By G.N. Jacobs

Bruce Wayne read all the right papers with both feet up on the recliner feature of the wheelchair. Selina found an unusual for her stillness on the other side of the room stylishly laid out on a sofa with shoes off tearing up the latest romance novel. Somehow she’d become a character from Downton Abbey fully dressed in red to read silently with her husband and she hadn’t scratched anyone’s eyes out.

For his part, Bruce practiced the parts of his life that could happen tied to a chair like sniffing the air to guess her fragrance and the more important emotional undercurrents underneath. Boy, is she pissed about the silence, he thought enjoying a quick imagine of her in her work outfit suddenly ripped apart to reveal even more skin. He pushed the reports aside and help up his hand.

“Toss Episode One here, Selina,” Bruce said.

“Huh, Darling?” Selina asked innocently. “You want to read…”

“Yes, you hot sexy lit minx, I want to read your total crap but page turner bodice ripper,” Bruce said with his warmest smile.

“I’m not done, Bruce.”

“You’re on Episode Two of a series, Lina,” Bruce observed. “You can toss over the first one and quiz me at dinner.”

Selina held up the indicated volume giving it a teasing waggle. “Quiz me? About this book?”

“Yes.”

“Are you sure? It’s written a little complicated.”

“Darling Wife, it’s a romance novel written about to how an eighth grader likes her words with all the big nasty sex words added to keep away the YA crowd,” Bruce said showing much teeth to his smile. “Now if I can’t follow along then it’s pretty clear all the money put into the Wayne Foundation meant to get me through school was wasted.”

“True. You’re a smarty pants.”

“We agree on that at least,” Bruce said. “How about this, if I can’t manage and my lips move while I read you get to come over and read it to me. Tutoring for the quiz.”

Selina flushed almost as red as her dress finally allowing the full meaning of quiz to catch up to her. She lobbed over the book into his hands for a soft basket catch.

“Bruce, is my husband supposed to proposition me like this?”

“When he wants to reassure the wife that there aren’t any younger Russian tomatoes named Natasha, abso-frakking-lutely.”

“Are you sure, Dear?” Selina asked sweetly. “This book…”

Bruce held up the book to show off the cover of the woman in a cocktail dress approaching the man in the story with a rope tied in a bondage knot held behind her leg. A finger pointed out the detail.

“Selina, the cover gives it away as discreetly as a publisher might allow,” Bruce said enjoying the repartee too much. “If the acts implied by this cover don’t happen by Page 50, no let’s be generous, Page 70, I’m going to make you send the whole series back to Amazon. And trash these people on Goodreads. False advertising.”

“Okay, Love, more seriously you’ve never indicated…”

“That when the love of my life is on the board my squeamishness about this sort of thing goes straight into the toilet,” Bruce answered.

“Squeamish?” Selina probed. “I meant to ask about that.”

“They sometimes call him, The World’s Greatest Detective,” Bruce said. “It means to play him on TV, I had to read at least one boring ass scholarly book on the subject. Teaches the knots and safe words, but doesn’t make it seem fun. You do that.”

Selina flushed redder and blew a kiss. “You buried the lead. I love you works equally well for what you want.”

“Maybe, but I love you also works to thank you afterwards,” Bruce observed. “And I do.”

“What?”

“Love you.”

“I know.”

And so they read their respective books eyes bugging out with each salacious passage. Curiosity finally killed off the cat. She closed her book after moving the paper clip pressed into service as bookmark.

“This is too good,” Selina said. “Where is this boring scholarly work?”

“Behind you, third shelf from the floor, six from the left,” Bruce said. “Of the many thousands of books from all eras in the house, I keep the ones I’ve read and don’t really like in this room.”

“Now, you’ve really buried the lead.”

“Maybe.”

“You were bored and too lazy to ask Alfred for a book from another room.”

“Yes, Dear.”

“And burying the lead going the long way around ends with…”

“You…well, promising a compromising position. Instead of silently reading together like characters from a BBC show. A good day’s work don’t you think?”

By G.N. Jacobs

The bloke with green hair lay back in his cot hands behind his head. Bloke, he thought to himself mentally regaining his true American accent. Maybe I shouldn’t sign up for the play about the Cray Twins. Thoughts that promptly brought about the man’s trademark giggle fits that had scared more than a few politicians and small children, to the extent the two were separate concepts.

The guard in the gloomy grey hallway always made a check the minute the murder clown called Joker started laughing. The man had mentioned an older brother Joker had completely forgotten about as one of the inconsequential Little People. Well, one day they’ll let him try to kill me.

“Joker? Is your joke actually funny?” Guard Melton asked with the trepidation of a man convinced the next shoe would drop on his shift.

“No,” Joker said with his usual uncontrollable hisses and giggles that echoed shrilly off the walls. “Go back to beating that poor fellow three cells down. I miss his screams.”

The guard shook his head through the slot and bulletproof window fighting his anger over the aspersions to his character. Still, someone seemed to turn the screws on that other guy…

“Whatevs.”

“Oh, see about marching Harley in here for a conjugal,” Joker insisted. “I’m due.”

The guard walked away from the cell in exactly the opposite direction from the screamer’s cell. Joker smiled learning something new. It wasn’t Melton making the man scream; Joker needed a new plaything.

Joker used his memory and imagination to see the scene outside his window watching the shadows play out on his dreary cinderblock wall. One day he would have to check to see if the boat horn he heard far off over the hum of Gotham was really a yacht filled with coeds wrapped up against the icy sea breeze in clingy but still warm dresses. They couldn’t all be negligently holding cosmos, stingers and apple-tinis.

