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Exercise Wednesday: Pure EEEEE-vill

March 21, 2012


Christopher Lloyd should never be a Klingon. In Star Trek III, the guy you might know better as Dr. Emmitt Brown, or Jim Ignatowski on Taxi, played Kruge, a Klingon commander who fought Captain Kirk. At one point, Kirk asks that an adolescent Spock (if you didn’t see the movie, it would take too long to explain why Spock is adolescent) be allowed to leave a planet that’s destructing around them. Kruge has no beef with Spock, just with Kirk.

“No,” Kruge says.


“Because you wish it.”

Reverend Jim

I have always figured that is among the purest essence of evil–harming someone when there’s no gain in it, purely to hurt someone else. It’s like paying a talented–but starving–artist a huge sum of money and stipulating that he never create art again. Or finding a young couple that needs money and offering it to them…if the wife agrees to sleep with you.

It’s not the kind of evil that kills people or threatens civilizations. It’s the kind of evil that sucks your soul dry. Most people will never meet a mass murderer or a plastic helmeted monster (more machine than man, twisted and evil). They will meet people who go out of their way to impose pain for its own joy.

It’s offering Jesus dominion over the whole world and everything in it–the ability to eliminate pain for the people whose salvation he seeks to win–if only he bows down to you.

Today’s writing exercise is to write a scene that provides a window to what you consider is evil. To help you, I’ll let you choose an object to have meaning–maybe a doll or a picture of a loved one that has meaning to the main character. If you want, let that object be venue for the evil to be reflected.

Use it to develop an insight your character’s internal character.

Time limit: 25 minutes

  1. Chris Hamilton permalink
    March 21, 2012 6:06 am

    “So when I sign this, you win. You own the station. Congratulations.”

    Milton laughed. It was a cold, mean laugh, meant to make me feel little. And it worked. I was sitting on his stupid little couch, the one specially made so you sat at a lower level than he did when he was behind his desk. I’d have been at the same level if I were kneeling in front of him.

    “I don’t care about this station,” he said. “I didn’t care about the 5,000 watter I started at in Washington state all the years ago. But before I left, the morning guy who’d been there twenty-three years was gone. I cared about that.”

    I said nothing. In my mind, what’s left of it that works, I had a vision of a Bond villian, so enraptured by his own power and abilities, that he gave away everything while not noticing his victory slipping away. But I didn’t have a secret knock-out dart in my cuff link. And Felix Leiter wasn’t on the way with the CIA cavalry.

    “I’m going to tell you something. I’ve already got my next deal set. And it’s not Chicago. You’re wrong about that. It’s LA. There’s a guy out there who thinks he owns the morning slot because he’s been there for so long–just like you. So in four months, I’m going to LA and in ten months, he’ll be gone.”

    I said nothing.

    “It didn’t take as long with you because I got some lucky breaks. And because you and Catherine are idiots.”

    “Gee, I’ll be sure to buy you a going-away present.”

    He smiled, his teeth even and perfect. White as the sheet of paper that would end my career at WTBY. It sat on the desk in front of him. I couldn’t sign it until he was ready to push it to me. In it, I would release WTBY and Reliant Communications, my employers, from the remainder of my contract. In return, my former producer would move back to Tampa and produce the morning show on the sports-talk station. Catherine’s fate was up to her. Considering we weren’t talking any more, I didn’t know what she’d decided to do.

    “You already have. You and Catherine have given me the only thing out of this stop I care about.”

    “You get to save the station money and look like a hero.”

    He shook his head. “You still don’t get it.”

    He was right. I didn’t get it. All I knew was I’d lost my wife, my job, and my best friend in the space of two weeks and the jackass on the other side of the desk was responsible for two of those three things. And there was nothing I could do about it.

    “Explain it to me.”

    He shook his head. “Sign the paper and get out of my sight.”

    He pushed it forward. Thoughts fluttered through my mind. In my new status as a widower vampire–one who does not sleep at night–I survived on a constant supply of coffee. The problem with drinking mass amounts of coffee is that sometimes, you need to release it. In front of me, I had a desk the size of an aircraft carrier to use as a urinal. The thought amused me and I smiled.

    “This is funny to you?”

    I shook my head. “Not funny.” I leaned back on the couch.

    “You think this is about money,” he said. “It’s not. It’s about winning. That’s the difference between you and me. I will win ultimately. You haven’t.”

