Harvey Dent: Faces #2: "Friends" Nov 17, 2016 17:33:00 GMT -5
Post by Admin on Nov 17, 2016 17:33:00 GMT -5
Issue #2: “Friends”
Story by Mark Sant
Edited by Mark Bowers
I dream of a wide open desert. I’m running away in fear. Begging no. Stumbling and falling and getting up again and trying to get away. In the dream, I’m being chased by myself in a flat and barren desert of sand, and I can’t run fast enough. And he’s gaining on me. And he’s going to get me.
If there’s one thing you learn growing up in Gotham, it’s that there’re always two sides to everything. No one’s ever sure which side they’re really on. I believe I became DA for the right reasons. I grew up in Miller’s County and I saw what innocent towns could become under the influence of the big city. I saw what crime could do to good people. I looked to Gotham and I saw friends and I saw enemies.
If only all the bad people were gone, maybe Henry would still be alive.
If the coin landed tails, maybe Henry would still be alive.
I dream of a wide open desert. Running as fast as I can. I’m chased by the other me, who’s flipping a coin. He’s coming. He’s gonna get me right now. This is it. Two are one.
"Harvey! Wake up!”
I open my eyes and the pain resurfaces and immediately I regret coming back to reality. I smell the stench of my law books before I catch the faint whiff of his aftershave. As the haze becomes clearer, I make out his moustache and then notice his wire-frame glasses. I see the Ace Regular cigarette unlit in his lips as he crouches down next to me and tells me to wake up.
Detective Jim Gordon tells me: Speak to me, Harvey. Say something.
So I do.
“I’ve… I’ve asked you… not to smoke in here, Jimbo… Many many times.”
Jimbo grins. Teary-eyed, the sap, telling me he wasn’t gonna light it – I just like pissin’ you off, he says. He helps me get up and I stagger but I keep my balance. Jim helps me to stay upright, asking me if I need an ambulance. Running a finger around my swollen eye, I tell him I’m fine and ask him how he found me.
“Grace called.” Jim says. “Says you were supposed to be home two hours ago.”
“Two?” I look to my watch and groan. “I… I’m in court in less than five hours.”
“Harvey, you need to be in a hospital.”
“No.” I frown, agony all through my body. “I can’t postpone it. And now I… I gotta rewrite my entire opening statement. He tore up all my notes, Jimbo. Everything… So I wouldn’t be ready for him tomorrow.”
“Zsasz, you mean?” Gordon blinks. “Victor Zsasz did this, Harvey?”
“Oh he did, but only because he’s a sore loser. And he knows he’s gonna lose.” I’m tonguing my loosened teeth, tasting too much blood. Peering at shreds of paper scattered around my desk. Spotting my election poster crooked against the wall. I believe in Harvey Dent. “…In five hours, I’ll be locking that crazy beast in Blackgate for every crime he’s ever committed. And once I get Zsasz, I can finally bring down Falcone.”
“You been singin’ that song for two years now.”
“It’s the only song I know, Jim… I’m gonna get him, so help me God.”
“Well I still got faith in you, pal.” Gordon smiles, helping me walk toward the door of my office, saying, “Let’s get you to the ER, counsellor.”
“No.” I tell him, pained to frown with my broken face. “No, just take me home.”
“Harvey, for chrissake, at least let them-”
“Just take me home, Jimbo… Grace is waitin’ for me.”
Grace. I think of Grace and I smile.
Tonight she waited up for me yet again and called Jimbo when I never came home. She’s my saviour. My delight. In an awful war in an awful city, Grace is the one thing that makes me feel like there’s some purpose in the fight I carry on. There’s a reason I feel like I’m strong enough to go after The Roman and Victor Zsasz, and it’s the same reason any man can do anything in this world. It’s all thanks to an incredible woman.
Once we’re outside the building and I feel the rain pelting my face, I wake up a bit more. Jim helps me toward his dinged-up old Buick and plops me down in the passenger seat and I groan with my bumps and bruises, cracks and fractures. Jim gets in behind the wheel and he starts up the engine and sets the wipers on high and we’re off through a sopping Gotham.
