Hanlon was right to call me out, to be honest I’m surprised it hadn’t happened earlier. I mean, people may look at the Gang of Glue with a raised eyebrow, but no matter the curious DNA that has helped to form them, they are sharks first and foremost. They wouldn’t have been aligned to the cause if they were weak of spirit or mind.
I suppose that’s the concern, despite the bluster, bravado and, let’s be honest, impressive in-ring prowess… I have no idea exactly what the cause was that these men all signed on the dotted line for.
A grand vision, a master, a promise of riches, a promise of moral and spiritual reward. That would be satisfying to any man, to any mind. I sadly think my talents within the grappling arts conjured an impression of intellect I may not actually possess. It’s not to say I’m a dullard, I think over years of learning the hard way, I’m certainly a hardened soul. I definitely know how to achieve the goals I need or want for when the clock strikes. You don’t simply stumble into a championship in a company like PRIME. No matter what lens the fans view our belts under – Alias, Intense, 5 Star or Universal… every single belt is held in the hands of an all-timer and I genuinely sometimes feel like a fraud in considering myself part of the numbers.
We all get that though, don’t we? Imposter syndrome strikes at our hearts, and boy did it strike me hard when Hayes Hanlon asked me the next step in the journey of Glue. It’s a fair question, he just did the unthinkable, he stabbed his own partner in the back and put his exclamation mark in giving up on the life of creating pathetic moral judgements. Everyone in PRIME has been a disgusting piece of shit at one point or another, Hanlon knew that. His idol Nova certainly had been. He got what I’d been saying all along, that there’s no heroes in this company, no selfless mentors, hell, no selfless mentees. Everyone in PRIME would be delighted to poison their parents if they felt it would give them a second with any of our gold.
So why not have fun as you climb to the top? Why have mawkish navel gazing when you can have delicious tomato soup cake? Why continue to fight against the tide and let it swallow you when you can create a moment that everyone will be talking about?
A moment that will probably be famous in the PRIME records for all history. A moment that will be on every single documentary. A moment that made Hayes Hanlon no longer an innocent young lad, over his head and desperate for acceptance from those he once adored as a young lad in the shadows. Hayes Hanlon may have won the Universal Championship two times already but his actions at Ultraviolence, those finally made him his own man. He wasn’t looking to emulate, he wasn’t looking to surpass.
He was simply Hayes Hanlon, looking out for himself.
So as he looked at me, wanting to know exactly what I had to produce and provide. I was stuck. Perplexed.
I had to examine my own reality.
“I’m telling you, the more I watch the man.. that’s fucking Max. I tagged with the man, I have sparred with him more times in the Four to Six Times Academy, depending on season and need, than anyone in this industry. Every time I see these videos, my conclusion is firm – he wrestles the exact same way. It’s a posture thing, you can’t pretend your way into the exact same psychosis that man always had. That’s through a lifetime of pain and suffering… that comes from dealing with some of the most heinous shit that a human could ever go through… an actor, they couldn’t wrestle that way. You couldn’t fake that level of emotional damage, of scarring that lives a lifetime. That pain that makes us, that pain… it always anchored Max. Made him predictable in a way, but made him Max. Made him dangerous. That’s Max. I’m certain. There’s no way I can accept any other answer.”
The bright overhead lights of the Farthington Manor study shot around the room, almost blinding our intrepid hero, Mr. Cecilworth Farthington, as he adjusted to the bright new world he found himself in. Just moments before, the room had been dark, murky, and with a singular focus. A projector screen showing Max Kael’s most recent sporting endeavor, that of his match against Anna Daniels.
“The comedic facade… lulling them all in. I still admire it”
Before Cecilworth can continue his analysis of the match of the questionable Kael, he is interrupted rather abruptly and bluntly by his long time compatriot, Dirk Dickwood…
“And this means you’re ready to impart your wise advice on young master Hanlon, Cecilworth? I feel like you’ve been giving him a body swerve since the bracket was announced… or was it just because he was the first one to see through your bullshit…”
Without even realising the words had even left his mouth, Cecilworth leapt out of his chair, sputtering “SHUT THE FUCK UP, DIRK!”, clearly perturbed by the pelter from his Scottish compatriot. Dirk, for his part, didn’t seem particularly bothered by the exchange, sitting back in his chair as he smiled at the red and frothing Farthington.