    “We won for sixteen years.”

    He got up and walked around his desk. The distance around gave him his recommended amount of cardio for the day. “And yet now you have nothing. When I came here, I had one goal. And it wasn’t to save money. It was to beat you.”

    “What?” Somewhere I got it. Under all the emotional turmoil, someplace deep down, I understood. Later, that part of me would reveal it to the rest of me. Unless Milton did it first.

    “I won. That was the purpose. I defeated the first couple of Tampa Bay radio. It was easier than I’d thought. It usually is. Most people aren’t ready.”

    He leaned back on his desk and laced his fingers, laying his hands across his stomach, the picture of satisfaction. “The only goal I had coming here was to take on the biggest names in the market and beat them. Defeat them completely. That’s what my goal was. That’s what my goal will be in LA. And some of the syndicated content on this station–after LA, they will be my goal.”

    “And you never lose.”

    His smile broadened. If a shark had teeth like Chicklets, he’d look like Milton. “I lost once. Pretty early on. To some moron in bowling shirts who did morning drive in Richmond. Imagine his surprise when the police found out about his kiddie porn stash. It wrecked his family. I think he killed himself.”

    “You planted kiddie porn?”

    He shook his head. “I don’t do that. I just let my adversaries’ destructive tendencies do them in. Like you and Catherine. When I called her a fascist whore that time–the look on your face–that’s when I knew I had you.”

    “And that’s how the pictures of us kissing came out. You had someone follow us.”

    He shrugged. “Did I?”

    I felt tired. I didn’t want to die, but I didn’t exactly want to live either. I wanted to crawl into a bottle of Irish Whiskey and float around there for a few days. Maybe a few weeks. Maybe forever.

    “Now, if you’d sign. Your former partner has asked that you not be here when she does. I was happy to oblige her. Mostly because I know you’d like to see her again. As soon as you sign you’ll be trespassing, so leave immediately. There’s a member of the Sheriff’s department here…given your recent instability, I figured it was a good move.”

    I almost hit him. But that’s the entire point of the sheriff, anyway. To provoke me. I signed, considered pocketing his pen, and decided not to.

    Five minutes later, I left the building where I’d worked for a third of my life. Catherine entered through the doors on the other side of the building. I saw her across the parking lot. I think she saw me. Either that, or she has a sudden nervous tick that causes her head to jerk to the right for no reason.

    I thought I’d feel a sense of freedom. If Janis Joplin was right, that’s exactly what I felt.

  2. March 21, 2012 10:21 am

    I was running down the hall, my face swollen and red with his phone fisted my hand as leverage. He had threatened to leave again, packed up a few things he’d left in my closet, plugged in his headphones, and slammed my front door without a word.

    He had asked for money, and I said no. That’s it.

    “Stop it! Please, please just stop this!” I screamed, tears streaming backward into my hair, matted against my cheeks.

    “Give me back my phone, and this will stop.” He had almost caught up to me with only a few feet left to my front door.

    Suddenly, I could feel his body against my back. I tried stopping the fall, but skinned my arms against the concrete. He rolled me over and shoved his foot into my stomach until I couldn’t move. I threw the phone at him. He spit on me.

    Rolling onto my side, I began crying until there were no sounds left. No voice, no sob to carry the pain from my soul. I crawled to my front door and sat inside my closet, rocking in the dark until the blackness sang to me, that lullaby of insanity.

    The front door opened. He searched every room until finally opening the closet door, laughing when he saw me curled up into a ball on the ground. “You know nobody likes you,” he said. “My friends wonder what I’m doing with you. They all say I can do better. Look at you in the closet. You’re ridiculous.”

    I got up and walked into the kitchen. He followed me. “Then leave,” I told him. “Just go.”

    Anger climbs me. It doesn’t well up or heat or grow. It climbs my stomach and esophagus, digging into my inner lining with its wild claws. I shoved salt and pepper shakers, napkin holders and silverware, everything I could find on the counter. I listened to the breaking like a drummer keeping the beat.

    He laughed.

    “Get out!” I screamed.

    “If I leave, I’m not coming back.”

    I walked closer. “Get out.”

    He knocked me into the couch. I felt the wood rip through my skull and float away like driftwood on the sea, going nowhere in particular. No destination. Just a speck in the might and power another force, now whispering, “I’m sorry.”

    • Chris Hamilton permalink
      March 21, 2012 12:09 pm



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