Chapter Fifteen:     GOTHAM SHITTY

Chrome Squatch Concert Tour USA

DOUGLAS WIELSON expounding his version of a TRUTH— or what? --

There has been some speculation about the veracity-- that is: Truthfulness --of this document, which has come to be known as AooE. So I do believe it is time for me, Doug Wielson, a founding father and absolutely authentic eye-witless (as Lovely Lissandra would define me) chronicling of the life and loves of our Hero, Adam Leroy Forest and his rock band of merry amigos. I've been here from the beginning, seen it all happen, folks, and can assure you it's all Maybe. True, false, however you want it. Rest assured that this missive is Just As Factual as every salacious detail you can read in the National Inquisitor, I mean would THEY lie to you just to sell papers and rake in some filthy lucre?

So I'm here to fill in the gap left by the omission of one of the most dramatic (or silly) chapters in the ongoing saga of the Chrome Squatch Concert Tour: their experiences in Gotham City. Yes, home of the famous masked superhero, ThatMan, whom they actually met and had an adventure with. Do read on.

All right, I'll have to admit that I wasn't actually physically present on the tour, or even a passenger in the S&F bus, at the time I was still back in the Hacienda at Monroe, Washington, wrestling with legal matters and balancing the budget, important stuff like that. But I had been in almost daily Skype-contact with the kids on the bus, so I knew what was going on, more or less. Which means I get to tell this tale in the 3rd Person Singular, present tense, allowing myself the role of all-seeing all-knowing Omniscient Storyteller, which nobody else has had the balls to do up until now.

The story has also been procrastinated until now because of semi-legal problems concerning character copyright and confusion due to the open structure of allowing each member of this tour to submit a chapter presenting their own personal version of the events. But no one wished to take the responsibility of telling the Unwelcome Truth about what happened in Gotham City. So I guess that makes me one of the Grown-Ups of our society. Yeah, good ol' Uncle Doug(or Dear Daddy Doug, depending on just which sex and how old or how cute you are.)

It is dark and rainy when they pull into Gotham City; a convoy of three camper busses and one big fat semi. They are running late, it has been a long day's drive from Metropolis (not the small town in Illinois but a much larger city-- not sure which state --where they'd been interviewed by a rather hot lady reporter named Lowass Laine).

This is the Chrome Squatch Concert Tour on their quest to entertain and elucidate the ignorant masses of the entire USA, now assembled to take on the ill-reputed citizens of Gotham with their merry band of troubadours and lead them towards a better, more noble, way of life. They check into a campground rather than a hotel, where they are warned to look out for thieves. Seems Gotham City has a lot of crime going on, even though there is that masked crime-fighting vigilante who constantly patrols the city every night just looking for trouble.

But this traveling orchestra ignores personal danger, feeling adequately protected by their three Bigfoot super-humans, who can also sing and dance. They report to the music venue where they are to perform that evening: the Arkham Theater. At first it seems a bit creepy, old and somewhat run down, gothic in design, with jagged spires and flying exterior buttresses and gargoyles, but which also give a certain grandeur to it. The manager is an odd fellow, pale of face, hair dyed green, but quite jolly, constantly laughing, to the point of being irritating. And maybe just a little crazy?

As the band is about to enter the theater, Pokey looks up at the rain and notices a dark figure silhouetted against the skyline, precariously perched on one of the gothic spires several stories above them. Another crazy person? This one seeming to be wearing a dramatically billowing cape. Billowing because of the stormy wind, looking as if the next gust could blow him off his perch. It seems pretty risky, but also does look cool, got to admit.

A beautiful blonde member of the band-- Uncle Doug's very own daughter Melly --asks a local man passing by on the sidewalk, "Hey, what’s that crazy guy doing up there?"

"Oh, that's just ThatMan," the local said, evidently accustomed to such a sight, "Gotham's famous masked super hero, who fights for truth, justice and the Gothamanian way. He's reputed to be a master of every fighting technique known to mankind (and some not known), he drives a fantastic black hot-rodded super-car when he isn't swinging between buildings and wears a carpenter's toolbelt containing an arsenal of high-tech gimmicks with which to fight crime and get himself out of messy situations-- but mainly to unexpectedly thwart enemies."

