Postcards from Gotham: Bad Reputation

Postcards from Gotham: Bad Reputation

Synopsis: Aaron takes his broken stero in to Harper’s repair shop to get fixed. He also makes a request for a piece of equipment.

JASON: Two days had passed since my mother’s repast.  Two days which meant the moment the door shut behind the last of my guests there was work to be done. Work that would ensure that when the landlord returned within a day’s time and Johnny perhaps less than that everything that I valued would be gone.  The apartment would be picked clean as if a den of thieves had made themselves at home here and departed just as fast. The moment I returned after getting out of the hospital things were marked into three categories:

  1. Keep
  2. To my mother or father’s friends.
  3. Pawn.

Most of everything that we had in the apartment went to category three.  There were some items that found their way into category two, but category one.  well, that was rare. It was few and far in between.  The things that I gathered to keep were the first things to go. They were transported to a safer place than the apartment, they were sent to what I affectionately called the Nest. The things that were going to be given away to my parents’ friends were delivered quickly.

The items to pawn or in some cases fence that went to the appropriate associates that shared their condolences, which I milked to get better prices, because they would be stashed in to their appropriate spots.  I no longer had my mother to worry about raiding my accounts or my piggy banks, but there were debts that had to be settled and I rather handle them on my own. It was better that than a shake down.

When Johnny came for his money he would find nothing there for him to break or shake me down for instead he would find a neighbor who had an envelope with the money and a note saying that it’s settled. If he comes for me then I will respond appropriately, but as far as I’m concerned my mother’s debt is settled.   With him, there were others and I would work my way down the list, but his was the most immediate that needed to be handled.

I have no idea what went down in the alley, but I’m sure he wasn’t too happy at the fact that I got away, but I wasn’t too happy that his poison killed my mom.  I think we can come to an understanding.  The lanlord had gotten the rent before my mother died so he was settled so what I paid him was the next months rent which was more of. You don’t know where I went and if CPS comes knocking you don’t have a clue and make up whatever you wanted.  They wold try what?  Two times tops unless Thompkins pushes them.

Of course, this left me with no place to live, nope had that taken care of, because there were times when I needed to disappear to get away from the bad moments, because there were plenty with my mom.  Sadly, it didn’t really become available until my dad was sent away.   When he got sent away it became mine, fair and square.  It was my retreat from all the crappy things. It was the Nest.  It’s all I had that was mine despite the fact that it wasn’t, but I’ll take what I can.

However, right now I caught the bus into the narrows.  It’s where I needed to be to find a fixer, because I was in need of one.  Why?  Of the things that I kept, I kept the stereo and right now it wasn’t working as well as it could be, so I brought the unit in to get it repaired.  I heard there was a good fixer in the narrows which meant one of several things. I could barter or cash.  Luckily, I had cash, but let’s find out how much the repair work was going to cost before I went dolling out any.   It might be a situation where barter might be better…maybe.

HARPER:  It had been several days since a random bump in the road a literal one in this case had sent Harper sliding into an alleyway, and a mouthy upright Roomba of a cybernetic woman. The truly sad fact is this could not be said to be entirely unusual in a town like Gotham. Nor could it be said of the cloaked woman who emerged from thin air with a quarter staff to retrieve the Roomba moments later. Harper herself had never encountered the stranger elements of the city beyond a chance encounter with the Batman months back. So to say this most recent one had been a significant moment in her life would be an understatement.

The long, slow trip home as she pushed her busted and only means of transportation had been one of reflection. Something had changed in Harper after seeing Batman in the flesh and this had only increased in it pace of growth after meeting The Huntress. While some doubts remained about whether or not she could actually pull off the role she had chosen to play she knew she had to at least try. A part of her wished she could ask someone for advice on the matter but what would Cullen or Steph even know about playing hero? Or of what would be required to become one.

Could you even imagine what Stephanie Brown would wear!? Probably something bright purple.

At the end of her long and slow trip and her deep thoughts on vigilante..ism? Harper had rolled her scooter up to the entrance to the shop she worked out of in her role as the neighborhoods resident handyperson. That had been days ago and she had not yet left the shop the projects at the front of her mind were just to important to allow for interruptions. Lifting up the goggles she wore while using her blowtorch Harper held up what she hoped would be a suitable set of body armor.

“UGH…Hardly Bat certified level here Harps…”

Lowering the goggles again she aimed the torch down again and started to fuse the panels again. Perhaps she should start with the weaponry she would employ that she knew she could handle. Halting the torches progress she turns to look to a set of gloves on a nearby workbench.

“Shock gauntlets. YES.”

But first she had to finish her current project, being distracted would only guarantee another faulty seam.

JASON:  When the bus began to approach my stop, I glanced down at the slip of paper where I had written the address down and rang the bell beside me.  Moving to my feet I picked up the unit and made my way to the front of the bus.  The entrance was closer.  Holding on to the bar I waited for the bus to come to a step before moving past the all-important yellow line.   The doors opened, and the driver gave me a look.

Yep this is where I wanted to get off at. Holding onto the stereo unit I walked down the stairs looking around.  Not that the Narrows was a step up by any means it was at a bit of a crossroads if someone liked to think of it that way.

I didn’t care much else with me beyond what I had in my arms.  My money was where I could get to it, but again I would have to have a discussion about payment.  The stereo itself could fetch a price, but not much especially since it was busted.  I headed down the street making sure to keep my eyes and ears open to everything around me without making it obvious.  I knew a few people in the area, but I wasn’t about to go look them up.  That would invite them into places that I didn’t want them.

Instead I made my way to the workshop with no incident, so things were looking good, at least for the moment.  Pushing against the door to open it I glanced around getting my bearings as it was my first time here.
“Hello?”  Was there a bell?

HARPER:  There was in fact no bell or any other means by which you might signal your arrival. In fact the front of the shop had the look of a place that had not been used by anyone in sometime it could easily be mistaken for abandoned. Harper preferred it this way and used a purely word of mouth method of advertisement, which only backfired when someone couldn’t keep their mouths shut. The receiving area contained little except for an old and dusty desk piled with folders and old books, behind it were somehow dustier bookshelves also piled with random and ancient texts or so it would seem to someone of Jason’s age. The three folding chairs to the left of the door by the wall with the peeling wallpaper might have offered a place to wait if they too were not over encumbered by a leaning towers of mostly Popular Mechanics magazine.

What it lacked in bells the receiving area made up with its hidden camera and the sudden alert it sent to Harpers phone. Feeling the buzz in her pocket she turns off the torch and gently places it on a nearby table. Pulling the glasses up to sit on her head Harper removes her phone from her pocket and opens the alert.

Someone was out front, someone she did not know. Tapping the alert again she brings up the microphone function built into the camera.

“I am the great and powerful Oz! Whatta ya want?”

JASON: “Yeah, well, I guess the Emerald City has seen better days…years.”  By the looks of it.  My eyes moved around to see if I could spot the camera, but obvious moves would pick up what I was attempting to do. Despite the look of shop, it was obvious that the front of the house was not utilized that often or wasn’t the real front of the house.

“I’m looking for Harper.  I was told that she was good with electronics.  I have something that I need her to take a look at.  Two things actually, three if she’s any good.”   I don’t know. I mean it was all word of mouth and apps only tell you so much like anyone can buy or make an app these days.  He arched his brow turning so he could find a spot to set the stereo down.

