How to Create a Good ‘Bad Guy” – Your Antagonist April 7, 2014April 7, 2014
In The Pharm House, Jack O’Connor, Nicholas’ boss is one of the bad guys. Jack’s a fairly unlikable kind of guy.
“Jack was a Senior Vice President and a member of the Marshall Board of Directors. Tall, barrel-chested with gunmetal gray crew-cut hair, Jack was one of those over-testosteroned manly men who thought that regardless of whose company he was in, his was the superior intellect present and by default, the leader.”
Boss ‘bad guys’ can be fun to create. Here’s a more humorous take on a boss bad buy from a short story I wrote earlier.
“I’m telling you kid, being in a position where you can tell your boss to kiss your ass is a pretty good feeling.” These were words of wisdom from a favorite uncle when I was much younger.
I was 39 years old, had clawed my way into middle management and hated each and every nanosecond of being there. I woke up one day – no really woke up. I think it was when I switched brands of toothpaste one day and realized that was a highlight of the last year of my life. Want to hear what happened when I woke up? No. Well, I’ll tell you anyway. Maybe one day you’ll wake up.
I had joined a New York marketing firm as an ad writer, figuring it would pay the rent and give me time to write. Spent six years there. I didn’t get as much writing done as I would have liked (my writing). I did meet Portia, my eventual wife and current ex-wife. Portia was on the business side of a bigger New York marketing firm. Everything that I lacked in “that taste for human flesh” that Dad had told me about years ago, Portia had all that and more. We did the mating ritual, although looking back; I felt more like prey than a lover. Anyway, we married, settled into that upper Middle America; two-career marital state or psychosis. It was about as emotionally rewarding as a good teeth-cleaning session at the dentist.
I eventually transferred into the New Jersey office of my firm and moved into middle management. I don’t know how many of you really know what middle management is. But believe me, if Dante were around, he’d add another ring of Hell that he called ‘middle management’. Portia had by now made it to a Vice President position at her firm and didn’t understand why I did not show more initiative in getting out of my little ring of hell into a higher ring. The fact that I had shown no great interest in getting there in the first place was entirely lost on my beloved.
Patience – we’re getting to now.
I had kept up ‘my writing’ just barely over the years. But had finally finished my novel. Portia laughed at it, with her usual degree of sensitivity. I had never shared my writing with Portia. Did I mention that I was a little afraid of her? Visualize Rachel Weisz. Now imagine her with the personality of Saddam Hussein. Okay, I’m exaggerating – some.
I had finally become a published author. It felt good. It didn’t make it onto the NY Times Best Seller List, but the reviews were good and it sold reasonably well. My publisher offered me a sizable advance for my second book.
This was around the time of my 35th birthday and that’s when I had the first stirrings of beginning to wake-up. I had finished the first draft of my second book. I had toyed with the idea of writing full time before, but had always let Portia talk me out of it. So, here is what happened.
I had just had another one-on-one session with my boss, whom I referred to in the bizarro-land of my mind as, ‘Lawn Mulch’. Think about it. If you have a twisted mind, you’ll figure it out.
Lawn Mulch was about 2 miles up my ass – his version of constructive criticism. He was droning on about how I should be more like him.
Let me describe the Mulch for you. It may be slightly biased by my utter loathing of the man, but here goes. Lawn Mulch, whose real name was (does it really matter, insert the name of your own Lawn Mulch); was a lower level VP at our firm. He was actually rather bright. Unfortunately, he was only about 1/10th as bright as he thought he was. He looked the part of a VP, 6”1’, thick greying hair, athletic build, early 50’s. He had been around for a while and reached about three management levels higher than warranted by his I.Q. His ascension to power had resulted from luck, looks, knifing his peers in the back, kissing ass and having competition even dumber than he was.
During my little humiliation session with Lawn Mulch, I didn’t have the nerve to tell him that the thought of being more like him appealed to me just about as much as the thought of a sex change operation. That’s none, in case you were wondering.
At about the same time in my life, Portia and I were coming to the mutual conclusion that it was time to call it quits. We just didn’t have a lot in common anymore; not that we ever really did. And we were still friends. We hadn’t yet reached that point of marital hostility. You know – where there’s a good chance that someone ends up buried in the back yard. In this case, knowing Portia, I figured I would be the one under the tomatoes in the back yard.
