In his ravings, Harvey Dent said Fate was a faithless bitch. He’d accepted her as the only thing that was holy—men lived or died, countries rose and fell at her whim. A shake of her head and a message goes awry, the lover swallows poison and his bride impales herself on his sword. A smile from her lips, a song on the radio reminds a quarreling couple of their first dance. Harvey had accepted Fate as the one force that shaped men’s lives—and she betrayed him.
She mocked him now –from the television– two people on a sitcom were arguing about a musket:
Guns kill people, Sam. They’re macho and they’re redneck. And they’re disgusting, and frankly, despite all your faults—
The world isn’t really like that, Dana. It’s a more interesting place than that.
Black and white. Here.
You’re a member of the anti-handgun coalition?
Francis Marion was a farmer from South Carolina, Unschooled, unsophisticated, but when the king sent his army to terrorize the colonists, who wanted nothing more glamorous than their birthright, Marion and 100 other farmers fought them off with this. They stood up to the British Empire. With that crappy piece of tin.
You’ve got to learn to separate the stuff …From the stuff.
Harvey had accepted that life was duality, male and female, 1s and 0s, night and day, life and death, and yes BLACK and WHITE. Everything was 50-50 and it took only a flip of the coin, an exercise of faith in Fate, to decide. She betrayed him.
Life was not black and white. And if it wasn’t black and white, it couldn’t be decided by the coin. And as he sat at the mirror trying to decide whether to shoot his reflection or himself, the television mocked him. He could shoot himself or his reflection—he did the impossible and opted for the third choice. He shot the television.
This time it was Alfred who interrupted Bruce’s workout—with a soft cough rather than hazardous pranks with the practice dummy. He informed Master Bruce there was a visitor waiting upstairs. Entering the study, Bruce was surprised to discover the visitor was Selina.
“I talked to Harvey,” she began without pleasantries. “He’s in nine kinds of pain. You should’ve told me.”
“I didn’t really get the chance, did I?”
“No,” she admitted, “I flew off the handle.” There was a pause where the words I apologize were notably absent. “I’d been getting angrier and angrier since—”
“Yes. I felt used.”
“You’re not alone, Tim and Dick have both taken heat from Young Justice and the Titans. The assumption seems to be that I have everybody I know spending their spare time figuring out how to sandbag their teammates.”
Selina smiled in spite of her determination to remain angry.
“Young Justice? Wouldn’t the merest hint of the senior heroes taking them out to the woodshed put a stop to any shenanigans?”
Bruce produced the Batman twitch-smile.
“That’s what Tim said—adding that of all the senior counterparts by whom one wouldn’t want to be taken out to the woodshed, he had it worse than anybody.”
Neither actually laughed, but the tension eased somewhat. Then Selina spoke seriously:
“Harvey is… really cracking up, isn’t he?”
“Looked that way to me. Any idea why?”
“When I saw him, he said he was ‘drowning in the gray.’ He said Francis Marion beat Redcoat with Brown Bess, and Leonard Berlander was dead. Any of that make any sense to you?”
Ten minutes later they were in the cave, hunched over a monitor displaying a
“Leonard Berlander was one of Harvey’s first successful prosecutions as DA,” Bruce noted, skimming the file. “Low level racketeering, numbers, protection. Sentenced to 12 years, paroled in ’96, busted on possession in ’98, 1 year suspended, busted again—this guy isn’t a very good crook is he?—this time as muscle for Penguin. Just got out in March. You said he’s dead?”
Selina nodded, and with a few swift keystrokes Bruce switched from the courthouse records to the newspaper obituaries:
“Suicide off the Longbend Bridge. No spouse, no next of kin.”
“No. What was the other name?”
More typing and then:
“How about Redcoat, wasn’t there somebody in Star City with that handle a few years ago?”
“Not that I remember… No, nothing. What about ‘drowning in gray?’”
“That one’s pretty obvious, isn’t it,” Selina asked with an un-amused smile.
“Gray. That’d be, you know, that stuff between black and white.”
“What do you want from me, anyway?”
“I’m just saying, Harvey Dent is very big on black and white. Duality—yin and yang—polar opposites.”
“Yes, he is. So how does gray enter into it?”
“I don’t know.”
The next morning Alfred brought a sleeping Bruce Wayne the telephone on a silver tray.
“What time is it?” he asked bearily.
“It’s just after six, sir.”
“In the morning?”
“You have a call, sir.”
“You couldn’t take a message?”
“It’s Miss Selina, sir.”
Oh. Alfred wouldn’t want to get into the middle of that. They were back in limbo—not exactly done with the fight, but done fighting…. More or less working together on Two-Face, unless that was just for that one visit…. Yep, he had no idea where Bruce or Batman stood with Selina or Catwoman—back in limbo.
“Hello?” Bruce managed groggily.
…::It’s the Redcoats::… squawked the earpiece.
…::The Redcoats, the actual Redcoats—Lobsterbacks—the British Army—the Revolution.::…
They were all like this—Ra’s, Scarecrow, Freeze—he could be knocked out, gassed, beaten half-senseless, and the moment he came to, they started babbling incomprehensible nonsense…. Bruce didn’t cover the receiver as he asked:
“Alfred, could you bring me a pot of very strong coffee, please.”
…::Hey, Sherlock, you listening? It’s the actual Redcoats—Francis Marion drove the British out of Charleston during the American Revolution, his men carried something called a Brown Bess Second Model Muskatoon.::…
“The American Revolution?”
“What does that have to do with Two-Face or Gray or Leonard Berlander?”
…::I have no idea—but I can’t wait to find out. ::…
“How do you suggest we do that?”
…::Your way? You sit in an overstuffed chair in the Diogenes Club and ponder the puzzles left you by the bad guys. My way, I GO ASK HIM! This is fun, you know that! ::…
She hung up. Now she was having fun. Incomprehensible woman.
To be continued...