“Its work so do you do that kind of thing or do you just claim squatters rights?  Also, if we’re talking Great and Powerful Oz.”  Who was actually a charlatan, perhaps someone after my dad’s heart.   “I’m not looking for a heart, brain or courage.  Home is what is, Gotham.  So, I’ll take a hovercycle.  I don’t know any witches, but big Bertha comes close.  So, if I dump a bucket of water on her you can make the hovercycle happen right?”

I really did need the stereo fix, but she was the one that all L. Frank Baum on me.

HARPER:  Harper couldn’t help but to grin at the response she was given, this guy talked like a kid from Gotham. Peeling off one of her heavy duty gloves and then the other she lays them on the table careful to keep from placing either to close to the still warm end of the torch that she had placed on the same table. Harper turns toward the actual entrance to the shop stopping to wave a few times at the air to disperse the odor welding had dispersed throughout the shop. She loved making things but had never come to enjoy the smell a blowtorch put into the air, now the sizzle of electronic that was a different matter entirely.

Walking toward the door to her shop she scoops up a small device as she makes her way out to speak with Jason. Her hand on the panel to open the door she stops again and turns back taking a moment to slide a tarp over the objects on the main table like her body armor.

That done she taps a panel next to the door to disengage three separate sets of heavy duty locks she had placed on the door. Despite the sound proofing she had installed the sounds of this happening likely still filtered through the walls. Stepping out into the front room the taser like device still in her hand Harper looks Jason over a few times before speaking.

“I might be Harper..I might be Dorothy. I usually only work on referrals.”

She said crossing her arms over the Sex Pistols t-shirt she had on under the tool belt that hung on her like an under arm dual pistol holster. Whether or not she was Josey Wales quick with the wrenches and assorted tool in the belt would be anyone’s guess.

JASON:  I waited patiently to see what was going to happen.  Was the counter going to slide away revealing a hidden staircase that lead to the actual shop which lay beneath the “decadent” exterior.  Or was there going to be a wall that split a part or opened out to welcoming me to the inner sanctum?  That would be pretty cool, however unlikely as I heard the three deadbolts that unlocked themselves.

Perhaps in another life, another Gotham, because in this one it sounded like someone who was into security.  The only thing that was missing was the rod that slipped into the little box n the door and caught along the floor.

One could never have too much security, especially when they did they type of work that Harper was alleged to do.  People to tend to take anything that’s not bolted down, and when it is bolted down it just means that need to come with the right tools to make it theirs.   Of course, that brings me to allegedly.   Why do I say allegedly, because I haven’t seen any of her work.  There’s no real proof and until I see with my eyes it is rumor and hearsay.

Also, it was the word that got me the Spelling Bee trophy in third grade, well it got me into the tie breaker.  Incarceration got me the trophy.

When the proprietor finally stepped out Jason tipped head to the side.  Maybe he can get a kid discount.  She was probably what a year or two older at most, maybe three.  She had bags under her eyes.   Probably best not to mention that.  His nose caught the distinct scent that comes blow torch work.

“Blow torch or acetylene.”  Of course the moment I said it, Blondie’s <i>The Hardest Part</i> passes through my head.  It can’t he helped. Nor can me noticing the Sex Pistol’s shirt she has on.  Pretty hard to miss that, or something that looks interesting from afar in her hand.  She looked me over a couple of times. I guess I passed the test, not really because she still holding that interesting item in her hand.

Trust.  It will get you killed if you’re not careful.

“You don’t look like Dororthy.  Maybe DG, but not a Dorothy.”  Points for catching the reference since we’re all about Oz or something.   Maybe she has a Scarecrow fetish.  I’ll try not to visibly shudder about that.  Next thing I know she’ll be chatting me up about the Mad Hatter.

“Harper most definitely, but I could be wrong, and I got a referral.  You fixed a dishwasher for a neighbor of mine.”  Three blocks over and two blocks down.  “For a bucket of chicken and peaches.  The peaches I get, because she gives everyone peaches. The chicken.  She said you were a little reluctant.  I bet you’re Popeye’s kind of girl and she was only dealing in the Colonel.”

The sad thing about this. It’s not the most absurd conversation I’ve ever had.

HARPER: “I try to avoid fast food it goes straight to my thighs.”

While Harper couldn’t claim to remember every person she had helped in the Narrows she absolutely remembered Miss Brenda, and her bucket of KFC. Of all the things you could invest in Gotham that might kill you fast food could still be considered one of the worst offenders in Harpers mind. Still she had placed the chicken in the fridge and had found it gone the next day. Cullen pleaded innocent but also refused to show her his fingers, tainted with grease no doubt.

“Okay then if you know Miss Brenda then we can do business.”

Harpers mind drifted to her long list of important projects and how she really shouldn’t work on anything else right now, still it might raise suspicion if she turned anyone away. Taking a step back she gestures for Jason to go first.

“After you…”

Grinning just a little she gestures inside with the object in her hand.

JASON:  “Uh huh.”   I left it at that, because it was best not to comment on things of that nature.  Girls go upside down and sideways about it, usually against a guys head, so yeah no comment.  I’ll play the innocent little lamb when it comes to that.

“I do.  She says hello and something about coming to see you about her clock radio.”  Message delivered.  Turning towards the counter I lifted up the stereo unit and proceeded to step behind the curtain so to speak though I had no idea where I was headed really

“If you insist. So straight ahead into the back or am I making turns?  Is this some kind of ploy to look my butt?  I’m a little young for you aren’t I?”  There might have been a hint of a smirk while I headed towards wherever we were going.

“Now if it gets me a discount feel free to look, but I may feel ashamed in the morning.”

HARPER: “Not really no, but I reserve the right to sneak a peek later.”

She could tell him it really had to do with keeping a knife or worse from being stuck into her back, she wished she could say it had never happened before. Of course Cullen would never hear about that particular incident, he worried enough as is. One bad apple had ruined it for everyone else and now Harper insisted clients go first where she could keep a good eye on them.

“I don’t prescribe it puritanical concepts of shame it’s a total waste of energy….unlike this.”

At this she sparks the device in her hand to give Jason a good look at the super taser she had been holding since he came in. The possibility excessive amount of electricity the device emits lights up the darkened front area and illuminated the shop just inside the door, as well as Harpers best don’t mess with me face.

“You can unload your stuff over there…DO.NOT. Touch anything.”

Harper points to a table on the far end of the room and well away from the center table covered by the tarp.

JASON:  “I’ll go slow mo if it gets me a hovercycle.”  Yep I totally said that. Whether or not I would do it another story, but we are talking about a hovercycle.  I was doing my best to keep light, because let’s recap on what’s going on here.

  1. Stranger shows up on your door step asking for you to do some work for him.
  2. You work in the Narrows where lies are candy and betrayal dessert and people tend to eat dessert first all the time in the Narrows, East End, well, just about everywhere in Gotham and if you wanted something more decadent head over to Bludhaven. It’s like’s Gotham’s Red Light district.
  3. I’m pretty sure she has more than one weapon ready for me if I do decide to clown out on her, but totally not what I’m here for.

“Well, that’s good, because ashamed means for me I get a pint of ice cream and forget about what I was supposed to be shaming myself about.”

