Gnarly Bandit: References Available Upon Request

Help WantedIt was fair to say that the Gnarly Bandit Apprenticeship Program had never been particularly successful, a fact that bewildered the grizzled one, as he felt his unique blend of orneriness and depravity were the kind of tough love that young folks needed nowadays. He was certain this would have been reflected in the end-of-program instructor evaluations… had anyone actually made it past the first week. But, he was willing to give it another go. The old bones weren’t as spry as they used to be, and finding a viable protégé was worth another shot. He had to admit, though, he had his reservations about the candidate sitting across the weathered oak table at the Dirty Spittoon Saloon & Deli.

“Are you sure this is all legal?” said the young man, skeptically.

Curious question, that one. Especially since the Bandit saw laws more as a loose set of suggestions, subject to situational application – like yield signs on the highway of civilized society.

“Look, son… I’m not sure you’re in a position to get picky, given that when I found you, you were living in a van down by the river,” he snorted.

The gentleman blinked through a set of round, bookish spectacles and sighed, “It’s just that I’ve… I’ve always used my magic for good. I destroyed the grandest villain of all time.” He paused, looking distant, and added quietly, “I was a hero, once…”

The Gnarly One pondered that last thought. That was the problem with heroes, really. Defeat the bad guy, and then what do you do with yourself? Superman puts Lex Luthor in jail, and spends the foreseeable future editing bad copy from Daily Planet interns. It’s why the Bandit had chosen the villainous side of the equation, more job security. Every year brought a new crop of Gnarly Bandit contenders to keep him busy. At that, the names of this year’s remaining contenders tumbled out of a dark recess in his memory. John Maas, Veronique Boucher, Jordan Schmidt… True, they were on a pace to put a dent in his yearly income, but they hadn’t claimed the pot o’ gold yet.

“Yup, not many job adverts lookin’ for experience in the Care of Magical Critters,” the old man rejoined the conversation. The lad was a bit green, the Bandit thought, but he did bear some scars, and the robe was a nice touch – gave him that Grim Reaper appeal. Best of all, the youngster bore an empty pocketbook. There was potential here.

The old man paged through the worn, yellowed book of spells the young man had brought with him, finally he queried, “Tell me about this one… kudzu giganteum.”

“It makes roots grow at an exponential rate,” his prospect said.

Promising, thought the old brigand. “And everest prolificus?”

“Causes any peak to grow to twice its height.”

That’ll come in handy. The Gnarly Bandit nodded, pleased. So many possibilities in these pages. He returned once again to the young man’s resume.

“Defeated the ‘grandest villain’ of all time, eh?” Seemed an arguable point to the Bandit, but he pressed on. “And his name?”


Funny, thought the old man, that was what his ex-wives called him. He looked up at his fresh faced counterpart, pondering. A diamond in the rough, for certain – but something he could work with.

“OK, Mr., uh… Potter. You’re hired,” the Gnarly Bandit said as he rose, inviting the lad to join him. There was no time to waste, and so much human resources paperwork to take care of.

The young man looked cautiously pleased. The job may have been a bit… untoward. But, it was a job, nonetheless. He could already envision his daily ration of beans doubling at least. Before rising, he uttered a quick, “Fermentum numerosus.” At which, the Bandit’s beer glass refilled to the brim.

Kiss ass, thought the old man. Never appreciated ’em back in school – but he was willing to forgive. At least the gentleman’s heart was in the right place. He quaffed the ale in a quick gulp and headed toward the swinging doors, Mr. Potter tagging along doggedly behind him. It was time to head north to the Wilds of Duluth. Race day was only a couple weeks away. The Bandit grunted, hoping his young apprentice would last that long. With this intrepid band of Gnarlies, he was going to need the help…

Post Navigation