Part 6: Cat-Tale - Selina
I’m the first to admit, I’ve had some odd visits to the Iceberg Lounge.
There was the New Year’s Eve that Harley Quinn lost a bet with Catman, drugged
my champagne, and delivered me to his table trussed up in wrapping paper with a
bow on my ear. There was the famous Grand Reopening after an especially
festive brawl took out the icicle chandelier. There was Joker and Harley’s
anniversary… the first slumming visit with Bruce… and who could ever forget
Jervis’s Aunt Maud. But even by Iceberg standards, this was a very
First, it was raining; I got caught in the rain. And Oswald, the
umbrella king, is always just a little snooty if he catches you running in out
of the rain holding a newspaper over your head. It’s like you’ve let him
Not to mention, the place was a ghost town. No Eddie, no Harvey—my
preferred informants, being as close to sane as you can find in an establishment
run by Oswald Cobblepot. It was still early, so I sat at my usual table in
the big dining room and waited. Finally, an alternate news source arrived.
No one will ever call The Mad Hatter sane (if they did, I suppose Jervis would
have to find himself a new handle), but mad as he may be, he is an eerily
reliable fount of information on just about everybody.
“Evening, Jervis. Buy a lady a
“I wish you wouldn’t keep appearing and
vanishing so suddenly; you make one quite giddy!”
This is the usual shtick when Jervis sees me, Alice to the Cheshire Cat.
Then I always smile, he sits and spouts a little more nonsense about seeing a
cat without a grin or a grin without a cat, and we can get down to business.
“The place seems pretty empty tonight,” I remarked.
“Leaving ever so much tea and crumpets for the rest of us,” he twittered,
tucking a napkin into his collar.
“Absolutely,” I answered, because with Jervis, as with Joker, you have to pick your battles.
“And where has the Cheshire Cat been these
many a day?” he asked pointedly. And I could just tell he was making the
transition from Mad Hatter to Gossip Gertie. “Out of town for Hell Month?”
“Yes,” I answered, truthfully enough.
After a long pause—once he figured out I wasn’t going to offer details no
matter how long he sat there waiting—he moved on to a more promising subject.
“Heard about Sly?”
I hadn’t. While Jervis told the whole sordid story, I twisted to see
into the bar. And sure enough, there was the man I’d come to snoop
“So Two-Face has gone off with Joker, Riddler and Catman to bring our boy
home—by any means necessary. And the worst of it is, he’s missed that
delicious bit about Ivy and Nightwing in the Tattler. So now we are all
deprived of seeing his reaction firsthand. We shall be dependent on his
traveling companions for a report.”
“By any means necessary” sounded ominous, particularly from that foursome.
“Jervis, just out of curiosity, if it’s that important to get Sly back, why
didn’t you go?” He knew what I was getting at. His mind-control
chips are a hell of a lot more persuasive than an ex-prosecutor with a duality
complex, a killer clown, an anagram freak, and Mr. Magic Cape.
“One cannot train a ‘hatted’ individual to
mix a proper martini,” Jervis stated, “I’ve tried.”
He looked at the empty novelty glass in
front of him, and I could just tell he was about to go off on one of his mad tea
“I should like a fresh drink,” he said,
“your glass is full. Let’s change seats.”
The thing about Jervis is: as mad as he gets, the opportunity to spread some
gossip will usually bring him around.
“Twinkle, twinkle, little bat. How I wonder where you’re at…” he
“So Jervis, what do we know about the new guy?”
“…Up above the world you fly, like a teatray in the sky…Hm? Oh
Giggles? He’s a most interesting dormouse. Joker’s henchman he was,
a go-getter, a fine Knave of Hearts. Always first into the fray. No
mousy lookout duty for him. Always volunteered for the muscle work.
I looked back into the bar. The chap being described as the Joe Louis
of the Gotham underworld was polishing a hurricane glass. I decided to
have a closer look.
“Why don’t I get us some fresh drinks,” I said with a twinkle.
Cassie put the finishing touches on her disguise and regarded herself in the
mirror. She had forsaken the advice Barbara and the others thrust upon her
when she asked about a new look to attract Azrael. She learned much from
that. Their advice was useless. She was seventeen, after all.
She needed to be her own woman. She needed her own look, one to reflect
today, not the outdated modes of the first Batgirl, Black Canary, and Catwoman.
Of course, Spoiler was nearer her age and likely to understand. Under
normal circumstances, Cassie would have turned to her. But lately, all
Stephanie wanted to do was whine about Tim seeing Cecily. Cassie avoided
It didn’t matter anyway. She didn’t
need advice. She could manage well enough on her own. Batgirl
had seen enough of the Goths and groupies that hung out at the Iceberg to
realize an extreme look patterned after some themed criminal was the perfect in.