And then they watch as that dark figure casually steps off from the highest spire and comes plummeting down towards where they stand gathered on the sidewalk hundreds of feet below. Some musicians scream, scrambling to get out of the man’s way before he hits bottom. But then ThatMan deftly casts a line over to another building across the street, which somehow hooks into something solid over there, and he snappily swings off around the corner and out of sight, making it look easy.

But the band members are shocked, thinking they’ve almost witnessed a senseless suicide. Delectably nibble-worthy Lissandra hugs Melly to comfort her after the shock. Their big hairy boyfriend, Adam the Singing Sasquatch, comforts them both in a protective embrace, "There, there, babes," he says in his semi-infinite wisdom as a neophyte shaman among the forest-dwelling Nokhontli.

"Okay, all ye blokes and sheilas, time to get to bloody work making yer bloody fugging music!" speaks weathered Old Man Ewan, their irascible Road Manager. (excuse the mangled Aussi accent)

The band moves gingerly into the Arkham Theater, eager to come in out of the rain. They efficiently set up the stage for the evening's performance. An hour later they play a fabulous concert, astounding the Gothamanian audience as never before.

Afterwards, the applause continues unabated for fifteen minutes, the musicians bowing again and again. They are taken aback by the euphoric enthusiasm of their audience, offering four or five encores to satisfy the ravenous crowd. But which can't get enough: as if there is a madness to it. The applause never quite ends until the musicians refuse to come out for more bowing and more encores. Finally the stage lights are abruptly switched off and the show is officially over.

The perhaps not-quite-satisfied audience shuffles to the exit, except for one person remaining in his seat in the very middle of the concert hall. A mature gentleman in fine clothes, perhaps sleeping. But no, this is Gotham City-- Gotham Shitty.

The man is found to be dead in a rather impressive pool of blood, leaking from a very neat and narrow hole in the middle of his forehead, which continues all the way through and out the back without expanding, as a bullet would. This was obviously murder most foul.

The audience is detained, although certainly too late to apprehend the perpetrator, who must have been among the first ones out the door a half-hour earlier.

Commissioner James Guardon is called in. A swarm of GCPD cars swoop up in front of Arkham (which apparently happens there a lot, but that's another tale).

It is determined that the periphery of the fatal hole is singed, resulting from an intense heat, indicating a laser beam rather than a bullet and that it was fired from the center of the stage where and while the band was playing music, which logically makes them suspects.

All band members are questioned, especially Adam the Bigfoot, who automatically falls into the "anything unusual?" category. But no one has a theory as to how any musician could have secretly and so accurately fired some kind of weapon from onstage while playing music to an attentive audience. Nor does anyone in the band appear to be aware of who the dead man was, although that could be simple pretense.

While any resident of Gotham would have recognized the victim to be Dean Darkwell, a local politician and chamber councilor for Gotham City Finance. This was a man in charge of large amounts of money, if one is looking for a potential motive-- which they are.

Adam and the band are in a quandary: the police will not release them until they are cleared of all suspicion, which could take a while considering background checks and other bureaucratic delays. Meanwhile, there was the question as to what kind of weapon had been used? As far as anyone knew, laser ray-guns are only found in science fiction or comic books, they simply don't exist yet in the real world, at least not in a handy transportable pistol/rifle format, which this would have to be.

Adam overhears the conversation between Commissioner Guardon and a cop about the technology of such a weapon. He turns around to study the stage from where the shot is calculated to have been fired. He studies what is visible to him from where the dead man sat.

Before long Adam calls to the Commissioner, "Hey, I think I see it." He points to a make-up mirror mounted on the back wall of the stage. "I think a laser beam can be deflected by a mirror."

Gene Smith, Chrome Pie's tech guy and cameraman roadie, speaks up, "Yeah, that's right. If somebody had some kind of laser projector, they could shoot from the other end of the concert hall, aiming at that mirror on the stage and the beam would shift direction back to where the dead guy was sitting."

