Harvey Dent: Faces #1: "Choices" Sept 9, 2016 16:30:55 GMT -5
Post by Admin on Sept 9, 2016 16:30:55 GMT -5
Issue #1: “Choices”
Story by Mark Sant
Edited by Mark Bowers
Two in the morning, and I’m staring at the other me in the mirror. I'm thinking I need to sleep. Thinking about the trial that starts in seven hours. Thinking about myself and who I am in this city. I’m thinking about the coin that brought me here.
The coin said I could live.
Not too long ago, I remember, I cleaned up after pigs. That was what you did when you were dirt-poor living in Miller’s County. You cleaned paddocks if you ever wanted to save up and move to Gotham – if you had dreams or, in my case, if you had a mission. If I was to get into the law program at GCU and clean up Gotham and the surrounding counties it corrupts then I had to pay for it myself, so I spent nine summers shovelling pig crap on a farm down the road.
While I shovelled, the pigs kept walking around. They kept crapping. No matter how much I cleaned out the filth, the pens were never clean. My sweat and tears made no difference. I made no difference.
I’m wondering how the hell I never realized it was a pretty obvious omen.
I look at my reflection in the mirror of my office washroom. I see that mug that smiles on the election posters. Heroic, assured, Apollo. I remember what it was that made me think I could clean up this paddock of a city, like I’m as crazy as the Bat.
It was a choice I made, after fate made its choice.
I exit the washroom and return to my office and to too much work that’s left to do. The trial in seven hours is the most important case I’ve ever had. So I look up, ready to work, and the fist my face welcomes is a cold-blooded hit. The laminate floor is another hard hit, but I think the sucker punch was worse simply because it was cheap.
I’m curling up, curling my fingers, tasting the blood pooling in my gums, watching the spinning room from a roach’s point of view. Whatever this is, I’m pretty sure bad choices brought it to me.
“You’re not making very good choices, Dent, man.”
“…Yeah…” I spit blood outta my mouth. “Yeah, I was just thinkin’ that, Vic.”
Through the throbbing blur, I can see the tall wiry man in black work boots who stands over me, rubbing his pasty scarred knuckles. Black eyes glinting with malice, blinking one at a time. There’s a hunting knife in a rawhide holster on his belt.
The toe of his work boot buries into my gut and I wheeze. I see blackness.
I see the other me in the blackness.
It’s like I’m looking in the mirror, and the mirror is bellowing. The pain in my abdomen keeps me from breathing properly.
The beast paces around me as I gasp.
“I got no pity for people who don’t make good good choices, Dent, man.”
Coughing, wheezing, tasting blood, I manage to croak, “I don’t want your pity, Vic…” I gasp. I can’t see straight. “I want you to drag your… psychotic ass out of my office… before I get really angry…”
“There, there, there. I mean, there you go again, Dent. What was that? Not, not makin’ very good choices, man.”
“Just… Just givin’ you fair warning, Vic… I like fightin’ fair, is all.”
Another cheap strike of his boot, this time to my spine. I feel paralyzed. My extremities seize. My eyes gape and bulge and water, and I’m looking up at the tall wiry sociopath that I’m taking to court in seven hours to prosecute at long last.
Victor Zsasz. A deeply-unhinged enforcer for the mob.
The Tally-Whacker, they call him, and not just because he’s a dick. Zsasz is a hitman for Carmine “The Roman” Falcone. He carves a tally into his flesh for every kill – every whack. I can’t say I like the name but it’s the only name that makes sense.
Zsasz is rolling up the sleeves of his button-down shirt, revealing pale arms scarred by tally-marks, putting his back to me to retrieve the brass knuckles from the pocket of the jacket he’s folded over one of my chairs.
“Mr. Falcone don’t appreciate you comin’ after me like you are, Dent. And, and, and me, Dent, I don’t like you comin’ after me. So you’re gonna lose this trial, Dent. Understand me? I mean, I mean, all you’re doing is you’re pissing us off all the live long day, man. You’re pissin’ off Mr. Falcone, Dent. Does that sound like a good choice to you? I, I mean, you… you don’t think you’re a walkin’ corpse, man?”
