Postcards from Gotham: American Woman

Postcards from Gotham: American Woman

Synopsis:  Faye Gunn, foster mother extraordinaire,  stops in Harper Row’s shop to have a old gaming console repaired.   Harper supplies her with a working gaming console and several more games that she had before.  Faye advises that she will come by with one of her folder children to drop of her television for Harper to repair.



People visiting Harper happened often given her reputation. Whether they got in to see her was another story. When the van pulled in front of her shop a few people took notice as it was definitely more than a few years old. It sounded like it was in needed of new muffler. It was one of the stops that the owner was going to be making today, but this was a more important stop given the information that had been shared with her since she set out in search of a young boy that seemed to be quite adept at hiding in plain sight it seemed.

Opening the door she stepped out looking around while drawing her coat together.  Clearing her throat she shut the door behind her before moving around to the opposite side of the passenger van.  Opening the door she lifted a box up.  She moved well, but it was a lot to maneuver.

“I got it ma’am.”  A young boy  wearing a boy scout uniform ran over to shut the door for her.

“Thank you, young man.”  She smiled over at him while she walked over towards the shop. He opened the door for her while she walked in with the box in her hands and her purse hanging off her arm.  She gave him a nod stepping into the shop looking around tipping her head to the side for a moment looking for the proprietor.

“Hello.”  She called out taking another step inside her eyes gazing along the shelves before setting the box down upon the counter.  The door was open so they had to be open.   Hopefully.  It was the Narrows.

Opening her purse she reached in to retrieve a piece of candy while she waited.



Harper Row sat at the larger of her two work stations in the hidden rear section of her shop. She had intended to begin working on one of her many pending projects, but then as they say the rhythm got her. So instead she found her hands moving in a faux rhythmic drum movement of the music blasting over old school book box that presently sat in the corner of the shop and all but ignoring the monitors for the front room. The goggles intended for use with a welding torch swung forward and back again as Harper moves her chest ever so slightly with the movement of the song she had found herself truly enthralled with.

“Twenty..twenty four hours to go….”

Harper continued to mime the minimal but no less potent drum portion of the song despite having not a single drumstick on hand, the long slender wrenches would have to suffice for now. Spinning one of the tools in her fingers she finds it slipping from her grasp and sailing into the air. A sound best described as the mournful cries of a heartbroken and possibly randy gibbon escapes her lips as she scrambles to catch up to the rogue wrench.

Her distress can only rise as the wrench strikes the boom box sending it teetering back and then over to fall to the floor the music it produced ending far to abruptly for her taste. Waking over to inspect the damage she stops as her eyes catch site of the monitors for the outer room. Taking a few short steps to the laptop the monitors were linked to Harper zooms in on the older woman in what some might call. A lobby, but only if they were being nice.

Tapping the microphone icon on the laptop Harper begins to speak.

“Can I help you?”



The woman continued to look around pausing when she heard the sound of the girls voice across the intercom. Taking a step back she scanned the lobby turning her attention to any cameras she might come upon.

“Hello there.” She waved.   “Perhaps. It all depends.”  She moved towards the box holding it up.  “I heard you’re a bit of a fixer and I have something called a Super Nintendo Entertaining System.” She shrugged.  “The fellow I bought it off of said it needs to be fixed. Most laughed when I set it down before them started talking about X Station and Playbox.”   She shook her head.

“Whatever those are.   All I know is that this was thirty dollars and if it’s salvageable then i would like to give it a shot for my kids.  I think they would like it. It would be a bit of a treat for them.  Could you take a look.  Let me know if it’s possible?”   Setting the box back down she stood there waiting.



“I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I couldn’t…”

Harper said in reply, then tapping the microphone icon again to mute her voice she moves to pick up a nearby broom. Snapping the dustpan free she takes a quick moment to sweep up the bits and pieces that her wicked wrench solo had caused to come loose from a clients boom box. She supposed that project had gone from competed to once more being on the pending list.

“Be right out.”

A moment passes and the door to the interior shop sides open following the sound of at least three locks disengaging. Stepping into the lobby Harper moves closer to Faye taking a moment to wipe her now gloveless hands against the grungy overalls she wore before offering one to her new client.

“Harper Row and you are?”



“Sounds like I’ve come to the right place then.”  A warm smile spread across her lips.  She did want to get this fixed up for the kids.  A bit of a reward for doing so well with their schoolwork and chores.  She seemed to be quite pleased with Harper’s responses.  Hopefully this won’t cost too much.  There was a budget that needed to be followed and she rather find a way to give the children something to enjoy without having to send them out to the arcade.  If they went to the arcade then they were limited in the number of games that they could play.

“Of course.”  She stepped through the lobby noting that it could use a good cleaning, but it is a workshop not a home, but a good cleaning could do wonders.

When the door opened and Harper came into view Faye offered a polite smile one that seemed familiar while she stepped towards the box.