"Wouldn't the angle be difficult to calculate?" The Commissioner asks.

"Just aim into the mirror," Gene said, "zap, muthafugga!" Then he shrugs. "But like you said, that laser tech just doesn't exist yet."

"Wait," the Commissioner says, "I know a guy..." And pauses.

First, he sends his GCPD troopers back to their precinct, and when the last one is gone, he starts to punch a number into his cell phone.

"Don't bother calling me, Jim," says a raspy voice from the shadows of the theater, "I'm already here."

"How do you always do that?" Commissioner Guardon asks the shadow, evidently a rhetorical question because there comes no answer, nor did he seem to expect one.

Instead, a masked and caped figure steps out of the shadow, a big brawny man dressed in dark charcoal grey, only the skin of his jaw visible, eyes not. He nods to Commissioner Guardon and then stares wonderingly at the Bigfoot in the room. Then nods, saying:

"You must be Adam Leroy Forest, the Singing Sasquatch."

"Right, and you must be ThatMan," Adam responds as the rest of the band steps back, not sure if they are facing a batshit crazy guy wearing long underwear.

"I've read your document," ThatMan informs Adam. "I might’ve read some of your comic books," Adam replies.

"But according to the AooE doc you're dyslexic." "I read the pictures." Getting down to business, ThatMan turns back to Commissioner Guardon and says: "That laser technology DOES exist, in rifle format with a battery pack on wheels. The Ostrich and his gang have just stolen the only working experimental model from Waine Industries. It’s too dangerous to be on the streets, we need to steal it back."

"How do you know about this?" Guardon asks.

"I have a confident at Waine Industries, whose identity I'll be keeping secret."

"Not another secret identity?" Guardon grumbles. "You know the GCPD is always on my back just for working with one masked vigilante-- you –so they really don't like secret agreements."

"Tough shit, it's what they're going to get. I've also learned that this victim is only the first of several other councilors they have plans to murder en masse. In fact, they intend to kill off the whole Finance Cabinet by tomorrow, so we're going to have to act right NOW."

"And just how do you know all that?"

"I apprehended and interrogated a bunch of the gang a few minutes ago, had to get kind of rough with them, but they squealed like pigs. I've got an address, so I’m going out there now."

“Alone?” “Hopefully not.” ThatMan turns to Adam. "You, Sasquatch, I could use some help from someone with superhuman strength. Normally I call in a friend from Metropolis, but he's off-world just now."

"Me? What sort of help do you need?" "The Ostrich has a lot of thugs working for him. We'll have to slug it out mano a mano. A little brute force backup would be great. I mean I can see that you're buff..."

"What? ButI don't HIT people, I’d be too easy for me to maim or kill someone. Sorry, but I can't help you with that. Besides the Police Commissioner is right here, call the cops!"

Commissioner Guardon sadly shakes his head, "You don't know how corrupt this town is, the GCPD won't touch the Ostrich or any of his gang members, or The Choker or The Diddler. That's why we surreptitiously allow ThatMan to operate here in Gotham, he's the only real law we've got left."

"Well, I'm not a cop, nor have I been trained to be one," Adam announced, "and there's a laser ray-gun out there that might just be really dangerous to go up against."

"Chicken, eh? Well, as I recall from your document your squatch girl friend Magga there IS trained to be a Bigfoot cop. Maybe she's got more balls than you..."

"What? No, we'll not be risking Magga's life," Adam insists, "so forget it.” “A lot of people are going to die tonight…” “Okay, I'll give you a hand myself. But I don't kill people, not even bad guys."

"Neither do I," ThatMan states. “Superhero code of conduct.”

"Good. Although it sounds like you beat people up a lot."

"Shit happens when dealing with hardened criminals. I heard you met a drug cartel in Mexico, how nice were you to them? Man's gotta do..." "I know the quote," Adam notes, "so let's go do it."

