Friday, October 3, 2008

The Counterconspiracy: "Cowboy Justice"

He got out of his car and just stood there, looking around, and shaking his head.

"Good morning, Inspector Gordon," the patrolman greeted him.

"Is it, really? Is it morning? And, is it good?" Gordon looked at him.

Immediately, Gordon regretted his response. He was, in his own way, being friendly and frank to the patrolman, but the patrolman did not know Gordon very well, and had no way of knowing this. Consequently, the patrolman was wondering what the problem was, and whether Gordon was just in a bad mood.

"What do we got?" Gordon asked, looking around.

A warehouse had been destroyed, a yacht had been sunk, there was debris everywhere... on top of that, there were bags of drugs, there were weapons, and there was money. Gotham police had sealed off the area, and firefighters and paramedics were on the scene; the fires had been put out and most of the injured had already been evacuated, over a dozen of them to intensive care wards around Gotham City. Gordon could see nearly a dozen tarps covering people who were dead on the scene.

Seeing Inspector Gordon's gaze pause on the tarps, the patrolman began. "There are several more dead in the warehouse. We haven't been able to really get in there yet."

"Were there any witnesses?"

"Mainly some women. Hookers, scantily clad. They don't speak a lot of English. From what we can make out, they didn't see much. Some kind of a covering had been thrown over them right as all this began."

"Where are they now?" Gordon asked.

"Over there, in the crime scene vans." The officer pointed off beyond the utility shed, and Gordon looked and saw two vans. Inside the vans, he could see some women huddled in blankets.

"Hookers? They were trafficked in for a party. They're not here because they want to be. Has anyone offered them some hot coffee or something?"

"I'm not sure, sir."

"Let's do that. And make sure we get some interpreters down here, pronto!"

"Yes, sir!" With that, the patrolman hurried off toward the crime scene vans, as Inspector Gordon stood and looked around some more, shaking his head.

Dr. Sandra Villanova sat at her desk, staring at her computer, and shook her head.

"What a creep!" she said aloud, even though she was alone in her apartment.

It had now been two full days since the news broke about Batman's latest exploit, an attack that broke up a drug deal and left dozens of people dead. Gotham's media were not giving many details, only emphasizing the violence of what was being portrayed, more than likely correctly, as a vigilante act. The alternative media, however, had more factual reporting and substantial analysis.

Dr. Villanova looked at the clock on her computer – it was almost 7:00. In order to meet Bruce Wayne for dinner, she had to leave by 7:15. It promised to be an interesting evening, as there would be three of them. At first Sandra was hesitant, as the third person was a woman, but then she found out that it was an old friend of Bruce's who worked in the district attorney's office, and not one of the many "lady-friends" Bruce was said by the tabloids to have. Since she was just a friend (which, actually, Sandra herself was, as well), she agreed to meet them, just to get out for a while. Hearing, though, that this friend worked in the DA's office just sweetened the deal, as Sandra was hoping to hear some of the inside story about the investigation into this "Batman", with whom Sandra also was acquainted.

Meanwhile, Sandra still had several minutes to browse the Internet, so she looked again at the page she was on.

Within several hours of the attack on the riverfront, a video appeared on-line. It had been taken with someone's cell phone, and the picture quality was not very good, but the last half of the attack was visible.

As the video began, by the light of the burning warehouse, a dark shape could be seen moving. Strangely, no light reflected off the dark shape, but rather, the dark shape could be seen against the dim light reflecting off objects behind it. The first time she saw the video, Dr. Villanova missed the dark shape completely, until....

A shiver went down her spine. And to think she knew this Batman!

In front of the dark shape, there were some men firing automatic weapons at it. Suddenly, from the dark shape erupted a stream of fire. She found out later on by reading the comments to the video that this was the vehicle's flamethrower. The flamethrower set on fire the men who had a moment before been firing at what was now being called the "Batmobile".

It was a particularly gruesome scene, as the men were seen in the video burning. In fact, more than anything, it was because of this scene that the video was taken off the website, but by then it was too late, and the video had been copied and was already reappearing periodically at other websites, and being emailed around Gotham City.

From there, again seen against a backdrop of reflected light – and now burning napalm – the dark shape could be seen approaching a yacht. Men on the yacht were shooting at the Batmobile, but as the Batmobile approached the yacht, more and more of the men were dropping their weapons and jumping in the river.

A rocket could be seen being launched from the vehicle, and the rocket hit right in the middle of the yacht. The yacht blew up, and its burning halves could be seen sinking and drifting away from each other. At this point, there was no more shooting visible in the video, and the Batmobile moved past some small building that was still intact, then the Batmobile disappeared. The video ended showing the rapidly sinking yacht, then the burning warehouse, and all the debris strewn about.

In all, it was only several seconds of video, but it was quite graphic.

Though the video had been taken down from the site, the commentary remained, and there were now a couple thousand comments.

As it was by now obvious that these were narcotraffickers whose deal Batman had spoiled, there was broad general support for Batman, especially as it was now apparent the only people who had died were underworld thugs. The commentary was tempered somewhat by concern about vigilantism, and whether such "Cowboy Justice" (as one commentator had called it) would lead to a breakdown of law-and-order, and a general digression into the law of the jungle.

Another commentator, however, fired back, asking whether the law of the jungle would really be "that much worse than what we have right now in Gotham?"

Later on it came out that some women who had been trafficked into Gotham City to work in forced prostitution were at the scene, and that the Batman had made a special effort to protect them, preventing them from being raped and abused on the yacht in the aftermath of the drug deal.

Since this particular plight of women in Gotham City was a concern that Dr. Villanova herself followed, and about which she felt especially strong, that detail tipped the scales for her – and apparently for much of Gotham City – in favor of the Batman and his "Cowboy Justice", and against Gotham's authorities which, despite the heroic efforts of many, were considered impotent due to a combination of corruption and political correctness.

Furthermore, all of this made particular sense to Dr. Villanova, in light of her expertise in studying organized crime, plus the information she had shared in several secret meetings with Batman. Now, she was eager to meet with Bruce and his friend from the DA's office, and see what she could find out, and perhaps even offer some observations of her own to the young lady from the DA.

She looked again at the time – 7:14.

She glanced back to the computer, and looked again at a comment she had noticed a little while ago. One of the commentators had commented, apparently not without sarcasm, that the video was better than a Bigfoot video, to which another commentator answered, only a couple of hours ago:

Better than Bigfoot! Yes it is. LOL! I know. I was there! I saw it with my own two eyes. You people of Gotham think those burning goons deserved to die? Well, don't we all? And, you like the Batman, you think he makes quite an impression? Just wait til you get a load of me!

There was something in that comment that sent a shiver down Dr. Villanova's spine. Getting up to leave for her dinner with Bruce and his friend from the DA's office, she looked one last time at the computer screen. That last comment was left by someone posting as "The Joker".

"What a creep!" she thought, hurrying to the door.

No comments: