He ran one of Europe's biggest car companies. His round, pock-marked face would be so close you could see what he'd had for lunch. He would scream, at you, his thoughts incoming from all directions, his face getting redder and redder. He was a client, a gorilla with the flight path of a butterfly. And god help you and all the people who worked for the agency if you lost track of his tirade. He suffered from terrible indigestion. And was kind to his invalid wife.
The best villains are full of contradictions. From their point of view they are the only truly fair and balanced voice in the room. Here's part two of Dickie Laffer, a character from my novel, The Candle.
(Part three of Dickie Laffer-- as played by Dustin Hoffman or Danny Devito, and the Judd guide to good villains, tomorrow.)
from chapter 34:
Dickie picked up his white porcelain coffee cup, thought better of it and carefully put it back down. “You’re right there, Darlin. Atonement has a nice sound to it. Biblical. Daniel lying down with the lions. But I gotta tell you if I did unto others as they would like to do unto me, I’d need a bazooka and a machete. What kinda grace are you talking about, giving money away?”
“Oh, Dickie. It’s not about money. I see you drinking that awful pink Pepto Dismal for breakfast, and I know you are suffering. Why should you suffer?”
“Well, I’ve got a lot to deal with this week.”
There was a thump on the glass door behind Darlene as a small wren flew into it and fell to the flagstones. “You’ve always got a lot to deal with, Dickie. That’s what makes you the big guy.” Darlene turned to watch the tiny bird shake itself, take two hops and launch into a dizzy flutter across the yard and into the dark green camouflage of trees.
“This is different, Darlin’. I was counting on that goddamn creative agency in New York, Fararly, Faucett, and so on, to turn us around. But that bastard Josh Fararly, after I had lunch with him in New York, calls up yesterday and says they are gonna bail.”
Dickie Laffer pushed back his tall oak chair and started pacing the room. A strikingly short man, his head was just above the table top. “He says he’s worried he if he takes on Beefalo he might lose all their Quaker accounts because Quaker owns Burger King. So the hot agency is gone and If I don’t have something that’s got the horsepower to turn us around our whole deal is going to gonna nosedive. We go belly up, you and I won’t be donating to charity, we’ll be asking for it. I’ve already got a bunch of franchise guys saying they want to re-negotiate or get out. They get out, they’ll go to McDonalds and the current Mrs. Kroc is gonna have a lot more money to give away.”
“Oh, fooey, you’ll sort it out, Dickie. You always do. I’m trying to tell you, it’s your being so hard on everybody else that’s so hard on you. Surprise somebody. Be nice to them.”
“Somebody bring me a new idea, Darlin, I’ll love em to death.”
She bent forward for her coffee, her robe gaping open the way it did sometimes and it just thrilled him. “Be nice to someone, Dickie,” she said, picking up her cup and sipping. “See if it doesn’t take the edge off your diarrhea.”