Of Wrestling, Wealth and Wayward Moustaches

Of Wrestling, Wealth and Wayward Moustaches

Posted on February 10, 2024 at 1:51 pm by Charles de Lacy

My retirement, though premature, as you’ll soon come to see, was no mere act of hubris. My reasoning was sound: body beaten, bank balance barren, my stock in HOW at its lowest ebb, there was little incentive for me to lace up the old boots ever again. No, it was time to look for a more sustainable source of income, and something a little less taxing on my creaky joints. 

Advertising, while hardly stimulating for the old bean, was certainly less rigorous in its physical demands. What’s more, the pay wasn’t half bad. Unfortunately, my brief spell as the face, or rather the voice, of StaminaSurge Viagra was less successful than its marketing team had anticipated.

“We’re as baffled as you, Charlie,” one exec chirped. “You tick all the boxes: mid-40s, good head of hair, that exotic accent. On paper, it’s perfection. But, surprise, surprise, the focus groups didn’t see suave and sophisticated. Instead, we got back sinister, slimy… umm,” a quick shuffle of papers on the other end of the line, “Stranger danger, I believe was one of the notes. They couldn’t decide if you were selling a lifestyle or handing out rohypnol.”

This encapsulated my American adventure – bad news and insults served with a cheshire cat grin.

And so, just like that, another lucrative path to self-sufficiency was denied me. Don’t get me wrong, pedalling little blue pills to Hank in Iowa was never going to solve all my money woes, but it would have kept the wolf from the door for a little longer.   

What to do?

The disappointment of unfilled ambitions weighed heavily on my soul.  How many squandered opportunities would it take before I accepted that America, this veritable land of milk and honey, had little else to offer a cantankerous British gent of advancing years and dwindling means? Then again, for all her flaws, she was still my home, and had been for much of my adult life. Leaving her now was an admission of failure, the kind of backwards step a man of my vintage shouldn’t even contemplate. On the other hand, my sorry financial predicament dictated that time was of the essence.  Desperate times, and all that guff.

It was time to swallow my pride. Time to embrace my not-so-humble beginnings. 

