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Chapter 7: Last Call


There are something like 90 cars in Gotham City for every on-street parking space.  Double parking and blocked bike-lanes are a way of life—during the day.  After dark, however, though cheap metered parking is just as scarce, few Gothamites will risk clogging a traffic lane by double parking.  They certainly don’t do it on Fifth Avenue, near the big jewelry stores, nor in the diamond district, museum row, or near the upscale parkfront condos.  They don’t do it near Crime Alley, either.  Or in the Bowery.  Or Hell’s Kitchen.  What these high crime areas and privileged neighborhoods have in common is an increased likelihood that the Batmobile could make an appearance.  Garage parking might be pricey, but not as pricey as replacing a Lexus squashed into a sheetmetal fortune cookie by a vigilante on a hot pursuit.

It might be assumed that the situation is more acute in the blocks surrounding the Iceberg Lounge.  The Batmobile, Redbird, and other vehicles associated with vigilantes are spotted in this area more frequently than in any other part of town.  But double parking is never an issue there because it isn’t necessary.  There is always a ready supply of available curbside parking.  The Iceberg clientele are too notorious for anyone to risk taking the last space.  What if Joker came by and couldn’t find a place to park?  Or that big green one, what is he called?  Crocodile Hunter?  No Crocodile Killer?  Whatever.  It isn’t that far to the 11th street lot and it’s a nice night for a walk. 

That was Bruno Giani’s reasoning as he fastened The Club to his steering wheel, locked his car, fed quarters into the kiosk and collected his timestamp.  He didn’t know this neighborhood at all. Cara, his girlfriend of a week and a half, lived here.  But he’d never picked her up at home when they went out.  They always met someplace midtown, near her work or his.  But tonight she wanted to make him dinner, so he had to venture into this strange neighborhood to find her apartment.

He felt bad for whining about it.  It was a nice gesture, he supposed, although it seemed a little soon for her to be cooking for him.  But his promotion demanded a celebration, she said.  He was on-air talent now, as VJ for a new music station.  The months spent cramming music trivia had paid off, and he even got a new hairstyle for his on-air debut.  The haircut and dye streak seemed a lot trendier midtown near the studio than it did here in the dark streets of who-knew-where-this-was by Cara’s apartment.  He felt conspicuous.  Green hair made one conspicuous, and that would be okay elsewhere, but not knowing the neighborhood, he might look less sure of himself as he walked along.  Conspicuous and uncertain was a bad combination.  Knowing it was folly to walk on the street like a lost victim, Bruno twined his car keys between his fingers, making an especially brutal fist with the tips of metal protruding from the knuckles.  It was an elementary precaution for walking several blocks after dark in an unfamiliar neighborhood, and it gave him confidence.  It gave him confidence right up until the whoosh—

There was a strange whooshing sound and Bruno looked up just in time to see a blur of colored cape vanish amidst the fire escapes.

“Whoa,” was all he could say.

He walked on excitedly.  He had just experienced a close encounter of sorts, and his qualms about the too-soon-cooking-date were forgotten in his eagerness to share the news with Cara:  he had seen one of the actual costumed crimefighters of Gotham City! 

At the cross street, he stopped short as a slick red cycle eased silently and slowly through the intersection… just as it crossed his path the masked rider turned and eyed him carefully.

“Whoa,” Bruno repeated.

“Oracle,” Robin spoke into his mouthpiece before the Redbird sped away down the street, “Spoiler and I both made visual contact.  It is not Joker.  Confirmed.  Guy has green hair but it is not Joker.”

More excited than ever to find Cara’s apartment and tell of his spectacular sighting of TWO costumed night people, Bruno became careless.  He missed the little Indian grocery where Cara said to turn.  He missed it and wound up too far West.  He turned around as inconspicuously as he could and started back the other way, blocking out all irrelevant details in his determination to spot the Indian grocery on the corner.  He was so intent on looking for the landmark that he very nearly walked into the—CLOWN GIRL!  THE FAMOUS ONE, FROM THE NEWS THAT GOES WITH THE JOKER! HARLEY QUINN!  He nearly walked into the actual Harley—

“Whoa,” he mouthed.  


