Harvey Dent: Faces #9: "Mad" Mar 21, 2018 14:13:41 GMT -5
Post by Admin on Mar 21, 2018 14:13:41 GMT -5
Issue #9: “Mad”
Story by Mark Sant
Cover by Joey Jarin
Edited by Mark Bowers
When I was eleven years old, they found a boy that looked just like me in a compost-heap in Miller’s County. My old man had been a drunk for as long as he could drink, but something was set off inside him when Henry died. I’d told him what happened down at the river behind the cornfield. I’d told everyone. But my old man blamed me. I should’ve screamed for help. I shouldn’t have let Henry be taken. There was something I could’ve done, I just didn’t do it. My old man blamed me instead of the coin.
In the end, it drove him in and out of angry tides. Vicious beatings for Mom and me. The old man would curse for hours at nothing. He would scream some nights. Some nights he would talk to himself in the basement. Mom and I were always afraid.
Dad died of liver damage nine years ago now.
My mom was also never the same after Henry died. She didn’t blame me, at least. She told me the only one to blame is that man down by the river. I would cry myself haggard in her arms for days and days. I told her about the coin. I told her that if it was heads I’d live. The coin chose and I lived and Henry died. If the coin had only landed tails. But mom told me there was nothing I could do about that either. It wasn’t my fault. It was just fate.
Life is just fate.
Mom’s old now, and over the years she’s lost her mind little by little. Some days a lot worse than others. I’ve got her put up in a very decent retirement home over in Robbinsville. I don’t visit her enough because I hate to see her on her bad days. I hate seeing such a good person, as she completely loses her grip on herself.
I’ve returned to Arkham for my biweekly appointment with Dr. Harleen Quinzel.
In her office, Quinzel’s secretary tells me the doctor just stepped out. A doctor named Bartholomew Wolper in the hallway tells me he saw Harleen headed for the asylum just a few minutes ago. Says he’d be happy to let me in there, if I want.
I never want to be in that place.
I hate every time I’ve visited it to oversee the inmates. Or patients. Whatever.
I don’t want him to let me in. But Wolper smiles and tells me, “Come on, Harvey.”
We take the rickety brass elevator in which I have no faith. Past a few security checkpoints, we head on down through the underground tunnel from the administration building toward the great gothic asylum, led by caged bulbs and the distant muffled wails of the sick. We come upon the heavy steel door and the numbered keypads. And I watch Wolper type in a passcode and I listen to the howling of ghosts and madmen.
I hate coming to Arkham Asylum, because I know my old man could’ve been in one of these padded cells if Mom or I ever had to guts to rat him out in those days. I know he could’ve been another of the criminals I come to inspect. Wrapped in a straitjacket in a padded cell, gawked at by whitecoats through a wall of reinforced glass. They’d take notes about him while he talked to himself.
A guard tells us Quinzel is observing a group-therapy session in the northern block. An orderly tells us she’s having a private session in the southern block. We see another doctor rushing down past the lineup of glass cells from which gawp the pleading faces of the criminally insane. Wolper asks her what’s the matter and she tells us there’s some disruption in the basement and they need all hands on deck.
Wolper tells me to go back the way we came. Find a guard to escort you out.
Then he follows the other whitecoat and they hurry toward the stairwell door that leads down to the basement, where the real dangerous inmates are kept. And I realize I’m alone in a dark dilapidated castle that should’ve been torn down ten years ago. I’m listening to a February ice storm that pelts the huge barred window on either end of the cellblock. I’m surrounded by cells of reinforced glass and a hundred faces behind them. Some of them pleading, some of them crying, some of them screaming, some of them smiling.
I hate coming to Arkham Asylum because I think of my Mom. She’s never done anything violent. Even on her worst days, she never hurt others and she never would, I don’t think. But I think about going back to our little house in Miller’s County just after I’d finished law-school. The old man trapped in his favourite tweed armchair, dying of liver cancer, sucking back pitifully on a bottle of whiskey. Mumbling just barely audibly, barely sober, “Your mother’s been actin’ weird.”
I called out for Mom.
I raced all over the little farmhouse.
Then I found her in the garage with the old Chevy truck running. Almost dead.
They almost committed my mom that day.
I hate coming to Arkham Asylum because I can picture my mother in one of these cells. I can see even good people succumbing to illness, like her.
And here, as I make my way to the gate, hurrying, needing out, I hear it.
I hear him.
I hear that voice and I stop about twelve feet from the gate and the guards. I remember that voice. I remember him being called to the stand and hearing him act so innocent for the jury – acting more repulsed over the crimes than they were. I had to listen and
I had to listen to that miserable little freak
He deserves an acid enema
now it stings in my brain to hear him. I turn to look at the man in the cell to my right. Lying on his bed with his head craned up to see me, he asks me what’s my rush. What’s the trouble. Sniggering, smiling, he tells me in all candor that I look like a white rabbit. And I hate it.
“Mr. Dent.” The little freak is getting up off his cot and stepping toward the wide window of his cell. He actually looks happy to see me and I hate it. I hate him. It hurts. He tells me: “I’d heard rumours you were coming around here and seeing Dr. Quinzel. And you never once dropped in here for more tea.”
I can feel the face of wrath in the mirror inside me.
I hate coming to Arkham Asylum.
