Sly’s is a rustic but comfortable establishment on the waterfront. He’s done really well for himself, and we were extremely proud in an odd kind of paternal way.
Maybe that’s what all this comes down to, we wondered. Harv and Gilda, despite their efforts, had remained childless. Although he was a little old for the role, we couldn’t help but think of Sly as a sort of son, our lighthouse in the fog of insanity.
Things had, of course, become complicated during the Roxy Rocket affair. We suddenly realized we hadn’t really spoken to Sly properly since. We cursed ourselves for our lack of forethought. We knew it had hurt him, and to see him hurt had hurt Harv in turn. Masochism is quickly becoming our trademark. The unresolved issue would no doubt make this potentially volatile discussion even trickier.
A smell of “Floribbean cooking” hung in the air, spicy and fragrant. For those who have never experienced it, you cannot imagine a smell so wonderful. It seems to caress your senses like a lover.
Ever the old romantic, eh Harv? Shut up, Two-Face.
There was a deck with some tables at the back of the bar. The deck looked out onto the sea—a picturesque setting to enjoy a drink that puts Oswald’s faux ice chandeliers to shame. Inside, there are dollar bills taped to the walls, a tradition whose roots lie in the past. When sailors or fishermen were fairly well off, they would sign their name to a dollar and tape it to the wall. That way, if they were broke on some future visit, they could still be assured of a drink. Somehow, this idea has never caught on in the Iceberg.
This unique decorating gimmick started us thinking: Sly is often seen as laboriously normal by the rest of Oswald’s clientele. This is not at all fair. He may be conventional compared to many of us, but that does not mean he is boring. He is a man of hidden depths previously obscured by the bizarre nature of those around him. This bit with the dollars on the walls: an attempt to please both the regulars (by showcasing their proud heritage) and the tourists (by presenting them with quirky decoration) was evidence of his clever business brain, one of his many qualities that would previously have remained hidden. We smiled as we looked around, noting iceberg-shaped salt and pepper dispensers on the tables that littered the room. It seemed to prove our point. What the locals undoubtedly saw as a note of whimsy had hidden significance to those of us in the know.
We looked up. The bar itself was a small island in the center of the room, the tables like little ships circumnavigating it. And there was Robinson Crusoe himself.
Sly squinted at us in disbelief.
“Mr. Dent? Is that you?”
We nearly laughed out loud. Who else could it have been?
“You bet it is,” we said, striding towards him, a warm grin on half of our features. “How have you been, Sly?” we asked, reaching out our hand for a handshake.
“I’m good!” Sly said, wiping his hand on a novelty towel that depicted a map of The Keys before taking our outstretched hand and shaking it. “Good to see you, Mr. Dent, sir. Awfully good to see you. Far from home, aren’t you?”
“We could say the same for you, son,” we said, deciding to try and keep this as light as possible. Besides—telling him that we had driven for three days solid just to try and tempt him back to Gotham might not have been the best way to break the ice. “What made you come all the way out here? We miss you! ‘We’ as in the gang en masse, not ‘we’ as in us… Oh hell,” we said, feeling the color rising to our cheeks.
The sensation was strange. We hadn’t felt this way since we tried to work up the courage to ask a young woman by the name of Gilda to our high school prom.
Sly chuckled amicably. “Of course, sir.” Without asking, a double shot of double malt scotch whiskey appeared in front of us. We laughed happily.
“OK. We take it back, Sly. ‘We,’ as in us, miss you.”
“Aw shucks, Mr. Dent, you’ll embarrass me,” Sly said, adopting a farm boy accent, dodging the compliment like a pro. We laughed again.
“Point taken. So… how have you been? What have you been up to?”
“Oh, I’m getting by. Getting adjusted. Learning all my new customers’ names and preferences.” As he said that, one of his regulars walked in. Before he had even reached the bar, Sly had prepared his favorite drink with a friendly nod. They exchanged a few pleasantries before the man retired to a table, allowing ourselves and Sly to continue talking.
“Impressive,” we noted. “So… how’ve you settled into the area, then?”