Zsasz turns, and he realizes I’ve crawled away and I’m on the floor behind my desk trying to reach up and retrieve the .22 I got in my top drawer. I can feel it. The creep hurries over just as I wrap my fingers around the gun and I take aim at his gut. Zsasz’s boot kisses me on the lips. I drop the pistol as I drop to the floor.
“Again, Dent… You, you, you’re making some bad bad decisions here, man.”
I groan and bleed.
I tell him, “I agree. I’m gonna keep on though, so keep your guard up, Vic… I’ll take you down now just like I’ll take you down in the morning.”
And I feel brass when he clouts me in the cheek, and I see spots.
I see blackness.
I see the other me in the mirror. And he’s angry, I can tell.
Zsasz is hoisting me up, throwing me into my chair behind my desk and I spin on it a little before the beast grabs it and holds it steady. I can’t see straight for the pain and the blows to the head. My brain’s feeling fuzzy.
I see Zsasz blinking one eye at a time.
“Let’s talk, Dent.”
“I’d like that, Vic. And you could probably use a break. You must be gettin' tired.”
Zsasz takes a seat in the chair across my desk from me. I raise a shaking hand to wipe some of the blood from my lips, panting, still winded and dear god I’m sore. Through a couple of tears, I see the pale scarred beast is taking off his brass knuckles and is flexing his fingers, staring at them, awed.
Not too long ago, I remember, I cleaned up after pigs.
“You gotta realize…” I utter, groggy. “This is it for you, Vic. You can’t bust in here and beat me all to hell the night before your trial. There’s a camera watchin’ us both right now.”
“I cut the wire, cut the wire. Slice slice. All good, man.”
“Security can identify you.”
“Security? Security is who let me in, man. They’re on the take.”
“…You would’ve tripped the alarm though. Cops are coming.”
“No, no, no, man. No, Dent. Deactivated. I know the code. Falcone knows the code. We got people in this office, Dent. We, we, I mean, we got people everywhere, man. I woulda thunk you knew that by now.”
I’d clench my teeth in rage, but it feels like he knocked a few of them loose.
So I shut my eyes. And I see the other me, who’s so angry.
Get the gun, you stupid wimp! No trial. It all ends now
Get the gun!
I open my eyes. I look for the .22 on the floor. It’s too far away.
Curious, Zsasz is asking me, “Why, man? I mean… I mean why bother?”
I reach for the cup of coffee I poured around four this afternoon, asking him, “Why bother with what, Vic? Why bother living?” I sip the coffee but dear god it’s cold and awful and I spit it back into the cup. I set the cup down. I tell Zsasz, “I guess I bother with living because it keeps me alive, for the most part.”
Zsasz is wagging his hands, frantic, loony, shaking his bald tally-scarred head.
“With with with, I mean, with Gotham? In this city? Why bother fighting us, Dent? Why, why, why bother trying to go after Mr. Falcone?”
“Because Falcone is a criminal. And what he’s done has hurt thousands. Millions.”
“Everyone before you and everyone after you, I mean, I mean, you’re nuts, man. Every DA, man. Everyone takes the hint. Everyone takes the money. You’re the only one who takes the beatings time and time and time and time again, man. I mean Jesus. Well… I mean, you and the Bat. You and the total nutjob.” The sociopath asks me, “So what’re you, Dent? Is that what you are? Some kind of psycho? Like the Bat?”
“You know, I was thinkin’ that very same thing in the washroom before you started sculpting my face, Vic.”
“And no. I’m not…” I clench loosened teeth. “I’m not crazy.”
I shut my eyes and see blackness.
I see the other me. A face in the mirror. Eyes red like burning embers. Howling in my skull so loud I can’t think straight. Howling at me in the blackness.
Get the gun!
Kill him, you useless coward!
Like the mirror is bellowing back at me, bursting into flames.
