*Disclaimer II. Fan Fiction. The following is inspired by the true story of a fictional character. I didn’t make him up. Someone else did. I just put twenties on it.*
He had something better than money. Greener, too. No need to open the booth tonight, waste a good riddle on an unappreciative, snot-nosed kid in need of love from a cotton stuffed animal because daddy was too drunk or rich to show them affection. No. No. These will not go to waste.
The Joker at the carnival last night was an anomaly. Likely wouldn’t happen again, but Nigma had seen those two goons of his once or twice before. Those were the intended candidates for his new riddles—his new games. So, he waited in his booth, on the stool, swiveling ‘round and ‘round in the dark. He would turn away any customers if they approached, but it didn’t matter, the Ferris Wheel was broken that night, so no one would even see The Puzzler. But if one were to look in that direction, that single dark booth behind every attraction, green eyes would’ve looked back. Green, busy eyes. Watching everyone go by. Waiting for Jimbo and the other one to pass.
The young boy had mastered patience in just a day. Twirling on his chair for three hours, without food or drink. Just lurking. Then, he saw the two large men walk by, their heads hovering over a massive crowd. Showtime.
He jumped off the chair, bounced out the booth and skipped his way toward the crowd. Out of the darkness, he stopped in the middle of the pathway and grinned when he saw the backs of the big men. “Clowns!” he screamed. Everyone kept on, but Jimbo and the other guy turned to him.
Nigma didn’t see their faces before, only their heads, but he was right to call them clowns. Not because of their boss, but because they had the makeup to match. Jimbo had red circles on his cheek with a black outline around his mouth. The jeans and t-shirt didn’t match his face, but he had his stick at his side. The other one dressed the part, with very little makeup on his face. Blue pants thrice bigger than his legs with red suspenders. No shirt on though, which revealed a bunch of jailhouse tattoos, the boy thought. He did have on a nice fedora hat though. It was green, too. He would have that hat, but first he would have his revenge.
It would seem the passing crowd avoided their standoff. Twenty yards of space, these clowns and this boy.
Then Jimbo laughed. “Would you look at this, Skipper!”
Skipper! Not Skeeter. Close though.
“The balls on this kid,” Jimbo led the way toward the boy. Skipper followed.
“Boss says we can’t harm him no more,” Skipper said.
Nigma stood there with this funny looking grin on his face, listening to the two men talk about him as if he weren’t there. They kept at it until they were toe to toe with the kid.
Jimbo flicked the collar of the kid’s green suit. “Nice digs.”
Nigma responded quickly. “Nice stick.” Then he looked at Skipper. “Beautiful hat.”
The men looked at each other, then back at the boy. He knew that they knew he was different from before. And he loved it. So, he smiled so horrifically that the men didn’t want to engage with him any further.
Skipper hit Jimbo across the chest. “Let’s get out of here,” he said.
But Jimbo hesitated.
“Want to play a game?” Nigma asked. In his peripherals, he saw a security guard stop his patrol and look their way.
“Boss isn’t here, kid. He may like you, but I don’t,” Jimbo said.
“Do you want to play a game?” Nigma asked slowly this time. Not veering away from the large man’s eyes.
Jimbo then grabbed a fist full of the kid’s precious green suit and pulled him off his feet. “Move along, little boy. I won’t say it again.”
“Fine then.” Nigma raised his hands as to give up and Jimbo dropped him to his feet. When he was released from the man’s hold, he set his eyes on the stick. “We’ll have that then.” The boy snatched the stick out of Jimbo’s head and smacked the large clown across the cheek so hard, that his head spun to the back of his body.
One scream turned to two screams and then everyone saw the man with the backwards head drop to his knees. Everyone screamed and ran wildly in a panic before Jimbo hit the ground. Skipper tried to get away, but he didn’t get far, the stretched-out arm of Nigma grabbed the man’s suspenders and brought him back. With his other hand, he unleashed the monstrous claws and dug into Skippers belly.
“Beautiful hat you have there. May I?” he asked Skipper, whose opened mouth filled with blood, his eyes full of water and dread. The clown dropped when Nigma pulled his arm out of his stomach. He snatched the hat from the lifeless body before it fell over and placed it on his head. And he stood there, looking over his clothes and his new accessories like he was separated from his body, looking down at himself, approvingly. “Ah.” As he looked at the transformation of the stick turn green, as did his father’s suit, he felt complete.
