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 "I Fought Piranhas", Layton's Dilemma, Fenric's Origin
 Posted: Sep 3 2017, 11:52 AM

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The bar's at it's busiest on a Friday night. That's generally the rule no matter where you go, even in Australia. A jukebox in the corner emits the White Stripes' "I Fought Piranhas", all while people are playing darts, chatting it up, men trying it on with women with which they're massively punching above their weight. It's the general stuff you'd expect, but in an Australian accent.

She touched down in Perth a few hours in preparation for this weekend, but with her hat on the bar, Emery Layton sits there- too short for her feet to reach the bottom of the stool- as the bar-tender brings her a glass with a black liquid in it.

"Oi...leave the bottle, yeah?" And so he does. A big bottle of rum sits next to Em's head as she downs the entire glass of rum in three seconds, and it feels for a moment like her brain has just slopped out of her ears. She closes her eyes, scrunching her face up- the rum was so cold...but then she stops. Slowly, her brain aligns and the coldness subsides. She hates it. She doesn't know why she does this to herself all the time. Well, sort of. That little voice in her head always tells her nights like tonight like a good she pours another one. Even an optimist has her vices. The Worst of the Pavees looks to her side, greeted by the vision of a man sat next to her. His head appears to becoming one with the bar as he lies there. He looks how she feels, she thinks.

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Perhaps a proper introduction is in order, as I have been unable to do so since my arrival within In Your House Wrestling Federation. It will hopefully explain a few of my...values. Some of which others have taken offence to.

My father was a professional wrestler just like I was. Aldus Fenric.

If you know him, you are aware of his story. If you do not know him, then perhaps it shall lend context to why I choose to speak and act in the way I do.

Aldus was a resilient and authoritative man. A dynamic talent who would try to stimulate audiences with his agility. Known for his crossbody from the top rope- nothing particularly special nor interesting, but effe. A 'superhero' to the small village in Austria in which we lived. Every night, he would come to the ring and no matter who his opponent would, he would go out of his way to be remembered. The difficulty he faced, however, was that he never planned.


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"Hey", she calls. Nothing. "Hey, man?" click, click, click and wave. Nothing. He's out. Em shrugs. "Fair enough. Long as you let me talk, I ain't got a problem. That's all I need tonight, really. Y'know, I was gonna do what you're doing. Truth be told, I ain't feeling too good right now, which I ain't a fan of. Only on my fourth rum though so...progress, I guess!" she holds up her glass, looking to his half-empty glass and clings it together with hers. "Cheers!" she says, as she downs the rum again. No ice-cubes this time- not as cold, but we're not at the part where it starts to taste like liquidised rubber so we're good so far. "Look like you're enjoying yourself, at least. Rough time, eh? Gotta be rough if you're at that point of your night. I mean, like, I ain't been in that position for a bit where I had to do that. Last time I woke up the next morning in Central Park in New York wearing a Superman costume. I'd been in San Antonio the night before. Never worked that night out, to be honest. But in the end, I just went with it as I do with everything else that I do. Didn't have a plan." She stops at this. In light of recent events, the significance of this statement isn't lost on her.

Em pours herself another glass of rum. "Plans are a load of old shit," she begins, beginning to spin her full glass around in place, "I never plan too much. I heard something once, don't remember who said it- 'we've not got a plan so nothing can go wrong.' Stuck out to me, y'know? Like, life's so unpredictable. Wasn't that statement that was the only reason I say that, though. Think it comes from a few things why I think that. Thing about me, man, I'm a traveller." She coughs, putting her hand to her mouth. Looking at whatever's spat out, she wipes it on her shirt. "Ugh. Bad habit. Anyway, yeah, traveller. Proper what they'd call a 'black-blood', me. We used to move around all the time when I was growing up. Couldn't get too attached to things or places, you just had to keep moving. Kinda aimlessly, really. Never knew when my Da winning or losing a fight would rub people the wrong way, so you had to be prepared to run at any time, know what I mean? Some people ain't good with that. I got a friend that--" Once again, she stops...reflecting on what she was about to say...

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My father subscribed to the theory the his life should be dictated by 'the moment'. This lead to a vast number of problems. You see, as I have discovered over time in my research and inquisition, wrestlers are often rather insecure creatures. Perhaps this is due to their prior life circumstances, but that is pure conjecture and speculation that I cannot verify is the case for the majority. It is an opportunity to hide behind a persona. A window into a world where people come to them because they adore their talents. Where they have no need to speak of private affairs because it does not matter. It was a world that was all too attractive to that of my father. My mother left us at a very early age. I am not privy to the reasoning nor am I interested why, but professional wrestling gave him an outlet. It gave him something to strive towards.

