Sunday, January 17, 2021

The Clichemonger

The Clichemonger

Mark A Davis


It was a crisp winter day.  A chill wind blew over the crest of the Frosthaven Dam.  Here stood a dastardly villain, easily recognized by his black ensemble, by the twirling of his moustache and by his billowing opera cloak, the likes of which would have made Dracula proud.  The boxes of TNT stacked behind him with a very obvious bomb attached, and with a young woman tied securely to it, confirmed his villainous intent.

He had a large hooked nose, a prominent pointed chin, and wore a dark suit and a silk top hat.  He cackled and rubbed his hands together in perfect villain fashion, obviously pleased with himself.

Two heroes dashed towards him.  The younger pointed.  "There he is, Grandpa!  He's got the Mayor's granddaughter!"

"Grandpa Anarchy!" the girl exclaimed.  "You old fool!  Save me already, or you'll answer to my grandfather!"

"Ah ah ah!" the villain cautioned, holding up one finger and in the other hand, an object which appeared to be a detonation device.  "Not one step closer, Mister Anarchy, or the girl gets blown to kingdom come!  Gone but not forgotten, as they say!"

"I have a name, you know," the girl called out.  "It's Vanessa.  Vanessa Doomhollow.  My grandfather is the mayor and a former villain, remember?"

Grandpa Anarchy, world's oldest hero, pulled up short.  "The Clichémonger!" he breathed.  "No villain is more textbook villainous!"

"In the flesh, Mister Anarchy!" the Clichémonger called out.  "At last we meet again -- but this time, the advantage is mine!  I am indeed the man with more clichés than you can shake a stick at!  I see you brought your sidekick -- the more the merrier, I say!"

"I'm Kid Obvious!" the boy exclaimed.  "And I'm Grandpa Anarchy's sidekick.  We're here to oppose you, villain!"

Kid Obvious was dressed in a form-fitted suit of red, with Kid Obvious written on his chest in large white Impact font letters.  Grandpa Anarchy, as usual, wore a rumbled gray suit with a silver anarchy symbol stitched over the left breast.

Kid Obvious glanced at Grandpa Anarchy and added, "Does he always talk like that?"

"Always," Grandpa said.  "He never met a cliché he didn't like."  Raising his voice he called out, "You cliché-spewing fool!  What are you trying to accomplish here?"

"That's for me to know, and you to find out!" replied the villain.  "My motives are a riddle wrapped up in an enigma.  ignorance is bliss, Grandpa, but if you play your cards right and read between the lines I'm sure my plan will be clear as day!"

"There's no enigma here," said Kid Obvious.  "He's planning on blowing up the city dam, and the mayor's granddaughter along with it!"

"Stop screwing around, you ignorant fools," yelled Vanessa Doomhollow, "and save me!"

"You've hit the nail on the head!" the Clichémonger exclaimed.  "Don't worry, we're going to have a blast!  Mayor Doomhollow's granddaughter is about to become a blonde bombshell!"

"I'm a brunette, you villainous dork!" Vanessa retorted.

"Why are you doing this, Clichémonger?" Grandpa Anarchy asked.  "What do you want?"

"All is fair in love and war, Grandpa Anarchy!" said the Clichémonger.  "I thought, if we hit that bullseye, the rest of the dominoes will fall like a house of cards. Checkmate!"

"This sounds like mixed metaphors," said Grandpa, "not a cliché...."

"What?" the Clichémonger said in mock surprise.  He danced about in glee.  "You've never heard of Zap Brannigan?  I'm shocked!  Shocked, I say!  That man has a way with words!  I’ve never heard of such a brutal and shocking injustice that I cared so little about!

"As for what I want?  How about one... million... dollars!"

Grandpa Anarchy folded his arms.  "Sorry," he said, "but no dice.  I've been authorized by the mayor to offer you fifty thousand dollars, no more.  Final and only offer.  If you refuse, I'm to take you down."

