he’d felt in weeks, even prior to his last match with Xander Azula, during which he felt like he was going through the motions. He was once told that hatred was a great motivator but not something that could sustain people in the long-term. That might end up being true, but, in this moment, it was doing a great job of nourishing him. In fact, it was giving him a sense of purpose and making the upcoming match feel actually important to him.
“They were singing,” Riley added. Due to not being able to see from their vantage point, Riley had been sent over to flirt the room number out of the concierge. From there, she’d gone and listened at the door, for whatever scraps of information she could gather.
This wasn’t what Shane had expected from such a recon mission. But, as it turned out, it was exactly what Shane needed. The anger coursed through his veins as potently as the morphine had. And, like adrenaline, he suddenly felt sped up while the world moved in slow motion. He suddenly pulled away from Riley, who bemoaned his sudden absence. He gripped a nearby chair and, with an almighty swing, he smashed it repeatedly against the wall, until only shards remained.
“That’s how I want to leave him laying at the match,” Shane said more rage than Riley had ever seen from him. He pointed at the chair’s wooden remains. “I need to break him wholly and completely.”
“And you will,” Riley affirmed.
“No, you don’t understand,” Shane countered, rushing over and once more gripping her shoulders. He gazed at her from beyond the mask and even she could tell that he was smiling. It was no doubt a dark and almost psychotic smile, but it was a smile nonetheless. “I need to!”
“And you will,” Riley repeated, having nothing but the utmost faith in him.
Shane loosened his grip and returned back to the armchair he had originally been sat in. He slumped back inside, the anger and hate giving way to contentment – as though he had discovered what his natural state was.
“I really thought I’d reached the end.” Shane exhaled wistfully. “I thought that my passion, my drive, was gone. But whether he meant to or not, Charles De Lacy has reawakened it. His disrespect has brought me back to life and that can not go unpunished. I’m now burdened with glorious purpose and that purpose is the ending of Charles De Lacy’s career. For me and my World Championship aspirations. For you and all the other followers. For the fans and the entirety of America!”
Riley’s brow suddenly furrowed as Shane uttered the last part of that sentence. It brought to mind a question that had danced around her mind for a long while now. It was a question that she hadn’t dared to give voice to. But, in the current moment, she wasn’t sure she could hold it back.
“Why have you become Christopher America all of a sudden?”
Shane tilted his head to the left in a quizzical manner.
“How dare you compare me to that fuckwit?!” Shane spat, and then he spat literally on the floor as though cursing the ground. “I’m nothing like that xenophobic, macho-patriotic asshole. Unlike him, I recognize that this country is deeply flawed. I know that we are a laughing stock on the world stage because of corrupt officials and delusional morons on the fringes. I know America is imperfect. But I love it nonetheless. And I refuse to let it be disparaged by a limey with delusions of grandeur.”
Shane sighed, still bitterly mulling over the comparison.
“I am the patron saint of not just the everyman, but the imperfects,” Shane continued. “And that’s what Chuck doesn’t seem to understand. The corrupt and depraved souls that he chooses to focus on is not America. The rat trap of a hotel isn’t America. Even Miami isn’t America. The hardworking families of every race, class, gender, and creed is America. The silent masses that just want to live and enjoy life and wish no harm on anybody is America. The plumbers and waiters and single parents. That is America. And they are who I fight for – in the ring and everyday life.”
Riley actually found herself welling up at the message in Shane’s words, at the sincerity with which they were being spoken.
“It took me a long time to realize it, but they are why I do what I do,” Shane carried on. “And they are why I am going to give it my everything to destroy Chuck at the pay-per-view. Because he’s making a mockery of me. He’s making a mockery of them. He’s making a mockery of HOW and the country it lives. And I’m not going to allow it to go on a day longer than next Sunday.”
Shane stood back up as though to emphasize his point. As he did, he once again felt the ache of four days straight of training and sparing in every bone and muscle.
“Malaise or not… withdrawal symptoms or not… I’ve been busting my ass every day to make sure I’m ready for the match with Chuck. I’ve been pushing myself to my limits to ensure that, come Sunday, I have no limits. I have gone above and beyond to ensure that I am as in peak condition as this broken, aged body can be. Meanwhile, he’s sitting around drinking with his buddies and frolicking?”
Shane closed the gap between he and Riley once again.
“Fuck that and fuck him,” Shane concluded. “I am finally awake again and I am going to make him pay for that hubris with as much blood as I can shed from him.”
Riley smirked at the sound of blood, as she always does.
“And then we are going to bathe and celebrate it in.”
Shane answered that question by pulling him into him with one hand as he removed the mask with the other. Kissing each other intensely, the pair prepared to undergo some cardio training of a different variety as the red-soaked night outside continued on oblivious. All except one, who, like Shane, had made his home in the shadows. His features were hidden except for his eyes, which remained locked on the window even after Shane and Riley had moved away from it.
“Soon,” he muttered mostly to himself. “Soon.”
Did I say that my upcoming decimation of Charles De Lacy wasn’t based on a hatred?
Le fuck that.
Towards him, I now officially feel hate, loathing, detest, and every other synonym you can think of. It’s a hatred that goes before personal and professional to something brand-new. And with that hate in my heart, I’m going to give the fans the kind of show nobody was expecting from Shane Reynolds vs Charles De Lacy. In terms of action, I’m going to not only give the rest of the matches a run for their money but I’m going to surpass them.
Though no title is on the line, I’m going to fight as though it is. Though there is no cage or HOFC rules, I’m going to spill Charles’ blood and cause suffering as though there is. It may have been 15 minutes rather than 15 years in the making. But, nonetheless, I’m going to treat Charles with the same contempt and rage that I did to Bobbinette Carey. And make sure, that 15 years from now, it’ll be a match that people will still talk about.
I’ll see you there.