“Hey—hey, drop the weapon!” a voice screamed from behind him.
Nigma turned and saw the fidgety security guard with a taser gun pointed at him. The guard couldn’t have been more than a few years older than him.
“The authorities are on their way. Now drop the weapon and get down.”
The boy took a step closer, ignoring the nonsensical demand. “Do you want to play a game? It would seem the clowns were unworthy.”
“What?” The confused guard took a step back as the boy took a step forward.
“I will ask again and then you will be unworthy. A game? Do you want to play?” Nigma took bigger steps toward the guard; larger, longer strides that seemed impossible for a boy his size to make.
The guard had no more space behind him as he ran into a basketball shooting booth. “Stop right there, I said.” He squeezed the trigger of the taser gun, and the electrical wires clinched onto the boy’s leg.
He shook and wiggled as the currents worked their way into his system. It wasn’t a violent shake, it was a playful shake. It tickled, and he giggled. And his approach toward the security guard continued.
“Okay, enough of that,” Nigma said as he pulled the wires out of his skin.
The guard dropped the taser and tried to run, but Nigma grabbed him by the leg with his long arms, tripped him, and pulled him back to the basketball booth.
“No one wants to play with me.” Nigma was getting frustrated as he wrapped his arms around the guard’s necks. “No one is worthy.”
The guard was slowly losing his fight against the abnormal strength of this boy. The young guard had stopped hitting back, stopped kicking, and his eyes were closing.
Nigma continued to squeeze.
“Hey!” a deep voice roared behind him. A voice so strong and vibrant that it stopped him from killing the guard. So, he removed his hands and turned around to the source.
“You,” Nigma exclaimed, his eyes lighting up with delight. “Of course. Of course. How could I have not thought of you. Daddy wasn’t worthy, no, no, no. The clowns were too dumb. The joker is missing in action…but you—you will play my game, won’t you? Won’t you, Batman?”
The Bat didn’t respond.
“Now, how did you get here so fast?” Nigma took a step forward, twirling the green stick in his hands. “Gotham is five miles away. The bat signal is on the other side of town, twenty miles away. Jimbo lost his head there, two minutes ago. And you can’t fly. So how, I ask?”
“I don’t know who you are, kid. But you’re coming with me. So, I will only tell you this one time. Surrender.” The Bat spoke with that thunderous voice that intrigued Nigma. So much, it stopped his approach and he paid full attention. But this mystery nagged at him.
“I mean, there is nothing between here and Gotham but woods. However, there is a mansion behind us, yes. Wayne Manor. Did you come from Wayne Manor? Huh, did you? Did you? Are you—”
Before the boy could finish, Batman tossed his Line-Launcher and it wrapped around the boy four times. Then, he pulled the boy closer to him, wrapping him more and more into the line, while removing his bat-cuffs.
Nigma laughed the entire time. A goofy laugh. More kid-like than the monster he had become. He was the biggest Batman fanboy. Many nights, he’d prayed Batman would come and save him and his mommy from his dad. And that they’d develop a relationship—a friendship. Hell, young Eddie even considered that the Batman could take him under his wing, literally, and make him a batboy. But Batman never came to the rescue. Never saved him and his mommy from the evilness of Edward Sr. He had to do it himself, and he didn’t realize it until now, but he hated Batman for making him kill his daddy. He blamed Batman for what he has become. But through that anger and frustration, he laughed. All he had were his riddles now, his games. And he finally found the worthy foe.
Batman had the boy wrapped in the line and as he started to put the cuffs on him. He asked, “And who are you supposed to be?”
“Well, I’m The Riddler, Mr. Wayne.”
Nigma felt Batman loosen his grip with that statement, that discovery, the uncovering of the secret identity.
Then, Nigma brought the claws out, cut the wire from around his body and sliced Batman’s utility belt off his waist. “Might want to be prepared next time we face again.” He picked up the bat-stungun and shot the hero in his chest. Batman flew into a dunking pool, breaking the glass and unleashing gallons of water. “See ya around, Brucy,” Nigma sang and skipped off into the green, twirling the cane in his hands with the utility belt around his shoulders.
We’ll save the riddles for our next meet and greet!
-M. Sydnor Jr. Copyright © 2019