As Charles de Lacy stood tall in the center of the wrestling ring, the deafening roar of the Texas crowd reverberated through the arena. The stadium lights illuminated his flamboyant robe – dutifully placed over his heaving shoulders by the match official – glistening with sequins and shimmering in vibrant hues. Sweat dripped down his forehead as he basked in the adulation, a triumphant smile stretching across his face.
“They love me. They really love me!” Charles exclaimed, his voice drowned out by the thunderous cheers and applause. The crowd’s enthusiasm washed over him like a tidal wave of affirmation, validating the years of sacrifice and dedication he had poured into his wrestling career.
In that electrifying moment, Charles felt an indescribable connection with the audience. They were no longer mere spectators; they were his loyal supporters, captivated by his charisma and entertained by his skill inside the ring. Each cheer, each chant, was a testament to the impact he’d had on their lives, if only for a brief moment.
The spotlight intensified, casting a radiant glow upon Charles as he raised his arms, soaking in the overwhelming love and admiration. The energy pulsated through his veins, fueling his passion and igniting a fire within him. He was the embodiment of their dreams, their hero, and for that fleeting instant, he reveled in their unwavering affection.
But as quickly as the euphoria enveloped him, it dissipated like smoke, leaving only a void. The cheers faded, the lights dimmed, and reality began to seep back into Charles’ consciousness. The Texas crowd, the adoration, all dissolved into fragments of a dream as he gradually awakened from his slumber.
As his eyes fluttered open, Charles found himself seated on the plane, disoriented and yearning to hold on to the remnants of the ecstatic moment he had just experienced. But the cheers of the wrestling crowd were replaced by the hum of the aircraft’s engines, and the grandeur of the arena was replaced by the confines of his cramped seat.
He blinked, trying to shake off the remnants of the dream that still clung to his mind. A bittersweet smile tugged at his lips as he whispered to himself, “They love me. They really love me.” It was a phrase that encapsulated his deepest desires, the longing for validation and acceptance that had led him on this tumultuous journey.
As he surveyed the rows of sleepy passengers around him, Charles couldn’t help but wonder if one day he would find the same adoration and genuine love in his waking life. The clash with Jatt Starr had provided him with a fleeting glimpse—a fiercely supportive Texan audience seemingly endeared by his dignified rejection of Starr’s guttersnipe antics. For now, though, he was left with the fading echoes of the dream, a reminder of the heights he aspired to reach and the obstacles he needed to overcome.
With a sigh, Charles adjusted himself in his seat, preparing for the reality that awaited him upon landing. The dream may have dissipated, but the burning determination within him remained. He was ready to face the challenges, to fight for his place in the wrestling world, and maybe, just maybe, find a love that mirrored the euphoria he had experienced in that fleeting moment of adulation.
Sweeping the cabin from stem to stern with a searchlight-scowl he settled back and tried to get comfortable in his seat. He was, of course, mindful of the fact that comfort and travelling Pauper Class on a crowded 737 charter flight were not exactly synonymous. But he tried anyway. At one point earlier on he had attempted to cross his legs, and the domino effect had woken up people thirteen rows ahead and knocked over the drinks trolley. So he settled for the semi-bearable agony of one knee squashed against the arm-rest with a foot wedged down the magazine pocket on the back of the seat in front of him.
His stomach was only slightly scrunched up now, dramatically reducing the acute sensation of nausea from which he had been suffering since his airline lunch. For this he had only himself to blame: through lack of concentration he had, in a ghastly blunder, thrown away the cellophane wrapping and eaten the complimentary beef burrito instead. A foolish mistake for which he was now paying dearly.
“Ohhhhhhh Goddddd”: Sleep had, at least, afforded him a brief respite. He had been dreaming — he remembered now — and it had been a quite wonderful dream. He had dreamt that the world was a decent place to live, and the people in it rather friendly; that his body had not in fact been reduced to a quivering husk after the merciless beatings it had received from Messrs. Starr and Ryan, and that after twenty-five years of service to this once noble sport he had not been callously tossed aside onto the scrap-heap of life. He had dreamt that the last few years had not been spent prostituting his talents to any number of disreputable indies in a vain attempt to pay off his mounting debts. He had dreamt that though no longer young he was yet young in spirit, with a valid role still to play in society; that age and experience were recognised and revered by the generations that followed his, and that, when it came down to it, life at Fifty really wasn’t as odious and hopeless as it was cracked up to be, and there was still plenty left to be cheerful about. But of course it was just a dream.
Mexico! Well, it had seemed like a bad idea at the time, and so far the reality was more than living up to the prospect if that blasted burrito was anything to go by.
De Lacy, a creature of utmost comfort and familiarity, despised the mere thought of traveling. The very notion of navigating the unpredictable world of airports, with their labyrinthine security checkpoints and dastardly baggage carousel schemes, sent shivers down de Lacy’s spine. He deemed it an unnecessary strain on his delicate constitution, fit only for those adventurous souls willing to sacrifice comfort for a taste of life on the road.