To look at Jervis Tetch, I think of Henry. Knowing what he’s done and the lives he’s destroyed, I think of the other me. Makes me sick to my stomach. Makes me angry. And after I’ve taken in as much as I can stand I turn away from Jervis Tetch. I turn down the hall, fully aware I need to escape. I tell the creep I’m late for an appointment.
“Of course you’re late,” he says. “Your watch is exactly two days slow.”
“Just shut up,” I tell him.
I hate him.
A goblin of a man. Mad as a hatter.
“Oh you should know, Dr. Quinzel is unfortunately predisposed at the moment.” Tetch is grinning. Stepping right up to the glass and setting his hand against it. Staring at me, taking me in with some sort of quiet sick wonder. “Actually, she could be predisposed for a while knowing how bad things can get in this place. It was an emergency, you see.” Glaring at me, that wide ugly overbite skewing his grin. He looks like a goblin. I think of Henry. It hurts. “The good doctor was called away.”
“Things come up the same way things go down. It’d pay you to learn it. Things always come around.” Leaning back against the adjacent wall, his shoulder pressed against the window, his head turned and his odd eyes drinking me in. “Speaking of which, I’d read in the Gotham Gazette our very own DA was getting married. Soon there’ll be a Missus Handsome Harvey.”
“Just shut your mouth, Tetch.”
“Weddings are the ultimate tea party, you see.”
“When’s her birthday?”
“Just shut up, dammit.”
“Marriage can be such a mistake, Mr. Dent. She’s she and I’m I. Put them together and you’re we, not I, and no one ever wants to lose one’s oneness. Personally, I don’t subscribe to the idea at all. I choose sweeter beauties because they’re so beautifully sweet. I choose sweet innocent beauties who won’t take I from me.”
I listen. It hurts to listen and my body is singing with rage that builds and builds and builds. I think of dad at his angriest. When he most lost his mind, and his face was a face of wrath I’d see as he swung his belt, as he bashed and kicked. It was him letting out what had built up in him.
Like steam from a teapot.
“People called me sick when they’re so sick to be so them.” Tetch tells me. And he’s grinning again. The overbite. Those eyes. A little goblin, and I feel steam rising. I can’t take him and I have to turn away. “Is she innocent? This Grace Lamont I read about?”
Not you, Tetch
You don’t say her name
“You don’t say her name, you slime!”
“She’s scared, though… Isn’t she, Dent?”
“Scared about what?”
“Marrying a madman.” Tetch smiles. “I imagine it can’t be good for the mind.”
I think of Mom. I think of Dad. I think of me and the other me.
“…I’m not mad.”
“You must be. Or you wouldn’t have come here.”
I hate coming to Arkham Asylum.
I never want to be in this place.
Steam rising. Got to let it out.
“You keep thinking the world’s a dream, Tetch. Keep telling yourself you’re not weird and soon you’ll believe it, you little freak.”
Letting off steam.
“Go on believing you’re the Hatter, Tetch, and not some ugly little psychopath who takes children before he poisons them! You crazy little rat freak!”
Letting off steam.
“If it hadn’t been for all the witnesses in that courtroom I would’ve split your skull with my briefcase, you sick miserable-!”
I grab hold of my head, which is surging again. It’s him again, in me. The face. The blaring tones. Pain and pure uncontainable rage. I clench my eyes shut and I can feel Tetch is still staring at me. Still grinning.
“You should keep your distance from me, Tetch.”
“You don’t look well at all, Mr. Dent… You wouldn’t believe how they out there will judge you for it.”
“Shut your ugly mouth.”
“Why don’t you check in here for a while?”
“Shut your sick crazy mouth!”
“Check in, Mr. Dent. Relax for a while. Check in.”
I have to go. I have to get away from this goblin so I’m running.
But still he calls out to me.
“You’ll be safe from them in here, Dent! There is no judgement in here!”
Patients in the cells all around me are wooting and calling and shrieking at the top of their lungs. Bashing on reinforced windows. Angry faces. Fists bashing against the glass from the other side.
I’m rushing through the cellblock.
I don’t ever want to be in this place.
I’m through the gate and security men lock the door behind me and my head is a throbbing pig-sty, hoarding everything I need least and suffocating me in it all. Grace. Pregnancy. Falcone. Tetch. Henry. It’s too much for one mind. The way I run, it feels almost like the face is chasing me. Gaining on me. He’s gonna catch me. I’m trapped in a labyrinth of festering brick and shuddering lightbulbs and shadows and ghosts and gossamer and an ice storm rages cold outside barred windows.
I’m chased by the other me. He’s gonna get me this time.
When I turn a corner and I bump into Jeremiah Arkham, I scream.
“Mr. Dent.” The doctor recognizes me, asking, “Is everything alright?”
“I… I got spooked…” I wipe my forehead. Still it drips. “By an inmate.”
“A patient. We have no inmates here.”
“Call a turd whatever you want, it’s still a turd. Or whatever the hell the Bard said.” The other me howling in the mirror. Bashing fists on the glass. I clench my teeth and wipe my forehead and I pant, and I tell Arkham, “Apparently, uh… There’s apparently a disruption down in the basement.”
Oh I heard about it, he says.
Everything is in order, he tells me.
Scoffing, I turn away. I tell him nothing is ever really in order.
Life is just fate.
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