With a turn of my head my eyes catch the sparks of the taser making note of it.

“Wait I can set my stuff down, but don’t touch anything. What happens if my finger touches the top of the counter. Is that included?”

HARPER: Harper considers giving Jason a good zap for his sass or at least she would if she herself wouldn’t have likely said the same thing. Instead she spins the taser in hand and slides it into one of the empty holsters hanging at her sides. Thankfully she doesn’t fling the weapon across the room this time, that had proven to be a bit of a disaster. Thankfully her neighbors cat had only gotten a little scorched and it’s hair eventually grew back in, of course Purrrcevil did his best to avoid her to this day.

“My fee goes up by the sass just FYI”

In contrast to the outer office Harpers actual shop is meticulously sorted, with just a smudge of chaos here and there. Where she had tools placed on the walls they were arranged in order of size and or condition, clearly a few had seen better days. In addition to the large center table covered with a tarp she had the table she was pointing to against the wall it was smaller and mostly clear except for the strange gloves she had forgotten to put away.

Spotting them Harper mutters something under her breath and hopes Jason doesn’t ask to many questions. Stepping head of him she moves in to moves the gloves aside before he sets his stuff down near them.

“Just put them on the table sassmouth.”

JASON: There had to be a little sass.  I mean what’s Gotham without a little sass or wit coming from some direction.  Without it, we’d be a failed Metropolis, or at least that’s what people like to think. Me, I see potential, potential for so much more, so much better, but setting it aside I couldn’t help the smirk at the fee business.

Setting the unit on the table as instructed I stepped back while taking in the shop. There were things put away in places, all neat and tidy and the tiny bits of chaos I suspect are from just finished business, in the middle business, or just started business.  Things she didn’t mind people seeing.

Then there was the don’t look at me, but can’t but notice me tarp business which would likely get me a zap from the taser and if I was a betting man I’m pretty certain it’s set for twitching on the floor, foaming on the mouth sucks to be you if you have a pacemaker setting.  So no peeky under the tarp.

Of course it made me wonder where other such things were that weren’t being worked on were.

“So, I guess introductions are in order less I get stuck with sassymouth, but given where your eyes were sassypants would work too.”  I just can’t help myself. “Jay and I’m here because my precious has stopped working right. Tape decks running slow and the turn table is even slower.”

HARPER:  Harper walks over to the table where the stereo had been placed and slowly moved her eyes over it. Leaning in a bit and pulling a small pen light out of one of the pockets on her belt she clicks it on moving it’s bright and slightly bluish light over the mentioned tap deck and then the turn table. If she even heard Jason’s comments she made no reaction to them, nor would she while she worked.

A minute or so later she turns and aims the narrow beam at Jason and then the tarp on the table, then back to Jason. Seemingly satisfied she clicks the pen off while still holding it up and after twirling it in her fingers places it back in its place on her belt.

“I think I see the problem…it’s a piece of junk.”

Offering a quick shrug followed by a rapidly fading grin Harper again turns back to the stereo.

“I’d recommend jacking…or maybe buying an iPod or phone or something. I hear Spotify is just the best.”

Her hands reach forward and begin removing the front of the stereo a tiny screw driver having appeared in her hand as of by magic. As she continues to work at removing the face of the unit she again speaks.

“But if you’re dealing with an emotional attachment I get it and…give me like five minutes?”

JASON:  While Harper focused on the stereo on unit, I took a moment to look around the shop. I didn’t touch, I didn’t even try to see what was on the tarp I just looked around before looking over my shoulder at Harper as she holstered her taser. “There’s a lot to look at. I’m just taking it all in. I’m behind the curtain without a little dog running back and exposing you. I think I’m doing good.” Smirking he turned back towards her nodding.

“It’s my piece of junk and if you can get it up and going then I’ll be a satisfied customer. I like to keep it analog sometimes.” Simple as that. At least that’s the way I wanted to keep it. Don’t need to talk about any other reasons.

“So, if you can get it squared away I’d like that a lot and then I would like to talk about another project if you’re up for it. One that doesn’t deal in peaches. Deals in presidents. Dead ones.”

HARPER:  “I’m not interested in joining your crew…if your looking for a criminal I’d suggest looking up my dad.”

Harpers eyes had not yet left the stereo as she removed the face and then began working on the tape deck itself. Jason had lucked out in that Harper had experience with fixing devices as old as this one, her youth had seen dozens if not hundreds of such things smashed in fits of rage or outright sold to make ends meet or even more likely so her father could buy some illicit substances. Far to often she would come home from school to find the television missing and be forced to find a cheap replacement, which she would then be forced to make work.

It had been a maddeningly predictable cycle but it had been what had made her the tech wiz she was today. No amount of skill or strength came easily or without trial and Harper would not claim to be different.

“So…Jay right? If that’s what your after you can get the hell out of my shop. I’ll still fix your stereo because I’m nice like that but…”

JASON:  “Do I sound like I have a crew?  Do I look like I have a crew?  Talk about emotional attachments?”  I pause for a moment shaking my head.   “I’m not sure what you’re talking about. Just saying that I’ll pay you in cash. ”  Did I hit a nerve probably.  Wouldn’t be the first time.   Walking over towards the table where she was working on the stereo I leaned up against it watching her work.

“However, I am in need of someone that has expertise in your area.  Fixing things, possibly modifying them that’s all. Currently in need to be able to see someone coming that’s all. There’s a bit of business that my parental involved herself in, and due to a change in her status I am now probably on the hook for it more than likely so I want to try and be prepared if I can. My living situation is….”  What’s a good word.

“Tenuous at best.  Meaning I could be sleeping and someone might come knocking and I rather be in position to make a quick exit if need be.  So, I need to see if this is or isn’t out of your wheel house.  It could cost so hence the dead presidents.”  He shrugged.   “Kind of looking for night vision goggles, but not big clunky ones.  I was curious if you worked on anything like that before.”

It was no big whoop if not.  “Not all of the street lights are lit and I find myself running through the streets or trying to make a quick exit through various buildings I’d rather not impale myself.”  I would say fourteen is too young to have a crew, but we both know that’s not true.

“As Nancy Thompson said.  I’m into survival.”

HARPER:  Harper stood up from the stereo and turned to face Jason holding both her hands up in apology. Twirling the small screw driver in her fingers as she lowers her hands again her mood leveling out again as she basically forces it to do so. She might have made an assumption and that wasn’t right of her.

“Okay I may have over reacted a touch…but..”

Stepping back to the table she placed the screwdriver down and brought out the pen light again. Thinking a moment she places the light in her mouth and picking the the screw driver again gets back to work.

“Night vision goggles that is some vigilante level stuff and those are illegal I hear… but yeah I can totally do that.”

Both her hands move to work their way into the stereo as the light does what it does best, illumination. A few second pass and Harper begins to place pieces back onto the stereo and again takes a step back.

“That might have done it.”

JASON:  “It’s cool. I get it. I mean.  It’s the environment we live in.  Crime’s a way of life for some of us.  You never can be sure, but trust there is no crew. I’m not crew material. Remember, I’m Mister Sassypants.  I wouldn’t last a day, may not even an hour. My mouth would get me in trouble.  Probably why I’ll be picking up an unwanted debt.  Too many clapbacks for my own good.”  My shoulders rise and fall while I watch her work.