He also listened to the rhythm of the block. Melton joined another guard on the gun tier. Joker sat up in the dim light from the harbor and Gotham Narrows in the window. He had a problem to work out on the wall in UV ink.

The black light carefully hidden next to the pen in the Bible he no longer needed to read revealed a search. He asked written questions hoping to find answers.

WHO IS BATSIE? PROFILE – A: GOTHAM RESIDENT. DUH? OF COURSE, MOST SIGHTINGS IN GOTHAM. GEOGRAPHICAL ANALYSIS. B: A TRUE BELIEVER IN THE WAY GOTHAM USED TO BE, BUT PERHAPS NEVER WAS. C: EITHER RICH AS HELL OR FUNDED BY SERIOUSLY WELL FUNDED HIDDEN DO GOODERS. ALSO OBVIOUS, THE CAR, THE SUIT, THE BAT-BRANDED SHARP STABBY THINGS.

Joker stopped writing a moment to flex his fingers. The UV ink pen had a small barrel that didn’t allow for a comfortable grip. His elbow and fingers screamed bloody hell at the slight but persistent affront to his tendons. The stores at Arkham Asylum were so tightly controlled that asking for rubber pencil grips that any fourth grader had for standardized tests would spark a search.

DRESSING UP IN VAMPIRE FETISH GEAR IN ORDER TO BREAK BAD GUYS’ ARMS WITH IMPUNITY AS A LAST GASP OF ORDER IS NOT A NATURAL ACT. LEADING TO…D: BATSIE IS HIGHLY LIKELY TO BE SOMEONE THAT GOT BEAT UP OR SOMETHING AS A YOUTH. CROSS-REFERENCING POSSIBLY FILTHY RICH WITH VIOLENT TRAUMA IN YOUTH KEEPS CIRCLING BACK TO BRUCE WAYNE.

Joker blew on the ink attempting to dry the neatly printed letters that somehow managed to remain straight and level across the wall despite the absence of the guidelines available in most notebooks. He smiled running a finger over the already dry musings of a determined man. The pen flicked in his hand to drive more ink from the back of the reservoir to the felt tip.

PROBLEMS WITH BRUCE WAYNE THEORY. SEEN ON THREE OCCASIONS WITH BATSIE TOGETHER IN THE ROOM. RESEARCH INTO HIS FRIENDS SAYS HE COULD ASK OTHER DO GOODERS WHO CAN MIMIC OTHER PEOPLE. SUSPECT ASKING MARTIAN MANHUNTER AS MOST LIKELY. IF BRUCE WAYNE IS BATSIE, ALSO CAN’T DISCOUNT SHADOWY SELF-EFFACING BUTLER, ALFRED. BRITISH MILITARY RECORD SHROUDED WITH SO FAR UNBEATABLE DISCRETION.

RECENT PROBLEM, BRUCE WAYNE REPORTED AS LAID UP WITH BROKEN LEG FROM RECENT SKI ACCIDENT. BUT, BATSIE ALSO REPORTED BY SEVERAL SCAREDY CATS ON THE STREET. REPORTS ARE CONFUSED POSSIBLY BLÜDHAVEN DO-GOODER NIGHTWING TAKING SLACK. MORE LATER.

With that Joker put the pen and black light in their hiding place and set about imagining the next conjugal visit with his lady fair. Right about at the part where the MPAA would get frisky with the NC-17 rating on this particular fantasy, the murder clown felt a moment of ask and she’ll appear.

“Mr. J,” Harley Quinn said in a disembodied whisper that still let her high-pitched voice that reminded of a famous sitcom matriarch come through. “Is it safe?”

Joker held his hand to his heart letting his ruby red smile extend ear to ear indicating actual joy.

“Harley, sure, I’m not a dentist,” Joker said with surprising warmth mixed with the menace.

Harley resolved through the exterior wall underneath the high window. She wore the short skirt and fishnets version of her many red, white and black outfits derived from the character archetype from Italian comedia d’arte. She had needs the short skirt signaled but her face registered non-comprehension of his oblique joke.

“Dentist, Mr. J?” Harley asked. “I don’t like that game.”

“Never mind, an old movie, My Love,” Joker said softly anxious to get his hands on her bare shoulders. “I was expecting you in a few days wearing the red wig or something.”

Harley held up a platinum and titanium bracelet waggling her wrist. “A new toy, Mr. J.”

“Do I have to worry about how you convinced your new friend to give you this gadget?”

“Ask me no questions, I tell you no lies, Mr. J,” Harley said hoping to never answer the question. “It’s a game changer, Mr. J. Break out?”

Joker had long since given up counting the times he’d simply let the love of his warped life have her moments covered either by prison exception or a more blanket ask me no questions, I tell you no lies. The blonde cutie with the face made more so pushing her into a vat of green toxic goo always came back, rarely used her refrains concerning other men and sometimes whispered about the women as foreplay. A good arrangement.

Harley made use of the silence to step into his personal space brushing his nose with her lips. They sat together on the cot. She pointed at her neck and Joker nibbled the spot enjoying the homemade hypo-allergenic version of Rivera #4, the most ubiquitous female fragrance in the world. She moaned until…

“Mr. J, I can walk through walls now, do you want to break out or not?” Harley asked with rising impatience.

“No, My Love,” Joker said at last. “I don’t have a plan and this cot on the public dime is almost as good as any on the outside.”

Harley dropped a dress strap and bounced on the bed. Her ruby lips showed the screwed up green vegetable face of a woman that thinks her man is nuts. But, getting laid under the noses of the bulls also had its advantages. She took his face in his hands and kissed that red scar-smile dead center.