Indeed, de Lacy’s prospects had no doubt suffered as a result of his aversion to travel. While his rivals amassed fans and accolades in distant lands, de Lacy found solace in the thought that his greatest victories were achieved in the cozy confines of his living room, where the only opponents he faced were the stubborn pickle jars and a persistent sense of ennui.
It was a peculiar twist of fate that a man so adverse to traversing the globe would find himself entangled in a sport that demanded constant jet-setting. But alas, such is life, and de Lacy’s wrestling career would forever remain a testament to the triumphs one can achieve from the comfort of one’s favorite armchair.
Nevertheless, even de Lacy recognised the advantages of being away from home, like not having to talk to the ageing nymphomaniac next door, whose only topic of conversation seemed to be the eligibility of his new flat mate. He cast a contemptuous eye at the seat next to his, where Marwood, his slumbering form at peace with the world, his batteries of endurance still on overnight charge, readied himself for the Herculean task of another day in the service of Mr Charles de Lacy. Despite their relatively short time as flatmates, he had quickly found himself demoted to the role of lackey, and what had initially seemed like an exciting opportunity—an all-expenses-paid trip to Mexico—soon turned into a realization that he would be at the beck and call of de Lacy, treated as little more than a personal servant.
The truth was that de Lacy’s fragile ego couldn’t help but feel threatened by his flatmate. There was an underlying envy within him, stemming from Marwood’s youth and seemingly incorruptible nature. De Lacy saw in Marwood a stark contrast to his own aging self, one that reminded him of the fading vitality and innocence he once possessed. Marwood’s youth represented a time of untapped potential and unblemished character, qualities that de Lacy yearned for but felt slipping away. The sight of Marwood’s unwavering moral compass and untarnished spirit served as a painful reminder of the compromises de Lacy had made throughout his own life. In the presence of Marwood, de Lacy’s ego grappled with feelings of inferiority and a sense of lost opportunities. The stark contrast between his own jaded perspective and Marwood’s fresh outlook fueled de Lacy’s envy, igniting a silent battle within himself—a battle between his own insecurities and the admiration he couldn’t help but feel for his youthful flatmate.
de Lacy sighed a deep sigh that began somewhere in the furthest extremity of his complimentary airline slippers and emerged expressively at the other end, filtered through every molecule of his weary being. Life and those who were blessed with it had long been one great unfathomable mystery as far as he was concerned. Far from conforming to a set of universal laws, the world and everything in it appeared to function in a totally arbitrary fashion devoid of any rational order whatsoever. It stood to reason there was no actual point to any of it. After all, how else could he explain being burdened with such a peculiar assemblage for War Games: a conceited Welshman, a creepily compliant German, and a fervently patriotic yank. It beggared belief! This, for certain, was beyond any law of logic he could think of.
de Lacy, himself not above a spot of politcking, found himself ensnared in a sticky web of peculiar alliances and unsettling uncertainties. It seemed that loathsome Welshman – HIS captain, for God’s sake! – had, at some point in the distant past, formed an unexpected camaraderie with the Starspangled Charlatan. They in turn shared allegiances with Jatt Starr, the very man who had left de Lacy sporting a golf-ball sized lump on his head and a grudge the size of Texas. Would this unholy alliance dare to conspire behind his back, sacrificing him in a misguided act of loyalty to that plaid-wearing pillock?
The notion gnawed at his mind, feeding his growing sense of paranoia. Who on earth was El Hombre Blanco, that vertically challenged newcomer, and what were his intentions? Was he yet another pawn in the Alliance’s sinister game? He questioned each of their motives, pondering if his own position within the team had become precarious. After all, the wrestling world was a realm of unpredictable alliances and betrayals, where friendships and loyalties could swiftly shift like the wind.
De Lacy had always been a skeptic, a man who believed in the power of reason and logic. Yet, the strange dynamics at play within his team seemed to defy any rational explanation. He couldn’t comprehend how fate had conspired to burden him with this peculiar assemblage for the upcoming War Games event.
In the midst of his contemplations, de Lacy realized that he stood at a crossroads. He could succumb to his fears, allowing them to consume him and cloud his judgment. Or he could harness his skepticism, turning it into a weapon to unravel the mysteries surrounding his allies and discover their true intentions.
With more than two score years behind him now Charles’ tolerance of the gallery of grotesques who made up mankind had worn pretty threadbare. Similar to the serpent he had uncovered, coiled around his beloved Chelsea boots in the musty depths of his Texas motel wardrobe, he seemed, with advancing age, to shed more and more layers of skin to a point where his powers of resilience had all but deserted him. Who was it who once said, “your worst enemy cannot harm you as much as your own unguarded thoughts”?
With a newfound determination, de Lacy straightened his back, ready to face the challenges ahead. Regardless of the alliances formed or the motivations that drove his stable-mates, he would rely on his wits, experience, and cunning to navigate the treacherous landscape of War Games. In this world of unpredictable twists and turns, he knew that he alone could secure his destiny and shape his own path to victory. Or could he? Were the odds in fact too insurmountably stacked against him?