“What’s not to like? It’s just like Mr. Nigma’s letter said. The weather is wonderful, we’re right on the beach, the women…. oh Mr. Dent…the women come in off the beach in bikinis. Won’t see anything like that in Gotham. And of course the locals are very free-spirited folks, just like the Iceberg except… well…” He trailed off. There was an awkward pause. We knew full well what he had stopped himself from saying, something to the effect of ‘the locals here are flamboyant without being homicidal.’
The conversation was turning in a way we didn’t
like. Sly seemed happy here (we silently cursed) and actually seemed quite
negative about his old watering hole. Two-Face stumbled into the argument
like Killer Croc at an antiques roadshow.
“Hey! We have attractive women in Gotham too! And the locals aren’t ALWAYS… what was your word? Free-spirited…” We thought of the mayhem of this trip so far, realized it was not the best illustration of our point, and decided on a change of tack. “Well, I’m glad you’re enjoying things here anyway. So when do you plan on coming home?”
“Coming home?” He had a look in his eye like he was about to tell us our hamster had died. “Oh… well, it’s not like I don’t miss everybody back at the Iceberg, but…” Sly paused. We felt our heart sinking. “This is home now.”
“Oh. OK.” We silently digested that, pain welling up in our chest.
Sensing this, Sly desperately tried to change the subject. “How is, er, everybody?”
Our lawyer instincts began working in overdrive. We had been reminded in earlier conversation of Sly’s weakness for women—one of them in particular, whom he seemed to be alluding to now.
“They’re all fine. Roxy’s doing well.” We mentally bitch slapped Two-Face back to his kennel. This was going to be a very delicate train of conversation and we could do without his clumsiness. “Truth be told, we haven’t seen much of her since… uh… the incident… we aren’t seeing each other anymore, by the way.” We could almost see his ears pricking up. We pressed on. “She talks about you a lot, though, and how much she misses you. Something about you being the only guy in the ‘Berg who treated her like an equal rather than just another gimmickless wonder? We don’t know…”
We trailed off, realizing that, for a guy who claimed to not see much of Roxy, we seemed to know a lot about how she felt. This momentary slip could bring us back to square one!
Fortunately, only four words of our rambling had mattered to Sly.
“She talks about me?” he asked, almost in wonder. Sly had clearly stopped listening to us at that point in our diatribe, as we had expected he would. Our impassioned speech appeared to be having the desired effect. What can we say? You don’t get to be D.A. without being crafty now and again.
Sly served up a basket of grouper and fries to the flamboyant locals. It smelled heavenly. We eyed it hungrily. Seeing this, Sly pushed a small basket our way and topped up our drink.
We knew what his game was, but we were too hungry to care. What can we say? You don’t get to be D.A without taking the odd bribe here and there. And we were more than happy to swap information about Roxy for some of those sumptuous fries.
“Yeah,” we said, “She does. She says how much she wishes she could see you again. Sly, we’ve got Hugo Strange running your bar at the moment. All he does is stare at her breasts all day. She misses the conversations you two used to have.”
Sly tensed, like a dog hearing a suspicious noise.
“Dr. Strange is ogling her?” he said, twitching slightly.
“Kind of… we guess…” we said, moving away from him slightly. We fully expected him to rip open his shirt to reveal that blood red ‘S’ in the golden triangle, comb his hair into a kiss curl, and burst through the roof of the bar in a blaze of glory. We pressed on despite ourselves. “She always talks about how she could do with some nice guy to take her away from it all.”
“Think she’d like to come to Florida?” Sly said, eagerly. We suddenly deflated and sighed, exasperated.
“That’s not quite what we… uh… she had in mind. We think she’s got family or something in Gotham. Besides—it’s a big step to completely sever all links to a place and move away. It takes a lot of thought—can’t really be done on impulse. We were worried you’d think you hadn’t given it enough thought and would regret your decision…”
The basket of bayfries was slowly withdrawn as we spoke. We silently cursed again. There was a slight commotion over by the jukebox. We turned. The locals looked pleased with themselves. The opening chords to a familiar song were heard. Jimmy Buffet. Sly visibly slumped.
“They play an awful lot of Jimmy Buffet music down here.”
We shuddered. “Yeah, we know.” We looked longingly at the fries. “In the short time we’ve been here, we’ve become thoroughly sick of the old guy.”
At the chorus, the locals started singing.
“Changes in latitude, changes in attitude, nothing remains quite the same… If we weren’t all crazy, we would all go insane.”
