“Mr Charlie. I’ve brought ya’ a cuppa’ tea.”
Lying in bed, nursing a hangover of bacchanalian proportions, the inside of my mouth resembling that of a latrine, the hamster residing in my head asleep at the wheel, it took me a while to place the not yet familiar voice rousing me from my slumber. The unvarnished vowels would normally have been cause for concern – one does tend to encounter a certain undesirable element when owing large amounts of money – but the conciliatory tone of the voice reassured me that its owner was no intruder. Furthermore, in my experience, the sort of chaps that break into a fellow’s home in the early hours are not in the habit of announcing their arrival with a thoughtful cup of lapsang souchong. I reached a trembling hand in the direction of the night table where I had heard the cup and saucer placed. Lifting its contents to my parched lips, I took a tentative sip. The restorative effects were immediate.
Feeling a touch braver, I squinted into the sunlight and ventured to open my eyes. Mickey’s gurning face greeted mine.
I recoiled. Don’t get me wrong, Mickey is no oil painting. His features, distorted from numerous fights—both professional and unprofessional—would be better served by a surrealist like Picasso than a classicist like Renoir. But, that’s not what made me blench. I’ve woken up next to many unsightly things on my pillow, particularly after a night of heavy drinking. But this time, my distress arose from my senses returning, and with them the memory of my victory over Scott Stevens.
Ordinarily, this would have been cause for celebration. I am, in spite of appearances, quite a competitive chap, and take great pride in my sporting achievements – even in the face of lacklustre opposition. Yet, as I’m sure you’re aware by now, having followed the recent trials and tribulations of Charles Percival de Lacy, getting the ‘W’ was never my intention. It is one of life’s great ironies that Stevens, so desperately in need of a victory to reignite his waning career, fell at the hands of the dashing de Lacy, so incumbent on the sweet taste of defeat. The old de Lacy instincts had reared their head at the most inopportune of moments and bestowed the laurels of victory upon me once again. Blasted instincts!
And yet, my current predicament could not be blamed on my athletic prowess alone. Other factors had conspired against me and left me scratching the old bean. Namely, Mickey.
“Wa’s the plan for ‘day then, boss?”
I’ve been told that I don’t look my forty-five years. Until recently I had taken this to be a testament to my youthful complexion. However, as I petulantly presented Mickey with the coldest of shoulders, I wondered if perhaps my emotional maturity, or lack thereof, was the source of my perpetual youth.
“Aw, c’mon, boss. Don’t be like that.”
“Hurrumph!” I replied.
It wasn’t Mickey’s fault. Not really. He has been given the most delicate task of “guarding my rear,” as our transatlantic cousins might put it, all the while preventing any undue afflictions upon my person by the brawny, towering, and quite enraged Texan measuring an impressive 6 feet and 6 inches in height. In all fairness, he executed this part of the plan to near perfection. Alas, his enthusiasm in safeguarding was a tad excessive, for he nearly rendered poor Stevens insensible, thereby derailing my meticulously crafted schemes.
As I lay there in bed, staring fixedly at the wall, my thoughts danced between my accomplishments in the ring, and my vexation at the unexpected victory over Scott Stevens. The wrestling Gods – among whom I do not consider Lee Best to be one – had a twisted sense of humour, it seemed, delighting in throwing curveballs my way. But perhaps there was some truth in the notion that my own refusal to fully embrace the gravity of the situation was somehow keeping me untouched by the weight of time. The creases on my face, if any, were likely more from a persistent furrowing of my brow rather than from the ageing process itself.
A gentle sigh escaped me, carrying with it the realisation that my interactions with Mickey were a reflection of my inner battles. His very arrival had sent ripples through my carefully cultivated composure, causing cracks in the façade of the refined gentleman I presented to the world. It was as if Mickey, in the short time I’d known him, had a knack for knocking down the carefully arranged house of cards I constructed around my emotions. Oh, how I longed for the days when my life was a serene progression of well-orchestrated soirées and intellectual pursuits, untouched by the chaos of a wrestling ring.
And yet, as much as I was irritated by Mickey’s bumbling, I couldn’t deny the odd sense of camaraderie he engendered in me. In our own peculiar way, we were a duo forged by circumstance, navigating this peculiar world of fast living and fistfights together. As my thoughts meandered, I realised that Mickey was an embodiment of the unpredictability that had come to define my life – both in and out of the ring.
As I glanced towards the cup of tea he had brought me, a rare smile tugged at the corners of my lips. Mickey was a paradox, an exasperating force of nature that had inadvertently granted me a shot at the heavyweight championship. The irony wasn’t lost on me. In spite of my attempts to extricate myself from my HOW contract, the lure of the ring continued to beckon me.
With a resigned sigh, I closed my eyes and settled deeper into the covers. The upcoming match loomed, a daunting challenge that I was reluctantly beginning to accept. The path ahead was as uncertain as ever, but one thing was clear – this was an opportunity I couldn’t let pass.
As I surveyed the landscape of this upcoming fatal four-way match, it struck me as a most curious assembly. A motley crew of contenders, each with their own peculiar backgrounds and aspirations, converging in a collision of egos and ambitions. And yet, despite the diversity of their origins, there existed a singular thread that bound them – an insatiable thirst for the championship gold.
