This Week’s Short Story (and rather early): “Tuesday’s Gone”
I’m doing something different this week, mostly because I didn’t wanna wait until Friday to post this. Yesterday, I was listening to a podcast of Kevin Smith about Batman (“Fatman on Batman”). His guest was Paul Dini, otherwise known as the creator of Harley Quinn. He’s done a lot more, and not for only Batman, but Harley’s probably getting chiseled on his tombstone. Anywho, toward the end of their podcast/commentary about “Batman: Mask of the Phantasm”, Paul Dini came up with a Batman story on the spot. Kevin Smith, and the rest of us, was so enthused by it that he asked his fanbase to flesh out that story. So I did. I finished it a lot quicker than most other stories (and it’s a lot longer than most other stories) because I had insomnia from knowing that I could get “Dark Knight Rises” in the morn. I finished the majority of it before sleep finally claimed me, then took care of the rest in the morn after I watched the special features of Nolan’s latest. Anywho, the story. Batman, Joker, and an average joe prepare for their day and their stories converge at some point. From that, I wrote “Tuesday’s Gone”. Thanks for reading.
A faint bell toll can be heard in this secret space of Wayne Manor. An old clock striking dusk, telling the residents that it’s time to continue The Long Defeat. But before the knight, his servant, and his companion can begin, he has to perform a ritual. On a crag, over darkness and underside, The Last Wayne stands. Eyes and ears closed to all, he remembers that night. He remembers the joy, he remembers laughter. As his observers wait behind him and he brings a gun to his head, he remembers death. Alfred puts a knowing hand on Cassandra’s shoulder as she takes a forgetful step forward. His Chiroptera brethren screech in what’s either a plea or a dirge. Eyes open, gun drops. The Last Wayne walks toward his cave, Alfred walks toward the gun with its well-worn case, and Cassandra looks at her titan with a smile in her heart. “Not tonight.”
Tabitha Allen gets a pillow smack to the face, waking up instantly. Her wife, Lauren, reminds her that she has work today. Tabitha thinks for a few seconds, then sits up and stares at the sun. Coffee for the light-sensitive. Tabitha asks if her students’ work was still in her briefcase. Lauren confirms as she reaches for her cellphone. They get up in unison, this sunny Monday, and begin their morning ballet. Tabitha takes a quick shower and is glad she cropped her hair. Lauren checks the cabinets and, declaring a lazy day, makes the biggest bowl of cereal she can muster. Tabitha checks the calendar, sees no red dot in her immediate future, and puts on her more sexy underwear. Lauren pours some of the cereal back in the box because there’s not enough milk and gets a text. Tabitha comes downstairs looking typically teacher as Lauren finishes her text. The share breakfast and Tabitha leaves for work at school on this great first day of Spring Break.
A foghorn blares near the horizon of the waterfront, but you can still hear the crying. Seagulls fight over the freshest piece of garbage, but you can still hear the crying. Crying that echoes throughout one of the harbor’s many abandoned warehouses. Crying from everyone’s favorite paleface in the lap of his lover-shrink. Recently, they were watching “Matrix Revolutions” and the subject of karma came up. They killed a scalper to borrow his phone so they could look it up. “Print is dead, puddin’.” Once they did, Joker was horrified. He’s been having so much fun with life, massacring and ballyhoo. “Is there a bailout for karmic debt?” The two put their heads together and realized two things. Harley needs new perfume and they need to balance the karmic scale before it’s too late. He figured that if he cried everyday, sadness would even out the happy at some point. “What’s sadder than a crying clown, Harl?” “Two…” His triggers lately have been Batman suddenly imploding in front of him and the eventual ending of “Doctor Who”. Harley figured that they should do one good deed a month. He cries too hard and throws up in her lap. His cries turn to gurgled giggles, bile still forcing its way up, as she gets a text.
Cassandra circles her dark knight as he feigns a punch. Both are clad in training rags. He goes for a sweep, foot squeaking on the padded mat, and she jumps. Being raised by the League of Assassins means being raised to kill, so she’s constantly being trained by Ra’s Downfall to be defensive. Alfred took it upon himself to teach her to speak, for murder was the only tongue she knew until Batman. “Master Wayne” made the mistake of calling Alfred an old biddy in front of her. “Biddy” sounds like “Batman” and neither man felt like taking away an assassin’s term of endearment. Batman chuckles about it sometimes when he’s driving. But not now. Now, he berates her for an attempted strike with a clawed hand. She keeps her eyes down but he orders her to look at him. “Fear no one. Not even me.” Flashes of her father, David Cain, appear. However, Batman is not David Cain and rage isn’t something the former tolerates. She fixates an honorable, steely gaze on her teacher and a clenched fist. She loves him. Alfred approaches the sparring area with the night’s dinner. He’s learned that, with her around, Master Wayne stopped caring about food with accented adjectives when they’re in the cave. Steak. Simply steak. And hers is medium-rare. He remembers the days she wanted her meat bleeding and sets the dishes on a bench.