So, there I was a published author, finally getting paid to do what I wanted to do and loved to do. About to be divorced or freed from bondage, depending upon your viewpoint. And here was Lawn Mulch telling me to be more like him.
That was when I finally woke up. I think I had started to stir over the past year, but this was it – eyes wide open awake. Right there in the Mulch’s office.
“And that is why you are only being rated Average this year. You shouldn’t take this personally. Do you understand what this means?” he said looking at me with that perfect hair.
“Yep.” I replied.
“Well what?” I could tell Mulch was losing his patience with me, since it was clear that I had not been paying attention.
“It means you can kiss my ass.”
For a while there was absolute silence. I don’t think either of us believed they had heard it. Uncle Rob was right. I hadn’t felt this good since after my first real sexual encounter with a cheerleader in high school.
Like I said, the Mulch spent a lot of time with his lips pressed to the right buttocks, but I guess he had advanced beyond being told to do so. It was probably more like a Pavlovian response by now. The Lawn Mulch’s face had progressed to a bright crimson by now. I astutely assumed he was royally pissed.
“What the hell did you just say to me?” He hissed.
As soon as I had uttered that phrase, I had known my career at the firm was over. So I parroted his idiotic words back to him. “You shouldn’t take it personally.”
This did not seem to help because the Mulch’s facial color continued to shift and was now a fire engine red.
“You think this is funny asshole.” He shouted at me.
The ‘asshole’ thing hurt. I pride myself on not being an asshole. Occasionally arrogant, but definitely not an asshole. But obviously Lawn Mulch had a temper and decided to vent it on me.
“You’re fired.” He practically screamed.
“I sort of figured that.” I replied. “That’s the whole point of telling your boss to kiss off.”
“Oh, I don’t mean any of that two-week notice crap. I mean now you little prick.”
I also took exception to the “little” part of that sentence. “Prick” was okay, but not “little”. I’m just picky that way. This little exchange clearly was not going well and the Mulch looked like he as about to have a heart attack. In which case I would have to call 911 after waiting the required 30 minutes to make sure he was dead. Never look a gift horse in the mouth, you know. But, alas Lawn Mulch was stil breathing and not quite finished venting.
“I have put up with your pompous, snide, mediocre behavior for five years and I want you out now. You have until the end of the day to pack and get out. Are you clear on that Asshole?”
After about 45 seconds of silence, he restated his question. “I said, are you clear?”
“Oh.” I said. “You were talking to me. You said ‘Asshole’, so I thought you were just talking to yourself.
I mentally high-fived myself after that one. From my point of view, this was going just great. The Mulch was getting closer to that heart attack. I briefly considered calling him ‘Lawn Mulch’ to his face, but thought that instead of the heart attack; it may provoke him into leaping across his desk to choke me. So, tired of toying with this idiot, I decided to end the game.
“End of the day, huh?” I said looking into his now bloodshot eyes.
“Let’s see.” Looking at my watch, I said. “It’s still early, only 10:15. So, tell you what. I’ll do you a favor and be out by noon.” I had already gotten up and moved towards his door.
“Good, get out.”
And I did. Packing my personal belongs in my office was no big deal. Actually the only personal items in my office I cared to take were my pictures of my cat, Machiavelli (I do have a dark side) and my iPad. I had a picture of Portia, but figured I would leave it for the next occupant. Besides, I had drawn devil horns on it.
I felt just about as good as when I’d peeked into the girls locker room in the 8th grade and not gotten caught. I called HR to let them know I’d quit and drafted a quick letter of resignation. I’m sure Lawn Mulch would say he fired me. I really didn’t care and figured if they gave me a hassle, I’d let my lawyer fight it out with their lawyers.
Not only had I gotten the satisfaction telling the Mulch to kiss my ass, but egged him into screwing himself. By making me leave today that meant that everything on my plate would get dropped. And my plate was plenty full. The Mulch had done it to himself.
Life was good.
Hope you enjoyed my sardonic take on a ‘Boss Bad Guy’. And check out The Pharm House to see how truly rotten Jack O’Connor really is.
Bill Powers is author of The Pharm House a debut suspense/thriller from DonnaInk Publications, L.L.C. To order and/or purchase, The Pharm House visit http://www.donnaink.org. For bulk orders, signings and interviews contact Special Markets at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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