I find myself chuckling, even now, on the eve of the match, at the sheer predictability of it all. Grown men, each willing to subject themselves to the whims of fate for the sake of a tilted piece of metal. How quaint, how utterly mundane.
Ah, but allow me to share a candid revelation, my dear contenders. The prospect of grasping that ostentatious belt has, on occasion, crossed the corridors of my thoughts. Not, however, out of any misguided notion of supremacy or a burning desire to etch my name into the annals of history – perish the thought. No, gentlemen, my motivations are of a more refined nature.
Imagine, if you will, the championship belt serving as a mere accessory to one of the exquisite silk robes I meticulously don for my entrances to the ring. A trinket to complement my already impeccable attire, a bauble that enhances the elegance I exude. For a man of my discerning tastes, the championship is but a fleeting fancy, a footnote in the grand symphony of life.
For a man like Shane Reynolds, however, it is so much more. The dust barely having settled on his pitifully short HOTV title reign, he will be eager to experience the feel of gold clasped in his sweaty palms once again. However, the sting of defeat is still fresh. The stench of failure permeating his every move. He will be entering this match wracked with feelings of self-doubt and reproach. And rightly so.
While I find myself intrigued by the turmoil that brews within Mr. Reynolds, by the complexities of his motivations, I can’t shake the feeling that his aura of mystique dissipated with that loss to John Sektor. I also take great heart from the stark contrast between his path and my own. Where Reynolds grapples with his inner demons, I engage with the artistry of technique. Each movement, each manoeuvre, is executed with the precision of a master craftsman .The battle of philosophies, of styles, of characters, shall be a spectacle worth witnessing.
As for Steve Solex, it seems that his path to glory in this ring is littered with more obstacles than a Wodehouse plotline. His recent tango with Shane Reynolds ended in less than stellar fashion, did it not? A humbling experience, I must say.
He prances and pounds his chest, but the inkling of defeat has already seeped into his psyche. It’s a curious thing, really – the way a single loss can unravel the bravado of even the most strident warriors. He may stand tall in the jungle, but he’s yet to comprehend the intricate dance that occurs within the confines of this squared circle.
You see, wrestling is as much a battle of wits as it is of brawn. And while he touts NECKBONE Jones as his saviour – a “bigger, blacker” threat to his adversaries – he hasn’t yet reckoned on the educated fists of one Mickey Finn. You’ve lost a battle of words, and your physical prowess is far from invincible. As you step into that ring, Solex, remember that you’re not just facing your opponents – you’re battling the shadow of your own defeat.
And then there’s young Conor Fuse, a man I still hold partially responsible for the injuries I suffered at the hands of stronk®. After all, it was he who allowed his obsession with Mike Best to get the better of him, implicating me in a conflict I had no business in. Anyway, he insists that the “Video Game Kid” is on pause, and it got me ruminating on how our hobbies often mirror the ever-shifting tides of culture. I have long bemoaned the infantilization of the United States, a nation in which grown men and women, like young Conor, fulfil their fantasies in simulated battles and fantastical realms, neglecting their responsibilities in favour of virtual conquests. Well, how far did that get you against Mike Best at 97RED, Conor? No closer to the gold, that’s for sure!
You see, old CDL is a realist, and while I accept that my best days are almost certainly behind me, I also have the wherewithal to discern the currents of fate that intertwine within this unpredictable world of wrestling. As I step into the fray of the fatal-four-way, I see three competitors, each bearing the scars of recent losses, each of them in the throes of uncertainty. It is within this sorry quagmire of aspirations and setbacks that I, Charles de Lacy, emerge with a distinct advantage.
While my opponents grapple with the weight of their recent losses, their confidence undoubtedly shaken, I walk with the head held high of one who has tasted victory in recent memory.
My past victory is not a mere anecdote but a testament to my ability to adapt, to seize the opportune moment when it presents itself. And that’s just what I plan to do at Chaos 40.
“About the other night, boss,” Micky began, shaking me from my revelry. “ I might’ve gotten a bit carried away.”
I raised an eyebrow, finally giving in to the urge to address him. “Might’ve?” I snapped. “My dear Mickey, your interpretation of ‘subtle’ could use a bit of refinement. Rendering a man incapable of conscious thought is hardly what I had in mind.”
His face flushed a shade of crimson that contrasted quite comically with the disarray of his features. “I… uh, got a bit caught up in the moment, boss. Like you said, I think the bright lights might’ve got to me.”
Despite my irritation, a small smirk managed to break through my facade of exasperation. “Ah, Mickey. What are we going to do with you?”
He chuckled nervously, his eyes avoiding direct contact with mine. “I mean well, boss. Just sometimes, my enthusiasm gets the best of me.”
Finally, I let out a sigh that was part exasperation, part amusement, and offered him a begrudging nod. “Very well, Mickey. Consider yourself forgiven. Just try not to incapacitate any more opponents unless it’s absolutely necessary.”
The relief that washed over Mickey’s face was palpable. “Thank you, boss. I appreciate it.”
I waved a dismissive hand, feeling a rare glimmer of warmth toward the bumbling figure before me. “Now, about the plan for this Sunday…”