STORY: The Villain

Meanwhile, at Bloody Mary’s Bar…

Andrew is sitting on his throne staring at the story on the iPad in front of him. All of his little minions at Bloody Mary’s Bar are standing behind him, shuffling their feet in silence and looking at each other nervously. Andrew’s expression grows more and more serious as he continues reading the document. Occasionally, he raises his hand as if to argue, then promptly closes his mouth again. When he gets to the end, he frowns at the iPad and sets it back on the bar. He stares off into space silently for some time, allowing the contents of his mind to settle. Finally, Tom de la Salle stands up on the table, unable to take it anymore.

“I warned you,” he says, glaring down at Andrew. “I warned all of you. I told you not to get caught in her vicious web of lies and deceit! But no! You just had to ignore me, didn’t you? You just had to poke the sleeping hornet’s nest!”

“Shut up, Tom!” Duke says, yanking on Tom’s pants. “Get down from there. You’re going to make all of us look bad.”

“No! I will not shut up!” Tom says dramatically. He looks around the room and realizes he’s enjoying this moment a little too much. It has less to do with despising Betsey Horton and more to do with the fact that he just straight-up enjoys performing his one-man-show onstage. He takes a moment to give silent thanks to his favourite director for inspiring him to star in his own show once again.

“Nobody ever listens to Tom!” he continues. “Well guess what? It’s my time to shine! And now all of you are going to listen to me!”

He looks around and realizes he does not, in fact, have that much else to say. He decides to focus back on Betsey while he grasps around for more inspiration.

“You brought this on yourself, Andrew,” Tom says. “You know you did! You wanted her to write about her Andrew. You wanted her to write about Bloody Mary’s Bar. You wanted your own little book. I know you did! I know it because she quit writing mine and started writing yours instead! And I know you after all these years. I know how you are. I know you inspired her. I know you did. You helped her write it! You knew better and you did it anyways! I believe her when she says you were following her and acting weird. I believe her! Because I know Betsey Horton! I was the first person she met when she moved here! I was the first person to become her friend out here! I know she isn’t making up this story, and I know she didn’t make up the one about The Prince either! I know it because… because… because…”

Tom pauses dramatically he turns away from the audience to put eye drops in his eyes. When he turns back, real tears appear to be streaming down his face. He continues his monologue with renewed fervor.

“Because it’s true what she says about me! I’m the villain in the story! It’s me! I’m just an angry, misunderstood monster who turned evil because I was apathetic about the world! If only you knew the story of Grendel, all of you would understand why I’m so misshapen and ugly! Why I beat my fists on my chest and scream at the sky in madness and disillusionment! Yes, it’s me! I’m the villain and she loves me for it anyway!”

Everyone in the audience looks at each other, unsure of exactly where Tom is going with this. Meanwhile, Jay is streaming the event from his iPhone in real-time. Betsey is glued to her screen, watching the entire thing on Facebook Live.

“So, Mister Bossman, sir, I must protest whatever it is you are about to say. I must stand up for Betsey Horton, Writer Extraordinaire. I’ve been the villain for too long. Now it’s time for me to redeem myself. And the only way I can do that is to put my foot down and demand you let my best friend back in this bar! As far as I can tell, she might as well be running the goddamn joint anyway! She’s the one picking up the slack for you while you’re off on yet another wild vacation. You obviously don’t give a shit about the bar anyway. Why don’t you just leave and go on vacation forever?”

Andrew stares at Tom in disbelief. Everyone in the room nods in agreement. Betsey claps her hands wildly as she watches from the comfort of her apartment nearby.

“You know,” Duke says loudly. “Now that you mention it, Tom is right about Betsey Horton. I admit that I didn’t like her at first, but I think we can all agree she’s earned her spot at Bloody Mary’s Bar. She is writing a book about us, after all. I think it’s unfair to deny her our inspiration any longer.”

Andrew stares out the window across the room with a sad expression on his face.

“Furthermore,” Duke continues, “I think both Tom and Betsey are right when they say you don’t act like you want to be here anymore. Maybe it’s best if you just go home to your perfectly awful wife and Perfect HGTV Dream Home. Truth be told, Betsey’s probably not the best candidate to run the business side of things, but I think I could take on that job just fine. I mean, I might as well. I’m basically already running the show anyway.”

Andrew gasps and looks up at Duke.

“Et tu, Brute?”

Duke claps his hand on Andrew’s shoulder and grins at him sheepishly.

“Veni, vidi, vici.”

Andrew’s mouth drops open. He turns and looks around at his friends, Romans, and countrymen.

“And all of you… agree with this?”

All of the employees at Bloody Mary’s Bar nod their heads in agreement. Andrew looks to The Owl in wonderment.

“Even you, Owl?”

“It is no concern of mine who owns the bar,” The Owl says. “My only concern is staying in my nest. I will deal with whoever I must to keep it that way. I have no allegiance to anyone, least of all you.”

“And you, Rat-Rat?” Andrew asks, looking at his favourite little rat lovingly.

The Rat-Rat shrugs his shoulders and points at Duke.

“He offered me more money, and an all-expenses paid trip to Hawaii.”

Andrew’s mouth drops open in shock.

“A rat is a rat is a rat,” Duke says with a smirk. “Never once have I known you to learn this lesson in 6,000 years.”

Andrew looks at the group of mutinous snakes around him and sighs heavily.

“I don’t know what to say,” he says sadly. “I never meant for it to come to this. I love Bloody Mary’s Bar. Really, I do. I don’t want to lose it this way.”

“Then you must choose,” says the Owl wisely. “The Judgment Day has come, Andrew Darling. Choose. Redeem yourself now or leave here in chains. Only you can be the one to decide.”

Andrew looks around his bar and runs upstairs in shame. How could he ever have let it come to this?

Meanwhile, back at her apartment, Betsey Horton watches the show end with a twisted grin on her cute little face.

The End

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