|You are nearing the end of a novel that took me a year to write, Hopefully, you've enjoyed it. All it has cost you is the time you've invested, which I appreciate. Time is the one commodity that cannot be replaced.
I do ask that you drop me a short note to let me know what you thought of the story. Is that too much too ask? Hope not. Send your correspondence to email@example.com, or to firstname.lastname@example.org or contact me on Facebook. Many thanks. Now, enjoy the epilogue to Batman: Revenge.
Nine years had passed. Vicki Wayne stood on a hill behind New Wayne Manor, wearing a comfortable pair of gray Dockers and a white sleeveless top. She squinted in the brilliant sunshine, enjoying the unusual warmth of this “Indian summer” day in early November that marked the eighth birthday of her only child, Thomas.
While an unsettling feeling of déjà vu swelled within her, she watched as he scampered down the hill and into the forest where the foliage had turned a beautiful red and gold, making a picturesque frame for the lake. “Thomas Wayne,” she called out. “You listen to your Mother and get back up here, right now! Your birthday party is due to start in less than an hour, and I don’t want you to get your clothes dirty until we take some pictures. Do you hear me? Thomas? Don’t make me have to call your father!” She began to walk down the hill, yelling as she went, “Listen here, mister, you know I can have your dad cancel those …”
She stopped in her tracks as she heard a scream and knew instantly that something horrible had happened. She turned toward the house, shouted for Bruce several times and then broke into a frantic run down the side of the hill, calling out for her boy, “Thomas, Thomas, where are you?”
She ran at full speed into the dense forest, branches and brush scratching her face and arms as she went. Patches of light, filtering through the towering trees created a surreal strobe effect. She began to cry as her mental state approached hysteria.
Her frantic search came to an end as she reached a clearing and saw him, just as she knew he would be, lying face down in a pile of leaves. Trembling as she reached him, she dropped to her knees and spoke through choking sobs, “Mommy’s here, baby, what happened?” Terrified, she rolled him over, fearful of what she might see.
A perfectly healthy, eight-year-old boy looked up at her, giggling with delight. It had been a game to see how quickly his mother could find him. He had no idea how badly he scared her. He had no idea what she and his father went through nine years ago. His mother grabbed him and squeezed him so hard he had to ask her to stop.
“Mom, that’s enough, you’re crushing me.” He saw that she had been crying and asked, “What’s wrong, Mom, I’m okay, really. Are you okay?” he reached up to touch a scratch under her chin.
Vicki wiped her eyes, and said, “Yes, I guess so,” she sniffed, “it’s just that I got so worried about you. I had a dream a long time ago, before you were born, that was a lot like what just happened, and when I found you, you weren’t okay.” Vicki got up off her knees and held her hand out to her son.
Clasping her hand Thomas asked, “You had a dream about me before I was born? How could that happen?”
“I don’t know Thomas, it just did. Your Dad and I were under a lot of stress at the time, there were a lot of strange things happening, but that’s all in the past, now.”
“Why were you under stress mom? What kind of strange things?"
Vicki realized she never should have opened that can of worms. “You know you’re getting more like your father every day. One of these days he’ll tell you all about it, if he thinks it’s a good idea.”
As they reached the top of the hill, Bruce came out of the house onto the back porch. “There’s my birthday boy,” he shouted, holding his arms out. Thomas rushed to him and gave him a big hug. “Run inside for a minute son, I need to speak to your mother.”
“Is it about my present?” he asked, bouncing up and down.
“Yeah, so get in there, or we might have to…” The boy was inside the house before Bruce could finish his sentence.
Vicki asked, “Where were you? I called out for you because I thought Thomas was hurt, and you didn’t come. He ran into the forest and screamed.”
“Sorry sweetheart, I was on a conference call with Dick and Captain Bagwell. Say,” Bruce looked concerned as he reached out, “you’ve got a nasty scratch under you chin honey, how the heck…”
“A tree branch got me. I ran into the forest when you didn’t come.” Upset over what just happened, she pushed his hand away from her face and said, “What if something really had happened, Bruce? What if one of your old enemies…”
“Vicki, we’ve argued about this a hundred times. If my past were to cause any harm to you or Thomas I don’t know what I‘d do. I love you and Thomas with all my heart, honey, you know that. But come on, I can’t always be there every minute of every day.”
