Chapter One: The Murder

The city lost hope sixteen years ago. You were there the night that everything changed. The night when this city’s most renowned philanthropists were gunned down in an alley. Sixteen years ago tonight was night the Wayne’s died. The night their only son, Bruce, was orphaned.

Five years later the last son of Gotham City vanished. A fourteen year old, carrying years of guilt and the center of constant media scrutiny, abandoned the city. The last reminder of Gotham’s hope gone. If hope for a brighter tomorrow died with Thomas and Martha the spirit of that hope vanished with Bruce.

Gotham City has been in a spiral of crime, decadence, and corruption ever since. But tonight everything changes. There is something dark in the air. A menace… or maybe a promise. Justice is returning to Gotham City.

Part One: Artie Pender

Artie Pender, head custodian of the theater where the Waynes attended Mephistopheles that fateful night. Found the boy kneeling over the still warm corpses of his parents in the alley while taking out the garbage. Took him inside to my office and gave him hot cocoa while I called the police.

In the years since, I’ve taken a bit more to drinking on the job, although I now work at a museum, running the night custodial shift. My niece is the night security guard, and we while away the dull hours talking classic cinema.

Of course, all kinds of valuable and rare items come through the museum, and it’s only a matter of time before some ne’er-do-well pulls a heist.

Part Two: Christopher Ramsay

Patrol Officer Christopher Ramsay, 20 years old, second week on the job with the GCPD.

I was assigned to the Wayne murder that night. The scene was grim. The bodies were laid out on the slick concrete, hastily covered by a tent to allow the coroner to do his work. Out of the rain in the head custodian’s office, the Wayne’s only son, Bruce, sobbed in grief, his face buried into the side of one of GCPD’s newest detectives. Gordon, as it turned out. One of my peers, another patrol officer named Darren Chen, wiped rain from his face and made some comment about how things were going to be easier now, without having Thomas Wayne watching the Commissioner like a hawk. At the time, I didn’t know what he meant.

Someone handed me a cup of hot chocolate, and I was told to take it to the boy, that he needed another one to ward off the chill of the night. I dodged around the bodies and went inside to Detective Gordon with the cup scalding my hand. I remember thinking the pain was nothing compared to what the boy was going through. Gordon took it from me, rain still dripping from his hat and mixing with his own tears. His look still haunts my dreams.

I stayed with the force another three months, until the day I was threatened by one of the lieutenants to get with the program, get out, or get dead. I finally understood what Chen meant. I quit, and landed a sweet security job with none other than Wayne Technologies. They’ve got some sweet stuff being built there… but of course, I’m not allowed to talk about it.

Life’s okay, though I pull my hat down a little more snug when I see the GCPD roll by.

Part Three: Wendell P. Kauffe

Wendell P. Kauffe, cocoa salesman. Boy what a night! That night changed everything. I brought my suitcase down to the theatre just like any other Friday, to load up the concession stand with my wares, expecting to make the same paltry excuse for an income. But then it happened; tragedy struck. And who was there to save the day? Kauffe. Not really, I mean the poor lad’s parents were still dead, nothing to be done about that. Nothing anyone could do. But see the thing is, everyone WANTS to do something. Offer the kid some support, some comfort. And that’s where I came in. Kids love cocoa! I wasn’t fooling myself, I knew it wasn’t helping anything, and I’m sure the folks who bought cup after cup for the kid knew too, but it didn’t stop them emptying from their pockets. And that’s when I realized the steady money to be made in grief. I got myself a deal with the police station to supply cocoa for the station and business has boomed ever since. You’d be surprised how much crime goes on in a city like Gotham. And how weird it is. I spend a fair amount of time at the station and have made friends there. I end up hearing things that sometimes I wish I hadn’t. And all cuz of that Wayne boy. I still think about him sometimes. He’d be grown now. And have all his parents’ money. I think sometimes of finding him and asking him if I’d helped him, or could help him (maybe this fine young man had learned to console himself with a nice hot cup of the finest cocoa). Maybe I will one of these days, when I come up with a way that doesn’t seem crass. I’m a salesman at heart, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a heart. If there were something else I could’ve offered the kid that would’ve helped, I would have. But what comforts a boy in a situation like that? Toys? Costumes? Gadgets? Ha!

Part Four: Arnold Harmon

Arnold Harmon, reporter for the Gotham Gazette, a small paper in the city. It was my first big story. That article changed my life, put me on the fast track to being the paper’s lead reporter. I mostly cover the crime in the city, know Jim Gordon pretty well. Don’t think he much cares for me but he will drop me a juicy lead every now and again. If I’ve got something I return the favor. Professional courtesy and what not. But not this story, this one is too hot. I think I have a lead on the corruption in the department, but I need to get all the facts straight; and I need to do it fast. Been some unsavory sorts around my place. I think they’re following me too.

Part Five: Kendra Vanzante

Kendra Vanzante, morgue technician. I worked the shift they were brought in. The formal wear they had on was wet, wrinkled, stained with blood and grime. But I remember those faces. I’d seen Dr. Wayne on the news from time to time. Mrs. Wayne had been to some fundraisers where I volunteered. Both of them seemed nice people, kind people, honest people.

I was the one who put the data together and matched the bullets found in their remains to the gun. I was just a pair of scrubs then.