And it was with this grim realisation that I packed my bags and beat a sorry retreat back to dear old blighty.

~~~

The crisp air of the Yorkshire Dales greeted Mickey and I as we stepped onto the ancestral grounds of the old de Lacy estate. It had been months since I last set foot here, and, away from the ruck and clamour of Chicago’s gritty streets, the grandeur of the sprawling mansion seemed both familiar and foreign. The crunch of gravel beneath our feet echoed through the silent courtyard, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that the imposing structure itself judged me for the sorry predicament I found myself in, and for the desperate measures I was about to take.

“Blimey, boss, this gaff is proper fancy, innit?,” Mickey mumbled, his eyes darting nervously across the elaborate architecture.

I stifled a rueful chuckle, realising that the extravagance of Rosewood Abbey was a source of discomfort for my rugged companion. “Yes, Mickey, it’s a far cry from the Roachata, is it not?”

We approached the massive front door, and I hesitated for a moment, hand poised to knock. A rush of nostalgia hit me without warning; Jack the gardener chasing me through these labyrinth grounds after I’d gleefully trampled his flowerbeds; the wrath of Nanny Hawkins on seeing my cricket ball hurtling towards the drawing room window. These memories of a sheltered childhood, comfortable, if devoid of affection, stood in stark contrast to the tumultuous world of dimly-lit arenas, paltry pay checks and bare-knuckled brawls – a world I’d thrown myself into with gusto, it must be said.

I took a deep breath and rapped the door, the sound echoing through the cavernous entrance hall.

Moments later, the door creaked open, revealing the stern countenance of my father, Sir James de Lacy. His eyes narrowed at the sight of me, his curled lip barely concealing his contempt. Here was his only child, the son and heir to his vast fortune. The tearaway who had brought no end of shame to the family name by unceremoniously upping sticks to America and engaging in the sordid world of professional wrestling.

“Charles,” he grumbled, acknowledging my presence with a curt nod. “What brings you back to the nest?”

“Hello, Pops! Long time no see.”

His expression remained stoic.

“Sorry to turn up on such short notice,” I continued, trying to maintain an air of nonchalance. “It’s just, uh, I’ve come seeking a bit of, what you might call, familial assistance. Financially speaking, you know.”

A furrow appeared on his brow, and he shot a disapproving glance at Mickey, who was doing his best to blend into the opulent surroundings by kicking at an ornamental plant pot.

“Financial assistance?” he scoffed. “You mean to say you’ve squandered your inheritance on those ludicrous endeavours of yours?”

I cleared my throat, my eyes meeting his with a weary resignation. “Not squandered, Father, invested. But, let’s not dwell on the past, eh? I’ll cut to the chase. I’m in need of a small loan to weather the winter months, you see.”

The silence hung thick in the air, like a fart at a funeral, as Lord de Lacy considered my request. Finally, he spoke, his voice dripping with disdain. “You chose your path, Charles. Now you must face its consequences. I won’t indulge your whims any longer.”

I nodded, a bitter smile playing on my lips. “Very well, Father. I expected nothing less.”

As the door began to close, a voice echoed from within the hallowed halls – the unmistakable tone of my mother, Lady Eleanor de Lacy.

“Charles, is that you?” she called, emerging from the shadows of the grand staircase.

“Mother,” I greeted, pushing past my father and attempting a hug that she skillfully evaded.

She scrutinised my dishevelled appearance, and her gaze settled on the recent addition to my face – the moustache that I had cultivated during the festive period.

“Good heavens, Charles, what’s become of your face? You look like one of those frontiersmen you see at the pictures. Are you auditioning for a play?” she enquired, querulously.

“It’s a statement, Mother,” I replied, brushing off her concern. “A man must embrace change, even if it’s in the form of facial hair. New year, new man, and all that.”

She sighed, shaking her head. “Change or not, there’s no excuse for slovenliness. You’ve always been a peculiar one. Well, come inside. I suppose you’ll be needing some tea.”

With a glance back at Mickey, who looked like a bull in a china shop, I followed my mother into the lavish interior of the de Lacy estate, resigned to the fact that my family ties were my only refuge from the storms I’d willingly stepped into.

~~~

Lady Elenor delicately placed her hands upon the polished dining table, her demeanour a blend of concern and disapproval as she addressed me.

“Charles,” she began, her voice carrying the weight of generations of de Lacy propriety, “pray, enlighten me as to the reason for your sudden return to Rosewood Abbey. And might I add, with such a peculiar appearance?”

Leaning against the ornate chair, I felt the cool touch of wood against my clammy back. “Mother, it’s a rather long tale. Let’s just say life across the pond hasn’t quite lived up to its glamorous reputation.”

With a graceful arch of her eyebrow, Lady Elenor remained unimpressed. “Glamorous or not, Charles, your choices carry consequences. You’ve strayed far from the path of dignity and prestige that befits a de Lacy. Wrestling, of all pursuits.”

Sighing inwardly, I readied myself for the inevitable lecture. “It’s not as straightforward as it may seem, Mother. Wrestling is an art, a means of expression. I’ve carved out a name for myself, albeit in a manner unconventional to our esteemed family.”

She scoffed lightly, her gaze narrowing. “Art, you claim? Charles, we de Lacys boast a legacy steeped in tradition. To equate such barbarity with art is unfathomable.”

Glancing at Mickey, who fidgeted uncomfortably in his seat, I found no solace in his discomfort. Lady Elenor’s disapproving gaze remained firmly fixed upon me.

“Your father and I held such lofty aspirations for you,” she continued, her disappointment palpable. “To witness you squander the opportunities afforded by your birthright is utterly disheartening.”

