Neither of my parents was present on the morning of my first actual day at school. This has always been somewhat of a source of rancor
for me. I realize it is petty to hold such a small thing against my parents, and I realize that both of them were very busy people who were in all probability actively trying to kill each other
at that point, but there's a part of me that resents the fact that they could not take time off from murderous mayhem to see their only child
safe in a strange new environment. Instead of my mother or father keeping a watchful eye on me until I felt secure, it was Arlington who loomed in the doorway and fretted over me. Again, this was only a small thing, but in retrospect it was the beginning of my problems with Robert and Julia Von Wicked.
Neither weapons training nor falconry had prepared me for Kindergarten. My mother had taught me how to deal with determined assassins and how to fake a polygraph test. My father had taught me how to build a nigh unstoppable death bot capable of eviscerating a man from three feet away out of an RC car, an empty coffee can, a butter knife and six bottle caps. But none of my lessons thus far had enabled me to predict the behavior of and adapt to the vagaries of the most inscrutable adversaries of all: children.
How strange I must have looked in my starched white shirt, my v-neck cashmere sweater and my neatly creased linsey-woolsey trousers to this grubby hoard of sticky-fingered monsters in their matching garanimals. How odd did my neatly coiffed hair appear to the bleary-eyed teacher in her shapeless flower-print dress? Is it any wonder the other children stared at me in horror mixed with fascination as I walked through the rows of tables and chairs covered in messy and unaesthetic finger paintings clutching my handsome leather-bound journal to my chest, tapping rhythmically on its cover with my Mont Blanc pen?
I suppose I must have seemed as strange to them as they to me. But as fortune favors the bold, I made my way over to the only adult in the room, eying distastefully the way wisps of her mouse brown hair flew independently from what passed for her hairstyle. I stood at attention before, waited until she gave me eye contact and said, "Good morning, Ma'am. I am Julian Quevedo, your new pupil. If it pleases you, I would like for you to instruct me."
I was deadly serious. It was difficult for me not to click my heels together and stand ramrod straight after my introduction. And perhaps because of my earnest expression, she somehow managed to stifle a chuckle. I still saw the corners of her mouth curl up into the tiniest hint of a smile. She stood and performed a clumsy curtsy, "Good Morning, Julian. I'm Miss Blest, your teacher," she craned her neck to look at the other students, "Class, this is Julian, your new classmate--"
"Good morning Julian!" the other children cried in a cacophonous chorus.
A shaft of light fell on me and Miss Blest, I shivered as I noticed the ungodly number of dust motes dancing in it.
"If you'll take a seat right over there," Miss Blest pointed to an empty chair at a table covered in hideous clay figurines that would shame the meanest neanderthal. Gingerly, I sat down. Arlington gave me a questioning look. I nodded my head. He left. Although I tried to be gentle, when I placed my journal on the desk it seemed to fall with a sound like thunder. There was some surreptitious snickering and Miss Blest, a woman who I would grow to see as my nemesis said, "Maybe tomorrow you can leave your father's notebook at home, Julian. Did you bring it for show-and-tell?"
I think that my natural inclinations run towards a certain almost instinctual dislike for condescension. For as long as I can remember, perhaps longer, I've always despised those who talked to me in those high, insipid voices whose slow tones imply with every monosyllabic word that I have the intellectual capacity of an unambitious houseplant. It should then come as no surprise that my reply, while polite, was in the clipped, icy tones of one whose sangfroid demeanor had rendered him at a very early age what is known in the vernacular as "a cold fish". Carefully folding my hands on top of the lovely leatherbound journal with its hand-crafted cover, I replied, "Madam, this is my journal. I use it for taking notes, a practice which is encouraged all over academia. I tend to write in lingua latina for most of my classes as I find that the order inherent to that language helps me better organize my thoughts, however if you're not familiar with Latin, I can certainly write in the Queen's English, should I need to present my journal to you for inspection," I smiled and paused a moment before continuing, "I do not believe I would be allowed to bring my father's notebook to class, as bringing weapons to the classroom is against school rules, or at least the guidelines I was given at registration."
