Announcer. Malt-O-Cod, the delicious and nutritious malt food drink flavored with real cod-liver oil, presents…
(Music: Theme, up and under for…)
Announcer. The Adventures of Backstory Man and Angst Boy!
(Music: In full, then fade to engine revving behind…)
Announcer. Our new story opens with Backstory Man and Angst Boy racing down the boulevard in the Backstorymobile toward a bank robbery in progress, when we hear Angst Boy say…
Angst Boy. I just think it would be easier if you could do some of the driving some of the time, that’s all. It makes me feel like you only value me for my license.
Backstory Man. I have certain reasons for not learning to drive—reasons that I have not hitherto divulged to anyone.
Angst Boy. Gee, it’s not like you to hold back on something like that.
Backstory Man. But now I shall tell you. Back when I was only fifteen years old, my brother Herbie and I used to—
Angst Boy. Oh, look, we’re at the bank already.
(Sound: Brakes squealing.)
Angst Boy. I have an acute and depressing feeling of apprehension about this bank robbery.
Backstory Man. It will pass with time. Meanwhile, let us walk the five steps it will take us to get inside the bank, which is a considerably shorter distance than I walked when I was picking grapes in the Pays d’Oc at the winery of an Italian mobster who was a complete teetotaler.
(Sound: A few footsteps.)
Angst Boy. As I thought. There’s a guy robbing the bank by pointing his iPhone at the teller. Sometimes I think I was born into the stupid part of the multiverse by mistake.
Backstory Man. Stop, villain! Put down that phone and tell me who you are and what you are doing here.
The Thief. They call me… “The Thief.”
Angst Boy. The…Thief?
The Thief. Because I take stuff.
Backstory Man. Well, Mr. Thief, as a duly deputized officer of the law, having been made an honorary sheriff’s deputy at the age of three when my aunt Matilda took me to the City Police Law Enforcement Fun Fair for my birthday, because she couldn’t afford a real present, I am placing you under arrest.
The Thief. Oh, you are, are you?
Backstory Man. But first, in order to establish a certain amount of sympathy for the villain and create a shallow veneer of depth for our story, I will give you an opportunity to tell us your tragic backstory.
The Thief. Tragic backstory?
Angst Boy. Well, of course. Every villain has a tragic backstory. You must have some incident in your past that haunts you and made you into the villain you are today.
The Thief. Oh, yes, mine’s a doozy. I remember it clearly. There was one incident in my childhood that I distinctly recall as the thing that set me off down the path of villainy.
Backstory Man. And what was this tragic turning point in your past?
The Thief. Well, once when I was about five years old, my mother brought home some cookies, and she put them in the cookie jar, but she said I couldn’t have any till after dinner.
Angst Boy. Oh, I know where this is going.
The Thief. So when she left the room, I reached into the cookie jar and took one. And that’s my tragic backstory.
Angst Boy. Well, I guess I didn’t know where this was going.
Backstory Man. But surely there must be more tragedy than that in your story.
The Thief. Don’t you see? I learned from that incident that I could have things I wanted just by taking them! It’s the one thing that made me into the Thief, the man who takes things when he wants them.
Backstory Man. Well, Mr. Thief, I, too, have a tragic backstory, an indelible stain in my memory that accounts for my life of fighting crime, and now you shall hear it. Back when I was only fifteen years old, my brother Herbie and I used to—
The Thief. Look, do you think you could just book me now? I’m supposed to rob the Polithania Savings Bank by two. If I don’t get there in time, they’ll start to wonder what happened to me.
Announcer. Will Backstory Man get to tell the Thief his tragic backstory before the close of next week’s episode? Don’t forget to tune in to next week’s episode to find out!
(Music: Theme, in and under for…)
Announcer. Kids, the fast pace of modern life and the uncertainty of a future that has got darker with every passing year may tempt you to despair. But then there’s Malt-O-Cod. A tall glass of that delicious malt mixed with real cod-liver oil from the cream of the Atlantic cod fisheries will make you feel optimistic for about fifteen minutes. Then you’ll need another fix.
(Music: In full, then out.)