“Helloooooo, Gotham. It’s me. Everyone’s favorite Clown Prince of Chaos. Bringing you another installment of ‘Gotham: This is your Life.'”
As it has been each time that the Joker’s image has appeared on televisions across Gotham, the scene is a grim one. Certain television shows will of course censor what is seen, but even still they’ll give their warnings of it being ‘Not for the Faint of Heart.’ With their little television ratings suggesting not to let children remain in the room. They’re right to do so of course. Keeping the children from being scarred for life by what is becoming an increasingly grisly view.
Talia al Ghul is beautiful by nearly any reckoning. Her features are that of genetic perfection. One might never look upon her and guess her age. At one time her skin was a state of perfection. Such that one would never guess at her real life-style. A testament of her ability, that her skill a fighter would allow her to navigate her life with hardly a single blemish to mark failure. Such is no longer the case. Her dress is now that of tatters. Leaving very little to the imagination if one were wondering about Talia’s figure. Those curves are easily made out now, what with her having been moved from a chair to being tied upright to a table. Her hands and feet splayed open in order present the woman as a target.
As the camera pans back it is all too easy to see that the surface she has been bound to is actually standing upright. With the Joker next to it. Blood mars the otherwise perfect face and body of the Princess. With each inch put upon display by the camera, it is easier and easier to see the woman’s peril. From the ball-gag preventing her from proper speech, to the cuts and scrapes lining her body from being the targetof every implement thrown at her. Of which there is plenty. Because apparently Talia has spent the time between broadcasts being the object of a game of darts.
Except that the darts range everything from actual darts, to throwing stars, daggers and that looks like an axe embedded in the wood just above her right ear. Her body on display making an excellent target as it’s been slowly exposed as her evening gown was cut away by more than a couple near misses. Those scars though.. those are from the not-so-misses.
“Christmas has come and gone. A new year has rung in. Yet still we have no answer to the one question plaguing our fair City.”
“I know, I get it. I do. It’s been a troubling quandary. Many of you didn’t even know he was gone. What with the game of pretend his sycophants play. Others of you were helpless. Sheep. Who looked to the Bat for protection. Now you’ve been left in a City of Sheep. Made all the more dangerous by the ‘Demon’ and his Goons combing the City.”
“Yes, yes. I know. I understand. I empathize with your pain. We’ve had someone taken from us. Someone dear to our hearts. Fear not, dear Gotham. I, the Joker, understand your pain and seek to find a way through this darkness for us all. But as my dear old friends at Arkham always said, true progress must begin with accepting your guilt.”
“Someone in Gotham took him from us. Whether you’re the one who did it,” a hand pumps the ‘wheel’ and sends Talia’s torture rack spinning in circles. “Or you simply know who did. You can come forward. Tell us who took our Batsy away. That’s all we really want. Isn’t it? A chance to know who took him from us.”
“Which is why we’re here. Now. With the Demon’s Spawn. She did not take our Bat from us, but her Father. A man who seeks to remain in the shadows. The Demon’s Head. Not merely the rambling of a demented psychopath, but an honest to goodness, immortal in our midst. He holds the answers. He can step from the Shadows and tell us what we need to know.”
“Gotham. I do not do this to force you to huddle in your homes. Scared. Alone. Afraid of the shadows that the Demon sends out among you. No. I do this to take back what we’ve lost with the Batman’s passing. To give us a chance to find what’s been taken from us. Join me. Fight Back against the Shadows. Stand up. Raise your fists and say…
“Who killed the Batman!?”
“Ra’s, baby. Tick-tock. Your time is almost up. If you act now, your baby girl can sign up for a Tweety Page and join the #MeToo movement.” Stepping away, so that the Cameras can once more pan to the clown disguised thugs and the other beautiful woman with pig-tails. Each of whom are happily playing their game of Darts with Talia’s life. “Otherwise. I’m afraid our next game is going to be a little more…”
Boss! Hey, Boss. There’s a problem. Dewy tripped and dropped the flame-thrower… it’s broken.
“… what?! Rats. How are we going to play Roasted Rumpus without a flame-thrower?!”
… well there’s still the pirahna tank, Boss…
“…pirahna? I asked for sharks…”
They were all out down at the pet-store.
“Oh. Bother. Well Gotham. It looks like we’re going to have take off those advertisements for Shark Week. Instead you’re going to get to see a Demon’s Bitch, fed to Pirahna. This is your last chance, Gotham. Our next big broadcast will be the last. A season finale for the ages. Who needs sharks anyway…”
It all started as a Joke. ‘Who killed the Batman?’
