There’s a problem with Callis. The problem is that, on a fundamental level, he is a truly awful person. He after all kills people for money, and he rather enjoys his work. This in of itself would not inherently be a problem if he was a supporting character or a bit part, but I had to go and make him the eponymous star of a series of short stories which I’ve been writing for the last two years. This means that I have to undertake the arduous task of some how making the reader connect with him. How you get a complete stranger to related to a cold-blooded murderer is not something easily done. I don’t even know if I’ve been successful in achieving this. I’d like to think that I have. I like Callis as a character, but that might just be speaking to the state of my diseased brain-meats.
One idea which occurred to me was that he have his own set of “rules,” not an entirely original idea I’ll admit. The way I see it, even bad people need to have rules they abide by. If they don’t then they’re hardly going to be able to function even on the fringes of society.
I made mention of these rules (or as Callis refers to them “maxims”) in Faces in the Woods, they weren’t simply a throw away comment or idea. The list has been kicking around for a while now. The 1st maxim even pre-dates the creation of Callis. The vast majority of them are fairly innocuous, they’re rules which a fairly ordinary person could look at and think “yeah, that kind of makes sense.” There is of course a few slightly more grim sounding maxims, specifically number 3: A sage proverb about betrayal and not getting caught. Number 4 nicely fills the role of being slightly cryptic, one of those rules which makes you scratch your head a bit and wonder what it might actually mean. All in all, they’re good rules. I myself subscribed to numbers 2, 5, 6, 7, 9 and 10. I’d like to think that the maxims humanise Callis a little. Don’t get me wrong, he’s still a bit of a monster. But then again, aren’t we all?
- Trust no one
- It’s just a matter of knowing where to push
- A knife in the back is worth two in the chest
- Love is a sword
- Things go wrong, be prepared
- Always have an out
- No one fucks with my shit
- Life is cheap, it’s a buyer’s market
- Your enemies only win when you’re dead.
- You can do a job quickly or you can do a job well. You cannot do both.
- Threats are better than actions
- Loyalty is like money, you earn it and you spend it.