Harvey Dent: Faces #4: "Face" Apr 7, 2017 14:05:41 GMT -5
Post by Admin on Apr 7, 2017 14:05:41 GMT -5
Issue #4: “Face”
Story by Mark Sant
Edited by Mark Bowers
Nobody forgets their first visit to Arkham Asylum. It inflicts itself on people like a cancer and once inside it grows. I feel it inside me. And the face… the face I see when I close my eyes… I see it manifest in every single shadow in this godforsaken hell.
One month ago, I lost the case against Victor Zsasz. The crazy Tally-Whacker walked, free to cripple and torture and kill in the name of The Roman. And I lost my cool again. I felt the other me burn hot. It was Harvey Bullock who subdued me behind the courthouse when I smashed the windshield of a parked cab with my bare hands. Squirming under Bullock’s ungodly ass on the sidewalk, I settled down. I finally admitted Jimbo was right. I need help.
So now I’m entering Arkham for the first time in my life.
I’m sitting in the office of Dr. Jeremiah Arkham – supervising psychiatrist and ancestor of the asylum’s founders. I stare at an oil-painting on the wall of the city skyline. Uptown, midtown, downtown. Wayne Tower high above the city. The Thorne buildings and the stadium and the Clocktower and the Gotham Trade Building. The Robert Kane Bridge over Finger River connecting to the mainland, and the Crowne Bridge over Sprang River leading to Robbinsville. Stemming from downtown, the crowded dirty crime-ravaged peninsula commonly known as The Narrows.
It’s my city. I’m lost in it.
Dr. Arkham clears his throat.
“Mister, uh… Mr. Dent?”
“Oh I’m… I’m sorry. Just…” I look back to grizzled Dr. Arkham. Reclaiming my mind, lost in the painting. “…What were you saying?”
“Well… I was saying Mr. Tetch has shown little progress the last few weeks.”
“Or…” I don’t know why I said that. My mind is elsewhere. “What… What would be your diagnosis, doctor?”
“As I said, Tetch is a unique case suffering from a unique delusion. It’s quite an interesting case. Tetch is convinced that this world isn’t the one he was born into. This world and everyone in it, he thinks, are all just projections in a dream. Deep down he’s certain that he is the Hatter. He’s convinced himself that he belongs in Wonderland, forever at a tea party. It’s actually kind of poetic.”
“I beg your pardon?”
What did I just say? My head hurts. I shut my eyes.
“I mean… I said…”
“Are you alright, Mr. Dent?”
“Look, doc… Tetch killed three girls and tried to kill a fourth. He shot Detective Jim Gordon with a shotgun. Gordon’s lucky the freak’s a terrible shot.” I’m shaking. I can feel the other me. I can feel the cancer of this gothic madhouse growing. Grace is pregnant with twins. Falcone bought the jury. Zsasz walked free. Tetch and what he did to those girls. Henry. Henry. I’m angry. It hurts. “With all due respect, I don’t… think… I…” I’m clenching my teeth, glaring at the doctor who frowns at me in concern. This isn’t me. “…I’m sorry. It’s unprofessional of me to speak like this.”
I realize my left hand is scratching the armrest of this chair but I can’t stop.
Arkham raises bushy grey eyebrows and leans forward.
“Mr. Dent, I’d heard you were… in disagreement with Tetch being sentenced here.”
“He belongs in Blackgate.”
“They would’ve torn him apart in Blackgate.”
“I stand by my opinion, doctor.”
“The man is ill, Mr. Dent.”
“The man is evil! I say behead him!”
I’m standing. I don’t even remember standing up. I’m seizing my head and hunching over and clenching my teeth enough to shatter them. I seethe this way as Arkham gets up and asks me if I’m okay. “Mr. Dent? Mr. Dent? Mr. Dent?” And suddenly I’m growling like a rabid animal.
The woman’s voice. I shut my eyes and try to calm down.
When I turn, I see the woman there. Blonde hair in a ponytail. Blue eyes. Red-framed eyeglasses. Thin arms holding a file folder and I see her nails and they’re so strikingly black. I know her only from the description Jimbo gave me of her. And he was right. Dear god, she’s the cutest psychiatrist I’ll ever meet.
Furrowing her smooth brow, she’s asking, “Harvey Dent, right?”
I breathe. I settle. I nod.
“…You must be Dr. Harleen Quinzel.” I glance back at Dr. Arkham and he’s still deeply concerned but I brush him off, brush my tie, and look back to the beauty in the medical coat and I take a step towards her. “I, uh… I’m here to see about Jervis Tetch… and the manner of his incarceration.”