“Yell at me all you want, C-Money, but all this young talent that we’ve amassed… they’re not just looking to Phil for guidance. Of course they want to pick the brain of the main who came from literally nowhere to the gain the Universal Championship, it’d be fucking nuts if they weren’t trying to dry out every single inch of ring talents and expertise from that man but… they’re looking to you too… you have something of a reputation, after all…”
Cecilworth continued to clutch at the bottom of the table with both arms, though at this point it was less an expression of anger and more a way to channel his energy. It didn’t matter what the facts of the universe said, what good science said, what basic reality should have been screaming in his face, he was going to PRIME television and pay per view shows almost every week and his thanks for showing up was to see a ghost look back at him. To Farthington, he knew something deeper, much more dangerous was going on, he just didn’t know what that something was.
“That man, and whatever he’s doing right now, it’ll be the end of all of us.” was the best Farthington could offer as he vein pulsed and throbbed, tension still ran through every inch of the man.
Dirk Dickwood was ready to snarl at his former protege, biting down on the vape unit he’d purchased to help reduce his cigar consumption. There was only one small problem for Dickwood that was standing in the way of mocking Farthington and ripping him to shreds, as is the only appropriate way to express emotions in Scotland…
He felt that Cecilworth was right, that this was Max, that this wasn’t a joke.
He just didn’t know how to share that with Hanlon.
Dirk was right of course, I wasn’t that dumb little idiot in my twenties randomly stumbling around and desperately seeking the validation and attention of any wrestling promotion who would bat their eyelids in my direction. I no longer could blame my actions and reactions on the hubris of youth. I was in my 30s…
Deeply in my 30s…
And all of a sudden, a raft of wrestling future wants to sit under Cecilworth Farthington’s learning tree.
Joe, Sid, Hanlon…
Maybe FLAMBERGE? He either wants to learn or murder me to absorb my powers. My own thoughts have leaned heavily in the murder camp for a while, but letting him know that would only increase his secrecy and murder plots. Best to keep that one to myself.
“CECILWORTH! ENOUGH! I don’t know where I went wrong, I have no fucking idea how I made such a catastrophic error to let you be the one birth I actually let go through… but… this… A WRESTLING RING. IN THE GARDEN…”
The sensation of being slapped in the face, the heat I was feeling across my cheeks, the elder Lord Farthington had made it clear he didn’t want to hear anything more from me.
I wish I could say that the heat of the cheeks was a new experience, that it represented a change between the two of us in my adulthood, no hands before then. That’d be a much more comfortable reality than the fact that I used to joke with my school friends that given my father’s bouts of anger, I’m surprised that I couldn’t rent out my right cheek as a barbeque for the weekends.
“I’ve tolerated so many of your flights of fancy that I’ve lost count but… at least to want a career in law or in the media… at least those kinds of jobs are typical for a boy of your breeding but… professional wrestling? Seriously? That joke? That’s not what Farthingtons do, Cecilworth… Farthingtons are bred to rule, not to be the clowns. Not to be the jesters.”
Even though I’d only been messing around with my mates in the gardens of Farthington Manor, there was a thrill to the ring that I’d never felt before. University lectures never spoke to me, the world of politics, the world of broadcasting… all bullshit. All men who lived rent free in their own anuses huffing ever fart that would spew forth deeply and with awe. I may not have been the brightest pupil in the land, but I at least had an internal sense of what was for me. What I needed to do. Standing in a ring, that was me, that was who I am.
“… I can actually succeed at this though, I don’t know dad, it’s the instincts… when I’m in there, grappling in tight… there’s a part of my brain that I never knew existed. A part of my brain that sees five… six… seven steps ahead of the other man before me… a part of my brain that actually makes me feel smart…”
I knew I’d spoken up to myself too much when I heard the nicotine chuckle spurting out of my father. I could hear the mucus oozing up and down his throat, fuck, even the parts that he spat up seemed just as disdainful glistening back at me in the neon lights the hung overhead as his own face. He didn’t even look at me as his coarse, ashen breath enveloped the room.
