Every superhero story has its heroes, its villains, and its innocent—or not so innocent–victims and bystanders. In Asbestos Man’s world there were very few victims. One was an unnamed individual who was absorbed by The Quilt in Fuddrucker’s, only to reappear slightly unscathed a few days later in a Morrison’s Cafeteria in a shopping mall.
The scene in question–and, in fact, this particular story’s climax–was supposed to take place in the now defunct Hickory Hollow Mall which had a Morrison’s Cafeteria near one of its entrances. I sent a copy of the script to a friend who read it to her parents while they were eating at Morrison’s Cafeteria. A few months later at a party at her house I’d give the only live reading of the final Asbestos Man script.
Most of the villains Asbestos Man dealt with didn’t commit any real crimes, but there were some people caught up in the action.
Ms. Balst-A victim of an actual crime Ms. Ilyriana Balst was the Salivian Ambassor to the U.S. kidnapped by Roderick Skwelm. Actually he showed up at the airport and asked her to come with him which she did willingly. In spite of being a high ranking official in the Obscurantist Party she found living with him preferable to her government job.
Raoul-Ms. Balst’s bodyguard. New to the job Raoul didn’t question Skwelm’s claim to being the city’s official tour guide (actually he called himself the “superintendent of peregrination”). Originally born in Andorra Raoul was moved to Salivia by his aunt who believed it to be the ancestral home of the armadillo. He’s very proud of his adopted country and always wears a button that says “Kiss Me–I’m Salivian”.
Note: Salivia is a small European country near the intersection of Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic. Historically it has never been invaded because no country wanted it, although medieval Germans did make a game of throwing rocks over Salivia and hitting Poland. Salivia has tried to become a member of the European Union several times but the response is always “call back during regular business hours”. Its only export is chervil.
Ramon-A hairstylist. The salon where he works is overrun by Dr. Krelg’s animated wigs leaving him so confused he can’t remember that the little dogs they remind him of are called Pomeranians.
Mugger (unnamed)-He robs Asbestos Man of Havel Freezener’s bail money then has an attack of conscience and turns it in to the police station. He and Officer Zumstein are in the same therapy group.
The glaring problem with the Asbestos Man scripts should be obvious: there was only one female character given a major role, and she was a victim. The dearth of female characters was, in part, me writing for what we had. Until I wrote the third script there weren’t any women in our little group who wanted to play along. When one volunteered she accused me of being sexist. It stung because she was right.
So there’s one last character I haven’t mentioned. In the final script, Havel Strikes Back, Mayor Geldo gives his friend Lolita a Glass Box, the same as the one used by Dr. Krelg to animate wigs, purchased at a local hardware store. In the final scene she pulls out the instructions and begins plotting villainy.
The only reason I chose the name Lolita is because I happened to be reading Nabokov’s novel at the time and just liked the way it rolled off the tongue. And it had a slightly sinister sound. I had a vague idea that Lolita would be the next villain Asbestos Man faced, but since the script was never written I can’t say anything about it.
Every script was written in a single sitting and when I started I had no idea how it would end, or, for that matter, what the middle would be. It was a good way to clear my head either before or after more high-minded pursuits–I was majoring in English and that paper on Wallace Stevens took a lot out of me.
When I came home for summer break the plan was to begin production immediately. We had everything we needed except props, sets, costumes, and a camera. Jake, AKA Asbestos Man, lived in nearby Franklin, and the closest we got to actually doing anything was driving down a country road that had a Franklin sign on it and putting up our own sign that said, “Home of Asbestos Man”. I’d later learn that this confused and amused a few joggers. And for a brief, glorious time Asbestos Man lived.