Act II, Scene I
But then I sigh, and, with a piece of Scripture, tell them that God bids us do good for evil: and thus I clothe my naked villainy with odd old ends stol'n forth of holy writ, and seem a saint when most I play the devil. ~ King Richard III, Act I, Scene III
The grating beep of the digital alarm clock on the bedside stand fished Bob from the depths of uneasy sleep. Lifting an arm that felt like lead, he slammed his fist down on the blasted device three or four times before hitting the snooze button. The stale reek of vodka and cigarette smoke permeated the rundown motel room. The former he could deal with, having brought it with him from the nearest liquor store the night before, but the latter offended his sinuses, which he now cleared with the disgusting snorting noise typical of most men in the morning. Painfully hungover, Bob cracked a bleary eye open and attempted to focus it on the glowing red numbers on the alarm clock. It read 10:18 a.m.
The musty sheets tangled around his gangly legs as he bolted out of bed, though they barely hindered him in his haste to get ready. How many times had he hit the snooze button? Having no recollection of hearing the alarm go off at all before now, Bob swore to himself yet again to lay off the bottle as he searched his suitcase for a decent suit. Oh, why the hell hadn't he laid his clothes out the night before? And why didn't this damnable motel provide irons? If there'd been enough time he would have tossed his wrinkled dress shirt into a dryer in the laundry room to smooth it out, but alas, he was going to be late for his job interview at Costingtons if he dallied another minute.
It would have been quicker to take a taxi, but he had to budget his remaining money carefully after having spent such a large portion of it on airfare to return to Springfield. Throwing on a hefty splash of cologne to suffice for deodorant, Bob sprinted out the door to the bus stop in front of the motel. With a toothbrush crammed in his mouth and a hairbrush in his hair, he boarded the city bus, breathing a sigh of relief for having made it on time. He took a seat at the back, wishing to remain inconspicuous as he finished up what he hadn't had time to do in his room. He rebuttoned his crooked shirt and straightened his tie, then began brushing his teeth. It was then that he noticed a teenage couple, both riddled with piercings, staring boldly at him from three seats up. He paused to shoot them a glare.
Bob sighed. Why Springfield? It was a question he'd been asking himself for years. For a man who was born and bred in England to end up in what had been nicknamed "The Hypoactive Pituitary Gland of America" (not to be confused with Portland, Oregon, "The Hyperactive Pituitary Gland of America"). There was really no way to account for such a step down from grace, but this time he really had nowhere else to go. Staying in Italy would never have worked out, and sadly, neither would returning to England.
As he finished brushing his teeth, Bob suddenly realized he had nowhere to spit. He tried the nearest window. It opened only about two inches from the top and jammed. Of course. Well, he certainly wasn't going to make an ass of himself by standing up and trying to squeeze his lips through that narrow opening. Perish the thought! With those boorish kids still watching, he glowered directly at them as he swallowed. The toothpaste hit his sour stomach like a mini H-bomb. The teens sniggered at the ugly face he made and turned away, unscalded by his glare.
"Sicko," murmured the girl.
"You mean 'psycho'," quipped her boyfriend, and they laughed again.
With a growl, Bob wiped away the bit of toothpaste foam that had trickled from the corner of his mouth. It wasn't until he checked his watch a minute later that he noticed the white spots on the crotch of his charcoal gray slacks. Accursed toothpaste! Would he even have time to wash it off before his interview? Not with his recent luck, he was certain. Of course, he'd be damned if he wasn't going to try.
Bob bolted out of the men's room at Costingtons, the crotch of his slacks noticeably wet, and ran up the down escalator toward his appointment. Punctuality was crucial to a job interview, and with only one minute until 11:00, he knew that at least he hadn't missed this precious opportunity. He burst into the management office on the third floor just as a portly elder gentleman was departing. Bob skidded to a stop at the receptionist's desk, which caught him in the midsection. He folded over it with a little "Oof!" before quickly regaining his composure. The receptionist, a platinum blonde in a pencil skirt (how original) looked up calmly from filing her nails, doing a double take when she saw his wild hair. She raised a brow.
"I have an interview... with Mr. Costington," Bob panted.
"Sorry, hun. You just missed him. He's taking his lunch break now."
"But I have an appointment at eleven o'clock sharp!"
"Then you should have been here an hour ago," she answered boredly as she went back to filing.
