Previous scene: Evil’s Dilemma
First scene: Evil’s Plan
Sitting across from his mother, Eric Hardwood (aka superhero “Waveform”) focused on suppressing the tremor in his hand as he forked a steamed broccoli floret.
Hours ago, he had defused a deadly crisis at the reactor facility—or rather, what had been staged to appear to be a deadly crisis to everyone but the actors involved. He hadn’t been one of the actors therefore he, believing the lie, had been unwittingly prepared to die for save the city along with his mother. Now, he forced himself to eat his birthday dinner in his mother’s home where he was glad she did most of the talking because, after the day he had, his nerves were frayed.
Eric started when the doorbell chimed.
His dimpling mother leaned over her plate. “That must be Abram. I’ll get it.” She answered the door, which Eric had a view of from the table, and admitted a gentlemanly figure. “Abram, come in!”
The visitor doffed a brown overcoat, hanging it on the coat rack; he wore tailored black dress pants, a dark green dress shirt paired neatly with a glossy black-and-green tie. He exchanged few words with Mrs. Hardwood and offered a kind smile.
Scanning the visitor, Eric found him alarmingly ordinary without the signature blue-and-black parka of his villain’s disguise.
The man’s quick green eyes met Eric’s.
Mrs. Hardwood escorted one of the most notorious supervillains of the decade to the dining room table where Eric rose for the benefit of his mother, who had no clue as to the man’s alternate identity. He itched to know what had gone through the man’s head when he decided to plot the downfall of his fellow villains, how he intended to pull it off, and at what risk.
But Eric couldn’t ask outright, could he?
I’m not even supposed to know about it. “Doctor,” greeted Eric coolly.
Dr. Abram Volkow nodded. “Happy birthday, Eric.”
Eric studied him for a moment. “Thanks.”
Mrs. Hardwood gasped happily. “You’re a doctor as well as a hero?”
“I am all surprises, ma’am.” Volkow bowed his head. “It pays to be a medical man in the hero business.”
Liar. Eric indicated the chair next to his at the table for four.
Volkow looked at the chair but Mrs. Hardwood squeezed his arm, preventing him from taking his seat. “Goodness, I’d imagine so!” she said. “Have you eaten?
“I have, good lady. I am here for the company and the cake. Although… I don’t see a cake. Should I go out and buy one?”
She waved him off. “Oh, I baked one but it was still cooling when Eric arrived so I haven’t had a chance to frost it yet.”
“A lone chef in charge of a feast.” He passed to Eric an impressed look. To Mrs. Hardwood, he added, “I’ll be happy to complete it for you while you finish your meal with your son.”
Both Hardwoods blinked.
“Complete what?” said Mrs. Hardwood. “The cake?”
Eric cracked a strained smile. “Do you have a PhD in culinary arts, too?”
Volkow rolled up his sleeves proudly. “I had a pastry chef for an uncle who liked to teach. It would be my honor.”
Eric resumed his seat, watching with amazed incredulity as his mother showed the supervillain into the kitchen.
Mother and son returned to their meal which had been minutes away from being finished anyway. Eric periodically glanced toward the kitchen; catching glimpses of the villain’s back, where he whipped up frosting from scratch without use of a recipe or notes.
Mrs. Hardwood wiped her mouth with a napkin. She gasped, saying, “I haven’t wrapped your present yet either! I wasn’t ready at all, was I? I’ll be out in a few minutes.”
“Mum–.” Eric shut his mouth as she retreated excitedly to her bedroom and shut the door.
He felt embarrassed because he was in his 20’s and she still treated him like a child, but also felt a little guilty because she was alone and probably missed those kids that used to run around this place. All grown and gone. As far as he knew, he was the only one of his three to drop by outside of the major holidays, mostly because Volkow repeatedly tricked him into it.
Such a weird thing to be grateful to a supervillain for.
Waiting for his mother, Eric busied himself by removing the dishes from the dining room table to the kitchen. Placing a stack of nested plates in the kitchen sink, he paused to watch Volkow’s progress. The cake had been cut horizontally twice with even layers of icing sandwiched between them and then, with a serrated bread knife, he leveled the top layer by cutting it just enough to make it perfectly flat.
I should just accept that he’s a weird supervillain. Eric leaned a hip on the sink, crossing his arms. “Thank you.”
Volk turned the cake to begin icing from the other side. “Thank me when I’m finished.”
“Not for the cake—well, yes, for that, too, I guess, but I meant for setting tonight up between my mum and me.” Eric watched the villain swiftly add a generous base coating of icing to the entire layered cake with an icing spatula. “If you hadn’t have butted in, then she would’ve called to say happy birthday, reached my voicemail, left a message that I would’ve listened to a day later and then texted her back a ‘thank you’. And she’d mail my gift because I always come up with an excuse to not do things in person.”
“What you did was intrusive.”
“You’re very welcome.” Setting aside the narrow metal spatula, Volkow picked up a prepared icing bag and twisted the end closed. “And now I’ll demonstrate how to pipe simple yet professional design with a size 18 star tip—.” Having glanced aside at Eric, he stopped and stared.
Did he forget something? The cake looked fine as far as Eric could tell. “What’s wrong?”
“You know, don’t you.”
Eric felt exposed. I knew I was obvious, but CRAP. Clearing his throat, he crossed his arms tighter. “Be honest,” he said, “how badly does my knowing about your plan mess up your plan? Because, you’re right, I can’t lie to save my life.”
Volkow’s green eyes dropped to the cake in the counter and probed it as if for a solution. After a pause, he recalled the icing bag in his hands as though surprised it was there and rapidly piped expert designs on the cake without hesitation or narration. The cake was perfection in less than 60 seconds.
Read the previous parts here:
Part 1: Evil’s Plan
Part 2: Evil’s Gesture
Part 3: Evil’s Trap
Part 4/previous scene: Evil’s Dilemma
Part 5: Now Reading