Series Two final episode: “Kick up-not down”

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This is what the girl with the seemingly sincere eyes at the pretentious New Gotham cafe, had said a few nights back.

I thought about what she was trying to say, and I thought what a terrible idea. If we leave ideas unchecked, dire decisions, terrible treatments of others not discussed because of the current standing of the perpetrator being low in the eyes of society, we have already lost.

Well this is perhaps what happens, no good deed goes unpunished perhaps, but these people with these poisonous ideas, if they rise to their top, their ideas will inseminate into all those around them, if they continue to grow in the eyes of others treelike and fruitful with reward, and people can taste the palpable fruits from these peoples rotten ideas, the ideas may be rotten but as long as the rewards are sweet people will see only the result, sweet fulfillment of a promise kept.

And thus Hitler rose to the top in Germany, a failed artist, so then he sought the transformation of a nations psyche into his image, promising reward, sweetness, the good life for all those strive towards it, it was a hugely grandiose performance art project, it required others to be sacrificed, somebody to be blamed for it not being achievable, so he blamed the Jews, the gypsies, the others.

Once people are fully up the tree of life, all you can do at most is rattle the tree trunk and deposit more fruit for others to eat from the bottom, or attempt to climb to the top to see what, and how they see.

Funny how you get to think about things when you spend so much time alone.

One father in the clink, the other in the nut house, one more in the ground.

Robin told me not to go, that no good would come of this folly of mine, Cat Woman just purred while I rubbed her feet, and my damaged sister would not see me as she was in surgery tomorrow to fix her face, I told her it didn’t need fixing, that she was the most beautiful woman I had ever known, it was everybody else’s perception that was at fault, but it was her body her choice. I would love her forever regardless of her choosing to change herself, ultimately we are all changed in some way by the world around us, beware those people who claim not to be, they are not strong, they are close hearted, although we still have need of these people in the world.

I would rather be a fool full of good intentions, ones that I am punished for, than a snake in the grass, full of the right words but the wrong attitude, the butler brings me a drink and I smile at the irony of a former Butler having a butler.

“Thank you, when will he see me?”

The man holding the drink could only open his mouth and showed me a gaping absence where his tongue used to be. I understood, why have someone who could speak out near you, just surround yourself with people who agree with you, who only confirm what you think you know. I see them everywhere they are churches, though they often have other names, and they all claim to offer alms for the needy, but yet they squander the power offered to them on grandiose building, catherdrals, places to offer the awe of the divine to the ordinary people who make pilgrimage to them, it’s their only opportunity at above the tree line whilst they are kept rooted at the bottom.

The butler is gone and I am halfway through the drink he left me, before I realise Alfred will not see me this night, nor any other night I care to turn up and wait. I am in his exclusive club, I have paid for its membership, funny how exclusivity comes at a price, I am not one of them, because there is no them, or us, just people being shitty to one another at every level.

I suspect if I was a true vigilante, a true justice warrior for society, I’d be dressed up like a fool running around hitting ‘criminals’ over the head, but why do people think crime exists, it is simply one of the most tangible response for the uneducated, for the poor, for the desperate.

To just grab what you want in life, take what you need, to hell with everyone else, like the fit and able racing to the life boats on the Titanic, it’s meant to be woman and children first, but it rarely ends up this way.

You are not truly human if you always put your needs above all others all the time, you are something else, something else that has been produced along the way, some deviation of our own intelligence. In social groups even alley cats will let female cats and kittens eat first, in Lion packs everybody gets fed in the pride most time a kill is made, in grazing herds the young are often protected in the middle, the infirm are vulnerable when the herd runs from a threat, but there is always sacrifices to be made.  We are all offered up to the platter of fate.

However perhaps genocide is a step to far, perhaps.

Perhaps Fascism starts with people being told what to say, what to think, what to feel. You must not laugh at the wrong line in a play, for fear of being made a social outcast, as you haven’t read the script, you haven’t followed the structure of the night, how it was meant to be, how somebody laid it all out.

BULLSHIT.

Time people stopped believing lies, others, their own, their brothers, and stood up and made their lives count for something other than themselves.

The best thing people can do in life is find the one thing they can do in life really well, and then let it slowly poison them, kill them, destroy themselves through their own passion for the thing they now are.

That won’t always be easy, peaceful, or seem respectful, people won’t always agree with you, conflicts always arise when passions are high as the stakes themselves.

You respect people by not pandering to them, by not molly coddling people whom are adults with their senses and perceptions more or less intact.

For are we children?

We are only children if we allow someone to control our destiny, other than ourselves.

Are we children?

We are only children if we allow our fire to be extinguished in place of total obedience.

Fascism can only exist if people from all walks of life fail to speak up, speak out.

Some of us will flail and our kicks will land in places not intended, it just means we are not willing to go down without a fight.

Are you with me New Gotham?

Money talks, but I do not care for the language it uses.

Are we ready to fight crusty rich old fools like Albert, with all his power through money, are we willing to stand up and be counted against injustice wherever we see it for if not, then everything is already lost.

All fights are tiring.

Get ready to be exhausted.

I stand up a little wobbly from sitting down rather than the booze, glass still in hand, people will think I am drink and lost.

I walk to the room where I know Albert is because I watched his butler come from there with the drink for me.

I rap my knuckles on the door, the voiceless butler appears again, the door is chained, I throw my glass tumbler, and it smashes beside Albert and I watch in slow motion a small shard of glass, nick his arm I see the old man bleed, he is mortal yet, I shoulder barge the door, I’m in luck the door flies open, and there he is. I manage two steps before two large men get up on either side of me, and begin dragging me out of them room, I look the old fool in the eyes and see his fear, its exhilarating for me.

I drink it in.

It feeds me, the men deposit me outside, the tongue less butler gives a little nod at me, it’s a warning of what is to come, don’t always go by what you can see, not everyone can fight in the same way, it doesn’t mean their desire for change isn’t there.

My father’s taught me well, all three of them, I duck the first swing, from the bigger of the two a beautiful Nubian man in his 20’s, they are the tools and not the machine, but still they have been re-purposed by the game, to hit someone weakly shows no respect, it shows no admiration for their power, not matter how they chose to spend it, never underestimate an opponent, Gordon taught me that by example, because he did. The second smaller white man comes at me with a knife.

