Round Robin June 27 Likable Villains
I hope you're all doing well now that the sun is shining and Covid restrictions are easing all around the world. It's certainly been an odd year so far! Personally, I've been working from home, writing, and sitting in on Zoom meetings that have totally fascinated me (not so much the work ones as the writing ones!) I've been blessed to meet writers from all over Canada and the US who have been so supportive and motivating.
I've also been able to spend a couple days each weekend at our favorite place on the shores of Lake Huron starting last week.
This month's Round Robin question comes from our good friend Dr. Bob Rich:
Do you have any charming, likable villains? Say something about them.
Oh boy, do I!
Gary del Garda smokes, drinks, gambles, parks across the street in his dark Buick to help keep Gilda out of trouble and is the godfather of Sandstone Cove crime. He’s also one of the best allies Gilda could have when it comes to solving crimes. Gilda first meets him in book one of my Gilda Wright Mystery series, Dead Without Honor:
“Excuse me, Miss.” A dark car pulled up to the curb and a man in his mid-fifties peered out the window. Scars marred his face and his eyes hid behind dark sunglasses.
Her gurgling stomach and common sense made her take a wary step back out of his reach. “Yeah. Can I help you?”
“You’re Gilda Wright,” he said. “I’m Gary. I knew your dad quite well. I’m sorry for your loss. He was a good man.”
She winced. “I know who you are. My dad arrested you a few times, didn’t he?”
Gary Del Garda, local bookie and gangster as well as Chloe’s father, flashed a wide smile and waved a hand. “Bygones. I earned every second he had me handcuffed and I had a lot of respect for the man behind the badge.”
Gilda stood her ground. “What can I do for you, Mr. Del Garda?”
“Gary. Please.” He put the car in park. “I hear you work for Mick Williams.”
“At Yoshida’s. Yes, why?” She glanced up and down the street, hoping to have a witness in case he tried anything. Kidnapping topped her list. He could hardly do a drive-by shooting now he’d parked in front of her, could he?
“Relax,” he said. “All I want is a little information.”
“Like what?” she asked.
“I’m looking for Mr. Williams so we can settle a little business matter.” He pushed up his sunglasses. “You wouldn’t happen to know where I could find him, do you?”
“No, I don’t.” Her breath stuck in her chest.
“I’ve seen you with him in Café Beanz.”
Gilda tensed, ready to run. “I work for him. That doesn’t mean I know where he goes when I’m not with him. It’s not like I’m his wife or anything.”
“Considering he’s dating my daughter, Chloe, that’s a good thing.” He winked and lowered his sunglasses. His eyes the same murky blue as the lake. “When you see him, let him know I’m looking for him. We have some business to discuss.”
“I’ll do that.” She wiped her sweaty palms on her shorts. Had Mick hired Gary Del Garda to kill Walter? Nah, too obvious.
While Gary has never been a full out baddie in my Gilda Wright series, he's not exactly a good guy either. He was partly responsible for the death of Gilda's father and has made it his mission to watch over her from afar ever since. Until she started getting herself involved in mysteries, that is. Suddenly, he's become her “fairy godfather” as her good friend Kane Garrick calls him. Here’s an excerpt from my newest Gilda Wright Mystery, Dead Without Shame:
When she hopped into the passenger seat, Kane stood next to her. “Let me give you a hand. That seatbelt sticks. I’ve been meaning to get it fixed but haven’t found a mechanic I can trust.”
“There’s a stereotype. Have you asked Gary? I’m sure he knows someone.” She shrugged.
He chuckled as he buckled her in. “You mean your infamous fairy godfather? Gary del Garda is the town mobster, love, of course he knows someone. He probably has three mechanics who pay him off, yet he still gets his fancy cars fixed for free somewhere else to be safe.”
She sighed. “Gary’s not like that.”
“He’s your friend. Of course you don’t think so.” Kane closed the door then walked around the back of the Jeep before he got in. “Even you’re not naïve enough to think Gary doesn’t try to hide that stuff from you. He thinks the world of you.”
Gilda gazed out the window. She’d heard the rumors and saw things with her own eyes that made her cringe. Gary had watched out for her since she first stumbled over a dead body in Yoshida Martial Arts. Apparently, he’d made a vow to her father to watch over her.
While he may be a bad guy to the rest of the world, there are many times Gilda forgets who he really is, like in Dead Without Pride:
Shawn nudged him. “Are you crazy? Did it escape you that you’re threatening Gary del Garda? This guy can make you disappear so no one will ever find you. Ever.”
Gilda stared at her wineglass. Over the past few months, Gary had become like family to her. She was jarred when Shawn reminded her of his occupation and capabilities.
In book one, Dead Without Honor, Gilda suffers a sparring match gone wrong in karate class and walks—or rather limps home alone. Gary is the first person who reaches out to her:
Gary sat on the hood of his car, smoke curling around his head. He flicked a cigarette into the gutter and walked over to Gilda for a closer look. “Whoa. Did you get the number of the horse and buggy that hit you?”
“Ha. Ha.” Even her cheeks hurt. “I’m not in the mood for dealing with you. I’m going home to soak in a whole lot of ice.”
“You’re in no shape to walk anywhere,” Gary said. “Get in. I’ll give you a ride.”
“It’s only a few blocks. I’ll get there on my own.” She stumbled away from him, the weight of her duffle bag throwing her off balance.
He shook his head and sighed. “Stubborn little mule. You’re just like your father. I’m not going to try anything funny. I swear on your daddy’s grave. You’re badly hurt and my only concern is to get you home safe.”
Gilda hesitated. If she sat in his car now, she might not stand again for days.
“You could call for a police escort, if it makes you feel any better. I’ll even loan you my phone.” Gary took a phone out of his pocket and handed it over.
She rolled her eyes, unable to speak.
“Come on, honey. If your old man had ever seen my Chloe as beat up as you, he would’ve made sure she got home safe, no matter whose kid she was. I owe him that much.” He pocketed the phone then grasped the handles of her duffle bag. “Of course, he also would’ve arrested the so-and-so who did it to her, but that part’s way out of my league.”
She let go of her bag and let him toss it into the backseat. When he opened the car door, she eased her weary body onto the passenger seat. She was in no shape to fight anymore. All she wanted was to go home, sit in a warm bath and cry. “Thank you.”
While Gary does many bad things in the world as a whole, most of them Gilda does not want to hear or know about. As the series goes on, we learn not only does he have a soft spot for Gilda, but also for the people close to her, including her mother. That is one story line that may come out more in book five. Hint, hint!
For now, let’s hop over and see what kind of villains my fellow authors have written about!