Harley ignored the strange man on the street and continued on to the Iceberg front entrance.  At the canopy, she stopped and checked her list:

Bring romance to the belfry  -Check
Get piccy of cat-bat smoochy-smoochy  –Check
Send it to Brucie  -Check
Get Dear John letter from Ozzy  -Check
Change name, send to Brucie  –Check
Get a funnel cake  -Check
Clean powdered sugar off costume  -Check
Return to Iceberg, Rub Puddin’s nose in it
Get a manicure

“So far so good,” she announced happily, folding her list and returning it to her pocket before nodding to the doorman.  He opened the door for her but reeled backwards.  Before Harley could enter, she too was forced backward by a pungent cloud of lemon.

“Three dollar whore, huh?” an angry voice roared inside.

“Uh oh,” Harley squeaked, wrinkling up her nose. 

“Try saying that again with my foot on your throat, eh, you trampAARRGH!” “Three -lgh- Dollar –Oulgh- WhoeeeeeeeeEEE!”  “She bit me!”

“Red?” Harley’s eyes bulged as Poison Ivy appeared briefly in the doorway then was yanked away.

“Harl?” was heard in the distance.  Then Poison Ivy and Roxy Rocket together crossed the hall past the entranceway. Ivy, holding Roxy’s arms twisted tightly behind her back, seemed momentarily in control—except that her head was being pulled downward at an odd angle by a chunk of hair Roxy clutched in one of her pinned hands.  “Harley, it is you,” Ivy repeated, sounding pleased before erupting into a series of Ow-ow-ow-ow-ows.

“Hiya, Red,” her friend answered with an uncertain wave.  “Good ta see ya again.  You look… busy.”

“Oh not really,” Ivy answered casually, though she winced in pain as Roxy tugged on the hair.  “Just taking Roxy here outside for a little talk about what would really happen if one of my climbing Clematis were to come into contact with her tailpipe.”

“Chummy with the sidekicks too,” Roxy spat, “oh yeah, queenie big shot with the sidekick, but no respect for an equal!”


Bruno was lost; that’s all there was to it.  It was hard to get lost in a city laid out on a square grid with numbered streets and avenues.  But he kept passing the same mailbox-tattoo parlor-subway entrance-deli, and he was never finding the Indian grocery.  It was running into those famous costumed types all at once that did it.  It messed with his head.  But he couldn’t stop and ask directions, he just couldn’t.  Directions to an Indian grocery?  He’d get laughed at or beaten up, but either way, he’d never get to Cara’s before the dinner was cold.

“Whoa,” Bruno whispered.  At the crosswalk, what looked like the road company of Kismet was crossing the street:  Two-dozen men in some kind of matching oriental outfits with… sabers drawn? 

It was a long shot, Bruno knew, but if he followed them, they might just lead him to the Indian grocery.


Harley felt funny sitting at the bar with Catman and Riddler, while effectively ignoring the ongoing tussling, scraping, and sometimes screaming going on between Red and Roxy. 

She felt funny, but she did it anyway. As Eddie pointed out:  a catfight—no offense, Blake—was a catfight.  The guys were all enjoying the show and there was a lot of money riding on the outcome.  If she stuck her tassels in and interfered, she would be liable for all the ruined wagers.  Eddie also reminded her about the Poison Oak the last time she got involved in the Pammy-Harvey situation.  (Blake started to say something at that point, but Eddie shushed him.)