Kicking up, not down I kick the blade from his hand, it goes spinning into the night, perhaps there is something in what she said, even if it is not the thing she meant.

I get clocked from behind, and I am spinning down to the ground.

If you don’t have to, never fight alone, because the cracks in you will show faster if you do, of course some fights can only be won alone, and the only thing we have to ever chose to sacrifice is ourselves, my other father the now Joker, laughing alone forever, trapped in the world of his own madness, I learnt the lesson because it broke him to be a single point in time.

I look up from the hard floor outside the club, and Robin is there and cat woman alongside, sinners and saints, we all need our friends, we are lucky to have people for whom when we look they don’t look away, they meet your gaze freely, sometimes with steel, sometimes with love there are not many people who will do that for you in this world.

I get up from the floor, the tide has turned in this small fight, the butler retreats into the club, shutting the fire door behind you, even when you can’t speak out, your actions can speak louder than words, hearing the noise behind them, the stooges, knifeless, beaten in number, but not stupid, just forced into a position of aggression by economic factors, factors controlled by the Alfreds of the world.

Dusting myself off I see Robin staring at the aggressors, cat woman pinches my bum and gives me a wink, and motions for us to leave, Robin begins to close in on them, I take him by the hand and motion for us to leave once again. Their aggression is not really theirs, it is them kicking out at an uncaring world, the world is not fair, the only privilege we all share is life, and even that is one that we don’t get to share for long.

Mercy.

The final lesson, the mercy I failed to show to one of my fathers, the rich Wayne, I cannot take back what is done, i cannot unmurder him. we cannot re-write the events of the past, only in our minds, not in actuality, but not in the real truth of our actions, or inactions, but then I was a child still then.

Sometimes we all must show mercy, no matter the extent of wrongs we feel have been done to us, or those we love.

As we turn, the smaller guy draws a blade from his boot, and throws it, it spins through the air in slow motion, I throw myself in front of its path.

I hear the slow steel pierce me as I block the shot from Robin with my body, the only thing that’s mine, a privilege that is being able bodied.

Sometimes we’ve all got to take a hit.

Hubris, intellectual arrogance, faux compassion, sometimes something has to take a knock before we can dust off and start again.

Sometimes that knock is a blade in between your ribs.

Call on me in the morn, and you may find me a grave man, that’s from Platos republic isn’t it…

Ah I like miss-quoting, misappropriating, it shows the hubris of others, their willingness to show off what they have learnt, nobody is perfect, to attempt to be so in anybody else’s eyes is the greatest folly indeed, but there is some power to be gained in knowledge.

I am a man, but what kind of man am I?

Fear is the mind killer, fear is the little death.

It’s amazing what you think of, before you pass out from pain, and bloodloss.

I AM HUMAN, I am man. Whatever that means anymore…

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Season 2 – Episode 9: It’s me, who else?

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I walk into the plain walled room, the police officer looks real twitchy, like blowing off mine or pops head with that shotgun would make his day run a whole lot more pleasant for him. I make eye contact with the old man, he looks roughed up, he’s eyes are all busted up, he is squinting through two purple blue slits.

“Who’s that?” He asks hearing a different pair of shoes enter the room, he can still hear out of one ear, despite one being all busted like a cauliflower.

“It’s me, who else?”

He cracks a smile I notice more than a few teeth are missing.

“Jesus pop’s looks like they threw more than the book at you”

He laughs, and then stops, and spits out blood, and another tooth, I look at this one on the floor, its cracked in half.

“Did they break everything?”

He somehow shrugs towards his own head, I’m not sure how, but he manages it, a feat of beaten brow and shoulders.

“Everything apart from my mind”

I shrug back.

“That’s not what the papers say, still it’s more comforting for the world out there for them to think you didn’t know what you were doing.”

I lean over and slam my balled fist onto the table he is sat, the metal ashtray sitting on top dances a little.

“What the fuck where you doing Pops? Give me the reason so I can have it carved into your grave and tattooed to my heart so I can sleep at night?”

“Taking out the trash, someone needed to do it, and I couldn’t trust these motherfucking faggots to do it”

The guard coughs, the old man spins his head like he is a blind man, looking for the noise.

“Beat me later boy wonder!” Gordon says gruffly, spitting more blood as a full stop.

I sit down opposite him, take him in, I didn’t know he had it in him, I knew he had brass balls for tough decisions, and an iron stomach for the booze, The only person I ever saw hit him was Maria, god rest her cancer ridden soul, she would take his belt off on wail on him and he would let her, we didn’t know then about the cancer, or about how it had creeped into her brain long ago silently changing her from the inside out, it gave her visions of the devil, flashes of red, visions of god, flashes of white, and whatever they told her to do she would do. He loved her so, he would just take it, just stand there and take it, she would be crying out “I’ll kill you, you bastards” again and again. when she was exhausted, he would gently embrace her, kiss her hands, her face and her lips. He would look her in her eyes and say.

“Ahora no. Tal vez mañana”

“Not today. Maybe tomorrow?” I repeat back to him, after all these years, hoping to bring back that Old man I could respect, I could understand, I could respect, not this bastard train wreck of a person I see before me.

He leans over to me, I lean in.

“I did it for her, you don’t know what they did to her”

“Back in Mexico?” I suggest.

“No goddamn fucking right here, right here in this very station, she’s dead now, with God I hope, Maria deserves there to be a God, even if nobody else does.”

“Explain to me pops, I really want to fucking understand why you killed all those cops, that used to be you, a family man,  a uniform and a badge, hate the system not the man, you used to say that to me whenever they drove me home for some petty crime, or fight in the street.”

“Got a smoke?” He asks. I silently reply by fumbling in my pockets for one, I light it in my mouth and pass it over to him, holding it in his mouth, his hands are restrained, he inhales heavily.

“That’s good, feels like the devil knows I’m alive again.” I take it out of his mouth and put it out in the ashtray on the desk, there is a little blood mixed in with spittle on the butt. I don’t feel like sharing a cigarette, I don’t know who I am looking at anymore.

“Back when I joined the New Gotham police, the first Christmas there was an office party, bring your young wife they said, we don’t mind none that she is a Spic.”

I nod, thinking about cigarettes myself now. “Still the whisky flowed and I was having a good time, she said she needed the bathroom, you know what I’m like I had at least two more till I noticed she was missing.”

Funny how things cloud your mind at the worst moment. I take a cigarette out for myself.

