Anarky and Chaos
by Mathew D. Rhys
Lightning cracks in the sky, glistening off his mask as a blue gauntleted hand grips his throat. The Batman holds him above a six story drop. The Dark Knight loosens his grip and Lonnie...wakes up on the floor of his room, dripping with sweat. This the third time tonight, and Lonnie Machin, Anarky, has not slept well for weeks. His grades are suffering, but Lonnie can think of nothing but his dreams.
Lonnie rises to his feet. "It didn't happen like that," he tells himself, but the dreams still torment him. He doesn't understand, but he knows Batman is responsible. Lonnie walks over to his closet.
Sirens blare as lights flash. Harvey Bullock and Rene Montoya, along with back-up, stand outside a dilapidated store front in Lyntown. A anonymous tip about a crack house sent them here.
Bullock is a tough cop. He was once described as "the cop who looks like an unmade bed," and it fits. He kicks in the door and yells, " Okay, you skels, this is GCPD! Come out or we're coming in!" Gun fire answers back. Bullock runs in, taking down two hoods with the butt of his Winchester pump-action shotgun.
After the place is cleaned out, Bullock calls in the bust. He looks up and sees a gold glimmer from the alley across the street. Bullock cocks his shotgun and walks toward the alley. "Did one get away?" he thinks. He walks into the alley. "Show yourself, punk!"
A voice comes from the shadows. "Sergeant Bullock, we need to talk."
"Step out of the shadow, or I'll blow you away," Bullock answers. A red-cloaked figure with a gold face and a wide-brimmed hat steps from the shadow. "Hold it right there! I know you. Your one of those creeps who's after the Bat-freak. Hands in the air, punk."
"Al Vincent murder case, 1987."
"Does Police brutality means anything to you? Or how about coercion?"
"You can't prove Jack!"
Beneath his mask, Anarky smiles as he pulls a CD out of thin air. "Amazing what a little digging can do, isn't it?"
Bullock's eyes open wide as he se sees the disc. This look quickly deteriorates into one of disgust. "What do you want?"
"Good luck. I can't do anything 'bout that."
"All I want from you is info. How does Gordon get in touch with Batman?"
"The Bat-signal's is about it. That head case ain't exactly a chatty Cathy."
"Thank you. Oh, and Bullock. Don't try to follow me," Anarky says as he steps back into the shadows.
"Don't you worry, skel," Harvey thinks. "You're gonna have more to worry about than Harvey Bullock. The Bat-freak has more friends in this city than there are cons like you in Blackgate."
Bullock walks over to his squad car and calls in, " Get this message to Gordon, and I want it there yesterday. Tell 'im to call Bats."
Atop police headquarters in Gotham city sits a large spotlight with a bat-shaped shadow plate. This immense light has stood as a beacon to the first of this city's costumed protectors--the Batman. Next to this light stands an older man with white hair and a thick mustache. Police Commissioner James Gordon has served in this city as long as the Batman has. He has given a lot to this city. It took his first wife, his son, his adoptive daughters legs, and at one time, his health. James Worthington Gordon has never been a quitter, and he always remembers his friends. Bullock stands beside Gordon and chomps his cigar.
As these two stand here, they witness a sight few have ever seen. A gust of wind and a rustle of cloth are the only sounds that precede the light tap of the Dark Knight's boots as he, in the most wraith-like fashion, materializes from the shadows and lands on the roof. The blue and gray-clad man, seeming to stand as a giant, speaks.
"What did you call for, Jim?"
"Bullock asked me to. He said he had some information for you."
"Do I ever," Bullock says, lighting a cigar. "You remember that Anarky punk? I ran into him tonight. He was asking questions about you. I think he going to try to contact you."
The Batman stands solid, a new gargoyle--fierce and silent. "And?"
"Just thought you might want to know. Besides, I owed you one."
