I know you heard about my upcoming anthology. But you may not know what I contributed or if you’ll enjoy my story. If you haven’t made a decision yet, clear your mind and read the first few pages below!
The nurse lady here says my health insurance doesn’t cover what I call “getting my ass kicked by Beaver-Man.” Unbelievable. Can you see what I have to deal with? I’m at the hospital’s emergency room desk, and I gave this woman my name and ID. I’m in trouble if my wife looks up our medical records. And this broad don’t even trust my word as a henchman. She didn’t mention insurance, I had to bring it up, and I’m pretty one-hundred percent sure that’s not how it goes, Okay? Who knows what I said through my searing leg wound? Estoy a punto de llorar.
Maybe you don’t understand what I just said. Maybe you only speak English so far. Let’s keep it that way. I’d like to have some thoughts for myself, and I let you into my head as a favor, gracias.
I’m staring at this nurse lady, the only white person in this whole building, by the way, and I point to my swollen leg because it’s… well, the leg’s actually not so bad. I’ve had worse. Tonight wasn’t my first scrap with Beaver-Man, but if he sneaks up on me and my fellow henchmen like that again… you know, next time I see my boss, I’m gonna tell him my job is to design uniforms, not play cat and robbers.
The important thing is, I’m not crying.
I have a lot of ongoing missions:
#2: Defeat Beaver-Man, that costume creep who won’t quit.
#3: Pay off my wife’s college debt.
#4: Set up a savings account for my kid with the rest of my dough.
#5: Get back the beer money I gave Jack.
What’s Mission #1? Don’t cry.
At least until I’m on a rooftop or something. Jack, OddBo, Brianna, Narp, Otis… my fellow henchmen on the bench behind me ain’t cryin’. And they all got beat up by Beaver-Man tonight, just like me.
There are henchmen in wheelchairs all over this lobby. I can tell they’re henchmen ‘cause they wear the black and gold three-piece suits I designed for them. Suits with their ties singed and cuffs ripped, with brown bloodstains, it breaks my heart.
Ripped and burned suits got it easy compared to the five mooks on the bench behind me. Otis whimpers when he shifts his weight, Brianna’s arm swings limp from her shoulder, and OddBo… I think you’re a little too young to hear about OddBo. Point is, although I’ve got a throbbing in my lower leg like an overheated motorcycle, I gotta be stoic. I can’t cry. In fact, I love motorcycles. This pain, it’s nothing. I got everything under my thumb.
All this time, the nurse yaps on. She rubs her eyes. She invites me to sit down at the bench across the room. I wait for her to bring me a wheelchair. After a long silence, she says that my injured companions have half the building’s wheelchairs, while Labor and Delivery stole the other half.
So she hands me a crutch. Just one crutch, by the way. I’ve never used one of these before, but I know how they work. I just move it next to my broken leg as I walk back to the waiting room bench.
My leg flames up with each step. They must’ve given me a terrible crutch. It takes a few grunts, loud grunts, gritos, to walk to where my fellow henchmen sit. They stare at me. Don’t know why. I make the same sounds when I deadlift. Narp points to my good leg, then to my crutch. He’s always doing weird stuff.
Jack looks over his shoulder as if Beaver-Man will walk through the automatic doors any minute. That sap. He should watch the windows, like me.
I sit at the bench’s end and start some rhythmic breathing. I ignore the fuzziness in my eyes. Jack, next to me, doesn’t scooch over. I’m not asking him to. I can balance myself just fine on an inch of bench.
Jack’s face looks like blueberry pie right now. He’s got a foot over me in height. He threw me off the warehouse roof last week, and he could do it again. But I need my beer money back. I gotta confront him, and right quick too.
Jack’s a mess, but the other henchmen on the bench remind me of something else. Sinister Sid talked about the five stages of grief when he hired me. What you need to understand is, when Sid’s not scheming for world domination, he gives his employees something like a therapy session. Sid taught me to listen to all my voices. Voices that range from “rub your belly” to “rob a bank.” And because of Sid’s teachings, I see in this room the five stages of henchmen, or at any rate, the stages I went through as a henchman. Let’s start with OddBo.
Stage One (Denial): OddBo, with his last good eye, reads something on his phone. OddBo isn’t a henchman, he’ll always say he’s an “entrepreneur’s assistant,” and he won’t take our dirty henchman money to even buy himself a pillow. I said similar things my first week on the job.
Jack and OddBo, they sit next to each other and talk. Jack declares that if anyone gives him a hospital bill, he’ll shove it down their throat. Jack didn’t see my hand hover over his shoulder, about to tap him. I dart my hand behind my back. I’d rather go round two with Beaver-Man than face Jack on a bad day.
On my left, Otis writhes on the ground. He clutches his backside and looks to the sky. After tonight’s encounter, he doesn’t have much of a left cheek anymore. Either left cheek. He’s bawling.
I hear a thump from the window. I leap up from the bench, raise my fists, cough as pain shoots through my bad leg. I turn around. Outside the snow-streaked window, there’s a kid. The kid giggles as he folds up another snowball. He sticks out his tongue. I flip him off.
I sit back down. Breathe in, breathe out.
Stage Two (Anger): Jack still rants to OddBo. At any given moment, Jack will complain about how Beaver-Man destroyed Sid’s satellite, or how I never let Jack design the uniforms, or how Beaver-Man ‘accidentally’ (so say the papers) hit a kid. But it’s cool. When my godfather got in that ranting mood, he got more results than anyone in the family, especially the women.
I almost forgot to say hello to you…
To find out the truth about Beaver-Man, the fate of the henchmen, and who our narrator’s even talking to, check out The Devil You Know Anti-Hero Anthology. It has great stories from authors like K.A. Wiggins and C.L. Cannon, so you’re in luck even if you think mine’s a bit crap.