Harley sipped her drink.  It didn’t matter much anyway.  Puddin’ wasn’t here to rub his nose in the breakup of Brucie and Catty.  She could wait, of course.  She could wait forever to make her Puddin’ suffer—and he would suffer.  He would suffer long and hard, she would see to that.  The way he tossed her aside after all she had done for him.  He would pay.  He would pay in spades.  Bat-shaped spades, if there were such things.  For every moment of misery she suffered, he was going to eat batarangs.  The day of reckoning was coming that would wipe that grin off his face but good—him and anybody else that laughed at that stupid octopus joke.  She would wait as long as it took.  And if she was going to wait as long as it took, she couldn’t get mixed up in a barroom brawl. 

She would just watch. 

…She finished her drink in a dramatic gulp… 

And while she waited and watched, another drink would be nice.

Harley looked around.  “Where’s Sly?”

“Probably hiding on the floor,” Blake muttered.

“Shhh,” Eddie cautioned.

“On the floor trying to get underneath the floor.”

“I don’t get it,” Harley squeaked.

“Not to worry,” Eddie assured her.  “What is a less cruel rose defender?  A KINDER THORN!  Another drink, that is.  Oh, TED!”

A man Harley had never seen before appeared on the other side of the bar.

“You rang.  Ah, a new arrival.”  He looked at her, seeming pleased.

“Harley,” Eddie introduced her formally, “This is Ted, from Fab!  Ted, this is Harley, from Arkham.”

“And what are you drinking, Harley from Arkham?” Ted asked gamely.

“Diet sprite.” 

Ted’s face froze into a mask of shock, horror and disappointment that seemed vaguely familiar. 

“With a tequila chaser?” she squeaked, trying to soften the blow.

Ted shook his head and turned away, and Harley realized why the look was familiar.  It was the what-a-waste expression Batman gave her early on when she first got together with—



Lost in her memories, Harley ran across the room to greet her Mistah J before remembering they were finished and she hated him with the fire of a thousand suns.

“UNHAND ME YOU HA-HA HARLOT!” Joker wailed, swatting her away with… a parasol?

“Kwak, kwak, kwak!” Oswald objected, waddling in after Joker.  “Watch how you handle that thing.  It’s a machine gun, not a baseball bat.  Kwak, kwak, kwak.”

“That is Mr. Puddin’ to you, madam,” Joker told Harley.  “And while we’re at it, you stepped on my purple suede shoes.  Don’t.” 

“Oh, hiya, Ozzy,” Harley said sweetly, picking herself off the floor and ignoring Joker.  “I din’t see ya there, I was so surprised to see Puddin’.”

“Do you mind, I was threatening you, Missy,” Joker put in.

“Oswald no longer, Ms. Quinn.  You will address me as Penguin, if you please, for I am The Penguin once more.  QUAKK-kwak-kwak.  Now then, your outburst has rather marred our entrance, but as it is done, allow me to confer with my colleague before we address you and the other hostages.”

“Hostages?” Harley squeaked.


“Colleague?  Oh right, that’s me. Heh. HAHAHAHAHAA!”



The doorman was too overcome by the Lemon Pledge-scented pheromone cloud to intervene, or even notice, when the Roxy-Ivy fight sprawled out the door towards the parking lot. 

He found himself fascinated by a small flyer pasted to the side of a streetlight: Frustrated at work?  Quit your Job!  Network Marketing is the answer…

The doorman was even less able to react when Joker and Penguin entered, brandishing parasols.  

Network marketing meant Amway, didn’t it?  Whatever that was.

By the time F’Nos arrived with what looked like a platoon of DEMON assassins, the doorman was past caring and let them surround the building without interference.


“Loyal Iceberg patrons,” Penguin announced in a firm clear voice, “I realize that you are all more accustomed to taking hostages than becoming hostages.  Nevertheless, I must insist you all move slowly and calmly into the bar where we may…”

The hostage-taking was momentarily interrupted when Joker tried to nudge an uncooperative henchman into the bar area by shooting him, only to have his machinegun parasol jam.  He swung it like a crowbar, aiming for the henchman’s head, but hitting the tablerim when the man dodged.

