Joker looked up happily at the
nine foot banner draped over the Washington Square Arch:
“Q: Did you hear about the blonde
coyote?” it said on the north face, while the banner on the south face read:
had to talk to her.
Step one in devising a successful
strategy is to marshal the known facts. I
was going into a situation very similar to one I’d experienced before, one that
went badly. So consult the log,
analyze what went wrong before, make a plan to avoid those pitfalls this time.
Unfortunately, I stopped logging
encounters with Catwoman long before the protocols fight.
I accessed the last entries I
had for her. All were from the week after
she closed Cat-Tales:
CW – Art Museum, Egyptian Wing – as expected.
Cat’s back in business.
I winced. Banter? Was that any way to describe what happened that night? The night I smiled at her… the night everything became possible… Banter?
I scanned ahead to the next entry.
CW – Cartier’s.
I sat there for an hour,
remembering. I sat there looking at
four log entries consisting of seven words. Eventually realized I’d completely
lost sight of the objective.
I had to talk to her.
In celebration of the de-husking of
the Iceberg, Oswald Cobblepot declared an open bar.
He’d only done this once before, when Two-Face claimed to have
finally and forever offed Batman. Such
claims were not uncommon at the Iceberg and Oswald had been justly skeptical.
But then a day passed. Then
30 hours, then 36, and there were no bat-sightings whatsoever.
So he’d relented… Only to wake the next morning to headlines of the JLA quashing an uprising in Kurdistan. Batman
was there. Batman was alive.
Batman was alive in Kurdistan, and Oswald’s inventories were depleted by
cases of premium spirits.
But that was last time.
there was just cause to celebrate. No
false alarm: They had all seen
Poison Ivy apprehended after her hysterical descent from the rooftops on
witnessing the “murder” of “her baby,” the husk.
The deranged harpy erected a vegetable husk around his bar, trapping a
dozen of her fellow rogues inside, and then had a screaming fit because they had
the wherewithal to cut themselves out!
And what a screaming fit.
Such sounds had not been heard since the famous Clayface-Secret
Santa-potpourri incident of ’99.
“I almost feel sorry for the
lad,” Frieze had said, as they all watched the Redbird drive off.
“It is a long drive out to Arkham with a hysterical Pammy screaming
obscenities.” They’d all been
thinking it, but no one else said anything. Now
Victor Frieze reintroduced the subject.
“To Robin,” he toasted.
And Oswald bristled.
“Beware the Jubjub bird,
Victor,” Jervis cautioned. “Toasting
a vigilante in the Iceberg is… well, it’s a topsy turvy world! But to do so
with liquor Oswald himself is paying for! O
frabjous day; It’s rude, I say.”
Victor considered the rebuke, then
“No. I will pay for the drink.
I still say ‘To Robin.’ Deathtraps
are one thing, but having to drive any distance with Pamela like that, that is
Everyone remembered that Victor was
the designated driver the night of the Christmas party and had to take Poison
Ivy home after Clayface gave her potpourri, so they sipped their drinks and said
There was a click from the jukebox and
a moment of tense silence… then a collective sigh of relief as a hard rock
beat began pounding and Bryan Adams told of a One Night Love Affair.
Edward Nigma ambled to the bar, ordered a Glenundrom, and pulled a leaf
from his costume.
Sly served the drink with his usual air of genial unflappability.
“Why do you have dandelion in your waistband, Mr. Nigma?”
he asked with a friendly air.
he asked with a friendly air.
“Don’t I wish I had an answer to
that one,” Eddie grumbled, downing the shot.
“You’ll be happy to know that
Lady Weed was just taken up the river,” Hugo informed him, “so we should be
all be pheromone-free for a while.”
For the first time since his breakup
with Doris, Edward Nigma indulged in the kind of free, rocking laughter you’d
expect from the Riddler.
“She’s gone to
cackled, “Well set me up with another, Sly, my good man!
And riddle me this, my fellow Rogues:
Who else was just captured, only last night?
Two-Face! And Roxy too! All three together at Arkham.
Now that should be some quality dinner theatre!”
“So the blonde calls to her
husband that the tiger jigsaw puzzle is really hard, and the husband says
‘Honey, put the Frosted Flakes back in the box.’
Don’t you get it? PUT THE
FROSTED FLAKES BACK IN THE BOX!!! What’s
the matter with you people??? It
was Tony the Tiger!!! HahahAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAA!”
“So you bagged Poison Ivy,” Dick
asked with a note of envy.
“Wasn’t much of a challenge,”
Tim answered, “She sort of went to pieces after this thing she was doing at
the Iceberg went bad.”
Dick shrugged, spinning himself off
the vaulting horse to land smartly before the cooler.
He chugged a chilled bottle of water, then tossed another - unopened - over
his shoulder, where Tim caught it neatly.
“Actually, the tussle with Poison
Ivy is the least menaced I’ve felt all week,” Tim admitted.
