I was supposed to be a stand-up guy, a true law-abiding citizen.  Someone that had been rehabilitated at least to the best of the abilities of the state of New Jersey and considering the current governor that was saying a lot, but either way I was paying taxes, taking jobs that were legitimate even if they took me out of the country from time to time.  I had a house. I had a picket fence, honest to God, a picket fence.   Just this past weekend I was out there mowing my lawn and a few hours later I was watering it. I was living a normal life, because that’s what I’m do when I’m at home.

I try to be normal. I try to put the past behind me, and if I can’t do that I slide it to the side and move on. This is my life, this is what my neighbors know about me.  It’s all I care to let them know about me, because there’s some things that people don’t need to know.  I’m sure the rumors swirl about talking about what I’ve done and who I am. I don’t get any trouble, I don’t cause any either.   I’m a stand-up guy. I’m the guy you come to if you want to borrow a piece of lawn equipment.  I’m the guy that you come to if you want to borrow a cup of sugar from.

I’m the guy you come too if someone is giving you a problem and the police can’t be bothered and the heroes…the masked ones that give my kind a rough time when they break the laws can’t find the time to notice the small things. It’s enough of them out there.  They always say they can’t do it all, but it’s no longer an army of one.  Don’t let them tell you otherwise it’s gotten bigger and it’s only going to get bigger and the underbelly of the underbelly is always going to slip through the cracks or there’s a line that can’t be crossed, because there’s always a bigger fish, bird, multiple personality or clown freak that catches their eye first.  Let alone the bosses and made mean, because Gotham puts out bad problems like a devout Catholic births a litter of kids.

So, where does that leave a chum like me?  With decisions to make.  People to talk to and problems to solve the only way I know how.  Does it get me a bad rep? Probably.  Does it fix what needs fixing?  Definitely.  Will I eventually get a visit from some asshole in a cape or whatever their wearing these days?  Maybe.  Either way it’s life.  It works. I’m living and despite the police knocking at my door ever so often there’s nothing being done, because the witnesses that should be stepping forward don’t.   They’re the victims. The ones that slip between the cracks of cracks who come to me, Thomas Blake.

It’s a life. It’s my life and I like it.  I go for a couple of days, a week and handle a job that I’ve been hired to do and return and start the cycle all over again.  Mow the lawn. Water the lawn.  Grab a beer at home or sometimes at some of my old haunts.

However, this is when it’s different, when things are different.  No, not the bar, the bar is the same. Stinks of cigarettes and tale beer.  The crack of the cue ball striking another.   Voices getting loud over the fight on the set.   Old Maggie telling someone that if they don’t pay up she’s going to break their hand.  One crook giving the deets of a job gone right or wrong to another.

That’s what should be happening, but tonight.  That’s not what went down.  It started out that way, but it was different because instead of the regular order of business there’s people who are missing a thumb or a finger.  Blood is on the table and I’m pretty sure a few people got cut and a few others got shot.  Surely someone’s called the cops?  Maybe.   Could be another night at the Staked Decked except instead of the regulars you have another group that’s come in.

Out-of-towners.  They’re not trying to muscle their way in they’re looking for information and there’s nothing new about that except they were turning my night out into a fucking pain.  P-A-I-N.   Already heard about the Hood doing his thing, but it seemed that he had gone a bit extra, with shaking people down for information.   Lost his shit people said, but really can you tell. Is there a ‘Lost Your shit’ meter out there that I don’t know about?  That’s how it started, the day before, but tonight it got incredibly worse, because not only do you have everyone’s favorite red masked fuck up putting the screws to everyone you have ninjas.

Shit you not.  Fucking ninjas which means this is either a high or a low for Gotham.  Depends on you ask.  Weird shit happens. Dumb shit happens, but I wanted a beer. Just a beer. Shoot the breeze. Ask a few questions and now…now…fucking ninjas.  What next Power Rangers?

Now, I consider myself a rather observant individual and there is a possibility that there could have been ninjas in the city and I had no clue.  Which means they were doing their job, but the shit ton that have climbed out of the woodwork is a bit much.  Now, I have to remind myself why I was here.  To get a beer, right?

Partly.  I haven’t been at the Deck for a couple of months, partly because of work and then work.  So, I have been a something for some kind of eyes, because I just don’t fit the sight for sore eyes type. There were a few that would have preferred I not show up, because the last time I was in things didn’t go well.  Couldn’t help it that someone was cheating at cards.  I don’t appreciate that, and I simply let the individual know the only way I knew how.


