Harvey Dent: Faces #3: "Wonder" Jan 27, 2017 16:04:18 GMT -5
Post by Admin on Jan 27, 2017 16:04:18 GMT -5
Issue #3: “Wonder”
Story by Mark Sant
Edited by Mark Bowers
Henry and Harvey Dent.
We were born almost exactly the same time. We almost raced to be first, but Henry was firstborn and I came right out after. Identical twins held by destitute parents from Miller’s County. Farm country outside Gotham. A dustbowl of quiet types too afraid to live in the city. Home.
Tonight I pat the mangled armrest of the musty old tweed chair I’m sittin’ in.
This was my father’s armchair. Dad sat in it every night back home in the dustbowl. I got the chair when he died. It’s the only thing I got when he died, apart from relief. I’m sitting in the living room of my apartment. I can hear Grace in the kitchen cleaning our dishes from dinner this evening. It was an hour ago and I’ll be damned if I can tell you what we had to eat. Meatloaf, I think. Maybe chicken pot pie.
I got GNN muted on the TV and I got their website opened on my laptop on the ottoman in front of me. I have the rarely-used Twitter open on Grace’s tablet on the side table next to a glass of water I poured but haven’t drank from yet. In my head I hear a lot of humming. Tunes I don’t consciously summon come from somewhere, acting like a cushion for all the bleak calamities I have on my mind.
The Zsasz case is going well enough, all things considered. Grace bandaged my face up so I’d look presentable in court. Braced my broken fingers. I ad-libbed a brand new opening statement on the fly. We’re now on day three, and my injuries are healing nicely. Tomorrow is the final day of the trial. I’ve finished penning my summation and it’s written down on the notepad on my lap and I had every intention of memorizing it tonight because I got to be prepared for court tomorrow.
But now there’s this and I can’t believe this.
It’s Gordon’s daughter. It’s Barbara.
I met Barbara once at a fundraiser when I was first up for office two years ago. Just a cute young thing. Had her twelfth birthday a month ago as I understand it. I never really knew her all that well, but I know Jim. I know she’s all Jim has in his life since his wife died. My heart goes out to him but I can’t fathom the darkness he’s falling into tonight.
Barbara’s been kidnapped.
When I was eleven years old, I went with my brother down by the little dirty river out back where they pump irrigation for the cornfields. It was summer I remember. I remember Henry was wearing my shirt and I was wearing his shirt. Sometimes we tried to fool mom as to which of us was which so we swapped clothes. She always knew because that was our mother. I remember we’d swapped that day to try and fool her. And I remember the man in the red windbreaker down by the creek.
Flipping a coin, I remember.
Now fate is coming to choose the life of another innocent child.
Barbara Gordon being kidnapped is like it’s happening all over again and I can’t stop the pain in my chest every time I remember and I can’t blink my eyes as I watch the TV and my laptop and I can’t breathe and I listen to updates and I click refresh and the site reloads and I can’t see straight.
Forget that glass of water
I need a drink I need a drink
We have whiskey, don’t we?
Drink like a man, you snivelling wimp
I clench my teeth and beg the voice to go away.
General belief is that Barbara was kidnapped by the Teacup Killer, whom Vicki Vale is now addressing by a different name on her godlessly popular crime-blog. Vale etched in stone the identity that the killer wanted us to give him. It was only a matter of time.
I texted Jim half an hour ago but no response. I could use a cigarette but I gave them up. You can’t raise a family on a pillow of smoke. So I sit and I’m tense and I’m sunk, I’m gone, staring at the TV and then at the laptop and then to the TV.
Grace enters the den, coming to collect my water glass and finding I haven’t touched it yet. She’s grim for what she knows is happening but I always see light in her. Always.
Grace Lamont is a woman who instantly inspires hope in me at even the worst of times. She grants me delight. In this city, delight is not being mugged within ten blocks of Crime Alley. Delight is not waking up to sirens in the middle of the night and people screaming the building’s on fire. Delight, in Gotham, isn’t just the sight of a girl with walnut-brown hair and hazel eyes. That kind of perfection’s got to be witchcraft. And yet, lucky impossible me, the odds landed in my favour.