She could infiltrate the club and be accepted as one of the transient groupies
that hung around hoping to be picked up as a henchwench. Then she could be
near him, her adored one, Gregory Brady.
“Greg Brady?” I sputtered, nearly choking on my martini. “Your name is
really Greg Brady?”
There was an awkward pause in which the bartender said nothing, just looked
out with a hangdog expression. I realized he must get that all the time.
“No wonder you turned to crime,” I smiled, sipping my drink.
“Also why I got out,” he said casually.
“Mr. Joker said he was going to start grooming me, said I should set off
on my own one of these days as THE BRADY, said he’d have a big 70s theme crime
spree to launch me.”
I confess the statement caused me to down that martini just a bit faster than
was wise. I couldn’t help it. The mental image of Joker in
bell-bottoms and platform shoes, of Harley Quinn spouting phrases like ‘Foxy,’
‘Dyn-o-mite’ and ‘10-4 good buddy.’ I chugged my martini, okay? I
couldn’t take it, and I chugged my martini.
Bruce strode from the stalactite to the costume vault and flung the cowl into
the wall. The exertion did nothing to lessen his frustration so he punched
the shelf meant for Selina’s Catwoman costume. It splintered into bits,
embedding slivers of wood in his unprotected hand, but again, did nothing to
alleviate his frustration.
He couldn’t meditate. Three days to the anniversary, and the ritual
cycle had begun: when he was not out as Batman, he was in the cave:
working out, meditating, reading the logs that recorded each night’s progress of
his mission since it began, more working out, more meditation. He would
take only water and vitamin tablets in this time. The monks taught that
three days was a suitable period for a fast in the cause of purification.
He would not sleep, for natural sleep would only interfere with the directed
focus of his meditations, the meditations that would intensify his focus on the
mission until he became one with it: his parents, the murders, the
mission, Justice. The concentration must be absolute, to become an avatar
of the mission, to become Justice incarnate… except… his fist clenched,
forcing drops of blood through the creases where the splinters pierced his skin…
except he couldn’t do it.
He couldn’t meditate. He’d focused on the one-point, the chakra, his
center of gravity. He focused on his breathing. He focused on the
stalactite, the nothingness of pure air between his eye and the stalactite, the
sound of condensed moisture dripping off the stalactite to land with a damp
squelch against the stone floor. Nothing. He couldn’t clear his
So he’d gone to the costume vault and took down the cowl, placed it before
him, and used it as a focus. The face of Batman. The mission
And still… Nothing… He couldn’t still his thoughts.
Not since the Harley-Catman incident have I come out of the Iceberg with such
a beastly hangover. After that first martini gulped in reaction to the
Joker-70s horror, I stayed at the bar, nursing another. I didn’t
especially want another drink, but it let me chat a while longer with Giggles
and I learned a surprising amount.
He was far from the bloodthirsty zealot Jervis had described: He did
volunteer for muscle work, but not for love of ramming his fist into Batman’s
face. It was survival strategy. Giggles had noticed that most
henchmen prefer lookout duty: find a nice quiet spot, keep an eye out for Bats,
and let the other guy get his ass kicked. What they didn’t realize is it’s
always the lookout that gets stuck bringing Joker the bad news: The
Batmobile is out front. Ergo, Batman is coming. Ergo, Batman escaped
the deathtrap. Then SPLAT, flat lookout. Or BANG, lookout’s chest
gushes blood. Or Pfffffft and HA-HaHa-HAHAHAHAAAA! Lookout gasps, spasms
and stiffens into one of those hideous deathsmiles. So Greg “Giggles”
Brady decided he was a muscleman, not a lookout.
“I heard you’re always first into the fray,” I mentioned.
That too, he said, was strategy. Joker might blame the last guy to go
down, the one who actually lets the Bat get past him to wring Joker’s own neck.
And the last man left standing can sometimes get used as a human shield.
No, it was better to lead the charge. First in, first out.
It made sense. The only problem was
that Oswald overheard my question and thought Catwoman was poaching. Was I
trying to steal away his new help?
Now I never went in much for henchmen, and Oswald knows that as well as
anybody. Now and then, if I was setting up a new lair or stealing
something heavy like a big stone antiquity, then maybe I’d pick up a few guys to
do the lifting. But to employ men for the purpose of fighting with Batman?
No. That is, to put it mildly, not my style. Catwoman has always
known how to handle the Bat and Greg Brady doesn’t enter into it. Not in
But Oswald is a little paranoid these days, and one has to make allowances.