“The party was winding down, I went looking for her, I half expected to find her furious in the car waiting for me, or passed out on a chair, I looked all over, I then went to the bathroom and walked in, as I did a gun pressed against my forehead, and I heard a click.”

Lighting it I look into the crushed eyes of a man I once respected.

“They were…” he looks like he is in pain “They were taking turns in raping her”

“The officer with the gun said ‘It’s not personal, the word on the street is that you are a good man, well the truth is we don’t like good men, even less so good cops, I can tell you love this woman, keep your mouth shut, your eyes closed, and your ears only where they are wanted and you never need see this happen again.’ I never saw his face that night, but I never forget his voice.  I had to take her to hospital, I had to lie about what happened and when she had come out of the coma, they said she would never have natural born children of her own. God she wailed, she wailed, I’ve never heard her wail like that except when she saw you in hospital comatose.”

I give him a bit of my cigarette, in inhales, coughs I take it back and inhale, put it down and let it burn down some in the ashtray. It’s a little while before he can speak again.

“Every day I would only ever put my uniform on once I left the house, I would take the back handers and the bribes, I would give them all to Maria, I would tell her to put it somewhere safe, but not to spend it, the truth was I never wanted to see it, let alone touch it. It was bad enough that she had to wash my uniform, a uniform I went in a single moment from loving to hating. Sure there are good cops, good men, but what does it matter if you can’t be good, it’s all so fucking subjective. She never mentioned it once again, she never complained about nothing, not even being able to have kids, and when I brought you home she was at least halfway to happy, she started to sing again.”

Gordon smiles not quite at me, but at a memory of Maria playing though his mind, a happy place, a happy time, I let him sit in it, until a dour look returns on his face, the memory played out.

“The only thing she would ever say about was…”

He stoops and picks up the burning cigarette in the ashtray and drags on it till it’s finished, letting it fall when it’s finished.

“…Is it done?”

And I would reply;

“Ahora no. Tal vez mañana, I would hold her and kiss her, it was all I could say, all I could do while she lived and you lived, they would have destroyed you both, and me through that.”

I nod, there is nothing more he needs to say.

It’s funny that sometimes to understand someone, you must realise that, really you understood nothing at all.

I get up and push away the chair.

“Times up!”  A voice shouts from the other side of the rooms door.

I kiss him on his forehead, it tastes of salt and iron, he squints from his beautiful, broken and bloodied face.

“You did it pop, Maria would be proud, any regrets?”

He shakes his head, “Just one”

What’s that, I think before the word crosses my lips, the old man smiles, he knows.

“That she wasn’t there to spit on all their corpses, each and every fucking last one” And he laughs like he has said the most hilarious thing ever, he laughs and laughs like he will never stop, even as I am lead away from the room, and I can hear his laugh over the beating, the smacking of fist and iron against my fathers battered flesh.

I clench my first and walk into the daylight.

Maybe what they say really is true after all.

Like father, like son.

Season 2 – Episode 9: Death by Cop

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It’s been to long since I’ve worn the uniform, I’ve gotten soft, pudgy, moping around crying will not bring her back, will not make everything all right. I get a knife from the kitchen and look at the blade, if it was plunged into my flesh I would bleed, maybe even bleed out and die, but one sacrifice, one death isn’t enough the streets are wild, violent, full of rabid dogs that need putting down.

Using the knife to cut another notch in the belt my mind turns to the preparation for tonight, this is it – there is no going back, there will be no legacy, pictures will be taken down from county hall, photo’s ripped up, there will be no memorial plaque, everyone is on the take, why would I want respect from the very people who have cause this place to crumble into what it has become? I wanted to make this city safe, but there is profit to be made from selling guns, from instilling fear and uncertainty.  The assumption being is that if everyone was safe, if everyone was happy we wouldn’t need to fill our homes with meaningless things, that we could embrace our fellow humans on the street with openness and joy.

I look at myself in the mirror, this uniform used to fit me, this uniform used to be my proudest possession, it symbolised liberty through equal justice for all. Now it represents protecting the wealthy against the poor, with scumbags like Alfred lording it over us all, and the thing is I can’t even be mad at him, he took no oath, he made no pledge to better society, he just took the money and ran into his hidey-hole.

HA-HA-HA!

Well the jokes been on me for such a long time I can’t even remember the punchline.

I look down at the kitchen table, where once meals were fondly shared, not tonight, now all I do is drink bottle after goddamn bottle of whatever I can get my hands on.  Well no more, I’ve decided if I’m going to kill myself I’m going to take a few lowlife sell out bastards with me.

I check my service pistol spin out the cylinder, check the action on the safety, feel it’s weight, it’s good, I ease it back into my side holster, I fill my pockets with slugs, I also place a preloaded speedloader into each of my top pockets, I’m going to make a noise like I’m shaking pennies in a tin can when I walk but I don’t mind, no statesmanship is required tonight, just a little balls, and a sledge load of determination.

I pick up a picture of my beloved I kiss it, one last act of tenderness from me to her memory, I throw it at the wall I hear it smash and break upon the floor.

“I’m coming to get you out of there! I’m going to clear out heaven looking for you, God doesn’t deserve you my love, and all his angels won’t stop me now! DO YOU HEAR ME YOU BASTARDS!!!”

Of course they don’t hear me, how could they hear me? Do they hear the woman crying out for the rape to end? Do they hear the old veterans asking for change on the corner of 2nd and 8th, or the quiet prayers of the mothers of sick children. No it’s all fire and brimstone, it’s all Jesus did this and Jesus did that once upon a time in a land far, far away.

Enough of the wishful thinking and fairy tales I say, time for hard action.

I down my last ever last whisky, Jamesons, ah it burns in a good way.

I leave a note for my son to find, I asked him to come over tonight, to speak to him so he could understand my reasons for ending things this way, but I guess he is out partying and having fun, and why shouldn’t he be, why should he come see his old man? I’m not even really his father, I’ve tried to be, I tried to be the best man I could be for the boy, but it the end we all fall short.

I pick up my Savage Arms 720, not exactly standard cop issue, I pawned my wedding ring to make the down payment on it, a 5 shot auto loading shotgun, it’ll do the job. I put it back again down briefly to place the shotgun ammo belt diagonally across my chest, like I’m shooting pheasant or something. Lastly I place on my police cap, covering my thinning hair, I make sure it is absolutely straight, I remember in the early days she would tease me, knock my cap at an angle and ask me to come back to bed, perhaps if I did that a little more often we might have been blessed with a baby of our own.

