Chuck stared at the crumpled body on the floor, a pool of blood collecting beneath it and blending into its wrinkled yellow cape. This was absolutely not how he’d expected the morning to turn out; he’d grown so accustomed to failure in his criminal attempts that any sort of success was simply unthinkable. He carefully lifted his right foot and slowly began pushing the corpse away, like a housewife nonchalantly brushing dirt under a table.
“What the fuck,” shouted a voice from across the room. “What have you done?”
“No, please,” Chuck said. “Hush. Hush now.” He shifted slightly so his body blocked as much of the corpse as he could. He had a doctor’s appointment in 45 minutes, this wasn’t supposed to happen. In and out, that was it, same as always.
“Is he dead?” said another voice.
“No,” Chuck said, staring down at the clearly-dead body. His head was laying several inches away from his torso, expressionless eyes staring up at Chuck. “He’s sleeping, just sleeping. Trust me. He’s so tired. He and I are good pals, we were out partying last night. Now he’s asleep.”
“He’s got no head, you asshole,” shouted a third voice. “You cut it off with some sort of incredibly elaborate pendulum.”
“Did not,” Chuck said, turning toward the voices. The bank had emptied out, save for maybe ten people that remained huddled by the teller’s counter. They were staring at him, half of them with jaws dropped open, the other half covering their mouths with their palms. It was only a matter of time until the police arrived—or worse—although he knew no one would be in a rush. They never were when it came to his crimes—mainly because his tended to be less of the “violent” kind and more of the “elaborate yet inept” variety.
It wasn’t that he didn’t try to be deadly, it was just that he never succeeded. Last week’s attempt, for example, had been an incredibly elaborate scheme in which he’d set up several buckets of water throughout the bank that were automated to spill at the exact same moment. A wire was to fall from the ceiling at that second, electrifying everyone in the area and allowing him to waltz in afterwards to steal some cash—just $15 or $20 to pay some overdue parking tickets, that’s all he’d ever wanted.
Chuck had spent the whole week prior reading up on robotics so he could build the devices needed, only to finish setting them up mere minutes before the bank opened. The tellers greeted him when they entered, explained how excited they were for today’s misguided attempt at getting money for his parking ticket, and nodded admiringly at his work. Unfortunately, his plan ultimately failed after the arms neglected to dump their buckets, alongside the fact that he’d accidentally overlooked the whole “live, electrified wire” portion. Today, however, had turned out a bit different.
“I’m telling you,” Chuck said, “he’s fine, just super tired.” He coughed. “So—uh—anyone catch the Jets game last night? Exciting stuff, right?” he said in a desperate attempt to change the topic.
“He’s not fine,” shouted a man in a long, brown coat. It looked expensive—definitely worth more than his own. If he could have started the day over, he would gladly have just robbed this man, rather than following-through with this week’s plot. Now all he had was a dead body and an embarrassingly lackluster coat, which left him no closer to paying off his long-standing parking ticket.
“You don’t know that,” Chuck said. He turned back toward the headless corpse and removed his jacket—now aware he no longer wanted it—and placed it over the body, pretending to tuck it in. “Please let him sleep. He’s so tuckered out.”
“He’s got no head,” shrieked a woman.
“You’ve got no head,” Chuck screamed back. He’d never been very good at on-the-spot retorts.
“That doesn’t even make any sense,” shouted the man in the expensive, brown coat.
“Shut up,” Chuck said.
“The hell is going on in here,” said a deep, foreboding voice from overhead. Chuck closed his eyes and sighed. There was only one man who had that accent, one symbol that spoke in such a clichéd way. The bane of his very existence, the man to foil all of the plots that he, himself, did not foil on his own. That came to exactly one: the day in which he’d almost accidentally succeeded in letting loose a highly venomous cobra in the bank. He was stopped at the last minute, during which he was punched incredibly hard in the face, with the cobra being grabbed and brought back to the zoo he’d stolen it from. It still hurt to think about that punch.