My father's ultimate goal, one of which he would frequently repeat, was his intention to win a world championship. In fact, as I recall, he had never received an opportunity at any title. The unfortunate fact was that thirty years prior to now, were you to talk as I do, you would be painted as 'the villain' by the promoters, and in spite of his athletic prowess, he did not posses the charisma to overcome this or enough of a radical to try.

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"Friend...yeah." Now, finally, she downs the entire glass. Once again, it feels like her head's been pulled through the floor and then flung into space. "Agh...oh God. That's bad." It feels like the blood has rushed to her head. But she's got the whole bottle now. She asked for it, so now she has to finish it, no matter how punishing it may seem.

"See, I'm in a bit of a shitty situation this weekend, man. Really shitty. I'm in a big match for the Tag Team Championships at IYH. Six teams, one of 'em is us." He lies there, still. "You might be thinking 'wait Em, why is that so bad?' and you're a man after my own heart, asking the questions that no one else does. I'll drink to that," she feels the bulge in her head, and the though of 'Nah' goes through her mind, "well, later, I will. But here's why, Mr. smarty-pants-with-your-questions. For the first time in a very long time, I'm gonna be in there with someone I know, in a legit match. Serena, her name is. Oh yeah. Not a lotta people know this, but we tagged for a bit on the indies. This was years ago, though. And she was nice. Quiet, bit shy to start. Or maybe I was just loud. Anyway, one day she just turns on me. Just like that. Friend gone. In fact, reason I can't hear outta my left ear is cos Serena hit me with a chair real hard." She removes her hat. She often does this when she's antsy about something, but she doesn't realise this and hasn't even in the amount of years she's done it. "Few months later, I find out she went off and joined this group called 'Whisper's War'. That's a whole other story right there for another day. But I seen a lotta stuff she done over the years and especially here and I can't let her win. I can't let her get further ahead than other people by being a liar and a cheater. Cos that's all she is. Behind the 'crazy' act. But the best way for me to stop them is by winning the whole match. That proper makes sure the titles away from them, know what I'm saying? But that gets us to a different problem..."

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One day, my father faces a man. An American. My sister and I were in attendance. I am three years old.

As it turns out, this opponent was rather proficient at being able to catch high-flying opponents in mid-air. My father did not know this. It turns out this opponent was rather adept to piledrivers. My father did not know this. Instead, he passively stood in front of a camera and told the world that he "wasn't threatened" and his intent that night was only to entertain spectators, in spite of the fact he would almost definitely be disliked due to his ethnic origins. But undeterred, he went out to that ring and he performed no better nor worse than any other match prior, and all was going well for him...until my Father takes it upon himself to pounce upon the middle rope and jump at the American.

He is caught. In mid-air. The American lifts him for a piledriver, however my father makes a rather ill-advised attempt to escape it. He is unsuccessful, but enough to the point that my father's opponent loses balance and drops my father on his neck. The pressure shifts up his spine. He is not moving. In moments, Aldus Fenric- Vienna's superhero who can do anything is no more. The immortal is proven to be very much mortal.

I watch as they carry him away, past me. I watch his leg twitch. I bare witness the final movement of the nerves in his ankle. He never walks again.

I spend the next twenty-seven years caring for my father. I watch him slip into a deep depression. The persona and career he used to escape his less-than-satisfactory life outside of wrestling is gone and never returning. He never achieved his life's ambitions. He never will. He is known only for his accident and the aftermath thereof.

Had he known his opponent, he may have avoided this.

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Emery wipes her face. It's been a hard, hard month, not only because of the big matches elsewhere adding to this next one, but especially given the run-ins she's had since she came to In Your House. "See if we win this match- and I ain't gonna put all my eggs in a basket here cos there's five teams and they're all good- that brings us a different problem, cos we got a team who say if they don't win the titles, they're leaving. They ain't had luck on their side lately, to be honest, I feel like I sorta made it worse. I should keep my trap shut sometimes, I know, you don't gotta tell me that. Landed me in trouble one too many times, and I tried to apologise for that before Adam barged in and dragged me off. But you mean to tell me if me and Adam win, we're gonna be seen as the ones who 'got rid of the Uncanny Socialites' for the rest of our careers?" Now she pours an full glass of rum, filling it all the way to the top. It's barely even in there, it's actually trying to escape to the outside world. "I mean, like, what the hell, man? I don't want that on my head! And on top of all that, if I lose, Adam's gonna be annoyed when Adam Fenric's pissed off with you, you should act like a comet and make sure he only sees you rarely and from a long distance away."

