ID: Your year’s almost up. If you’re still planning on kicking you’d better hurry up.
B: I never planned on dying before the 52 interviews were over. In fact, I think I’m sticking around for a while, yet.
ID: As in not dying, or as in more interviews?
B: Both, probably. I can’t see me shutting up any time too soon, can you?
ID: Not unless parts of Harvey’s anatomy were used to damn up your dike of a mouth.
ID: Too far?
B: So far.
ID: Good. Because I wanted you distracted for a moment, because you’re not going to like this topic.
ID: So you’ve figured it out.
B: Based on that? No. You just usually don’t warn me and it’s usually pretty bad, so if you’re warning me…
ID: I want to talk about Red Hood. Not just the urban legend. But the time you nearly caught him.
B: How much do you know?
ID: Enough to know if you’re lying. And if you lie, I’ll tell it my way, and the light will be as unflattering as my exceptional skills of deprecation can make it.
B: Like you said, the Red Hood was an urban legend. But because of that, criminals started using a red hood and cape get up to perpetuate it. And any time I caught somebody in a red hood and cape, well, they just said they were a decoy, and the real Red Hood was still out there. Convenient, right?
ID: So lots of Saddam body doubles.
B: Essentially. But this particular night, there was a break-in at Ajax chemicals. Some low-rent thugs. But they had along a novice, wearing the red hood and cape. I showed up, chased the thugs off.
But the Red Hood runs up rather than away. I took that as a savvy escape plan, and I chased after him. In retrospect, he was just panicked, trying like hell to figure out a way to get distance between me and him. But I pursued him, doggedly. He trips, over a guard rail over a large vat of chemicals, a lot of byproducts that were being cooked down so they could be disposed of. Ajax was doing something fairly illegal, though, because they were highly reactive, and the area where they were dumping the chemicals were supposed to be rendered inert.
The Red Hood manages to catch the rail, but he’s sweating profusely. And I get there, and as I’m about to grab him to haul him up, he freaks out, somehow believing that I’m worse than whatever’s below him- and from up there the smoke coming off it is burning my eyes and my lungs, making my nose run.
ID: Criminals are a stupid, cowardly lot. And you stupid and cowarded this guy to death.
B: He let go. But he didn’t die. Of course, you know that.
ID: And who was he?
B: He’s systematically stolen, burned or altered all of his records. I’ve never been able to ascertain who he was before the accident.
ID: You’ve been doing so well; this isn’t the time to get shy. What name would the public know this disfigured if jolly man as?
B: The Joker.
ID: The audience gasps. So you created the Joker.
B: No. I failed to save him. I terrified him, made him anxious and clumsy, and then when he fell into that vat of roiling chemicals, I failed to catch him. But I didn’t create him.
ID: Okay, I can see the distinction you want to make; you didn’t bake the crazy cake, but you certainly had a hand in stirring the batter. Cracked a few of the insane eggs, if you will. And that certainly explains some of his obsession with you.
B: I think mostly that comes from his belief that we’re alike, mirrored images, changed only slightly by the viewing angle. He honestly thinks he’s teaching me about the world, that he’s helping prepare me for its harsh realities- when he wouldn’t know reality
ID: If it were baked into a pie and thrown at him.
B: Something like that. But why now? Where’d this blackmailable information come from?
ID: Anonymous note from a Mr. White. Three guesses to who that is, and the first two don’t count.
B: Joker. Bastard.
ID: And it feels kind of crappy to be used by somebody like him, but I’m a journalist. And dollars to donuts he wasn’t going to just send this to me. This way, your version of events gets to be the lead.
B: Justify however you like. We both know what you are.
ID: All we’re arguing over is the price? It’s a bad economy all around, but it’s a worse one for journalists. You might have the luxury of principals. But mine isn’t an industry that’s ever had that luxury. It’s expensive enough trying to stick to the truth.
Besides, the difference I see between you and the Joker- the fundamental difference- is that he hides from reality, behind his delusions and his humor. You don’t.
B: That’s convenient.
ID: Sometimes the truth is. Sometimes it isn’t. I’m not an arbiter of fairness; I just want to get at wants honest, and human, and real. You do, too- because you think it’s important for people to see where who you are came from- or you wouldn’t be here.
B: But what if I’ve decided I don’t like where ‘here’ is getting me?