“Harvey?” I look to this delight. Grace furrows her brow and tells me: “You’re scratching again, boo.”
And I blink. I look to my left hand, which is scratching the armrest. Clawing away the upholstery of my father’s chair and revealing the white stuffing inside. As Grace can attest, it’s not the first time I’ve done it.
“I’m… sorry…” I lift my hand away, curl my fingers and hide my nails in my palm. “I don’t even know I’m doing it.”
“It’s getting to look like we have a dog who hates that chair.” Grace lets her gaze creep reluctantly to the television on the wall. Asking: “…Have they found Barbara?”
“My god. I feel so bad for Jim… Who is this man, Harvey? The… Mad Hatter?”
“You don’t want to know who he is, Grace.”
“One of Falcone’s men?”
“No… A different kind of monster.”
When I was eleven years old, my brother Henry and me went down by the dirty little creek out back behind the cornfields. That’s where a man in a red windbreaker said he only wanted one. There were two of us. There was me and the other me. Little Henry and little Harvey Dent. Two, but the man only needed one.
So he flipped a coin, saying I was heads.
I lean back into my father’s armchair and hear the autumn rain.
This guy, the Teacup Killer, he abducts young girls outside their homes. He keeps them a few days, drugged in a trance before he… Before they have a tea party. The boys in chem say the poison is mixed into tea he feeds them… But he’s smart, whoever he is. Never leaves a fingerprint. No one ever witnesses him abducting the girls – he’s patient, and waits for the proper moment to grab them.
Grace asks me, “Who’s Loeb got on this case?”
“Montoya and Bullock. But they’ve got little to go on.”
“How would you be in his shoes?” I watch the TV, saying: “Barbara’s his only child.” I notice something and I frown, grabbing the remote and unmuting the newscast. Breathing: “Oh no… Dear god, no.”
“-and police are now establishing a perimeter around the address. We are going live to Summer Gleeson on location with further details of what is turning into a hostage situation. Summer?”
“Thanks, Tom.” Summer Gleeson stands in front of yellow tape guarding off a section of street in what’s immediately recognizable as The Narrows. Behind her is a rundown tenement slum like all the others there. Microphone held to her lips, Gleeson reports with urgency, “I’m here in The Narrows, where a break in the case of the missing Barbara Gordon has led to the residence of Jervis Tetch, whom many are now supposing is the Teacup Killer – or the Mad Hatter, as he’s been recently retitled. Neighbours here reported Tetch accompanied by a young girl who matched the amber-alert description of the missing Barbara Gordon.”
“Barbara Gordon is the daughter of a decorated lieutenant with the GCPD, James Gordon, a former marine and figure well-known in the community as a local hero. Detective Gordon is on the scene along with officers from the Hostage Response Program. Their priority is retrieving young Barbara before harm comes to her.”
I listen. It’s like it’s happening all over again.
When I was eleven years old, they found a boy who looked exactly like me dumped in a compost heap out behind some farm in Miller’s County. That’s where the killer left my brother. It was kept from me, the details, but as life went on I came to uncover things about what happened to the other me. The police spent almost two months trying to find Henry’s killer. They couldn’t waste their time too much because this was just barely their jurisdiction. They had bigger fish to fry in the wild ocean that is this city. They had to take down the Falcone family.
Julius “Caesar” Falcone was old in those days, but his son Carmine was picking up the slack and keeping Gotham on its toes. Holding the family’s thumb over every drug-deal and gambling racket in the city. That’s all the GCPD and the DA’s office could worry about. So our case was immediately cold and everyone just forgot about that poor Dent kid in Miller’s County. No one ever knew who committed the crime.
My brother’s killer got away with what he did.
That’s why right now I can’t decide whether I want Gordon to negotiate his daughter’s release or bust in and blow away the Mad Hatter. This child murderer living in Wonderland. This… This…
…Yeah. Yeah this freak.
Freak’s gotta go
Someone’s gotta put this creep down like a bad dog
Someone’s gotta pick up an ax
No. No. They have to save Barbara. They have to take Tetch in alive.
Take him dead. Ensure he can never take another victim
They have to keep Barbara safe.
Barbara’s a casualty, you idiot. Tetch has to die
Shut up. Just shut up.
