Post by Admin on Nov 2, 2017 13:53:10 GMT -5
Issue #8: “Family”
Story by Mark Sant
Edited by Mark Bowers
Issue #8: “Family”
Story by Mark Sant
Edited by Mark Bowers
Pamela Isley was brought in by Jim Gordon, and doctors determined that the ‘perfect poison’ she’d mixed into the coffee and the water was developed with her own blood – a physiological anomaly. A chemical aberration never before recorded in a human being. They’re calling her abnormal. Different. They’re calling her
They’re calling her eco-terrorist extraordinaire. They’re calling her inhuman, like that god in Metropolis. She’s something not regular to science or logic or comprehension. Her body both poisonous and immune to poison. And, apparently, her mind very much immune to basic decent sanity. It didn’t take long for Vicki Vale to jump on such a high-profile criminal nutjob.
On her blog, Vicki Vale gives her a nickname that I figure was inevitable.
Currently held in Arkham Asylum, Isley awaits the trial I cannot wait to bring down on her. After the doctors synthesized an antidote with Isley’s blood, we four afflicted are recovering day by day. Wayne, Earle, Allen and I. Getting better every day. And I know I’m feeling alive and angry after two weeks. I know I’m ready to crucify that psycho murderess who tried to kill me and my only friends.
Tonight, Bruce Wayne throws a party at Wayne Manor to celebrate him cheating death and making a full recovery. Drunk as a skunk, he toasts himself as well as William Earle, Crispus Allen, Jim Gordon and myself. The guests all cheer and drink champagne and eat prosciutto and sautéed eggplant and caviar and smoked salmon. Everyone who’s everyone is here.
I’m here with Grace.
And I’m here too
I clench my teeth.
I’ve come with Grace, who wore a straight black dress to try and hide the baby-bump. When Wayne’s butler offered us a platter of champagne flutes, I declined on behalf of us both so Grace wouldn’t call attention to herself. Grace is the living delight. My delight. With two more delights inside her.
I hold her close and tell her I love her.
“Harvey.” I hear my name. I recognize his voice. “You made it, primo.”
Last member of the greatest family this city’s ever known.
Drunk as a skunk.
There are D-cup porno-actresses hanging off both sides of the handsome heir. I’m ashamed to admit I recognize them both. I feel the mirror in me bulge. I feel hot and I bite both my lips at once.
“And this must be Grace,” Bruce slurs. “I’ve been told you were the nurse caring for me when I was poisoned by that… you know… hippie woman.” Holding out his hands, he takes my fiancée’s and looks into her eyes, saying, “Thank you, Grace.”
Bruce thanks me as well. I risked my life to save his, he slurs. And I tell him, “Anytime, pal. Just be sure to include me in your will.” And we have a laugh and talk a moment longer before another stunning beauty in a strapless gown calls for Bruce and he smiles drunkenly, tells us to enjoy the party and then leaves.
It’s always a blast at the Wayne parties.
Everyone’s here. I see Mayor Hill talking with William Earle. I see neurosurgeon Dr. Thomas Elliot butting elbows with billionaire app-designer Daniel Mockridge. I see Jim Gordon arrive with his daughter Barbara, who barely leaves his side since she had tea with the Mad Hatter. And I see Falcone’s dirtbag lawyer Oswald Cobblepot chatting up famed actress Gloria Paige, who’s shooting a movie in Gotham next month. At a Wayne party, even a man as short and hideous and vile as Cobblepot can chat up a beauty like her.
If you’re at a Wayne party, you must be a somebody in this town.
Grace tells me she feels ill and she heads to the washroom, wherever the hell the closest one is. I sip my champagne and finish up a short conversation with Police Commissioner Gillian Loeb and his wife Donna.
Taking a mini-quiche off the platter of a passing server, I feel a chill.
“Great party, huh, Harv?”
I know the voice when I hear it. I know her perfume when I smell it. I know her face when I turn to see it. Vicki Vale. Red-haired sleuth of the Twitter age, online reporter of Gotham’s criminal shame. The beauty’s smirking at me in some cocktail dress that really shows off her curves. And I hate it.
“Gotham’s sure going to Hell, Harv.” The buxom nympho holds up a highball glass of what smells like bourbon. Holding it as if to toast the insanity, smirking: “I know you got your hands full. Zsasz and Tetch and Isley… and all along The Roman… Must be a roller coaster, Councilman.”
The other side. The mirror.
Hearts instead of eyes.
A bulge in the glass of the mirror, ogling Vicki Vale.
I’m gonna have you in the bathroom, sugarplum
Harvey, where’s the closest bathroom?
I clench my teeth to shut up the other side.
Vale asks, “What kind of scoop can you give me? How close are you getting to Falcone?”
“There’s an article that ol’ Roman would love to read, Vicki. Your health insurance is all paid up, is it?”
Vale grins, as if she doesn’t hear me.
“What kind of scoop can you give me, Harv?”