I let them know that it was going to hurt them a who helluva lot and I could give a rat’s ass about it, but people got to learn. If I’m the one that has to crack along the knuckles, then I’m the one.  It was just done with a pool stick instead of a ruler.  If they’re lucky.   However, right now with everything that’s happening I tell myself it’s going to be one of those nights.  I reach for my bottle of beer to enjoy what’s left of my night.

I saw the broadcast. I knew better than most what was right around the corner.  One-part chaos, one-part bullshit, several parts Joker induced jig.  It didn’t matter.  What mattered was finding out what people knew without causing too much of a fuss.  People shoot the shit at the Deck, when they feel comfortable enough.  Amazing what you can learn during a game of cards.  You don’t push it you let it happen.  You don’t go in like tense or intense you talk a good game which means you let the bullshit run like lava when you need to, and sometimes you keep quiet.  You freak them out a bit especially when you’re known to be a little talkative.

People like to talk and whether or not people would believe it, criminals are gossips.  They love to gloat even when it seems like they’re not gloating.  That’s what I was here for.

”Did he snatch from her house?”

”Idiot! Talia al Ghul don’t live here.  Had to be from a hotel.  What was she doing here?”

You let it fly and keep playing your cards and encourage them to finish the game.  You could find your way into a nice little pay day if you’re lucky.  If you’re really lucky you’ll hear something that sounds a little more like the truth.

Someone would have been there to witness the entire event play down.  Someone that was present for one reason or another. They had to tell someone. It was the honest to God Joker in the flesh.  I you make it out you count yourself lucky.  You don’t want to blab, but you have to tell someone especially if you’re a nobody. Someone that no one would blink at.  Then again that can get you killed, because you might talk.

You never know what might be going on, but you pick up a few things here and there until you wind your way around to the person that knows enough to fill in the blanks, connect the dots and get you to point B without turning the underbelly right side up.

I was there, I was drawing the information out when everything came to a halt and I was enjoying my beer.

They showed up not to long after the Joker’s send up to American Horror Story: Gotham City.  That had everyone talking, but only for a moment, because enter ninjas which brings me back to where I was before sipping my beer.  Draining the bottle, I found myself looking across at the man that I was speaking with who was there with his gal who was sure he was going to pop. Maybe they were there for him, maybe they weren’t. It didn’t matter.  I was still drinking my beer instead of being a good little compliant hostage or whatever they thought we were.

This is where I tell myself that maybe tonight will be a better night. Perhaps one of the knights will show up perhaps even a little squire. I don’t know.  That’s what they do?  No, not really.  Who gives a fuck about a bunch of low lives?  They barely care enough about themselves to do the right thing, but what is the right thing?

I don’t know, but I do know one thing, two things actually.  One I’m never going back in.  That’s a fact.  Second? The guy I was talking to is going to need therapy.

In the movies one of two things happens with a beer bottle.  Someone cracks it over someone’s head or they break it against someone ready to use it as a weapon. I am capable of doing either.  There are a few things that I am known for.  Someone might think I will go for the knives I am known to carry, but at the moment, I know the number probably far more than anyone wants t

Bottle goes down on the table and the cards are displayed.  I had a full house.  That alone should piss me off, but easy come easy go.   There’s still fight left in everyone in here.

People who know me best know that when backed against the wall it’s not a matter of escape it’s a matter of attack and that can come in any shape or form.  Those two things are still on my mind s I make my move. It happens quickly one that earns me a cut along the side, but not before I throat him using the blade I carry to catch the reach of his.

I don’t bite I sink my teeth in and tear, ripping the skin and muscle open pulling not stopping until the shocked man is pulling back adding to the pain and shock which spreads across the entire bar, but gives everyone the moment they need to restart what had ended.  I move down and finish what I’m doing letting the flesh slip from my teeth even as the coppery lick lingers in my mouth and on my tongue.

Blade’s out and the entire bar descends into chaos.  Surely the cops will be here soon, but truly it was all self-defense.   The guy will live, he might not be talking any time soon, but he’ll survive.  You don’t get that chance often, but when given the opportunity you remind that Gotham breeds a special kind of person.

When people need something done they come to me. It’s going to be a long ten or fifteen minutes.  Maggie’s going to be pissed.  I also have a conversation to finish that’s if the guy’s done puking and keeping his head down.

Ninjas.  Fucking ninjas.