Chapter 2: The Plot Unfolds
Batman took the phone from Gordon and placed the receiver to his ear. He could hear the labored breathing he knew all too well on the other end of the call.
“Hello flying rodent.” said the voice. “Have you figured out my cohort’s little riddle yet? Or has your brain come to yet another grinding halt? I can fix that for you…I just need to take it out and apply some lubricant and before you know…”
“Get to the point you diseased maniac.” said Batman gruffly. “What do you want now Joker?”
The laughter on the phone could be heard by everyone in the office and lasted for a good two minutes before its author was composed enough to speak again.
“I don’t want anything Blunderman.” said the Joker. “My associates wanted your liver on a stick but I had calmed them down but now, I don’t know. At any rate there is a man named Simon walking towards the office right now. He’ll explain what the problem is and then I will call back with the solution.”
As Batman placed the receiver in the hook, the office door opened and a young patrolman announced a Mr. Simon Cowell needed to speak with Commissioner Gordon. Even as he was speaking the gruff musical entrepreneur was pushing his way past the young man.
“Commissioner Gordon?” he asked as he entered the room. “Which of you is Gordon?”
“I’m Jim Gordon Mr. Cowell.” answered the slightly annoyed policeman. “How can I help you?”
Gordon had purposely left out the part where the Joker had told them he was coming in. He listened as the manager told him of the exit his band made after the show and that they had not shown up at either their hotel or the casino for the photo shoot. He threw a cell phone that looked as if it had caught fire on the desk explaining that when he called the number of the driver a signal of some kind sounded through the phone and it began to smolder.
Batman had taken a place along the way and had so far escaped the roving eye of Simon. He wanted the man to speak without seeing him and being distracted and he wasn’t disappointed.
“I want my boys found now Commissioner” he said, “or I’ll sue you, your department, and your whole damned city! Those boys are worth a fortune to me!”
“They’re probably worth more to their parents.” said Batman from behind the angry manager. “We have a lead and I’ll be looking into it.”
“BLOODY HELL!” shouted Simon as he jumped back from the sight of the man in black. “I thought you were a bloody legend.”
Batman allowed a rare smile at the man’s shock and moved to take the phone as it began to ring and Gordon answered it once more. Gordon nodded towards him and hand it off while Simon stared in disbelief.
“Good thing he said they were boys” chuckled the Joker. “I was thinking of taking the one I had. Glad I didn’t, I’m sure I would have been quite disappointed. I thought Niall was a girl’s name.”
“You have him Joker, where are the rest?” asked the dark knight. “And what do you want for their return? Me?”
“Now why would I want you Barfman?” he answered. “You can’t sing. Or can you? It doesn’t matter…they can’t sing either. No, no, no, I don’t want you or money or real estate. I don’t want anything. Well, I do want something…I want to hear the shattering hearts around the world. I want to hear a billion little girls crying. And I want that pompous jackass Cowell brought to his knees.”
The Batman turned a glance towards Simon as he listened to the Joker. One look told him that if this maniac delivered the band to him in five baggies tonight he would just go find five other boys tomorrow.
“He’s not that kind Joker.” responded Batman. “He’s a lot like you when it comes to compassion.”
“Nonsense Batman!” sounded the chilling voice. “He can kneel. Watch!”
A split second later the glass shattered behind Gordon and the bullet whizzed by his elbow in its down-ward trajectory towards Simon Cowell’s leg. A moment later the manager was indeed on the floor grasping the wounded leg and screaming like a madman. Of all the men in the office only Batman was still on his feet.
“See? I told you he could kneel.” laughed the Joker before turning deadly serious. “Here are the options Batman. I have Horan as I’ve said. The other four are in the hands of my associates. Each one is hidden somewhere in the city. At eight o’clock the five of them will cease to exist. You have less than eight hours you flying jerk. Then the music stops.”
“Why are you doing this Joker?” asked Batman. “This is sick even for you.”
The phone erupted in the maniacal laughter of the most dangerous man Gotham had ever seen for the second time that night.
“Why am I doing it?” he laughed. “Because it sounds like fun you moron! Ta-ta Batman.”
As the dark avenger hung the phone up again he looked at the shattered window behind Gordon and knew his first stop would be the upper floors of the Gotham Daily Gazette offices across the street. He nodded to Gordon as he unclipped the grappling hook blaster from his belt and sent the strong line across the street and solidly into the wall. A moment later his dark silhouette flew soundlessly across the street and into an open window.
“A video camera and a remote controlled .22 rifle.” he thought. “This is worthless. I better get moving. There’s a lot of ground to cover and at eight am the world loses a bad band but five mothers lose their sons. Not acceptable.”