We groaned. We hate songs in which the lyrics could be applicable to the current situation.
“We really don’t like him.”
The fries inched closer.
“Neither do I. He’s the one thing they don’t tell you about in the brochures.”
“You know, Sly,” we said thoughtfully, “the jukebox
in the ‘Berg has no Jimmy Buffet stuff on it at all… ok, so there’s far too
much Brian Adams for our liking but still…”
Sly laughed. It was a strange, almost evil kind of laugh.
“Yeah, and if they ever had a singalong like this, Mr. Joker would shoot ‘em all and let God sort them out.”
Now we expected him to pull off his wig and reveal his true green hair and bone white skin. We inched away again.
“Can you imagine a sing song in the ‘Berg?” we said, turning the screw as only a lawyer can, “Jeez, and you thought our karaoke parties were bad…”
…Changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes, nothing remains quite the same, through all of our running and all of our cunning, if we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane…
made a mental note to ask Jack if he was a Jimmy Buffet fan. The basket of
fries was inching closer. It seemed to us that it was acting as a
barometer for how we were doing. The closer it was to
us, the weaker Sly’s resolve… the Jimmy Buffet medley was working its
horrible magic… If we could just
sneak a bite…
“Why just the other day, Roxy was telling us how much she hates Jimmy Buffet…”
“Stop it, Mr. Dent.”
We looked at Sly. He was smiling. He offered us the basket of fries. We took one and bit into it. Our palate was in raptures.
“I know what you’re up to, Mr. Dent. I have from the minute you walked in here.” We cursed. Maybe we should have taken Jack’s advice about the sombrero? Sly continued. “And I’m flattered, I really am. It means an awful lot to me that you’d come all the way out here just to try and get me to come back to the ‘Berg.”
We held our breath.
“But I just don’t know, Mr. Dent. If I was to come back…”
We were so close. We had almost got him. We weren’t going to let him off the hook now. We were far too close!
“…What would I do about this place?” Sly continued. A waiter was passing, and we grabbed him by the arm, dragging him into the conversation.
“What’s your name, sonny?” we snapped, our nerves beginning to fray as our desperation grew.
“Look at this man, Sly! Ken can clearly be trusted! Ken is a name you can trust!” You would be forgiven for thinking we were running his election campaign, we thought ruefully. “You’ve got a whole host of loyal staff here, any one of them more than capable of running this place in your absence, we’re sure.”
He seemed to be wavering.
“Come on, Sly! Any of them would be able to handle the day to day operations of this place. And then you could mastermind the overall administration yourself. Think about it, Sly! You as the Mastermind, Ken as your loyal henchman — minion — deputy. We meant deputy. We said deputy, right?”
“But it’s miles in between here and Gotham, Mr. Dent! How would I look after the books over such a distance?”
We wavered, caught off guard for a second, but managed to roll with the punch as any good lawyer should.
“Internet! How does anybody do anything these days? On the Internet! You should see what Eddie can do on a PC. Other than setting a new Tetris record every time he turns the damn thing on. He could set up everything you’d need, explain how to use it, trouble shoot if you had any problems… And think how impressed Roxy would be by a Mastermind clever enough to run his own business from miles away.”
He began to say something, but we cut him off, second-guessing what he would say. We were shamelessly pulling out all of the old courtroom classics here, and it seemed to be working.
“And don’t worry about them,” we gestured airily at the regulars. “They’ll be here when you get back—that’s what makes them regulars. And when you do come back and visit, you’ll have all kinds of things to talk about, firming up your already strong friendships.”
The words were forming on his lips. We could tell. All he needed was one last push. We played our trump card.
We leapt off the stool and strolled over to the jukebox. We fished a quarter from our pockets, and looked over at Sly. He was fixing at us with one of his patented, ‘Don’t you dare’ glares he had perfected during Jack’s infamous ketchup rampage of last year. We grinned, and placed the coin into the slot. The familiar strains filled the bar, the locals cheering the old favorite.
Changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes, nothing remains quite the same, through all of our running and all of our cunning, if we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane…
We looked at Sly. He looked at us.
