It was a somber day in Gotham City. The skies, a metallic, leaden gray, were threatening rain. Dick Grayson, former Boy Wonder, walked aimlessly about the cemetery.
Life was a bitch sometimes.
He shook his head, unsure what life would hold for him now. Holy Hopelessness! he thought, trying not to cry.
The mourners were gathering. Commissioner Gordon and Chief O’Hara sat in the front row, their eyes focused on the casket, their hearts recalling happier times than these. Mayor Linseed and Governor Stonefellow, never big fans of the Caped Crusader, sat silently. Each was there for the photo op; no more, no less for this pair of political puppets.
“Sit down, Dick,” said Alfred Pennyworth, “you’re becoming conspicuous. Remember, you’re here as the representative of the Wayne Foundation. To show your true feelings runs the risk of exposure. Mr. Wayne would not want that.”
Dick pounded a fist into the palm of his hand. “Holy Hypocrites, Alfred! How can I pretend not to care when I do?”
“Do it for him, young sir. Do it for him.”
Dick took a deep breath and nodded.
Alfred placed a consoling hand upon his shoulder, but then the elderly man stiffened. He directed Dick’s attention to the group settling themselves in the last row of white folding chairs.
“Holy Jail Break, Alfred! What are they doing here?” Dick’s astonishment was real as his eyes settled on the motley group of mourners.
The Penguin waddled down the long, narrow row, quacking in spite of his intention to be circumspect. Exasperated, the Joker shoved him into a plastic white chair, while the Riddler and Cat Woman quietly took their seats.
Leaning past the Riddler, the Joker looked into Cat Woman’s masked eyes. “Are you well, my dear?”
She nodded, and held a black lace handkerchief to her nose, daintily pressing at the moisture that graced her near perfect nostrils. “I simply can’t believe it! That marvelous specimen of male sexuality gone! Poof! Meanwhile, Boy Blunder continues to live. There is no justice, that’s for sure.”
Without any real enthusiasm, the subdued Riddler asked, “Riddle me this, Cat Woman – what famous super hero meets his death when a chunk of kryptonite falls out of the sky and zonks him on the head?”
Cat Woman said nothing. The kryptonite was a sore topic with her. Kryptonite was supposed to be Superman’s weakness, not her glorious Batman’s problem. Still, Batman’s kryptonite situation had proven deadly. Who would have thought a large block of that green junk would have snuffed out the life of a purrr-fectly strong brute like Batman?
Who would ignite her fantasies now, those hot dreams tinged with sex and vengeance?
Certainly not that prepubescent Boy Blunder with all his ‘holy this’ and ‘holy that’ crap. It was enough to drive a feline purrr-fectly mad.
“Quack, quack… shut up, Riddler,” said Penguin, cleaning off the lens of his monocle. “Can’t you see Cat Woman is broken up?” He placed a hand atop Cat Woman’s leather clad thigh. “Quack, quack, my dear… would you like a little catnip to get you through the ceremony? I have some in my pocket.”
Her emerald green eyes glittered behind the mask. Catnip! Moving her slender hands sensuously up and down her thighs, she began to purr.
“The funeral balloons are a nice touch, Cat Woman,” remarked the Joker, watching them as they floated in the air, held in place by long silken cords tied to the end of Batman’s casket. The four black balloons, each bearing the face of a cat, bounced up and down in the breeze.
Cat Woman sighed. “It was the least I could do… we had such a special relationship… I wanted to sink my claws into his manly, well-muscled chest. But that damned Boy Blunder was always around. I can’t tell you how often he intruded just when I was about to make my move. Once, a barely missed shot stunned Batman, and he sank down into my arms, desperate for a little comfort… then, just as I was about to have my way with him,
“Everything around me started to dissolve and a series of colorful words appeared before my eyes. Next thing I know, that stupid bat spotlight is shining and Batman and Boy Blunder are riding off into the sunset in that ridiculous car of theirs.” She shook her head with disgust. “Boys and their toys!”
The Joker nodded sympathetically. “And now he’s gone…”
“Yes, gone,” she agreed, “but not forgotten. There will never be another like the Caped Crusader.”
“Quack, quack… that’s why we’re here, right? To pay our respects to a worthy adversary? I so wanted to be the one to kill him…”
“Penguin,” remarked the Riddler, wiping a tear from his eye, “we all wanted to be the one to kill him. It would have certainly been a more fitting end for him than this. Do you think Superman had anything to do with it? You know, professional jealousy?”
“Don’t be stupid,” said the Joker. “Superman wouldn’t have come anywhere near kryptonite. No, my money is on Wonder Woman. The word around town is that he stood her up at the last gathering of the Justice League of America.”
“A woman scorned,” quacked the Penguin.
“Well, I’ll miss him,” said the Riddler. “I wish I could throw one last riddle his way.”
The Joker nodded, his green hair falling forward onto his stark white face. “Such a nice flower arrangement you sent, Riddler.”
For once, the manic puzzler kept quiet, his eyes focused on the arrangement of dozens of red poppies against a background of white, the small red flowers forming a series of tiny question marks. A sky-blue ribbon bearing a simple message was draped across the arrangement: We Do Apologize for Past Inconvenience.
Suddenly Cat Woman sat up straight, and her claws spiked outward from her long, black leather gloves. “What is she doing here?”
The three villains followed her gaze.
It was Sally Songwright, slowly approaching the casket, carrying a bundle of papers in her hand, each bearing musical notations and lyrics.
“Quack, quack… I heard she and Batman were an item but I didn’t believe it! Well, Cat Woman, even in death he’s bested you!” said the Penguin excitedly, wondering if perhaps a catfight might ensue. He liked nothing better than watching two good-looking women rolling around on the ground, pulling one another’s hair, and kicking and biting!
Cat Woman stood up, and walked toward Sally Songwright. Sally saw her coming, and stood her ground.
“Cat Woman,” she said, nodding at her.
“Sally Songwright, what are you doing here?”
“I’ve been asked to sing at the service.”
“That’s purrr-fectly odd considering your singing paralyzes listeners who are pure of heart. How did you swing this gig?”
“It was in Batman’s will. He wanted his funeral to be memorable,” she remarked. She flashed a brilliant smile and Cat Woman wanted to deck her. Sally’s singsong voice was not only nauseating; it hurt Cat Woman’s sharply pointed little ears.
“Besides,” continued Sally, “if I take my voice down a decibel or two, the paralytic affect is muted.”
“Is it true, you slutty songstress?” asked Cat Woman, her claws inches from sweet Sally Songwright’s face. “Is it true you were sleeping with my Batman?”
Sally Songwright smiled. “We made some beautiful music together!”
Cat Woman reached for her just as the scene around them began to dissolve…
Yes, Batman was gone, but life still goes on in Gotham City.
Author’s Note: This story is written in response to a challenge to write a tale of indeterminate length based on phrases or words that are part of this week’s ‘Inspiration Monday’ from the blog, BeKindRewright. The phrases used are: songwright; missed shot; Batman’s kryptonite; funeral balloons; and we do apologize. Thanks to BeKindRewrite for hosting the inspiration prompts this week.