❯ Living in Gotham – Encounter 5 ( Chapter 6 )
[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
Once I hit the Riddler with my car.
I’ve never been what you would call an experienced driver. Its not that I’m a bad driver, its just that I don’t do it that often. In my own defense, I’ve never been in an accident that was my fault.
Fortunately, in Gotham you can walk virtually everywhere. And if good old-fashioned walking isn’t your style, there’s the subway, the monorail, and taxies. Unfortunately, none of these marvelous options of public transportation have enhanced my skills at the wheel.
One night in the early morning hours, very early morning, I was jarred from sleep by a phone call from a panicked friend. While I slowly gathered my faculties, she fitfully relayed that while she was not in immediate danger she needed a ride home straight away. In the next few moments we exchanged necessary information and I reassured her that I would be there in a few moments.
In a sleepy daze I pulled on clothes and searched the floor for my flip-flops. Once I felt appropriately dressed I attempted to leave my bedroom but hit my shoulder on the doorframe on the way out.
“Ohh…” I was confused why a doorframe would go out of its way to make me hit it. I made a face at it and felt a little better.
I stumbled down the hall, but cut the corner to the stairwell to close and hit the corner of the wall with the other shoulder.
“I hate you.” I affirmed. I felt that it was a strong possibility that the doorframe and wall were conspiring to take me out.
About halfway down the stairs, I took a misstep and bounced on my posterior all the way to bottom step.
“You’re kidding!” I declared to the ceiling, “A trifecta, well played house.”
Now completely awake and pissed, I walked without incident to the front door. I stood with my hand on the door handle for a moment. I knew I was forgetting something critical but I couldn’t remember what it was.
I walked into the kitchen and grabbed the car keys that lay on the counter. Finally, I made it to the door, unlocked it and stepped out in to the night air. It wasn’t cold, but the air was crisp. I found it refreshing as I walked over to my car.
I unlocked the car, got in, checked my mirrors, took a deep breath and turned the key in the ignition. I pulled away from the curb and proceeded to complete my mission.
There was not another car on the road. Everything was still and silent. I started to marvel at the condition of the streets. I couldn’t remember a time where Gotham was quite.
When I was about a half mile from my destination, I was stopped by a red light. The red light was… annoying. I studied the road. My circumstances had not changed, I was still the only car on the road, and it seemed absurd that I would have to wait for a red light.
As I brewed over the irrelevant light, I started to hear a faint low rumble. Soon the rumble was not faint but growing louder and quickly approaching. I peeked into my review mirror. Not to far off was a motorcycle. I kept watch over the bike as it continued towards me. Something about it seemed unbalanced. The way it moved was sharper and more erratic than an experienced driver. I couldn’t help but watch it’s foreboding approach.
Even though my eyes were transfixed to my side view mirror, I could see green light slash across my chest. Lifting my foot from the brake, I slowly pressed down on the gas and rolled into the intersection. By this point I could feel the reverberations of the bike’s engine in my rib cage. The driver of the motorcycle was not slowing down in the least. It seemed that the bike would quickly whip around me. In preparation for said event, I concentrated driving as steadily as humanly possible, eyes focused dead ahead.
My focus was broken however when the bike passed too close, hitting my side view mirror and ripping it off the car.
“Holy crap!” My hands involuntarily let go of the wheel and covered my heart. In hindsight, it would have been better to have maintained control of the car, as when I let go, the car drifted in the motorcycle, taping its rear wheel. Consequently, the bike and its driver shot diagonally across the road in a movement resembling a snake having a seizure.
A street light obligingly stopped the cyclist from crashing directly into a store’s front windows. However, the impact didn’t look like it hurt any less. The front wheel hit the pole straight on, throwing the driver over the handlebars, head first into the metal. I watched in disbelief as the driver actually bounced off the pole back onto the seat of the bike. For a split second I though that since he had been returned to his proper place on the bike, he would recover from the crash. It seemed though that inertia was not quite finished yet. The bike fell to the ground twisting the driver so that his back was resting against of the street light and his left leg pinned under the motorcycle.
My car was stopped in the middle of the right lane. I was still clutching at my heart and gasping for air. For a brief moment I wondered if motorcycles blow up after crashes. Then after deciding that it was very unlikely I threw open my door and ran out to the victim.
“Are you ok?” I yelled out panicked.
As a got closer I noticed something strange. It was a very thin man who had been driving. His physical build was not the least bit intimidating. He was dressed in a green suit covered in black question marks. And on top of his head was a smashed green bowler hat.
Oh my God, I hit the Riddler!
Remarkably, the street lamp was still working providing a perfect round of light that encased him. I stopped just at the lights edge, surveying the damage. It was a lot; I couldn’t leave him there like that. I took my first step toward him fully aware that I had hit a man with my car that even The Batman has trouble with. I would live through this night, but if the Riddler found out anything about me, I would certainly be dead when he recovered.