Emery downs the entire glass and now, finally, she puts it to one side and just holds the bottle in her hand.

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When I am old enough, I study to become a doctor. I tell everyone this is because it has been my ambition for a long time. I am being disingenuous.

My ambition is to learn of regular injuries regularly incurred by athletes, much like my father, and how they are caused. How soon, in the future, I may be the one to cause them. How I, in the future, may avoid them at all cost. I learn of human anatomy and study psychology to intrinsically understand the inner workings of the human brain. I do this so I can be prepared for any and all eventuality.

I begin to work as a doctor for professional wrestlers. I do it not to be kind but to learn of wrestlers. You do not know of a person's desperation until their livelihood is in your hands. I cannot fix some- they are like my father. I treat this as an opportunity to learn from them and experiment. Perhaps I may even make a breakthrough. My methods are now considered unethical. My family seen as freakish. The industry do no appreciate this. I receive a reputation, soon referred to as "The Plague Doctor". I resent this title, but my medical background is not to last long. It is purely for research reasons.

I embark on my travels. I claim my legacy, looking to do the very thing that my father was unable to do. Over the span of a year, I win three titles. I want to do better. I want surpass my father. I want to move from his shadow. My family cast me out due to conflict of interest and join with the dregs of society.

I have no one. Until one day, I meet Emery. We both want to be better than our families.
We have common enemies. We both want opportunities otherwise not afforded to us. We join forces.

I am often asked why I continue to team with Emery Layton in spite of our differences and, often, different philosophies in life. I am given a hard time for 'penalising' or criticising her. My criticisms are valid. Emery Layton is a talented wrestler. She has the potential to be one of the best wrestlers in the world. I do not care about her background or her social circle. It does not take genius-level intelligence to see that she will be something great.

But she does not plan. She does not care to strategise. She will openly mock her opponents and refuses to see people for the threats that they are. She denies anything that points animosity towards her, running without looking back. She believes her life should be dictated by 'the moment'. This is a mistake. I have lived a life based around the tragedy of Aldus Fenric. I have spent countless years to ensure that everything I do is meticulously constructed, careful and goes without hitch. Emery, while full of potential, could jeopardise this. Her motives are emotionally-charged. I am not. I prefer logic.

I should not be misunderstood- I at least care enough of Emery to team with her on a consistent basis. I will not stand to be accused of trying to manipulate her, as some have said. I would not do that, I do not have the patience. I have watched someone ruin their career before my very eyes and dealt, at length, with the aftermath. I will not watch it happen again. She has a lot to learn. But so do I and we can teach one another.

Nevertheless...this Sunday, Layton & Fenric will be out in force. We will step into the ring with five other teams in a high pressure situation where we will thrive.

We can do so much more than we do today. We've only just begun in IYH. We're walking.

After The Fall, we run.

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"If I lose..." she slurrs with a hiccup, "I dunno what's gonna happen to Layton & Fenric. Fuck, man...I dunno what Amy's gonna say either." Another swig. She's teetering more and more. "And on top of all that, I still got loads of other teams to deal with!" Huge swig of the bottle now. She wobbles on her barstool a little bit. "There's a stake in whatever corner you look in this match and I just dunno what to do with myself! All I ever wanted to do was wrestle, know what I'm saying? I just wanted to wrestle and be friends with people. And now I gotta choose between 'em!" She throws both her arms up, shrugging in a massively animated way like only a person who's hammered could. "Well...what if I don't wanna choose, eh?! I'm Emery Layton! 'Choice' and 'reason' fear me." Hiccup again. she puts her hand on the shoulder of this poor man she's been harrassing all night. "Y'know what? Maybe, you're right! Maybe, you're right. I should just say 'FUCK it!'. I'm going in with no plan. Cos if I don't plan, then nothing can go wrong. You're great, fella! You give some great advice."

She turns to get off the stool but before she does, she turns back to the man at the bar, head still down. "Thanks for listening. Get home safe, yeah?" Now she turns back, looking out to everyone. "ALRIGHT! I'm the next Tag Team Champion. You lot hear me? Its time to celebrecate because guys, I'm ready for The Fall!" Emery puts one foot on the floor and her entire body follows it. The bar-stool drops to the floor with her. Emery is flat on her face, her eyes closed. She's off to dream land.

It's been a tough old week to be a red-headed wrestling pavee. And one way or another, it's about to get worse.

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