“You will be paying for both that table and the ruined parasol,” Penguin assured him sternly. 

“It doesn’t work!” Joker complained.  “I want my lead-lined rubber chicken.  I want my joy buzzer!  I want my banana peels!  Weapons that work, damnit.  HAHAHAA!”

“Noted,” Penguin said calmly, “but you don’t have any of those at the moment.  And we have these, even if they haven’t been used in a while.  So kindly…”

“Awww, can’t find your joy buzzer or banana peels, Puddin’?  Poor guy.  Sniff, sniff.  They make daiquiris here, y’know.  Maybe Sly has some bananas behind the bar.”

Penguin had started to respond to Harley’s taunts with a pained “Ms. Quinn, really…”—until she mentioned Sly.  “SLY!  Where is that traitorous bird with the traitorous feathers of… betrayal.”

Joker stared at him.

“The traitorous feathers of betrayal?  Oh Ozzy, you really haven’t done this for a while. HAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAA!”

He swung the parasol at Harley’s head, this time chipping the wall when she ducked.

“STOP DOING THAT!” Penguin roared.  “Either fire the thing properly or—”

“—or what? Suffer the traitorous feathers of betrayal? HAHAHAHAHA!”

Penguin sighed a sigh of great dignity, as if collecting himself.  Then he turned his back on Joker and addressed Harley directly.

“As I was saying, Ms. Quinn, my business is with Sly.  Once I have settled matters with him, the rest of you may go.”

“And my business,” Joker piped up, “is with that snot-nosed fern.  Where is that uppity piece of weed, hm?”

He swung the parasol again with more force than before, spinning himself around in a full circle.

“The weed is dead, Joker,” Greg piped up.  As the former henchman Giggles, he was able to word the news in a way he knew his old boss would appreciate:  “Very dead.  You always said that was the best kind. Ha-ha.  Yes?”

“Y-yes,” Joker seemed perturbed.  –He didn’t care that Giggles hadn’t been so friendly on his last visit, he was quite used to the rest of the world being irrational, unpredictable and downright insane.  He was perturbed because he had it in his head to beat up this vegetable, and now it looked like someone had gone and done it for him.  “Who… killed it?” he asked.

“Roxy Rocket.  Doused it with lighter fluid and set it on fire.”

Joker let out a low whistle.  “Impressive,” he said.

“IMPRESSIVE!” Harley wailed.  “To have a salad barbecue???  I captured Batman!  I broke you out of Arkham!  I infiltrated the GCPD for you!  I ate FISH!!!”

When Harley was forced to stop for breath, Oswald cleared his throat, then fired his weapon into the ceiling…  He winced as bits of the faux-ice façade sprinkled down on the dining room… but at least now he had everybody’s attention.

“As I was saying:  Sly.  Where is he?”

“I believe he’s hiding in the men’s room,” Ted offered helpfully from behind the bar.

“Hiding?” Oswald asked, confused.  He turned to Joker, “You told me he was the big bad.  You told me he’d taken over.  Am I to understand that the greatest, most fearsome power to rise in the Gotham Underworld, so terrible as to be able to unseat the Emperor Penguin himself, is hiding in the men’s toilet.”

“Y-yes,” said the other Fab! representative Jai, who suddenly appeared at Oswald’s side, “but he’s not hiding from you.  I don’t actually know who you are.”

“I don’t know who you are either,” Oswald said calmly, then pointed the tip of his parasol at Jai’s nose, “From whom is my disloyal bartender hiding?”

“Someone called Roxy.”

Joker and Penguin turned to each other slowly. 

“Roxy again?” Penguin asked.

“I’ve teamed up with the wrong badass,” Joker cried, running out the door.  “ROXY!  ROXY!!!”

After a moment’s strained silence, he entered the room again, more slowly and backwards.  In front of him were the tips of two DEMON swords—attached to DEMON arms—attached to DEMON minions—followed by more DEMON minions.

