We met on the patio of Agua Linda – well, it’s not much of a patio, just some plastic fencing, plastic chairs, plastic tables with plastic umbrellas. But it’s outside and it’s nice, so let’s deem it a patio. I got there early and ordered a beer and munched on chips until he got there. I half expected him to fly down from the sky on his golden roc or just freaking teleport in, gleaming yellow and green. But no, he walked up off the street, turned the corner of the building and sauntered right up. He was smiling, of course. Villains always smile – true, proper villains anyway.
He tucked his brown cloak over the chair back and helped himself to some chips. He started to speak, but instead leaned over towards the glass doors that lead inside and signaled for his own beer. His smile was 1000 watts of teeth.
“You look older,” I said.
“Well, that’s hardly surprising. You’re older too,” the villain crunched on a chip dripping with red salsa. “Just as much gray hair on your head as on mine.”
It was true. His hair was thick and wild, the kind of white-boy afro you rarely encounter in the wild — but silver winked from many places in the brush.
“This already isn’t going like I thought it would,” I said and took a sip of my beer.
“Hey, I just work here,” the villain spread his hand expansively, then folded them behind his head.
“Look, I wanted to talk to someone and for some reason you were that person. I don’t even know why. We haven’t worked together in a while and you’re sort of dead?”
“I was defeated. Not killed, just sort of removed from the scene. It was all pretty vague. What is it with you and these metaphysical—?”
A large frosted glass of brown beer clunked onto the plastic table. The villain winked at our waitress and proceeded to snag the grass-green lime from the rim and toss it into the parking lot.
“I don’t even know why they give the lime. It doesn’t do a damn thing for the taste, in my opinion,” the brown-cloaked man took a long, slow pull at glass.
“It’s nice. I like it.” I waved the waitress away with an apologetic smile. “No food today, we’re drinking our lunch.”
The villain clinked his glass against mine. “As I was saying, I wasn’t really killed so much as expunged. Two ways to look at it, creator mine. From one angle, I was never a real person – just a personality construct created by the sudden influx of infernal might and superior intelligence on a pre-existing mental framework. The boy made his choice and became me. Then at the end of the tale that girl unmade his choice for him and he became him again. I’m like an alternate personality – or a mask the boy wore for a while. So you’re just talking to an old mask, I’m afraid.”
“You said two ways to look at it.”
The villain snickered and took another long draw of his beer, then leaned back out into the aisle to signal for another. He held up one finger, then after giving me an appraising glance raised a second.
“I think you know the other way. All just actors, aren’t we? Playing this role then that role, then we hang out in your head until it’s time for auditions. I had my time on the stage and now I’m back in the wings – is that what this is about? You need a proper menace?”
He leaned forward almost hungrily. I felt a little guilty.
“No, that’s not what this is about.”
“Whatever,” the villain finished off his first beer, then smiled at me through the glass bottom. “Or do you want to wear the mask? Do you want to be the villain for a while?”
“I’m not really the seductive type –“
“God, shut up,” I sighed. “This was a bad idea.”
The waitress brought our beers and departed in the silence that crouched on our plastic table.
“Do you want to get drunk?” the villain asked.