“That they are, but sometimes to survive you have to risk it. As much as I would like to turn to the cops that usually makes a bad situation worse, and judging by your reaction I think we both can agree that not ever cop is a stand up individual.” Not in the least, but I wasn’t about to walk that winding road.  I had a stereo to get fixed and goggles to see about.

“Cool. Now I can have tunes again.  Sweet, sweet tunes. So let’s see.  How much for the repair job?  How much for the goggles, and when should I expect my hovercycle?”

HARPER:  “Honestly this thing barely required any amount of effort…so we can call it even for now.”

Scratching at the side of her head with the screwdriver as she accidentally flashes Jason with the pen light still in her mouth. Eyes widening a bit she takes it out and clicking it off places it back in its proper place.

“I can look the goggles and I’ll let you know what I’ll need payment wise in a few days…and pal I make a hover cycle it’ll be all mine.”

JASON:  “Aww really. Not even a box of Popeyes?”  I couldn’t help it.  I was completely amused, by the entire thing. Also there was a box in my fridge, because I helped Ms. Brenda with carrying in some groceries and moving furniture.  I’ll take what I can get.

“Few days. Alright.  I’ll drop be in a few days to check in. Oh yeah for sure. First generation is all yours. I’ll take the next one after that after all the bugs are worked out.  That’s really generous of you.  I guess you really are the great and powerful Oz.  I didn’t even have to douse any witches.”

That’s when she flashes me with the light. Looking away I cast my eyes down for a second before looking up again.  “Well, that was fun.”

Reaching out for the stereo I thought about before turning back towards Harper. “Actually…” Taking out my wallet I pull out a few bills and set them into her hand.

“Here’s seventy-five for a down payment.  If it costs more we’ll discuss in a few days about payment.  If it costs less well, I’ll open an account or something because if I break them someone’s going to have to repair it right?”  Right. They were probably going to cost more.  Either way I picked up the stereo.  “Thanks for the work.”   I wait for a moment. “So same drill as the first. I walk ahead of you and you see me out?”

Postcards from Gotham: Bad Reputation

Postcards from Gotham: This Woman’s Work

Synopsis:  After being released from the hospital Jason sets about to get ready to say good bye to his mother the only way he knows how.

Walking the aisles of the local market was nothing new, I had done it a million times, at least it felt like a million times. I was grabbing a few things that I needed. I left the hospital two days ago after spending two days in it after I had regained consciousness at Dr. Thompkins insistence.  I acquiesced, because I new that she would not let up if I tried to leave any earlier.  She meant well, she always did, but I also knew she was attempting to determine what was gone to be done with me.

I was in a hospital and I’m pretty certain that DCFS was contacted.  I wanted to become a ghost, but that was complicated by the fact that my mother.  That was until Dr. Thompkins asked me what I wanted to be done. What did I want done with my mother?

”Cremate her.”

There was no hesitance in my voice.  If the good doctor was offering then I would provide the most convenient and least expensive solution. It’s what they do when John and Jane Does can’t be identified.  The price tag is usually a couple hundred bucks if the city is involved.    I knew who my mother was, but let’s be fair.  I was not capable of paying for a funeral.  I would not have that expensed by anyone.  However, cremation that I would bargain for.

I would volunteer to pay it off. Square my debt and decide the next move.

If it was one less problem I had to deal with good, because there would be plenty more headed my way. I was certain of it, but right now everything is a big jumble for everyone. I am far from glass I will not break, but they are not aware of that.  I use it to my advantage.  I gathered my clothing and left the hospital and made my way home.

If the cops were not at my door good.  Perhaps for the first time living in the East End would provide some kind of perverse benefit.  One less problem for someone to deal with.  The specter of crime would provide me the cover that I desired at the moment.

Did we…I have money.  I had some, most of it stashed away in different places. Being a minor meant that my options were limited, and I had already experienced what it meant to have a juvenile account in the bank. I really control anything.  My parents did.   They could withdraw as much as they wanted so anything that I got through birthdays and Christmas could easily be withdrawn under the guise of doing it on my behalf.

One account closed, the other the money simply vanished just enough to keep the account open until it went to a negative balance and we owed…I owed the bank money so I opened up an account at the National Bank of Jay with branches in various places that I only knew about.  I would use that to see how far it would stretch.  It was the result of odd jobs here and there some legitimate and some not so legitimate.

However, most of all I would have to crack open the rainy-day fund.  It was stuffed in my pockets now as I grabbed a few more items from the shelf and set them into my shopping cart. It wasn’t a lot just things I forgot.

Thirty minutes and forty dollars later I’m carrying the groceries back home.  I may look like I’m lost in my thoughts, but I’m not. My eyes constantly scan the area.  The world doesn’t stop because someone in your life is gone.   Not around here at least.  You’re just another mark for someone to take advantage of, whether it’s words or some other means it depends on the person.  However, I luck out and make it back to the apartment building where a few people have gathered, men and women who I know and know me.

I don’t offer them a smile, because I’m not in a smiling mood.  I’m not sure if I’m happy to see them either.  I suspect that they have come to pick over my mother’s nonexistent bones.

“Jason…”  My eyes move to the man speaking.  A “friend’ of my father.  His wife is a friend of my mother.  I’ve had a few requests to be taken in, but let’s get real.  It is either about collecting foster payments, that will not be used to offset the fact that there is new person in their house, or they are under the impression that my parents were financially responsible and that there’s money somewhere in an account, safety deposit box or insurance.  My mother was an addict.  what insurance company in their right mind would insure her?

“Mister Peterson.”  I held onto the bags of groceries.  “I will be seeing you later this evening?” I make the attempt an smile, because maybe it will make this go a little smoother. Probably won’t, but hey it’s worth a shot right.

“About tonight.  Mrs. Peterson and I and a few other friends of your parents are concerned about you doing this on your own. This little gathering that you’re having.”  Little gathering.  Little gathering for a little kid.  There was some collective lemming nodding by all of those gathered.

“I understand why you opted not to have a traditional wake.” We didn’t do wakes.   Though i suspect you can say that this is a wake of sorts, but it’s a repast. These are my parents friends. People they considered family.  Some of which that are grieving.

“I would like to help by offering to have someone come in…”  Whatever was going through my head at the moment halted.   it was like a deep record scratch across my mental turntable.

“No, thank you. I have it covered.” Let’s end this before it starts.  I begin to turn back towards the door.

“Surely you’re a bit overwhelmed.  Just out of the hospital. Coping with the loss of a loved one.  You’re all alone now, Jason.  What would your father say? Your mother wouldn’t want you to bear this burden alone.”



Of course.

But that is beside the point.  My mother taught me many things.  Love of 80s music.  True my library extends past that, but it is something that we shared.  She also taught me how to cheat at Monopoly and cards.   She also taught me about what to do when you lose a love one, because there had been many.

“No, thank you.”  There I said it.  Now I shall enter the apartment building and continue on my way.

“It would be my pleasure to have some people come and handle all of this for you.  Your mother’s friends…..”  These are my mother’s friends?  Associates yes.  Friends.  No.  I know my mother’s friends.  None of them were holding hair hair up when she was up chucking into the toilet.  Nor were they at any of the card parties or trading pills.