Charles was, of course, a loser. True, the snags and flaws in the fabric of life that were the cause of his constant rage are familiar to most of us in one form or another. But Charles, assuredly, came in for more than his fair share of them: seismic eruptions of adversity, of which Charles Edward de Lacy was the inevitable epicentre. It was a simple enough philosophy, and one he found reliably to have stood the test of time: that just when you are convinced things are never, ever going to get better, they suddenly get worse.
‘Ping,’ said the small illuminated rectangle above his head, and obediently he coupled his seat-belt and prepared himself for descent. All around him bodies were half-stirring, faces crumpled like old socks, blinking in the milky dawn of a bright new day. It would not be such a bright one for Charles de Lacy.
As de Lacy weaved through the bustling chaos of Mexico City airport customs, a valiantly out-of-breath Marlow struggled to keep up, diligently maneuvering a trolley laden with a stack of heavy cases.
de Lacy glanced over his shoulder; his tone laced with impatience. “Marlow, do try to keep up! We haven’t got all day, you know.”
Marlow huffed and puffed, beads of sweat forming on his forehead. “I’m sorry Charles, but these cases are bloody heavy! I’ve got a proper task on my hands with this lot.”
De Lacy raised an eyebrow, his aristocratic demeanor tinged with annoyance. “Challenge or not, Marlow, we must press on. Remember the importance of timing in our endeavors.”
Marlow, a mix of exhaustion and growing contempt in his eyes, nodded impassively. “I’ll do my best to pick up the pace.”
De Lacy continued his brisk stride, occasionally stealing glances at Marlow’s struggling form. He couldn’t help but suppress a sigh, his frustration tempered by a hint of sympathy. Despite his chastisement, he understood the burden Marlow carried.
His mind wandered, as it so often did, to the prospect of the day’s initial libation – perhaps a touch of mescal in one of those charming little cantinas he had heard tales of. Fleetingly, his mood brightened, and a twinge of remorse prickled within him for the way he had reprimanded his comrade.
“Remember, Marlow,” de Lacy finally spoke, his voice softened with a touch of encouragement, “we are on the cusp of an opportunity that can shape our legacy. Let the weight of those cases be a reminder of the weight of our aspirations. We cannot falter now.”
Together, they pushed forward through the chaotic airport, their eyes fixed on the prize that awaited them. The chastisement had served its purpose—fueling Marlow’s determination while reminding de Lacy of the importance of unity and perseverance.
de Lacy’s thoughts turned again to the upcoming War Games Pay-Per-View, a pivotal event in his wrestling career. This battle royal-style match, in which competitors would be enclosed within a formidable steel structure, weighed heavily on his thoughts. It presented a rare opportunity for him to secure his legacy and cement his name in the annals of wrestling history.
The dramatic irony of him voluntarily taking to the cage as a means of escaping his own self-imposed limitations was not lost on de Lacy. For too long he had allowed external factors to hamper his potential: the weight of his aristocratic background, fear of not fitting into the societal norms of an America which mocked his noble breeding. The expectations ingrained in his upbringing acted as chains, restricting his freedom to explore his true passions and express his authentic self. It was as if the burden of conforming to the expectations of his lineage had cast a shadow over his aspirations, hindering him from fully embracing his individuality and pursuing his dreams with unwavering determination.
In the midst of the security checks and bustling travelers, de Lacy couldn’t help but revisit the dream he’d had on the plane. This time, he envisioned himself standing tall in the Arena México, the cheers of the crowd echoing in his ears, just as they had in Texas, as he single-handedly overcame opponent after opponent. The thought of achieving victory within the unforgiving confines of the War Games cage brought a renewed sense of purpose to his disgruntled demeanor.
For de Lacy, the War Games PPV represented more than just another wrestling event; it was a chance to prove his worth, to demonstrate his unparalleled skill and cunning. This was his opportunity to leave an indelible mark, to etch his name alongside the greats of the wrestling world.
As he navigated the labyrinthine airport corridors, de Lacy’s reflection on the impending match fueled a flicker of determination within him. The frustrations of travel and the burdens of being away from his cherished comforts began to recede, replaced by a resolute focus on the task at hand.
With each step, de Lacy reminded himself of the sacrifices he had made, the grueling training sessions, and the countless hours spent honing his craft. The War Games PPV had become more than a mere wrestling event—it had transformed into a battlefield of ambition, where victory would solidify his place among the elite and secure his lasting legacy.
Armed with these thoughts, de Lacy approached the customs counter, a steely determination now evident in his eyes. The trials and tribulations of the airport seemed trivial compared to the grand stage that awaited him. He had traveled this far, enduring discomfort and frustration, all for the chance to seize his moment in the cage. The War Games PPV loomed large on his horizon, and he was prepared to fight with every ounce of his being to etch his name in wrestling immortality.