Part 5: Two-Faced Tale - Roadtrip
This chapter is a TWOFACED TALE, written with Twofaced Tales author Rob Pierce
♫ Four thousand six hundred and twenty seven bats chained to a wall, four thousand six hundred and twenty seven BATS!!! Bite off the head, pull out the wings, four thousand six hundred and twenty six bats chained to the wall!! ♫
And so it went.
On and on. Mile after mile. Bat after bat chained to the wall.
♫ Bite off the head, pull out the wings, four thousand six hundred and twenty five bats chained to the wall!! ♫
We tried to ignore it as the stolen BMW sped down US Highway-1. We were at the wheel again. We, Eddie, and Blake had agreed to take the long haul driving in turns. The idea of Jack driving was too horrible to contemplate.
We tried to concentrate on the gray road. We tried to block out his singing. We really did.
That same, irritating ditty, over and over and over again until our head pounded with… unholy vehemence and our teeth were clenched tighter than the purse clasp of… Gah! we can’t remember the name now. A Dickens grotesque is characterized in that way. Just thinking of that stupid tune has completely ruined our power over adjectives. You can only imagine the effect it had at the time.
It is a Dickens character. Her purse clasp snaps shut like a bear trap. We think it was Estella from Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. Two-Face insists it was Maxi Amberville in I’ll Take Gotham City by Judith Krantz. But we digress…
We like to think of ourselves as a tolerant man. But we dare you to listen to that same tune, spoken in a deliberately infuriatingly sing song way by a man who is suicide-inducing at the best of times, and see how much you like it.
Got the picture in your head? Now imagine that said annoyance—let’s, for arguments sake, call him Joker—has been singing for the past two hundred miles…
Catman was the first one to crack. With a cry of “Out, vile spot!” (he
has a penchant for misquoting Shakespeare - also for using words like
‘penchant’), Blake fell upon Joker and began strangling the sadistic clown with
his seat belt. Eddie started a rousing round of applause.
“Tommy… I never knew you cared… Erk!” Joker managed to squeal.
With a howl of frustration—the kind that usually means yet another crime of his
has been attributed to Selina, Blake tightened his hold on Jack’s neck.
We sighed, massaging the bridge of our nose with our fingers. We have
never been one for bad puns, so we’ll refrain from describing the headache as
splitting. But it was a rough one, and it was getting worse. Joker
seems to have that effect on us. We honestly couldn’t tell you why.
We actually sympathized
with Catman, as surprised as we were to realize it. In truth, when Blake
cracked, we had been very close to it ourselves, grinding our teeth down to the
gum in a desperate attempt to block out Joker’s fevered chanting. A glance
at Eddie using our rear view mirror confirmed that he was going through the same
He looked drawn and pale and, since the trip had begun, he appeared to have
aged a good fifteen years. It was these factors coupled with the fact that
he had now joined Blake in strangling Jack—inventively using the shelf behind
the passenger seat at the rear of the car for leverage—that led us to the almost
Sherlockian feat of deduction that Jack was annoying all of us equally.
We sighed, regretting what we were about to say before the words had left
what was left of our lips.
“OK guys, get off him!” we ordered.
“He’s going the same color as his suit. And besides,
Blake, imagine what the blood of such a creature could do to your precious
Blake squirmed away from the now gasping clown, a look of
horror on his face.
“Egads, Dent! For once you are
correct! The consequences of the potent magic imbibed in my cloak being
mixed with the blood of this charlatan could indeed have grievous
Eddie gave him an incredulous stare.
“Don’t look at me like that, Nigma.
What would a man of your pitiful intellect know of magicks such as this?”
Eddie’s mouth had suddenly become a very thin line. You don’t cast
aspersions on the Riddler’s brainpower, you just don’t. There was going to
be trouble. We growled menacingly.
“Oh for the love of…” Words failed us, so
we banged our head on the steering wheel, “Can’t we at least pretend to
“Great idea, Harv,” piped up Joker.
His voice was croaky, and yet unnervingly perky. “Now, who’s for a quick
game of Eye Spy?”
Almost instinctively, we found ourselves swerving the car hard right into the
solid shoulder and bringing it to a juddering halt.
“That TEARS IT!” we hissed. Out of
the corner of our eye, we saw Eddie and Catman squirm backward in their seats.
We whipped around and fixed all three of them with an angry glare. “Listen
you three. We have tried to be patient. We have tried to be
understanding. But we have just about reached the end of our tether.
Correction. We have reached the end of just about every
tether! Jack—you will sit in the front seat next to us. You will sit
perfectly still and say nothing. And if we hear anything—and we mean
anything—from any of you, then there will be HELL to pay.”
“Will it be expensive?” Joker said, “because I’ve only got a couple of bucks on me.”
We fixed him with a glare that could melt ice. Without a word, he came
and sat in the seat next to us.
“Right then,” we said, sighing heavily. We kicked the car back into
“Sorry, Mom,” came a murmur from the back. Our head snapped round
again, eyeing Blake and Eddie, daring them, willing them even to attempt to mess
with us. They said nothing and did their best to look innocent.
Making a mental note to stop Eddie’s allowance when we got home, we resumed
We had stopped at the last service station for a quick bite to eat.
Joker had also picked up some reading material—that is to say, all the most
recent gossip rags.
We had calmed down since the little outburst about two hundred miles back and
were actually enjoying the ride now. There’s something about the freedom
of the open road that we enjoy. The same thing that had inspired so many
singers, writers and poets to write about it, we supposed.
Suddenly, in the seat next to us, Joker began whistling innocently. Our
heart began to sink. That kind of whistle could only mean one thing.