An hour later, the return of Guard Melton on his scheduled and appointed rounds caused Harley to roll under the cot where the blanket hanging down could hide her. Joker pretended to roll over the other way stealing the sleep that reassured the guards. She came up for air when she heard the heavy boots striding down the concrete floor.

Back in his arms, she kissed as a way to make forward progress dressing against his hands that wanted more. When he let her get dressed except for the last strap still akimbo, she descended into his hug listening to his heart.

“There is someone new in Gotham,” Harley reported in her softest whisper yet. “I’m hearing about black market unregistered drones changing hands. A friend across the river in Blüdhaven said she thought that Nightwing punk came over for the night a few days ago. And I’m hearing that some stickup boys got shanked by someone with a sword. And then the Bat showed up.”

“I know, Harley,” Joker said. “I haven’t decided yet, if I’m staying here for now because it’s more fun with you inside or if it’s too crowded out there.”

“Mr. J,” Harley said adding a little bit more whine. “I do what you ask, but I don’t like this sneak into the can game anymore than your stupid dentist game.”

“Soon, Harley, soon,” Joker said. “Do you really have to leave?”

Harley took a long moment and dropped the other dress strap.

By G.N. Jacobs

Bruce had waited out Selina’s absence for the long planned rubber chicken event with a listlessness that not even the empty flashy promises of the latest gaming console could alleviate. The game he wanted to play he promised not to crack the shrink wrap until she came home. The similar game probably built on the same engine seemed like more of a training tool and too much like his life, three short days ago. Zombies make so much better, Bruce thought just before reaching for the leg scratchy thing to get under the plaster.

Selina blew into the house with quite a bit of noise raising her voice to, “Honey, I’m home!” Bruce put down the controller pausing the game he really didn’t want to play and listened to the sounds emanating from her entrance with Alfred at her heels. She made way too much volume for regular people that typically only lived in 1,200 square feet on the fourth floor, but perhaps just enough to carry from the south entrance through the main kitchen all the way up to this comfortable room with a huge TV.

He listened to his wife narrate the entrance with the many rooms in between. The words were more prosaic than her usual foreplay but they did the job considering that her mission was to make sure she took off her evening gown and makeup in favor of her game play uniform: jogging shorts and belly baring T-shirt. Her words induced shivers.

She found her way to the night’s designated game room having thrown a robe over the promised ensemble, her one concession to the winter cold. The mister spun his chair around appreciating even the robe. And that she’d forgotten to mention the blanket large enough for two on the couch.

“Good, you saved it for us,” Selina said cooing the minute she moved close enough to hear his heartbeat.

They played for perhaps two hours straight saving a fictional city from the undead. For some reason they fell into characters reminiscent of the British Avengers, John Steed and Emma Peel, as they shot nearly every frakking walker that could be found in the head. Bruce spoke in Received Pronunciation as if he’d actually gone to Oxford. Selina mugged her way through Ms. Peel’s barely restrained goddess sex bomb dialogue. Whatever, the zombies died in droves…

At the two hour mark the game changed, the way some games of poker change with mixed company and lots of alcohol or weed put in play. Selina dared Bruce to accomplish ever more impossible feats according to the many fans of the game with either a piece of clothing or act of affection on the table. And then she lost on purpose, an act of mock submission.

Alfred modestly regretted what happened next wheeling a cart with coffee and cookies into the room. The writhing blanket on the couch proved all he needed to see. He silently covered his mouth leaving the cart by the door. He thoughtfully flipped the switch on the coffee urn that would keep the fluid warm for hours. And he backed out of the room using more stealth than he’d ever done in his classified youth. Once out of the room, he did ask himself the inevitable how do they do that with the cast question.

Still later with the southwest view into the mostly unspoiled forests and other foliage west of Gotham proper framed by stars that Van Gogh just barely rejected for Starry Night framed in the window, Selina fell into Bruce’s arms under the blanket. He winced feeling just a little bit of…

“Oh, sorry, did that hurt?”

“No, Lina, I’m fine.”

“No you’re not,” Selina said. “You look like Alfred tried to feed you Brussels sprouts. I’ll move. There.”

“Thank you, Lina.”

“I rest my case, Bruce.”

“I love you, Selina.”

“I love you, Bruce.”

“Now what, Lina?”

Selina shrugged. “I don’t know. We agreed to stop to leave the next few boss levels for another night. We’ve also used up us for the night. Maybe discuss if Lina is really the pet name you want for me?”

“What’s wrong with it?”

Selina cocked her head thinking about it. “Nothing. But, I still don’t have one for you. Not one that doesn’t involve him, at least.”

“I am him.”

“Only in the sense of it gives you a lot of…”

Selina closed her mouth and said nothing further as she lay her ear on his heart. She put her arms around her husband.

“You’re my wife, you should be able to say everything you need to,” Bruce said.

“Not this, Bruce,” Selina said in the soft voice of a little girl wishing to take back unfortunate words. “It would only come out mean, judgy and psycho-babblely when you could say the same things about how I interact with her.”

“You are her.”

“God, you’re so wonderfully obtuse in all the right ways,” Selina said.

“Thank you,” Bruce said kissing her nose. “Though here we are safely ensconced in the one structure on the planet where we should feel safe and we’re still speaking around the subject: him and her.”

“I only trust the…basement for that kind of honesty,” Selina said.

“Some days, so do I,” Bruce said finding the button that…

“You called, Sir?” Alfred asked pretending not to see his employers acting like the viewer’s choice of teenagers or newlyweds.

“Have you run a bug sweep or cleared the Manor airspace of drones?” Bruce asked.

Alfred pointed out the leaded window with a view of the grounds leading out over to a panorama that included the city and the ocean beyond. More importantly, Selina’s perfect eyes compensated for the dim lighting in the room and the darkness outside to reveal the hovering four-rotor drone just outside. Three other drones silently edged up to the intruder.