Vicki had heard it all before. But that didn’t make her feel any better. When you were the wife of one of the ten richest men in America the potential of an attempted kidnapping never went away, but when that man had also been responsible for the arrest and incarceration of hundreds of criminals it made things that much scarier.
Calming down somewhat, she allowed him to gently touch the scratch under her chin, as he asked, “Did you hear about the bank robbery in Seattle yesterday?”
“No, why? Should I have?” she asked.
“A man walked into a bank wearing a green suit, and they gave him all the money they could find, and here’s the weird part, they said they did it because they felt like they were doing the right thing. They wanted to do it. They said it made them feel wonderful.”
Vicki seemed confused, “Did he say he needed the money for an operation, or did he say it was for a church, or what? What made them want to give him the money?”
The bank president said the man in the green suit never said a word; he just walked up to one of the teller’s cages and she said she felt the bank president would want to meet the man. She went and got him and then everybody in the bank, including the guards, helped load the bags of money and carried them out to this guy’s car. Now get this, not one of them can remember what he was driving. Not the make, or model, or even a vague guess at the year of the vehicle. They got the guy on camera in the bank, but naturally he was wearing a mask, a clown mask.”
Vicki’s brow furrowed with worry. She naturally assumed the worst. “You don’t think…”
“No, I don’t think it has anything to do with the Joker, but Edward Nygma hasn’t been heard from in years. I distinctly remember Tim Bagwell swore that Edward must have developed mind control and mind reading capabilities, which allowed him to escape from Arkham Asylum.”
“You’re not thinking of a business trip to Seattle, are you Bruce?"
"Well, to be honest, the thought had crossed my mind. You know that’s where Lawrence works. He has a job as a crash dummy for the National Highway Safety Department out there, and he does some weapons testing for the Defense Department.”
“I can’t believe they let him out on parole,” Vicki complained. “I thought he was given a thirty-year sentence.”
“What can I say?” Bruce shook his head in amazement at the positive changes in Lawrence’s life. “He has some unique attributes that the government felt would come in handy in weapons testing. And the research results he can help gather concerning automobile safety is something that may save thousands of lives. He was a model prisoner. He always did what he was told. And from what I hear, he has been totally cooperative with the Government and the Highway Department people. He may not be real smart, but he follows orders. He just fell into the wrong crowd years ago, and was
taking orders from the wrong guy.”
Vicki wasn’t buying any of the “poor guy just fell in with the wrong crowd story,” and she let her husband know it, saying, “Bruce, he would have definitely killed me if he had been ordered to do so. He told me that!”
“And that’s one of the reasons he went to jail, honey. But you gave him a pretty hard time too, as I recall. He probably wouldn’t have become one of those white zombies, as you like to say, if you hadn’t gone to the Joker and accused him of molesting you.”
Vicki crossed her arms and said, “Yeah, well, if I hadn’t done that, he probably wouldn’t be around today. The Joker shot him a number of times just to let off steam, and he killed almost all of his crew. The only other ones that walked out of that amusement park alive were Harley and Cody. God, I can hardly believe the light sentence she got.”
“Sixteen months in a minimum security prison was ridiculous,” Bruce agreed, “and nobody ever heard from Cody again. After our wedding he hightailed it and must have either wound up dead somewhere, or went to some other country with the money The Joker was supposed to have paid him. His girlfriend, Tina, is still in prison. She killed a guard who was trying to stop her from having an affair with one of the other female inmates. What a sad ending for an Olympic medalist.”
Vicki uncrossed her arms and walked over to the big white patio table, pulled out a chair and sat in the shade of the big umbrella that usually would be put away by November, but remained out due to the balmy weather they had been experiencing.
“Harley’s headed back to prison for real, you know,” Bruce said as he sat down next to Vicki, “and this time it won’t be for a short stay in a country club atmosphere. She got caught ordering the Axis Chemicals financial records to be fixed and she authorized huge shipments of that molecular altering chemical to Iraq.”
“Good thing they caught that at the dock,” Vicki commented. “Could you imagine a whole army of those white goons?” The sliding glass door slid open at the back of the house and Andre came out carrying a tray with two tall glasses of lemonade.
“Eet ees a leetle warm, I theenk. I thought you might be getting thirsty,” he said, as he set the tray down on the table.