“WOOHOO!” Harley cheered, “Look at you guys!  Cut him up, DEMON-guys, cut him up good.  That’ll teach him to go laughing at his own stupid joke, ‘cause nobody else will.  You know why you gotta laugh at it yourself, Puddin’?  ‘Cause it’s not funny.  It sucks.  It’s stupid and it sucks.  And the only ones stupid enough to pretend it doesn’t suck are the henchman that only laugh cause you pay’em to.  Like YOU, Giggles!  You laughed at that stupid thing.  Well the day of reckoning is coming, Buddy!”

Harley drew back and landed a spectacular punch on Greg Brady’s jaw.

His head bobbed back slightly, and he blinked in shock.

“And THAT goes for the rest of you too!”  Harley went on, railing at the room, “Don’t think I haven’t noticed.  I see.  I see who of you laughs at that joke, and come the revolution, you’re gonna be the first ones against the wall, ya hear me?”


The Batmobile screeched to a halt outside the Iceberg.  Batman knew, in such a hostile environment, he had little chance of beating answers out of anyone.  But he had to try something.  The dragnet had failed to spot Joker.  If he waited for the madman to resurface on his own, there was no telling—

Before he could complete the thought, the madman did resurface on his own.  He came barreling out of the Iceberg, along with Penguin…

“BATMOBILE!”  Joker screamed, seeing the car,  “SALVATION!” 

Before Batman could react, Joker and Penguin were cowering behind the closed car as the Iceberg doors burst open again and a mob of DEMON minions surged after them… Harley Quinn followed, yelling something about fates that would be too good for the rotten skunk clown and anybody fool enough to stand beside him!

Batman didn’t hesitate.  His mission was Justice, and while he sometimes wondered what true Justice would be for a sociopath like Joker, he was sure it was not being cut into hyena kibble by a mob of DEMON minions.  Batman revved the powerful Batmobile engine, forcing everyone, DEMONs and Rogues alike, to step back from the car.  Then he opened the door, shot a death glare at the minions, another at Harley, and finally turned his attention to Joker and Penguin, still cringing behind him.

“Problem, gentlemen?”  he graveled.


The commotion brought Ivy and Roxy out from the alley…

Both women were tattered and Ivy’s arm hung at an angle nature never intended.

Roxy limped, but when she saw a circle of unquestionable danger in the form of 20+ men with drawn sabers closing in with menace at something at the center, she was quick to change her one thwarted antagonist for the thrill of twenty well-armed playmates.  She dashed into the center of the circle, pointing the tailpipe of her dismantled rocket at the drawn swords, placing herself between the mob and whatever they were going after.

“EVERYBODY STAY BACK,” she snarled.  For a full second, there was no reaction whatsoever, then from behind, she felt a tap on the shoulder.  She turned towards it to see—

“Heh. Hi, Batman.”

“HAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAA!” came the sick cackle from further behind her.  And then, a smoother voice:  “I told you she was a feisty one, kwak-kwak.”

Roxy sighed and backed away from Batman, Joker and Penguin, into the half-circle of minions.

“Brave for girl,” a minion noted.

“Bite me,” Roxy answered.

“Fellow warrior,” the head minion came forward and introduced himself with a formal bow, “I am F’Nos, my saber pledged to Ra’s Al Ghul since the year of the second Blood Moon.  I pray that we might commune as brother soldiers… or… as… (His eyes riveted on her chest) …as soldiers… until such time as the aims of our masters might conflict and we meet in glorious battle.”

“O-kay,” Roxy said in the same way she’d deflect a come-on at the bar. “I’m Roxy and my rocket is pretty much spoken for so—”

“Roxy? …Rocket?” he blanched.  He had been given one and only one order by his esteemed master Gr’oriBr’di in conjunction with a night at the Iceberg.  Do not engage Roxy Rocket.