Miss Blest blanched noticeably. I would be somewhat remiss if I did not admit a certain sort of satisfaction in her humbling. The other children remained ignorant of the sudden power shift, and I heard a loud whisper behind me, "the new kid's a doody head."
I kept my expression solemn, perhaps allowing a small amount of my delight to show in an insouciant twinkle of my eye. I did not need the recognition of my peers; already I had assumed a modicum of power in this classroom. It would not be long, I reasoned, until I had bent the teacher to my will.
"Now class," Miss Blest continued, although visibly shaken, "We're going to do some art exercises! I know you're all very excited about learning to make your own God's eyes--"
I stopped a moment to open my notebook and write down occulus dei in my neat, precise handwriting. Miss Blest stared at me and swallowed as if she had an uncomfortable lump in her throat, "uh, but -- uh, we're going to do those as Friday's event. It will take most of our time together. Today we're going to be working with play-doh."
The other children had mixed responses to this announcement, varying from cheering to groaning in disappointment. I, of course, merely sat there, my expression implacable, my eyes on the teacher's mouth. She had a large mole over her upper lip. There were hairs sprouting from it. She swallowed again, then went to a tall cabinet and removed from it a plastic box full of small, brightly colored cylinders. Play-doh. She passed each of us two of the canisters, I got a hideous sort of Schiaparelli red and a chartreuse. When she had finished handing out the play-doh she gave us a forced, slightly frenetic smile and said, "Let your imaginations go wild!"
Play-doh is a crude medium, its softness and slightly sticky consistency does not lend itself well to finesse, and we were given no real tools to work with, however I had very nearly completed a passable representation of the Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian, using the greenish play-doh for the arrows and the pinkish for the ventilated saint himself, when I found Miss Blest peering over my shoulder. In that same nauseatingly cheerful and gratingly condescending voice, she asked, "And what do we have here -- oh my."
"It's the martyrdom of Saint Sebastian," I replied blithely, "at first I was thinking of doing the second defenestration of Prague, but with such a small amount of your arts materials, I would have had such lilliputian figures that the impact of the entire thing would be lost. So, instead I opted for a much more personal approach. It's a lit-tle daring, but I like it."
"Oh my," she said in the dull tones of someone who simply is not prepared for a child to have ordered thoughts, "Oh my. That's -- very lovely, Julian. But I think I will be having a talk with your parents."
I furrowed my brow in consternation, "Is it because the proportions are slightly off? I tried my best, but this play-doh is a most frustrating substance. It doesn't keep its form quite the same way that modeling clay does."
There was more snickering from my snot-nosed, chubby-fingered peers. One of the more vocal ones cried in my direction, "You don't know how to use clay-doh right. You're a stupid gaylord!"
I narrowed my eyes and responded, "Yes, well I'm certain it takes a rather special sort of talent to work mounds of orange and blue salted dough into a shapeless and formless, muddy-colored lump. You must be an idiot savant."
The vicious little ankle-biter was ignorant of what the words I actually used meant, but he had a sort of animal cunning and knew when he was being insulted. His face turned puffy and red and he jumped down from his table and ran over to me with his fists clenched; I must say that his form was dreadful. I calmly snapped the elastic band beneath my sleeve to free the dagger hidden there and felt its reassuring weight slip into my palm. In the event that this lout actually attempted to harm me, I prepared myself mentally to pin his hand to the floor with my blade, the way mother had taught me. But Miss Blest stood in between me and him and held her palms out in the international gesture for stop. Her voice was shrill and breathy, "Boys! I will not have you fighting. Now you both apologize."