“Thanks Andre,” Bruce said, “We’ll be in shortly. What’s Thomas up to?”
“He and Richards are playing a video game, sir, the one based on Danny Devito’s movie, The Mini Hulk. Oh, yes, Meester Grayson called. He said he ees on hees way over and he ees breenging hees fiancée. He said he was looking forward to deescussing that beesiness treep to Seattle that you had been talking about.”
Vicki put down her glass of lemonade and crossed her arms again. “I don’t want you to go, Bruce. It would be like sending a person on a diet, to investigate recipe tampering at The Cheesecake Factory - too much temptation.”
“Perhaps you’re right, honey. Let’s just enjoy the day and each other. I hope Thomas likes the pony we got him.”
Vicki smiled and uncrossed her arms, reaching out and taking Bruce’s hand, she said, “He’ll Love it.”
~ ~ ~
On an island not far from Seattle, accessible only by ferry, At the Defense Department firing range, the weapons research and development team was testing a new lightweight pistol made of plastic, which fired plastic bullets that exploded on impact. A man with a bullhorn stood on a platform looking down at the field below and shouted, “We’re going to have to do it over again, Lawrence, try to get it right this time.”
Lawrence looked at the wound in his right leg, which was being measured and probed by a research doctor, and then back up at the man in charge and shouted, “What’d I do?”
~ ~ ~
Meanwhile, Cody Turner, Sparky Anderson, and Bruce Segelski, counted money at a long, highly polished mahogany table in a luxurious penthouse suite, with a beautiful view in the distance of a snowcapped Mt. Ranier.
“There’s just too much here for three people to count,” Cody commented, “I’ve never seen so much money before. I’m going cross eyed looking at all these Benjamins.”
“Relax,” Bruce said, “Lawrence should be here any minute, in fact he should have been here already. I don’t know what’s keeping him, but as soon as he gets here, there will be four of us. We’ll get it knocked out in no time. Besides, I feel real good about doing this, don’t you?”
Sparky agreed, saying, “Yeah, the Riviera was nice, but let’s face it, The Joker was a monster. I don’t know how he found us, but Mr. Nygma’s a real nice guy to work for. As a matter of fact, I can't ever remember being happier working for anybody else. By the way, do any of you guys know why Mr. Nygma has that little refrigerator, in his Office; the one with the words, 'Tissue Samples, Property of Dr. Melvin Slaughter, Gotham City Pathology Department'? Did you see the names on some of those tissue samples? Napier, Dent, and Cobblepot. That would be The Joker, Two-Face, and the
Penguin. Why would Mr. Nygma want tissue samples from those whackos?"
Bruce looked over at Cody, and said, “I thought he was being a little too nosy, and I figured Mr. Nygma might be offended, but our man Cody just walked right up to him, and asked him about that, yesterday, didn’t you Cody?”
Cody nodded, and said, “Yeah, and he wasn't upset at all. Mr. Nygma just smiled and said the fridge with the tissue samples inside was a little memento. He brought it back with him after a recent visit to remind him of home."
He paused while he leaned back, twisting around and propping one arm up over the back of the intricately carved, Chippendale style chair. He gazed contentedly through the large windows, enjoying the breathtaking mountain scenery for a moment as a flock of geese sailing serenely by in
formation caught his attention.
When he continued, still looking off into the distance, he rubbed his nose and said, "You know it's really neat how people are always trying to help Mr. Nygma. He said he had gone to visit some retired guy, a Dr. Slaughter, who had insisted that he take it, and that he might decide to do some experiments with those samples that are in there after he finishes building his new research lab."
Turning back around in his chair, and facing the others once again, Cody scooted forward and clasped his hands together on the table in front of him. "Come to think of it, guys, I should say, after we finish building his new research lab, shouldn't I?" There was a little grumbling, and everyone nodded in agreement. "Anyway," he went on, "I asked him what kind of experiments, and he just smiled and changed the subject. If I remember correctly, he shrugged, and said something about it being time for him to settle down and have a family. Now I wonder what he meant by that?”
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I am pleased to announce that my romantic, international thriller, The Falcon and His Desert Rose, is scheduled to be published this October by World Castle Publishing. The novel will be available in both eBook and in paperback, and may be purchased through the World Castle Publishing website or through Amazon.com.
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