I kneeled down where he rested, picked up his wrist and felt for a pulse. There was one. My brain was scrambling to remember the steps of CPR.
I ask are you choking… shit that’s the Heimlich.
Then finally it came to me that you needed to see if the victim is really unconscious and not breathing on their own. I put my hand on his shoulder and lightly shook him.
“Are you ok? Sir, are you alright?”
“Can you hear me Mr. Riddler? Are you ok?”
Still no reply, so I conclude he was probably unconscious. Next step, see if he is breathing. I put my ear close to his mouth and nose and listened intently. I could feel small and gentle breaths against my skin. I was relived and hung there for a few moments to make sure that the breathing continued.
“Your hair smells good.” A quite whisper said into my ear. It was so unexpected that I jumped back about a foot.
“Oh my God.” I yipped. I stared back in shock. He had spoken, so this meant that he was breathing and conscious. A good thing I supposed, but he hadn’t made a move when I tried to stir him. I gathered myself and spoke, “My hair smells good? You go ass over end into a street lamp, and all you can say is my hair smells good.”
“I’ve been considering what to say since you ran over here.”
“You’ve been conscious this whole time? It would have been really helpful for me to know that.”
“Probably. I wanted to see if you would give me mouth to mouth. But since I’m in no condition to hold my breath I couldn’t fake it any longer.”
“Well, the evil mastermind is also a perv. Good to know.” I said in frustration. The Riddler has a small smile sliding up one side of his cheek.
“Frick’n son of a bitch my head hurts.” He said as he continued to sit against the pole.
“I bet. How’s your leg?” I questioned.
He looked down calmly at his leg pinned under the bike. “Oh didn’t notice that.” He looked up at me. I could see the panic start to build up in his eyes. “Holy shit. It’s stuck. Oh my God, get it off get it off get it off!”
“Ok ok.” I replied.
I walked over to the other side of the bike, grabbed onto the handlebars and pulled. The bike was incredibly heavy I couldn’t lift it. Instead coming straight up when I pulled the bike slid out, further twisting and crushing the Riddler’s leg.
“SHIT! Stop Stop. What part of sliding the bike did you think was a good idea?” he screamed.
“I wasn’t trying to slide it. The bike is too heavy.” I screamed back.
“Lift it off!”
“Fuck. Just slide it. Just move it. Get the bike off my leg.”
“It’s going to hurt!” I yelled.
“It hurts like a bitch already. GET IT OFF!”
I must have had serge of adrenalin; I don’t typically have yelling matches with super villains. On my second attempt I was able to better lift the motorcycle off of him. It still wasn’t a pain free operation. The Riddler swore at me the whole time. Finally, when the bike was completely off, he changed his tune and breath, “You’re a good girl.”
I put my face in my hands and rubbed my eyes. When I felt like I had massaged enough tension away, I peeked through my fingers down at his leg. It was mangled. His pants were shredded. Wherever skin was exposed there were bloody scrapes, cuts and bruises.
“That looks bad.” I sighed as knelt down to look closer at the mess of a leg.
“How’s the bike?” he asked.
I looked back at him quizzically. “About as good as your leg.” I answered.
“Great, first ride and the bike gets totaled.”
“Yea, I’m learning.” He angrily stated.
“What are you doing with a motorcycle? Honestly. Don’t you have people that drive you around? What are you thinking?”
“I was thinking that I would practice in the middle of the night so that no one would get hurt! This is your fault! What the hell are you doing out this late” He yelled back.
“If you hadn’t noticed I’m not the one hurt. You were going pull this little maneuver all by yourself regardless of whether I was here or not!” I was yelling just as loud as him now.
“You hit me!”
“Says the man who clipped the car!”
We paused. Both of us were breathing heavy.
“Is the yelling helping?” I calmly asked.
“A little.” He calmly answered.
I sat down next to him and looked into the light and let it wash over my face. “So first ride…”
“Yeah, well I’m looking…” he paused like he wasn’t sure he wanted to continue. He did anyway, “…I’m looking for an edge.”
“You know something that, you know, makes me like… look a little tougher… and I thought that, you know, a motorcycle might do that.”
“Why would you need an edge? All of Gotham knows that your…good at what you do.”
“Well yeah, all of Gotham knows, but the people that really count… you know a big job goes down and nobody even considers… I mean the first thing Batman says is `This is too big for the Riddler, better go get the Joker’. You have any idea what it’s like to have your hard work and master scheming mistaken for that clown.”
“Well it’s horrible. Deflates my ego.”
“Ok well… if you’re looking for an edge… and since you should never drive a bike again… under any circumstances… maybe you could ride in a sidecar?
“No one looks cool in a sidecar. Out of the question. I’m too smart to ride in a sidecar.” He admonished.
