Chapter 2: So is that
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:
“A: Got stuck in a trap, chewed off three legs and was still stuck.”
So I 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
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.
Entry through climate control system, 12 minutes. Targeting jeweled statuettes. Fled with one. Recovered statuette with batarang to wrist during chase. Statuette suffered minor chip. Foundation $ to cover repair.
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. Emeralds.
CW – Penthouse. Surprised her.
CW – Playful tonight.
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 two
hundred cases of premium spirits.
But that was last time. This 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 said,
“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 simply… cold.”
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 nothing.
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
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 Arkham!” he 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
“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.’ HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAaaaaaaaaaa.
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!!!
“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 out.”
“Oh my god, Bro, your senior year. And holidays are coming up.
Deb season. Ha! 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.”
“Yep. Deb season.”
“You’re a nice looking boy, Timothy.”
“I’ll bet you look smashing in a tux.”
“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
“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 Zogger.”
“Heh, heh, heh.”
Leland Bartholomew watched the minute hand flick upwards, another tick closer to four o’clock. How he was dreading four o’clock. Dreading it with a dread bordering on absolute detestation…
“Miss 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.
It was: Harvey Dent’s session.
He’d had Pamela Isley at one o’clock, Roxy Rocket at two. It was a lot
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. Miss
“She’s just going by Pam now,” Bartholomew said dryly—and then stared in
horror at his unprofessional remark.
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 good.”
Harvey rose from his chair and 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
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.
“What, what.” 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?”
“So she wouldn’t wake up the sleeping pills.”
To be continued...