“I suppose the next bit I should ask how prudish does Madame feel about her relations with her husband?” Alfred asked with an absolute British deadpan that not even Monty Python could match. “I will proceed accordingly.”

Selina put a finger to her ruby lips clearly weighing the options. Bruce couldn’t help his laughter and lust at seeing her wicked cuteness. He put a hand on her hip feeling her soft skin.

“Will your countermeasures erase the recording held on the remote drive?” Selina asked.

“No guarantees, Ma’am,” Alfred said. “But, I do have a frequency trace and Lucius Fox’s latest nasty blighter malware will handle the request in most circumstances and, at least, prove inconvenient to the opposition in the rest.”

“Do it, Alfred!” Selina hissed.

“I see, Madame,” Alfred agreed. “Manor, harden all Internet access points and execute EMP protocol!”

With that the three drones surrounding the intruder machine glowed blue at the nose like power plants about to detonate transformers. The lights flickered. The TV shifted from the HDMI port to the composite port where the old-timey stereo was hooked up. Music blared for a second, The 1812 Overture, a version with real cannons, and then faded. The drone fell to the grass outside in a smoking heap.

“Hey, I wondered where I left that CD!” Bruce said surprised.

Alfred looked out the window with a self-satisfied smirk. On the way back out the room, he stopped to kiss Selina’s forehead.

“We’ll see if that helped,” Alfred said. “As for bugs, Sir, Madame, the last sweep of this wing completed yesterday. Will there be anything else?”

Bruce shook his head. Selina tossed off a cute snort. Alfred backed out of the room pausing near the untouched cookie and coffee cart.

“And there have been cookies and coffee waiting for you,” Alfred said.

With that he left the room. Bruce and Selina broke out laughing having been caught by the house mother.

Burt West pounded his fists on the console as it flickered three times. The screen then flashed STORAGE MEDIA COMPROMISED. Not even yanking out the cables could stop the cascade failure across his drone system and computer. And then the sparks flew catching onto the cheap linen drapes.

Spidermania Pt. 4

Posted: December 29, 2018 in Uncategorized

By G.N. Jacobs

The boat horns of Lake Michigan gave way to the similar horns just offshore of Brighton Beach mixed with the last gasp of Coney Island trolling the tourists before going into half schedule for the winter. The clackity-clack of the Cyclone had always created a Pavlovian response for Peter even before he’d cornered MJ in the line for the kiss and clarity that defined their current relationship five years later. It was inevitable that their pooled wrestling and modeling money would go towards moving southward into the good neighborhoods near Long Island Sound.

Peter and MJ flopped on the green couch cuddled up in last year’s Ugly Christmas Sweaters that had almost the contest. Too many seconds had passed for the lovers to get immediately frisky as sometimes happened upon arriving home. Instead she slipped off her pumps that never went well with flying, but the traces of her ego forbade she should switch out for flats. Her feet landed in Peter’s lap.

He rubbed them down with the care and attention of a lecherous podiatrist listening to the noises coming from his de facto wife. She squeaked approvingly and then moaned but not in a way that would combat the exhaustion of the trip to Chicago. No sex tonight.

Peter didn’t care, using his silence while rubbing to review the memories of the Chicago trip. The pay-per-view, the third since joining up with Global Wrestling Entertainment, had gone well. The fans divided online between many camps – “Wow! I didn’t think GWE would have the Green Spider do the job like that!” – with sub-threads for – “Peter Parker certainly played up getting his ass kicked by Tarantula Hawk, why isn’t Hollywood offering action parts?” – but with a small few people commenting – “Really? The girl gets her arms yanked like a sexist wishbone and we’re supposed to give a crap?”

Peter closed the computer before having to read the replies to the feminist thread likely to include accusations that the feminists weren’t fans. And counter accusations of “misogynist trolls who wouldn’t know a real woman if we sat on your face.” MJ saw the weirdness in Peter’s face and waved for her to see the computer.

“Tiger, we chose to be this public,” MJ said. “We need to see what our fans are saying.”

“I’d rather just rub your feet and listen to the ambient noise over the water, Tootsie Pop,” Peter admitted. “I have to remind myself to mentally suggest to these fu…folks to frak themselves and the self-righteous horse they rode in on. It’s easier that way.”

MJ took the computer and read the threads. “Do both, Tiger.”

Peter resumed the foot rub. MJ giggled at both her boyfriend’s perfect touch and some of the goofiness transpiring online. Peter listened to the noises coming from her mouth. She was mostly amused.

“Well?” Peter asked when the foot rub naturally ended.

“I think I need chocolate, Tiger,” MJ declared. “It’s that kind of night for why we’re not…”

“I hear and obey, Tootsie Pop,” Peter said.

He found a box of assorted holiday gift chocolate, the kind where memorizing which pieces go in which traditional slot in the box determines whether nougat versus the dread cherry coconut. She nibbled and felt better immediately.

“I did sort of mean a little more by my ‘well’ than offering to get you chocolate on demand, MJ,” Peter said.

“I know,” MJ said. “It’s a normal day on social media. No one is creepier than they need to be. Nothing to report to Bruno and I’ve got real money on the whole feminist thread being a troll operation. The OP said ‘girl’ when a woke sister would always say ‘woman.’ Little things like that.”

“And?”

“In the real world, Tiger, even the woke have slips of the tongue,” MJ said giving a laugh that tilted her head in such a way that a photograph just escaped her lover. “I see why you get so annoyed by all this, but it is the job to let them have their fantasies…until they get too dark.”