Bob blinked. "Pardon?"
The receptionist pointed a freshly filed finger at the clock on the wall behind him. Bob turned to see it and his jaw dropped.
"Wha- NOON? How the devil can it be twelve o'clock? It was ten-thirty when I caught the bus to come down here!"
"There's a little thing called daylight savings, hun," the woman explained coolly. "It happens about, oh, twice a year. Perhaps you should have stayed home last night setting your clocks forward instead of boozing it up down at the bar."
Bob stiffened. "For your information, Miss..." he glared at her nametag, "Naegle, I was nowhere near one of those loathesome speakeasies last night. I bought my poison from a liquor store and drank alone in a motel room," he declared with wounded pride.
Miss Naegle sighed and stood up to reach for some papers across the desk. "Give me your name and I'll reschedule you."
Bob waved a hand dismissively. "No, no. Don't bother. I already look a pathetic fool. Why prove it by crawling back in here on my hands and knees begging for another chance?"
She set the papers down. "If you're here for the sales associate position, consider it gone. Mr. Costington only hires men with a backbone."
Bob frowned. "I assure you, madam, I have a backbone."
Miss Naegle glanced downward and smirked. "Well, I don't know about that, but from the look of it, I'd say you've definitely got yourself a frontbone!"
Bob also looked down, realizing first that his pants were still wet, and second that he was sporting a rather conspicuous bulge. With a blush he covered himself quickly. "It's not what it looks like!"
The woman chuckled. "Well, I know one place that's hiring," she purred, lowering her lashes to gaze up at him seductively. "Might be just the position for a man of your..." her gaze fell again to his covered crotch, then further to his enormous shoes, "...stature."
"Oh? And where might that be?" he asked, ignoring her covetous glances.
Bob walked out of Costingtons a few minutes later and stopped at the nearest phone booth. He dialed the number the receptionist had given him and waited. After two rings someone picked up. Techno music and catcalls were heard in the background as a woman's voice answered "Springfield Stallions, all nude male review, where our dancers have the biggest 'poles' in town. How may I help you?"
Bob hung up the phone with a blush.
With today's edition of the Springfield Shopper tucked under his arm, Bob stepped off the bus and looked around. Right away he spotted the 'help wanted' sign in the window of what appeared to be a comic book store. Purple letters above the door read THE ANDROID'S DUNGEON & BASEBALL CARD SHOP. Bob smirked. Seriously? Just to be sure he had the right address, he thumbed through the paper until he found the employment section and briefly skimmed over the ads he'd circled earlier that morning.
The Superman theme played when he entered the shop, a rather ostentatious announcement of the arrival of potential customers. An obese man sitting behind the cashier's counter looked up from reading Radioactive Man vs Biclops: Bye Bye Nerdy. He stared at Bob's hair. "Sorry, pal, but the Yu-Gi-Oh! cosplay convention has been relocated to the Chuck E. Cheese's on Northbrook Boulevard due to a disagreement over whether or not Yubel is female or shemale. I maintain that she is exclusively female for reasons too personal to divulge outside of a chatroom."
Bob smirked. "I haven't the slightest idea what you're talking about, sir." He glanced around the shop as he approached the counter. "I am merely here to inquire about the employment opportunity listed in today's paper." He laid said paper out on the counter and pointed to one of the circled ads. "Individual wanted for highly classified position. Criminal record a must. Inquire in person. Skeletor, Darth Maul and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named look-alikes need not apply."
Comic Book Guy looked from the ad to Bob's face with a raised brow.
"Huh. I didn't think anyone would actually take me seriously." He sighed and hauled himself to his feet, his chair emitting a deep groan of relief. "All right then, here's the lowdown: I need an able-bodied man to dress in costume and portray various supervillains for 'March Madness and Mayhem', a month-long event sponsored by Marvel Comics."
Bob stood up straighter and put on a suave grin. "Well, I don't mean to boast, but you are looking at the renowned Robert Underdunk Terwilliger, a classically trained thespian who has breathed life into the roles of some of literature's greatest villains! And if you were serious about that criminal record..."
