Political Realities

By Adrian Tullberg


In the dim light of pre-dawn, Gordon had successfully negotiated the truly impressive media hordes outside, entered the City Hall building, and marched into the Mayor's office.

Not surprisingly, the D.A. was also there.

"Gordon."

"We'd like a progress report."

Gordon adjusted his glasses. "A few hours ago, one Helena Bertinelli, a.k.a. the Huntress, walked up to the Joker, who was unarmed, and promptly shot a crossbow bolt through his head. In front of seven witnesses, five who are long-serving police officers, and two security cameras."

The D.A. unsuccessfully suppressed a laugh. "My kid's got a photo of that on his desktop."

Gordon nodded. "Needless to say, with the evidence, we've got a slam-dunk. No need for any deals or whatever. Throw away the key on her."

The Mayor and the D.A. gave each other a glance before looking back at Gordon.

"It's not that simple."

"Dead to rights." When the two officials refused to react, Gordon felt the need to elaborate. "This is murder."

"That was the Joker."

"Murder One."

The D.A. looked Gordon square in the eye. "Murder is usually defined as the killing of a human being."

Gordon removed his glasses for a quick polish. "Are you justifying murder?"

"Are you justifying a waste of the city's time and money, Commissioner?"

"I don't follow."

The Mayor rubbed his nose. "Okay Commissioner, let me look into my crystal ball, and give you a rundown of the future." He stood up, gesturing as he spoke.

"Right now, Ms. Bertinelli is sitting in your cells, waiting. Outside your cells, people in Gotham are just hearing on the news, TV, radio, whatever way or network they use on the Internet, that finally, the Joker is dead."

"I expec-"

"Don't interrupt, Gordon, because I haven't even started. However, Ms. Bertinelli's supporters are already off and running. Bill?"

The D.A. produced one of those iPads. "A website for her legal defence funds. Thirty-thousand contributed – not pledged, contributed - in two and a half hours."

"What?"

"Yeah, and the news hasn't hit the major morning shows yet. But I suspect that she won't need a penny, because every major criminal lawyer on the East Coast is ready to pay herfor the opportunity to defend the next big hero in court."

The D.A. leaned forward. "Every one of my major guns is taking a vacation, taking leave or calling sick because they realise that being put on the docket as the one who prosecuted the girl who killed the Joker will be a major albatross around their neck should they ever harbour anything resembling a political ambition. Which means I will definitely have to strongarm one of my more younger, more inexperienced, more common-sense-challenged attorneys. And if Ms. Bertinelli's legal team possesses an ounce of competence? They'll have figured that out already."

The Mayor shrugged. "But let's say we say the hell with it and plow on ahead. They'll insist on a jury trial here in Gotham, even though we have the death penalty. That means you'll have a presiding judge who may not have been personally threatened by laughing boy, but is close friends with at least one member of the bench who has, and therefore will be looking for the slightest excuse to say 'Case Dismissed, Sorry to bother you Ma'am'."

"Then Jury selection. Despite every juror swearing blind they want to preserve the rule of law, you'll have two people who were nearby when Joker blew up a building. One who was put directly in harm's way. Two who knew someone who was hurt, threatened or killed, one guy who will still be hung over because of the parties that will be thrown to celebrate Ms. Bertinelli's welcome subtraction from the gene pool and at least one whose daughter caught a whiff of that Joker Venom stuff and had to spend her college fund on plastic surgery so she won't look like a grinning freak-"

"Smilex." Gordon muttered. "The inhalational variant of Joker Venom is Smilex."

"Whoop. De. Do."

The D.A. stood up. "Tell me Gordon. Given the amount of your officers killed or seriously injured by the Joker, can you guarantee the evidence against Ms. Bertinelli will not be tampered with, if not mysteriously disappear or misfiled?"

Gordon took a deep shuddering breath. "Are you trying to tell me we're just going to let a woman – a woman with long established Mafia connections walk away from a murder charge?"

"We are going to save this city from a very needless and public waste of time and money."

Gordon finally made the connection. "And preventing the very public and undoubtedly famous trial, a trial which you've already pre-determined that Ms. Bertinelli will win, won't create a nationally famous figurehead in this woman, who undoubtedly amid her book offers and TV spots, will consider a shot at public office?"

"Interesting imagination you have there, Gordon."

"You truly inspire me, sir."

As the D.A. began to state that Bertinelli had already been released, Gordon didn't bother with pleasantries as he left the office.

He'd already failed the negotiations.