“We prefer to think of it as treatment.” Quinzel smiles meekly, straightening the eyeglasses over pretty blue eyes. “Perhaps you’d like a quick walk through the hospital, counsellor?”
“As long as you come with me, sure.”
I’ve grabbed my coat and I drape it over my arm and I’m following her, trying not to ogle the woman
The things I’d do to her in a dark room
while still unpreventably captivated by every movement she makes
The barely-legal things I’d do to her in a dark room
so much so that I forget to thank Dr. Arkham. I leave his office and I’m happy to do so. I’m betting he’s probably happy about it too.
Dr. Quinzel and I head down dark corridors of the mansion that’s been made into the administration building. Pictures depicting the medieval methods of psychiatry. Portraits of the family of this house. A bust of Amadeus Arkham, covered in cobwebs.
Quinzel tells me, “You’re just as you look in the election posters.”
“How would that be?”
“…Handsome.” Quinzel smirks coyly. “Apollo. Right? Isn’t that what Vicki Vale’s got everyone calling you?” We reach the end of the hallway and I step forward and open the century-old door for her and she passes through, noting, “Jervis Tetch has been an interesting addition to the gallery here.”
“You say that like he’s a piece of art, doctor.”
“Anything that’s rare is invariably exceptional. Something of value has its place in a collection.” We pass by a security checkpoint and guards open the gate for us. Quinzel thanks them. She continues, “I think Tetch is at home here.”
“The only home for criminals is prison. Tetch is a monster to be kept away from good people. Putting him here doesn’t make him a criminal, it makes him a tragic victim. The Mad Hatter had victims and one of them’s my closest friend.”
“I don’t disagree with the fact that the Mad Hatter deserves to be punished, Harvey, but I don’t believe that Jervis Tetch deserves it. After all, he wasn’t the one who committed those crimes. It’s dangerous assigning guilt to the delusional.”
It’s all bullshit so I’m clenching my teeth, but hardly as much.
It’s easier with her.
We’re getting into an old brass elevator that doesn’t have my trust and I don’t want to be in it. Quinzel presses for the basement. The doors close and we stand behind bars and I feel us descend.
Quinzel straightens the glasses over her eyes.
“You didn’t come here to talk about Tetch, did you?”
“…I assume Gordon spoke with you about me?”
“Yes, he did. And I’m happy you made the choice to finally seek help.” The elevator slows. Quinzel looks over at me. “How is Jim, by the way?”
“How’s, uh… how’s Barbara?”
“She was…” I shut my eyes. I see a face. “…saved by the Bat.”
“That she was.” Quinzel almost laments it, telling me, “I saw what Tetch looked like after the Bat got through with him… It isn’t right. The police need to catch him. He’s ill and he’s close to killing others like him. It’s wrong.”
“I don’t know,” I say, thinking on it. “…He saved a little girl and avenged a good man. The Bat fought with fists. According to Barbara Gordon, the Mad Hatter fought with a chainsaw.”
“Fully costumed, hat and all. Screaming at the top of his lungs ‘Twinkle twinkle little bat’… I read the report too.” Quinzel looks over at me, shy, unwilling to argue, saying, “The fact is, neither one of them can be called a healthy mind, counsellor.”
As the doors open, I think of Jimbo laid up in Gotham Memorial from buckshot that only grazed him, thank God. I remember when I visited, looking at him, feeling my fingers and legs numb. Flashes of ember eyes in my head. When I turned to the window, I could swear I saw the Bat on the ledge outside. Then he was gone.
“Harvey? Aren’t you getting off?”
I blink and notice Quinzel has exited the elevator. I step forward. I follow.
“So I know, I know. Let’s get down to business, huh?” Quinzel smiles meekly. “You’re in need of some very discrete therapy, I hear.”
“Icks-nay on the erapy-thay.”
“Fine.” She smiles. “…What’s troubling you, Harvey?”
I shut my eyes. I see it there. I tell her.
Through another security checkpoint, I realize we’re exiting the old mansion. We’re heading through the underground tunnel toward the hospital. A line of caged lightbulbs disappear up ahead. The stench is of wet stone and natural gas and ghosts. I can feel the cancer growing and I’m actually aware of my sudden fear. I’m a little surprised.
“What face haunts you, Harvey?”
“The other me.”
“There’s another you?”
“We all have sides we don’t show the world.”
“True. But not everyone is haunted by their other sides.”
“Not everyone has a side like me, doctor.”