We listen to the rain and the radio. A newscast tells us the storm may continue tomorrow and all through the weekend. Then they start talking about the day’s events. The nightly callback of death and terror that we’ve grown used to around here. There was a hit and run on the Millions Mile. A drive-by shooting near Grant Harbor. Mob warfare between The Roman’s men and a feuding gang. Falcone lighting up this city like a matchstick factory.
And then there’s talk of the third victim.
It’s talk of the Teacup Killer.
Jim and I freeze over at the thought of him.
“-found in The Narrows earlier today. Due to the location of the body, as well as the victim’s age, hair-color, and the dress she was found in, sources insist that this new victim is the third in a spree of child murders that have occurred in The Narrows this month. As was found on the previous victims, police recovered another small ceramic shard in the dress pocket of the girl. It has been determined to be broken off of a teacup. Tonight, the Teacup Killer has taken another of Gotham’s daughters. In other news-”
“It’s just beginning with this one, Harvey.” I look over at the weary detective, who shakes his head. “I can tell you right now, this bastard’s not stopping at three. This one’s got… a passion.”
The man in the red windbreaker had a passion too, I remember.
The man in the red windbreaker flipped a coin, I remember.
Down by the river.
I can feel my insides replaced with ooze.
“Christ, it’s not enough with Falcone gutting this city. Now we got a serial killer targeting kids. And…” Gordon frowns. Haunted, his eyes on the soggy road. “On the stomach of this new one, there was… a message.” Looking off blankly. Looking out the windows at the city before he finds the guts enough to continue. “Nothing that gives us his identity, but… it’s something, that’s for sure.”
From the inner-pocket of his coat, Jim retrieves his phone and brings up a photo and then he hands it to me. I take it and I look at the picture taken of the little girl they brought into the morgue. Her dress removed. The corpse upon the slab lying stiff, completely prebubescent, completely undeveloped, just a little kid who won’t grow up, pallid like a doll. On her belly, the killer has written something with black marker.
Icy when I read it, like I’ll never feel warm again.
“…What the hell is this, Jim?”
“You’re askin’ me, Harvey. I don’t speak lunatic.”
The streetlight up ahead turns red and Jim slows and stops. The rain beats the roof and windshield. Jim’s reaching for the Ace Regular behind his ear and he’s setting it in his lips and reaching for the lighter in his cup-holder. I’m still staring at the photo and what’s written on the victim’s stomach.
‘I found myself in Wonderland’
I read and reread the words, knowing the poor kid found herself in no Wonderland. I don’t wanna imagine where she found herself before she died. I’m sick to my stomach. Wondering. Gordon tells me it’s that children’s book. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. He’s telling me, as screwy as it sounds, it actually makes sense.
“The dresses-” Gordon says, uncomfortable telling me this just as I’m uncomfortable hearing it. “-they match up with the dress drawn in the original texts. Blonde girls about eleven years old would fit the character, and the shards of a teacup found in each of the victims’ pocket seem to point to the perp idolizing ‘The Hatter’.”
“And what, Jim? He’s abducting kids to recreate a crazy old book?”
“…I’m only tellin’ you what I know, Harvey.” Gordon takes the phone back when I hand it to him and he’s pocketing it again, saying, “If you ask me, this creep ain’t much different from most of the others I bring you. Except this one is clever and he’s already setting up his insanity defence so he’ll be sent to Arkham instead of Blackgate. That’s why he’s referencing a book that deals so heavy with the subject of madness.”
Gordon’s probably onto something, I agree. I have to know the man I’ll prosecute. I can follow only the course of the facts and
The fact is this deranged perv needs a dirt-nap
and I see the case to be made for intelligent crime. Maybe this Hatter knows exactly what he wants and he knows how to get it. And he knows how to get away with it. People like that exist. I know all too well.
Children. Little girls
This creep is going after little kids
I think of Henry and the coin toss. Down by the river.