East River. Sixty years ago it was a high class neighborhood. As always, though, the rich moved elsewhere and the neighborhood fell into disarray. It is now a harbor for gangs, sex, and drugs. At a dock on the waterfront, a white van with large black letters is parked. Next to the van stands a tall portly man of over 40 years. The salt water laps up against the pier as the wind whips the man's trenchcoat like a cat with a string. "Dang, it is cold!"
"It's not that bad, Joe," says a gruff voice from behind.
"Look, Batman, Mrs. Potato's boy has seen worse, but I am not used to being woken up at 2:30 in the morning on one of the few days I take off in the year, much less on a blustery night like this! You didn't want me to tell you about the weather."
"Do you remember Anarky?"
"Sure, He's some punk that wants to destroy the justice system. What of 'im?"
" Word is he's looking for me.'"
"Meaning he wants to settle an old score, right?"
"How did you--"
"Look, You don't do jack in this business unless you can think. Anarky doesn't like you. You keep getting in his way. So what do you want me to do about this?"
"Zsasz is out of Arkham. He takes first priority."
" I see. So, what did you do to Anarky?"
"Nothing. The last time Anarky resurfaced, someone else wore the costume."
"The french fry?" Joe asks quietly. Batman's eyes grow wide. "It's like I said, partner, you gotta think. Gotta put two and two together. That fancy suit is too flashy for you. It was more like that Azrael guy." Batman's mouth turns to a very concealed grin. "Yeh, I can keep my eye on that Anarky spud--for a price. Nuthin' personal, Mrs. Potato's boy just hasta eat."
"Don' know. I've never been asked to shadow a super-villain before." Joe turns to look at the harbor.
"Notta, proble--." Joe stops as he turns back to Batman, only to find the Dark Knight absent. " I oughta be used to that by now."
Anarky sits on his bed, his chin on his palms. He wears all of his costume except his hat and mask. "I'm nowhere. I broke into Gordon's computer, and even his office. What do I have to show for it? Jack Didley. No clues on where to find Batman."
In the distance, Lonnie hears a siren. "Fire truck," he thinks. Suddenly, as if a shaft of light breaks into a dark cavern, Lonnie begins to smile.
The next night Joe drives to Midtown about six. He only watches the Machin apartment for three hours. A window opens and a red cloak exits the building. Joe starts his van. It is not the easiest thing on earth to tail a suspect in a large white van. It's not just any one that Batman asks for help, either. Joe follows Anarky to the abandoned Graham Oil Refinery in Gotham Village, where Anarky easily and deftly climbs over the fence. Joe frowns and swears.
Lonnie makes his way into the heart of the refinery while thoughts run through his head. "Years ago when Graham went bankrupt, the whole site was evacuated and no attempt at clean up was made. The oil that was left behind should be sufficient to produce a significant explosion--more than enough to get Batman's attention." He reaches the main oil reservoir and sets a small charge of C-4. He spins around as he hears the small click of a revolver cocking.
"Hold it there, kid. A friend told me t' make sure you don' do anything stupid. So just turn off that bomb and everything will be okay."
"NO! The bomb take s a minimum of five minutes to disarm and I set it for a two minutes and 45 seconds! We gotta get outta here!" Joe quickly handcuffs Anarky and high-tails it. Lonnie has never seen an old man run so fast.
As Joe and Anarky run out of the complex, they hear an explosion, but keep running. They run until Joe collapses on the ground, wheezing terribly. "I need to get in better sha-.' Joe is cut off by the earth-rumbling sound of a massive explosion. They turn around to see the refinery flying apart as fire consumes what is left. Joe turns to Anarky, stunned at the explosion and how close he came to being part of it. "At least we're safe," Joe says. No sooner do these words leave Joe's mouth than a large mass of twisted smoking metal comes crashing from the sky and crushes Joe's van. " MY VAN! YOU DESTROYED MY VAN!" Joe breathes a deep sigh. "He is just going to have to buy me a new one."
"If you were supposed to know, I would've already told you. Take off the suit Lonnie, we're going to get a cab."
"How did you know my name?"
"Let's get aquatinted. I'm Joe Potato, oven-baked private eye. You are Lonnie Machin, a.k.a. Anarky, teenage idealist and all around hot potato. Now take off the suit."