“The father of the best clown in town is still the father of a clown…”
Those words still live with me. I’d seen my father over the years since, it wasn’t exactly a fully isolationist issue. Sure, those conversations were typically tense, hostile ones where I wanted to rub in my success to his greedy, puggy little face, while he pretended to be oblivious to that which he already knew. No matter how much you try to be an ostrich, word of your son becoming a wrestling champion, that comes back at you. He knew what I was doing, what I was achieving, he hated it.
He fucking hated it.
I’d keep going to meet him though.
Just hoping for once that he’d finally recognise me as talented in my own right.
Just hoping for once that he’d finally recognise me.
“So, The Anglo Luchador, huh? That little shit tried to make his name at my expense, you remember that, right? I’d say it was during his flop era, but I’m now sure if he’s been in any other era since the company came back. Still, desperately pleading for votes from the fans to be the first Intense Champion while being a massive, self-centred piece of shit who didn’t care who he hurt along the way… that does seem like it should be the all time low for the pathetic scum, correct?”
Cecilworth Farthington knew immediately why he was called to this VERY IMPORTANT scouting meeting with the PRIME’s former Universal Champion, Phil Atken, it’s the exact same reason that Phil was very insistent on running an emergency briefing when Cecilworth Farthington found himself standing across the ring from Brandon Youngblood.
Atken had beaten both and wanted to make it very clear that he didn’t think Cecilworth had the talent or skill to do the same on his own. As every syllable was spit forth from the Scotsman’s mouth, he wanted to make it clear to Farthington that any success he found himself gaining in the Almasy Tournament wouldn’t be down to his own merits…
It would be due to the powerful intellect of Philip Martin Atken.
The true blue Glue visionary.
So Cecilworth sat as Atken droned on, going back and forth through small snippets of his own match against Luchador. Atken was pausing, he was using his arm to wildly circle and gesticulate in front of the small television he was presenting in front of. “Pressure point”, “weak spot”, “mask full of pudding”, Atken imparted his knowledge with vigour and furor. Yet, the response from his former mentee was not as engaged or entranced as he was hoping for.
“Sorry Cecilworth, you seem to be a little bit out of sorts. Have you ever beaten The Anglo Luchador before, because if so, I’m happy to take a step back and let you run this one…”
As two of his fingers slowly rubbed up and down the temple of Farthington, he couldn’t quite muster words, neither positive or negative, merely giving a vague grunt and a hand gesture towards Atken, letting him know that he was willing for him to continue…
“Cecilworth, I’m not going to waste my precious time here but if you want to learn how to beat TAL, I’m very happy to give you all the wisdom you need but if you…”
Atken’s lecture was cut short by an incredibly visceral reaction from Farthington, his face ruddy red, his eyes wide and his voice was set to scream louder than you’d expect from a man who spends most of his days with his face buried in a cellphone. I mean, who is Farthington even texting? All his friends are normally on camera with him when he texts…
Sorry, got sidetracked there.
Farthington was big mad, that was the point.
“Phil, love you, love the advice, but this one isn’t about Glue business. This one is about ripping apart one of PRIME’s biggest pieces of scum…”
Atken’s laugh probably spooked some cows in response to Farthington’s angered voice.
“And why is that, my dearest Cecilworth? Why is this masked hero so villainous in your book? Please, continue, my friend, the floor is yours…”
Atken’s shark tooth grin was a mile wide as he gestured for The Glue’s Money Man to explain himself. Farthington’s skull dropped down, his eyes in an intense staring contest with a rug that sat below the large oak table of the Farthington Manor’s study. After a few hand gestures of “come on, I’m waiting…” from Phil, Farthington was finally tilted enough to share.
“Because he was fucking accepted in the end. Because he finally got what he wanted. HE GOT IT PHIL. He got what I never will.”
