It’s not unusual to be known for the thing you’re best at, especially if you’ve been working at it for as long as I have. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished, but nobody wants to be “the revenge guy” their whole life, and I certainly didn’t invent at least eight alter-egos with detailed backstories just to be stuck with that label.
I hear my quest for vengeance described as “single-minded,” and I can’t help but resent that. Do you think I used every minute of the fourteen years I spent in prison contemplating how I would wreak havoc on the lives of the men who wrongfully put me there? Sure, I thought about it a lot, but I probably wouldn’t have executed it so well if I didn’t have several creative outlets to unwind with when I needed a break. I like to think that the guards at the Château d’If were as impressed by the delicate etchings I left on my cell walls as they were with my cunning escape.
Would I have gotten this far if I wasn’t able to connect with others over a variety of topics? Definitely not. You can’t just ask a bandit king to kidnap your ex-fiance's adult son so that you can stage a rescue and have the family indebted to you forever. You have to meet him on his level, and nobody likes being around the guy who only ever talks about his vendettas. During the many spirited games of whist I shared with the bandit king, I’d say we only talked about vendettas 30-50% of the time.
Perhaps if my rivals had diversified their interests to the level that I have, they wouldn’t have made such sloppy choices. Hiding an illegitimate child takes a lot more creativity and intelligence than people think! If they had my level of enthusiasm when faced with a new task, it wouldn’t have been so easy for me to marry their children to their secret half-siblings twenty years later, and my quest for revenge might have continued to this day. I certainly wouldn’t want that!
I will admit that in my retirement I’m finding it hard to focus on hobbies full-time. My wife, Haydée, keeps telling me that I can take the methods I used to deliver justice upon those who thwarted my ambitions and put them towards something else useful and productive. “You were so good at making the poison that tore apart the de Villefort household,” she says, “why don’t you get into cocktail mixing?” Her heart is in the right place, but she forgets how that whole mess almost killed the love interest of my young protégé. I wish Haydée could be more honest with me about my abilities, but I sometimes forget she started out as my slave, and that does colour things a bit.
I suppose I could go back to playing the commodities market, but without the added incentive of sinking a nemesis into penury, it doesn’t hold my attention the way it once did. Honestly, if more people understood the sense of aimlessness one feels after their scorched-Earth retribution campaign comes to fruition, they’d probably think twice before starting one. In any case, I’m sure there are plenty of other things I could be doing instead. It might take awhile to find one that suits me, but that’s fine. I’m good at waiting.