❯ Living in Gotham – Encounter 6 ( Chapter 7 )
[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
A reunion with Harley Quinn
I was awoken by a gradual and increasing cold sensation on my cheek. Slowly I became aware that a book instead of my neck was supporting my head, a theory confirmed when I cautiously peeked through my eyelashes and saw a large out of focus print. I attempted to lift my head off the text only to have the delicate paper cemented to my skink by a puddle of drool. Quickly righting my head onto its proper support, I clumsily wiped away the moisture from my face and book while I embarrassedly looked about for witnesses. To my relief there was no one in the small and unlit lab room I was currently occupying. After my initial relief there was no one to see me nearly drown in my own spit, I was confused by my present circumstances.
When I had entered the lab room it had been a hub of activity with students busying themselves with the tedious and monotonous academic tasks of reading, typing and thinking. Which I figured accounted for my present state. I had been one of the last dedicated few and must have dosed off while reading about the finer details of the criminally insane. The light sensor hadn’t been tripped recently, leaving me in the dark, my only light source the screen of my computer.
I pressed the power button to rouse the screen from its own sleep; it had managed not to leak on itself, stupid technology. As I began the familiar task of saving and closing windows I glanced that the time. My jaw hung slack as my eyes had seen the numbers 305 to be fallowed by an AM. I hadn’t just dosed off, I had full on passed out. Without any hesitation I gathered my books up, shoved them into my bag, tucked my computer under my arm and set at a quick step for the door.
By the time I had exited the room the sleepy haze had dissipated. However, this was in no way comforting. All it did was help me more clearly analyze what a pickle I was in. Was I locked in? If I could leave would I set off and alarm? Even if I did get out, how was I to my car safely? It was 3:05 in the frickin’ AM, who know what type of yahoos were out and about. Should I just go back to sleep and leave in the morning? It didn’t seem very likely that I would be able to fall back asleep even with the aid of my textbooks. I was stuck.
With no real plan of attack I started to make my way to the main entrance. Perhaps the walk would help generate a game plan. As soon as I left the small little alcove that hid the lab entrance I was shaky and nervous. I wanted to run down the dark halls and get out of the building as fast as I could, but it felt as though I was walking on hollowed ground and running would be a sure fire was of getting some kind of spiritual attention. Not that I believed in a spiritual realm, its just that the dark can be very persuasive.
To add to the creepy factor, the building I was trapped in was Degan Hall. Degan Hall is one of those building that you just can’t figure out what its original purpose was. Its not dedicated to one particular field of study. Sometimes rooms are used as lecture halls. Other times they’re used for labs. At random points in the year whole floors will be dedicated for art shows, and the next week be closed off for months, treated like a storage unit.
The architecture of the building is just as confusing. It was built probably around 1970 so the exterior looks like a concrete prison, but through the years each floor has been remodeled, reflecting the style of whoever was signing the checks. The first floor is an old classic academic look, complete with green pull cord lamps and all wood furniture. The second floor was redone in the early 90’s sporting the scuffed laminate tile floors and white walls. I’m sure there is a laser disk player hiding somewhere in those sterile rooms. The third floor, the one I was currently tiptoeing through had its own unique style. All the rooms had been built in the center and the hallway was track that went around instead of dividing the floor. The view from the third floor was lovely as the exterior wall was made of nearly all glass. In each corner where the hall turned in a 90-degree angle, modern lounge furniture was arranged. The forth floor resembled more of a loft. The rooms were open with wood floor and for the most part empty. I could only guess as to what the top floor looked like, I had never been up there, and no one I knew had as well.
Carefully I placed one foot in front of the other. The dark seemed to give me a heightened sense of where my body was in space. Everything was quiet except for the small sound of my shoes against the wood. As I approached the place where the modern furniture was positioned the silence was broken by a soft melodic tone. I stopped, wondering what the sound could be, afraid that my footsteps would drive it away before I could solve the mystery. There it was again, a humming sound coming around the corner. Perhaps it was cleaners. Finally there were words to the sweet tune.
“I don’t care what they think about me and…” the tiny voice sang. I recognized the tune.
“I don’t care what they say…” I finally was able to poke my head around the corner. There sitting on a long flat purple upholstered bench was a slender body clad in tight black and red vinyl kicking about their little dangling legs.
“I don’t care what they think if you’re leavin’, I’m gonna beg you to stay…” I didn’t have to look longer to figure out who was having their private idol moment. I leaned my cheek against the corner of the wall.
“Harley Quinn…” I whispered to myself.
“I don’t care if they start to avoid me, I don’t care what they do, I don’t care about anything else but bein’ with you, bein’ with you.” Harley stopped singing right as I started to turn away to go to the other set of stairs when I heard a very forceful, “HEY!”
Before I knew it Harley had completed a series of front flips to where I stood and was pinning me to the wall with a strong arm. The pressure she was applying to my shoulder was immense, and it was hard to breath. I shouldn’t haven been surprised by the power in her body. I had seen it liberally applied in a dive bar once when she had thrown a two hundred pound man across the room.
Bright blue eyes peered out from behind her mask examining my face as though she was looking for something. I struggled under her hold trying to take the deep breath my lungs were starving for. Finally after what felt like and eternity she dropped her arm and I sucked down as much air as I could. As I breathed heavily, I looked up into the pixie’s face and saw a spark of recognition.
“SUNNY!” she screamed scooping me up in an embrace that crushed my ribs.
“What…” I stammered.