I’m not a religious man, but when all you ask for in life seems so little in comparison to what others have, it seems fickle, cruel to deny such a small happiness to such a devout woman.

I pick myself up from the chair and the shotgun from the table and blow out the candle.

Darkness envelopes the room.

A door is shut quietly.

Dawn breaks.

Morning arrives.

The newspaper hits the screen door.

A man enters the house, clutching the paper, placing it on the kitchen table.

“Pops?!?” he says, “Sorry about last night, I got talking to an old friend in a bar, he had quite the story…you would have liked him I think, but not the shit he was drinking.”

There is no reply from the otherwise empty walls.

He picks up the note, pours himself a whisky into the empty tumbler, takes a sip.

Unfolds it, and he then reads it aloud.

“The world is always someone elses oyster, don’t be greedy, love you forever Pops.”

He smiles a little, puts it down and takes another sip.

Moving over to the small set of stairs he says loudly “Maybe I won’t finish the bottle on you today old man.” chuckles to himself, waits for a response and retreats in it’s absence.

Picking up the newspaper from the table, he reads the headline.

‘28 officers killed by gunman last night, brought down by your leading Mayoral candidate.’

Hearing sirens outside, he gets up and notices the broken glass surrounding picture of the only mother he really knew, on the floor.

“FUCK!”

There isn’t enough whisky for this Dirk thinks, and he picks up the bottle and swigs.

Season 2 – Episode 8: Frustration, please meet Bitterness

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It was just another night, another bar, and another blonde, I knocked back my sixth whisky and water, then raised my glass to the bar to ask for another.  It wasn’t that she wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t that she didn’t like me, but my heart wasn’t in it.

I heard a noise in the bar it sounded like a machine gun, I looked over my shoulder and saw a man I wasn’t expecting to see in a joint like this, the noise was him knocking through a line of over a dozen shots, I didn’t recognise the bottle, it looked like something the man had brought with him.

I tipped my hat to the blonde, to excuse myself and sat down next to Bane.

“Looking for me?” I asked with enough Nonchalance to hope it wasn’t true.

Peering out from his internal dialogue the man, looking older and less well than ever before, but still strong in the way an adder always has one last bite to give replies;

“Gah, Americans, think everything is about them, and there is nothing you can do to convince them otherwise”

“Try me” I assert making myself comfortable, taking off my hat.

“Independence Day you call this? Independence from what, you still fight the same wars as the terrible British, you still kill the innocent, and the yes, perhaps not so innocent.”

“I admit it you’ve lost me”

“You are too young to really remember ‘The Great War’ though as most men who have fought in war know, there are no really great wars, terrible ones yes, slightly less terrible ones perhaps, but no great ones.  Now don’t get me wrong, there can be great men in war, great men at war, and great men for the wars, but no ‘Great Wars’”

“What you drinking old timer?”

His twisted scarred face resembles a smile for a brief second.

“Now that is a great question, this is Schnapps, peach I think, or pear perhaps, and I drink in honour of my squad, good men, cowards, and bastards alike, all gone now, buried in mass graves, stripped of this thing we call dignity, and pretend is ours to defend. Know I would like to ask you a question?”

I nod for him to go ahead, this is a side of this man I never thought I would see, and for men that have suffered much at the hands of others the least you can give them is your time.

“What was… ah the word escapes me… Scheisse… wrong with her? Why waste your time with an old broken man?” And he jabs behind himself with his thumb.

Taken a moment to honestly reflect I answer.

“I guess I’m just not in the mood tonight” and briefly looking over I see that she has been engaged by a couple of sailors, and is laughing, flicking her hair and rouging her lips, seemingly simultaneously.

“Besides it’s clearly no skin off her nose”

‘Was Heibt Das… sorry English, English yes. What does that mean?”

Now I thumb back over at her, and with some difficulty he sees he current situation.

“Alles klar, all right I see now, she could be anyone, you could be anyone, alles klar”

He pours two shots and passes one over to me. Picks his up and I do the same.

“Proust” he says “Down the hatch” I reply and we knock back our shots together, it stings sweetly and kicks like a mule, he pours us both another.

“Tell me about your squad Bane”

He motions at me to finish the next shot, I do, he pours me another.

“First we must know the context, have you heard of the Battle of the Somme American?”

I nod, I’d heard a little at school.

“The British guns were going for 7 days and 7 nights, boom, boom, boom, exploding above our heads, making our bunker shake, it was almost impossible to sleep, I had seen visions and hallucinated, I had seen my Grandfather come and tell me to come outside and see the fireworks, my squad kept me held down as I implored with them to let me go outside and be with Grand Papa, it was a terrible time to be alive I thought.  At least the dead have their rest.”

He downs his shot, “Of course this was before all this” and he motions to his breathing apparatus, which seems better made and more discreet than when we last meet.  Pouring out two more shots, I take mine, a little spills out and I suck the sweet liquid off my thumb, pear flavoured I decide. Not that it matters there is still half a bottle left.

“When the guns stopped my ears carried on ringing, the alarm was raised that the enemy was coming, the first thing that happened, was that loyal, fearless Franz, always first to volunteer, always first to offer you half of his ration, took out his pistol, placed it to his forehead.  Simply said ‘Nacht’ and blew his brains out over Herman who had been sitting next to him, Herman then emptied the sparse contents of his stomach on the floor of the bunker, the remains of us scrambled to the machine gun nests where we rained fire on the approaching tin soldiers, they fell down, and they fell down, it was like shooting down targets with a, how do you put it a BB gun at the fairground, we were mentally exhausted, but they were so far away, it was hardly anything like killing at all”

I down my shot, and go to take the bottle, Banes hand flinches out and grabs mine firmly, then almost remembering where he was he waves me on, downs his shot, wiping his stubbly mouth, I can see the tubes going from the tank into his nose keeping his ravaged lungs working.

“Then in the middle of the ringing in my ears and the roar of the machine guns a further explosion, some old shell lodged in the works above had exploded, I now think due the vibration of the machine guns, and there is a cave in, the two emplacements beside me go silent, I can hear Hans scream and Herman call out in the dark. My loader a bright young patriot from Munich follows protocol and asks permission to see if he can help, I ask him to come back as soon as possible has the enemies of the fatherland approach every nearer, and he salutes me, let me see, ah yes Adolf was his name, no not that Adolf, from Munich I said.”

