Robbie had scoped out the Community Center that will be holding a fundraiser for the Greatest Generation. Mary came over to tell him to abandon his plans of being a supervillain, but ended up telling him how he could make his caper work. He just needed one more person to pull it off. Robbie rushed to find that one person.
The Old Woman stared at Eric. Her eyes pierced deeply into him. Her voice was firm as she asked, “Are you here to serve me?” Eric swallowed. “It says right there, on your name tag, ‘Eric’, that you’re here to serve me.”
Eric nodded, “Yes, ma’am. I’m here to help.”
She countered, “To serve me.”
Eric cleared his throat. “Yes. To serve you.”
She smiled grimly, “So serve me. I want to see the charcoal frame.” She pointed with a withered finger to the top row of frames.
The Old Woman had demanded Eric’s attention now for over twenty minutes. She had already looked several different frame options. None had satisfied her. None were going to work to frame a picture of her beloved cat, Meow Meow.
Eric got on the step ladder and reached up. Why they put them up that high, Eric didn’t know. He was going to reorganize. He could do that, since this was his domain now. Pens, markers and frames. Woo hoo.
The frame came off, but his fingers didn’t get a hold of it. CRACK. It smacked his forehead before–BANG–it hit the linoleum flooring.
The Old Woman looked up. “Well, I can’t buy THAT one. You’ve dented it.”
Eric sighed, rubbed his forehead and reached again. Then… a voice…
“Eric?” Eric looked. Down at the end of Aisle 4 was Robbie, breathing heavily. A large crumbled piece of paper in hand.
“What are you doing here?” Eric asked.
Robbie strode towards him, filled with confidence. “I’m looking for you.”
“Oh, no,” said the Old Woman, stepping in-between. “This ain’t no disco. You find your rough trade somewhere else. He’s mine.”
Robbie looked at her. “Lady, he’s my cousin. What is wrong with you?”
The Old Woman huffed. “You haven’t heard the last of me. I’m getting the manager,” she declared and then waddled away.
Eric came down the step ladder. “You’re going to get me into a lot of trouble. They don’t take complaints lightly here. They honestly believe the customer is always right.”
“I’m here to liberate you, Eric. Liberate you.”
“Eric?” Robbie and Eric turned. At the other end of the aisle, Agatha.
Eric said, “He’s here to liberate me.”
Agatha took a step towards the pair. “He’s here to what?”
Robbie stepped towards Agatha. “Liberate him. I need him to be my henchman.” Eric sucked in a breath. Robbie turned to Eric. “That’s right. I need you, Eric. I get it now: you were just looking out for me. You were just trying to protect me.”
Eric took Robbie’s shoulders. “It’s what a good henchman does. For his supervillian.”
Robbie embraced Eric.
“Take your damn hands off him,” Agatha said. “Eric, honey, you aren’t going off with him.”
The two men separated. Eric turned to Agatha. “Honey. I’m sorry. I love you. But, the man you fell in love with, the man I want you to be with, well…” He reached for his tie and pulled if off. He held it out to her. “That man is a henchmen.”
Agatha blinked. Looking between Eric and his tie. She crossed her arms. “Um. No.”
Eric took her hands. “Let me do this. Let me follow my heart, because, it will always lead me back to you.”
Agatha melted into him. “Promise me that you’ll come back every night in one piece.”
Eric touched her face, and said, “I will do my best.” And he kissed her. A kiss that could move mountains.
Robbie stood next to them. Looking. Awkward. He tapped on Eric’s shoulder. “Uh. Wrap this up. We have a fundraiser to villianize.”
The next night, Robbie and Eric sat in Agatha’s hybrid. Across the street was the Community Center. They could see a few of the Greatest Generation heading towards the building, everyone dressed in their best suits.
Eric was at the wheel, he checked his watch. “You ready” Robbie was lost in thought. “Robbie?”
Robbie snapped out of it. “What? Right. Ready. Yes. Let’s do this.” Eric started to move. Robbie didn’t. Eric sat back.
“Are you… having second thoughts?” asked Eric.
“What? NO. Of course not. I’m not having second thoughts. Why would I have second thoughts? This is the beginning of my meteoric rise. Tonight, I rob the Greatest Generation and then tomorrow the world.” He knocked on the dashboard. “Hello, success knocking.” But, he didn’t move.
Eric licked his lips. “So. We’re doing this?”
Robbie looked at Eric like he was insane. “Of COURSE we’re doing this. You. Me. We’re doing this.” Robbie took a couple of short breaths, then, launched himself out of the car. “VILLIANY,” he shouted as he ran towards the building.
Eric grabbed an empty shoulder bag and ran after him.
Robbie burst into the event room. “EVERYBODY KEEP YOUR HANDS WHERE I CAN SEE THEM.”