Lonnie Machin sits outside Commissioner Gordon's office, handcuffed, out of costume, and more confused than ever before. He is surrounded by armed guards, but he need not be--he is far too stunned to even think about escaping. He is lost in his thoughts. He sees the ways he has hurt people, and it sickens him. It is as though he really saw what he was doing for the first time, as though the immense explosion, or perhaps how close he came to death, had brought him to his senses.
Inside the office, Joe talks to Detective Bullock, Jim Gordon and Assistant D.A., Marie Templton. Lonnie can hear voices raised in anger, especially Joe's; but cannot distinguish words.
"Look, pal, That kid destroyed an industrial complex two blocks square, and really screwed up the traffic situation in Gotham Village. He stays here, got that Potato-man." Bullock says as he pokes Joe in the chest.
Joe pokes back, "Hey, Spuddy, he's only 14 freaking years old! He didn't understand what he was doing. And furthermore, nobody calls me Potato-man but the Bat-Guy."
"He's right." Joe, Bullock, and Templton all spin around to see Batman standing inside the window. Gordon seems to have been expecting him. "Only I can call Joe that. But your wrong about Lonnie. He knew what he was doing." Batman opens the door and leaves the room, and , as the rats of Hamlin, the others follow suit.
Lonnie sits there lost in thought when, from out of nowhere, a shadow covers over him. Lonnie snaps his head up and sees him--long blue cape, gray suit; it is the Batman. Batman turns his head and looks at Lonnie, his face void of expression. Lonnie sinks into his chair.
"Lonnie," Batman says, " why did you destroy Graham Oil Refinery?"
"I wanted to get your attention. You-you're in my dreams, and I want you out."
"Did you think about the danger of hurting somebody?"
"Yes--well, I mean sorta."
"Where is your mother?"
"I left before she got hom--NO. Do not tell me anything happened to her." Lonnie's face darkens with intensity.
"Debris from the refinery fell on her car. She's in Gotham Regional in critical condition." When Batman began speaking, Lonnie fought to choke down the tears. Now he sobs.
Joe sits down beside Lonnie and puts his arm around the boy. Lonnie burrows his face in Joe's soft belly. "Don't cry, kid. I'm sure she'll be alright," Joe says softly
"Look, Lonnie, Mrs. Potato's boy has this sense about mothers. So just trust me okay?"
Batman turns around and enters the office once again. It takes a little while for the others to follow suit, which suits the Dark Knight. And at times such as this, if not for the mask he wears and the wall he has built around his soul, you might even see him cry. He also has a sense about mothers--a sense of loss.
When everybody has reassembled in Gordon's office, Templton says, "As touching as that was, it doesn't change the fact that Lonnie Machin must be tried for his crimes."
"Now just hold it there, kid," Joe says, "Lonnie is sorry for what he did an' he wants to make up for it; but without someone to show him how, he's just gonna slip back into those old patterns. The boy needs a mentor."
Gordon speaks. "I think he's right. Lonnie is a child. And when you consider most of our evidence is circumstantial--."
"The D.A.'s office is willing to try it, but it still leaves the question of who do we get to take charge of Lonnie?" Templton says.
"Joe," Batman says.
"Joe?" Bullock and Joe ask in concert.
"Joe," Batman continues, "has already connected with Lonnie and, as displayed by what we have just seen, knows how to relate to him."
"I agree with Batman," says Gordon. "What do you say Joe?"
"I suppose so," Joe smiles. "I never had my dad around when I was growing up. As long as the kid doesn't mind, I'll be there for him."
"You realize that there will be other legal matters to finish before this is final. A trial will take place," Templton states.
"Yes, Miz Templton, but if its all the same to you, I'm gonna take Lonnie home. It'll suit him better to get this thing started."
As the people watch Joe leave the office, behind them the Dark Knight silently, and sadly, leaves through the window.
All characters are DC Comics
This piece is © 2002 by Mathew D. Rhys
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