Straightening my posture, I met her gaze with unwavering resolve. “Mother, I did not return seeking a sermon. I require your support, even if you cannot comprehend my choices. A modest loan to help me regain my footing.”

Her countenance hardened, and she shook her head. “Charles, remember your lineage. We do not bail out those who willingly forsake our family’s values. If you seek assistance, you shall not find it here.”

Though her rejection stung, I masked my disappointment with a forced smile. “Very well, Mother. I harboured no illusions of generosity, but I felt compelled to try.”

Turning towards the door, I was halted by the softening of Lady Elenor’s voice, a hint of regret tinging her features. “Charles, though I may not condone your decisions, you remain my son. Your current state pains me deeply. Perhaps it’s time to reassess your priorities.”

Pausing at the threshold, I nodded in acknowledgment. “We shall see, Mother. But for now, I must forge my own path.”

With that, I departed, leaving behind the grandeur of Rosewood Abbey and the echoes of familial disappointment. The crisp Yorkshire air greeted me anew, and as I ventured forth, I sensed that my journey had only just begun.

~~~

As I pondered my uncertain future back in the less than salubrious environs of the Rochata, fate intervened in the form of a letter. It bore the seal of High Octane Wrestling and within its pages lay an unexpected proposition from none other than Lee Best.

With trembling hands, I broke the seal and perused the contents, my heart quickening at the sight of the lavish terms laid out before me. Lee Best, it seemed, was eager to welcome me back into the fold with open arms, offering a new contract adorned with significantly improved terms.

On the surface of things this was the answer to my prayers. Yet, as I contemplated the offer before me, a wave of apprehension washed over me. My health had been faltering of late, my once resolute constitution significantly weakened by the rigours of the ring. The thought of returning to the fray filled me with a sense of dread, for I knew not if my body could withstand the punishing trials that awaited me.

And yet, as I weighed the allure of financial security against my ever declining physical condition, the choice became clear. The debts accrued during my years of reckless abandon loomed large on the horizon, the ominous grasp of their shadows creeping closer with every tick of the clock, while the menacing whispers of Chicago’s most notorious loan sharks echoed in the recesses of my mind.

Reluctantly, painfully, I reached a decision. With a heavy heart and a weary soul, I accepted Lee Best’s offer, knowing full well the perils that lay ahead. For though the path I had chosen was fraught with danger and uncertainty, it was the only path left open to me in a world grown cold and unforgiving.

And so, with a penstroke, I sealed my fate once more.

***

Had I known that in doing so I would consign myself to yet another match with resident canvas-kisser Zach Kostoff, I may have been tempted to repurpose the contract for more… practical uses. It certainly took the sheen off participating in the prestigious Lee Best Invitational. Being placed in such a bout is nothing short of an insult to my standing in the industry, a slight that I shall not soon forget.

I must admit, in my initial encounter with Kostoff, my acquaintance with the gentleman was as slender as a wisp of smoke. Alas, nearly a year hence, my knowledge remains scant, save for his dubious reputation as a bottom feeder and the willing target for the fisticuffs of the HOW roster. One glance at his record -1 win to 8 losses – speaks volumes, does it not?

Ah, one cannot help but notice the striking resemblance between young Kostoff and an albino ferret, can one? And to think, he resides in the ever-looming shadow of his illustrious father, a figure of renown and distinction in his own right. It is a plight most unfortunate, akin to a dandelion attempting to flourish in the shadow of a mighty oak. One can only imagine the burden of such lineage upon the lad’s slender shoulders, casting a pall over his endeavours and leaving him perpetually in search of validation.

Yet, while I have on occasion been commended for my charitable spirit, I cannot in good conscience lay down and allow Kostoff to claim victory in his hour of need. After all, a gentleman must uphold his honour, even in the face of such formidable odds. Thus, I shall enter the fray with head held high, prepared to meet whatever challenges the ring may hold, and may the best man prevail, albino ferret or not.