Henchman Chronicles: Nameless Largo Henchman, Project Thunderball

It was the ’60s. It was a crazy time. Sex, drugs, and SPECTRE. I never heard of SPECTRE or Largo before. I answered an ad that sold me on the idea of spending lots of time in the Bahamas and the Keys. “Must like and can handle physical work. Burly men preferred.” That fit me to a T, I thought. I thought it’d be loading boats.

When I got to Nassau, though, it was a different story. I got my uniform, which came out of my paycheck, by the way, and a machine gun. Now I’ve gone hunting for panthers in the Everglades with my grampa, but I’ve never fired anything like that. I mean, it was part of my training in Korea, but I forgot everything. I was a mechanic. I didn’t even touch a gun after basic training. But it all came back quickly and I was okay.

Still, I wondered what the hell we needed with guns if we were going to be working on boats all day. It smelled fishy, I tell you what. In more ways than one.  And I thought about going back home to Teehatchapatchee. But then Largo got us all together and told us if we tried to leave, we’d be shot. Great. Looked like I was stuck. And we hadn’t been paid in two weeks. I started to feel like I was a slave.

That Largo didn’t tolerate failure, neither. My buddy Ray was sent to someone’s hotel room to rough him up and bring him to Largo. I mean, what the hell? Who is this guy Largo? Ray was a helluva nice guy, too. He was a big guy, could take care of himself in a jam, but I couldn’t see him roughing anyone up, let alone shooting them. He was a big pussycat. But Ray went; he didn’t exactly have a choice, y’know? The guy ended up beating him up and sent him back to Largo who got pissed off. He slapped him in front of all of us, which was bad enough, but then we had to throw him into the pool, which had sharks in it.

Man, I couldn’t sleep for three nights after that. I mean, I knew Largo had sharks, but I didn’t think he’d let ‘em into the pool. I thought he was gonna teach Ray a lesson and let him go. That’s when we all saw that Largo doesn’t mess around. I still see those sharks tearing ol’ Ray to pieces.

Largo didn’t like anyone looking at his niece, either. How could you not look at her? Oh man, she was beautiful and sexy. There was a rumor going around that she wasn’t his niece, if you know what I mean. We all talked about it in the henchman’s quarters every night. One of the guys who’d been there longer told us that Largo caught his buddy checking her out and flirting a little. That was the last time anyone saw that guy. Another guy was overheard joking about the nature of their relationship, and he came back to the barracks missing an arm. It was fed to the sharks.

In fact, guys dropped left and right. You learned to keep acquaintanceships at a superficial level. Be friendly, but not friends. It could be the last time you see him. One night this guy snuck on to the grounds and he got away, even after he was caught in the shark pool. I heard it was the guy who beat up Ray. We all caught hell for that one. Everyone involved who let him go was shot.

And of course, there were victims of friendly fire during the incident itself. It was a bad scene. I thought I was a goner for sure.

But I outlasted the others, and since I’d worked on a boat in Korea, I was promoted to the Disco Volante. That was some better work. That guy who got away from the sharks (we come to find out he was a British agent—a got-damn government agent—how the hell was we supposed to get that guy!) kept snooping around, so we dropped some grenades in the water. Now that was some fun! Too bad we missed him. We missed him and he got away again.

Couple more of us was shot in the head for that one.

Finally, the big day arrived. The day of the job we was all hired on for, it turned out. The feds were on to us, though, and they were there in force. We got some really intense fire, I tell you what. I thought I was a goner for sure then, too. But the boat blew up and threw us into the drink, and I lived.

I’d say it was a miracle, but the waters were full of sharks. No miracle in my book includes sharks. Goddamn sharks! Of course, I was presumed dead.

Luckily I had a life insurance policy made payable to my girlfriend in Miami. Fortunately, that’s where the mission was. When I learned exactly what it was, I was real glad it failed. That Largo extorting the world for a hundred million bucks with nukes? That would’ve been some bad news right there.

I swam to shore without the feds seeing me, hoofed it to my girlfriend’s and hid out there for a few days, and when she collected on the life insurance, we started over here in Belize, where we opened a joint called Ray’s. We don’t serve nothin’ but shark steaks. Rest in peace, buddy.

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The Henchman Chronicles – Reggie*

This is another in our series of interviews with henchmen. Who are they? Why do they do it?