“Are you deaf?”  I reply.  “I said no thank you, not once, twice.” I did. I heard me said the words. I was very polite about it.  I could feel the look of offense on spreading across Mister Peterson’s face.

“Henry…”  His wife started, but she was silenced with a look.

“I will let that go, Jason. It sounds like a child suffering from duress.”  Now I’m being insulted.   Yay!   I can see closets, straps and other such manners of punishments in my future if I was to accept the offer he wants to make.

My father taught me how to read people. Not because he was a genius at it, but because he was bad at it. Horribly, horribly bad at it.  He was good at teaching me how to lift wallets and other items without getting caught.  He said I had a gift.  Is that really a gift?  Rumination for another time.

Right now I focus on how to resolve this situation.  I have ice cream in my bag.

Mister Johnson clears his throat.  He must be the alternative.  “You should let us help, Jason.  It’s all we want to do.”

“We can help you.  We can have it at my hall and Mr. Peterson can have people come in and assist with the food and drinks. It will be easier for you.  You won’t have to worry about anyone.  They will be taken care of.”   Peterson nodded at what Mister Johnson said.

They would pay for it.  They would bail me out.  I know it’s a cynical way to look at it, but I had to.  Everyone was a mark, they were a mark if they allowed themselves to become one, but even if that was not the entire reason why I continued to refuse it was part of it.

“It is not a burden. This is not a burden.   Honoring my mother is not a burden.”  Let’s make that crystal clear.

“No, no that’s not what we meant, Jason. You’re twisting our words,” Mister Peterson insisted.

“I don’t need a hall. I don’t need someone to serve people. If people wish to help sure they can do that, but it will be at the apartment.  My neighbors are fine with people being in the hall. They understand what’s happened. They’ve offered to let me use some of their chairs.”  Furniture had been moved around with the help of them also.

The frustration on their side was starting to show.  “Food has been made.   Some has been donated.” But a lot of it had been made by his hands.

“Jason…”  I almost wish I could change my name right now.

“As a wise woman once said, “We do not honor our family by sitting friends and family in a hall.  We do not honor our family by having strangers serve those grieving.  We serve comfort food to those that need comfort, and we do it with our own hands. That is how I choose to honor my mother. That is how my mother taught me to honor those we have loss.”

“That is how a family does a repast.  That is how I was taught to pay my respects. I am not the only person that lost my mother, and there are those who will need comfort and care. That cannot and will not be outsourced. There is nothing of my mother in a hall. Nothing of her in strangers who could be paid to serve them. Nothing of her in the food that they will make.”  I let that sink in before I continue, because it was apparent that my gentle rebuffs were not producing the desired results.

‘’I will grieve for the rest of my life. The depth of my grief will outstrip every person there, but for one day for several hours they will grieve with me. It will be on the surface they will want to share and remember. They will want to know that I am okay and the way to show that is to show them comfort.  To open my home and my heart to them. To serve them.  To let them help me serve others, but by their hands not by a stranger’s in a stranger place.” I could feel my jaw tighten just a touch, because I felt that I was being diplomatic.  Yet I’m continued to be challenged.  For a couple of hours. I can be the person that my mother wanted me to be and the person that her friends need me to be.  After that I have to figure out what next.

“So, thank you for the generous offer, but no thank you. I think it’s well taken care of, but if you wish to bring a dish you’re more than welcome to.”

I move to the door smiling to Mister Wallace who was on his way out. “Hello, Mister Wallace. I’ll make sure to save you a plate.”  He was on his way to work, but he stopped by earlier.   As the door began to close behind me it was caught by Mister Peterson, but I kept walking.  There was nothing more to say.

Postcards from Gotham: Bad Reputation

Postcards from Gotham: One Thing Leads to Another

Synopsis:  Jason deals with the aftermath of the previous nights events.

”Go ahead, baby, it’s your day.  Birthday number eight,” mom said with a smile.  “I know you want to.”

Ordinarily I would put up a bit of a fight about being called “baby”.  All my friends were there, but she was right I wanted to put on some tunes. Walking over to the stereo I turned it on and began to make sure that everything was working right and that it hadn’t shorted out.  I worked on it yesterday to make sure that everything was going to be perfect.

It powered up without incident which made me smile.  We spent the last several nights making mix tapes.  Ninety-minute cassettes so we knew we would have enough music for the party and afterwards while we cleaned up.  She asked what I wanted.  I told her that I wanted a party.  She laughed and said what present did I want. I told her again a present.  If she knew someone who knew someone Batman showing up would be cool or Robin. That would be sweet, but party was at the top of the list.  It was always a party. I never had one.  I wanted to have one.  I had been to a few, and they were fun.  I had a good time at most of them so why not.

The only thing I requested is that I got to select all the music which was easy, because she knew where I was headed with it.  It meant that we would have to make sure that we got the songs off her records.  There were some that we grabbed from the radio reach required expert timing.  It took us a few days, but we got it all and now it was time to get the apartment rocking.

With the stereo working we were in business.  We had gotten the stereo years ago before I was born.  At least that’s what my parents told me.  My friends said it was ancient.  It was from the eighties. It had a turn table and everything, but it was the best thing in the world to me.   Today there weren’t any records being played.  It was all cassettes today.  No turning it to the radio either. Everyone already knew that I was the DJ and they knew what that meant, eighties classic.

Pressing the play button on the tape deck could help bobbing my head when the guitar rift started.  Soon I was rocking my body to it and the strum of a bassline that joined it.  It’s familiar.  One that I have heard before one of my favorites.

[The deception with tact
Just what are you trying to say
You’ve got a blank face, which irritates
Communicate, pull out your party piece
You see dimensions in two
State your case with black or white
But when one little cross
Leads to shots, grit your teeth
You run for cover so discreet
Why don’t they]

Where was I?  Cloud nine moving my body to the beat of the music as music blasted through the apartment and I was off doing my eighties dance moves that mom had taught me.  Complete with my own spin of course.

[Do what they say
Say what you mean
One thing leads to another
You told me something wrong
I know I listen too long
But then one thing leads to another]

Our favorite part of the song was about to come out which meant that I needed to grab my mom.  Looking around she was no where in sight. She was probably in the kitchen.  I made my through the room smiling at some of my friends who showed up.  I waved to a neighbor or two making my way to the kitchen.  Not finding her there I turned around in time with the music and headed in the other direction.  Hips shaking along the way as I made my way to her room.

“Hey mom…”

[The impression that you sell
Passes in and out like a scent
But the long face that you see
Comes from living close to your fears
If this is up, then I’m up
But you’re running out of sight
You’ve seen your name on the walls
And when one little bump
Leads to shock miss a beat
You run for cover and there’s heat
Why don’t they]

There’s a smile on my face, but hers doesn’t quite match.  She was startled and there’s a nervous look in her eye.  One that’s reminiscent of when my father decides to share his brand of wisdom.

“Mom?”  She slides the baggie away, while my Aunt Gloria smiles at me.

“Hey birthday man.  Eight years old today.  Gonna get all the candles out.”   My eyes immediately shift towards the man that walked past us.


