Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Monday, August 22, 2011

The Hench Woman's Handbook is quite the sinister sister act of mine

Over this past weekend,I have begun launching a new literary project that I hope will be both entertaining as well as beneficial to my ultimate goal of becoming a published author and seeing books written by me on a bookshelf near you.

Yes,folks,I've stepped into the brave new world of e-books and put out one of my very own,with the help of my sister Stephanie. She's made a lot of strides in the online comic world,with her work appearing in anthologies such as Jesus Hates Zombies:Those Slack Jaw Blues and Only in Whispers and she's currently the graphic illustrator for the action adventure series Perfect Agent(written by Greg Carter).

She did the cover art for what I'm calling a "comic book novella"(translation: a long short story set in a comic book/superhero reality),The Hench Woman's Handbook which is now available at Smashwords. So,before I started shamelessly plugging away for my story, my thanks to Stephanie for being generous with her time and talent on my behalf.

So,what is the plot of this "comic book novella", you may ask? Well,our story begins at an out of the way bar located on the wrong side of the tracks where a young woman dressed in black stops in to meet a person who she hopes will fast track her career goal of joining up with a major super villain as his right hand woman,in a manner of speaking.

Her mystery guest is a somewhat forced into retirement hench woman who broke the glass ceiling set up for the majority of evil female sidekicks and became a super villianess in her own right. However,she first entered this criminally competitive field as "In Charge Marge",the most valuable player on the team lead by Master Class,a multimillionaire and first class fiend(worst that Donald Trump,I assure you).

Over the course of the evening and a few drinks,Marge and her potential protege discuss five important tips for any woman willing to work her way up the super villain ladder who also wants to be taken seriously. In addition,Marge winds up sharing a few personal moments about her life and times,which turns out to be more revealing about herself than she intends to be:

After awhile,the tone of the conversation takes a unexpected twist and what lies in store for our eager criminal career gal's future may not be as rewarding as she imagines.

My inspiration for The Hench Woman's Handbook comes from a brief Lex Luthor subplot in a Superman comic back in 1987 where he drops into a diner on his way back to Metropolis and amuses himself by playing a mean spirited mind game with a waitress.

He offers the newly married woman a million dollars to spend a month with him as his "beck and call" girl(a Pretty Woman reference feels right for this situation),which she at first refuses.

Lex then ups the ante by pointing out the ho-hum quality of her current life choices and gives her ten minutes to meet him in his car. She thinks about for a solid several minutes before realizing that Lex has already been long gone. The end scene shows him laughing the whole thing up with his chauffeur,that magnificent bastard. Luthor was always one of the better Superman foes,due to his innate instinct for malice and razor sharp intelligence which cuts his enemies deeper than any blade ever could:

I wondered how that story might have ended if the waitress was more inclined to call Lex out on his bluff than dither around with moral quandaries instead. As you can see from this excerpt, in my mind,it would've gone a little something like this:

Now, I had been working in food service for quite some time, in places slightly better than the Greasy Spoon but not by much, and I knew enough to take things in stride. Doesn't matter if it's a Hollywood hot shot or a bum begging for change at your table, you never know who's going to leave that big tip at the end of the meal. So, I went over to take his order, being friendly but businesslike, you know?

I said to him "So, do you know what you want or should I give you more time?"

He looked me over, brushing back one of his sideburns, before answering me. "Well, my dear, perhaps that query applies more to you than it does to me."

I wasn't in the mood for wise guy talk. "Look, Mister" I tell him, "we're pretty busy here so when you want to order something that's on the menu (I tapped said menu to make my point), you just let me know."

As I started to storm off, Dexter put a hand on my elbow and said "Pardon me, Miss Margery, is it?"

Since I was wearing a name tag , him calling me by name wasn't a problem but grabbing my arm was except that he wasn't holding it too hard. "I truly don't mean to aggravate a working person in the course of their duty but from time to time, I sense that someone is not where he or she was meant to be in life. A gift from my grandmother May, so it has been said."

"That's nice; all my grandmother ever gave me was red hair and the back of her hand." I tried to slowly yank my arm away from him but that light grip was strong.

He smiled at that. "Fascinating yet my point is that it behooves me, when this feeling comes along, to see if I can help that person find their proper position in the world and you strike me strongly as one such person." His hand left my elbow and patted the seat next to him. "Shall we discuss this further?"

"That's really interesting and probably the best offer I'm going to get today but I've got other tables to see to and make sure that their house specials are properly placed with the right party there, you understand. It behooves me to do so."

I was able to make my grand departure then, taking my time to finish up a couple of orders elsewhere before getting back to him. I know he had his eye on me, especially when I had to catch a tray of hot soup that the new girl nearly threw up in the air there. I must have been a contortionist in another life to keep those bowls from flying into someone's face.

That might have made him act a little less smug when I got back to him. He sat there, acting all nice as pie and after ordering a tuna melt, got right back to where he started with me. "Miss Margery..."

