Vampires, Mutants and Red Smiling Faces
Written before Blood Red Moon. My kids insisted and I obliged…
Grace Van Pelt closed the book and sighed.
It was noticeable, actually, as she had been carrying it around like a third arm for days, sneaking into it at every chance she got, tempted even to steal time from the investigation at hand. Rigsby, of course, was the first to notice.
Another sigh. "Yes…"
"So does she do it?"
"Wayne!" Van Pelt's eyes grew wide. "She's only seventeen!"
"No! That's not what I meant!" He glanced around. Cho was staring at him from his desk. From inside her office, Lisbon shook her head, pretending not to be listening. Patrick Jane was nowhere to be seen. Rigsby leaned in toward her desk conspiratorially, keeping his voice deliberately low. "Does she become a vampire?"
"Oh, no. Not in this book. In one of the later ones. At least, I think so. I haven't read them yet…" She closed her eyes, smiling, clutching the book to her chest. "It's sooo romantic."
"Yeah, that's what you keep saying…" He slumped back in his chair, suddenly wishing he were undead.
"I don't get it." Cho was still staring. "What is it with girls and vampires?"
She frowned. "What do you mean?"
"I mean," He was still frozen in place, hands folded across his desk, shoulders bent, face serious and thoughtful. "They're vampires. They suck your blood. They sleep in coffins. They turn into bats. What's the attraction?"
"Oh no, no," said Van Pelt. "Not these vampires. These vampires are gorgeous."
"Yes, like gods."
"Gods." Completely deadpan.
"Yes, gods. Inhumanly gorgeous. Everything about them attracts you to them. Their faces, their voices, their hair. They sparkle in the sunlight. They are sooo smart and they're rich and cultured and they love music. Some of them can even read minds."
"Well, that explains it," said Cho.
They both looked at him.
"Jane's a vampire."
Rigsby burst out laughing, reached out and high-fived his partner. And Cho, sober, reserved, understated, and totally deadpan Cho, actually cracked a smile as he high-fived back. Van Pelt gasped, clutching her book even tighter to her chest.
"Yes," she exclaimed. "Yes, that's it! Jane's a vampire!"
"It explains a lot," said Cho.
Rigsby was still laughing. He couldn't talk. Even Lisbon, who was definitely not listening in on their conversation, was shaking her head and laughing softly to herself.
"No, it fits!" Van Pelt insisted. "They even talk strangely, use old English, old grammar, odd phrases and really big words, and you never really know if they're saying what you think they're saying, you know?"
"And what about the blood?' Cho again. "I mean, Jane's history, Red John, lots of blood. Fits."
"That's funny. Creepy but funny," grunted Rigsby, trying to catch his breath. "But I don't know. I don't think Jane's a vampire…"
"Well, he's not a werewolf," muttered Van Pelt. "I know that for a fact. They're in the next book."
"He's a mutant," said Cho, not waiting for his partner's opinion.
"What? A mutant?" Rigsby now, as he fished inside his desk for a plastic baggie. "Like one of those X-guys?"
Cho nodded, dead serious. "They can do anything. It's in their DNA. Genetically superior. It's a scientific possibility."
Rigsby stared at him, popped some peanuts in his mouth. "You still buying comic books, bro?"
There was a heartbeat of silence. "Only the collector's editions."
The room was quiet for a moment. Finally, Rigsby spoke up. "Nah, he's not a vampire or a mutant…" He popped more peanuts, and grinned. "He's the Joker."
"What?" said Van Pelt. "The Joker?"
"Hmm," said Cho, mulling.
Rigsby leaned forward, his big frame twitching with excitement. "Didn't you see that new Batman movie last summer, Grace? I know Cho didn't –"
"I did so," said Cho.
Rigsby frowned, munching momentarily interrupted. "Hey, I asked you if you wanted to go. You said no. You said it was a kid's movie…" Cho looked at his hands. Rigsby's eyes narrowed. "You went with your comic book geek friends, didn't you? Probably opening night…"
"If you dressed up, man, I'm gonna kill you."
"I didn't dress up."
"Did your friends?"
Van Pelt swatted Rigsby on the arm. He brightened.
"So?" she insisted. "Why is Jane the Joker?"
"Well," Rigsby looked from Van Pelt to Cho and back again, still chewing. "J – Jane. J – Joker…?"
"Is Sesame Street in Gotham?" asked Cho.
From her office, still not listening, Lisbon snorted.
"You should know, comic boy," grinned Van Pelt and for the first time, Kimball Cho realized that Grace Van Pelt was actually rather pretty.
"Shut up," Rigsby now. "I'm just getting started. So, they both wear the same clothes, you know, those old school suits and vests and butt-ugly brown shoes. They're both schemers, you know, plans and traps and mind games and stuff. Both got curly hair and freakishly big smiles and both are …you know…" He put a finger to his ear, twirled it around a few times, eyes bulging. "…craaaaazy…"
"An agent of chaos," said Cho.
"Exactly," Rigsby sat back in his chair, munching. "An agent of chaos."
"Wow," said Van Pelt, thinking.
Rigsby was on a roll. "And the red smiley face? Is that not totally the Joker? How can you not look at that and not think 'Joker?' And all the knives and crap…"
"That's Red John, not Jane," corrected Cho.
"Oh right. I forgot." But they looked at each other for a long moment. Rigsby raised his brows. Cho lowered his.
"What?" asked Van Pelt.
"Well," said Rigsby, dumping the last of the peanuts into his mouth. "That's what I think. Patrick Jane is an agent of chaos."
"Nope," sang Van Pelt. "Vampire."
Rigsby brushed the salt off his fingers, looked over to the office where Lisbon was busy writing reports. "What do you think, boss?"
"Well," she rested her chin on the back of her hands, eyes sliding towards the corner of her office. "Why don't we ask?"
There was the squeaking sound of a wheeled office chair from inside the office –
"Jane," she asked, "What do you think?"
The squeaking grew louder and Patrick Jane rolled into sight in the door of Lisbon's office.
"Vampire, mutant or Joker?" she asked.
Leaning so far back in the wheeled chair as if almost prone, hands laced behind his head, pushing himself inch by inch backwards with the soles of the butt ugly brown shoes. He smiled at them.
"Joker, most definitely." And he smiled, the freakishly big smile. "Agent of chaos. Without a doubt."
"We knew you were there," said Rigsby, red and just a little flustered.
"Of course," said Jane, still smiling.
"Van Pelt started it," said Cho.
"Hey!" She sat up straight, indignant. "That's not true!"
Jane held up a hand. "Not to worry, my dear. I am genetically superior and I do in fact sparkle in the sun. You…are Batgirl."
She gasped, dark eyes wide, pulled her fist down in one swift motion. "Batgirl! Yesss."
He lolled his head to look at his boss. "And you, you can be Catwoman."
Lisbon narrowed her big green eyes, and purred.
He turned back to Rigsby and Cho. They were on the edge of their seats, eager.
"Wayne Rigsby, Kimball Cho, what you boys are is obvious…"
On the edge of their seats
"You are the clowns."