“Tell you what,” he said, “I have got a great deputy here—the best. I’d trust him with my life. And I’m going to trust him with my bar. You’re right, I can still do all the admin for this place in Gotham. I’ll come back occasionally to oversee it, obviously, but you know, I have missed the Iceberg and its crazy inhabitants. Tell Mr Cobblepot if he’s got any bar jobs going, I’d like to apply.”
We said nothing, merely looking at him passively. We motioned for him to wait for just one moment. We fished into our breast pocket, and pulled out our silver dollar. We flipped it. Sly was looking a little nervous—understandably. He looked positively terrified when it landed in our palm scarred side up.
We grinned wickedly at him. Leaping over the bar, we buried him in a monstrous bear hug. He laughed.
“OK, OK. Mr. Dent? I can’t breathe.”
We stood up, dusting ourselves down, before giving him a hand up.
“And if it had been unscarred side up?”
“We would have patted you on the shoulder and told you how glad we were to have you aboard, soldier.”
“Just my luck,” Sly grumbled, before breaking into a grin.
We turned, giving Sly one last rueful smile. He waved back, smiling at us before resuming his duties behind the bar. With our heart lifted, we pushed open the door.
Immediately, we were blinded by what seemed to be a myriad of light and noise of almost biblical proportions. We raised a hand to our eyes, grimacing under the fusillade, completely caught unaware.
With gritted teeth, we managed to steal a glance at what lay before us. A huge crowd of reporters and photographers. We had what seemed like a hundred microphones thrust into our face. We stammered, no idea whatsoever what to do.
A burly man was bustling his way through the crowd. We felt our heart sink as we recognized the familiar gait of a detective. When you’re in our line of work, you can spot a cop a million miles away, and there was absolutely no doubt in our mind that this one had our number.
Sure enough, before we could even say travesty of justice, he had shoved his badge in our face and quoted us our rights. We silently mouthed the words with him as we were led from the bar, so accustomed as we are to hearing them, the throng of reporters clamoring behind all around us.
As we reached the squad car, we paused, shrugging his hand off our arm so violently that we found ourselves staring down the barrel of his pistol.
“Look, buddy,” we said, genuine confusion in our eyes, “Just what is it we’re supposed to have done?”
“Public order offences,” he stated sharply, not lowering his gun, “Disturbing the peace. Criminal damage. Get in the damn car.”
We sighed. So much for our holiday.
Edward Nigma cackled gleefully as he discovered the quaint little Key West souvenir shop. Unbeknownst to all but his closest friends, he had a real weakness for souvenirs: the cheaper and tackier, the better. Suffice it to say, in this regard he was not disappointed by this particular tourist trap.
Carrying his question mark topped gold cane under one arm, he strolled into the shop with a friendly nod to the proprietor.
Suddenly, a particularly ugly porcelain dessert bowl caught his eye. He whirled to get a better look at it, knocking a whole host of equally hideous ornaments off the shelf with his cane as he did so. Performing a dive from the counter that many would not have thought a man of his years capable of, the storeowner managed to catch the falling crockery.
Turning to see what all the commotion was about, Eddie managed to knock off another of the dishes off of its display stand. It dropped, inevitably landing with a crash on the storeowner’s head. He cursed violently.
Grinning weakly, Eddie apologized, walked over to the counter, and placed $10 on top of the cash register. Seeing something else catch his eye, Eddie wondered, goggle eyed, over to the section of the shop dedicated to ornamentally carved glassware.
The storeowner, who had been strapping on his trusty baseball glove, cursed violently again, and dashed over to grab Eddie by the shoulder and stop him from destroying any more of his merchandise.
As he caught Eddie by the shoulder, Eddie whirled around instinctively, expecting to see Robin bearing down on him with a roundhouse kick. With his flailing arm, he managed to knock off a whole row of glass animals that were perfect in their ability to induce nausea in art lovers.
Somehow, in the resulting melee, Eddie’s gold cane became lodged in between the storeowner’s legs, causing him to stumble, crashing precariously into a shelf of novelty Florida Keys snow globes (despite the area not being famed for snow scenes).
The shelf snapped in half under the impact of the man’s head, causing all of the merchandise to slip with a crash onto the floor. Always one to know when best to slip into the shadows, Eddie grabbed his cane and flew from the store, slamming the door behind him.
