it was just another day, like any other day. something good was going on somewhere. something bad was going down somewhere too. like a tale of two cities, or a hidden identity. something with teeth waiting beneath the rainbow. last week's humidity had finally dispelled and the afternoon was warm, but nice. bordering just on being hot, threatening to push that edge in an hour or two. suddenly:
'hey. what r u up to?' a familiar question in an unfamiliar voice. i knew what was going on here.
'are you looking for ashley?'
ashley had been taunting me from somewhere beyond. the most quotidian of things were repeatedly besmirched by the spectre of her past. ordering pizza. reading a book. enjoying the outdoors. she never showed up, but was always there, lurking, a threat not-quite promised, a scythe never quite swinging.
'yes. who is this?'
'not ashley.' i thought that would scare off the ghost.
'then who is this?' 'i mean like what is ur name?'
i threw the phantom a handful of misdirection: 'i'm the joker. or maybe i'm batman. it's so hard to tell the difference these days...'
i waited, biding the minutes to see if my ruse were uncovered.
'o i c. in that case i am super man.'
clark, despite his failings, is an impeccable typist - years of working for a newspaper will do that to a guy. not only would he never misspell his own name, he would never resort to the crass aberrations found so frequently in text-speak.
'you got it, supes.' i thought again this would deter my assailant.
'lol ya what are you doin batty.' clark always calls me 'bats.' interesting. there's only one man on the planet who calls me batty to my face. the crown prince of crime. the master of mayhem. the one-man insane clown posse: the joker.
now that i knew who i was dealing with, i ended our discussion. for all his razzle-dazzle and his chaos, the joker is little more than a lunchroom bully: if you don't let him bait you, he'll leave you alone. and usually gotham as well.
then, this morning, after hours of silence:
'hey what r u doin'
damn. he's a relentless clown. i answered honestly, letting him know i knew who he was: 'getting some sleep after a long night protecting the citizens of gotham.'
i waited. would i have to go back out there? would gotham once again need salvation from its own red-headed, painted-face step-child?
'o i c. i was just having some fun with mrs. superman. hahaha......'
that laugh. it haunts my dreams and my waking moments alike. i could hear it, from wherever he was, like cat-claws on a chalkboard. i know what it means: lois is in trouble...
and i gotta go to work....
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