The Blonde from the bar gives me a snooty look as she leaves the establishment with the taller of the two sailors, I decide she was never my type, besides I am enthralled with Banes story.

“So I am shooting the young men down, they are closer now, I think why don’t they run, why don’t they take cover, why do they just march into their death?  Tears crawl down my face, I sing an old nursery song to myself to keep myself calm;

Der Hahn ist tot, der Hahn ist tot,
Der Hahn ist tot, der Hahn ist tot,
Er kann nicht mehr kräh’n, kokodi, kokoda,
Er kann nicht mehr kräh’n, kokodi, kokoda.
Kokokokokokokokodi, Kokoda”

I notice the ditched second sailor looking at us, I notice a glint in his eye, and I see a blade in his hand, he comes at Bane from behind, I’m too drunk to react in time, but I’m on my feet when the blade clatters against his oxygen tank and hits the floor. The confused expression in the sailors face, turns to horror as Bane reaches down blindly and picks up the switchblade, looking at the dirty blade, he spits on it gives it a polish with his shirt and calmly swivels and hands it back to the Sailor. Looking into his eyes he says;

“If you mean to kill a man, do him the honour of doing it with a clean blade, blood poisoning is a terrible way to die, I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy, which you young man, are not he”

Taking the blade back he pockets it and quickly exits the bar, looking sheepish, he knocks a chair over before he ascends the stairs out of the basement bar.

“What does the rhyme mean?”

He laughs that rasping almost mechanical laugh.

“Simply something like ‘the Rooster is dead, It sings no more’ forgive me my translation isn’t the best. Come American the bar is closing, and I am an old bitter man in need of a warm bed”

“But you haven’t finished the story?” I add, surprising myself with my petulance.

“Nein, but there has been enough horror tonight, I must admit I am surprised that I like you Dirk, promise this old soldier something?”

“What is it?”

“When you kill that old degenerate, don’t make it quick, Albert has lost his human rights as far as I am concerned, Ruby, your sister, your lover, whichever she is, both perhaps? She knows more, whereas I know too much already, and I can hear my grandfather again, calling me to see the fireworks, goodbye American”

And with that he pushes the bottle of Schnapps into my hands.

Turning just before he leaves the bar he says.

“There are those who exist through the horrors of war and survive, and those who profit through the perpetuation of them and become rich, you must decide yourself Dirk, which is the worse crime?”

And with that he is gone into the night, I pour another Schnapps and begin to make up my own mind.

Season 2 – episode 7: sympathy for (the devil) – part 2

Jesus it feels like I’ve been away from consciousness for months, I look around and Robin looks like he is shadow boxing, I wonder if it’s the time for training. I try and say. ‘Have I been in another coma?” but it comes out more like.

“Ajtjfj djdjd gjgj”

My lips feel like somebody has poured hot sauce, my arms and legs feel numb, and my ribs feel like I’ve taken a beating from a man who knows what he’s doing.

“Sorry pretty boy I had to beat the devil out of you!”

Shouts Robin helpfully, great what kind of day involves getting beaten up by your best friend in your childhood home under suspicion of a satanic possession?

Only one that starts and ends in New Gotham I guess, I try and laugh at my old joke, but my ribs ache so bad I wish I was in another coma.

All of a sudden a light goes on, and in comes Alfred on some kind of petrol powered automatic chair, like a wheelchair but it seems to be ticking over like a fancy lawnmower. He’s not alone his with that lawyer creep I last saw in the chemical plant.

The chemical plant…

No it can’t be. Can it?

“ajthyr fjfhy thrh” I try and warn robin but all that comes out is garbage, what did Gordons wife used to say to me when I asked for jelly on toast. Oh that’s it ‘Garbage in, garbage out’ I gotta stop reading comic books and start reading some actual literature, maybe some Mark Twain or something classical.

Back to the room and Alfred in that clanking contraption looks terrible, tubes and tanks everywhere, looks like his sins have caught up with him, I want to tell Robin that’s no devil, but I don’t thinks that’s happening.

Out of a speaker attached to the chair Alfred’s voice comes out warped and twisted.

“What do we have here a family, reunion, what a minute, that’s him, that’s the boxer I lost all that money on, see to him my boy”

The suit comes at Robin who is to goddamn preoccupied ducking and diving to notice, the unsuspecting fool walks right into the cloud of darkness, he stops dead in his tracks, all the colour drops out of his cheeks, and he falls to one knee.

Robin looks puzzled and Alfred looks worried, fearing the odds are against him, but we are not here for that old beast, not today.

The lawyer-cop whatever he is/was, god I feel so fuzzy, it’s like I haven’t been in this world for a couple of months, my brains been on vacation buried like a cock between hot buttocks, well he gets up and for a second his face looks all different, like it’s taken on a different expression.

It whatever it is smiles, the smile runs a chill deep into my bones, like I’ve been left in the freezer, like the man is a walking talking freezer, god it’s twice as bad as it ever was.

“Well, what are you waiting for?” Says Alfred with annoyance and a slight tinge of fear in his voice.

He turns around and whispers something into the old man’s ear, the old man looks terrified for a moment, then he puts on a forced smile I remember well, it’s the one he used to give Mr Wayne back in the day when he asked to be left alone with someone.

The suit speaks;

“I have been advised to let you go, consider this your lucky day gentlemen, take that sorry excuse for a human being with you” and he thumbs at poor Gordon in the chair.  Robin still looks confused, but gets Gordon out of the chair and onto his feet, removing the restraints and the dirty cloth from his mouth.

“Am I glad to see you boys, come on junior let’s get the fuck out of here” and Gordon smiles meekly. Robin picks me up, cradling we like a child, I can barely move, what did that thing do to me and what did it do to that human icebox?

I don’t have time to think, I just want out of this rat hole and Robin obliges, I feel safe in those big strong arms, like a babe, which is just as well as goo-goo gaga is about all I can manage at the moment.

Out of the kitchen, out of the house and to the car, Robin puts me in the back seat, Gordon rides shotgun, banging on the side of the door out of the rolled out window for us to leave. Me I feel colder than I’ve ever felt, I need a hot bath, and I try and tell them.

