by Dave Barnowski
Philip Wayne’s phone rang at six PM sharp. The Batman answered it in a voice that sounded exactly like Philip Wayne’s. The voice at the other end was Dapper Dan Daniel’s, whom the Batman recognized immediately. After making sure that it was Philip, Dapper Dan told Philip where to go to drop off the money. The gang leader said, “Listen carefully, Wayne. Do you remember where your brother was killed?”
Batman’s eyes narrowed at the blackmailer’s question and answered, “Yes.”
“Good, ’cause that’s where we want you to drop off the money. Only we don’t want you taking your fancy limo. Take the subway, queer boy. We’re watching your house, so no funny business, capisce?”
“Good,” was all the extortionist said as he hung up the phone.
The Batman put the phone’s receiver in the cradle and said goodbye to his Uncle Philip. He went down the stairs and out the front door. He continued out of the yard, and he saw one of the CNC brothers at the corner of the street. Batman ignored him and continued on his way. He knew that the brothers were part of the Dapper Dan Daniel’s gang, but he ignored the man and went straight to the subway.
Charlie Caruthers, who was the second C in CNC, followed the man he thought to be Philip Wayne until he went down into the subway. Then he proceeded down the block to the corner drugstore, where his brother Chauncey was taking care of his sweet tooth by having an egg cream. Charlie saw his brother at the counter talking with the soda jerk about the Gotham Goliaths’ chances in this year’s baseball season. Charlie said hello to his brother and went to the phone booth.
He then called Dapper Dan and told him that Wayne was on his way. They had timed this several times, and the gang knew that Dapper Dan and Jo-Jo would arrive at the rendezvous place long before Philip Wayne could possibly arrive there by subway.
Chauncey then went over to his brother and told him it was time for them to go. Together they walked over to the Wayne townhouse and entered the gate. They drew their pistols as they approached the front door. Charlie rang the doorbell, and Chauncey pistol-whipped the butler when he opened the door.
Together they dragged the unconscious butler back into the house. Chauncey said to his brother, “You didn’t hit him hard enough. He’s still breathing.”
Aiming his gun, Charlie said, “I’ll take care of that now.”
Chauncey grabbed his brother’s arm and said, “Don’t be an idiot. You fire that gun in this neighborhood, and the cops will be down here lickety-split.” Chauncey then raised his pistol in way to pistol-whip the prone butler again.
Philip Wayne heard the commotion downstairs and went to investigate, taking a loaded German Luger he had as a souvenir from the Great War with him. He saw the two strangers standing over his butler. “Hold it right there, gentlemen,” he said, his gun aimed at the one who was about to strike the prone man.
The brothers turned around as one and were shocked to see Philip Wayne on the stairs pointing a gun at them. “Wayne! But I saw you leave,” said Charlie.
“Drop your weapons,” said Philip. “I know how to use this.”
“A pansy like you? I doubt it,” said Chauncey.
“Maybe oughtta do as he says,” whispered Charlie to his brother.
Chauncey shook his head no and then said to Philip, “I surprised you haven’t peed in your pants, Wayne.” Then to his brother he said, “Let’s take him, Charlie.” The brothers quickly raised the guns to a firing position.
Three shots rang out.
The disguised Batman, while riding in the subway to the other side of town, was becoming angrier by the minute at his uncle’s blackmailers. That they would force him to go to the very place where his brother, Batman’s father, was murdered, spoke volumes as to how cruel these men were.
Batman kept his anger in control, but kept it at the forefront of his thoughts. He did this because he knew that being in that alley again could bring up those tragic memories of his parents’ murder before his eyes, and that they could possibly overwhelm him. He used his anger as a ward against those memories becoming too much for him.
He made the changes in trains that had to be made and came back to the surface of Gotham City in the area known as Crime Alley. Once there, he proceeded directly to the alley where he knew the extortionists were waiting for him. He wasn’t quite himself, because he wasn’t walking with the barely noticeable limp of Philip Wayne, nor did he have his uncle’s stance or body language. He entered the alley with a very grim and determined look on his face.
Dapper Dan Daniels and Jo-Jo Nelson were there waiting for him. Daniels cocked an eyebrow when he saw the angry look on Wayne’s face and then smiled at the thought of how Jo-Jo and he were going to turn that anger into abject terror. “Come here, Wayne!” Dapper Dan called.
The disguised Batman approached the two men and said, “Do you have the photographs and negatives?”
Dapper Dan drew a gun and aimed it at Wayne as he said, “No, we don’t. We’re going to keep those as insurance. Give me the briefcase.”
“Insurance?” asked the Batman as he gave Dapper Dan the briefcase.
“Yeah. Think of them as an insurance policy, one that’ll cost you five thousand a week from here on out.”
“Five thousand dollars a week?! Are you crazy? I’ll go broke if I were to pay you five thousand a week!” protested the Batman. He was acting now; he had resumed his charade of Philip Wayne as soon as Daniels called out his uncle’s name.
“Like I care. Oh, and another thing — we want the name of some other rich fairies like you.”
