James "Jimbo" Davidson was bored stiff.
Arkham Asylum just wasn't as interesting when everyone was behaving.
He'd been a nightshift security guard for three months now and at the ripe old age of twenty-eight was already well versed in the various intricacies of night security. At two hundred and eighty pounds, an IQ of a hundred and twenty and an emphatic disinterest in formal education, work as a nightclub bouncer had been the obvious career choice. It allowed him to curry favour with pretty girls and flex a little authority as well as smoke on the job. It had suited him just fine.
But after he'd collared a drunken teenager who'd kicked out the taillight of a silver Mercedes, he found himself moving up in the world. The owner of the Mercedes had offered him a better-paying job as head of security for his firm and Jimbo had accepted. He could still smoke on the job and although there were no pretty girls, there was the latest in computer equipment to download porn on and he was inside out of the cold in winter.
Yeah, it had been a sweet deal but Jimbo had gotten greedy. Some of his old contacts from the various clubs he'd worked at had gotten in touch, sussing out the possibility for Jimbo and his crew neglecting to observe the cameras in one section of the building on a particular Friday evening, resulting in the lifting of a state of the art range of electronics equipment. Jimbo got a cut of course but, as it turns out, fellas didn't become owners of silver Mercedes by being stupid. Jerks, maybe, but not stupid.
Of course nothing could be proven, but Jimbo had found himself jobless nonetheless.
And so that was how he'd wound up at Arkham Asylum. This joint couldn't afford to be picky with who they employed. Security was either passionately devoted to the philosophy of keeping Gotham's unique crazies off the streets, or they were opportunists with shady pasts and ulterior motives.
For the moment Jimbo was content with a steady paycheck and the right to smoke on shift, but he wasn't averse to a little opportunity either.
New staff at the Asylum were kept from direct contact with the high security inmates until they'd settled in and gotten used to the way things were. Jimbo consequently found himself on monitor duty and the occasional hall patrol, night after night, while he learned the ropes, watched and absorbed.
Bouncing clubs, he'd seen a few kinky sights; some ugly fights go down, even a celebrity or two in compromising positions. But Arkham had already far outstripped the feeble constraints of "wild" his sordid but simple mind could conceive of. He'd witnessed inmates calmly plucking out their eyebrow hairs one by one, having frenzied, teary conversations with wooden puppets, flip a coin to make the decision between fifty or a hundred push-ups before lights out and swallow whole raw chickens. Monitor duty wasn't bad at all, all things considered.
But that night, the screens were quiet. The inmates were rugged up in their cots, sleeping peacefully or unconscious beneath the heavy weight of liberally administered sedatives. A rare and alien calmness had descended on the asylum and Jimbo was yawning restlessly in his seat, a can of soda in one hand, cigarette in the other, and feet propped up on his desk.
Couldn't forget the porn tomorrow.
Movement flickered in one of the screens in the upper left-hand corner of the wall of monitors that constantly flickered before him.
He darted a bleary eye towards it and watched disinterestedly. The particular room it was focused on was one of the electroshock therapy treatment rooms, the hulking machines lurking grimly around plain white cots. The presence of a camera there was new; ever since a negligent nurse had stepped out to retrieve a forgotten magazine and the inmate currently receiving therapy had gone into cardiac arrest. There was movement again and a figure moved across the path of the camera. Jimbo dug his pinkie finger into his ear, scratching vigorously. Probably another guard, or maybe a doctor doing some late night – thing.
The figure returned, this time with another and now Jimbo lurched forward, knocking his soda can to the floor where it fizzed, spilling liquid across the linoleum. There was no mistaking who it was skulking around the treatment room and Jimbo found himself sputtering and fumbling across his desk, knocking aside the computer keyboard and scattering a bag of M&Ms in his haste to hit the alarm.
Then he stopped, his hand arrested inches from the red button, his eyes fixed hard on the monitor. As he continued to watch, his eyes grew rounder and his jaw slacker until finally he was watching fully agape with the same stunned expression of a landed trout.
Slowly, he sank back down into his chair, the vinyl creaking beneath his weight, and a drop of spittle collecting in the corer of his o-shaped mouth.
"Holy shit," he breathed.
No way he'd got this lucky. No way.