It is another beautiful day at Fair City. The sun is shining, the birds are singing…
"It's a wonderfully day to rob the bank!"
A passing Granny May waves from the other side of the street. "Good luck with that, Butcher!"
"Thanks!" Butcher watches as the old lady leaves with her ugly cat. He sucks in a deep, meat-scented breath. "All right! I wonder if Reginald likes deli meat…"
A loud clang jars him from his plotting. "Dad!" Butcher rushes to the fallen man. "Dad, are you okay?"
"Butcher…? You walked home from school?"
"Dad, I dropped out of school, remember?" Butcher helps Kid Potato to the sofa. "I'm grown now. See, this is the picture when you and I opened up the butcher shop." The old man squints into the faded photograph. "Did you take your medicine, Dad? Did you see my sticky notes?"
"I couldn't read your writing."
"Oh. S-Sorry…" Butcher swipes a cheap pen and a piece of paper. His big fingers are too clumsy to grip the delicate writing utensil.
"Why did you drop out of school, son?" Kid Potato whispers. It's unclear what reality the old man is currently seeing. "They can teach you how to write. They can teach you how to spell."
"I don't need no grammars lesson!" Then Butcher quickly drops his voice. "I… I mean, I'm too big! The other kids will make fun of how smelly I am!"
"Then I'll walk you to school! I'll teach those brats a lesson with my potato powers!"
"NO!" Butcher gently shoves his dad back to the sofa. "D-Dad, how about you take a nap? I'm gonna go… do stuff. Yeah. I'll be back, okay?"
Kid Potato's words plague Butcher's mind as he shuffles aimlessly down the street. When he finally looks up, it's not the Ye Olde Fancy Schmancy Jewelry Store. Rather, it's the entrance of that run-down warehouse.
"Cheese Louise you smell even worse than usual."
Butcher winces. "I'm just… drainage."
"Drained," Two Brains says. "To be mentally or physically exhausted. Sometimes both." The doctor sniffs the air. "Oof. Those goofs are on vacation today, so I have the place to myself." He keeps staring at the dejected Butcher until the latter finally reads the implication and heads inside.
Butcher sinks into the worn sofa. It cracks under his weight, but Two brains makes no comment. The doctor enters his basement and returns with a platter of…
"Why is there fur on the cheese?!"
"F-Fur?" Two Brain's whiskers twitch. "I'll have you know you are insulting the great Camembert Cheese! Do you know how much trouble I went through just to adjust the terroir for the fungus to…" He sees Butcher's expression. "It's perfectly safe to eat. See?"
"Um… I'll pass." Butcher lets his gaze drift around the room. "Doc, do you think I'm stupid?"
Two Brains stops chewing. "I'd say 'partially inarticulate,' but no, you're not stupid. What in the name of Casu marzu brought that up?"
A silence follows Butcher's explanation. Two Brain's eyebrows dip and rise throughout the monologue, but he remains quiet, which is very much unlike him.
"Then go to school!" he finally snaps. "It's never too late to attain an education!"
"Um… no offense, Doc, but isn't too late to apply—"
"I can teach you! I did earn the highest degree, a PhD MFA MOMA LMNOP!"
Butcher stands. "Look, thanks and all, but where are you even gonna find a school? Stealing buildings ain't exactly my cup of sauce…"
Two Brains scoffs. "Please. We are villains! We build our own school!"
"Where are you gonna find the money—"
"No one will be stealing anything." The doctor's crazed glee quells to a stern face. "Wordgirl threatened to ruin the terroir of my cheese haven if she's interrupted while binge watching her favorite princess show." Two Brains picks up the phone. "Just watch."
Suddenly, the warehouse shakes as if an earthquake had ripped through the city. A giant metal hand crashes into the window.
"Did someone call the Evil Boy Genius?"
"Kid, I just fixed that!" hisses Dr. Two Brains. "What did that window ever do to you?!"
"Evil boy geniuses do not simply use the door like a common plebeian," Tobey huffs, hopping down from his robot. "So… who requested my innovation?"
"I want to go to school," says Butcher.
Tobey smugly flicks his wrist. "Of course I can construct such a building! A matter like that is a snap of the fingers for the intelligence of Tobey McCallister the Third!"
"Greeeeat," Two Brains sniffs. "Then get to it."
That, and Tobey's smirk slips. The boy coughs into his sleeve. "Erm. Well, even boy geniuses lack the funds to construct large-scale projects."