“If you’re so smart, why aren’t you wearing a helmet? It’s like motorcycle 101; where protective head gear. Half your dermis is on the pavement and pole. You look like Two Face for heaven sakes ” I was a little sick of the attitude.
I took a deep breath, I was about to do something that would probably get me killed, but for some reason since moving to Gotham, I have lost nearly all my impulse control.
“Can I speak candidly for a moment?”
“I don’t think that the people that count overlook you because you don’t have an edge. I mean, your edge is your intelligence, right?”
The Riddler looked off in the distance thoughtfully, “Right. No one is as smart as me.” I mentally rolled my eyes.
“So it must be another element of your persona that makes them think you’re less capable.”
“I suppose. But what would that be?”
“Well… and this is just me… and you said I could be honest…”
“Just get on with it.” He interrupted.
“Ok. You might consider looking less like… you should be hit.”
I was looking straight into his face waiting for a reaction. He just gazed back at me. For a minute I thought he might cry.
“What do you mean?” He softly questioned.
“Well, with your suit, and the hat, and your frame… I’m just saying in a physical contest I think that I could take you.”
He looked completely outraged. “I will have you know that I am very wiry!”
“I’m sure you are but if I think I could take you, what is someone like Batman thinking… were are your shoes?”
My eyes had traveled down to the Riddler’s feet, and all that was there were green socks. For some reason he seemed more silly without any shoes. I reflected on the concerns that he had just relayed to me. For the most part I could see where he was coming from. I never found myself worried over what chaos the Riddler was planning. He always was a little ridiculous to me.
I scanned the street, spotted one shoe by my car in the middle of the road. The other lay under the still intact storefront window. I got up to get them. They were shabby tan loafers. I returned with the shoes, knelt down at his feet.
“See this is what I’m talking about.” I stated as I held up the shoes, “You need to update your look. Get a little more modern, in style, polished. I bet if you looked a little more professional you would get more respect.”
“Maybe.” He said a little defeated.
“How’s that for deflating your ego.”
“Your pretty good at busting balls. It seems a newly acquired skill though. You’re pretty polite about it. Makes me think you’re…”
“Don’t say it.” I tried to interrupt.
“…not a local.” He finished.
I gave a deep sigh. Every time. Was I that easy to read?
“Ok Mr. Riddler. This is what I would normally do. Normally, and I say this in complete sarcasm because this never happens, when I find a super villain that has just crashed into a street lamp and is seriously injured, I call emergency services. However, that seems a little like kicking you while your down because they would probably take you in to custody right?”
“You got it.”
“So do you see my dilemma? I can’t leave you here, I can’t call for help, I’m not a doctor. Tell me what you would like me to do?”
“Take your top off.”
“Fine, it would make us even, but if you prefer to have a debt with a guy who is perpetually locked up in Arkham, that’s ok with me.”
“Stop being a pervert. How can I help you?”
He looked at me with all smiles. For a long time I could feel him studying my face. I’m sure that he was noting every detail should he ever wish to find me again.
“Tell you what, help me to that dark corner and we will be even.”
“Seriously?” I asked quite sincerely.
“Seriously.” He said with out any waver in his voice.
“You’re not going to try to find me later or anything?”
“Ahh, you take all the fun out of it. But no, I wont coming looking for you.”
I walked over to where he sat, put my arm around his shoulder and helped lift him to his feet. We stepped out of the light, and instantly I felt colder and he felt stronger. The sudden change was intimidating. I must have started shaking because he began to chuckle.
“Told you I was wiry.” He said in a threatening and mocking tone.
We reached his desired dark corner and I helped lean him against a brick wall.
“Do you need anything else?” I asked genuinely.
I couldn’t see him as clearly as before, just vague and blurred shapes. I listened very carefully for answer. After a long pause he spoke.
“What does man love more than life? Fear more than death or mortal strife? What do the poor have, what the rich require, and what contented men desire? What does the miser spend, the spendthrift save, and all men carry to their graves?”
“This riddle doesn’t have a pervy answer does it?”
I could hear him laugh rather than see, “No, but I promised we would be even after this, so what is the answer?”
“I don’t know.”
“Guess.” He ordered and spoke the riddle one more time in the darkness.
“Dead men don’t take anything to their graves. Nothing. The answer is nothing.”
“Correct. I need nothing else from you.”
“So this is goodbye then.”
“I think that we will cross paths again. Not because I’ll go looking for you, just have a feeling we will.”
“Well that’s disturbing. Thanks for leaving me with that. Bye.”
I turned and walked away. As I walked I heard him say, “See you around.” It sent chills up my spine.
I got in my car and picked up my friend. On our way back I passed the site of the accident. The twisted motorcycle and the Riddler were gone without a trace. Even my side view mirror was gone. I completed my mission, dropped my friend off at her house, made it safely back to my own and when back to sleep.