"You are in no position to bargain, Mister Anarchy...."

"Fifty thousand?" Vanessa cried out.  "That wrinkled cheapskate has-been...."

"As a former supervillain, Mayor Doomhollow does not negotiate with small-time criminals," Grandpa Anarchy said.  "Those are his exact words.  So it's your move.  You can agree to our terms and free the girl, or...."

The Clichémonger sneered.  "Second-rate, am I?  Has Doomhollow never heard that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar?  Very well!  I'll show him!  I'll show them all!   Hell hath no fury like a villain scorned!  They laughed at me, but who'll be laughing once I'm done?  You leave me with little choice...."

Kid Obvious drew back a wrist rocket slingshot and let go.  A steel ball struck the detonation device in the Clichémonger's hand; it sailed out over the downstream side of the dam wall and disappeared.

"Great shot, Kid Obvious!" Grandpa exclaimed.

"I shot the detonation device out of his hand!" the sidekick pointed out.

"Exactly!" Grandpa Anarchy said.  He raised his fists.  "Now comes the part I enjoy the most -- the fisticuffs!" 

"Very well!" the Clichémonger sneered.  He produced a cane and drew from it a sword.  "I see. your bite is worse than your bark, but the time for talk, Mister Anarchy, is past.  You and I have a score to settle.  All talk and no action, Mister Anarchy.  Let's get down to brass tacks, shall we?  All the world's a stage.  Let's dance!"

"You're the only one who's talking," replied Grandpa Anarchy.

"Kill him already!" said Vanessa Doomhollow.

The Clichémonger lunged forward.  Grandpa Anarchy jumped back, avoiding the blade.

"Grandpa!" said Kid Obvious.  "He has a sword, and you don't!"

"Thanks for that information," said Grandpa Anarchy through gritted teeth.  He dodged and weaved as he backed up, avoiding the lunging sword again and again.

"I'm a bull in a china shop, Mr. Anarchy!" the villain yelled between sword thrusts.  "I'm a bolt from the blue!  Yours is an uphill battle, and I'm dealing from the bottom of the deck!  When I'm finished with you you'll look like death warmed...."

Grandpa Anarchy drew a pistol and fired.  The bullet struck the villain in the shoulder.  He collapsed to the ground.

"Curses!" he said.  "I've been struck!  I see now that I should never have brought a sword to a gun fight...."

"You shot him!" exclaimed Kid Obvious.  "With a bullet!"

"I hardly call that fair," said the villain.

"Oh," said Grandpa, "but you did say it was fair... in love, or in war...."


Weeks later, the Clichémonger twirled his moustache as he surveyed the woman seated across from him.

"I am never one to show my cards, Mrs. Sondheim," he said, "and I do not like to beat about the bush.  I am prepared to offer you this exclusive, one-time offer, the deal of a lifetime -- right here and now, quicker than a New York minute.  What would you say to five days and nights at the Frosthaven Hotel and Casino for you and your extended family, air fair for them included, with access to a very exclusive beach the likes of which would tempt the gods themselves?  You will be queen for a day -- nay, queen for five days!  Oh but do not answer yet, for I will throw in an additional two days and two nights at no extra charge!  That's a savings in excess of a thousand dollars, Mrs. Sondheim!  It's a sweetheart deal!  If Mayor Doomhollow discovers I'm making deals like this he'll have me out on my ear!  He'll throw the book at me, Mrs. Sondheim!  He'll kill me, and he's a former villain so I do not speak metaphorically...."

From across the room in city hall, Grandpa Anarchy and his sidekick watched.

"Mayor Doomhollow made him Tourism Director of Frosthaven why?" asked Kid Obvious.

"The mayor likes hiring former villains to run the city," replied Grandpa.  "They're more honest than politicians, he says, and I can't argue.  Plus he didn't want to jail him, only to have him break out again.  He said he's tired of that old cliché...."


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