Comic Book Guy held up a hand. "Please, I know exactly who you are, Sideshow Bob." He spoke the name as though it left a bad taste in his mouth. "You played second banana to television's biggest buffoon for a decade, then framed said buffoon for armed robbery, only to be foiled by an eight-year-old boy - a boy that you, a grown man, are incapable of killing. Your gross incompetence leads me to doubt your ability to assume the persona of even the most inept supervillain's dispensable henchman."
Bob growled and raised a fist to shake dramatically. "How dare you! I'll have you know that it was never my intention to murder, but rather to terrorize the Simpson brat! To leave him alive and quivering in a constant state of fear until the sweet release of death beckons seductively from its impervious abyss ... THAT, my good sir, is the true essence of villainy!"
Comic Book Guy snorted. "Ha! Your dialogue inspires less terror than Hitler on helium! Without even taking your lackluster record into account, I can tell you that your appearance alone is a bad joke for which some hairdresser somewhere should be punished. You look like the deranged progeny of Harley Quinn and Syndrome." He held his thumb and pinky next to his head to simulate a phone. "Hello? Yes, of course I'll tell him. That was Cousin Itt. It seems his Irish cousin has gone missing and was last seen with a man of your physical description. Ah! And there he is!" He gestured at Bob's hair.
It took all of his restraint not to punch the fat man in the mouth and to walk away with the remainder of his dignity intact. As Sideshow Bob exited the shop, the Superman theme played again, mocking his perpetual defeat. Comic Book Guy tsk-tsked and picked up his copy of Radioactive Man, his chair complaining loudly as he settled into it again.
"Worst. Villain. Ever."
"How did it come to this?" Bob muttered as he swept the empty corridors of Springfield Elementary School. "To go from mayor to janitor in one fell swoop. How cruel is Fate to have orchestrated such a thing?" he demanded of a wall-mounted drinking fountain on which a cleverly placed figure of a man urinating had been etched by an anonymous student. Bob smirked at it, then sighed and continued down the hall. "Let me embrace thee, sour adversity, for wise men say it is the wisest course."*
The sound of footsteps coming toward him in the empty hall came to a sudden halt.
"Ach! What's this? Another janitor? I'll tear that nancy Skinner a new one for this!"
Bob paused at the heavy Scottish accent and looked up to see a very irate and grizzled-looking man standing before him. "Ah, you must be the other custodian whose, er, disregard for personal hygiene bars him from working indoors."
The man furrowed his thick brow. "Aye, and you must be the pretty boy who's too good to stick his hands down a clogged toilet! Ach, nooo, that's Willie's job!"
The way he spoke left Bob wondering whether or not that was something to be proud of. "Well, since it isn't in my job description to tend to the plumbing, I am inclined to agree." He stepped around Willie, detouring a pile of dust with his push broom. "Now if you'll excuse me, I've a job to finish." But Willie stepped in front of him again. They were right outside the principal's office.
"Ahhh, yeh think yer better than Willie, do yeh? Yeh mamby-pamby English think yeh can outsweep a Scot! Well I'll show yeh a thing or two! Gimme that broom, yeh tea-suckin', crumpet-munchin', inbred island monkey!"
Bob clutched the broom tighter and stood up straight, looking down now on the hunched-over groundskeeper. "Sir, I wonder how you can be so dense as not to realize that you and I hail from the same island. Your level of ignorance is as outstanding as it is banal."
"Ain't it jest like yeh smarmy bastards teh flaunt yer big fancy words an' think yer smarter than us!"
"Well, I'm not one to brag, but I did graduate from Yale," Bob answered coolly.
"Oooh, la-dee-da! Looks like 'Yale' be gettin' a right promotion then - from both me fists!"
A door to Bob's left opened just then, and out stepped Principal Skinner. "Is there a problem here?" he asked, looking from one janitor to the other curiously.
Bob stepped forward. "Normally I wouldn't be so bold as to issue a complaint my first day on the job, but yes, Mr. Skinner, it would seem that I've become the victim of discrimination by your other custodian. He's made some very pejorative statements concerning my nationality."
To his surprise, Skinner chuckled. "Oh, that. Willie isn't discriminating, Mr. Terwilliger, I can assure you. He hates everyone equally. Isn't that right, Willie?"
The man in question sneered. "Aye, not as much as I hate you, yeh pansy-pickin' mama's boy."
Skinner nodded. "There you go!"
Bob sighed and continued sweeping down the hall.
ACT III: [link]
*King Henry VI, Part III, Act III, Scene I