Quinzel considers it, still interested. And interesting.
I can hear, up ahead, the muffled screams of the insane.
“You call your other self a ‘face’. Elaborate.”
“It is a face… I see him every time I close my eyes.”
“Who do you see, Harvey?”
“Me.” I clear my throat. Give my throbbing head a shake. “I, uh… Lately it’s been getting worse. Ever since Grace told me we’re having twins. And what Tetch did to Gordon and Barbara. Then we lost the Zsasz case we’ve been working on for almost a year…” I’m getting worked up but I try to stay calm. “…I dream of him every night and in the day I’m… I’m angry so often now. There’s this vengeful, unfeeling voice in my head. It isn’t my own voice. It’s not me but… it is still me. I can’t explain it. Sometimes I… I mean, now and then I think maybe it’s…”
“…Nobody. Forget it. I just lose control to another me… Every now and then the face speaks through me. With my mouth. I say things I would never say. I lash out. I nearly destroyed a random cab when I lost the Zsasz case. I just wanted, I – I needed to destroy it… Last week I almost beat a man outside the courthouse simply because he insulted me before trial. They always insult me but… that time I just couldn’t stop myself. It took three officers to hold me back.”
“He’s strong in me. I’m strong when he’s angry. I can do anything.”
“Anger has that effect on most people. Anger is empowerment, devoid of shame and accountability and mercy… Much of history’s greatest moments were the sum total of anger. But one must always have it in balance.”
We stop at the end of the tunnel. At a steel door and numbered keypad.
Beyond it are the groans and pleas and screams.
“What angers you, Harvey?”
“Carmine Falcone’s hurt a lot of people in this city. He’s angered us all.”
Quinzel brushes some blonde hair from her face, and it’s lovely.
The things I’d do to her in a dark room
The bliss I’d give us both
Look at that rack
Do it, you pathetic simpering little
“I’m happy to treat you, Harvey,” she says. I almost hear her say it. “Let’s put it on the books. What’s your schedule like next week?” And I just stare at her. I think my mouth is agape. I know I’m frowning pretty hard. “…Are you hearing the other you right now, Harvey?”
“What’s he saying?”
“…You, uh… You really don’t wanna know.”
“…How about I book you some time tomorrow afternoon?”
“Please. Yes…” Nodding profusely, sweating, I tell her, “Please.”
Again the beauty shines, outreaching her hand for me to shake and I do so and I can’t believe how sweaty my palm is. My hand feels like ice. Quinzel tells me go home and relax. Have some pleasant dreams for a change. Then she types in a code and unlocks the heavy door and I can hear the madness in the asylum.
“Would you like to come in, counsellor?”
“…I don’t ever want to be in there, doc.”
Quinzel smirks and tells me: “Good choice.”
Then, before I know it, she’s gone.
When I get back to my office, it’s a little before six. I’d go home but I have work to do. Besides, Grace is still working her shift at Gotham Memorial. For a moment I consider heading down to see her and to visit Jimbo, but I can’t bring myself. We lost the Zsasz case. The Roman still reigns on high. But one way or another, I will find a way to bring Falcone down.
Later, on my way home, I hear footsteps.
I spin around but I’m not fast enough. There’s a copper pipe swung and it cracks my skull and I’m falling down to the sidewalk. A pair of junkies steal my watch, wallet and cellphone. When I feel them pry the engagement ring from my fingers, I scream and thrash.
The mirror bursting into flames.
I’ll kill you I’ll kill you I’ll kill
But I’m bashed again by the pipe. My brain explodes, it feels like. I see the face that bellows. I can’t move or… no… No, I’m moving but in opposite directions and going nowhere. Shrieking. Bleeding from my battered skull, I feel blood trickling down one side of my face.
I’m gonna kill the rotten slime
I’m pushing myself up onto my knees. In a daze I see the punks stealing away down the sidewalk, ducking into an alley. Swine disappearing in the paddock. No cop in sight. They’ll get away. No one’ll ever know who they were or where to find em.
You’ll never clean up this city
…I’ll never clean up this city.
I wanna kill so many people
Yeah. I do… For me and for Henry, and for every other decent soul alive. There’re so many bad people. Too many. I wanna kill em, but I know I won’t… I’m not crazy.
Standing up, blood washing away in the October rain, I look up at the rooftops when I hear a sound like some pneumatic burst. All I see, what with the rain and my throbbing skull, is a black streak sailing into the alleyway where the muggers ran, and soon I hear them screaming in terror and then in pain.
It’s him. Of course it’s him.
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