Grace is rubbing my shoulders and the touch of her hands shocks me. I recoil and she frowns and I apologize with a stammer. My fingers throb and I realize I was clawing the left armrest of my father’s chair again.
I notice the page refresh on my phone. Someone with the handle t _Drake is tweeting, referencing the Teacup Killer page I’ve been following all night.
( They found him. Guy lives down the hall from me #TeacupKillerGotham )
( GCPD are comin’ in. I can hear them #TeacupKillerGotham )
I think of Barbara, and Jimbo. And Henry.
Grace sits on the intact armrest, holding me. Watching the television.
When I close my eyes I see a face. It’s angry.
( I hear gunshots in the hall #TeacupKillerGotham )
GNN cuts into a commercial with breaking news.
“This is Summer Gleeson with GNN News outside the apartment building of the Teacup Killer, Jervis Tetch. We have just received word that Detective Jim Gordon has been shot. Gordon, the father of the kidnapped girl, apparently stormed the building no more than fifteen minutes-”
Told you. Gordon ain’t as stupid as he looks
Shut up shut up shut up!
Grace holds onto me, begging, “No no no, oh please no…”
We listen to Summer Gleeson.
“-are rushing to the entrance, where Detective Crispus Allen appeared with the wounded Gordon in his arms. It is believed that Detective Gordon was shot by Tetch in the hallway outside the suspect’s apartment. Judging by his injuries, made by buckshot, it is presumed Gordon was assaulted by a shotgun. His daughter, Barbara, has yet to be recovered from Tetch’s apartment.”
Grace is holding me. Crying. I can feel her heartbeat.
Feels like there’re two hearts beating in me.
Actually, it feels like there are two hearts beating in Grace too.
t _Drake is still tweeting from the inside.
( Bat-man! I swear to God! I opened my door and there was the bat-man #TeacupKillerGotham #TheBat-Man )
( he looks so cool!!!1 #TheBat-Man #Awesome #WTF )
Grace is crying.
I watch the tablet. I hit refresh. I need to know.
t _Drake has tweeted again.
( Mum found us. Locked the door. I can’t see. #TeacupKillerGotham #MomsStink )
Summer Gleeson again on TV.
“We’ve received word that the masked vigilante known as the ‘Bat-Man’ was spotted moments ago seemingly flying into the building of suspect Jervis Tetch. Crowds of people who have gathered outside here could be heard cheering when the caped crusader was seen.”
Grace is crying harder now. She’s burying her face into my shoulder. Clutching onto me as if I was leaving her forever. I pet her head. I tell her it’s okay. Jim’s gonna be okay and… and Barbara… Barbara will be saved, hon. She’s gonna be saved.
The Bat, I tell her. The Bat will save her.
I promise her.
The Bat better kill the Hatter
Two freaks go in. One freak comes out
I promise her.
Pick up your ax, Bat-Man
Two becomes one
I promise her, holding her tight, promising her everything’s gonna be okay. But Grace won’t stop crying. I can feel our heartbeats. All of them, I think. I can feel three heartbeats, four heartbeats, five. I can hear the other me in my head. A face in the mirror, howling, bashing fists against the glass in rage.
When I was eleven years old, I went with my brother down to the river and we came upon a man in a red windbreaker, flipping a coin over and over and over. He said I was heads.
Weeping, Grace clutches onto me tight like she’s gonna die.
Finally she tells me: “Harvey… Harvey, I’m pregnant.”
I don’t know what to think. Both of me go blank.
Summer Gleeson on TV.
Jpegs of a Bat on the laptop.
t _Drake on the tablet.
Barbara Gordon finds herself in Wonderland tonight.
Grace cries, soaking the sleeve of my jacket, seizing me close and ending her wails enough to tell me, “There’s… There’s two, Harvey.” Summer Gleeson. t _Drake. Pictures of a great black Bat. Gordon’s blood. Grace tells me, “The doctor says it’s two, Harvey… It’s twins.”
And so I think of little Henry and little Harvey Dent.
I see a face scowling when I shut my eyes. Loosening. Chuckling. Laughing at me.
My left hand’s scratching out the armrest of my father’s chair.
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