"But your robots…"
"My robuts don't count!" Only when the boy gets agitated does his false accent slips. "Mother won't give me enough allowance to build anything other than robuts! What we need is a provider! One with enough means to provide the materials…"
Suddenly, a black cannonball smashes through the window, much to Two Brain's extreme chagrin.
"Howdy!" says the mask-wearing businessman. "I happened to be passing by… and I heard that someone may need my extraordinary services?'
"No," Tobey and Two Brains say in unison.
"Why not?" says Butcher. "He has cash!"
The doctor rolls his eyes. "The last time we worked together my brains wouldn't stop hurting from his babbling."
"He put a stupid rabbit in my robut!"
"Now now." Mr. Big rises, smoothing his hair, fixing his flashy tie. "Friends, let me into the fun! I'm bored! Leslie wouldn't let me fund any more mind-control products until we get rid of our surplus from last time!"
Butcher glances around the room. Two Brains has his hand on his forehead. Tobey has his arms crossed, lips twisted into a big pout. "I wanna go back to school. Doc's gonna help me with grammars and writing stuff. Tobey's gonna help build it. We just need the money—"
"—that Mr. Big will gladly provide! Worry not, friends, all interest rates will be dropped! Feel free to use what you want to your heart's content, aha! Hahaha!"
"You're not paying us."
"You are so smart, Two Brains!"
What Tobey can do with his hands never ceases to amaze. With Two Brain's help and Mr. Big cheering on the sidelines, the new school is built within two hours.
"It's so… nice." Butcher wipes a tear from his eye. Blows his nose on his apron. Even the eccentric businessman joins in on the tearful hug.
Tobey eagerly waves his fellow villains inside. Clean, sparkling halls. Lockers. Blackboards. Butcher thanks the kid, and the latter's ears flush to a bright pink.
Two Brains jumps from behind the desk. His usual outfit had been replaced with a sharp long-sleeve shirt tucked into slacks, topped with a sleek bowtie. "And look who I've invited!"
Heads turn to the door. "Hi, hello, and greetings," says Lady Redundant Woman with a cup of coffee in her hands. She too, looks stunning in a black skirt and blazer. "I have the curriculum all planned out, Butcher."
"I helped," the doctor adds.
"All you did was watch television while eating your furry cheese," is the curt response. Lady shudders. "You repulse, sicken, and disgust me… but at the same time you manage to fascinate, intrigue, and pique my curiosity."
Two Brains smirks until it covers the entirety of his face. "Aw, I'm flattered." Then he turns. "I'll stay in the back with these two and spectate. Good luck on the first day of school, Butcher."
"Here. Your worksheet." Lady sets the paper down. There are so many words. Butcher already feels his brain shutting down, but he cannot disappoint after everything his villainous friends have done for him.
So Butcher brandishes the pencil into the air. "I'm ready!"
The new school even has lunchtime. A spacious cafeteria for its sole student.
Butcher stares down at his chocolate milk. "I guess I'm only good at lunch."
"Whaaat? Don't say that!" Chuck the Sandwich-Making Guy says with all the sincerity in the world. He carefully lays ketchup on the bed of lettuce before closing the sandwich. "You're too harsh on yourself. Here. I always feel better after I eat a turkey sandwich with milk."
"Thanks." The sandwich is indeed delicious. And salty. Chuck hands a wad of napkins. "Why'd you put lettuce in here?"
"Because a turkey sandwich isn't a turkey sandwich without lettuce!" Chuck replies, as if it's obvious. Then he laughs. "I'm sooo happy Dr. Two Brains invited me here to make lunch! Mr. Big isn't paying me, but that's okay! I'm just hoping my sandwiches can make people happy!"
"I made these balloon animals!"
"Thanks, Chuck," says Butcher.
"Hey, I tied these curtains! That's the unicorn knot, the strongest knot on the planet! Hey!"
Butcher finally turns. "Oh. You… um." He glances at Chuck, who shrugs.
"Amazing Rope Guy!" is the indignant cry. "I helped—"
"WHAM!" The wall explodes from a supersonic wave. Two horns emerge from the smoke, revealing a ruddy, grinning face.
"Whammer?!" Butcher moans. Chuck groans and tries to leave, but the Whammer grabs his limp arm.
"Whammer heard Butcher went back to school! Whammer wants to learn too! OOOH, SANDWICH!"