Thomas, Mr. Luchador, I’m not sure the right way to acknowledge you. I want to talk straight to the man, not the mask. Not in an Arthur Pleasant mask perverted way, you understand, I have no concerns about men who hide their identities, there’s normally an understandable reason why. So, I hope you understand I am not looking to disparage who you are or what you have achieved when I call you by what I understand is your real name. It’s not disrespect intended, if anything I want to make it clear that the voice you hear right now, it’s the voice of authentic and true Cecilworth Farthington. Not the scared boy that runs around with cake, cardboard and balloons to try and cause a little mask of razzamatazz, but the man who has destroyed arms, who has wrecked promising careers, who has snapped bones in twain for the simple sin of looking at him in the wrong way.
That’s the kind of opponent that you deserve Mr. Luchador. In a tournament as prestigious as the Almasy already is, in a match with consequences beyond who moves forward in my own personal Bracket of Death, you don’t deserve the fool.
It’s nice to play the fool, gets people to lower their guard.
Just ask Coral Avalon about that. I’m still a bit stunned that I pulled that win out of my arse, but I did, and that’s all the record books will ever show.
I even went to crush my most ardent doubters. Those voices would yell in my ear that I knew exactly how to manipulate Coral, but there’s no way I could dream to do the same against Nate Colton. Nate, a man who’d had his own aura of being undefeatable for a long, long time in PRIME. Nate, a man who’d rejected my mentor, the Founder of Glue. It was my first time to score a win that he never did. My first chance to sip at the chalice of true victory. A win that cannot be compared to that which came before me. No “Cecilworth is good but Phil…”, just a straight up big time win. Yes, Nate Colton was a big one, but he’s not you.
I hope you’re not surprised I’ve decided that you deserve the man who snaps arms in twain like they were a humble twiglet. To me, the answer for the beacon you have set off it quite evident. It’s a true 90s movie monster masterpiece. Only a monster can destroy one of its own, you get me, Tom?
You are a monster, aren’t you? I don’t think I need to play the referees for people to agree with that sentiment. Maybe you don’t see yourself in that light. Then again, isn’t that true for history and fictions greatest villains? They all thought themselves moral. They all thought they were doing “the right thing”.
I get the feeling that you probably don’t see it that way, so let me help you along here. Your ego always overtakes any positive intention you may have in this field of grappling arts. Whether it’s the torture you put Mssr. Paxton’s family through just so that the crowd gives you good boy tummy pats, or whether it was the intense campaign of manipulation you put people like Ria and Kohime through to help convince the world that there’s some good to you. Your little footsy game with the town of Chicago, there was nothing for you to gain with that other than the hope of the recognition you always seem to desperately seek out.
The concept of The Anglo Luchador and the human Thomas, the difference between a man fighting against a world who is beating him down and a masochist who gets off on this. Fans don’t realise you’ve corrupted them.
Fuck, not just the fans, right, Thomas? You actually got your father to finally give you his blessing. That must have felt powerful, to finally hear those beautiful words that you’ve been chasing all your life. To feel wanted.
To feel accepted.
Before my father passed away, if he’d once said a single good word about my achievements in this industry, which I don’t think I need to waste anyone’s time pointing out, I would have been in nirvana. A world of bliss would have washed over me. I’d have been so sky high, even years later you’d see the joy in my heart. Blissful eyes.
Finally getting that which I had been seeking my whole life? Heaven. The angels themselves giving me lil cheek kisses.
It didn’t fulfill you though, did it?
Just another paragraph in the chapter of The Anglo Luchador.
“Susan, please schedule my father’s forgiveness between my most recent comedic skit with Rocky De Leon and another trip to the hospital.”
You don’t know how blessed you are, you ignorant piece of shit.
You got your fucking catharsis. Your story ended. You got what you wanted in life. You got what I NEVER will. Never will for a single second. I have to live with the burden, with that concept of never truly being the man my father wanted, yet when it finally came to you, you decided it was once again time to paint yourself up as a clown.
My face will always burn like one thousand suns, and when we stand in the ring Thomas, I plan to bring that exact same heat to you.
Maybe I can win my catharsis by proxy.
Inherited. Just like a title.