“You heard me, Wayne.”
Jo-Jo then spoke up, “I was hoping you’d say that.” Jo-Jo then stepped in between the Batman and Dapper Dan. The big man must have been six feet and eight or nine inches tall as he towered over the Batman, who was over six feet himself. Jo-Jo grabbed the disguised Batman by the collar of his shirt and coat with one hand and lifted him off the ground. Jo-Jo raised his other hand to hit the Batman.
As Jo-Jo went to beat up Philip Wayne, Dapper Dan Daniels opened the briefcase. His eyes nearly bulged out of his head with fright when he saw the cape and infamous cowl of the Batman.
Jo-Jo never got the chance to hit the Batman, because the Caped Crusader boxed his ears. Jo-Jo dropped the Batman as he grabbed reflexively. The Dark Knight then jabbed his fists into Jo-Jo’s unprotected face and kicked him once in the stomach. The Batman then put his hands on the big man’s shoulders and vaulted over him. He then mule-kicked Jo-Jo when he was behind him. It was all done in seconds, and in one fluid motion.
Dapper Dan Daniels began firing his gun wildly in the alley as soon as he had a clear shot at the Batman. Daniels was also running down toward the street as he fired. He missed his target, but hit and killed Jo-Jo with a bullet to the big man’s heart.
Batman grabbed his cowl and cape and, putting them on, chased after Daniels, discarding the outer clothes he was wearing as he ran so that there would be no mistaking him as anyone else than the Batman.
Daniels had a good head start as the Batman was slowed in changing of clothes, but the hero was faster than Daniels and soon began to gain on the smaller man. Daniels was terrified and ran right out into the street. He never saw the car that hit him. Daniels flew a good fifteen feet and landed in a broken heap.
Batman ran to the broken man. The Dark Knight quickly appraised the situation and knew that Daniels was breathing his last. He bent down over the broken man and said, “Daniels, listen to me. You’re dying. Why don’t you do one last good act? Tell me where the photographs and negatives are!”
Daniels knew that he was dying, and he blamed the Batman for that. Thus Daniels told the Batman where the photos and negatives were in hopes that the Frenchman, who had taken out his gang with ease, would kill the Caped Crusader.
Unbeknownst to Daniels, the Frenchman understood and spoke perfect English, and he was angry because Dapper Dan’s gang had screwed up. He knew that because of the police radio scanner he had set up in his bedroom. First came the call on the scanner of shots fired at Wayne’s townhouse, and then the call for two ambulances. Next came the call of shots fired in and around the alley where they were supposed to meet Wayne.
The Frenchman knew that it was time to leave the Ritz-Carlton Hotel and was packing his bags. As he did, he reflected on how perfect his plan was and how he had come to find out about Philip Wayne’s homosexuality.
Reginald Von Gleason had told him last year, just before he committed suicide, right here in Gotham City. He had told the Frenchman, because he had ordered him to. The Frenchman had discovered Von Gleason was a homosexual in 1938 and had been blackmailing him ever since.
The Frenchman had been bleeding Von Gleason dry. But the extortionist knew that Von Gleason was running out of money and wondered how he could keep his cash cow going. He then came across the idea that Von Gleason must know other rich men who were homosexuals. He decided to make Von Gleason give him their names. Von Gleason would only give him the name of Philip Wayne, even after the Frenchman gave him a severe beating. Von Gleason killed himself the same week that he told the Frenchman about Philip Wayne.
The Frenchman knew that Wayne would never give him anything without proof, so he followed Wayne around discreetly for the next two months, trying to get photos of the man in a compromising position. Wayne never gave him the opportunity while in Gotham City. But when Wayne went to Paris last year, the Frenchman followed him. He had to get the goods on Wayne soon, because the money he had gotten from Von Gleason was almost used up. Wayne saved a couple hundred homosexuals in Paris from the German onslaught, but his behavior was unguarded there, and that gave the Frenchman the proof he needed.
He had thought briefly of selling the information to the Germans, but he liked to think he was patriotic for not going to the Germans. In reality, he had known that the Germans would only pay him once, while the Frenchman wanted a continuous flow of money.
When he returned to Gotham City, the idea of using others to contact Wayne appealed to him. Wayne was a lot wealthier than Von Gleason. He was also a lot more powerful and could conceivably turn on any blackmailer. The Frenchman didn’t want to put himself in any danger. Thus he came up with the guise of the Frenchman who didn’t speak any English, but had damaging photos and negatives against one of the richest and most powerful men in America. This way he’d never see Wayne and wouldn’t take any risks himself.
Dapper Dan Daniels and his gang filled the void between him and Wayne perfectly. Daniels didn’t even know the Frenchman’s name or that he was as American as Daniels. Once he had beaten Daniels and his men, as he knew he would have to, it was a perfect, risk-free setup. Unfortunately, Daniels and his men had somehow screwed the pooch.
The faux Frenchman finished packing his bags and went to the wall safe. He didn’t see the Batman watching him from the balcony.