It was another evening dinner for charity and Bruce wasn't really focusing on nothing else but the company and the food. everything had been set extremely gracefully and, after doing some initial chit chat, we were about to start with our first course. I took my napkin and placed it on my lap and so did everybody else. Had I noticed something when Bruce did it, I could be telling this story in a different light.
Our avocado, cheese and nuts salad was simply exquisite, as was the white wine that accompanied it. Miss Fuller was obviously flirting with Bruce and for some minutes, he didn't mind at all how close she was to him. As I was enjoying my food and my drink, I had more time than the rest and managed to notice Bruce had dropped something that looked like the back of a card. I looked at Bruce and told him to pick his business card and he gave me a “you know I don't have a business card” look and proceeded to pick whatever it was from the floor.
Bruce went slightly pale, excused himself and left the room. I didn't manage to say a word to him but my intuition told me that I should follow him. I managed to excuse myself without creating a fuss, but when I got to the hotel lobby where I thought Bruce would be, I found nobody there except for the hotel staff.
“Mr. B.?”, one of the bellboys inquired.
I nodded and he handed me a card, the one that Bruce had picked up from the floor. It was a Joker card and I didn't need anything else being said to me. The Joker had avoided Batman for months now, but it wasn't until now that Bruce found out that the Joker knew who the man behind the mask was.
Knowing both Bruce and the Joker, this was an open invitation to a manhunt, one where both participants were hunter and hunted, depending whom you asked. I went out in the street and found that the cold weather of Gotham was waiting for me in full force, but I had no time to waste. Bruce was on his own and there was no time to go home, change, get all the necessary gadgets from the cave and come back. The Joker wanted him now and Bruce was obliging. But this was as vulnerable as Bruce has ever been, and I'm sure the Joker knew it.
As I ran down J street, I noticed that every single lamp post had a Joker card glued to it, making the task of following Bruce much easier... and I got more concerned than before. This was too obvious a trap for Bruce to fall in, but the Joker had been so elusive that Bruce wanted him behind bars badly.
As I turned left on 23rd Avenue, I managed to see Bruce chasing a slim shadow and heading towards a dead end street. The closer I got to Bruce (something that was very strange giving how unfit I am these days), the more exhausted he looked, which made me wonder what was going on. I called his name and Bruce turned around and called me with a voice that sounded strange, as if he were being strangled.
“Arsenic! I was poisoned with arsenic in the salad!”, Bruce faintly articulated.
As I held Bruce in my arms, his last words came as a shock to me.
“Tell Penelope's family I am deeply sorry”.
I recalled Miss Fuller enjoying part of Bruce's salad as she was flirting with him and as the Dark Knight died in the most graceless way a hero can die, Miss Fuller died, too.
Loosely based on a dream from a couple of nights ago.