“Inenruhtirtbrth”

“What was that son?” Gordon inquires.

Robin smiles into the mirror.

“I think he said he needs a hot bath, which is funny because I’ve been trying to tell his white ass that for weeks.”

And he laughs that big warm laugh, and I’m relieved, I’m going to be OK. It’s going to be OK, for us at least.

Well if the devil is looking for his people, he landed the jackpot with Alfred.

There’s a chill in the air that wasn’t there before.

And it goes right down into my belly.

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt about New Gotham, troubles always coming, if you know where it’s coming from next, well at least that’s better than not knowing.

Sort of.

A very cold comfort indeed.

Season 2 – Episode 7: Pt One – Sympathy for (the devil)

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‘Pity God, but have sympathy for the devil.’

It was scrawled on the wall of the Wayne manor, somebody had crudely painted it in red paint while nobody important was looking.

The journey from the hospital even at Robins breakneck speed felt like an eternity, somebody was taking everyone I cared for, or who cared for me away from me one by one.  The devil and God have something in common, they are both lonely jobs and both have a vision for the world that perhaps nobody else can really truly grasp except perhaps the other.

Me I’ve got plenty of sympathy for the devil, all my pity been washed out of me over the years God or no God, you get fed up of people trying the same con on you day after day, the little cons like spare change, and the big cons like paying your taxes and all that good stuff.

If somebody asked me what I believed in, I’m not sure what I’d say, I’ve seen good people die for no reason, and bad people live plenty good and plenty well.

I check my weapons, I’ve got my knuckles and a length of chain I got out of the boot of Robins car, I don’t feel like letting anybody die quickly today, the clock may be ticking but it suits me just fine.

I put my fingers to Robins lips and we enter the back of the manor, someone is expecting us, the door is ajar, I’m not sure what to expect in there, whether it will be fire or ice.

I can take the heat, I’m not sure I’m cut out for the cold of the long night.

A light is on in the Kitchen, we approach, with fists full of iron and menace in our stride.

A single bare bulb illuminates the room, I shouldn’t have expected anything less Alfred’s tightness when it comes to treating his staff is well known, but this doesn’t feel like his doing, and what I walk into is not what I expect.

Somethings in the shadows, something that looks like it’s made from the shadows, I can’t quite get a look at it’s like it’s a nothing face, nothing visible.

“Here he is, the hero cometh to save old pops, and clean the streets, a regular vigilante”

The voice is hissing and croaky, but there is something familiar about it.

“Cat got your tongue, how is the bitch, or is it bastard?”

That stings Robins strong sense of loyalty he begins to move but the bastard moves his stiletto blade to Gordons throat.

“Easy boy wonder or the old man gets a new hole to be truly fucked through”

I give a look to Robin to stand down.

“What do you want creep? Money? I don’t have much, but you’re welcome to it. Fame? You’d better join the line, what is it that you want from all this?”

“Recognition”

It says as it steps briefly out of the shadows, falling into its own darkness.

“I know an asshole when I hear one” chips in Robin unhelpfully still smarting from earlier.

It clears its throat, moving the knife back into its pocket with a grace and pace that is frightening in itself, a glimmer of forgotten understanding lights up in me at the move, it is somehow like someone I have met before.

“Buddy I get it, we’ve met, but I can’t remember when, help a guy out would you?”

Gordon is coming to, looks like the thing has been beating on him, he looks wrecked. But then between the job and the booze that’s nothing new.

“You were there when I died, but then I guess you’ve seen a lot of people die, you’re a real bad guy to know, I should’ve trusted my gut that night in the cell and left you and your friend there to do the heavy lifting, but I didn’t.  And now I am here and you are there, how many people will have to die tonight because of you, one, two, three all of us, maybe more?”

I look in the direction of where I believe the shadow creatures eyes should still be.

“Look I’m no more God than you are, we’ve all got to go, the most any of us can hope for is to do it in our best suit.”

“I can see why I liked you, you’re plucky” It says with a rolling lisp filled with venom.

I let my chain drop to the floor so he knows I’m not here just to look the part, its segments clunk in the dark.

“Easy hombre you don’t know what moves I’ve got”

“Wrong again, I said you were there when I died, not when I took a Dive”

“That Mexican went down fair and square, is that what this is about, did you bet against me?” Robin chips in again, he is on a brittle edge lately, has been since that fight has been seeing people following him in the dark, I’d tell him not to worry, but I’d be a liar if I said I wasn’t afraid of the things that follow me into the night.

The thing gets out a book of bar matches and lights some candles on a table in front of the chair that Gordon is tied to, then it unties something around it’s waist it’s hard to see even with the candle light as its fingers just move so silky, or so fast. Its coat drops to the floor to reveal something I had never seen before that moment and I hope I never see again.  I played it cool, as it was all I had left.

“Behold your Lazarus Dirk, I have returned from beyond, and my price for your failure to save me is simple, I want your life, more specifically, may I call you Dirk? I want what you have and you took from me “

“Which is? What do I have I, that you don’t got?”

“Can’t you see Dirk?”

“Nope, sorry, I didn’t get much schooling, after I left this… dump” gesturing to signify the faded majesty of the once great Wayne Manor, that old boy Albert has really let the place go to the dogs.

“Tsk daddy won’t be pleased to hear that” the thing shakes Gordon’s head from left to right, I see his eyes pleading but his mouth is covered with dirty looking fabric.

“That’s just it Dirk, you can’t see it, because it’s hardly there”

“I’m still not getting you, I’m erm, a slow study” God I wish I had a shooter, he’s worth a shot maybe.

“I want your body Dirk!” It says without a hint of irony.

“Now I know you’ve gone to some effort for all of this, and the candles are a nice touch, but you’re not my type sweetheart, I go for how do I put this? People of substance.”

Something lights up in its eyes, and then it lunges and I feel nothing, an overwhelming sense of nothing, a paralyzing sense of complete numbness, I don’t quite pass out, but I passed through…

…Something.

 

To be continued

 

Season 2 – Episode 6: A womans work…

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Hospital again, at least the company’s good I suppose, I wink at that kooky nurse and she blushes and continues to water plants, and in strolls trouble.

Troubles name is Ruby, six years later and she looks better than ever unmistakable even from the other side of the room, I must get HER doctors name, she rolls through the ward like she owns the place, which I suppose is half right, her name is above the door of the entrance.

