I am a dastardly and nefarious character

On thinking of wicked and nasty schemes.

Art by Amelia Koen.

I am a dastardly and nefarious character, constantly engaging in vile and villainous schemes. While these schemes are various and diverse, they usually have at least some features in common (i.e. how evil and nasty they are). Sometimes I will poison the town’s water supply and twirl my moustache cackling in the Mayor’s face until he proffers me ransom. Other times, I will find the most beautiful woman in the town and tie her to the railroad tracks while, again, cackling and perhaps swooshing my cape in an eerie fashion. Still too, sometimes I will dig a tunnel into the bank’s vault and make away with my ill-gotten gains in the dark of the night. These are the sorts of schemes on which I spend my time. 

Although I often make money from my schemes – indeed, if I didn’t enjoy it so damn much I suppose it’d be fair to call villainy my job – I don’t really do it for the money. Mostly, I do it out of the morbid antipathy I feel towards my fellow human beings. I think they are profoundly weak creatures; dopes, even, who are all too willing to have the wool pulled over their eyes and be tricked. Stupid, cowlike things who plod along, contented with their workaday lives. Other people are a bunch of marks – bar the few other villains I know – and I take great pleasure in exploiting them or harming them or somesuch. Take this fellow, for instance, the fellow whose window I find myself peering into now.

I first spotted him on my daily walk around town. There he was, sitting on a bench in the park, tossing breadcrumbs at the pigeons and tipping his hat at people as they passed. He couldn’t have been any younger than seventy, and he was dressed in slacks and a thick tweed coat. He had a simple, amiable air that seemed to say that whatever the stage of life is where a person has time for hate, he was well past it. He seemed, from my momentary stare, to be decent, ordinary, and kind. I just hated him, and soon decided to make him the subject of my next scheme.

I decided to tailor this particular scheme to him so as to make the sweet sting of my cruelty all the more unbearable. Perhaps, I thought, I might place him in a compromising scenario at the local bordello and blackmail him. Perhaps I’d have his oh-so-beloved park paved over and replaced with a big box store. Perhaps I’d buy up all the tweed jackets in town before stealing his, so he couldn’t find a replacement. These are the types of villainous and nefarious schemes which I considered pulling on this man; first, however, I had to know more about him. So I followed him around. 

To be honest, he didn’t get up to much. He sat and fed the pigeons, then wandered through the park. He sat down in a cafe and drank a coffee while making idle chit-chat with the barista. He perused the books in a local library before picking up a thick military history and beginning to read it in one of the plush armchairs available. So he went about his day, with me following not far behind, scurrying from hiding place to hiding place to ensure that he couldn’t see me 

Now, I have followed him home. You always have to get a sense of the home life of someone you intend to humiliate in one of your schemes, I say. I am peering now through his window into his dining room. He is sitting at the table with his family — I presume his wife, son, and grandchildren — and enjoying dinner with them. He’s telling a story to his granddaughter and doing all the parts of a story that children enjoy — silly voices, funny faces, and so on. He finishes the story with an imitation of a lion’s roar that leaves her giggling in delighted terror, and he picks her up and spins her around above his head, and his wife scolds him but it’s clear she finds it endearing. Then dinner finishes and they clear the table, and his son and his family get ready to leave. He gives his son a long, warm hug, then picks up his granddaughter and kisses her squarely on the forehead, and she beams at him as only a six year old can. 

Then, once they’ve left he gives his wife a kiss and wanders over to the living room. He sits down in a plush armchair -– god, but he does love those, the bastard! He sits in the chair and turns on the television, switching it over to the cricket, though his attention seems to be more focused on the crossword puzzle before him. After not too long he seems to nod off, head drooping down to his chest. His wife comes in and shakes her head and smiles, then pulls a blanket over him before turning off the television and heading upstairs to bed. He lies there for a while, snoring gently, before waking and looking around. He sees the blanket on his chest and gives a grateful smile. He stands, and folds the blanket carefully, placing it on the chair. He switches off the lamp, and heads upstairs to bed. And I find that I have tears in my eyes, that I am crying. Why, why on earth am I crying?