"Just call me Marge, okay? Time is money and I'm short on both."

He liked that comeback, I could tell from the small grin on his mug there. "Very well, Marge, my dear, as I was saying before ,you appear to be a woman whose talents are far from being challenged in such an establishment as this." He waved his cig around and dropped some ash on the floor. "No doubt you know who I am and what I can provide to the right young lady not merely for entertainment purposes but in financial security as well."

Yep, I was hooked but not stupid. I kept my cool and just said "Okay, so what are you offering, exactly?"

"The opportunity to be my personal companion, to stay by my side while living the glamorous life. I need a pretty face to accompany me to social events that I can't get out of and it would be nice to have one that I could hold an actual conversation with and not become bored within the first two minutes of the evening. Other requirements of this position would include providing an alibi or two when needed. Hopefully, you don't have an arrest record of any sort..." I shook my head and he went on.

"Of course, you're old enough to realize that I'm not seeking any long term emotional commitment but I do think we can get along just fine. When we decide to part ways, a golden parachute of sorts will be handed over to you for services rendered, giving you ,amongst other sundry items, a home of your own and mutual funds that will be invested properly. Our arrangement can be put into writing, a minor task for my lawyers to deal with." He smirked at that, giving his whole game away. Only bullies and creeps smirk like that when they think they're pulling one over on you,.....

That nasty smirk snapped me right out of any urge to roll over for him. My answer to that was "So, you think I'm a hooker."

"Oh, no, no, please not at all!" He stubbed out his smoke and switched his face over to nice guy mode. "Marge, you are a striking young woman, you don't need me to tell you that."

I snorted. Being hit on was one of those in the line of duty hazards of the job. "I can see that this dreary table hopping routine of yours wasn't what you dreamed of being as a little girl but something you felt that you had to settle for."
Well, he had my number there.

He took my hand and held it like he was planning on giving my knuckles a kiss. "Why spend the remainder of your youth drowning your beauty and brains in a dive such as this? It would be far better to have a few exciting tales to spin in your golden years about the bold chance you took when a stranger walked in and whisked you away to places and experiences that you never believed would be yours to behold."

"Geez, I'm not even thirty yet and you've got me in an old folks home already. A real Romeo you are."

A ding from the counter told me that his order was up. "I need my hand back to get your lunch."

He released it and smirked again. "I'll give you a few moments to consider my offer, while you bring me that tuna plate." He thought he was dismissing me but he found out how wrong he was about that when I returned. As I put the plate down in front of him, Dexter gave me a hungry look (which wasn't for the food, trust me) and started in with "What do you say, Marge? My car is right outside and you can exchange your apron for a seat in the back."

My laugh startled him, which says a lot about it considering that this was a man who faced down big league super heroes like the Courageous Avenger with nothing more than a walking stick and hidden behind the back laser gun. "What kind of a super villain are you, anyway? Making me an offer that we can have a bunch of lawyers write up it, all nice and neat. How very legal eagle of you!"

Dexter's face was flushed and he hadn't even tasted the tuna melt yet. "I don't comprehend your implications here. If you prefer a verbal agreement..." My next laugh cut him off quick.

I leaned down and talked low in his ear. "You want to know what I'm implying, Mr. Trenton? I'm implying that you're just another pushy guy in a fancy suit who thinks that he can get whatever he wants by flashing some cash along with big talk. You're supposed to be this evil genius, a real menace to society type but someone like that wouldn't be asking me what the deal was. He'd be telling me."

I rose up and looked him right in the eye. "If you want me, just take me. Throw me over your shoulder or have your driver do it, then lock me in the trunk and hold me prisoner until I give in to your demands." I headed back to the kitchen, giving him my final word on the way. "That's how the real bad guys do it."

There's more to this story,of course,but at the heart of it is the connection between Marge and Master Class. Not exactly Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy in terms of an argumentative romantic couple,I grant you,but they do have their moments and one liners there:

"That's all very well and good,Lady T,but since when are you into e-books? Do you even have a Kindle or Nook or what ever else is out there?" No, I don't owe any sort of e-reader device(and if you don't either,the rest of my story is available in PDF and other computer screen friendly formats)and while my preference is for print books,it would be foolish of me to ignore this growing section of the market place.

The reason that my e-book is free is that I hope to gain a wider audience for my fiction writing along with catching the interest of a literary agent that can sell my finished novel(and it's nearly completed sequel)that has similar comic book themes. I would also love some feedback on my writing as well,so feel free to leave comments either at this post or at the official Hench Woman's Handbook Facebook page.

Thank you for your patience with this longer than usual post and if you decide to read The Hench Woman's Handbook,I hope that it's a sweet trip to the super villain shop for you. Speaking of sweet but deadly,let's end this with a fun musical tribute to two of my favorite female Batman foes,Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy-the true party girls of evil. If I could write characters as great as them,I would be beyond satisfied as an author:

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