For a while it was the Red Scare Spies hidden in our neighbourhoods. Or the Yellow Peril mystics always in clouds of opium.
Now we have words like terrorists and lone gunmen and racist cops.
But today, I am brought back to the Golden Age. A time when the villains were villains. That time right after women were tied to the tracks while a man in a white hat raced to save her.
Today, a giant robot is robbing the Diamond District.
At long last, a mad scientist has come out to play.
He has a typically thick accent. Wild hair. His eyes are rimmed red and slightly glazed.
I know all of this because I’m tied to a chair in his laboratory, watching him prance about as his giant robot thief takes on West 47th.
No one ever protects against giant robots. ‘Oh, it will never happen to me! Giant robots aren’t even real. That’s right from a comic book!’
And yet, there they are…fleeing and screaming while my creation ransacks the entire block.
I’ve never been face to face with such a stereotype before. If the metal cuffs weren’t hurting my wrists and ankles I would think none of this is real.
But there he is, giant robot and all.
He has a row of monitors on which we can see the people on the street. Most are screaming and running away, looking for cover. Others stand on the sidewalk, watching, as if they are waiting for Superman.
Hey, if there is a giant robot stealing diamonds, Superman can’t be too far away, right?
The cops tried to barricade it between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, but the robot just stepped over the cars.
One cop shot it and the bullet ricocheted off, taking out a neon sign.
He’s smiling, proud of himself.
I’m waiting for the “They all said I was mad…” tirade to begin.
But we just wait.
I try asking him questions but he doesn’t respond. He’s sitting in an over-sized chair, watching his robot as it leaves a wake of cars on fire and broken hydrants on Fifth Ave.
The laboratory grows quiet and still. I look around and notice that nothing seems to be working except for the monitors. Nothing else is plugged in. No strange machines or dangerous chemicals.
In fact, it’s all very clean. Brand new looking.
The giant robot slowly walks into the laboratory.
Over the sound of grinding gears I hear heavy breathing.
The scientist begins to take the robot apart.
Inside the robot is a giant man, sweating and grinning. He takes the sack of diamonds and sits on the floor.
I’ve never been more happy to get out of something than just now. That damn metal suit is hot. It’s not even sunny outside and it was over a hundred degrees. But worth it.
The giant reaches over to the doctor and flips a switch, the doctor powers down and stops. A little wisp of smoke trails from his mouth.
The first time I tried this, I stayed behind and sent a robot just like that little one out to do the dirty work. People aren’t as afraid of normal sized robots. At least not as afraid as I expected them to be.
So I built this little robot costume.
Did you get to watch it on the monitors? I was worried that the stupid robot over there would have you facing the wrong way.
I’m not going to kill you, so stop worrying. I just wanted you to witness it. A non-fear clouded perspective.
But, do me a favour…don’t tell anyone? Please?
He pushes a button and the restraints release me.
He’s too busy looking at his diamonds to pay any more attention to me.
It takes a few tries, but I finally find the exit and leave the giant and his robot assistant behind.