The room had been decorated since he was last here. A banner welcoming the Greatest Generation. A table with a silent auction. And some balloons. Off to the side was the 20 Something DJ, who wore sunglasses to hide his boredom as Glenn Miller played.
The Greatest Generation were filling the room, dancing their hearts away. Slowly. But, dancing.
Eric leaped behind the DJ and karate chopped him in the neck. The DJ crumpled to the floor. Eric paused the music. The Greatest Generation turned and looked. Eric pointed to Robbie. They turned and looked at Robbie.
He gave them his best glare. “This is a robbery.”
An shrill voice came from the dance floor. “A brobbery?” Murmurs from the crowd.
Robbie shook his head. “No, no, a robbery, a ROBBERY.”
The Old Woman came out of the crowd. Yeah, that Old Woman. Eric gasped. “You’re going to rob… us?”
Robbie strode forward, “That’s right. Fear me. For I am… the TEACHER!” Robbie took what he felt was a very powerful pose.
The Old Woman was confused. “The Bleacher? That’s a strange name. The Bleacher–?” Murmurs from the crowd.
Robbie shook his head again. “No, no, it’s the. You know, what? It doesn’t matter. Cash, watches, jewelry. All of it.” Robbie nodded to Eric who leapt over DJ table. He opened the shoulder bag and headed towards the crowd.
A woman’s voice cut through the crowd. “I think I’ll have to give the Teacher a failing grade.” The Greatest Generation parted, revealing: the Damsel. Step by step, she walked towards Robbie.
“Oh, shit,” was all Robbie could muster before the Damsel punched him in the nose. He stumbled backwards. “Ow,” was all that he could muster before she kicked him in the chest, sending him flying into the dessert table. Dazed, Robbie nodded at Eric.
Eric took a fighting stance and charged the Damsel, who swung at him. Eric ducked and her fist went over his head. He punched up and the Damsel stepped back, and then put a boot in Eric’s face. He feel backwards as his nose exploded. The crowd went “Ooooo.”
The Damsel turned to face Robbie. He stood up. He cracked his neck. She said, quietly, “Don’t make me do this.” Robbie took a step forward. She took a step back. “Because I will hurt you.”
“Oh. WILL you?” Robbie began chuckling. Then crackling. Then bwah hah haying. An evil laugh is hard to come by.
The Damsel frowned. “Why don’t you do the right thing and just turn around and go home.”
Robbie put his hands on his hips. “Why don’t you do the right thing, turn around and go home?”
“Because. I’m the hero.”
“That’s right, and I’m the mother fucking bad guy.” He grinned.
The Old Woman shouted, “Take his head off, Damsel! Beat his body bloody with it” Robbie and the Damsel looked at the bloodthirsty Old Woman.
The Damsel turned her attention back to Robbie. “Alright, let’s do this.”
Just then, Eric jumped onto her back. “Get her, Robbie!” he shouted, as the Damsel reached up to grab him.
Robbie took the opportunity. He swung.
A flash from a cell went off.
The Damsel and Robbie were blinded. Shutting their eyes.
Robbie’s fist collided with the Damsel’s jaw. And she dropped to the floor. Out cold.
Eric stood up. Robbie’s eyes were wide open. He looked at his fist. He pumped it. “VILLAINY!”
Robbie sat in the living room, staring at the headline on his laptop. “BAD GUY SMASHES THE DAMSEL.” Below it a picture of Robbie punching the Damsel, credited to DJ Rock Rock. Her eyes were closed, face distorted. His eyes were closed, face in pain. It hurt punching her. His hand still throbbed. And as much as he tried, he couldn’t get excited about taking down the Damsel. She was the biggest hero in the city. And he had succeeded where no one else had. Singlehandedly. Sure, Eric was there. But, he was just a henchman. Robbie had done the real work. But, for some reason, he felt bad. Was this guilt, he wondered?
“Where’s the money?” Agatha was standing behind him.
Robbie snapped the laptop shut. “I’ll have you know, we didn’t get the money. The Greatest Generation turned on us. Eric wanted to stay and take them on, but, I’ll have you know, it was my idea to retreat. I saved his life.”
“Mm.” Agatha wasn’t convinced. “So, you like totally failed.”
Robbie stood and faced here. “We didn’t fail. This was quite a success.”
“You didn’t get the money. I think that’s a failure.”
Robbie walked to his Inner Sanctum. “I’ll have you know, I got two things better than money. Street cred. And a new name. Fear me.” He paused for affect. “For I am, The Bad Guy.”
“Yeah, well.” She crossed her arms. “The rent is due. I need your share.”
Robbie said nothing, but closed his door.
Eric stepped into the apartment, carrying take out Chinese. “Did I miss something?”
NEXT: Bad Guy Rises