What do you do when one of the major supervillains in the comic universe QUITS?
Yep. You heard me. Quits. Resigns. Gives up. Retires voluntarily. Well, if you’re Bruce Wayne, you go into a manic frenzy and you make everyone else’s life a living hell. And by everyone else’s, I mean your agent’s. When I applied to work for Bruce, working for The Batman was not in the description. But I quickly learned that it’s a two for one deal on all sides. Initially, I wasn’t involved with the rodent side of operations. I knew he was the Batman but that had nothing to do with me. I didn’t want to know. I was Bruce Wayne’s publicist and I was happy to be just that. I was happy….until the Joker quit.
Something about creative differences for his previous portrayal. He went off on a rant about using his likeness to gain sales and not measuring it up with screen time. I’m pretty sure I heard something about Leto and Ledger and the next move being CGI and a voice over. I was too busy trying to make sure that one, the maniac didn’t take anything as he tried to leave and two, we had a straight story for the press as to why THE JOKER rolled up to the front of Wayne manner and in a very drunken stupor resigned from terrorising Gotham.
There was no amount of Advil in the world that could cure the headache that my life had become. Thug after thug, meat head after meat head. They were all petty crime perps. They wouldn’t last a panel in a comic book with The Bat. Sixteen excruciating hours of nothing and not a drop of alcohol. It was torture.
For those of you judging me, I DID check with all the other regulars. But even the superhero world isn’t immune to financial restrictions. Bane levelled a stadium BEFORE nearly destroying the whole of Gotham. We can’t afford that again. We spent two years trying to clean that guy’s mess. We CANNOT budget for that guy. And, Riddler? He made the interview. Took up two hours of my time answering my questions with questions. Catwoman said she wold do it for free but we all know how handsy she gets. Scarecrow and Croc were on lockdown at The Asylum and plus, Bruce specifically said “Not them”.
So, there I was in my office with a throbbing headache and a broken spirit.
“This is what makes people turn to crime. I’m sure of it,” I groaned, massaging my temple. I pressed the button to speak through the intercom.
“Anyone else out there?” I called groggily. When I heard no response, my heart fluttered. It was over. It was finally over. I didn’t have to listen to anyone talk about knocking off stores with the Joker, robbing a bank one time with the Joker, riding in the same prison bus with the Joker.
“Thank you, Glob!” I exclaimed, jumping up from my seat. Just then the door handle turned.
“Oh my Glob” I moaned, wearily. A small figure peeked around the oak doors into the room.
“Am I too late for the interview?” came the muffled enquiry. Sighing deeply and trying to hold back my tears, I motioned weakly with my right hand giving him the okay to enter. He scurried through the door, dropping a manila folder filled with papers on the way in. While he gathered his things, I got a chance to examine him. He was balding badly but you couldn’t tell that to the four strands of hair on his head that were desperately trying to reach from one end of his head to the other.
He was pale and covered in liver spots. He looked about fifty-five and stood at a measly four foot six. Thick rimmed glasses framed baggy eyes and the wire arms of his spectacles complemented his wiry body. This was going to be too easy. The manila folder he was carrying was tattered and so were his clothes. There were stains on top of stains and to crown it all he was sweating. I could feel the cold clamminess of his hands as we exchanged pleasantries.
“Montgomery. James Montgomery.”
“Mr. Montgomery. Have a seat please.”
He clumsily obliged and when he was finally settled, I took my seat as well. He shuffled through the dirty manila folder and took out a crumpled piece of paper. I took the now sweat soaked item and carefully unfolded it. Like all the others, I read the details aloud.
“Milk, eggs, butter, spam……”
His eyes widened and he grabbed the paper out of my hand. Well, most of it anyway. He muttered his apologies and sheepishly took the other half from me. Oh, yeah. This was gonna be quick.
He shuffled nervously through the mess in his hands. He kept swatting his tattered checked tie out of the way. I folded my hands and waited patiently for him to find his document. After much ado about what I was sure was nothing, he handed me a singular sheet of paper with his name printed in bold. I took it from him not actually planning to give it any real attention. There was no way that this guy was serious. But everything about his resume caught my eye.
He was an accountant. By profession. CAT qualifications and everything. He had gone to Yale and studied Business and Accounting. He spent his internship period working for one of the biggest accounting firms in the country before moving on to the accounting department at Gotham City Hall. A few years later, he quit the accounting business and decided to become a stockbroker on Wall Street. This man was highly qualified. But for the wrong job.
I looked at him quizzically and then back down at his resume again. Now I felt bad for nearly laughing at him. He was in the wrong room.
“Mr. Montgomery. Let me start off by saying that we are very privileged to have you apply with us. Your resume is very impressive,” I said.
He flashed coffee stained teeth at me gleefully. He was genuinely excited. All of a sudden, it became very hard to do my job. I couldn’t help but feel pity. Things were hard in Gotham for the little man. He was just trying to make a living and here I was about to crush him once again just like the system must have so many times.
“Mr. Montgomery. You are no doubt a great asset to acquire. But, Mr. Wayne and Wayne Enterprises is not looking for another accountant right now.”
“I know that,” he replied excitedly. “This is why I am so excited to apply.”
I chuckled under my breath. “I don’t think we understand each other. This is not—–Okay. I am not interviewing for accountants right now. Alright? This is an interview for a different position. One that requires a….well, not to sound cliché but, a particular set of skills. I know that times are tough and everyone is just looking to survive but Mr. Wayne already has many accountants.”
“ I know. I’m so excited. I’ve never been a part of anything like this before,” he whispered excitedly. Okay, at first I was sorry. Now, I was running out of patience. I was trying not to blow my top at him but I was tired and it was really late. I didn’t have time for games.
“The Broker. Please.”
“Sorry?” I sputtered.
“You can call me “The Broker”,” he smiled. “I know it’s not original but maybe The Batman—-“
“The Batman????!!!” I yelled. I shouldn’t have yelled. I was supposed to keep my cool. It was just that the Bat had not been intertwined into my life for too long and I was already being sucked into over stressful work conditions. I was no Lucius Fox.
“Miss. Miss. Are you alright?” I blinked and quickly recollected where I was and what I was doing. That moment had me in a state of shock.
“Did you hear what I asked, ma’am?” Montgomery asked concerned.
“No, Mr. Montgomery. I’m sorry. Can you repeat that?” I had had enough. I was stressed and I felt as if I was going to have an anxiety attack.
“Where do I sign?” Montgomery quizzed.
“Out the door on your way out with security before you leave and collect your things,” I replied somewhat irritably. The smiling face fell.
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“It means, Mister Montgomery, that we are not interested in you at the moment. I’d be happy to take your email address and phone number and when a place does become available here at Wayne Enterprises, I will let you know,” I said slowly and deliberately. He stared at me and I could see his eyes darkening. It was pure rage lurking under there. I became very wary. My hand slipped under the table to feel for the panic button. My fingertips rested on it ever so gently.
He rose from his seat and I thought that he was going to leave. The air left my lungs in a great whoosh out of pure relief. But then….
***Uh oh. What the what? What did Montgomery do next? Find out in Hiring Evil – Part Two. Out on Friday.
Disclaimer: This representation of the DC Universe is in no way meant to be spot on. All characters (except Maria Morales and James Montgomery) belong to DC comics and were borrowed for non-profit purposes only. It is purely meant for enjoyment.