The building was old, a true relic of times gone by. The door slamming caused the shelf nearest it to topple. This in turn slammed into another shelving unit, causing it to topple in the inevitable dominoes effect. When the crashing and toppling finally came to a halt, there was not a single piece of merchandise left intact in the entire store. After a moment’s silence, there came a scrabbling from underneath the rubble.
The storeowner looked around in utter shock and horror, his livelihood destroyed.
OK, so he could buy everything he had lost for fifty bucks, so deliberately worthless (and thus attractive to tourists) was it, but that was completely beside the point!
Remarkably, the counter and cash register had remained largely unharmed. There was a phone he kept behind the counter. With shaking hands and a pretty good description of the question mark man in his mind, he dialled 911.
We knew we were in for a rough night when we were led in handcuffs down a flight of spiraling stone steps towards where we were told our cell was to be. There had been a crude rope handrail erected at the side to aid climbing and descending the stairs, as they were treacherous, to say the very least. We wondered how many wanted felons had thrown themselves down this flight to avoid capture. Quite a few, we reasoned, judging from the extremely tight grip with which our shoulder was held as we descended.
Key West, we had heard, was an old pirate colony. As we were led downward, the arresting detective verified this, and also told us that this building had been a police station for centuries and had held its fair share of smugglers and pirates. He noted, with a slight smirk that only a cop can pull off, that the conditions hadn’t improved that much since then.
Fantastic, we thought bitterly.
Catman had chosen to explore the back streets of the Keys, which are in many ways just as fascinating than the better-known tourist areas, if not moreso. He looked in awe at the ancient buildings, enjoying taking in the air of history that hung over the place.
Suddenly, the most delicious aroma invaded his nose. He twitched, his moustache trembling, as might the whiskers of a cat.
Feeling he had very little say in the matter, his feet moving almost without his commanding them to, he floated towards the epicenter of the smell. He found his stomach growling even more ferociously than that lion he had bagged last fall. He recognized that smell… it was… it was… As he came to the restaurant, he finally recognized it… Pizza.
The way to Blake’s heart, being a true blue blood, was most definitely through his stomach, and it was for this reason that he marched imperialistically into the restaurant and sat down. He clicked his fingers. Nobody came to serve him. He tried again. Still nothing. Beginning to become a little perturbed, Catman angrily looked around him. There was no staff to be seen. There was merely a hugely fat ginger cat sitting on a table. Surrounding the cat was the most heavenly looking pizza imaginable. Unsure of what to do in these odd circumstances, Catman walked over to the cat and began stroking it. It started purring, much to his delight.
Next to the cat was a bowl containing a good couple of hundred dollars in small bills and coins. Blake’s eyes goggled. He looked around, still bemused. There really were no people around that looked common enough to be staff. There were a couple of diners he noted, but he really didn’t want to lower himself to their level and ask what he was supposed to do.
It dawned on him. It appeared that one simply took what one wanted in terms of pizza and then paid the cat, so to speak, dropping the money directly into its bowl.
Blake scoffed. A ridiculous idea. Surely it wouldn’t work? This was a smuggler town, after all! What was the point of using the honor system, for this is what it appeared to be, in a town like this? It was like that time The Cavalier left his PlayStation in the recreation room back in Arkham and expected it to still be there when he got back. Insanity.
Blake looked at the pizza. He really was very hungry… and the wonderful aroma coming off of them was making him feel even more famished. Shrugging, he chose a suitably large piece (the anchovy and tuna piece particularly appealing to his feline senses) and retired to a table to devour.
Five slices later, and Blake was feeling rather full. Conscious of the effects of an expanding waist band on his magic cloak, he tottered over to the cat and its dish, looking like a particularly haughty version of Humpty Dumpty.
To his horror, he saw another diner get up and walk towards the door without paying.
Blake cantered over to the diner and tapped him on the shoulder. The man (who Blake suddenly realized was a lot more intimidating than at first glance) turned around.
“Sir,” said Blake, suddenly less sure of himself, “You have not paid for your food.”
“Yeah?” said the man sneering, “And who’s gonna stop me? That cat? Get outta my way, Shorty!”
He pushed Blake back with one ham fisted hand. Blake, as with many people born with a silver spoon in their mouths, was very quick to anger when they felt the spoon was in danger of being forcibly removed, and this situation was no different. He began to remove one of his leather gloves.