“So, so why do it, Dent?” Zsasz presses me again, blank but somehow fascinated. Producing the hunting knife from the rawhide holster off his belt. His weapon of choice. Asking me, “Why, Dent?”
“Get the hell outta my office, Vic.”
“Why be the hero, Dent?”
“For god’s sake-”
“Why why be, why, why be crazy?”
Hanging my head, I answer Zsasz finally.
“Because of a coin-toss.”
My iPhone rings, and for a second I forget who I am and where I am and how to speak. I wipe my eyes with the sleeve of my jacket and I ask Zsasz, “May I?” and he nods erratically and resumes digging his knife into my desk for no other reason than to be an ass. I answer the call, which I see is coming from Grace Lamont.
“Hi uh, hi, hon. You’re up late.”
“Harvey…” I hear regret in my fiancée’s voice. I can hear the autumn rainstorm raging against my window. I smell the stench of law books that hangs in the air. I can see the tall pallid scarified brute chewing on his thumbnail like a weasel and carving at my desk and I turn away. Grace is lamenting, “I never see you anymore, Harvey.”
“I’m sorry, hon. It’s just work’s been… Everything I’ve been workin’ on for the Victor Zsasz case tomorrow.” I see Vic in my peripherals, eyes agape, glaring at me. I tell my fiancée, “I’ll be home in fifteen minutes, Grace.”
“I want to wait up for you, but… I won’t be a very good nurse tomorrow if I’m falling asleep on my patients.”
“Get some sleep then, honey. I’ll be in to kiss you soon.”
“I love you.”
“I love you too, sweetheart.”
I tell Grace goodnight. I tell her sweet dreams. She tells me be safe coming home.
I end the call and set my iPhone back on my desk, and I swivel my chair back just enough to see Victor Zsasz leaning forward, grinning at me like a savage vampire.
“Sounds like you got a great great girl there. Fiancée right?”
“You don’t want, I mean, you really really don’t wanna see something like that go to waste, man. You, you understand?” Showing me the knife. Showing me a spot on his wrist among a hundred other tally-marks. Saying, “You, you see? Room for a couple more tallies, man. One DA. One nurse. Slice slice slice, Dent, man… Understand?”
The twisted slime.
The Tally-Whacker, they call him.
Threatening the only woman I’ve ever loved.
I’ll bash your crazy brains in, Zsasz!
Kill him, Harvey!
I clench loose bloody teeth.
I take a deep breath and I ask, “Are we about done here, Vic? I’m sure you need beauty sleep. We’re in court first thing tomorrow, don’t forget.”
But Zsasz just smirks with malice gleaming in those black eyes.
“No no no no, sorry man. You won’t be, counsellor.”
So I shut my eyes and see blackness. And the face.
Ten minutes later, raising my bloodied hands of broken fingers like I’m reaching for heaven, I grab the top of my desk and I pull myself up with a cry and a tear and a faint popping of my battered spine. I can barely hold myself up, but I’m looking across my desk at the notes and opening statement Zsasz ripped to shreds before he left.
I’m looking at the framed photo of my family when I was a kid.
I’m looking at the picture of Grace I’ve saved as the wallpaper on my desktop.
Behind my desk, tossed crooked against the wall, is one of my campaign posters from the election days. My handsome face. Heroic, assured, Apollo. Underneath my picture is the slogan – the slogan Grace came up with for me. It’s what she kept telling me every night she waited up for me. She always waited up for me. Every night she told me: I believe in Harvey Dent.
Losing my grip, I collapse back onto the floor in a pathetic battered mess. I black out and I see a face in the mirror. I think of the trial in seven hours – the most important case of my career. Bringing down Victor Zsasz is step one in my plan to take down Carmine “The Roman” Falcone. A dragon of these lands. I think of the coin-toss that said I could live. I think about a mission I promised to complete. And I think maybe it was a bad choice to try and clean up Gotham City.
Not too long ago, I remember, I cleaned up after pigs.
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