"Heeeey, that's for the staff!"
"Chuck's sandwich is WHAM, YEAH!" The bell rings. "Oh WHAM! Class time! Whammer's excited to see a classroom, YEAAAH!"
Amazing Rope Guy picks himself from the rubble, only to see the three villains walking away. "Hey, wait! I haven't shown you a cool rope trick!"
A hand pats his shoulder. "We need balloon animals over there." Amazing Rope Guy bursts into a grin as he hops away. Two Brains scratches his chin. "Who was that again?"
"Let's see your penmanship, butcher. You're getting there, keep trying, a bit more."
"What is the difference between grammar and syntax?"
Sweat drips down Butcher's forehead. "Uh… meat?"
"Why would you say that? Why don't you know the answer? We went over this six times, didn't we?"
Lady gently squeezes Ms. Question's shoulder. "Yelling at him will not help, assist, nor aid the cause…" A vein throbs on her neck. "Will you STOP chewing so loudly?!"
In the back of the room, Dr. Two Brains shrugs. "Have you ever tasted Granny May's honey ham? Oh wait, you're vegetarian, HAH! Sucks to be—" Lady angrily lobs a chalk eraser into his smug smirk.
Granny May cackles. "Quiet down and let her teach. She's been looking forward to this since—WHAMMER! Hands off Butcher's portion!"
Lady grasps Butcher's face, forcing him back to the tedious lesson. "I could let my clone teach you, but that won't be fun. You ready to continue learning?"
"You can do it, Butcher!" shouts Tobey. "Do it for Granny May's ham!"
"I want honey-glazed baked ham!" Butcher roars. "Let's do this!"
By the time the school bell rings, Butcher's brain had burned to mush. Steam billows from his ears. Mr. Big stands over his fallen friend with a Mr. Big™ fan.
"Lighten up!" says the businessman. "It's only your first day, and you're acting as if you've completed a whole week's workload! Why, when I was in university…"
"Go on." Tobey had entered the classroom without anyone noticing. His glasses glint with faint amusement. "Speaking of which, I never recalled you speaking of your education, Mr. Big. Where did a man like you go to get his business degree?"
Mr. Big flashes an award-winning smile. "Ah! Yes… I went to the best of the best, kid! Oh would you look at the time I have to run before Leslie misses me too much toodles!"
Chuck peeks into the classroom. "Tobey, do you need a ride home? I have room in my car."
"No thank you. Mother will come home late today again, and I'm thinking of dropping by a certain Becky Botsford's house later…" The boy then notices the grownups' expressions. "F-For diabolical purposes of course! EVIL purposes! Definitely not to check in on her while she's binge watching!"
Two Brains pops into the scene. "Uh huh. You want to give her today's homework too?" Tobey sputters something unintelligent before ultimately resorting to stomping away, his face redder than any tomato. The doctor laughs until his sides hurt. "Ah, to be young again. Hey, Butcher, you should go home too. The other villains already left.
"Oh. Here." It's a piece of paper. One with some words and a glitter sticker. "You've impressed Lady. And I'm telling you, that woman is not easy to please!" Butcher stares at the card. "You… will come back tomorrow," the doctor continues in a crisper tone. "We blocked out a whole week just to plan this for you!"
All is quiet after the doctor leaves. Butcher sighs. As the sun sets and golden rays blanket the land, he heads on home.
Butcher spins around. "D-Dad? What are you doing here? Are you lost—"
"Your friends told me about your going back to school!" Kid Potato gestures to the gleaming building. "I came to walk you home! Did you have a great first day?"
"Y-Yeah… The teacher said I need to practice more, but I'm getting articulate."
Kid Potato grins. "Are you coming back tomorrow?"
Tomorrow… is Bank Robbing Day. So is the day after that. No sitting in a stuffy class with people judging him. Crime sprees don't require much thinking, after all.
"We blocked out a whole week just to plan this for you!" Superficial words for another intent: "We went out of our way to do this because you're our friend."
"Yeah," Butcher says softly. "I'm going back tomorrow."
"Great!" As father and son walk down the lamp-lit streets, Kid Potato pats Butcher on the back. "Just wait until I tell your mom! She'll be so proud!"
All Butcher can do is muster a weak smile. He could remind the old man, but now is not the time. It's better to focus on the future, to better himself, than to remain immobilized by a past that had already come and gone.