Getting the current news in Arkham Asylum was a little tricky by even the best of standards. Unless you’re connected or crazy or both. In my case it’s surely all of the above. A guard thought it was funny. His laughter was curious, confusing. Was someone other than me making them laugh? Unthinkable. How wrong I was. How terribly wrong. The orderlies were only to happy to share the dish, after all how often were they ever going to get the opportunity to torment the Clown Prince of Crime? That’s not the natural order of things.
Batman is Dead. Someone killed the Bat. He’s gone. No one has seen him for months.
It was all a cruel joke right? How could he be dead? How could be gone? Unthinkable. No one else was his equal. No one else challenged him the way I did. Took him to the brink as often as I. How could anyone do what I’d not done? Mind you, I’d chosen not too. So how could someone have done it, without my permission? Don’t they know? Don’t they understand.
They would. Oh, they would all understand soon enough. I started with Manny. The orderly on Mondays. He likes to bring my fruit cup open and missing some slices. We don’t talk about Manny the Orderly. No one does. They talk about the Black Mask. He’s where I went next. His breakout of the Asylum was opportune. For me. Less so for him. I’d tell you to ask him, but you’d have to get him to stop screaming after I peeled the skin off of his face and dribbled acid on his balls, while he dangled from them in the Gotham Cathedral.
From there I started with the Mobs. The Russians were an easy target. Oh, I knew right away they didn’t know anything. How could they? The tracksuit jerks barely know their own name, but they had connections. Fingers in the Pie that is Gotham’s Underworld. They lead me to who was next. Now the Irish? They knew a little. Not because they knew who killed the Batman, but because they knew who didn’t. Those poor schmucks knew who lacked the balls to put their heads out. I think we left one or two of them alive, ol Punch-Face and I. Hey! Team-Up with the Red Hood wasn’t bad. It lasted about a week.
By the time I’d moved on to the Italians? Well. You might say that the Mobsters were scared. My old Buddy, Carmine. He was really the first to even try to answer the question. Who killed the Batman? ‘Who cares ya dumb clown? All that matters is that he’s gone! We can run this town again, ya mook. Oh, Carmy. That’s kind of what your Mother said. ‘I dunno where Carmine is, that bum, at least he’s gone.’ Okay. I’m lying. I think she would have said that. If I’d let her speak before I cut her throat. I didn’t need her to talk, I needed to pose. Dead and Naked. So that Carmine could see the photos of his dear old Mum. Because -then- he’d try to answer the question. The real question. Because these guys are chumps, they couldn’t kill the Batman. They can barely tie their own shoes. No, no. I’m not tearing through them because I think they have any real information about who actually killed the Batman.
I’m doing this because they’re all Happy he’s gone. Because they each have a crumb, on their dirty lips from sampling the Pie. A pie they had no right to touch because Batman should be here denying them. One by one the Gangs of Gotham answer my questions. Little by little I make my way up the latter. Until I finally start to get the attention of the people who matter…
The fat little son of a bitch tries to fake looking happy to see me. Greeting me to his Iceberg Lounge, while silently signalling for his troops to setup in hopes of stopping whatever insanity they think I’m up too. None of them even know. Not one of the bystanders. None of the Goons working for Penguin. Maybe not even Cobblepot himself has a clue. I’m not here for them.
I’m here for Her. The beautiful long legged woman, with the furs and the pearls. Eyes that are as deep as the emerald pools of Ireland. She seems as if she is draped across the booth, like a stolen fur. So many of the customers that this little Casino welcomes look upon her and think ‘What I wouldn’t give for ten minutes.’ How many of them believe they’re looking upon the Penguin’s highest paid callgirl. Not one of them understand the pecking order here.
You see. My War upon Gotham? It began with Black Mask. It spanned the racial divide. They were simply stepping stones. Putting my House in Order, because anyone. Anyone who thinks Gotham is anything but my House, in the absence of the Bat, is just plain stupid. It doesn’t belong to the Bat’s pidgeons. Not to GCPD. Nor the Waynes and Elites. This City was the Bat’s. It was the Bat’s and mine. Mine to torment, to tease, to tinker with. Mine to test and harden. To bring to the brink, to the very edge of Chaos….
Ahhh. Joker. Why the long face? Have you lost your smile? Well, you’ve come to the right place to get it… -squawck!-
If I were aiming at killing the Penguin. He’d already be dead. They’d all be dead. I’m not here for him. I’m not here for the money. I’m not even here for the people. I’m here for her. The ‘High Priced Callgirl’ that everyone lays eyes on, but no one even has the cajones to ask for a moment of her time. Oh, I’m sure she’s good. Hell, she is probably the best there is. If only she knew, that I knew. If only she understood the pieces of the puzzle, that I’d put together in no particular order. She’d know that she was in danger and she’d react. The truth? Even with the Tweedles and Harley, the whole gang and a host of Venom. I’d have to be lucky to get a minute of her time before -she- killed me.