Peter nodded and brought her closer to him on the couch putting her head in its comfortable spot over his sternum. They pantomimed a few what next scenarios, including him teasing her with the TV remote as if phase two of getting her past not feeling exactly right included letting her pick the Rom-Com. She waved him off preferring to listen to his 80bpm resting heart rate through the ugly sweater.

“The social media stuff and foot rub interrupted what you’re really thinking,” MJ said. “What was your trip to Chicago like?”

“You were there for most of it,” Peter said rolling his eyes where she couldn’t see.

“You watched me dance with some guy that wasn’t acting his attraction to me,” MJ said.

Peter remembered…

Take Forty. The ballplayer character had his forbidden love in a tango while the cameras rolled. Peter tried to busy himself with emails and texts concerning the simmering labor dispute between management and writers at Global Wrestling Entertainment. Silencing every button click on the phone and sitting at least twenty feet away at the craft service table had been the minimum acceptable solution vis a vie the determined young lady with the radio, a Second Assistant Director her orange vest said.

By Take Fifty, Peter took in MJ’s hip sway while held firmly at the waist during the dance that didn’t end. He wondered about how the tango sequence, a planned forty seconds out of six minutes of music video had seemingly expanded. Or at least exposed the possibly fake perfectionism of Calvin.

“Let’s go again,” Calvin said.

Take Sixty. MJ found her own ways to subtly tweak the dance to her own ends, like finding a camera setup where blowing a kiss to her onscreen forbidden love really meant blowing a kiss to Peter exiled to the table with the donuts, chips and carrot sticks drowned in hummus. She noted that her Tiger used the phone to display far more willpower sitting next to the snacks than most people would.

“Let’s go again,” MJ said.

Take Seventy. The underlying contest of will between an actress that already had her domestic brass ring and a smooth operator fishing new waters came to head. Calvin’s leg muscles broke before hers and…

“Cut! Print! That’s our martini and a wrap!”

“You were jealous, weren’t you, Tigger?” MJ asked.

“No, why?” Peter asked not covering the lie. “Isn’t he, like, gay or something?”

MJ playfully swatted Peter’s chest. “I spoke with the girl from his previous video. She thinks he’s Bi. And I think you guessed that.”

Peter stroked her arm and back. “Maybe. I don’t know. I did spend more time trying to imagine me holding you like that.”

“You already do, Tigger,” MJ said. “But, it’s a nice thing to say.”

“He also hit me up for inside tidbits about wrestling,” Peter said. “Probably wants to do wrestling themed video sometime down the road. Have me back as consultant and you as the love interest again, see if we’ve blown up our thing…”

“I knew you noticed!” MJ said amused. “Thank you for telling me a little bit about how you saw our trip to Chicago. Though you’ve adroitly dodged the other part of the question…”

Peter sighed reaching for his cell phone to tap a button on the smart home management app.

Across the street towards the City, two steel beetles alighted on fenceposts at opposite ends of the neighbor’s property. Mechanical irises opened adjusting to the light balance of the street lit by orange streetlights. Lasers aimed at the front windows of the Parker-Watson house caught every gooey, mushy word of a couple debriefing after a trip to the Windy City. Until the white noise generator kicked in creating static in place of the mildly entertaining soap opera.

Batman: First Person Bat Pt. 4

Posted: December 29, 2018 in Uncategorized

By G.N. Jacobs

With the tenth cell phone flash blasting in her eyes, Selina learned why certain Hollywood celebrities had become famous for wearing sunglasses indoors. Alfred noticed her discomfort and found a nice set with indoor/outdoor polarization that mostly matched the dress and borrowed handbag. She kissed the fatherly man on the cheek for being the sort of man to think ten chess moves ahead. She would ask if someone had built inter-dimensional pockets into the gray three-piece suit.

FLASH! BWEE! Things got even more blindingly serious now that the photographers that could afford digital SLRs and high power light bars shouldered their way to the edge of the red carpet. Angling the flash to prevent red eye only slightly helped Selina’s flash blindness. And the recharging tone…FLASH! BWEEE!

“Ms. Kyle!”

Selina blew past this reporter expressing a grim set to her jaw. FLASH! BWEE! FLASH! FLASH!

“Mrs. Wayne!”

This one got a turned head.

“What did you wear to your…”

“White,” Selina said with a smile that covered the curtness.

“Where is…”

“Home with a busted leg from the ski trip,” Selina answered. “Playing first person shooters, like every other teenager home sick.”

The next reporter, a young stringer wearing a HALO 4 T-shirt under her big girl black coat, pinched somebody’s arm to ask – “which ones?” Selina chuckled a bit and pointed respectfully to the young lady and launched into five minutes on the many varieties of first person shooter. The reporter seemed about to ask if Selina played herself as her spiel suggested, but the needs to know more about her purple dress pushed the reporter aside.

The flashes receded as soon as the guest sat for the expensive but ultimately indifferently cooked Chicken Marsala. Selina sipped the disappointing chardonnay and tried to pretend the people at her table weren’t boring. And then she stood up to speak in place of Bruce retelling his jokes about music lessons adroitly sidestepping the social climbing elephant in the room.

Upon hearing that the professional auctioneer had wrapped his Uber around a telephone pole just a few blocks away, Selina kept the microphone and played up her inner auctioneer. Surprisingly, the swag offered by the rest of Gotham’s one-percenters and a few of the ten-percenters there as plus ones proved interesting. She watched faces and guessed that even among people who would never starve before the complete destruction of the American economy that covetousness ruled the day. Yes, they could buy another item like it, but they wanted the one on the block.

