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The World's Greatest Detective
I woke up on the linoleum, suctioned onto it like a squid with my drool and spilled orange juice. I peeled myself off. Had they all gone home, or would I find somebody sleeping in my bathtub? Thank God I'd put the canvases away.
The apartment was trashed. The rugs were all stained, lamps broken, fridge wide open. Bare footprints on the hardwood, bits of hair and cheese on the couches. The living room window was open and a puddle of rainwater filled half my living room. I thought about leaving it, letting the rain cover the apartment and wash away the sweaty smell. Instead I wrapped my robe around myself and stuck my head into the night rain.
A grey shape hit me in the stomach, and before blacking out my vision was filled by a purple starburst with POW! written in green in the center.
"Holy terrycloth Batman! He's out like a light!"
For the second time I woke up, this time in my overstuffed chair. Cables bit into my arms, and a roughly gloved hand lifted my head by the chin. My stomach felt like it had been ruptured.
A middle aged man in a costume made of grey tight fabric with a wrinkled black hood and cape looked down at me. It was the Batman, but up close his mask looked more like a pig.
"What do you know about Victor Iktam?" He had a little yellow plate on his chest. Plastic or just starched fabric? He drew eyebrows on his mask with white crayon. Why did he draw eyebrows on his mask?
Something sharp poked me in the ribs. A dwarfish boy of nine or so with a heroically set jaw glared at me from behind a domino mask.
"You look bigger in the pape-" The spandexed gremlin must have known karate. With the speed of a locomotive his boot landed in my balls. The impact hit my stomach and kept moving through my body, like a bubble up through water until the bile trickled out of my mouth. My eyes crossed and went numb with tears.
Batman slapped me until I came to. My vision was a web of overlapping "Bams," "Whaps!" and "PLAP!s" like the graffiti on a truck stop toilet stall.
"Quit stalling. We know everything- you criminal masterminds can never resist leaving clues behind can you?"
He grabbed me by the collar, and I wondered if he didn't have a kitten to rescue.
"Your gallery in the Gotham Museum of Fine Art? The Steamboats made of money? The giant clementines!"
Robin giggled piggishly and sadistically.
"I- what? I was commenting on-"
"Clementines? More like Samuel Clemens! Victor Iktam was cut in half- or should I say cleft in twain- Mark Twain!? I'd have ignored it if you hadn't painted all those steamboats! What are you planning you fiend!"
Batman had a little notebook in his hand and I new I was doomed when I saw that he'd put a tiny bat watermark on every page and wrote with a bat winged pen.
"That's a commentary on Post-Modernism in Political Cartoons- it's a very self aware art form-"
"Ka-Blazo!" Was what the Blue explosion said when he backhanded me across the jaw. I realized that I'd lost three teeth before I knew what had happened.
"It's a commentary on a murder by buzzsaw in the Gotham Mint done to cover up the heist of a gold locomotive!"
The world's greatest detective proceeded to explain how he had interpreted my "clues" to find me here while Robin nodded sagely. I explained that I was hungover.
"-So naturally I deduced from the halibut left at the scene of the crime that the perpetrator was either some new Supervillain or Two Face! And since Two Face is in Arkham..."
"Why does he do it Batman?"
"He's sick Robin. A degenerate, atavistic pervert, but also a mastermind. I'm not sure why he does it, but I know that we need to stop him before he robs the Railroad Museum!
I tried to make eye contact, to achieve some sort of understanding. We met eyes, but his gaze was wide and jocular, his pupils dilated. He looked in my direction, but he looked at a distant bat-horizon from some corner of his bat-mind. There would be no understanding.
The silence was broken by the opening of the front door. Someone stumbled through the door.
"Rick! I left my keys in your uh refrigerator... Rick? I'm just gonna- I threw up in your bedroom just so you know... a little while ago that is I mean- do you mind if I borrow a jacket, because mine is- wet and I don't know what exactly the wet is per say, and you know, it's probably just water or juice, but I mean it could be anything, anything at all, and I couldn't deal with the feeling-"
My stomach shuddered and I tried to yell.
"Call the cops Bill! Run away and call the-"
A satiny fist landed in the bruise on my stomach,which was fine since I was out of vomit and had gone numb.
"Holy Nero's Beard Batman! His goons are after us!" Robin drew a wicked looking boomerang from somewhere in his costume.
"Your henchmen don't stand a chance fiend!"
From downstairs the slow sound of inaccurate urination reached our ears. Bill began to sing in a wavering voice. Batman and Robin glanced at each other then bounded to the stairs, capes streaming proudly.
"Banananana-na-nuh-na na- Batman- BATman! You say something Rick? Shananananannananana Bat-"
A piercing low wail thrummed through the floorboards, like the death cry of a walrus.
"And that" said the batman who was suddenly next to me, close enough to smell my breath and sweat and fear "Is why you don't hire cheap goons to do your dirty work. They're a superstitious and cowardly lot."
Somebody had been passing around little squares of orange paper and I realized that the Batman would be a hell of a thing to lay on a head full of acid.
"Let's take this scumbag to jail- we have to get to the Train Museum before Four Fourty Four in the morning!"
A bat's silhouette appeared majestically on a bank of rolling stormclouds.
'Holy expletive Batman! The Batsignal!"
"We've been tricked! You fiend- to the batmobile Robin!"
The disappeared through the living room window. Of course they didn't untie me, and the rainwater grew in a puddle around the open window. He'd be back of course. Maybe once this was straightened out I could try to sell him some sculptures to go with all the giant pennies and stuff he's supposed to keep in the batcave.
Was Bill dead?