AN: So I sat down tonight intending to write chapter forty of The Knight and the Prince, and for whatever reason—stress, I expect—it wouldn't take. Not wanting to disappoint people who've been waiting for something from me, I instead jumped to a one shot idea I've had hopping around in my head for a while.
This was inspired by the world's funniest complaint letter, which you can find by googling, appropriately, "world's funniest complaint letter." It's to Virgin, and it should be the first link. I tried to put a Jokerish spin on things, though Joker's use of "Jeremiah" is a direct homage to the letter's use of "Richard."
I have no idea where the format came from, and I apologize for it. I'm sure it's impossible to read.
Dearest Doctor Arkham,
Of all the mental institutions in all the cities in all the world, Arkham's definitely my favorite. Let me tell you, Jeremiah, this place has everything and then some. The view from my room is stunning. Absolutely stunning, provided I feel like tilting the mattress diagonally against the wall and running up it to get a glimpse through the glass. When I'm not too sedated to do that, though, the dumpster I see in return for my efforts is breathtaking. You should see it, Jeremiah, I'm sure it would brighten your day. The staff is charming as well, as so diverse; I don't think I've ever had the same doctor for longer than a few weeks, for whatever reason. And the orderlies—nothing sends me off to a good night's sleep like having my ribs pounded as I listen to the melodious shrieks of my little, easy-to-hold-down neighbors like Jonny Crane in the next cell over. Best of all is your security; I'm never prevented from taking a walk or causing a massacre when I want to. It's lovely, Jeremiah, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for that.
as with all great establishments, there's just this one tiny flaw. it's nothing to be ashamed of, jeremiah, even shakespeare's great work julius caesar had a clock strike the hour before such clocks were invented. and really, what would happiness be without suffering to put it in context? but enough philosophical meandering, jeremiah, i wouldn't want to waste your precious time, and the pencil i stole to write this with is slowly getting duller. that's another little problem with your asylum, jeremiah, is that i can't have a pencil. letters in crayon don't read as clearly, do they, but everyone's afraid that i'll pull that little trick again. i don't like to repeat myself, but once again i digress. onto the issue itself then, let us not tarry.
It's the food, Jeremiah, to put it bluntly. I bet you know what it's like, given that you surely eat the same as the patients in an attempt to better relate, but I don't know how you do it. You must be made of stronger stuff than I, because even for me, each mouthful is a struggle. You must be tougher than the BATMAN himself. I should tell him that when next we fight. Or perhaps you lack taste buds. Now, sometimes, I will concede, the food can be delicious. Pizza Night has yet to disappoint me—and may be the only reason I haven't starved—and the mashed potatoes taste acceptable, though they've the consistency of dried rubber cement, but believe me, Jeremiah, these are tiny rays of sunlight amidst a global flood. I've no idea why it's so miserable, but it is. Oh, how it is.
Knowing that you are a scientifically-minded man, Jeremiah, I don't want to bore you with generalizations, so I saw it fit to provide a blow-by-blow description of just what your cafeteria was, regrettably, passing off as lunch yesterday. I sat at the table, spork in hand—once they'd let me out of the straitjacket, anyway—excited to be among my fellow lunatics and ready for sustenance. And that, Jeremiah, is when they put the tray before me.
Imagine if you will that your parents told you they were going to redecorate your room Jeremiah while you went to your friend's for a sleepover and upon returning home you found that by redecorating they meant throwing all your things in a box outside that is how it felt to see that tray Jeremiah.
The main dish was, I believe, some kind of meat, but I don't think that I will ever know what sort of an animal it came from. It is a question that will linger in the back of my mind and in the forefront of my nightmares until my dying breath, and perhaps afterward. My best guess is that it came from an unholy breeding of a leper cow, and a Komodo dragon. I don't know if you know this, Jeremiah, but Komodo dragons are such disease-ridden animals that a single bite from one will likely kill you by infection in a few hours. I don't know how having my own food make me fear for my life is treating my mental condition, Jeremiah. Perhaps you can shed some light on that.
I Will Admit That I May Have A Slight Tendency To Exaggerate, So In An Attempt To Show You Just How Awful This Cow/Komodo Abomination Looked, I Briefly Stood On The Table To Hold It Up To The Security Cameras So You Could See—As I Lacked An Ordinary Camera—But The Orderlies Yelled At Me To Get Down Almost At Once, So I'm Not Sure If You Got A Clear View. I Then Asked My Friend Edward Nigma What Sort Of Animal He Thought This Came From. He Considered It For About Thirty Seconds, Jeremiah, Before Shaking His Head And Admitting That He Didn't Know.
THE riddler, jeremiah—i know that it is considered bad for progress to use our villain names—but THE riddler himself could not give me AN answer. pardon my french, but qu'est-ce que tu fous? do you think, jeremiah, do you think there may be THE slightest problem when THE goddamn riddler cannot tell me what i am eating? already i am fearing for my life and i've only looked at THE main dish. having wasted three paragraphs on it, i shall move onto THE rest.