“You don’t look pleased to see me, you remember me right?”

I wonder if I have my gun still, I quickly brisk myself to no avail.

“Like a hole in the head darling, what brings your sweet behind into my neck of the woods?”

She shoots a look at the nurse, who throws one back and lets out what I imagine a human sized cat hissing to sound like before scuttling away.

“Looks like your taste in skirt hasn’t improved much handsome”

“Mamma said I never had much sense that way”

“Your Mamma was right god bless her soul”

And she crosses her chest.

“When did you start talking to the big man upstairs?”

“When none of you little men down here started measuring up”

And her eyes linger in my lap a little to long for my liking. She sighs.

“I didn’t come here to fight, so why don’t we talk instead?”

“I’m a captive audience”

“We’ve got a mutual problem”

“Your clown is out of control, he is out there killing cops, they’ve been 7 cops gunned down in the last 14 days, my sources say he’s behind it”

“That joker is many things, but consistency isn’t his style, why are you so sure it’s him?”

“I’m glad you asked I had one of my friends on the force borrow this from the evidence room”

She throws down a blood encrusted playing card, no points for guessing which one.

“Hmm seems a bit obvious, another thing that surprises me here, I didn’t think you and cops went together smoothly”

She walks over the window blinds, peaking out of them, then she twists them shut before pulling the curtains around my bed. She sits down next to me, her skirt suit cuts her ample figure beautifully, and I’m not ashamed to say I feel myself responding, she brings her lips to my ears

“Things change, feelings change brother” and without whispering another word she pushes her hand under the sheets and into my pyjama bottoms.

I bite my lip as I harden at her firm grip.

I don’t last long, six years is a long time to go without. She gets out a tissue from the box at my bedside and wipes her hand, then folds the tissue and places it in my pyjama jacket’s pocket.

“What was that?” I ask, genuinely confused.

“An apology, now get up and that big old black friend of yours is waiting outside with a suit for you, you’ve got work to do, I’m employing you, both.”

“What for?”

“God that bullet must have taken the best part of your sweet little skull with it, to take care of our mutual problem”

“Can’t you take care of it? I hear you’re a powerful woman now, running for Mayor of New Gotham”

“Listen little man it does a woman like me no good to publically get her hands dirty. This is the last time we will meet in private little brother.”

“But…” I begin.

She places a finger on my lips. “Hush little child”

And with that she slips out of the curtains and I hear the clicking of her heels on the hard floor of the hospital, leaving as cool as can be.

After a few minutes pass a familiar dark hand pushes a pressed suit under the curtains, and I get the feeling it’s just my size.

“Get it on and get your lily white ass out here, you pale boys are slower than molasses in January.”

I smile and put on the suit, inside the pocket I find a photo, I look at the back of the photo and it has today’s date written on it, I turn it over and I see it’s a picture of Pops tied up in a chair with a gun to his head, he is holding todays newspaper, I recognise the headline from this morning ‘Cop killer up to Seven.’ I look at the scene, and something falls into place.

“You look like hell in a handcart”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence” I snap back

“Well it’s just, you look like you’ve just seen a ghost”

“I hope not Robin, really I hope not.”

We make our way downstairs briskly to the car, and I climb into the passenger seat, I’m too angry to trust myself to drive.

“Where to Master Wayne?” Robin says grinning, putting on his best southern accent.

“Back to the Manor”

Robins smile turns to grim determination, and he adjusts the rim of his hat, then we set off at speed.

Season 2 – Episode 5: Nobody knows the trouble I’m in

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Death comes at you one of two ways, real quick, or real slow.

I look at the clock on the wall of my office, still here, waiting for me patiently like death, it’s not moving so I take it off the wall and wind the mechanism to breathe life into it and replace it on the wall.

Now it is ticking again, the flywheels and cogs working together, but the time isn’t right, I look at my watch, and as both are in my view I see that the wall clock is running fast.

I wonder if it is trying to catch up.

The bell of my door goes off, and I turn in my seat to greet my first potential client in a long time.  It is not who I am expecting, which is the inherent danger of expectations.

They can get dashed.

“Mr Bane, what an unexpected surprise! What can I do you for?”

“What can I do for you?”

“I asked first”

“No it’s ‘What can I do for you?’”

“Sure you need a private detective and not a shrink?”

“Funny” he wheezes through his mask, in the dark light of my office the tank on his back makes him look like the hunchback of Notre Dame, but I shake the idea out of my head, I’m not sure there is enough of Bane left to love anyone, let alone Esmerelda, or am I projecting, maybe it’s me that need’s a shrink?

“I like what you’ve done with the place” He adds, looking around the office.

“I haven’t done anything” I respond nonchalantly.

“I have done nothing” he replies.

“Good to know”

“No I mean, nevermind anyway it isn’t true you’ve wound on the wall clock…” and he pauses looks at the face of the clock “…but it’s not keeping the right time.”

I can see its obvious inaccuracy annoys him.

“Forget about the time for a minute, what did you come to see me for?”

I can see him still looking at the clock.

“I came bring you a warning Lazarus”

Tick, tock, is it me or is that clock getting louder.

“Do you drink Bane?”

If I could see him smile behind his oxygen mask I’d think he was.

I get a bottle of whisky out, and two glasses. I pour generously; the clock’s ticking is beginning to annoy me.

He downs it like schnapps, I look away whilst he finishes it, not wanting to see the monster beneath the mask, worried what of myself I’ll see in the grotesque perhaps, are we not all twisted versions of our true self? I go to pour him more but he puts his hand over the glass and leans towards and whispers.

“We haven’t much time, this room is bugged and booby trapped, by the time the clock strikes 8 we are toast, pretend you didn’t hear that.”

I nod and take a deep breath.

“Do you like boxing Bane?”

He smiles understanding my misdirection.

“It is the only sport for gentlemen, except for of course fencing, did you know I was a fencer in the Olympics, no why would you know that, it is of no consequence for you. Although unusually I travelled to Africa to be taught by the greatest living swordsman”

“Really I would like to meet him” I say passing the time, I can feel the sweat build up, banes eyes motion to the clock, and he makes out the hand signal for five minutes.

“In a way you already have”

He motions for me to finish my drink, I knock it back and it burns down my throat to the cool fires of what’s left of my charred soul. I slip the bottle into my pocket, get my coat and hat.