“Yeah, Roxy Rocket.  Easy to remember.  Anyway, my rocket is pretty much pledged to my own enjoyment so I—”

“Must go,” F’Nos stammered, terrified, “Must go now.”

He ran—he ran down the street, around the fire hydrant, the news box, the taxi stand, around the corner, and all the way back to Chinatown.  Batman had readied a batarang, but opted not to throw when all the other minions took off after their leader, all seemingly fleeing for their lives.

Batman, Joker and Penguin all looked at Roxy.

She shrugged.

“What did I say?”


Batman stretched his shoulders, trying to ease his discomfort, and returned his attention to the log entry.  He’d been sitting too long.  He turned his neck right and left and again returned to the log.  It was a complicated entry, from two weeks before, the night of the Joker-Penguin incident outside the Iceberg.  Harley was involved, and Roxy, and DEMON agents.  Ivy was spotted outside.  And he knew from the video feeds that Riddler, Catman, Strange and others had been present inside.  The cross-references were a nightmare, and now he had to enter updates.

Joker, Penguin and Harley had all been sent up to Arkham that night, Joker and Penguin for attacking the nightclub and Harley because she wanted to ride in the van and scream at Puddin’.  But now…

Harley had been held for observation, then released.

And Penguin!  Somehow Penguin, as the Iceberg proprietor, persuaded the authorities that he was a victim of the attack and not an instigator. 

Batman glared at the words on the screen with a disgusted nausea churning in his gut.  The fools.  How could anybody be that stupid?  How was it possible anyone so naïve, gullible and stupid could even survive from day to day, let alone be entrusted to make decisions that affected the welfare of his city? 

It was obscene.  He slammed his fist on the desk and stood, pacing to the rear of the cave near the Zogger controls, then back to the workstation.

He gave the log the same death glare he’d given Greg Brady that night after Joker, Penguin and Harley were sent on their way.  It was too easy, picking the villains off the ground and shoving them into the van for Arkham.  Far too easy.  So he’d ventured into the Iceberg for a “conversation” with Brady and Sly.  They’d been lucky this time, and he planned to impress that upon them.  Oswald Cobblepot was a dangerous man to cross…  Except he never got to deliver that message directly because Sly was already in hiding (and not from Oswald, if Brady was to be believed).  Batman pushed for details, naturally, but all he could get from Brady were variations on “Back off, can’t you see the guy has suffered enough?”

More frustrated than before, Batman had stalked out of the nightclub and relieved his aggravation by rounding up fourteen of the DEMON agents.  Those from the Gotham cells, he shipped back to Ra’s personally.  Those from nearby Bludhaven, he turned over for formal deportation.  A new headache for Ra’s, and in these times, there was no telling what might finally put DEMON on the government’s radar.

He had just begun opening a channel to the INS system to check on the deportations when two independent alarms sounded to remind him the Fab! episode with Hugo Strange was about to air.  The first alarm pinged discreetly in the corner of his computer screen.  The other clip-clipped down the stairs from the clock passage, across the floor of the cave, and finally fell silent behind his chair.  Soft arms settled around his neck.

“Fifteen minutes, Handsome.  Better get a move on.”

“All ready,” he grunted, ignoring the smell of vanilla lavender scented skin and the fingers massaging his shoulders.  “I’m pulling the broadcast feed, the satellite feed, control room feeds, and there’s an EMP beam loaded up at the Watchtower aimed directly at the satellite, if need be—”

“No, I don’t think so,” Selina purred, placing a determined hand over the monitor before easing herself into his lap.  “I was thinking more like: get changed, come upstairs, TV room, chips and dip.  Dick, Barbara and Tim are already here.”

“We’re talking about my identity here, Selina. I needn’t remind you that you would be in just as much danger if the world found out…” He paused.  “This is Hugo Strange we’re talking about.” 

“Exactly.  Besides, you’ve been over every bit of raw footage as they taped it, right?  So it’s not like the final edit can have anything in it that will surprise you.”