Tabitha checks her phone for the nth time. She knows Wendy’s supposed to call her at three and she knows it’s 2:17… but you can circle a grocery store so many times. As she passes the deodorant aisle yet again, she realizes that she doesn’t need to be there at all. Unconscious guilt does wonders. She doesn’t want the two hours spent there to go to waste, so she bought a Charleston Chew. She wastes another half hour looking for her car even though she knows she parked under the third lamppost from the right. The one with the ugly sticker. At some point during the half hour, she dropped her candy bar. She thinks about what she did before she got to the store. Oh yeah, got gas. But wait. She had a full tank this morning. What did she… oh. She drove aimlessly for a long time. Even considered passing Blackgate. The radio said something about Black Canary and one of the Flashes visiting Gotham tomorrow. She wonders if she should ask Wendy to go see them. No, wait. Her wife. Wait, didn’t she have candy? Bzzt. Bzzt. “Come on over, baby ”
“Harley… why are we watching this?” “Ya promised, Mistah J! Ya promised that if I cleaned the troth and rebuilt the shelf and licked my elbow that we could watch it!” She somehow manages to lick her elbow. “Thee?” “Ok, ok… stop doing that.” “So we can watch it? Can we, can we?” “Ugh… well, I don’t have anymore lunch to lose…” “Yippee-yay! We’re gonna watch ‘Moulin Rouge!’!!” “What’s this about? Sounds French.” “Wassa mattah with a little culcha? Don’t be a meshuggah! We’re karmic now, we need the odd bit of pizzazz to lighten up this dump.” “I had a supre–” “PizzAZZ, puddin’.” “Oh. OH. Right, that thing with Oswald.” “Aw, ya remembah!” “You were there?” “I helped with the shellfish, ya big lug.” “Ha! The hives!” “Thanks for breakin’ intah that drugstore so I could get the medicine I needed back then. It was a little hard walkin’ straight because of the pain but–” “You’re the doc, not me. But back to this thing you conned me into.” “Oh yeah, I almost forgot! It’s about can-can dancers in–” “What’s a can-can?” “They’re courtesans.” “…whores?” “Culcha, Mistah J, culcha.” “Why didn’t you say we were watching one of THOSE? Fire it up, toots!” “Righteeo! Want me to do that thing ya like, hun?” “Not tonight.”
Still damp from their post-workout shower, Batman and Batgirl suit up. Alfred works at the Batcomputer, scanning police records of the day to plan the knights’ patrol. The two warriors put on their undersuits, a plain and black unitard. Instead of having multiple suits for various situations, Lucius was given the R&D money to build one all-purpose suit for both of them. Because of that, they’re incredibly hard to put on by oneself. They never ask each other for help, help simply falls into place. Cassandra felt the need to be difficult and demanded that hers laces up in the back instead of zips, so Batman has to help her. She’d be lying if she said she didn’t enjoy his hands on her back… but no one’s asked. Once the main suit gets on, they move to boots and gloves. She entertained the idea of wearing high-heeled boots but after falling down a week straight, she left femininity to Selena. She helps him buckle his boots and he pays it forward. Her gloves coming up to her biceps means that she can feel him on her arms.
Batman asks Alfred what the night’s patrol is like before deciding how to load the utility belts. He’s told that it’s a typical night save for news of Joker appearances near a waterfront. The officer who took the info was a rookie and thus forgot to note which waterfront. Batman tells Cassandra to pack normally and to take a Joker kit, just in case. Various antitoxins and burn salves. She manages to keep her hands from quivering as she puts on his belt. She tells herself to keep calm as she feels his hands on her waist, then her stomach as he buckles her belt. As she helps with his cape and cowl, she realizes that she might meet Joker tonight. Then wonders how many “accidents” he could have before her Batman arrives.