“It’s not what it looks like,” Chuck said, glancing up toward the ceiling. A man in a tight, black suite was hanging by a thin rope overhead, its metal end impaled in the Styrofoam-esque tiling above. Long, black ears poked out from his mask, the symbol of a bat engraved into his muscular chest-piece.
“What have you done,” he said, lowering himself to the ground. “What did you do to Robin?”
“He’s napping,” Chuck said, jumping in front of Batman’s view. “Please don’t wake him up. He’s sleeping. Dear god, please just go away for a bit and let him sleep.”
“Did you do this? How did you do this? You can’t do anything. You tried to set loose a pod of lobsters in here for crying out loud, only to have them latch onto your own hands and refuse to let go. I had to bring you to the hospital myself. How could you defeat Robin?”
“Me? I didn’t do anything,” Chuck said, wiping his sweat-glazed forehead. “He’s just super tired. He was out partying with friends—I mean out with me. I am his friend. We were partying. I didn’t do anything here.”
Batman bent down and pulled the jacket back, his eyes locked on the corpse. He slowly returned the jacket back into place before standing up.
Chuck glanced at his watch. “Anyway, I should probably head home now.”
“Don’t you fucking go anywhere,” he said, grabbing Chuck by the throat.
“Murghg,” Chuck shouted in a constricted attempt at requesting Batman to rethink his actions.
“Tell me what you did,” he snarled, his lower lip trembling as he spoke. “Tell me or I’ll break you.”
“He’s sleeping,” Chuck shouted. “I just needed like $20 for a parking ticket, the same one I always need the money for! Why was he even standing there?”
“What are you talking about,” Batman shouted. “Standing where!” He loosened his grip enough for Chuck to speak.
“My bladed pendulum,” Chuck screeched. “I made a giant axe out of metal—I took a blacksmithing class to learn how—and strung it by the entrance this morning. It was going to swing back and forth for a while, maybe kill a few innocent people—oh, who am I kidding. It was going to swing back and forth fruitlessly, I accidentally made the blade incredibly dull.”
“Go on!” Batman shouted, pinning Chuck against the wall beside the door, his hand still loosely around his throat.
“I didn’t think it’d really do anything,” he said ”I’d hoped that maybe it would scare a few people and they’d close the bank so I could maybe break in and grab a few bucks. Then your pal Robin comes wandering in, sipping from a coffee cup and greeting everyone all cheerful-like.” Chuck paused, trying his best to regain his composure and ignore the hand clamped around his throat. “So there’s Robin, walking without looking, coffee to his lips, when he accidentally kicks an automated arm holding a bucket of water.” He paused again. “I want to make it clear that someone else left that there, totally not my fault. Anyway, it spilled all over the floor. He slips forward, his neck thrusting forward directly under my guillotine, which slices it clean off. I don’t even know how. I thought I’d accidentally made it duller than a butter knife.”
“You cut off Robin’s head with a god damn pendulum hanging in a bank?” Batman said, his grip again tightening around Chuck’s neck. He lifted him off the wall and held him a few inches off the ground.
“Y-yes,” Chuck stammered through gasped breaths. “It’s behind you.” Chuck nodded toward the bladed pendulum, still swinging to and fro.
“That’s not possible,” Batman shouted. “Why can’t you just pay the god damn parking ticket with your own money?” He shoved Chuck forward and onto the floor, Batman stumbling back from the force of his own push, tripping over his own cape and falling backward. Chuck closed his eyes as a deep, visceral scream echoed through the bank, followed by an abrupt silence. He slowly opened them back up. Once again, the pendulum was swinging at a slightly different angle, a new coat of blood dripping from its allegedly dull blade. Batman’s ragged body lay just a few feet from Robin’s.
“What did you do?” shouted a voice from the opposite side of the bank, followed by a series of high-pitched shrieks.
“N-nothing,” Chuck stammered, rising to his feet and walking over to the partially decapitated body. He softly began pushing it toward Robin’s, doing his best not to draw any attention to himself. “They’re asleep. Oh god, they’re just so tired.”