Part Six: Nate Briggs

Nate Briggs, taxi driver. Driving a cab in Gotham City was a risky proposition. The odds you get robbed are a little worse than a coin-toss, especially now. But back then, it wasn’t quite 50/50, odds in my favor. That night, I was parked outside the Monarch. I’d just let a family out and got my fare when a gunshot cracked out from the alleyway. I didn’t wanna get out of my cab. You hear a gun in Gotham, you fuckin’ leave. But not that night. That night was different. That night, I got out. Someone nearly bowled me over coming out of the alley, running like hell. No idea who it was. Shooter, I guess now. I saw the kid, his parents’ blood spattered on his clothes. I knew that kid. Seen him in the news. Wayne. Shit. The look in his eyes.. I was transfixed. Cops showed up, people came out of the theatre. The media. Everyone. I made my way back to my cab, had dispatch yelling at me. I told him what’d happened. Didn’t care, he said, gotta make my fare.

Where am I now? Well, I’ve got a history. I’m not from Gotham, originally. I came here because this city is so bad, no one would wanna look for me here. So I thought. But, people have a funny memory about debts. Anyway, I’m still a cabbie. Only now, sometimes my passengers, they don’t make it. There’s a divider in the cab. Mine is airtight. Sometimes things happen with my cab. Exhaust goes into the back. Locks won’t open. I console myself that it’s only ever happened to bad people. I’m terrified of what will happen when I get told it needs to be someone who isn’t. Someone like the Waynes.

Part Seven: Isabella Fuente

Isabella Fuente. Back then I was a fisher, just looking for a hot meal for the night. It was cold and raining (when ISN’T it raining in Gotham?) and I was waiting for the crowds to leave the show. Out come these three, early, but all distracted. Easy pickings, and they looked juicy. I was only nine years old, I didn’t know any better, the only thing that mattered to me was getting dinner. I never hurt anybody.

Before I could get in place, I heard another voice. Angry, demanding. He wanted her pearl necklace. It got too hot for me in a hurry, so I stayed out of sight, but I couldn’t resist a little peek. He had a gun. He used it.

I’d seen people get beat before, it happens all the time. I’d seen dead bodies. I’d never seen anybody get shot right in front of me. It was bright and loud. I remember the guy had a little scar on his jaw. He ran. Little kid started crying. I ran.

Never went fishing again. I lost my nerve. I found out it was the Waynes a few days later, but that didn’t mean too much to me. Just some names on some big buildings. Rumor at the time was there would be a reward for any information, so I went to a cop that I trusted more than the rest. He got me off the street, put me in the system. Ended up an an orphanage that was funded by the Waynes. Ain’t that a kicker?

Went to school on a Wayne Foundation scholarship. As far as I know, I was one of the last recipients before the scholarship money dried up, but it got me out at least. Now I’m an EMT. I saw the things people did to each other back then just to survive, but now it’s worse. Now they do it for fun, or profit, or for their rep. I try to stay out of the street beefs — most of them leave the EMTs alone, but occasionally somebody gets it in their head that the medicine we carry could make them a lot of money. Policy is that you give them what they want so that they’ll go away, but I’ve never been really great at following policy.

Part Eight: Igantious Gallow

Igantious Gallow. I will never forget the night the Wayne’s were got murdered. I turned eighteen two months before. I was standing on a street corner three blocks from the theater when it happened. My iron weighed heavy in my left pocket. I’d put my hands in cold water only a week before. The package had under my left arm was heavier. I did know what it was. I was just the bag boy who got caught up in the GCPD drag net after the shooting.

The gun and the product were enough to put me away fro ten to fifteen. After what had happened with the Waynes, the judge went with fifteen. I did my time in silence and when I got out a Family car was for me. I didn’t expect it to be a taxi, but I wasn’t going to complain.

Part Nine: Marcus Toure

Marcus Toure, reporter for the Gotham Weekly. I grew up in Gotham. Mom was black, dad was white. They worked hard to make sure I went to college. At eighteen, I went to Metropolis to get a degree in journalism. Got an offer from the Daily Planet, but turned it down. I wanted to come back to Gotham and make a change.

The city was worse than I remembered. Dad was killed on the beat. Mom never recovered. She’s in a home now. Half my check goes to make sure they take care of her.

The Weekly is a rag. It used to be a good paper, but the publisher, Jeff Ritter, gave up a long time ago. Now, it’s mostly celebrity stories. “Who’s Bruce Wayne taking to dinner tonight?” Rich jerk. He could use some of his daddy’s money to help, and what does he do? Spends it on supermodels and trips to Aspen.

Chasing around the city’s “illustrious.” That’s my job. Trapped at the City Desk, writing for Gotham’s version of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.”

Credits

Chapters written by Rob Justice
Arnold Harmon written by Artemis Knight
Artie Pender written by Dave Michalak
Christopher Ramsay written by Robert Wakefield
Igantious Gallow written by Steven A Skidmore
Isabella Fuente written by Michael Curry
Kendra Vanzante written by Sam Tlustos
Marcus Toure written by John Wick
Nate Briggs written by Zachary Alan Gourley
Wendell P. Kauffe written by Frankie Justice

Posted in A City Without Hope.

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