Before she allows herself to perhaps relapse, he helps her with her cape and cowl. Then follows the worst part. Her looking at him in his true skin and the air is filled with his scent. The scent only the devoted notice. This being the worst part because it’s here that she doesn’t want to do anything else but exist with him. But she’s a woman second and when she’s in the skin her mentor honored her with, wearing his symbol, she can’t do anything but earn it. They approach Alfred and he gives them their orders. Batgirl takes the Batcycle to Miller Harbor. Batman takes the Batmobile to Ranelagh Ferry. They’re to keep an eye out for Joker and Harley. Batman is to do an extra search around City Hall to make sure all is fine for Dinah and Jay tomorrow. They break for the night, another chapter in their Long Defeat.
Tabitha and Wendy hold each other in bed, twilight slowly descending into pure night. Wendy runs her fingers through her illicit lover’s hair. Tabitha thanks her for suggesting the haircut and enjoys the moment. Her eyes crack open to remember where her bra landed. She’ll worry about it later. Wendy wonders how long their espionage will last. It’s fun to have a little excitement in a mundane life, or as mundane a life can get in Gotham. I guess “safe excitement” would be the better term. The sneaking around a housefrau’s back with her one and only. But there comes a time when someone’s had enough excitement, safe or otherwise. Wendy hasn’t gotten there yet, but she can hear its war drums. Before she realizes it, she’s stopped stroking Tabitha’s hair… and is snapped back to reality by and awkward lick across her tummy. Distant hazel eyes meet warm green ones. Wendy asks if she’ll leave Lauren for her now. “Not tonight.” Before disappointment settles with the distant, apologetic lips meet hers. Excitement soon fills the air, as well as the choir of flesh. Then they ride the waves of diminuendo and go back to being one creature, wrapped in silk and vermillion. Tabitha remembers Lauren and calls to tell her that she’ll be home soon. And that she loves her. Wendy hangs up the phone and playfully tosses it to the edge of her bed.
A pulp of what used to be seagulls is potmarked on the concrete pier. Joker got tired of the film being interrupted by their squawks, so he interrupted their lives. With a semiautomatic. Harley had to applaud him for getting so many before they all flew away. But what do you expect from a bastion of carnage? Shooting at pavement is always a bad idea, that’s how they lost Binky, so he aims at The Sack. What’s “The Sack”? Earlier in the week, he told Harley to make him something so he could relieve tension. “But I’m right here, puddin’!” To which he replied, “BLOODY relief, woman!” Before she checked her calendar, she realized he meant murder and not… well, you know. The bloody relief was to help him balance his karmic scale. Better to let off steam than steam-clean someone’s face. Soon after, she brought him a large, lumpy sack. He thought he heard it whimpering, but he didn’t ask about it. If he didn’t know what it was, neither did karma. Whatever it was, it bled when he shot it. And he shot it. A lot. Off he was to The Sack when she jumped in front of him. “Mistah J! Your appointment!” He looks at his watch. “Blimey, Harl! Thanks for the reminder. Balancing karma is like balancing my checkbook…”
“Speaking of, Penguin’s truck going in for its monthly pick-up happens tonight. Want me to hijack it while you be my lil’ chamma-chamma?” “…I think we need to get you off this culture diet. Anywho, take care of it. And steal something for yourself.” “I can get that perfume I smelled on his latest hussy.” “Mee-yow!” “I’m gonna take a nap first. You go have fun with your karma.” “Ten-hut!” He looks around for a quiet tool for tonight and remembers something in the kitchen.
Tabitha steps out of Wendy’s apartment complex and waits for a taxi. She looks at City Hall, glowing in the nightlight and looking festive for tomorrow. The area will be crowded for miles. Maybe she’ll stay in with Lauren. As she remembers that she kept Spring Break from her, everything suddenly goes red and her head is searing. She drops to the ground and, through tears, feels a massive lump at the back of her skull. A soup can rolls past her and a purple-gloved hand picks it up. “I found your Lauren during my karmic awakening… a transitional period, if you wish. She knows you’ve been cheating. Today was your nail in the coffin. What teacher works during Spring Break, lady? Slop-py. But you’re someone’s sloppy seconds, so that’s fine. She told me to handle you. You’re about to be beaten to death with soup cans because one broad’s thighs aren’t enough for you.” Joker checks the cans. “I hope you like Italian.”
By the time Batman gets there, Joker’s wiping brain bits off a can of ravioli. The latter notices the former– “You didn’t implode!” –drops his cans, and runs away. Then is tripped as the latest bola technology courtesy of Wayne Corp binds him to the wall. Too disgusted to even punch him, Batman radios Commissioner Gordon for an ambulance and paddy wagon. “The Matrix made me do it! Ask Harley! We have it on Blu-ray!”