My eyes flutter and I find myself staring at the window closest to the bed that I’ve been placed in.  The first thing that I notice is that it smells…well clean is one word for it.  Disinfectant. It assaults the nose alerting me to the fact that I’m definitely not in my room nor am I in any place that’s familiar.  I’ve been in Dr. Thompkin’s clinic before.  She used disinfectant, but it didn’t smell like this.   The bed was…it wasn’t uncomfortable, but it wasn’t comfortable either.  There were rails on it.


Wetting my lips, I look down at the little clip that’s on my finger and the band around my arm. My eyes look towards everything tat I’m hooked up too and immediately I start to frown.  How did I get here?  Why am I here?  Most importantly my father’s voice steps in.  I can’t pay for this. What ever this is.  I start to slide up and one of the machines beeps and immediately the band around my arm starts to inflate tightening around it as my blood pressure is taken.

I also have a needle I my arm and immediately I start to want to pull at it.   I’m literally clawing at it when the someone appears at my door way.

“Jason,” she sounds alarmed not that I’m awake, that I’m like a feral cat trying to tear the needle out.

The woman steps quickly to my side pushing me back down forcefully, but gently.  “It’s okay. It’s okay.”  Staring up at the woman my eyes were quite wide, wild even.

Then started talking.  It wasn’t a Charlie Brown moment no, nothing like that, instead it sounded distant and far away.  Her eyes remained focused on mine as she spoke and slowly the sound of her voice got closer to the point that I took in everything the said.

<i>Antibiotics.  Dehydrate.  Slightly malnourished. </i>

I listened to everything Dr. Thompkins had to say the rapid rise and fall my chest slowly changing to nice steady even breathing.  My heart rate was down sadly the blood pressure monitor said that I was high risk, but I think we both know there’s a reason for that.

I also take in a few other things.

Unconscious for almost three days.  Exhaustion.  Concussion.  Bruising along the abdomen.  No permanent injury.  Take it easy.

Usually there’s a smile after that.  Something even if there’s a hint.  If I had to choose a word for the expression on Dr. Thompkin’s I would chose three.  First there was relief, but then it moved to regret.  Finally, she looked a bit grim.

“Where’s my mom?”

Don’t pull at it, boy.  Rip it off.  Be done with it.  Words of wisdom from my father.

“I want to see my mother.”

There was a moment of awkward silence that was broken by me.

“I know. I remember.  I’m not in shock, but I want to see her.”  I need to see her.

Had it been anyone else there might have been an argument, but there were no arguments. There was a moment of prolonged of silence between us before Dr. Thompkins acknowledged my request with a nod.  I would have to get checked out of course, but after all that was done I was officially granted my request.  It was better to acquiesce and grant the request.  The last thing anyone wanted was a scene, because there would be one.

It took a bit, because I wanted to clean up some.    I had been laying in bed for the better part of three days. I was a little sore, but I didn’t mind the pain. I didn’t complain. I didn’t want anything for it. Pain meant I wasn’t dead, but it also meant that I wasn’t doped up.

It took a little over thirty minutes, because I had to deal with the IV, but I got dressed in a gown and robe and slipped on those socks they give you.  Maybe I’ll be able to get a few pair out of them. They were pretty warm.

All and all I was taking it all in stride.  Shock..I don’t know.  Maybe it had arrived either way I slipped into the wheelchair when it arrived.  Not that I needed it, but I did not have a choice.  Concessions had to be made.  The hospital didn’t want to be liable if I happen to fall on their watch. What am I? A grifter?

However, it was Dr. Thompkins that wheeled me to where we needed to go. I didn’t have a problem with it. The employee from transportation started to pitch a fit, but I tugged on his shirt and give him sad eyes and told him that it was okay that Dr. Thompkins was a family friend, and this was a time for family.

It sounded better than I was going to go see my dead mom and the doctor was the only person I trusted in this place.  So, could he not be a shit about this.

See choices.  I can make them.

The trip to our destination was a long one.  It was also a silent one.  We really didn’t need to speak.  There wasn’t anything that needed to be said. We both knew what happened.  How many times, had I shown up at Dr. Thompkin’s clinic with my mother in tow?

No, there didn’t need to be words.  There was an understanding.  There was so many things that I could say, but to no one in particular.  Sorry, no poetry slams here.  Only the deep understanding that this was in the DNA of Gotham.  We were the center of the cancer.  All at once we were a symptom, cause and face of the cancer that continued to metastasize throughout the city.

So, no there were no words.  There was nothing there was silence as I was wheeled from one corridor to the next.  The transportation representative was there with us just in case.  We stepped onto the elevator and went down.  Down. Down. Down to the depths of the hospital to the last place anyone wanted to go.   Any normal person, but these weren’t normal times were they.

Upon reaching the basement the doors open and I was pushed out until we reached our destination.

Strange that we were here and not at the coroners.  I suspect the doctor had something to do with this.   One less body for the police to worry about. It had been three days. It probably luck that she wasn’t ashes in box yet.

Not cynical. Just practical.  Maybe that’s worse?

When the door was open the attendant looked towards Dr. Thompkins.   He was expecting us so there was no discussion about why a patient was here.  Truth be told this was no the first time that I have done this.

My eyes shifted left than right before I was on the move again towards the room where I could view the body.  The door was opened, and I held up my hand.  I was capable of standing.

No words, they were unnecessary.  It moved to my feet and stepped inside of the room.  Dr. Thompkins made a move, but I shook my head.   I needed a moment.  She didn’t push she let the door close.   Once it clicked I turned towards the gurney that my mother had been placed on.

The sheet had been turned down already.  I want to say she looked peaceful, but she didn’t.  There wasn’t anything physically out of place. It’s just that her eyes. I couldn’t see them.  There was no smile.  She was gone.   This truly was nothing more than a shell.  At least that’s what it felt like.

Lifting my arm to press a finger to the corner of my eye I rubbed at it while releasing the air from my lungs.

Reaching out I smoothed out her hair shutting my eyes letting the air in the room settle.  Slowly I began to bob my head to the guitar rift that plays in my head followed by the bass line.

”The deception with tact, just what are you trying to say, you’ve got a blank face, which irritates. Communicate, pull out your party piece, you see dimensions in two, state your case with black or white. But when one little cross, leads to shots, grit your teeth, you run for cover so discreet, why don’t they.<

Don’t forget the hip shake.

”Do what they say.  Say what you mean.  One thing leads to another.  You told me something wrong I know I listen too long, but then one thing leads to another.

Outside of the room Dr. Thompkins waited leaning against the wall next to the door.

“Is he?”  The attendant and the transportation tech looked at one of another then towards Leslie who didn’t open her eyes. She nodded twice the continued to bob her head to the sound of the singing coming from behind the door.

Postcards from Gotham: Bad Reputation

Postcards from Gotham: Bette Davis Eyes or Hate. Love. Loss.

Synopsis:  Jason “Jay” Todd finds himself in a situation not of his own making.  He finds himself having to pay for his mother’s addiction.  During the ordeal Jason considers hate and love when it comes to his parents.  Despite the pain and the insanity of trying to help his mother break her addiction Jason holds on to the fact that his love for his mother will always win out over the hate he feels for her at time.  However, love does not always prevent loss.

Have you ever had one of those moments, not a regular a moment, not one when the world spins and spins and spins like it normally does.  No, that’s not the moment I am referring to. I referring to one of those moments when the world slows down and everything seems to be running in slow motion.  Definitely not a running across the fields slow motion moments.   There are no fields in the East End, at least not in my part of town unless you count the fields of concrete covered in shattered and broken glass.   There are no clear pools of water that people gather around.