“Don’t you remember me?” she squealed and she put me back on my feet. “We met in that bar. Oh Sunny I’m so glad to see you again.” She said excitedly as she pulled me back into a bone-crushing clinch.
“You remember me?”
“Oh yes. You were so sweet to me. Do you remember me? I was the drunk girl! Remember?”
“Yes, I remember.” I had to smile.
“Oh Sunny, I’m so glad to see you but this is not a good time for a reunion. We’re pullin’ a job right now and Mistah J is in a real fowl mood. You got to get out of here now.” She said in a serious and concerned tone as she looked about the hall.
“Joker’s here?” the idea made me very nervous.
“Yeah. Oh Sunny you gotta meet him, he’d love ya so much…” little did she know I already had, “We got to have dinner one of these nights. But tonight’s no good. He’s already shot two of our own guys out of frustration. That’s why I came down here. Stay out of the way, its safer.”
“What’s going on?” I asked out of reflex. I didn’t really expect an answer.
“Oh we’re stealing some skin.” She said flippantly.
“I don’t… what?” I breathed in confusion. I’ve lost all ability to control my curiosity in Gotham; it has become a health risk.
“Fine you twist my arm. The university is storin’ these Japanese full body tattoos. Like the people are dead, but they saved the skin to preserve that art. It’s not very common and its illegal to sell them. But on the black market you can make a fortune off of just one piece.” She explained.
“Oh my god your stealing dead bodies.” I said in horrified fascination.
“Yeah…” she giggled, “We’re constantly get rid of them and now we’re going out of our way to get one. It’s kinda funny, right?” at this point she broke into a full fit of laughter clutching at her sides. I just stood in amazement.
“Oh lighten up Sun. Like I said, it’s not a full body, it’s just the skin. Gotham University’s got like three of them on loan from Tokyo U. They wont miss one.”
“I have a feeling they will when they notice one third of the collection is missing. Art curators notice things like that.” My point was punctuated by a large bang from the floor above us. We both flinched.
“They’re coming down. We got to get you out of here now!” she said swiftly taking my wrist and pulling me down the hall to a stairwell.
“You know, you got some luck Sunny. Mistah J and some guys swept the entire building looking for security and stuff. They killed a couple of guards. Musta missed your room. Some luck.”
As we flew down the stairwell we could hear someone else racing up. She pushed me through the door way to the second floor, “Come on” she ordered. We continued to run down the hallways to the other set of stairs. When all of a sudden a familiar voice called “HARLEYYY!”
“Shoot.” She spat. The pixy stopped dead in her tracks looked up and down the hallway, ran me to a near by door. She forced it open and flung me inside. “Stay there. Hide. Don’t come out till I get you.” And slammed it behind her. It was pitch black. I felt around and discovered I was in a janitorial closet. I crouched behind what I guessed to be a bucket and a mop. From out side the door I could hear Harley little voice start to sing again.
“Honey, don’t go. Don’t leave this scene, be out of the picture, and off of the screen…”
“Don’t let them say, we told you so. They tell me you love me, and then let me go…”
“Oh hi puddin’. How’s it going up there?” she belled
“Where the hell have you been?” he didn’t sound happy.
“I’ve been checking the perimeter. I was just on my way back.”
“Really? That sounds plausible. You should stop disappearing Harley, it does bad things for your credibility.” I could just imagine the soul piercing stare he was probably giving her.
“We almost done? What’s taking so long?”
“If you’re in such a rush you could go up stairs and HELP!” he was in a really fowl mood.
“Alright! Geash. Be there in a second. I’m going to go back down stairs for moment and then be back.”
“I gotta go to the little girls room. God. Get a grip!”
“Isn’t there one on this floor?”
“I don’t like it. Its dirty. You know I have to take the whole getup off when I’ve got to go. It’s not easy as unzipping a fly. And if I gotta be naked I want it to be clean.”
“Fine. Hury up!”
He walked in one direction and she skipped of in the other. I could hear her start out her song, “I heard the warnin’ voice from friends and my relations. They tell me all about your heart-break reputation…”
I sat in the dark for another five minutes when the door was opened. There she was with her bright gleaming smile, bending down extending her hand to help me up.
“Lets go.” She whispered
I took her hand and she pulled me to my feet with little effort. We ran to a stairwell and skipped steps as we descended.
“Umm Harley. I don’t mean to be a bother, but my car is across campus and I’m…well a little scared.” I felt stupid. She turned around and looked at me grinning from ear to ear.
“Ok here is the deal, everybody knows Jokers out tonight so nobody will be around risking the chance they’ll run into him. You’ll get to your car just fine.” She said the words so sweetly that I believed her.
Finally we reached the main entrance to Degan Hall. She took hold of the large brass door handle and pulled it open.
“Alight get going.” She ordered.
“Will you be ok?” I asked. It never ceased to amaze me how much I actually liked Harley. I worried about her. She had made some choices that had some pretty serious consequences, thrown herself under the control of a mad man, but it didn’t seem to matter to me. I liked the way she flitted about, the tone of her voice. There was a good soul in there. I wanted to help her, and here she was saving me.
“Oh Sunny you’re so sweet. Get to your car. Hurry.” And with that she pushed me out the door. I ran without stopping across campus. As Harley predicted the campus was completely deserted. Once I got to my car, I pealed out and sped home. I reached over to my bag to get my cell phone to call the police and report the burglary. Once the phone was in my hand I thought better of it and decided that what was done was done. In the morning the guards bodies would be discovered and the skins would be found missing. I put the phone back in my bag and thought about Harley.