ZOOM NOTIFICATION NOISE

“Stan!”

“Big Al!”

“Been a while, man. Nice to hear from you. Looking good.”

“You, too! Didn’t you used to have ears?”

“I did. Got rid of ’em.”

“Okay. Any particular reason?”

“It was enough already.”

“Gotcha, sure.”

“So, anyhoo…I’m not just calling to catch up.”

“Oh, no. What happened?”

“Fuckin’ Luthor laid us all off. And not just the henchmen. The goons, the mad lab technicians, the half-things.”

“Half-things?”

“Man-tigers. Tiger-men. Kangaroo crossed with a duck. The place was lousy with half-things.”

“Weird. But, oh man, I’m sorry. I thought LexCorp got a huge PPP loan.”

“Yeah, they did.”

“And?”

“Lex stole it all.”

“Makes sense.”

“In hindsight, we should’ve seen it coming.”

“Sure.”

“Anyone hiring?”

“It’s rough out here, man. The ronus is kicking our asses like no hero ever could. Riddler let his entire crew go.”

“Even Rodrigo?”

“Yup.”

“They dated for years!”

“Love doesn’t buy question mark-emblazoned bodysuits, man.”

“Too true.”

“Joker needs guys.”

“Nuh-uh. I’m looking for my next job, not my last job.”

“He doesn’t always murder his henchmen.”

“No, sometimes he lets Batman have the honor. I’m not henchmanning for the Joker.”

“I don’t know what to tell you. The pandemic is just laying waste to the below-the-line villain industry.”

“For every bad guy, there’s a dozen hard-working union members setting up his death traps, scouting out locations, making sure his precious mango-lingonberry smoothie was the right temperature.”

“I’ve never had a lingonberry.”

“You’re not missing much.”

“What about Stilt-Man?”

“Oh, I’m not at the ‘Working For Stilt-Man’ phase quite yet.”

“Work is work.”

“Is it?”

“Okay, okay. No Stilt-Man. Penguin might be looking.”

“What’s the dress code like over there nowadays?”

“Everyone’s back in the penguin getups.”

“Pass.”

“You’re awful picky for a guy with no job.”

“We both know that he dresses his henchmen like that for sex reasons.”

“He’s flirty.”

“Pass.”

“The whole Goblin organization is looking. Green Goblin, Hobgoblin, Demogoblin. They all need guys.”

“All of ’em?”

“There was an all-hands meeting right at the start of the Covid thing.”

“And? Did everyone get sick?”

“Demogoblin ate everybody.”

“That’s why I stay away from that occult shit. Gimme a guy with a gimmick and a grudge who wants to rob banks any day, thank you. What about Doc Ock?”

“Gone legit.”

“You’re shitting me.”

“He’s all-in on BitCoin.”

“I thought you said he went legit.”

“Nicely done.”

“You served it up so well. But, yeah, Ock doesn’t need henchmen right now, he needs coders. You know Python?”

“I worked for the Serpent Society for a while.”

“No, Python the computer language.”

“Language? Great, now even the computers don’t speak English.”

“Times, changing, etc.”

“Christ, I’m screwed. You know me, Stan: I’m a henchman. I’m a fucking great henchman. Y’know what I do? I make the Star look good. And I make him feel good. I complement, and I compliment.”

“You’re one of the greats, Big Al.”

“One thing I can is hench.”

“No one says different. Listen, I did hear about this one opening, but I was a little hesitant to bring it up.”

“I’m two minutes from asking you for Stilt-Man’s number. Bring it up.”

“Red Skull needs a guy.”

“The Nazi thing isn’t just schtick with him, is it?”

“Not at all. Card-carrying member of the Nazi Party. There’s an actual card. He showed it to me once.”

“He’s still better than Stilt-Man.”

“I’ll text you his number.”