“Well, look at you.”  She reached out to shake the young woman’s hand.  “Miss Gunn.  Most call me Ma Gunn.”  Releasing Harper’s hand she took a step back the other could take a look at what she had.

“So I take it you do well in your science and math classes.  STEM is what they’re calling it right?  Is that what you want to study when you go to school, engineering?”  She paused.

“Apologies for prying. I just find it refreshing to see young people so curious and interested in science and technology.  So many have no idea what they want to do or what even interests them.”



Harper moved to open the box the system sat in her movements careful and deliberate. Clearly she held the system in a high regard and knew just fragile an item she held. Taking the lid to the box and laying it on a nearby countertop , Harper places the Nintendo on the lid clearly to keep it from the grime of the actual counter.

“I wouldn’t know…”

She said in reply containing to work on accessing the inside of the system stopping just long enough to slide a pen light from a pouch on her chest. Clicking it on and aiming it inside inspecting the simple inner working a moment before looking back to Faye.

“Did you try blowing into it?”

Harper,s face remained impassive and without emotion for less then a second as a wide grin moved across her formerly serious features. Turning back to the system and again aiming the small but powerful light inside.

“I haven’t been in school for awhile Miss Gunn, life sort of demanded I pick it up on my own…”



Faye watched the young woman while she examined the item in question.  It was definitely second hand, but seemed to be clean enough.  It would power on, but it would not read the cartridges when one was placed inside.  “Yes.  The game box itself and the cartridge.  The person I purchased it from said that that might be required.   Something about older games being quite sensitive.” She shrugged.

“If I need to get my money back then I will have to undertake that task, but I think it still has some life left in it.  So I thought best to bring it into a repair shop.  I’ve heard that you had a bit of a magic touch. I was in the area, so I thought I would pop in and see what you would say.”  She moved towards Harper watching as she worked a bit.

“Well, that’s unfortunate.  I gather you’re a bright young lady.   Hopefully someone appreciates your talent, but I understand.  Life doesn’t always unfold the way we would like.  We can either let it have its way with us or we adapt.  Though I do hope that if the opportunity of school presents itself that you will take it.  Sometime tells me that you would do quite well there and perhaps teach the school a thing or two.”  Faye might be buttering her up a bit just to get a good deal on a the price of a repair or she could be quite honest or a bit of both.

“I want my children to finish school. If it is not for them there is nothing that I can do about that, but they have the opportunity.  I don’t want them to ever think that it was not possible.  After they’ve graduated then they can make the choice to continue or not continue.  It was the promise I made to them. It’s also one of the rules.”  She smiled a little.

“Their my foster children.  They’re dears and monsters.  Their children.”  She laughed.   “I love each and every one of them.  We make due with what we can, but they have to do their part and I have to do mine.  Good home.  Meals. Clean clothes most of all, all the love and support I can give them even if it feels like I’m being the monster, because I won’t let them do whatever they want.”  She made a bit of a sound.

“Sorry.  One of my free days and I’m boring you with the prattle of old woman. I usually meet with my friends to play a few hands of poker or bridge.  They’re used to it.  I’ll let you get back to examining the game box.”



Clicking the pen light off with her thumb and placing it back into its spot in her grease stained overalls as she turned around to face Faye again. Moving to lean on her palms as they were placed behind her against the counter the system sat on. Harper listened quietly as the older woman spoke nodding a few times until she again paused.

“Ill give you a free pass this once I suppose..”

Jerking a thumb over her shoulder at the system.

“This I can fix in the time it takes me to grab something from the back room. It you have the right part and an obsession with old tech its not hard to repair at all.”

Harper had known the moment she had looked inside the system that it was truly screwed, but she also knew she had at least three working Nintendo, and a box of games her father had left behind somewhere in her workshop. It wasn’t as if he would be coming back for either item anytime soon, little time for games during thug time…



She looked towards Harper with a smile.  “Thank you.  Once I get going sometimes I don’t how to stop.” She chuckled shaking her head, but smiled when Harper said she had what she needed to fix the game.

“That would be fantastic.  You are a life saver.  I knew when I came in that you were the right person to speak to.  Miracle worker you are.”  She smiled over at the young woman.  “Perhaps I can pop again with another item, that’s been giving me a bit of trouble.   Television set.  Might have to have one of the boys come with me to carry the thing, but it’s been a bit twitchy.   I should really buy a new one, but it hasn’t gone out on me completely.”  It’s something that needed to get repaired.

Still, it’s possible that Harper had other work that she needed to do.

“Only if it wouldn’t be too much of a bother.  It’s my own set.  Had it for years actually.  Probably due for a new one, but I have to focus on our expenses.  Enough for a repair, but not a new one yet unless the repair is going to be quite steep. I might need to consider my choices, but the only way I’ll know is if have someone look at it first.”

Have to start somewhere.