There’s the river, but everyone can see the river and if you can stand the mild stench its something. The most we can hope for is the pools of oil and antifreeze that you do your best to avoid less you want to stain your shoes.  There’s the occasional clusters of chunky vomit, but no that’s what people come to the East End to write home about. It’s the crimson pools of copper goodness that gathers in all different ways. Typically it finds its way from an open wound from a body, but there are those rare days when someone can find themselves covered it in in a spray the result of a deal gone wrong or right.  Depends on if your on the right end or business end of the gun.  Them again given the fact that this is Gotham guns might not even be involved.

There’s a movie called the Purge that talks about free for all crime for one night, but honestly before someone dreamed that up there was the East End even more there was Crime Alley, but I’m getting ahead of myself.   I was supposed to be focusing on a moment.  A moment where it all slows down and you ask yourself how this happened?  How did I get here?

Not really. I know how I got here.  I know what happened.  My mom happened.  God, I love here, but I hate her to.  Is it horrible for sons to hate their mothers?  Oh let’s get one thing clear I hate my father too so the hate is pretty evenly spread.

Now I will admit it, hate is a strong word and when I attended church I was told that I should strive never to hate someone, but to understand them.  People also believed that it was bad luck to kill a man or woman of the cloth.  Tell that to the chalk outlines in from of the to the pastor at Triple E , East End Episcopalian.  Not that I’m Episcopalian.  You take the word where you can get it.  At least that’s what my mom’s friend said.

However, back to the point at hand.  Hate.  Yes. I hate my mother. Yes, I hate my father, but let’s get it straight it’s not constant hate.  It’s not hate for breakfast, lunch and dinner and snacks in between. It comes and goes in waves.  Right now, I’m riding a wave hate right to the shore.

Let’s face it parents and children have complicated relationships.  I’m not alone.  I just happened to be focusing all the hate and rage at my mom. It’ll pass, probably after I pick myself off the ground literally.

“Is he humming,” someone asks.   Yes, I am.  I’m humming Kim Carnes’ Bette Davis Eyes.  Why?  Because why not. The soundtrack of my life happens to be songs of the 80s courtesy of my mother.  That’s not something I hate her for, because there were some kick ass tunes from the 80s, but right now I kind of feel like the song is pretty fitting.

Also, I should be honest with myself I hate the situation more than my mom.  I keep telling myself that I should leave, that I shouldn’t look back.  Not until she’s ready to put us first instead of the pills.  The pills are killing her instead of helping her.  Once upon a time they were, but now.  Now they’ve become here life.

That’s what I hate. The obsession. The blind need and the inability to break it.  I hate the weakness its created.  Something that was supposed to help has turned her into a bit of a monster yet one that’s left the woman that introduced me to Eurythmics, Blondie, Kim Carnes, The Fixx, Benatar, Heart, Bon Jovi, Boy George, and so many others, haunted.

That’s what I hate.

I feel like crap, but that’s because someone’s been using my gut for target practice, but it’s my own fault (not really), but I should have been on the look out for Johnny and his crew.

Told your mom that the pills weren’t free, Jay.  Stealing isn’t tolerated. Sadly, I couldn’t find he,r so you’ll have to do. Question is does she get a warning or does she get a message.  You know.  Hood style.”

That’s what they told me before they dragged me into the alley.  I didn’t notice much about the people across the street. I was too focused on my surrounding attempting to figure out how I was going to get out this one.  They really didn’t need to drag me into the alley, we could totally do this on the street.  In the street, in the alley it didn’t make a difference.  Blood would spill, bones would be broken.

It was going to be a hell of a night.  I can already imagine what happened.  She went to see Johnny, had nothing to offer him, nothing of monetary value, so junkies do what junkies do.  Whatever it was, he probably gave her at best one or two pills.  She must have taken more.

His fault for letting her in.  He knew what he was getting.  When someone needs their fix, they’re going to do whatever they can to satisfy it.

Not that it mattered.  She was no where to be found so of course they get the next thing better.  Shake me down for my lunch money that I don’t have.  I get free lunches cause that’s how I roll.   These days I’m doing what I can to make it from one day to the next.   Right now, I’m trying to see a way out.  If it was one on one I would be out of this, but it’s a little more than that.  Must have heard about the last time.

Bernie got a broken nose.  Bran got a broken arm. He got physical. I got physical back, but no such luck.  I could struggle, put up a fight, but that would encourage them to guarantee my cooperation and I rather be conscious as long as I can.  Sure, I don’t look like much and my father always said I was a little too thin. I have the waist of a twelve-year-old girl.  He used those exact words.

See hate.  It comes naturally, flowing from him to me, but thinking about him right this second probably wasn’t the best thing to do.  Not because it’s not right to think or talk ill of the dead. More like wasted energy.  Better to focus on what’s about to happen next.

”Excuse me is everything okay here?”

What the whiskey tango foxtrot just happened?  It was a voice that I was not familiar with.  Of the six of them that were here to beat the price of the pills out of me, two glanced up to see if there was anyone above us.  Seriously from all the stories I’ve heard that’s never how that piece of business goes down. Also, I don’t have that kind of luck either.

Johnny ever the class act answered with a nice profanity laden response.  Basically, telling whoever to mind their business.  If they knew what was good for them.  Let’s face it, thugs rarely deviate from the script. It’s in the thug handbook.

That’s how it started, and truthfully that was enough to turn most would be good Samaritans around.  Whatever courage they gather dissipated especially when there were more than one individuals involved.

George the largest of the group decided to move on the silent command that was given heading towards the mouth of the alley, the source of the voice, to investigate.  He disappeared into the darkness, but what came after were not the yells and screams of whoever it was instead it was George.  There were grunts and I was pretty sure I heard a yell. It might been a scream followed by.

“He tried to tear my throat out! What kind of freak…”  It was as far as he got before the hulking man came crashing back into the light.

That was enough to cause the others to tense up.  The two that were holding me relaxed their grip as everyone went on the defensive.  Of course, it also meant that guns were coming out.  I could either stay down or I could take the opening.

Someone raised their gun and out of the darkness came a knife that hit him right in the shoulder.  The gun went off, but that was in response to the knife strike.  This was headed down hill fast.   Time to take that opening.

I wriggled away and the moment I got free I took the opportunity to extricate myself from the situation, because shots were fired in the direction of where the knife came.  One of Johnny’s crew tried to stop me from leaving, but it only resulted in me flipping him over my shoulder and twisted his arm.

You learn things. You learn what to do and what not to do.  It was just all instinct at the moment, but I didn’t linger.  I started to run towards the wall doing a bit of tic-tac-toe move to vault up reached the ladder of fire escape.  Pulling myself up I made my way up and looked back for only a moment.   The shots stopped, they were listening for anything, but I saw something move out of the darkness and for the briefest of seconds I saw the person look up towards me, but then towards Johnny and the others.

I didn’t.  I continued up the fire escape, so I could go up and over and put some distance between me and them.   I don’t know what was going to happen didn’t care at the moment.  There are some things I’m better not knowing.   The entire time Betty Davis Eyes continued to play through my head. My own personal streaming service as I crossed the roof to the other side of the building.

