For the first time in his life, Batman was grateful for Jonathan Crane’s existence. If not for the Scarecrow Halloween Bash that no invitee dare miss, Selina would be there now and… shudder… mustn’t even go there.
For Talia Head stood in the doorway, draped in revealing black silk that looked more like a negligee than an evening dress, the neckline that plunged from thin spaghetti straps only barely covering her breasts. Around her shoulders was a wrap of what looked to be ocelot fur.
“Crap, the demonspawn,” Dick hissed, joining Bruce and Alfred.
Bruce’s lip twitched. “Demonspawn” was Selina’s expression. They’d all adopted it.
“It was inevitable,” Bruce noted, “The Lex Foundation-”
“THE LEX FOUNDATION?” Dick croaked, “Oh, puh-lease.”
“They’ve been giving to all the same causes as the Wayne Foundation,” Bruce finished as if he hadn’t been interrupted.
“And how transparent is that!” Dick asked, but when he turned, Bruce had vanished.
“Moira, I need to borrow Omar for a moment.” Sherlock said, steering the hooded form of Brother Cadfael away from his companion. When they reached a quiet corner, Bruce got straight to the point.
“Remember when you told me about Talia’s behavior with the good-looking men
at the DEMON compound?”
mean when He-whose-name-must-not-be-spoken refused the Great One’s
paused, remembering how Omar’s speech had to be filtered through the mental
decoder ring of DEMONspeak.
“Yes. When that happened and she became, um…” he trailed off, unable to guess the DEMONspeak vernacular for “a petulant, sexually frustrated nuisance.”
would fizz,” Omar said.
yes, when she would ‘fizz,’ what would the men do?”
Omar’s eyes grew wide.
make her go away?”
looked around furtively, then motioned for Bruce to come closer.
He spoke in a hushed whisper.
“There is a thing that you speak of. A
thing the Great One’s Daughter would not wish the Great One to know.
If you speak of this thing, so that she sees you know what it is, it is
like the… oh, what is the English word… to frighten off the werewolves and
you speak of this thing, it is like the wolfsbane.
She will go away. Lest you
tell the Great One.”
Bruce murmured, “what is it?”
whispered in Bruce’s ear, and the twitch tugged his lip into a full-blown smile.
tattoo,” Bruce said with as much Bat-menace as he dared, “of Snoopy and
Woodstock on the inside of your left thigh.
Leave now and Daddy doesn’t find out.
Are we clear, Talia?”
As did Lucius Fox.
only a few minutes later that Selina arrived. The gleam of genuine delight with which Holmes greeted his Irene flickered when
Bruce saw Edward Nigma and Doris accompany her. Alfred
appeared with his tray and both ladies took tea.
Eddie accepted a glass of port, and examined the small round wafer that
Alfred appeared with his tray and both ladies took tea. Eddie accepted a glass of port, and examined the small round wafer that accompanied it.
“What is yellow and crunchy and tastes like clay?” he asked.
petrified tennis ball,” Doris guessed.
I’m asking,” Eddie said, holding up his tea biscuit, “what is this
is called a Marie Biscuit, sir,” Alfred intoned in his haughtiest stage
butler, “a form of shortbread much preferred in the days of the Empire,
being easily preserved in a variety of climates.
They were packaged in tins by the Marie Biscuit Company of the village of
Staines near Heathrow. The tins
today are prized by collectors.”
looked at Doris and Selina. “Should
have taken our chances with the apples,” he said.
Bruce signed to Selina, ˜˜What are they doing here?˜˜
˜˜Same thing you are,˜˜ she
answered. Then she continued the explanation aloud, “Eddie
was telling me on the way over how much he likes
the locked room kind,” he enthused. “You
know, like when we’re all here talking, and we hear a shot in the library.
Have to break down the door, and there’s old Rochester lying on the floor dead,
and no way for the killer to have gotten out.”
that moment, a man’s scream was heard in Holmes’s study.
Bruce and Omar reached the door first, forcing the fake partition in
place for the official opening. There,
before the meticulously detailed Holmesian fireplace, beneath the mantel on
which hung the Persian slipper containing Sherlock’s pipe tobacco, between
Watson’s lazy wicker chair and Holmes’s velvet-lined one, there lay Randolph
Larraby, face down on the hearth rug.
To be continued…