So you’re a henchman.

Yeah, I’m a henchman. I’m what ya might call a “classic henchman.” When people think of henchmen, they think of me. A big gorilla.

What was your childhood like?

Me upbringin’ ain’t what you’d call unusual. I grew up on the wrong side of the tracks. Uptown Manhattan. I had things real rough, see? Chauncey, our chauffeur, always drove me to school in a Cadillac. Not a limo like my classmates, and I never heard the end of it. I was always picked on as a little kid. Especially by Evan, captain of the debate team. Makin’ fun of the way I talk. Every day I rode home in the Cadillac in tears.

Me fadda was never home. Always in one country or anudda. One time when I got to talk to him on the phone, I asked him, “When you comin’ home dad?” And he’d say, “I don’t know when. I’ll come home for fiscal year-end. I’ll come home for fiscal year-end.” (sniffs) I saw him more in the Wall Street Journal than I did at lacrosse games.”

And me mudda, she spent eight hours a day slavin’ over brain samples at Mt. Sinai Hospital as an evolutionary neurologist.

But pretty soon I hit puberty, and me muscles exploded and I shot up a foot in six months. Pretty soon I ruled the Manhattan School of the Arts. Evan didn’t debate me no more.

How did you become a henchman?

I answered an ad in Craigslist.

That’s it?

Yeah. I saw an ad that said, “Collections expert wanted. No experience necessary.” I thought that was weird, but I applied anyway. Sounded interesting. And I was tired of working on Wall Street.

You worked on Wall Street?

Yeah. I worked for me father’s firm. It never felt right, though. I didn’t get a chance to explore me thuggish tendencies.

Quite a change for you, going from Wall Street to being a low-level thug.

Not really. Not as much as I thought. I still work on commission. And the money’s better. I get a base salary in addition to the commission. I really enjoy my work. It’s true what they say: Do what you love and the money will follow.

How does your family feel about your new career?

They’re okay with it. In fact, my father even hired me to break some guy’s legs and enforce a contract for him. But then someone else hired me to break his legs. Ha ha! Only in this business!

Wow.

He understood. It’s just business. We went out for a beer afterward. I feel closer to him than I ever have.

Any plans to get out of henchmaning?

Well, when I’m too old to be in this racket anymore, I plan on opening a little boutique shop of sea salts. From all over da world. Maybe travel. Or open a school for the henchman and enforcer arts. I want to leave a legacy.

Do you think you’ll pay for your actions in the afterlife?

No. I think we’re alone in a vast, cold, uncaring universe, and when we die, we go back to mother earth.

*Name changed to protect the guilty.

Henchman Chronicles – Rapscallion

This is another in our series of interviews with henchmen. Who are they? Why do they do it?

Q: We are talking today to Cyril St. George, more commonly known as “Rapscallion,” the longtime lead henchman for the late supervillain The Dandy Highwayman. Good morning, Cyril. How are you this morning?

A: I am simply wonderful! You wish to know about my profession, yes?

Q: Yes. How did you get into your profession?

A: Well, I was an out-of-work actor. I had recently graduated from Juilliard, and I had not acquired a gig in any regional Shakespeare theatres that summer, and I’m sure you know how expensive living in Manhattan can be. And I simply could not move somewhere the bourgeois consider reasonable, like any of the other boroughs or New Jersey. I simply must be where the action is! And I needed something quick. So I answered an ad in Backstage magazine, the trade industry rag for thespians, looking for costumed rapscallions. Having performed in Pirates in Penzance three months prior, and having extensive stage combat training, I knew it was a perfect fit.

Q: Did you know it was for the super villain The Dandy Highwayman?

A: Super villain? No. We were doing theatre for the masses, experiential theatre, happenings. That was very popular in the ‘60s and ‘70s, Guerrilla theatre, you know. It had a message, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. It was a glorious time.

Q: But didn’t you think something was amiss when he didn’t give his booty to the poor?

A: Absolutely not. Part of the message, you see.

Q: Which was?

A: Trust no one. Save yourself. Revolución!

Q: So let me get back to what you actually did as lead henchman. You said you had experience in stage combat?

A: Yes.

Q: But not real combat?

A: No, I am not a trained fighter. I am a trained stage combatant.

Q: So what happened when the police and the Justice Defenders raided the Highwayman’s lair? How did you defend yourself?