Miss Blest had her back to me and I took that moment to show my opponent the gleaming and very sharp blade I had in my hands before once more concealing it in my sleeve, I then bowed and said in my most formal and sincere tones, "I am very sorry if my comments were in any way offensive. Please accept my most humble apologies."
"That was very nice, Julian. Now your turn, Ricky."
Ricky eyed me distrustfully and said resentfully, "I'm sorry."
"Very good. Now shake hands."
I stuck out the hand that had only moments before held my dagger. Ricky burst into tears. Miss Blest was baffled by this sudden change and said, "What on earth is wrong, Ricky?"
Twin streams of mucus streaked down Ricky's already unattractive face, "He-- he has a knife! He's going to kill us all!"
There were some panicked screams from classmates, some of the other children also began to cry. I held out my hands in the international gesture for innocence and said, "Miss Blest, I don't understand what Ricky is talking about. Perhaps he does not want to make friends?"
Exasperated, Miss Blest shouted, "Everyone! Put your heads down on the desk! Ricky, go sit in the corner," she wheeled and rounded on me and pointed one stubby clubbed finger at me and said, "And I don't know what you've done, young man. But I will be talking to your parents about your behavior this morning. This sort of chaos is just not acceptable."
I attempted to look bashful, but I imagine that I must have been smiling. One thing was for certain, Miss Blest obviously did not know my parents.
Ricky was sent home that afternoon with a stern note. I was held back with Miss Blest. She craned her neck anxiously out the window until the Bentley drove into view. Arlington had been waiting for me in the carpool circle, when I did not make my appearance as scheduled, he parked the Bentley and walked over to my classroom. There was a polite knock at the door, Miss Blest wearily gestured for him to enter and asked, "Are you Julian's father?"
Arlington was wearing stovepipe pants, a jacket with tails, a charcoal silk bowtie and a matching vest, a white pinstriped shirt starched to immobility and white spats. He looked every inch the butler. He raised an eyebrow at Miss Blest and responded, "His Father? No madam, indeed I am not. I am his manservant."
Miss Blest, "Manservant? Well this young man may not leave my classroom until a parent or a legal guardian comes to take him."
Unperturbed Arlington replied, "Indeed? And on what grounds are you continuing to hold young master Julian, may I ask?"
Miss Blest became visibly flustered, "He caused nothing but chaos and disruption in my classroom! He's a menace!"
"Young master Julian, you caused chaos and disruption?"
"I do not know how. But if Miss Blest says I caused it, then it must be true," I answered, hiding a smile between one of my hands.
"And you say, madam, that you will not allow me to take young master Julian home, even though I am the person designated to escort him to and from school?"
Her mouth narrowed into a line. She said between clenched teeth, "As I said sir, I would like to speak to a parent or legal guardian."
"Very well, madam. I believe my charge's mother is not far from this area. I shall endeavor to contact her," he leveled a knowing gaze at me, "Young master Julian, I believe the Contessa will be quite wrought when she discovers that this matter warrants her personal attention."
I pretended to cough so that Miss Blest wouldn't notice my gleeful chuckle.
Arlington removed one of his kid gloves and pulled a small, golden ball from his pocket. He pressed his thumb into a groove. The ball lit up for a second, glowed red, then returned to normal. Arlington cleared his throat, "Madam, I have contacted the Contessa. I am certain that she will be here shortly. In the meantime, I had taken the liberty of preparing a small luncheon for master Julian, I shall presently retrieve it from the automobile. Would you care for some tea, or perhaps a watercress sandwich?"
Miss Blest growled deep and low in her throat. She started to say something, but was drowned out by the deafening roar of a helicopter overhead. Mother had arrived, and rather quickly too.