.elbirroh sa tib yreve saw, dinf ot desirprus eb ton yam uoy sa, tser ehT
The side dish appeared to be death. I'm not quite sure how to explain it past that, but there was definitely death involved, if it was not the main ingredient. Upon further examination, Jeremiah, it may have been some sort of unfortunately prepared spinach, but with death sprinkled liberally throughout. Also, it had been prepared in such a way that it had the consistency of pudding. For a bit I thought it was meant to be the dessert, until I realized that the grayish brick sitting on my tray could only be a cookie. That, or a bite block the nurses could use to muffle my screams when I finally tasted these abominations and slowly died. I have yet to mention the carrots. At least, I think they were carrots. After reflecting on it, Jeremiah, they might have been some sort of larvae. Certainly they moved enough.
I wOuLd HaVe LiKeD nOtHiNg MoRe At ThIs PoInT tHaN tO gO bAcK tO mY cElL aNd SoB, bOtH fOr tHe DeClInE oF cUlInArY sTaNdArDs AnD wHaT cOnStItUtEs As HuMaNe TrEaTmEnT tHesE dAyS, bUt AlAs, HuNgEr ToOk HoLD. i TrIeD cUtTiNg tHe MeAt.
I quite liked my spork
However this "meat" broke it
Now it's just a shiv
(That was a haiku, Jeremiah, in case you couldn't tell. That's five syllables, then seven, then another five, and I do believe I spent more time coming up with that little masterpiece than whoever prepared this bilge spent on the recipe. That does little for my faith in the hospital, I regret to tell you.)
they do say that anticipation of something is always worse than the actual event. keeping that in mind, i decided to go against every natural instinct in my body telling me that this was poison and to stay far away from it, and made another attempt to cut the meat with what remained of my spork. that, as you may have expected, had no effect, so I had to pick the stuff up and bite it. the sauce was like glue, by the way, and even today some of it still won't wash off. i offered a quick prayer to myself for safety or at least a painless death, and took a bite.
Have you ever eaten vomit, Jeremiah? I don't mean tasted it when it came out of your mouth on its way to the toilet bowl or the floor, or whatever, I mean actually eaten it. I think I have. That, or I've read about the experience, but shifting back to the topic at hand, that is exactly what this stuff tasted like. Like vomit. Apparently, leper cow and Komodo dragon offspring tastes just like half-digested food and stomach acids.
YOUR ASYLUM'S FOOD SYSTEM IS BRINGING BACK TRAUMATIC MEMORIES, JEREMIAH. THIS DOES NOT BODE WELL.
Once again, I have been known to exaggerate, but I must stress that this is not the case here. Not by any means. I would have asked Jonny Crane, who was sitting across from me, his opinions on the food so that he could back me up on this, but then I recalled that scarecrows do not have taste buds. Thus, his opinion would be of little use, the lucky bastard. Oddly enough, Jeremiah, he seems to hallucinate that he can taste because his range of facial expressions as he chewed was quite amusing. Not enough to make up for the regurgitation sitting on my plate, but about as funny as pushing someone in a wheelchair into wet cement. Which is about a six, on a one to ten humor scale. And again I digress. Perhaps poor nutrition is damaging my cognitive abilities.
I next turned my attention to the spinach pudding death concoction. I have not recorded my reactions to it, Jeremiah, because I have not the words to describe it, but hopefully the tear stains on the page will give you some idea.
The larvae I skipped completely can you blame me.
As for the cookie, I believe I broke a tooth without realizing it, biting into that brick, and chewed on it for quite some time. That, or the cookie just managed to have the exact same taste and texture as tooth enamel. Have you ever got the feeling, Jeremiah, that God is punishing you for something? Because that is how I felt. If the bits of brick or tooth or whatever lodged in my intestines eventually kill me, I'll put in a good word with the man upstairs for you. I'll tell him you never meant for us to be fed poisons and building supplies, because I know you would never be this cruel.
if you are this cruel, i'm becoming your personal ghost.
In conclusion, Jeremiah, I extend my deepest sympathies to whatever disorder that removes the ability to taste is plaguing you. (Perhaps you are also a scarecrow?) I assume that is your problem, because I'm sorry to say it, but no one's made of stronger stuff than BATSY and me. Anyway, I hope that you find a cure soon, and in the mean time, take my words to heart. YOU have the power to save the patients from slow painful deaths caused by the buildup of indigestible materials masquerading as meals inside of them. I believe in you, Jeremiah.
Also you may want to do something about the uniforms. Carrot-orange really doesn't look good on anyone. Not even I can pull it off, and let's face it, I'm a male Helen of Troy.
Your favorite patient and dear friend who will break into your home and raid your kitchen if things don't improve soon,