Through it all, Selina couldn’t hide the shivers at the podium. The reporters noticed and commented in their copy attributing it to her first time speaking and trying to save the dinner and auction. She wouldn’t tell anyone about her hidden past conflicting with the stormy present, where she typically attended such things in her alter ego as Catwoman…and usually robbed the place blind. Still, it made for jumpy nerves barely contained by the wine expecting someone else to visit.

The ride back to the manor made use of a sweet spot in the traffic out to the Gotham Heights exurbs where the one percent had built stately manors with impressive views of the city and sea…and soaked up all the winter sun possible in these climes. Alfred shifted the mirror to look at his de facto daughter in law still radiant in her purple. Selina smiled but still searched the sparse vehicle lights on the highway looking for some kind of meaning that wouldn’t translate into conversation.

“Holy Hell, Alfred!” Selina said breathing out explosively. “I thought I knew what…”

“Yes, Ma’am,” Alfred said.

“Ma’am? I’m too young.”

“But very married, Ma’am.”

“Funny,” Selina replied. “I thought I knew about all this watching Bruce work. And he delegated where he could, I see that now.”

“Proof that wearing the shoes is still different from standing next to the person that does, Ma’am,” Alfred said. “It will be a small part of your overall adjustment from Ms. Kyle to Mrs. Wayne or variation of the above.”

“I thought I knew that too, Alfred,” Selina said.

“Yes and no, Ms. Selina,” Alfred said evenly as he made a lane change. “Your marriage has been twenty years coming. You’ve kissed and flirted but you never got to do normal relationship things like go to prom or chat at the keg at university. The two of you know more about your costumed personas than you do the people inside. That too will take time.”

“I suppose,” Selina said.

“Which brings us diagonally to the nerves you displayed handling the auction,” Alfred probed. “It seemed more than doing something unplanned to save the evening.”

“I kept expecting certain people to show up,” Selina admitted. “Like the old days.”

Alfred whistled his appreciation. “Ms. Selina that is a rare problem. Though for most of your…old friends I think the preponderance of zircons and the handling of the proceeds by check, credit card and cell phone data kept most of them away.”

“It’s the guys that would show up for the chaos of it all while bringing card rippers sewn into wait staff coats that worry me,” Selina said curling up lips. “The jerkoffs that would always go too far and then I typically burned them.”

“I noticed that over the years, Ms. Selina,” Alfred said. “You’re a lady and my daughter for all intents and purposes so I won’t ask.”

“Lady?”

“Yes, in all the ways that matter.”

“How sweet,” Selina said. “Please tell me there’s at least the glimmer of a middle-aged possible Mrs. Pennyworth. You’re wasted on just being Bruce’s batman.”

“Now, who’s being kind?”

“Anyway, you didn’t want to ask and I thank you,” Selina said. “The answer is that I teased my old friends with not being a lady on just enough occasions to get them to chill out. That and throwing certain other loot their way to say sorry goes a long way.”

“And now that you’ve overtly changed sides…ish to stand up for the downtrodden?”

“I think they’d show up to any event I’m in a nice dress playing society wife, just to see me cry,” Selina said shivering at the thought. “Bringing us full circle to the deal at the podium.”

“You have more resources now, Ms. Selina,” Alfred said. “It is good to be Queen of Gotham.”

“So it seems.”

“And as a personal aside, your work on the fourth rubber chicken event you helped liven up always struck me as your most artistic work,” Alfred added.

“Nice thing to say,” Selina said. “Now get us home, please. I have lots of zombies to slay with Bruce.”

The limo proved easy to follow on the nearly empty highway out to the Heights. The black stretch moved rapidly at the sweet spot between the speed to get home and the probable tolerance of the Gotham City Police Department. A small drone kept the car squarely in view, just in case.

Burt West tried to remember things as he drove. Was he really Burt West? Who was Edison? Both people seemed to like movies to the exclusion of everything else and following the fashionable lady with a husband home with a broken leg scratched an itch called Rear Window. The problem was that nothing about the Wayne Manor lent itself to voyeurism upon the neighbors. Tomorrow’s problem, he thought making a lane change to be less obvious about the tail.

Spidermania Pt. 3

Posted: December 29, 2018 in Uncategorized

By G.N. Jacobs

The shoot ended early given that the director hired by the singer’s people actually had enough creativity sometimes called having the Eye, a blended skill set where a great photographer could catch the light to make America lust the mythical woman and a dramatist would create the illusion of love. In practice, a Steadi-Cam shot had caught all the emotional beats playing on MJ’s face without need for very many cut-ins and shaved the last three hours off the schedule for the expensive rental of Wrigley Field.

Peter learned these things because the 800-pound gorilla had made a point of touching him on the arm while holding the iPad with the proof copies. “Hey, Mister Parker, take a look.”

Peter caught his breath. He’d photographed MJ more than he could count on his fingers finding all the good moments. Still, these images found even more surprising depths to make the boyfriend jealous until MJ swore with the absolute sincerity of a child that hadn’t discovered lying she thought of her Tigger every moment. He needed to rent a vintage Cubs uniform, despite his hometown loyalties.

“Beautiful, Calvin,” Peter said after a long breath.

“Yeah, why I wanted her for this when her agent said she had this window for doing a gig in Chicago,” Calvin Short said. “But, I do my homework, you shoot a lot of stills of her and…”

“I should set stiffer filters on my Facebook,” Peter said realizing the awkward two seconds after saying the words.

For his part, Calvin enjoyed seeing Peter’s face play out the I Didn’t Mean to Say That tango. The man touched Peter’s arm all being right with the universe.

“Yeah, you and me both Mis…Pete,” Calvin said. “Anyway, you shoot MJ and while it’s visually different from how my guy sees her, there’s a lot of wow to how…”

“Thank you,” Peter said.