“Actually, sir, THIS cat does intend to stop you! You have insulted the honor of my ginger friend, and as a fellow cat, I feel equally affronted!”
Catman slapped the man hard around the cheek with the now empty glove.
“Sir, I challenge you to a duel! Sundown! Bring your duelling pistols, you incongruous oaf!”
As we neared what was to be our cell, we heard a sound that we have come to loath.
There was no doubt that the voices belonged to our esteemed colleagues: Catman, Riddler, and Joker. The fact that they were in the same cellblock that we were being led to could only mean that one of them had somehow managed to get the rest of us into trouble. Guilt by association, it’s called.
This was the Florida Keys. The people around here are more easygoing than the entire cast of Cool Runnings. Then you take into consideration that the whole group was in trouble - not just the perpetrator, but the entire group. Whatever had happened must have been really bad. Taking these factors into consideration, we came to the obvious conclusion:
As we came to the bottom of the winding staircase, we saw them. Catman, Eddie, and Joker were attached to the wall by wrist and ankle shackles. We should have expected no less, we thought with a sigh, but sight still came as a shock. We stared at the guard incredulously. He merely grinned toothlessly back, pointing to an empty set of shackles.
We had a really bad feeling about this. We glared furiously at Joker. What could he have done this time? He met our anger with a bright grin. We could almost see his halo tilting in the non-existent breeze.
Unable to contain ourselves any longer, we strode over to him and shook him violently. He jabbered like a Furbie as we did so, which infuriated us even more, so we shook harder. The guard pulled us away angrily.
“For that,” he said panting, “You’re gonna hang upside down.”
The bad feeling in the pit of our stomach had officially developed into a full-blown pain in the ass.
Whistling a jaunty tune, Joker strode into the Cheese Burger In Paradise restaurant. He nodded to the bemused looking greeter, who had temporarily forgotten he was supposed to greet him. Joker made encouraging hand motions. The young man eventually understood, and welcomed him to the restaurant. Joker smiled, patting the man on the shoulder, putting the Smilex canister back in his pocket with his free hand.
He sat down, folded his arms, and smiled warmly at the equally bemused looking waitress. Taking a deep breath, he ordered.
Six of Jimmy Buffet’s famous burgers later, Jack was feeling contended.
“Whew,” he said to the waitress, as she began clearing his table. “That was great. How do you make those burgers?”
She smiled at him. “I’m afraid I can’t tell you that, sir. It’s a secret recipe.”
Joker laughed, then became serious. “HAHAHAHA—no, seriously. I don’t wanna traipse all the way to Florida each time I want a quality burger. What’s the recipe?”
“I can’t tell you, sir.”
Joker sighed. “Look dear, much like the Conan O’Brien show, where only the host may dance, in my presence, only I may tell jokes. Now, I’m gonna ask you again: how do you make ‘em?”
“Sir, I can’t tell you…”
“I was afraid you’d say that, Samantha.”
“Sir, my name is Anne.”
“Look Billy, it doesn’t really matter,” Joker said, drawing the Handi-Dandy Extendo Boxing Glove he always carried for occasions like this, “because if you don’t tell me what I want to know, then you’re gonna find out how Mike Tyson’s trainer feels.”
“Nobody move!” he said, putting the glove close to Anne’s eye, “or Dave here is going to make Rocky look like Sesame Street! Now—here are my demands. I need paper, a pen, and the head chef.”
“YOU DID WHAT?!” We managed to stutter, anger causing our body to shake and our vocal chords to catch in mid-rant.
Fortunately, the guard’s threat had proved hollow. We were upside down for about ten minutes, just long enough to bring on a nasty headache as the blood rushed to our brain, but after that, another guard came and released us. Only to shackle us the right way up to the wall.
Joker grinned at us sheepishly.
“Seemed like a good idea at the time.”
“This,” pronounced Catman, “is just wonderful. A scintillating end to an infamous trip!”
“Do you even know what those words mean, you cretin?!” Eddie yelped. He had about as much as he could stand of Blake’s whining.
“Naturally, Edward. Why? Don’t you?”
“Yes, I do, or at least I think I do. Why don’t you tell me what you think they mean—then we can compare notes!”