“It’s the girls from around school that are starting to creep me
“Oh my god, Bro, your senior year.
And holidays are coming up. Deb
Hadn’t realized your number was up already.”
Dick chuckled like it was the funniest thing he’d ever heard.
“Yeah, debutante balls.
All the related parties. You
know how it is, they need escorts.”
“I don’t think that’s it,”
Tim insisted. “This is the
feeling like closing in on a villain’s hideout: You know it might be a trap, there might be cameras, you get that feeling you’re being watched,
any second the floor could drop out beneath you.”
“You’re a nice looking boy,
“I’ll bet you look smashing in a
“Not funny, Dick.”
“You’re a marked man, Tim. You can fight this, or you can just accept the inevitable.”
“That’s the kind of thing Ra’s
al Ghul says.”
“Heh, heh, the Demon’s Head
should be half so determined as a debutante hunting for an escort.”
“Okay, now I’m scared.”
“Bruce and I both went through it.
“That’s what you said about
Vicens?” he said into the
intercom, “Please schedule me for a routine blood test at day’s end.”
“Are you alright, Doctor?” his
assistant asked, concerned.
“Perfectly sound, Miss
Vicens. There is a remote possibility of exposure to fear-gas, and I
wish to run a tox-screen before anything develops.”
It would do no harm. It was standard operating procedure at Arkham if even the mildest symptoms manifested themselves. But Bartholomew knew his dread of the coming hour had a natural, non-chemical explanation. And Jonathan Crane’s remark was not planting a suggestion; it was a simple observation: Bartholomew had looked at the clock fourteen times during Jonathan Crane’s session. In 50 minutes, between 3:00 & 3:50, he’d looked at the clock fourteen times, and his patient had noticed. He did it with a look of distaste, Crane had said, as if something was to occur at four o’clock that Dr. Bartholomew was not looking forward to.
was: Harvey Dent’s session.
He’d had Pamela Isley at one
o’clock, Roxy Rocket at two. It was a lot to take.
At four o’clock, Bartholomew
swallowed two Advil with a swig of Maalox and opened his door.
Dent went through his usual rigmarole, flipping his coin to determine if
he would speak in today’s session or sit in silence.
Feeling a traitor to his Hippocratic oath, Bartholomew prayed it would
come up scarred, indicating silence.
“A lot of estrogen in the rec room
today,” Harvey began, and Bartholomew slumped in his chair.
“Since last night’s arrival of, you know, the Queen of Green.
“She’s just going by Pam
now,” Bartholomew said dryly—and
then stared in horror at
Harvey Dent stared as well. Then, after a beat, he roared with laugher.
“You’re okay, Bart!
We like you!”
It was a thoroughly inappropriate
outburst, completely unprofessional, but it opened up Harvey Dent as nothing ever
had. For the next half hour, Harvey (and Two-Face) told, at length,
the convoluted but fascinating tale of his, or “their,” cough, love life.
“Of course, we’re glad we are
with Roxy now. We’re quite over
Ivy. Of course we are. We can’t help yearning for her now and again—despite the
bad times (of which there were many) outnumbering the good times… Well, like
the old nursery rhyme says, when the good times were good, they were very, very
Harvey rose from his
Bartholomew scrutinized the move. Such
a gesture could be threatening, or it could mean the patient had decided to
terminate the session early and leave.
This appeared to be neither. It
almost seemed that Dent was… oh dear… it seemed he stood in order to adjust
himself. Bartholomew looked to his
notepad, then thought the better of it. He wouldn’t want Dent to think he was
making a note of the action. But
Harvey merely paced as he resumed talking, and didn’t look at Bartholomew at
“Do you know why we are here now,
Doc? Roxy pulled the alarm at the
Second National Bank. Two perfectly
satisfying jobs went off smooth as you please, and that was boring. So she pulled the alarm.
Women! Then, while she was
all wired from the chase, she decided to buzz the Iceberg.
Thrills are one thing. We
don’t say we didn’t enjoy certain aspects of that ride on the rocket, but to
buzz the Iceberg! And then when it came to a confrontation with Batgirl, she
baited the little beast. That
Batgirl is ninety-eight pounds of hurricane, and Roxy flat out baited her. That’s why we’re banged up from here to here, Doc!
It’s Two-Face, mind you, Two-FACE.
The acid only scarred those parts our suit didn’t cover—and WE’D
RATHER KEEP IT THAT WAY!”
At the batting cages in Gotham
Central Park, Joker stood in one cage and his henchman in the one beside it.
“What does a blonde owl say?”
the henchman asked, swinging at a fastball.
Joker answered. “Why did
the blonde have tire tread marks on her back?”
“From crawling across the street
when the sign said DON’T WALK,” answered the henchman.
“Why did the blonde tip-toe past the medicine cabinet?”
answered the henchman.
“Why did the blonde tip-toe past the medicine cabinet?”
“So she wouldn’t wake up the
To be continued…