“You’re welcome,” Calvin said. “But, I’m not stupid, all resources that make my deal go better I tap. Especially, since we’re moving to the interiors tomorrow.”

“I’ll talk with your guy,” Peter agreed.

They shook hands sealing the deal. MJ sipped the last free macchiato of the day enjoying the view of her man expanding his professional horizons while the costume lady watched her like a hawk. It was, in strict point of fact, the kind of dress that most actress/models might steal off the set. She put up her hands and moved directly to the dressing room.

Peter and MJ enjoyed what passed for walking weather in Chicago dressed in jeans, but with just enough sweater to split the difference. They’d found a pizza man on a Southside street with thin slices that exceeded the Bronx and almost matched Queens. The man smiled behind his mustache providing cheesy triangles.

The museums provided a few hours of entertainment in the form of sketching MJ into all the classic pictures with women in them. MJ did the same but with far less output because she only wanted to see how Peter looked as the musketeer painted by contemporary of Rembrandt. His stance leaning on the sword made the sketch.

Wherever they went, recognition followed. Half wanted to gush over meeting a modestly famous model for many reasons. And fanboys and a few fangirls just wanted Peter to talk about last night’s bout with Tarantula Hawk, surprised that the couple hooked elbows in real life.

“Really, Mister Parker,” said a five-year-old boy with big eyes. “Why would you let the westlin’ witers do that to your girl?”

MJ stifled her laugh with a finger. “Young Man, it gets worse. Our writers don’t like what our bosses are doing and Pete and Henry made the whole thing up on the fly and…”

The boy didn’t like this answer having a brief moment where maybe the tyke would kick Peter in the shins for endangering his sweetie like that. It passed when MJ read the moment and patted his head.

“It was all pretend,” MJ said. “Henry and Peter are sort of good friends out of the ring.”

“No, Miss Watson,” the boy said doubling down. “You really like him and pretend is all untrue.”

Peter shrugged letting MJ lean in on this particular shovel.

“I do really like Peter,” MJ said. “That’s why it played so well last night. People who are really great at pretend mix the untrue with the true so it feels real…”

“But isn’t that lying?”

MJ raised an eyebrow at Peter at the curious balanced reality working behind this fan’s eyes. How to explain storytelling to a tyke that understood the choreography in wrestling but not the underlying narrative theory? Peter shrugged, just because he could fire off good notes and ideas to the writers didn’t mean he could fully explain things.

“A storyteller does that because if he pretends all the time, the person hearing or reading decides that it isn’t a fun story,” MJ said. “If he tells the real all the time, it still isn’t a fun story. The storyteller balances the two. What makes it not a lie is that the storyteller doesn’t use his words to hurt people and a liar does.”

The boy cocked his head only partially assimilating this new information from the advanced class. Peter promised the boy that he would always stick up for MJ in the story and that was enough for the boy. A pinky-swear upon the most holy of things, a list including a puppy, a Crackerjack decoder ring and his copy of the White Album. And then Peter had a wrong idea.

“Son, you seem remarkably well informed about wrestling…”

MJ caught the undercurrent and glared at Peter to no avail.

“…I wonder how you knew we have writers?” Peter asked.

“My budder told me.”

“I see, as long as you don’t listen to him about Santa Claus,” Peter said.

MJ pinched her boyfriend. The boy stuck his fingers in his ears and hummed loudly. Obviously, St. Nick was a true line in the sand.

The boys’ parents and the offending older brother appeared out of the crowd revealed in the distorted mirrored blobby thing installed as public art. The mother was worried about the boy slipping away from the family to explore shiny new things, until she saw a happy couple occupying her son’s time. Quizzical stares went around.

“Folks, Google the Green Spider,” Peter suggested.

Many selfies and autographs passed between them. The mother waited until they went a few steps before laying into the boy about wandering off. Peter created eye contact with the older brother and made the I’m Watching You gesture.

“Our future, MJ?” Peter asked.

“I hope so, Tigger,” MJ said as she leaned into his body using the kind of voice that expressed boundless hope. “But, haven’t you learned yet, Blockhead, that you absolutely don’t tell little kids about Santa?”

“I didn’t,” Peter said with mock defensiveness. “I told him not to listen when his douchebag older brother does.”

“Which is backhandedly the same thing, Dummy,” MJ asserted. “If you tell the boy not to listen, then subconsciously you also just told him that his brother might have something and…”

Peter kissed MJ’s forehead getting the first stages of melting the metaphorical butter. She kissed back to the cheers of the crowd.

“Okay, maybe, I’m using too much relationship jujitsu here…”

“Jujitsu being something I’m good at…”

“Maybe, Tigger,” MJ said. “I want a good hot dog instead of the nice place you have lined up tonight.”

“Inscribed on the corner of my eye with a needle as a lesson to the circumspect and faithful,” Peter said hand to his heart.

Arm in arm the happy couple strolled occasionally stopping people dressed for work for the 411 on a good hot dog cart. Peter’s spider senses kicked in as an unspecified reason for his arm hairs to stand on end despite his coat. MJ felt it too holding onto her man.

A beetle made of iridescent blue steel flew behind the happy couple. An aperture widened on the robo-bug’s right eye. It took a proper following distance about twenty feet.

Batman: First Person Bat Pt. 3

Posted: December 29, 2018 in Uncategorized

By G.N. Jacobs

The cast itched in ways for which Bruce Wayne completely lost the words. And then there was the extra itchiness and his ass falling asleep in the chair. Misery on the half-shell, he thought as Selina rolled him down Wayne Manor’s South Hall, designed to catch the sunlight during winter.