Pride of Gotham:  Mister Blake’s Neighborhood

Pride of Gotham: Mister Blake’s Neighborhood

Synopsis:  Thomas meets with an associate from the law firm that his family does business with to make a purchase in the East End of Gotham.  The associate finds the location of the purchase bewildering despite the fact that Thomas assures her that it’s for a legitimate endeavor.  Towards the end of their meeting Thomas takes notice of a situation that he feels requires his attention.


This was something different. At least that’s what Thomas told himself while he walked through the building.  He glanced around considering everything he had been told.  He wanted to be elsewhere, but right now there was business to take care of.   Things that needed to be done.  Life needed to be live.  He didn’t need to see Mason to hear.  The sounds of her heels crossing the floor along with the scent of her perfume told Thomas exactly where she was it.

He was standing near the entrance having already passed through.  He wanted to meet with Nyah, but she sent her associated to work with him. It seemed that she had other business that needed to be taken care of.

“This is…”  She started.

“Is what I want. I want the entire building.  Bottoms fell out a long time ago. Taxes are what they are. I’ll handle it. The bank wants to offload it.  They want it off their books.  Doesn’t look good to hold pieces of land like this in East End,” he reminded her.

“And you do?”  She glanced at him.

“May I remind you that Ms. Richards is not in the habit of involving herself in criminal enterprises, Mister Blake. I understand that your family has long standing ties with the firm, but we rather avoid problematic individuals if we can.”

Thomas took no offense.  It’s not like he hadn’t had his fair share of run ins with the law, but he wasn’t looking for that type of legal representation.

“I requested Nyah’s assistance, because she’s good at what she does.  The firm that you work for has always done right by my family.”  Not something that he opted to talk about, but this was different.

“This is a legitimate acquisition.   I’m sure you’ve heard many things, but I assure you that I do not intend to involve the firm in anything that would damage their reputation.”  Though doing business with him, probably already did that, but some ties can never be broken.

“I looked over several properties and this one best suits my needs.”  Thomas went as far to wear a suit which he normally did not do even when meeting with one of the legal eagles from the law firm.  He had several meetings with several different realtors, but it took some time to find the right one, the one that would bring him where he wanted and get the information as quickly as he desired.

“I will admit, that I’m a bit confused as to why you would want to purchase a building in this area. Surely the Diamond District or someone where in between.  The assets that you’ve maintained would lend itself to an area of better opportunity,” the associated counseled.

Her choice of words made Thomas smirk.  That was cute she was trying to help guide him in the right direction.  Investment in this area was like dropping stacks of bills into a money hole.

“Perhaps, but the intended purpose of this place wouldn’t do me any good in those areas.  Besides I tend to avoid the old stomping grounds.  People get nervous and I don’t feel right there.”  He only went into the Diamond District if he had too.  He went in search of information and he got it.  Perhaps he went further than most would suspect, and he wasn’t hanging around a bar, but he didn’t need booze at the moment.  He had other things to take care of, other things to do.

He took some time to himself just to drift about.  See what the fall out was, and it had already started.  So, Thomas did what he felt was necessary.

Olivia Mason would not go so far to say that she was impressed by the by Thomas Blake, she would say that she was confused. Many had described him as a bit unhinged, but then again, they did live in Gotham and one person’s unhinged was another’s sane.  Given the number of individuals that he could be compared with there were worse individuals, but then again this was the first time she met with Mister Blake.  The only thing that seemed a bit out of the ordinary was he wanted to purchase a building in one of the worst areas in Gotham.

One had to be skeptical about the area.

She glanced at Thomas while she continued to tap on her tablet sending through a few emails.

“You would like to put in a bid then.  You could do that through the realtor.”  She reminded him.

“Yes, but the funds that I want to use for this project are Blake family funds and that requires me to involve the attorneys.”  It was something that he established to prevent himself from doing something foolish which was always possible given his inclinations from time to time.

“I would like to place the bid, and I want you to work with the realtor.  In addition to that I want know everything about this building.  Everything I can about the surrounding buildings. I want to know who my neighbors are and I rather that you put the firm’s resources to work at doing so.”  He could look into it, but it would probably send the wrong kind of message.  Again, this was supposed to be legitimate.

It was true that he took jobs whenever they arose, but right now this was something that needed his attention.

Wetting his lips Thomas stepped through open room that stood near the front of the building looking out into the street.

“It’s going to take some time.  I’m going to have to see what can be saved and what can’t.  What fits and what doesn’t.”  It was going to take time, and while he did have resources, he didn’t want to squander it all.  He wanted it done right.

“Are you planning on flipping this,” Olivia queried.  “There are better properties that would move faster than this one, Mister Blake.   The only kind of people that would be interested in property here are…”

“Are?”  Interrupting her Thomas turned to face the woman.

“Criminals?  Unsavory?   Thieves?  Killlers?  Insane?  Oh, wait I know.  Undesirable.”   Did that make him insane? Did that make him a killer?  “Dangerous.  Unstable?”   He took a step towards her tipping his head ever so slightly.
“Those kinds of people are spread all throughout the city, Ms. Mason.  I’m sure you were aware of that.  The city is also filled with other kinds of people.  Desperate.  Downtrodden.  Hard working.  Down on their luck who can’t help where they live. They see no way out, can’t figure a way out. Circumstances stand in the way preventing them from doing with some can, but they keep trying. And sometimes the two are not mutually exclusive.”   He shrugged.

“The cracks in Gotham can be as wide as the largest of canyons.  One or two people don’t slip through them, dozens.  Those people are here too and the only choice they see are the ones they’re presented with.  If all people are given is trash, then they’ll start to accept the trash.   Sometimes it’s not enough to offer someone a way out, sometimes you have to be the way out.  Sometimes you have to be an alternate choice for those with limited options.”

He stopped short of bumping into her.  “Even if it means that you have to make some a little uncomfortable from time to time.”  With a smirk he turned away stepping back towards the window.

“I know the process. I know the length of time it takes.  I also know that retainer your firm is paid should help expedite the process.   Please do put your best foot forward.  I rather enjoy doing business with you all.

“Think of it as doing your part to give back.”

Olivia almost scoffed at the statement.  “From what I was told.  You are neither a good or nice man, Mister Blake.  Are you trying to turn over a new leaf?”

Thomas chose not to turn towards her.  Instead he looked through the jagged pieces of glass of the broken window as several older kids dragged another into the nearby alley across the street.

“Never claimed to be a good man.   Far from nice.  Truth be told, good people in Gotham tend to die.  Nice people forgotten.”  Walking over towards the door he pushed it open.   “I’m far from dead and I tend to make an impression of some kind apparently.”  He let the door close behind him heading across the street.

“Told your mom that the pills weren’t free, Jay.  Stealing isn’t tolerated. Sadly I couldn’t find her so you’ll have to do. Question is does she get a warning or does she get a message.  You know.  Hood style.”

There was going to be a message, but not the ones this little gang was hoping for.   What was it about being good or nice?  Maybe he would ask them when this was all over.

Pride of Gotham sounds like a good name. It will probably get mocked, but it sounds nice.  It was what was going through Thomas’s mind as he disappeared into the alley to be a “nice” prospective neighbor.