Before we get too far into this, I just realized that I have no idea what to call you. All this time, and I, you know, I don’t think I’ve ever actually heard anyone say your name.
Oh, hey, that’s okay. That’s fine. I mean, yeah, I don’t think anyone has said it out loud in—what year is it again?
[long sigh] Wow. So, yeah, I guess it’s been, um, oh, it’s been more than 80 years probably. Not since—yeah. Right around 80 years.
That’s crazy. So what is it?
My name? It’s Alatum. It’s Latin for “featherless.”
That’s really nice.
Ha, yeah, well, try telling that to a rake of winged colts. Kids can be—[takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly]—kids can be cruel. [takes a sip of water] Adults, too. Anyway, call me Al.
Okay, Al. I’m sure the question on everyone’s mind is, where were you all this time?
[waves a hoof] Oh, come on, you don’t want to hear all that. I mean, you know the story: they found me in a shed, cleaned me up, and tah-dah, here I am. The end. I thought I was here to talk about my book.
Yeah, but how did you end up in that shed? I don’t think anyone has given me the full story about that. Or not a good one, anyway.
[flaps wings a couple of times, irritated] Come on.
No, listen. You lit up the city, spinning atop the Magnolia Building for—what?—basically most of a century, and then you just disappear into some random shed out by White Rock and no one can find you? And then you turn up full of bullet holes? It just doesn’t—I’m sorry, but something doesn’t add up.
Man, you really don’t want to do this.
I think I do.
[mocking] “I think I do, I think I do.”
Don’t you dare “dude” me! Don’t you dare. Do you know to whom you are speaking? Huh? My grandfather carried lightning bolts for Zeus. Zeus! You ever hear of Zeus? Ruler of Olympus? Does that ring a bell, you hillbilly?
Hey! That was mean.
That was mean? Oh, really? You have no idea what mean is. I watched my brothers get hunted down and slaughtered. I was imprisoned atop your ridiculous city like some perverse trophy. And then I was left to die in a grubby shed, discarded like a broken shovel. [stands up suddenly, wings fully extended] DO I LOOK LIKE A SHOVEL?
I AM A GOD. My brothers and I ruled this land for a millenium, the will of all we encountered on the ground bending beneath our iron fetlocks, the very souls of all who chose to try us in the air cut down in the scythe-like sweep of our wings. But then the white man came, with his thundersticks, his unceasing desire for more. His greedy lust for all that he surveyed. They killed Aquila first, then Bubo, then Telum. Until there was only I. I was tired then. I was filled with sorrow. I couldn’t let my brothers die in vain. So I unwisely entered into a truce with your mayor, Charles Turner. It was a trap. I became a prisoner of my own body. My beautiful vermillion coloring was turned against me. I became a crude advertisement, a whore with her leg out on a street corner. But now, oh, now, finally, I’m free.
I don’t even know what to—
[sits down, smoothing his wings with his hooves] You people have no idea what I am. No idea. It is—you know, it’s pretty funny, actually. If it wasn’t for that naive Canadian—Dave Matthews?
If it wasn’t for Jack Matthews, I would still be there, rotting. But now—
What are you going to do?
[puts hoof in front of his face] Courts will be convened. Spoils will be enjoyed. Blood will be shed. The police will survive as they learn to serve true justice. This great city, it will endure. Dallas will survive.
That is—wait, what’s that from?
That’s Bane from The Dark Knight Rises.
Sorry, I couldn’t resist.