Bruce sighed passing the armor room wondering if the claymores needed dusting and knowing that if it did, Alfred would deal with it before most people could think. He shifted in his seat possibly trolling for more attention. It worked; Selina leaned in to hug her man with maximum dispatch and then she picked up the scratching tool that reached under the cast.

Alfred brought up the rear stepping silently on the parquet floor taking pleasure at the intimacies shared in the the patch of sunlight through the window with the best view of the Gotham skyline.

“With your permission, Madame Wayne, I thought I would start dinner,” Alfred said softly.

Selina shivered slightly hearing her new title. She stood up hiding behind a finger trying to figure out the best way to make nice with Bruce’s father figure while acknowledging that her circumstances had changed. A moment of I can cook warred with if I wanted to keep cooking I shouldn’t marry the 50th richest man in America.

“I suppose the operation will go faster with someone cutting the salad,” Alfred offered. “This way.”

With that the trio took a left turn through another door to the small kitchen in a different wing of the Manor.

The plot wouldn’t score high on the list of all-time criminal plots. Two men sketched out possibilities with the precision of Patton closing his half of the Falaise Gap. The mark walked by the target at exactly 2.75 miles per hour. One man needed to get ahead in the alley between the ancient brick-clad tenements with back plastered against the grimy wall. The second man would run up from behind with a sock filled with D-cell batteries.

The goons wearing khakis and warm wool coats went back and forth trying to figure out which man should take which task. It fell to a game of Rock, Paper, Scissor. The taller man lost going Rock v. Paper and took the sock swinging it over each shoulder just to test the feel.

Dick Grayson crouched below the rail briefly wondering about his life trajectory that made hiding on rooftops seem like a good idea. The neighborhood loved its ancient and chipped brick, what with the unknown blended smell over which copious amounts of urine had splashed on top. Orange streetlights created the kinds of shadows that only the skilled in spandex could hide.

He watched the developing tactical problem of two muggers and one muggee meeting violently somewhere deep in the Gotham Narrows. The tall man waited behind a dumpster tapping a heavy sock. The shorter man hid up ahead of his confederate flicking a well-oiled butterfly knife.

Dick checked the mirror that kept the tall goon squarely in view. Sprinting over to check the other mirror, the short man replaced his knife in favor of a ten-inch length of bare rebar. He tapped the metal into his hand beating out a rhythm much like a double-time waltz.

Into this tableau walked a man clacking his expensive metal tipped cane on the crumbling sidewalks that hadn’t seen a road crew in five decades. Dick memorized the distances behind closed eyes ready to pounce.

CLACK! The well to do potential victim walked slowly ever closer. The tall man stifled a sneeze. The short man dropped his rebar…only to catch it before clattering on the pavement. Dick adjusted his dark domino mask that really shouldn’t be so effective at hiding his face from public view in both Gotham and Blüdhaven.

CLACK! Another three feet closer. The well-to-do man searched his environment checking the rooftops and the darkened recesses that just barely qualified as alleys. He nervously ran his finger along the blue felt brim of his fedora like a spitball pitcher losing the extra petroleum jelly before the umpire’s inspection.

CLACK! Closer. The man gripped the chromed ball at the tip of his cane. Dick’s sharp eyes saw the silent draw on the hilt revealing a two inches of a custom made cane blade that caught the orange sodium lights all manner of wrong. Dick searched his memory for people of this mystery man’s general build likely to use a sword cane coming up blank.

CLACK! The tall mugger shifted his weight. Dick scratched and adjusted his purple-black spandex designed to catch the dark just so. He breathed finding the silent Om getting ready for battle. Nightwing, Dick thought to himself using his spandex codename to psych up. You got this these goons are easy meat. Quick fisticuffs and then get a muffin around the corner.

CLACK! The victim stepped into the trap. The tall goon stepped out early silently stalking the easy mark with hat and briefcase. The shorter goon planted against the near wall around the corner from the mugging site. Dick checked the mirror covering the tall mugger…

A man shape resolved out of the many shadows on the street. Clearly, someone or something stood up deeper in the alley with a carbon filament light behind them. The shape wore a cloak and a bat ears on its head. Dick didn’t see because he was busy gripping the edge of the roof ready to leap.

The tall man saw the shadow on the building across the street while Dick fell to the sidewalk using a mini-descender rig to cheat gravity. SCHRING! The well-to-do man with the hat completely drew his sword.

“Aiiieeeeeeee!” shrieked the tall man as he ran anywhere but here.

“Fuck, I’m gone!” shouted the short goon joining his friend in fleeing.

Dick stood up from landing on all fours to be the last person to see the bat shadow. He shook his head before turning to the well dressed man holding a rapier in Fourth Position. Eye contact between man in a mask and a man in a hat with wicked sharp blade.

“Oh, so this is one of those cities,” the man with sword said with a piqued tone of voice.

Dick stepped across the pavement to shake the newcomer’s hand. The swordsman saluted as if standing on the saber runway and turned to run into another part of the dark. The bat shadow remained on the building across the street leaving the Hero Known as Nightwing to shake his head.

“Hey! I thought you were going to let me do this!” Dick said loudly to the source of the shadow.

The shadow shrugged.

Back at Wayne Manor, Bruce laid back on the one couch on the upper floor allowed to be grooved with frequent use. Plates of food lay half eaten on the coffee table. Selina had found the best way to share the couch with her husband without hurting his broken leg. She kissed Bruce’s forehead and pulled the VR goggles from his eyes.

“Bruce, cool robot,” Selina said. “But, don’t you think maybe you should’ve told Dick about tonight? He’s got Blüdhaven on his plate, too.”

“Ooops,” Bruce said.