“You’re seeming better,” Gordon tells me, and I’m yanked away from thoughts of the river. I blink twice. I gather myself and nod and Jimbo continues, “since the outburst. Keep this up Harvey and soon the city will forget your little meltdown.”
“I try to forget. But good chums like you, Jimbo, like to bring it up and remind me time and again. Negative reassurance… I’m really glad we’re friends.”
And Jim smiles and drives through the rainstorm.
All I did was lose my cool. I got angry, which people in my seat sometimes do. We’re allowed to get angry, I say. I was heckled by one of Falcone’s thugs outside a restaurant, where I was taking Grace. I never get time enough to take her for dates anymore. It was supposed to be a special night. A night for the two of us. And when that little cretin started at me, I just…
I just went crazy for a moment.
“I hear voices, Jim,” I admit suddenly. “Sometimes I… I see another me when I shut my eyes… like there’s a mirror in my brain… I hear this voice in my head.”
“We all got a voice in our head, pal.”
“Not like this.” I tell him, solemn. “…I have bad thoughts. I’ve always had this… angry side of me. But lately, I’m… slipping. I can’t hold back the other side, Jim.”
“It’s the stress of your job, Harvey. For God’s sake, you’re single-handedly taking on the mob-rule in a city that’s been bought and paid for longer than you’ve been alive. You need help, pal.”
“What? A psychiatrist? That’s all I need, Jimbo. And what happens when the public finds out their shining white knight is actually a whacko who hears voices and freaks out like a lunatic? If Falcone ever got proof of it-”
“Well what about private treatment? Not with a psychiatrist in some office out in the open. What about outside the city? In a place no reporter or scumbag is ever going to sneak into and eavesdrop?”
“And where am I gonna find that kind of therapy, Jimbo?”
Jimbo smiles to infer: “You know… I might know someone.”
“A personal friend. I’ll have to call her, but… I really think she’d do it.”
But I won’t have it. I know what it will cost me if the public ever found out.
I won’t. I’ve worked too hard to get to where I am today.
I’m not crazy.
So I tell him, “I don’t need help, Jimbo.”
Together, we watch the wipers clear away the rain, but the storm keeps on and the wipers still clean but the windshield is still covered and it doesn’t make any difference.
When lightning strikes and the sky flares for an instant, I’m sure that I see something on the rooftops high above us. I see something like a streak of black, or… No. It’s not something, it’s someone.
I know who.
I glance over at Gordon a moment, studying him, amused.
“What’s the word on your favourite investigation, Jimbo?”
Jim takes back a deep breath as he pulls up in front of my building.
“…My department is still on it. The case of the vigilante is still open.”
“Open and active, from what I can tell. Given the last week of encounters, I’d say the entire GCPD is being put to shame by-”
The big bad bat
Must be a kick to the sand, huh Jimbo?
Knowing you’re being outdone by a twisted freak in a Halloween costume.
Maybe you should kill him.
People don’t respect the cops anymore.
People respect this vigilante maniac now.
Must salt the wounds, huh Jimbo?
Maybe you should kill him
“…Maybe…” I tell Jim, “…Maybe you should-”
Kill him kill him kill him kill him kill
There’s ranting in my mind, the drooling savage kind. I’m clutching my skull and pressing my eyes shut and dear god I see flashes of a face. The mirror howling, burning embers in his eyes. The other me, a face of wrath.
The Bat, The Hatter, The Roman, the coin toss, Henry.
I cry out in anger as thunder claps godly again and I whimper.
When it finally stops, I let go of my face.
I look to Gordon, who’s frowning at me – frightened of me.
“Harvey…” Jim utters carefully. “Dammit Harvey, you need help… Please!”
I’m releasing my clenched loosed molars. I’m wiping the tear out of my swollen eye with a broken finger. I’m sniffing back a bloody nose and I’m holding my breath a moment. No, I tell him. I don’t need help. I release a cool sigh and I keep breathing just fine. Just fine. Saying, “I’m… I’m Apollo, Jim. I am Harvey Dent… And I gotta be in court in five hours.”
…I gotta slay a dragon.
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