There wasn't space on the narrow strip of lawn that stretched in front of the kindergarten class for mother to land her customized Peregrine 3300, so mother hovered just above the rooftop. As we all watched, a black nylon cord snaked down from above. Seemingly without effort, my mother slid down the cord with her sniper rifle in her left hand. Her black trenchcoat flared prettily as she descended. Without a break in her motion, she landed on her feet and strode confidently towards the classroom. My mother was in her work clothes, and she was a vision of deadly elegance. Underneath her black trenchcoat with its many pockets and hiding places, she wore a reinforced black latex jumpsuit, thigh-high stiletto boots whose heels could be used as actual stilettos, information relay sunglasses and black gloves. My mother's hair blew wildly in the wind generated by the helicopter. As she reached the door she waved one hand at the helicopter, and the pilot ascended. The wind dampened down and there was a sudden heavy silence. She leaned over and kissed me on the cheek, then straightened and checked her makeup in a compact mirror she produced from one of her pockets.
My mother looked at Arlington and asked cooly, "Is there a problem?"
"Yes your Grace. It appears that this young lady, the young master's instructor, has encountered some behavioral irregularities from the young master and requested either the presence of Your Grace or the Count to discuss the aforementioned unpleasantness when I endeavored to retrieve him following his scholastic exercise."
"Really," said my mother as she removed her sunglasses. I should think a small frisson of terror is the reason that Miss Blest began to shiver despite the unseasonably warm afternoon. My mother continued, "And what has Julian done that calls for a parent-teacher conference on the first day of school?" she smiled at me, "Did he murder someone?"
"N-no, ma'am, Ms., uh Julian just caused a serious disruption in my class."
My mother made a small moue, "a disruption. How serious a disruption? Did he blow up the science lab? Has he been meddling in things that man was not meant to know again?"
"Mother, I--" I began.
"Julian, sweetheart, the adults are talking, please don't interrupt."
"Yes, mother. I'm sorry."
"As I was saying, Miss Blest, what did Julian do to disrupt your classroom?"
The poor woman's eyes darted about her head like one of those novelty clocks where a cat looks first left, then right with every tick-tock. I think that she was very near to crying, "Well, it's not-- well, I don't know what he did. He's just-- he's just very odd, Ms. Contessa, very odd."
"Julian, love, cover your ears," my mother said.
I complied. Of course, I could still hear every word my mother said.
"Miss Blest, you seem like an educated woman. I imagine you keep up with the news, with world events."
"Please don't interrupt me, Miss Blest. I imagine you watch televised news programs from time to time. A nod will be sufficient. You know who I am, you know what I do. I took the necessary step of enrolling Julian in school with my maiden name to assure his happy anonymity, but your insistence on having a conference with a parent or guardian has earned you just that, a conference with one of Julian's parents. I assure you, Miss Blest, I am by far the more pleasant of his parents.
"But you've displeased me, Miss Blest. I am a very busy woman whose occupation requires precise timing and flawless execution. You have thrown off my timing, and my reputation suffers. I'm afraid I don't find the fact that my beloved child is a little unusual quite sufficient reason for you to damage my reputation."
My mother placed a gloved finger over her lips, "Shh. I don't like being interrupted. Lucky for you, I answered the call for a parent or legal guardian. Incurring my displeasure once is not usually fatal. But I suggest that the next time you require a meeting with on of Julian's parents you have a damn good reason."
Miss Blest cringed. A single tear fell down her cheek and she bit her lip. She averted her eyes from my mother's gaze.
My mother held out her hand and said to me, "Come Julian. Let's go home."
We walked out together.
The Von Wicked Chronicles
by Excalibre and Evil Catullus
I remember when it was me who made you want to take over the world and enslave humanity
Latex. High heels. Knives. (Excalibre's writeup)
It's not my fault that I'm so evil
I was a teenage Overlord
Lady Deathblast's Lover
This little light of mine
The Thanksgiving battle
My funny villaintine
Robots and comic books
This wicked life
The education of little overlords
All things truly wicked
Darkness lights its own way
How it all began
Sometimes I think you love that doomsday machine more than you love me.
They are mine. They are dead.
There is a crack in everything