“I don’t see why not…”

Turning from Faye and walking to the keypad alongside the door into her actual working area, Harper presses her thumb against a well worn and greasy biometric scanner. A moment passes before a series of sounds can be heard from the other side of the door. The moment the sounds stop and the locks cease opening the door itself slides into the wall to let Harper enter.

From within the shop Harper again speaks out to Faye.

“Give me a minute…five tops…it’s in here I swear..”

The voice comes across muffled and difficult to fully understand as Harper moves further into the shops interior searching for the needed device. The strange series of sounds emanating from within the room that Faye can hear now with the door open likely only add to the break down in communication.


Shouts Harper emerging back into the light of the outer waiting room with a sizable beaten and faded cardboard box, its contents clearly held in place with due to the liberally applied duct tape and the odd dinosaur sticker.

Harper sets the box down in front of Faye and steps back to allow the woman to look inside for herself.



“Splendid!  I will pop by in a few days to drop it off.   Pick it up in a few days.”  There was a schedule to keep.  Today was a bit different she had a bit of time to spare, but most days there was work to be done.  Faye’s lips curved into a warm smile at the prospect of getting her television repaired.  Now if she could get this gaming system fixed then everything would be perfected.

Of course, she would have to devise a schedule and perhaps the children would now be more inclined to do complete their chores and school work in a more-timely fashion.  She knew it wasn’t the latest and greatest, but it was better than nothing.

“No worries, dear.  Take your time.”  Far be it for Faye to rush the young one.  She seemed to know here way around electronics.  She watched her go in to what she could only assume was her workshop.  Interesting the precautions she took. It made Faye wonder if there was something dangerous behind the door, expensive perhaps.  They were in the Narrows and one never could be too careful.

While she waited, Faye walked the length of the front room counting to herself silently while taking another pass with her eyes while running her finger along the counter glancing at it few times before turning back towards the direction that Harper went when she cried out that she had located what she was looking for.

“Have you…”  Faye blinked several times stepping toward the box.  “What is this?”  She took another step until she was close enough to look inside of the box to see what was inside.

“Oh my…”   She glanced towards Harper then back into the box.  “This is quite generous.”



Harper waves off the comment about her generosity in as nice a fashion as she can muster, she didn’t want to appear dismissive. Stepping up closer to the box and leaning over to reach inside her hand grasps one of the games inside and pulls it out holding it up toward the dim light overhead. Tilting it to better catch the light her eyes light up as the label gains new clarity with proper illumination.

“Ikari Warriors…a true classic.”

She holds the cartridge up for a moment longer and with a brief sigh places it back into the box, her hand now free moves to slide into one of the side pocket of her overalls. From within she removes a card which she holds for for Faye to take.

“Just call ahead and I can make sure I’m about to let your kids in with the television.”



Whether she was waving it off or not, Faye, didn’t care.  She meant what she said.  This was quite generous and unexpected.  To provide this to her for the children.  It made Faye’s face light up.  It was far more games than she originally brought it.

When the game was brought up into the light Faye looked it over.  “I’ll be sure to mention that. Perhaps the children can teach me to play.  I’m sure I can keep up if not I’m sure there’s something in there that’s more my speed.” If not there was always cards right?

Reaching for the card she looked it over before she moved in to give Harper a good-natured hug.  “Oh, I know probably too much, but I can’t help it.”  She stepped back looking into Harper’s eyes.  “The children are going to absolutely love this.”  Faye transferred some of the games she had from her original box into the larger box.  No sense in carrying two of them.

Slipping the card away she nodded. “I’ll make sure to send them in and you have my word they will be well behaved. If not they know that I will be quite disappointed with them and they will be reprimanded appropriated.”   She did hate the word punished.

Slipping her arms around the box she lifted it up.  “If you could help me with the door.  I need to get this in the van. I have a present to wrap up.” She sounded positively giddy.



Harper nearly falls over herself when she realizes how truly terrible a person she was being. Running the two steps it takes for her to catch up and pass Faye she sweeps the box into her hands as gingerly as she is able.

“I got it, no problem.”

With that she turns and opens the door using her foot and then moves to take the box to Faye car.



With a smile Faye walks towards the door but Harper’s already pushing it open with her foot.  Walking towards the van she opened the passenger door so Harper could load the box inside.

“Thank you, Harper, for everything.”  She came in to get a repair and got more than she anticipated.  “Now, don’t linger to long it’s a getting nippy out. Oh..”  Before she forgot.  She reached into in her purse to get what she needed and pressed it into Harper’s hand.

“I think that should cover it for everything that you’ve done.”  She hoped eighty dollars would cover it. She felt it was fair.  Perhaps there could have been some more, but she moved around to the other side of the van before Harper could say anything.  “If it’s not enough let my boys know when I come by with the television and I’ll add a little more.”  She slipped into the van starting it up.

With a wave and a smile she shifted the van into gear and began pulling off from the curb with a light double tap on the horn.

Postcards from Gotham:  One Thing Leads to Another

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.