The website Tim Drake was reading was one of the stupidest exhibits of paranoia, conspiracy theories, and urban legends on, he was certain, the entire internet. But it had the best photo available of the patch of desert known as Glow Ground 51.
Beneath the image of ordinary-looking wasteland that took on a greenish tint after sundown, were two vitriolic essays arguing that the land was the crash-site of alien spacecraft hidden by the government at Area 51 or else an Indian burial ground desecrated by nuclear testing in the late ’50s.
Tim stared at the photos. It was neither. It was Clark Kent’s Bachelor Party.
Tim didn’t know all the details. No one did, except those present, and (if they remembered) they weren’t talking. But even in Young Justice one heard things: Hal Jordon was Green Lantern then … Jagermeister … a cocktail waitress called Lola … the Golden Gate Bridge …Oliver Queen… the Space Needle… Tequila… and prominent members of the Justice League told they were no longer welcome in three West Coast cities for anything less than a nine-alarm fire.
“The truth is out there!” the website proclaimed. Tim would dearly love to know what it was, now more than ever.
He was 17. He was a high school junior. What did he know about planning a bachelor party? Dick said it didn’t matter. He didn’t need a party; he didn’t want a party. He just wanted Tim to be his best man. Fine. Good. Great.
Except it wasn’t fine. First thing Wally asked was when the bachelor party would be. Eel O’Brien asked where. J’onn asked if it’d be costume or civvies. And Kyle asked if there’d be a stripper!
This was so unfair.
Black Canary perched on the South Tower of Gotham General Hospital. This was the spot Oracle recommended—and sure enough, it was ideally situated to observe the emergency ramp, the heliport and, most importantly, the walkway between the main entrance and the Kensington Street parking garage. However Poloff tried to leave, she would see him, and she would tail him.
The only snag was that he wouldn’t be leaving until visiting hours ended, and that meant quite a wait. Sitting there. Nothing to do except… get it over with.
She opened her stakeout satchel. From the sleeve where she liked to keep a thermos of coffee, she took a rolled up copy of BRIDAL SHOWERS FOR DUMMIES.
So far, if asked to rank activities worse than a root canal, Tim would have to place planning a bachelor party right between the SATs and hiding in the dumpster outside Joker’s HA-HAcienda while those mongrel hyenas snarled over his head.
Bruce said it was costumed personas with more powers than maturity that led to “the greening of Seattle,” and it’d be a cold day in hell before he’d okay a party in his city for anything but civilian identities. That was the sort of thing Bruce often said about metas, but the vein on his neck didn’t always throb when he said it.
Alfred said the manor was off-limits. The wedding ceremony was almost upon them and he was far too busy - besides the memory of “the Frenchman” was all too vivid. Whatever that meant.
Dick said: “No pressure, Bro. Nobody’s expecting
‘little Timmy’ to match Clark’s
‘the bacchanalia by which all
future debauches will be measured .
Wally said he could buy the liquor, as Tim was underage.
The third attendant, Steve, Dick’s college roommate said: “I’ve only been to one other bachelor party. Was in Pittsburgh. We went to a comedy club. Had a pitcher. Jokes about airline food. And shopping malls. And Bette Middler.”
Tim’s father said Uncle Derek threw his bachelor party in New Orleans, in the French Quarter, during Mardi Gras.
Clark hung up on him.
Having followed Poloff from his brother’s hospital room into a money-laundering front, Black Canary called in the relevant information to her contact in the FBI. It grated that she wasn’t allowed to pump the weasel for information, or even let herself be seen. But it was important this next phase be left to an official agency. There’d be plenty of action, her contact assured her, once they followed the money.
On an impulse, Canary swung uptown and landed on Selina Kyle’s terrace. At least, she hoped this was her terrace. Peeking in to the apartment, she didn’t see any cat stuff. Although there was a cat (hostile looking little critter, too), that was hardly conclusive. Plenty of people had cats.
She wanted to call Oracle and confirm the address, but knew that would stir up a dozen questions about the reason for her visit.
The cold amber eyes assessing her from inside were joined by a second pair—a human pair—green, and not nearly as nasty looking. The woman opened the sliding terrace doors and ushered her in.
“Catwoman?” Canary asked.
“Selina,” the woman laughed, “home and out of costume, it’s Selina.”
“You don’t have a lot of cat stuff around the place, do you?” Canary observed.
“You’d be surprised how often I hear that,” Selina replied. “This about the shower, I take it?”
“Yeah,” Canary paused, then spoke awkwardly, “I figured, since we’re hosting it together, we should at least meet, compare notes…”
“You don’t have any ideas either?” Selina guessed.
“None,” she admitted with a laugh. “I bought this book.”
“I visited a website.”
“I don’t see ‘scented candles’ and ‘bath soap’ being a big hit as party favors, do you?”
“I don’t see Barbara wearing a hat made from bows and wrapping paper either.”
“This is going to be tricky.”
“I’d just like to know how I’m supposed to avoid the mistakes of Clark’s party if I can’t find out what they were,” Tim muttered, as ZOGGER dug a hook into his arm and flung him against the wall. Ah, but that is logic, came the counter thought, and logic does not apply when that vein on Bruce’s neck throbs.
He’d made a stupid move:
“You said I should hone my detective skills by picking a mystery, investigating and solving it,” he had told Bruce.
“I never said any such thing,” his mentor answered before sentencing him to a lifetime of ZOGGER.
Clark’s bachelor party was becoming an obsession, and Tim’s theories about it were growing as ludicrous as those on the website where he’d seen “Glow Ground 51.”
Wildcat threw him out just for asking about it.
And Clark hung up on him again.
“I keep bigger secrets than this!” Tim had insisted. “I even know where B keeps that kryptonite ring ‘just in case.’”
..::What you don’t know, kid::.. the voice on the phone responded, ..::is what it’s like to be married. When you know that, you’ll understand why there’s no power on earth, including that ring, that would impel me to tell you what happened -cough- that night.::..
And that’s when Smallville’s noblest son, the man who defined ‘superhero,’ hung up on Tim for a second time.
“Okay, here’s the deal,” a gloved hand switched off Zogger while the gravely voice spoke, “You can use the penthouse at the Wayne Building. Civilian identities only. Eight to midnight. Fifteen guests max. Understood?”
up and the gloved hand helped him to his feet.
It was a miracle. Like a
Christmas miracle—except for bachelor parties.
To be continued…