A: I looked like I was defending myself! Acting, my boy! Just try acting! That’s what Olivier told Dustin Hoffman on the set of Marathon Man.

Q: So you never actually…hit anyone?

A: Absolutely not! That is not theatre! And when I was charged with resisting arrest, that…that! was the ultimate compliment to my stagecraft! When I simply explained what happened, they subsequently released me forthwith. I only looked like I was resisting arrest and throttling policemen. I was so convincing, they themselves thought they had been throttled, only to realize later that they had come to no harm. Their bruises, cuts, scrapes. It was all makeup. That, my boy, is acting.

Q: Wait…makeup?

A: Yes, being a thespian means you needs be trained in all aspects of stagecraft, including makeup. When I had a lull in the action, I quickly ran around applying the requisite makeup.

Q: Fascinating. Were all your fellow henchmen, or company members actors?

A: No. Amateurs to a man. They took the performances too far. Actually hitting is not stage combat.

Q: Even The Dandy Highwayman? I mean, he was convicted of multiple homicides. Real homicides. As in…you know, the people are, in reality, dead.

A: The Dandy Highwayman, my boy, is the greatest performer of them all. Serving a life sentence for his craft. The performance of a lifetime. Now that’s sacrificing oneself for their art.

Q: But he was convicted of 37 counts of first-degree murder. For real. That wasn’t a performance. Those people are dead. They’re not popping up when the scene or robbery is over.

A: Those people made the ultimate sacrifice for art.

Q: Uh-huh. Are you still in touch with The Dandy Highwayman?

A: Oh no. He has kept up the ruse that since I was the only one not to serve any hard time, that he believes I tipped off the coppers, and as such, swore a blood oath to kill me. (Laughs heartily) A master! A credit to his craft! I played my part by pretending I was in the witness protection program. He even sent people to “kill” me. (Laughter)

Q: But surely you had to cut a deal to evade prosecution for everything else you had done in your role as lead henchman? Aiding and abetting, grand larceny, obstruction of justice and treason to name just a few?

A: Again, I never actually did those things. I acted as if I were someone who would commit those deeds. I would never actually commit those foul deeds. Again, I am an actor, dear boy.

Q: So…what you’re saying—and please forgive me if I’m wrong here—is that you were of absolutely no use to The Dandy Highwayman. Am I getting that right?

A: That is correct. Other than to aid and abet him in committing random acts of art.

Q: So you are not in witness protection?

A: No! Of course not! I don’t need to be! All part of the theatre, my boy.

Q: And obviously they didn’t kill you. How did you survive the attacks?

A: Acting again!

Postscript: Two weeks after this interview, Cyril St. George was found dead in his Williamsburg apartment. He was stabbed 27 times by rapier. Now that’s commitment.

Here’s your queue

I think it’s pretty clear where you’re supposed to line up at a 7-11 or Starbucks: along the counter. In this way, people line up in a way that doesn’t create chaos in the store. And they can be sold impulse items when they’re waiting in line.

Whenever I see someone at Starbucks or 7-11 lining up where they shouldn’t, which is frequently up the aisle, I always wonder, “What’s wrong with you? Lining up like that is a slap in the face to those of us lining up the way we’re supposed to! Manager, take him away!”

And then I wonder what that says about me, that I’m obsessed with the right way to line up. Am I a follower? I like to think I’m a rebel who colors outside the lines. Who flouts the rules. Who plays by his own rules! Who stands outside the cordoned-off lines at Rite Aid! And isn’t tempted by the Butterfingers and Trident at the counter!

When the aliens invade, I will proudly show that I am one who knows how to queue up properly to the spaceship that will transport us to the labor camp on Mars. And I will say to those who don’t know, “What’s wrong with you? LIning up like that is a slap in the face to those of us lining up the way we’re supposed to! Alien, take him away!”

Interview with a henchman

This is the first in a series of interviews with henchmen, those who aid and abet villains in their daily practice of villainy. Who are they? Why do they do it?

Q: We are talking today to Cyril St. George, longtime lead henchman for the late supervillain Highwayman. Good morning, Cyril. How are you this morning?
A: I am simply wonderful! You wish to know about my profession, yes?