“I’m feeling musical, do you care for some Bach Bane?”

“It’s would”

“No not wood Bane, Bach”

I place the needle on the record player, and the classical music drifts out of the horn.

“Never mind, let us go American”

Calmly and quietly I remove the actual bell above the door and pocket it, and then we quickly leave the building, I grab the newspaper out of the doorman’s hands and he chases me outside.

“Hey, what’s the idea Dirk?!?”

Which is the last thing I hear before the building erupts into a fireball and we are blown to the floor by the blast. I knock my head against something hard, maybe Banes gas tank.

When I come to there are ambulances and fire-trucks and policeman everywhere, and my ears are ringing.

My first instinct is to reach into my pocket for the whisky, instead of the reassuring feel of the bottle there is a small hand written note.

‘Now we are even, and nobody owes anyone, anything – Bane’

Season 2 – Episode 4 Part three: The outsider

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I size up my opponent in the opposite corner, word on the street that some bat-shit crazy gringo has been betting him to win. I have 15 years of youth on him, I am better trained, better financed and I have a much better record than him in the ring.  He knows it’s staged, I know this fight is staged, our job is to make them think it isn’t staged, to give them a show that ignites the fire in their big fat lazy bellies.

Everything is a lie to someone.

I used to do honest work, I used to own land and toil on it, look after animals, all of it was taken away by that hideous gringo company Wayne Industries, I hear rumours about its owner, dark rumours indeed.  Still that is one benefit of everybody thinking you’re a stupid farmers son.

I walk up to my opponent, I can see that strange promoter parading in the ring, he is an odd clown and no mistake, the referee talks us through the etiquette of the ring, no low blows, no biting, break off clinches, fight is 10 rounds or one 10 count whichever comes first and so on, like we are children, like we have taken one to many blows to the head already.

My opponents skin is darker than mine, but I still see the tell-tale marks of poverty, here is another poor man who refuses to bow completely to fate, there is menace in his eyes, he tries to hide it, but I see it, I see the burning resentment inside of his soul.  This will be a difficult fight, it seems that one of us has thrown out the script.

Round one and we both take it slow, looking for openings, looking for weaknesses, I notice that is footwork is excellent, that he moves around the ring with a grace I was not expecting in a man his age and size, in another world, another life could he be packing out theatres, a dancer in some ballet, could I?  I shake these thoughts out of my head, we both land a couple of punches on each-others guard, there I feel it, his guard is weak, he invites my jabs, he wants me to move in for close work, he is tempting me to believe the script is still being kept to.

He will counter every time I go in to close, which is a problem because he has the reach on me.  The crowd is restless they have no time for our art, they just want blood and violence, and soon it will be theirs.

The bell rings and I return to my corner, I can see that promoter looking edgy, he glares at me with the required amount of menace that lets me know that he is calling the shots around here.

Or he likes to think he is, my coach is talking to me, but I ignore him, I am watching my opponent in his corner, I think he knows that I know that he is treating this like a fight he can win, it is up to me to see that this isn’t the case, thinking of his footwork, his reach, the fire in his eyes, I can see now that this is going to be a very difficult fight, I am going to have to take the bait, take the counter on going in close and get some good hits in, wear him down.

And the crowd’s jeers and cheers are in my ears as the bell rings again, and keep jabbing onto his weak guard, I can hear a few boo’s, then I feel a camera flash behind me, I see him blink and I go in, under the guard, working the kidneys, making sure he will piss blood and remember me the weeks to come, he may be black but he is not my brother, I muster my resentment, my anger, it is not hard.

His counter is strong but so am I, I make several shots onto his body, his sweat rippling off his body with each impacts in the bright ringside lights.

He grunts and I know I have hurt him, he comes back at me, with renewed fury, I barely see it coming and I’m floating down to the canvas, the crowd is up in arms and the last thing I see before I pass out is the furious look and the crooked grin on that Joker out there in the crowd, and I just know as my view fades to black that my blood will not be the last to be shed in this fight.

A farmers son taken down by a hay-maker, ah the delicious irony of it all.

Season 2: Episode 4 – part two. Proudly dangerous

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There he comes that foolish revenant, come to wish me luck, I’ve got more riding on this than he ever will.  These people will want me dead after tonight if it goes our way, I just hope he got good odds, played it sensible, put the money down in several different bookies on different days, like I told him to.

Better still had someone else place the bets, words get around betting shops when somebody is betting large amounts on the Journeyman Boxer.

Robin the magnificent, a paid punching bag, here for all the boo’s and none of the glory, but not tonight, tonight I write my own story.

I’ve been itching to cause an upset, I shake Dirk’s hand, he looks me in the eyes and smiles and just walks away, the man knows I will keep my word.  I know I will try to keep my word, but if that gringo got word of the bets against him, he isn’t going to hold back his punches, got to think tactically, got to master that ring and box the best I’ve ever.

Here come my coach, and my team, binding my hands, Vaseline on my face, the ritual, the normal routine.  They don’t know, they have come out of duty, tonight I fight for honour, they are not always one and the same.

Show me a tame heart, and I will show you a coward.

The lights slam and flash in my face as I walk out into the crowd, somebody throws a bottle of beer at me which I duck and come up with a counter, making it seem like all part of the show.  Amongst the jeers, amongst the boo’s, I can tell they think because my face is darker than theirs that I do not think as they do, they think because I am different that I am less than them.

They are wrong.

Tonight I am defiant.

Tonight I am proudly dangerous.

I am the panther on the hunt, they are all my prey, and their certainties and provocative sureties will all crumble in the plain sight of my rage.

That Joker of a man, that white man’s torn apart father, the promoter of this fight with his circus of fools, that Kingpin behind crime, how he has built his empire while his son slept, I kept my eye on him, I kept my eye on him from the inside.

He trusts me now, as much as that man can ever trust, he is a belly up turtle on his back, and I will slit his throat when the time comes, when the time comes there is always somebody willing to slit a real mans throat.

It is the lot of the poor and the brave to die by another’s hand, the sign of a life worth living if somebody wants to take it from you, though sometimes somebody takes it because you have nothing left to give.

It’s like in Poker, when you are down to your last chip, you go all in, or you go home.

Flip the chip and see where it lands, I say.

Fighting is like dying, the best way to do it is with no regrets and nothing to lose.

 

Coming next week; Episode 4 – part three. Going the distance