End of Summer


story and art by Jon Karl Haynes

Chapter Three: A Bad Idea

Batman   Alfred spread the drapes in the large room, spreading light across the floor and bed. Bruce Wayne sat up, wincing his eyes at the brightness of morning. “What time is it, Alfred?”

Alfred turned to a cart, pulling a tray of breakfast and coffee. “Good morning, Master Bruce. It's nearly noon. Time to begin the day. How is your back feeling this morning?”

Bruce stood and looked at his body in his dresser mirror, aching as he turned around. A large blackish mark ran across his scarred back, and he stretched in a vain attempt to stop the pain. This injury had happened the night before, when he was in the process of capturing The Ventriloquist. One of the psycho’s lackeys had hit him in the back with a metal pipe, almost knocking him out. He imagined the pain would cease after a view days. If not, he would block it out. “I’m fine, Alfred. What’s on my agenda today?”

“Lunch with Serenity Smythe at two, followed by an appearance at the opening of the new Wayne wing at Gotham General at four. After those events, you have a black tie affair at Gotham Towers. Shall I prepare the usual R.S.V.P.’s with the usual donations?”

“No. I’m fine. I think I’ll spend some time as Bruce Wayne today.”

“Yes sir.”

Across town, at that moment, Alex Pendleton sat in a large study, surrounded by several figures. These people were refuse of Gotham society, and had lived on the street for most of their lives. A crisp stack of cash sat in front of each of these figures, as they listened to the senator.

“I trust the money in front of you people will be enough to cloud your memory of this discussion. Anyone who doesn’t want to stick around and earn more easy money needs to leave right now.”

Moments passed, and no one attempted to leave. “Good,” Senator Pendleton smiled, “Lets continue. I have certain information in my possession, and I’m going to offer it to the highest bidder. This information has to do with a way to rid Gotham city of The Batman, so it won’t come cheap. I want you people to go out into the city and find Batman’s enemies. I’d prefer it if they were enemies that had some cash to throw around. Tell these people, when you get in touch with them, that I will auction off my information to the highest bidder. With your money, I have enclosed the number of a beeper that I will carry at all times. When you meet with the bidders, give them the number and I will arrange for a meeting. Once I have sold my information, I will double the amount of money on the table in front of you. Does everyone understand what I’m saying?”

The people in the room nodded, acknowledging what the senator wanted. Several minutes later, they were escorted out to the street, to begin their jobs.

Later that evening, spotlights shone about the sides of Gotham Towers, illuminating the entire area with a golden glow. Inside the vaulted structure, a gala event was taking place. Black ties and sparkling gowns could be seen about the room, as the party began to commence. Bruce Wayne waded through the elite of Gotham, looking charming and aloof at the same time. He had a beautiful blonde attached to his left arm, and a glass of wine to his right. The woman at his side babbled incessantly, yet Bruce seemed to be completely unaware of her except for moments of smirking glances.

Alex Pendleton, the senator from Gotham, walked up to Bruce Wayne and brought forth his hand. It was met with a shake, and Alex began speaking. “I was hoping to see you here tonight, Bruce. How are you?”

“I’m fine, Alex. I was told that you called me last night. I’m sorry I wasn’t in. Bunny and I had a bit of a late night.”

“I’m sure you did. How are things at Wayne-corp? I heard you guys had been having a problem with inter-company espionage. Didn’t you lose some prototypes or something?”

Bruce Wayne arched an eyebrow, looking to his companion as though she might know the answer to Alex’s question. “It seems like we did have some trouble back a few months ago. I’ll have to ask my assistants if that mess was ever sorted out.”

Alex smirked, almost blurting out a laugh. “Yeah. Whatever, Bruce.”

Suddenly the room exploded in a spray of bullets. At the edge of his vision, Alex could see people jumping in the room through the large windows. Before he or Bruce could react, however, another explosion ripped through the room. This one had a concussive effect, and sent the room spinning. A moment later, everything went black.

The blackness cleared for Senator Alex Pendleton after an undetermined amount of time. At first, his vision was completely useless, and he could only see a blur. After a minute or two, everything was clear. Alex was horrified at his surroundings.

Alex was strapped tightly to a metal table, and was held snugly by his arms, legs, wrists, ankles, neck, and waist. Looking about the room, he could see Bruce Wayne was strapped to another table, as was the blonde he had been with earlier. Alex was the only one awake at the moment, and it looked as though Bruce had sustained a concussion.

The room that Alex and his companions were in was circular in shape, and had been painted gaudily with designs of smiling faces in clown make up. It looked as though a child had scrawled these images on the walls. A darkened hallway was the only other feature of the room, which was lit only by a single dim bulb.

Alex struggled at the straps, which had been tightened to the point of cutting off circulation. As he did so, he could hear footsteps approaching. He panicked as he saw the owner of the footsteps enter the room. It was the grinning face of death, who obviously recognized him from that rainy night weeks ago. It was the Joker. “Hello Alex,” the Joker said smugly. “I hear you have some information about the Batman you wish to sell me. Well, I tell you what … I’m interested. Oh, and in case the info isn’t THAT important, I’ll kill you and hold this billionaire and his girl-pal for ransom, and then I’ll kill them anyway because that's just the way I am and that's what the hell I do, other than creating run-on sentences sometimes. Whew!”

The Joker then pulled a sledge hammer from behind his back. “Oh, and in case you don’t recognize me, which is damn near impossible because I’m the only one around here in the outfit, I’m the outrageously homicidal KING OF CRIME, the EVER-LOVIN’ JOKER! JOKER, JOKER! Da da da da da do do do do do do!* Now tell me this information about the Batman, and then we’ll see what this hammer does to your sternum.”

To be continued

* the EVER-LOVIN’ JOKER! JOKER, JOKER! Da da da da da do do do do do do, is meant to be sung like the theme song from the old 1960’s Hulk cartoon. Hey, its the Joker. Why not?
-Jon K Haynes

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