This is written for D Wallace Peach’s November Writing Challenge
‘Hi, Bat, you okay to take a call?’
‘Who is it, Alfred?’
‘The Mayor of Gotham. Sounds a bit angsty.’
‘He’s always angsty. Put him on.’
The Bat smoothed his cape and noticed a tear with annoyance. You just couldn’t get a decent cape these days. A couple of conflagrations, maybe a small Armageddon and pfft! You’re off to Bat About Town again.
‘Hi,’ the Bat recognised the nasal congestion that distinguished the mayor from the normally aspirated. ‘That you, Batman?’
‘Mr Mayor? How’s Gotham? My spies tell me it’s still predominantly crime free and peaceful.’
The Bat waited and then said, ‘I sense a ‘but’ coming…’
‘Better than a butt kicking.’ The speaker laughed then coughed and finally rather too obviously spat.
It was a different voice but another familiar one. ‘You on the line too, Chief Blue? My lucky day. How can I help Gotham’s finest?’
‘Well…’The Mayor hesitated and the Bat tapped his gloved hand on his rippling thighs. ‘Shall I go first, Chief?’
‘It’s you who’s go the problem, Mayor.’
‘It’s everyone’s problem Chief.’
‘I think it really is yours.’
The Bat began to interrupt when the Mayor said, ‘Look, Batman, it’s the peace bit. That’s the issue.’
‘How so Mayor? It’s what you always wanted. You made it plain you’d done with constant battles on your streets and in your skies and if I couldn’t bring about peace then you’d have to downgrade my bat-rating – there was some talk of bringing in other Avengers.’
‘That was never serious, Batman and anyway you did what we asked, that’s true. Only it’s no use.’
The Chief made a sort of snorting noise. ‘It’s great. C’mon Mayor, admit it. Since the Bat finished his contract and moved on, all the misbegotten misfits who’d inhabited the sewers and junk yards and alleys have gone too.’
‘Exactly,’ said the Mayor, ‘and now your fat and living the good life. Look, it’s been fine for you and yours, cruising about, looking good but tourism’s down, hospitals are closing and the construction industry is barely functioning. Throw in the closures of hardware stores, gunsmiths, Gentlemen’s lycra outfitters, car repair shops, rocket boot makers and spotlight silhouette artists… and you name it, we’re struggling. We had a Bat-based economy and now we have a business mutiny that is ready to explode.’
Batman sighed. He’d warned them. ‘I’m sure your economy will rebalance itself. Given time.’
‘Exactly,’ said the Chief. ‘Time.’
‘That’s precisely what I don’t have, Chief Blue. If I was you I’d enjoy your indolence, because it could be coming to a brutally short ending. Arianna Dove pips me in the upcoming election, she’ll get rid of you as fast as ever the Bat did for the Cat. She’s commissioned a poll that purports to show the only reason there was so much crime here was because Batman was here. Her take is Batman was just setting himself to be shot down so he could then do the shooting down, and so on. And all the conspiracy theorists are saying I profited from all those growth businesses.’
‘Well you did Mayor.’ The Bat felt tired. He hated politics.
‘That’s not the point, Batman. Can you help?’
The Bat flicked open his contacts list. ‘I can give you a number.’
‘But I called you on the hotline. I kept it going just in case.’
‘You don’t need me in Gotham. Call this number, tell them I gave you their number and explain and they’ll soon have things back in order.’
‘Who am I calling?’ The Mayor sounded suspicious.
‘The Joker. He coordinates all the criminals and crackpots. He’ll sort out some unpleasant crime and once I get the call I will come and clean things up.’
There was a short silence before the Chief said, ‘It was before my time, Batman, when you first appeared but this isn’t how it worked then, is it?’
The Mayor spoke before the Bat could reply. ‘Sometimes Blue, you say the silliest things.’