Catman blanched visibly. “Well… they mean… I don’t intend to lower myself to your level, you insubordinate youth!”
“Alright, alright, keep it down.” This was a new voice to us, and we turned to see whom it belonged to. A cop, judging by the posture and days of unshaved stubble on his chin. The Bermuda shorts and Hawaiian style shirt had thrown us a bit, but there was no mistaking that badge as it was flashed in our faces. Joker wolf whistled at this, which brought a scalding glare from the detective.
“So, what can we do for you, Officer?” we asked, with a sneer, “You’ll have to forgive our inhospitality—we’d normally offer you a cup of tea or two—but we seem to be all tied up at the moment.”
“Then you’ll be glad to know that you won’t be for much longer, won’t you, Dent?” the cop said, with a snarl.
“Question: What on Earth are you talking about?” Eddie asked.
“Tomorrow, you’re being deported back to Gotham,” the cop said, with disgust.
“WHOOHOO!” Jack said,
grinning broadly. “And there are no cops in Gotham City, and the streets
are paved with bodies…” He sung.
“Shut up!” we snarled at Joker, “What are you so
happy about? Don’t you understand, you idiot clown, that I am an innocent man? I have committed no crime!
I am a patsy! A patsy!”
“Really?” Joker asked. “I’m a Libra.”
We could feel the vein in our forehead sticking out at an alarming angle. We turned to our side to deliver a scathing response, but the police officer cut in.
“So, you’re an innocent man are you, Dent? Then how do you explain the graffiti we found on the ‘Southern Most Point In Continental United States’ monument? The graffiti that reads ‘2face woz ere’ ?!”
“I was framed!”
“Sure was. By us!” we
snarled, jerking a thumb at our left hand side. I shrieked in horror.
“Whatever!” snapped the cop, “Sort it out in your own time, Dent, you sick freak. Here’s the long and the short of it. You made bail. It was paid half an hour ago by one Mr. Bruce Wayne.”
We gasped. What with all the revelations and resultant gasping and shrieking, we were becoming quite short on breath. Joker cackled.
“Brucie! Is there any end to that man’s talents? Hell, I’d give him a rousing round of applause if I could move my hands.”
“Shut up!” spat the officer. “Mr. Wayne said something along the lines of how your plight had made him feel sympathetic enough to part with the required bail. He also said that if you guys are gonna serve time, then he wants it to be in his city. It makes me sick. That man could wipe his ass with dollar bills. Why’s he wasting his time on lowlifes like you? I just don’t know. It makes me sick.”
He paused. We are glad to report he was not sick, although he could have been with the amount of bile he must have built up on his diatribe.
“Anyway, tomorrow, January 25th, on flight number CO9173, you four are to be deported back to Gotham to be dealt with by the local authorities. Frankly, I’ll be glad to see you go. Between the four of you, you’ve caused more trouble than Key West has seen in years! People like you make me sick to my stomach! We’re gonna be a damn sight better off without you. And frankly, when you’re on that plane headed back to Gotham, there’ll be a grin on my face even wider than Laughing Boy over here.” He gestured angrily at Joker.
Who was no longer smiling.
Neither were we. Eddie and Catman looked positively horrified.
“Did you say…” we managed to stammer.
“January…” Joker said, with a frightened snigger.
“Twenty…” Catman said, without his usual pompous sneer.
“Fifth?” Eddie fittingly finished the question.
“Yeah, I did. That a problem for you guys? Doesn’t work with your schedule? Well, tell you what, you have your people call my people, they’ll tell you where to shove it, and I’ll be back later to take you to the plane. You people make me sick!” he said, angrily, stomping up the flight of stairs. His sandals on the flagstones made an eerie ringing noise in the stunned silence of the old cell.
Our head was beginning to swim.
In full swing.
And suddenly He was to be presented with four new chew toys. Toys that were, so far, untouched. Toys that in His eyes were surely due the chewing of a lifetime just to make up for their protracted absence.
“If you guys are gonna to serve time, then he wants it to be in his city,” the guard had said. What an unfortunate choice of words, we reflected gloomily. His city… Serving time in His city… Hell Month…
Jack succinctly summed up the mood.
“We’re doomed,” he sighed.
To be continued…