Workshop Wednesday

While Follower tracks on with its fourth episode today, I always wanted to share a small snippet of something else I'd started writing but never finished. While the main series focuses on a set of low-rent superheroes, this adventure, Hench would have tracked a two-bit henchman as he navigated the criminal underground, bouncing from one villain to the next while he worked his own schemes. Sadly I never could nail down the tone of the piece, only really getting the opening scene right where I liked it.

At this point this idea has been sitting around long enough that I don't think I'm ever going to finish it. I'm sharing it here, as a bonus for the main Follower series (since it likely would have been set in the same world) just so I can clear the character out of my brain for the time being. The piece is fairly short, only comprises a couple of quick scenes, and is very unfinished. Enjoy it for what it is.

Remember to also catch up on the previous adventures of The Follower in the Works of Mike FinkelsteinWhat's that, you want to read various creative works from Asteroid G Lead Editor Mike Finkelstein? Well, if that's what you want... archive.

The Follower: Bonus

"Hench"

FADE IN.

NUMBERS (V.O.):

In the world there a heroes and villains. Everyone else -- sidekicks, bodyguards, soldiers and citizens -- they're all just henchmen.

INT: MAD RUSSIAN'S GAMBLING JOINT, DINGY BASEMENT, NIGHT.

In a chair, under the bulb, sits NUMBERS. Standing opposite him are OLAF and KARL, two henchmen of the MAD RUSSIAN.

MAD RUSSIAN:

You know what the differences between excuses and reasons are, Billy? Both of them can be used to explain why something went wrong. You make up excuses or you give out reasons. The difference is: an excuse takes no blame.

MAD RUSSIAN drags over a chair to sit opposite NUMBERS.

NUMBERS (V.O.):

The man giving out the lecture is the MAD RUSSIAN. I've dealt with him before, and yes, he's always this tiresome.

MAD RUSSIAN:

When you give out excuses, you tell people, "here's why things went into the toilet, but it's not my fault. The universe is conspiring against me."

NUMBERS (V.O.):

He's actually the eighth "Mad Russian" I've known. Every Russian gangster seems to take on the alias "Mad Russian." It's as if the fall of communism made a lot of Russians highly perturbed.

MAD RUSSIAN:

A reason, though, says, "I know things went wrong, and here's why, but I take the blame for it. This is my fault." And that's the problem with you, Billy. You're all excuses. You don't take responsibility for what happens, for the things that you screw up. I have no use for someone that gives out nothing but excuses.

MAD RUSSIAN waves over OLAF, who pulls out a gun.

MAD RUSSIAN:

Now, tell me something new, but you better make sure it's not another excuse, Billy.

Pause for a beat.

NUMBERS:

You know, I really hate that name.

FADE TO BLACK.

SFX: Gunshots

TITLE: One Week Earlier.

FADE IN.

INT: CITY STREETS, LORD EVIL's LIMO, NIGHT.

LORD EVIL sits in the far back, drinking a glass of brandy and reading a paper. Sitting on the bench diagonally across from him sits NUMBERS. Driving the limo is JOHNNY "TWO-TONE" MULLIGAN. The limo is moving.

NUMBERS (V.O.):

These stories tend to start with the narrator going "all the trouble started a week ago," or some similar statement. I never really understood that. There's always trouble, and it's always starting and ending and sliding into other dangers. You can never really know when anything begins or ends, as it's always a morass of events.

LORD EVIL:

William, word is that there's a valuable diamond coming into town for an exclusive showing.

NUMBERS (V.O.):

Of course, sometimes it's easier to see some danger coming.

NUMBERS:

I saw that article. The Evanston Diamond. Supposedly it's cursed.

LORD EVIL:

Valuable diamonds are always cursed. There's always some thief willing to do whatever it takes to get their hands on something valuable, and then, once they have it, there's eight other blokes just as willing to do the same.

NUMBERS (V.O.):

The gentleman is LORD EVIL, or, as the IRS knows him, Lord Terry Grimshaw III. He's a one-time British noble who moved to the US a few years ago. He was into dirty deeds back in Her Majesty's kingdom, a "right proper villain" as he would say, and started in on his way of life the second he came across the ocean.

NUMBERS:

Well, that's the trick of it, sir. There's no point in stealing it, as then, once you have it, you have to get rid of it. And something that big, that famous... you'd never find a fence who'd be willing to handle it, at least not before they tried to kill you first.

LORD EVIL:

Quite true...

NUMBERS:

You want me to run some numbers on it, see if I think it's worth the effort?

LORD EVIL:

That is what you do.

NUMBERS (V.O.):

LORD EVIL honestly wasn't a bad guy to work for. Certainly better than half the villains I'd ever dealt with. He became my employer after the untimely death of my previous employer.

EXT: BACK ALLEY, NIGHT.

LORD EVIL stands over a bruised and bloodied GANGSTER.

LORD EVIL:

All I wanted was a cut of your business.

GANGSTER spits at LORD EVIL.

LORD EVIL:

Oh, well that was completely uncalled for.

LORD EVIL shoots the man twice. The blood spray catches him in the face.

LORD EVIL:

Oh, bloody hell! Look at this! I'm never getting that out of my suit.

INT: CITY STREETS, LORD EVIL's LIMO, NIGHT.

NUMBERS (V.O.):

It's the way of the upwardly mobile in this line of work. You're only at the top as long as there's no one stronger, meaner, faster, or luckier than you.

LORD EVIL:

Meanwhile, I have a couple of other errands for you and your skittish companion.

NUMBERS (V.O.):

He means the driver, JOHNNY "TWO-TONE".

INT: ABANDONED WAREHOUSE, NIGHT.

NUMBERS and TWO-TONE are facing off against a group of garishly dressed Asians, not unlike the Yakuza but dressed in disco-polyester. Everyone has guns out, although JOHNNY's is shaking in his hands.

NUMBERS (V.O.):

I've known JOHNNY for years. He's a great guy, good for a laugh, but I'm about the only person that can deal with his one character flaw.

DISCO YAKUZA:

Give us the suitcase and you get to keep your lives.

CLOSE Up: NUMBER's face.

NUMBERS:

Can't do that. You know as well as I do that this money doesn't belong to you or me. It's been entrusted to me for delivery, and that's what I'm planning to do. So you and your boys need to turn around and go away, otherwise JOHNNY and I will be forced to start shooting. We start shooting then you start shooting. And sure, JOHNNY and I might not make it out of here, but how many of your guys will die as well? Who wants to be the first to find out? Who do you think, JOHNNY?

Pause for comedic effect.

NUMBERS:

JOHNNY?

WIDE ANGLE: Everyone turns to seen JOHNNY, running, off in the distance.

INT: CITY STREETS, LORD EVIL's LIMO, NIGHT.

NUMBERS:

I usually handle these errands solo. JOHNNY's not so good for the rough-and-tumble.

LORD EVIL:

Yes, I am well aware of what his nick name, "TWO-TONE," stands for.

NUMBERS (V.O.):

His pants, if you hadn't guessed. JOHNNY wasn't too fond of that nickname.