We tried to ignore him, but we couldn’t. We simply had to know what he
was up to, if only out of very morbid curiosity. Resignation in our heart,
we looked over to him.
He was clutching one of his gossip magazines. This one, judging from
the bawdy graphics that adorned the front cover, was called ‘The Gotham
Tattler.’ We knew of it, actually. The Tattler is a particularly
trashy tabloid that looks into the meaningless lives of meaningless celebrities
in Gotham City. Being as Gotham is one of America’s most infamous towns,
the magazine (using the word loosely) is available nationwide.
We were about to regale Jack with a five-minute speech on the pointlessness
of such publications when something caught the corner of our eye.
Ivy was on the front cover. Our ex
girlfriend, Ivy. A shudder passed through us at the memories, experiences
shared and wounds not totally healed. But what was she doing on the front
And then it struck us. Next to her was a picture of Nightwing. A
lump of seething fetid bile was forming in our throat. We read the glossy
“Nightwing and Ivy! Together at last!” screamed the headline. We
turned to the road, our jaw clenched. Our hands gripped the steering
“Sordid meetings in the Brazilian rainforest,” Joker read out. “Baby
oil and plant pots… and—Eeeeew! Oh ,that one’s too sick to read out!
HAHAHAHA! Ivy and Nightwing, eh? Who knew, huh, Harv? Hardly
surprising, though. Harl was just telling me the other day how he’s got
the cutest ass in Gotham. Naturally, I was disgusted and mildly offended,
but it seemed like an appropriate fact to throw in nowish. HAHAHAHA!”
He said this, lightly punching us in the shoulder. We said nothing, eyes
staring forward, hands gripping the wheel even tighter.
Eddie sighed sympathetically.
“Sorry, Harv. Better luck next time, eh?” He paused, looking past us and out of the windscreen. “Uh, Harv…” he said, uncertainly. “Far be it from me to criticize, but don’t you think that electricity pylon is getting a little close? Harv? Harv?”
Fortunately, injuries from the crash were relatively light. No one was
seriously hurt, with the worst injury being sustained by Jack. In a freak
accident, after the crash our fist seemed to somehow connect with his eye,
leaving him with some nasty bruising.
We waited around for about half an hour for a tow truck to arrive and pick up
the BMW now shaped like a fortune cookie. When it arrived, we pulled the
driver from the cab, leapt in and drove off. Catman insisted on
driving this time, so in the interests of peace and to avoid further argument,
we left him fuming at the side of the road.
Surely you didn’t expect anything less?
We hate Nightwing.
“I’ll bet you never knew, Harv, that the
Florida Keys cover an area of 1024 square miles and have a population of 81,000
We looked out of the window of the tow truck impassively as Eddie read aloud
from his guidebook. We were driving across the long, flat “7-mile bridge”
that links the islands and the mainland together.
We hate Nightwing.
What the Hell does she see in him?
“The word ‘key’
actually comes from the Spanish word cayo, meaning ‘little island.’”
Jumped up little brat with his cocky ass attitude and stupid ponytail.
Does he still have a ponytail? What does it matter?! He’s all ‘look
at me, I’m Batman’s understudy’ and we’re like ‘yeah, like we give a shit’ and
he’s all like ‘yeah, but I got a black and blue suit that looks really cool and
showcases my cute ass, the one I pulled your ex with’ and we’re like… ‘Knives.
Something involving knives…’
“The Keys have an
annual rainfall of just 40-45 inches.””
Maybe spoons would be better? Rusty ones
preferably. Maybe spoons would be better? Rusty ones
“You haven’t been listening to a word I’ve
said, have you, Harv?”
We turned to Eddie, and grinned apologetically.
“What? Oh yeah, right. Yeah,
don’t dye it bright red, it won’t do anything for your complexion.”
Eddie sighed in a long-suffering manner. He patted us on one shoulder,
and continued reading.
“It says in here…”
We stopped listening again.
Whether the bat-brat and Petal were together or not, we were here to bring
That was our mission objective. We
were a single-minded calculating machine. We were like Tom Hanks in
Saving Private Ryan. We had to bring someone home, and we were going
to do anything in our power to do so.
That was the reason we were going to The Keys this January. No really.
OK. We’re not convincing ourselves, let alone you. It’s time for
We rogues have a theory. January is what we call ‘Hell Month.’
The reason we call it that? Because it’s what the beatings dished out
during this time hurt like. Don’t get us wrong—Batman is a skilled fighter
and all his beatings hurt. But in January, things are different.
He’s more savage, angry—violent, even by Gotham standards. Essentially, if
you’re a criminal, and you’re planning to remain in Gotham City in January,
you’d better have exceptional medical insurance, or at the very least, an ample
supply of morphine. At first, we assumed our Hell Month theory was
paranoia, but when you’re lying in a hospital wing (handcuffed to the bed, of
course) and you find yourself surrounded by virtually every crook and lowlife in
the city, their leg casts and traction cuffs similarly chained to hospital beds,
you do start to see a pattern.
We shuddered violently thinking of Hell Month back in Gotham.
Naturally, we snapped up the chance to avoid it. Who wouldn’t? We
had even hypothesized it might be a scheme of Sly’s to get some of his more
favored clients out of Gotham for a while. Who knows? All that
mattered was that we were in picturesque Florida on what was essentially a
holiday, and we would be keeping our teeth where they belonged for the first
January in years.
We smiled at the sign on the bridge that welcomed us into the beautiful
“Conch Republic” of the Florida Keys. The smile held for a second, then
faded as another thought crossed our mind.
We really hate Nightwing.
To be continued...