I know superhero stories are way over done these days and you are looking for new angles, but please don’t point your camera lens in this direction. I am just that guy’s sidekick. Strictly off the record and never to be quoted. Standing to the periphery, sans a speaking role, smiling and happy the blinding spotlight never shines here. The glint off the bleached and veneered teeth of my rich alcoholic narcissist boss is enough to blind even the most skeptical of fans to his deep narrative flaws. Sure, some might say he’s a vigilante. For others he is The Bad Guy, but aren’t we all sometimes? I’m just happy to help and not bothered by your narrow good to evil spectrum.
I could tell you my name, but really, who is going to remember it? Often through my career I haven’t and missed my walkie-talkie check-ins. That is the quickest way to make a boss paranoid that their enemies have knocked me out again. I’ve had names ending in a number, or ~girl or ~boy. In the early years a lot of them were “ethnic” in a dated and offensive slur-pun kind of way. I’m sure we will learn it along the way at a perfectly poignant part of the protagonist’s story. Probably just before I or an unrealistically buxom girlfriend are strapped to a Rube Goldberg-esque doom machine courtesy of a genius driven solely by his need for an audience to whom he can pontificate. For the record, yes, we are perfectly capable of saving ourselves; evil geniuses are rarely members in good standing of the International Guild of Knot Tyers. However, we’ve been conditioned to refrain from saving ourselves because our actions could be narratively inconvenient to the hero’s journey.
Call me an enabler, call me a beta, whatever. Being there to help is what drives me and gives me a sense of purpose. Yes, some of them are chemically codependent and too many of them want to be alphas. What can I say, I love to get things done and take pride in my work. I’m a behind the scenes builder, a logistician, a good people manager, and a mildly effective marksman. I have an extensive Rolodex of off-the-books trauma surgeons and covert construction firms, not to mention an unending supply of Alka-Seltzer and antacid tablets in my utility belt. I can tail your average mark mostly undetected, and am quite adept at applying body-paint and shoulder-pads when the job calls for memorable flair. I’ve got the skills, but I don’t need the public’s adulation to motivate my actions or dedication. No cameras and nosy reporters snooping around here, please and thank you. I’d prefer that my family and love interests are quite ignored by those who seek leverage over my boss.
Have I worked for other heroes? Sure, and some villains too. The villains typically have a larger henchperson bureaucracy to work your way up through, offering more vocational skills training along the way, probably due to the need for cannon fodder and megalomaniac tendencies toward unnecessarily large and inaccessible secret bases. Whereas the heroes are generally more efficient staffers, they tend to work you longer hours due to their trust issues and requiring one or two people to fill the butler/driver/logistician/armorer/best friend roles. I’ve put in my time and am a dues-paying member of Kick-Hench Local 382. Getting the union card was an important step for direct access to the respectable hero and villain networks.
It is only with my current glinty-toothed boss that I finally made it to the Major Leagues. Working for billionaires is the top tier for the Kick-Hench community and reaching sidekick rank to one of them is straight up Chief Operating Officer territory for us. The health benefits are usually woefully inadequate, but the base pay is good, and the costume & gadget budgets are excellent. Besides, who doesn’t like riding around on private jets or the feeling of accomplishment at ribbon cutting ceremonies for secret lairs on the dark side of the moon?
I’ve come a long way in the last thirty years. My first sidekick gig was on the back of a banana-seat Huffy. Still proud that the streamers on the handlebars were my handiwork and made my hero look so cool in her first local news photo. “We aren’t doing a pity piece,” huffed the photographer as he pushed me to the back of the frame, behind the bike and my first hero. “Lose some weight, wash your hair, and get your mom to sew a costume that actually fits.” The words stung and made me shrink back in the photo even more than the photographer likely intended. He couldn’t have known I was an orphan, but his words only motivated me to take advanced sewing classes at our local community center. Today my stitches are second to none, be they fabric or flesh. I can weave Kevlar, mold clay pecs and abs, form body-contoured spandex, and have deployed more than a few life-saving organ stents. As a proper henchperson, I got my pilots license and picked up welding, circuitry, thermonuclear dynamics, lunar geology, and satellite navigation along the way.
Speaking of that, duty calls. Gotta go start up the big guy’s jet as he was too cheap to spring for the AI-enhanced self-flight mode. I shouldn’t complain, as his cheapness is job security in a quickly modernizing world. How long until the tech is good enough that hench robots can do more than just ring a klaxon and say intruder?
Anyway, good speaking with you; you seem so easy to talk to. Why don’t you stop by the TGIFriday’s on 8th Ave next Thursday for the Local 382 Kick-Hench monthly happy hour? Tell the host our code phrase, “Don’t call me a Minion” to be seated with our group. Kick-Henches need a good portfolio of prominent b-roll footage appearances, maybe you can help them beef up their YouTube channels.
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