I tell the crime-blogging tramp, “I’m engaged now. And don’t call me Harv.”
Vale persists as if she doesn’t hear me.
“Oh please. After our history? After calling you ‘Daddy’, I think I can call you anything. Doncha think?” The sleazy blogger I’ve loved bats her manipulative eyes. Smiling. Noting, “All these freaks popping up while you struggle against the almighty mob. Bats in the night defending the city…”
Fists bashing on the mirror.
Grab ‘em! They’re perfect! Look at ‘em both!
Grab ‘em grab ‘em grab ‘em grab
“Wild times we’re living in, huh, Harv?”
“There have been wild times since the Big Bang, Miss Vale. You just weren’t around to put your sleazy spin on it all.”
“I just mean now. How things are now. We’ve had The Roman forever, Harv. Falcone is old news. No one cares,” Vale says. “My readers have tripled since these freaks have come along.” I smell her perfume. She runs her finger up my thigh, saying, “All since the Bat came along… It’s all become one big Hollywood blockbuster, wouldn’t you say?”
Screw her and then kill her and then
I clench my teeth and shut my eyes. There’s the face howling.
A hand claps me on the shoulder and I gasp, on edge, both squirrelly and owlish.
I turn from Vale and see a short man behind me. Wearing a tuxedo that covers that ridiculous fat little body of his. An ugly man with a beak of a nose and long greasy hair that only grows out of the very back of his head. I’ve always said his smile looks more like a snarl.
“Dent, dear man. I thought I spied you from across the hall.” A sweaty hand of chubby fingers extends and I shake it and I hate it. Cobblepot smiles at me and lies like a pompous little weasel, “Always such an impeccable joy to see you again.”
“You too, Ozzie.” I reclaim my hand from his grip. “Have you lost weight? Or are you getting taller? Whatever you’re doing, you look great.”
“How very droll, Harvey.” Spotting Vale sipping her bourbon, Cobblepot raises his thin eyebrows and smiles and it looks like a snarl. “And you there, my dear. Miss Victoria Vale, isn’t that it? How nice to finally meet you in the very becoming flesh.”
Vale, glossy-eyed, swallows her latest mouthful of bourbon and tells Ozzie, “Blow me.”
“Now now, no need for discourtesy, my dear. After all, you’ve done me enough discourtesy in posting that humiliating nickname that’s so warmly been embraced by the good-humored of our great city. Everywhere I go now… they exchange whispers of that name behind my back.”
“Glad to know they’re reading,” Vale says. “Now waddle. I’m conducting business here.”
And I tell Vale, “No, you’re not. I got nothing to say to you.”
And I pull away from the succubus and the penguin. I dash into the partiers. Lost in the crowd. Hearing the other side that howls. Bashing fists against the mirror that bulges.
I say I need some air and I’m gone.
I stand on the balcony outside the great hall. I could use a smoke but I gave them up. Can’t raise a family on a pillow of smoke. I stay out here and I take deep breaths and listen to the face in my head and I stare up at the brilliant white moon. It’s full tonight.
Sorta looks like a coin, don’t it?
Head or tails, Harvey
When Mayor Hill sidles up beside me, I barely notice him.
“Cold tonight, huh?”
“Yeah… Chilly, Mr. Mayor.” I nod. The face howling. “January is hitting us hard.”
“You know,” Hill says, sounding drunk, slurring his words, “I always liked you, Dent. You’re a, you’re a straight shooter, Dent. You do good. That must be in your blood.”
“Yeah. In my blood.”
I do good. I choose.
Heads or tails
“You know, that’s the Dent family. Good in you all. The great families of Gotham, every one of them has at least a few skeletons in the closet. The Hills included. The Kanes, the Arkhams, the Dumas, the Elliots, the Cobblepots, of course the Falcones. Even the Waynes had one or two dark shadows in the family… But the Dents. You’ve all been a swell family, haven’t you? You all do good, doncha?”
“My father used to beat me, drunk. Blamed me for my brother’s murder.”
“Oh…” Hill quiets a moment, brushing his finger against his moustache and burping the stench of beer, saying, “Publicly though. Publicly. Well done, you Dents.”
I hear a car door slam. Mayor Hill and I both look up toward the roundabout driveway and the grand front entry of the manor beyond a garden and the marble statue of an angel with a lance.
I see him exiting a limousine. His door opened by his chauffeur. I see the tall fat greaseball with a scar cutting his left eyebrow and cheek. A tailor-made double-breasted suit and Italian loafers. A cigar hanging from his chops. A white whale.
I spot The Roman.
The Roman spots me.
The other side is howling, bellowing and bashing fists against the mirror, which cracks. It all bursts into flame that rages and solidifies and gushes magma from behind the fractured glass which multiplies the face. A million faces of wrath.
And I see Carmine Falcone, who smiles at Hill and me. He holds up a hand to wave and I’m burning up with rage. But the mayor beside me clears his throat. Then he raises his hand to return the friendly wave.
And, in my head, all I hear is
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