“That naughty grin of yours says otherwise.”

Her eyes danced but she admitted nothing.

“Come upstairs.  Eat some chips. Dip them.  Be a person.”


Because he had seen all the raw footage, Bruce was able to maintain a grim poker face… 
that Freud Gone Wrong beard…  Dick roared with laughter; Bruce remained grim.
1967 called, they want their glasses back… Tim snorted; Bruce remained grim.
Somewhere in Minnesota, an encyclopedia salesman is missing his sport coat… Barbara gasped for air between guffaws, and Bruce remained grim.

Selina wasn’t grim, but she was silent.  Bruce eyed her occasionally.  She sat there, nibbling a potato chip, her mouth curled into the subtlest of cat smiles.  He knew the look.  She was waiting for something…

The greatest detective in the world still needs a certain critical mass of information in order to draw valid conclusions.  Batman knew enough to infer WHEN in the broadcast the something would occur, but the WHAT… knowing Selina, the what could be anything…

On the screen, Hugo was returning home after his beard shaving, herbal wrap and shopping spree, to be met at the door by the FAB! decorator and see how they had redesigned his home. 

“Now let’s see your new living room…”

Reflexively, Bruce leaned forward in his chair, the jaw clenching just a bit tighter, the poker face hardening into a colder, stonier stare.  

this amazing artwork we found stashed away in the garage. Now this is clearly an important sculpture by one of Gotham’s most challenging artists.  A piece like that, you’ve got to show off.  You don’t want to hide this away, so see how we’ve made it the focal point of the room.”

As one:  Dick, Tim and Barbara all turned from the image on the television towards Bruce’s chair.  They turned because of a noise, a rare noise, some would have thought an impossible noise:  Bruce was laughing.

They looked back at the screen and back at Bruce.  It wasn’t a bellylaugh or anything, but… mouth open, kind of curled upward on the ends like a smile, and rhythmic puffy-grunts… yeah, that was a laugh.

They looked back at the television again, and back at Bruce again.  On the screen, the audio was exactly what he had heard on the raw feeds. But the visuals: the cut-ins of the purple-clad mannequin had been replaced with shots of the same mannequin dressed in a Harley Quinn costume.

“Nicely done, Kitten.”


Dick, Tim and Barbara looked back at the screen. 

“Anybody want to clue us in?” Tim asked, knowing nobody would. 

“They’ll be watching this at the Iceberg,” Bruce noted.

“Definitely,” Selina agreed.

“Harley will be humiliated.”

“I would think so. Yes.”

“She’ll probably do something unspeakable to Hugo.”

“Good chance, Yep.”

The room grew quiet, and everyone returned their attention to the television.  Predictably, the edited-down version omitted the entire prep-visit to the Iceberg and went straight to Hugo and Manikin’s date the next day.  As always, the Fab! team was shown watching footage of their protégé in action and commenting on his performance.  But in this case, the protégé was upstaged.  From the moment the couple entered the nightclub, it became the star of the show, and all of the witty Fab! commentary focused on the Iceberg itself…

-Raven, the hostess: Just look at her snapping out those menus.  Snaps for you, Dearie.  There is a woman that knows what’s what.
-Sly, the bartender:  Now that is a martini!  And if you ask me, that fellow has a secret.  I’ll just bet it has to do with that gal in the back, too, in the Amelia Earhart getup, just look at her checking out his ass.
-Greg, the bouncer:  My but that is a well-muscled man.  Just look at how he pulled apart those two squabbling in the back…
And the Barflies:  The orange cape and the green question marks?  See, that’s why you should never get into a slapfight with someone if your colors clash.  You look like some kind of nautical signal flags:  changing course to starboard, diver below, pair trawling in progress… Pair trawling?… It’s an expression… Oh look, Amelia Earhart has Orange Cape in a headlock…

 © 2004

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