If only she knew, that Carmine Falcone’s last words to me before I beat him nearly to death with his own mother’s Walker. ‘Talk to Talia al Ghul, she knows! For the first time since hearing the joke that made the Orderlies laugh. I smiled. The Daughter of the Demon surely knew the Joke and if she didn’t she’d lead me to who does. If only she’d known, I wasn’t there for Cobblepot. I was there for her. She’d surely have put up a bigger fight than she manages when my joy-buzzer electrifies the whole booth she’d sitting in.
That’s why I smiled. I like my Demon Daughters a little southern fried.
“Wakey wakey little Demon.”
The room is dark, except for the light. A spotlight no less. Shining down from on high. Framing Talia al Ghul upon stage. She is still in her night gown from the Iceberg Lounge. It is difficult to mar her beauty. But you have to ask yourself. Why would you? She is as naturally beautiful as she is gifted. She has also been out cold for several hours. Such is the effects of being electrocuted unceremoniously. One needn’t take the chance. You understand, of course? Getting in to a fight with the Daughter of the Demon is risky business. She’s as well trained as anyone in the world. Possibly better. Few are her equal. I am certainly not.
Not in a fair fight, I should say. Life and I share in common that simple lack of fairness though.
….oookuurr…. ahhhh wulll…. kuuul… uuuu..
“What was that? Wait. Wait just a minute Talia. Hold on. I’m sure one of the Tweedles speaks ballgag-ese. Probably the Fat one. He’s a pervert.”
There’s nothing elaborate about Talia’s situation. Only Batman was worthy of my ‘Best Stuff.’ The gags, the frills. Death Traps. Mmm. How I am going to miss those! Alas, I have only Talia. While perhaps more deadly than ol’ Bateye. She’s missing a certain panache. You know what I mean? She’s all glamour on the outside, but on the inside what do I have to work with? Really, when you get right down to it, Talia is only a stand-in because of one simple, undeniable fact: While she may be the Demon’s daughter, she was the Bat’s bitch.
Don’t believe me? It says so. Right there. On the sign hanging behind her on the stage. In very glittery letters. Which all of Gotham is seeing. Right about Now. Given that I made sure to send the film to every major news station in New Jersey. Home of Gotham City. The Biggest Harbor in the Continental United States.
“Ladies and Gentlemen. Boys and Girls. Children of all Ages. Wait. Don’t turn that dial. We’ve got a whacky show in store for you today. It’s a little something called… Gotham: This is Your Life. Starring your’s truly. The Joker. With a capital T. You know the networks. Oh, you’re probably thinking… another terrible pilot episode. Damn those big networks. But today we’ve got a gen-u-ine hum-dinger of a show for you. My special guest tonight is none other than the Daughter of the Demon. Oooooooh. Scaryyy.”
Pulling back Talia’s lulling head, with a fist full of her hair one of the Tweedles is sure to get a good camera shot of the way I’m playing a knife along her throat. It’s easier to see once I let it bite in enough to draw a line of blood.
“Daughter of the Demon you say? Why yes. Her name is Talia al Ghoul. Daughter of Rhas al Ghul. The most terrible, deplorable, dispicable… actually I kinda like the guy. I’m getting all wet in the pants, just talking about him. It’s a shame. A SHAME. That I’m going to gut his daughter like a goddamned fish.”
“… a fish…”
“That’s right. Boys and Girls. You stay tuned right here. To good Old Gotham Central. For round the clock updates. Because you see? Demon Boy You have until the end of the week. THE END OF THE WEEK. To tell me. To exchange your daughter. For the one or ones who killed my best friend. My Batsy-baby. My Bellfry-bouncing bungalo. Oh. ooohh… or I’m going to start with Talia. Then I’m going to move on to the rest of your little Boys Club for Shadows.. until I’m skull-fucking you, yourself, Demon.”
“Bring me. Batman’s Killer. Or the whole world Burns.”
My hand covers the Camera, pushing it and the holder to the ground, so that you can see the dagger in my hand sliding down and in to Talia’s nightgown, slicing it away from perfect olive skin. “Na na na na naaa will Talia al Ghul live to see tomorrow? Will the League of Shadows tear Gotham apart to find her? Will I suckle from the teet of the Batman’s bimbo? …. tune in tomorrow. Same bat-time. Same bat-channel.”
“Cut! Print. Send to production…”