By way of assuring him, Giggles demonstrated how I was just teaching him to
make my special martini: Drink #3.
With the third drink, I did get to hear why he was such a terror with the
hyenas. The file Barbara showed me did mention that Joker’s snarling pets
would often attack alongside this particular henchman. Why? The Batfile
theorized it was his fierceness. Nope. Giggles survived by flying
under the radar. He kept quiet, watched and listened. When he saw
Joker becoming pensive, he didn’t stick around to see if it was one of those
“it’s Thursday, let’s kill all the henchmen” moods. He made himself
scarce. He took the hyenas out for a run! They liked him, so when he
charged into battle, they ran alongside him.
It was really quite funny. I would have thought so even without that
Cassie turned off the television in horror. She hadn’t understood what
was so funny about the name Greg Brady, but some of the comments in his police
file made her curious. She never watched television, except for Buffy the
Vampire Slayer. The show was silly for most of the hour, but at least once
in every episode, there would be an exciting display of imaginative fighting
It took her a while to find TVLand, but once she did, she understood.
Greg Brady… “Groovy”… what a terrible handicap for a great warrior.
So I had the information I came for.
It cost me three martinis on top of jetlag to get it, but I had the 411:
Cassie’s new amour a.k.a. Joker’s former henchman Giggles was Greg Brady,
strategic hyena-walker and avoider of lookout duty. Groovy. Now I
JUST wanted to go home, have a hot bath, and climb into bed.
But no. There was still an obstacle between me and the exit sign, and
that obstacle was leafy, lonely, and fresh out of Arkham.
“Come sit with me, Catty.”
You had to know Pam to recognize who was talking. To the outside
observer, it would have looked like the wall of ivy and clematis around the
booth was speaking. The outside observer might wonder about this, because
foliage isn’t supposed to talk. But then it’s not supposed to move either.
Yet here it was, parting like a theatre curtain and holding out a chair for me.
In other words: Drink #4.
There really is no other way to deal with Poison Ivy, you have to humor her.
I honestly don’t know why she bothers with the pheromones and mind control.
She can mostly get her way just being a royal pain in the ass if she doesn’t.
Like the plant from which she takes her name, she is exactly as persistent as a
deep-rooted sub dermal itch. You can try to ignore it, but you’re kidding
yourself. Sooner or later you’ve got to scratch, so you may as well do it
now and get it over with.
So I sat down for Drink #4 - Humoring Pamela: Her skin is alabaster,
not green. She is a natural redhead. Paper is murder. Harvey
Dent is a loathsome two-timing skunk.
And that brought us to Drink #5: The stories in Gotham Post and the
“Where do they get this stuff, huh? Tell
me that, Catty. You’ve had ‘sperience with these papers b’fore. So
tell me, where would they get an idea like that? NIGHTWING, he’s so…
Not a characteristic I personally find displeasing in a man, but if you think
I would say that, you’re not grasping The Humoring Pam Principle.
“And blue,” she went on, making a face,
“his costume, it’s so BLUE.”
Again, I’m not entirely clear on what’s objectionable about blue, but again I
let this pass.
“And those pictures—I have leaf hair!
Leaves are for adornment, not coiffeur. The leaves of the living vine make
becoming gilding for the body, and on mine they—like everything - are
irresistible, but in the hair!”
“Pam, you look fine,” I reassured her, “at
least they didn’t take you down three cup sizes.”
“FREDERICKS OF HOLLYWOOD! WILL YOU TWO GIVE IT A REST!”
Pam and I looked at each other and the vine curtains parted to reveal—a
thoroughly pissed Roxy Rocket.
“Ivy, you looked hot in those pictures.
I would give everything I have if my worst problem was that the COVER STORY on
me in a national paper didn’t have me looking hot in the way I prefer to look
hot. And Catty, take a reality pill. Everybody who’s actually
had sex can see what they’re doing. The affected virgin lemmings carp
that breasts are sexist. Fine, so they reshape the T&A to downplay the T
and punch up the A. The undersexed pundits don’t have a clue what’s
happening, and right under their noses all the normal, healthy red-blooded guys
get an even better show. Meanwhile, while you two sit here whining about
your coverage, SLY IS GONE! The only bit of identity I ever had around
here was ‘cause he noticed me and now HE’S GONE!”
I looked at Pam.
Pam looked at me.
I threw a twenty on the table and stood to
leave. Pam did the same. Once you’ve been publicly spanked by Roxy
Rocket, there’s nothing more to say. It’s time to go home.
To be continued...