Q: Yes. How did you get into your profession?
A: Well, I was an out-of-work actor. I had recently graduated from Juilliard, and I had not acquired a gig in any regional Shakespeare theatres that summer, and I’m sure you know how expensive living in Manhattan can be. And I simply could not move somewhere the bourgeois consider reasonable, like any of the other boroughs or New Jersey. I simply must be where the action is! And I needed something quick. So I answered an ad in Backstage magazine, the trade industry rag for thespians, looking for costumed rapscallions. Having performed in Pirates in Penzance three months prior, and having extensive stage combat training, I knew it was a perfect fit.

Q: Did you know it was for the supervillain Highwayman?
A: Supervillain? No. We were doing theatre for the masses, experiential theatre, happenings. That was very popular in the ’60s and ’70s, guerrilla theatre, you know. It had a message, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. It was a glorious time.

Q: But didn’t you think something was amiss when he didn’t give his booty to the poor?
A: Absolutely not. Part of the message.

Q: Which was?
A: Trust no one. Save yourself. Revolution!

Q: So let me get back to what you actually did as lead henchman. You said you had experience in stage combat?
A: Yes.

Q: But not real combat?
A: No, I am not a trained fighter. I am a trained stage combatant.

Q: So what happened when the police and the Justice Defenders raided the Highwayman’s lair? How did you defend yourself?

A: I looked like I was defending myself! Acting, my boy!
Q: So you never actually…hit anyone?

A: Absolutely not! That is not theatre! And when I was charged with resisting arrest, that…that! was the ultimate compliment to my stagecraft! When I simply explained what happened, they subsequently released me forthwith. I only looked like I was resisting arrest and throttling policemen. I was so convincing, they themselves thought they had been throttled, only to realize later that they had come to no harm. No bruises, no cuts, no scrapes. It was all in their minds. That, my boy, is acting.

Q: Were all your fellow henchmen, or company members actors?
A: No. Amateurs to a man. They took the performances too far. Actually hitting is not stage combat.

Q: Even The Highwayman? Wasn’t he convicted of multiple homicides?
A: He, my boy, is the greatest performer of them all. Serving a life sentence for his craft. The performance of a lifetime.

Q: But he was convicted of 37 counts of first-degree murder. For real. That wasn’t a performance.
A: Those people made the ultimate sacrifice for art.

Q: Uh-huh. Are you still in touch with Highwayman?
A: Oh no. He has kept up the ruse that since I was the only one not to serve any hard time, that he believes I tipped off the coppers, and as such, swore a blood oath to kill me. A master! A credit to his craft! I played my part by pretending I was in the witness protection program. He even sent people to “kill” me. (Laughter)

Q: But surely you had to cut a deal to evade prosecution for everything else you had done in your role as lead henchman? Aiding and abetting, grand larceny, obstruction of justice and treason to name just a few?
A: Again, I never actually did those things. I acted as if I were someone who would commit those deeds. I would never actually commit those foul deeds.

Q: So you were of absolutely no use to Highwayman.
A: That is correct. Other than to aid and abet him in committing random acts of art.

Q: So you are not in witness protection?
A: No! Of course not! I don’t need to be! All part of the theatre, my boy.

Q: And obviously they didn’t kill you. How did you survive the attacks?
A: Acting again!

Q: If you’ll pardon me, it seems as though you are severely deluded about the part you played in the Highwayman’s villainy and crimes against humanity, as well as your own crimes.
A: That’s what the court-appointed psychologist said. I acted like I throttled him to within an inch of his life!

Postscript: Two weeks after this interview, Cyril St. George was found dead in his Williamsburg apartment. He was stabbed 27 times by rapier. Now that’s commitment.

Ode to sandwich left on the kitchen counter

O sandwich left on the kitchen counter!

You were made with love.

How I wish your creator had given you the gift of speech!

You might have shouted, “Take me!” in an act of selfless devotion,

sacrificing yourself upon the altar of an inexpensive lunch

For me, your creator.

Of store-brand peppered turkey you were made,

With a slice of mozzarella,

Topped again with avocado slices.

Sandwiched by whole wheat Tuscan pane bread.

I loved the idea of you.

The savings of you,

The convenience of you.

How I wish you could speak!

Alas, I had not the power to grant you speech.

You mightn’t have used it anyway,

Preferring to remain unnoticed,

Savoring a few more precious hours of life,

Until you end up in a landfill.

I would’ve done the same if I were

In your Tupperware.