Adam follows ThatMan out from the Arkham Theater, then over to a skyscraper and into an elevator, taking it to the top floor, then upstairs to the roof. The rain has stopped but the wind is worse. At least there is a magnificent view of the city, but nowhere to go from here. “Uhh, where are we going and how do we get there?” Adam asks, “I was assuming that you had a ThatCoptor or some equivalent.”

"We'll just swing from skyscraper to skyscraper,” ThatMan says,”go over the rooftops, they’ll never see us coming...".

"Doesn't that seem kind of risky? These rooftops are way too HIGH UP…" Adam quibbles.

"Hey, you want to be a super-hero or not?"

"Actually, I've never given it ANY consideration. Being a singer/songwriter is super enough for me. Besides, what is the tensile strength of these ropes you use? You do know I weigh at least..."

"...535 pounds, yes, I read that. My ropes can support a thousand pounds."

"Great, and they hook onto what: a door knob? A window sill? No thanks, man, I'll be glad to help you, but let's take the elevator down to the street and start there."

“But they’ll spot us on the street.” “Maybe, but we’ll be alive.” "You're not afraid you'll be too heavy for an elevator?" Seems ThatMan could be a bit of a smartass.

"No, we just came up in one. Besides if it can handle the weight of three average men I'm okay."

"Plus one more with me, so maybe we’d better just take the stairs one at a time? Is that safe enough for you? Just don't stumble, now."

"Now you're being petty. Some super hero you are."

They continue teasing one another in the elevator on their way back down to the street, where the ThatCar awaits them. It’s parked in a no-parking zone with a parking ticket neatly tucked under a windshield wiper. “I’ll have to get Jim to fix the ticket for me,” ThatMan says It is a dark grey-colored customized Corvette Stingray hardtop. Sleek, souped, shiny-- but not very big.

"There's no way I can fit into that little car," Adam says, stating the obvious, "but I can run after you as long as we're just moving around here in town."

"It's about six blocks."

"No sweat, let's go." And off they go, Adam easily keeping up with ThatMan's ThatCar, even up the hills.

As they go racing through the half-empty streets of Gotham, where danger lurks on every corner, Adam is extending his senses as he runs; sniffing the air, looking for other frequencies of light. ThatMan’s car is just ahead of him, taking corners in well controlled slides. Suddenly Adam sees something he doesn't quite comprehend, but reacts to anyway: a shimmering of reddish light up ahead.

He speeds up, outrunning the ThatCar, passing it and shoving it to one side with a bump of his hip, putting the car into a slide sideways. Just as a red beam of laser light pierces the night exactly where ThatCar would have been, probably to be sliced apart, along with ThatMan inside.

Adam instinctively throws himself sideways as another ray of red shimmering light sweeps past him, just missing one of his Bigfoot feet. But he's seen where it comes from; a window on the 2nd floor of the building he’s passing right now.

He throws himself sideways again, this time the other way, and manages to line himself up with that window, vaulting upwards high enough that his velocity carries him right through the 2nd story opening. But not neatly; the window is not quite wide enough and the sill crunches to pieces as Adam whizzes on through, going into a roll and crashing into the cluster of three men who are trying to operate the laser rifle.

Everyone is knocked groggy, including our hero. But within seconds ThatMan is also there, ready to do all sorts of super-heroic combat with the bad guys. But they are already defeated, sprawled and stunned, so he just immobilizes them with plastic strips and the battle is over.

"Unfortunately, the Ostrich isn't here," ThatMan comments, "but we've got his henchmen-- and the laser rifle itself, which was most important."

Adam can see that the laser rifle is a two-part assembly: a handy light-weight rifle-shaped aiming device and a large, heavy, rather unwieldy battery pack on a dolly, the two parts connected by a thick cable. Hardly a one-man weapon at all.

"Do you think they have any more weapons like that?" Adam asks ThatMan.

"No, there’s only this one and I’ll see to it that there won’t be any more made. Waine Industries owns the patent and is not going to release it to the world."

"Well, it's probably worth a big pile of money, so how can you actually be sure that someone at Waine doesn’t get greedy?" Adam asks.

"That contact I have at Waine Industries has quite a bit of clout and will see to it."

"And you trust him?"

ThatMan hesitates before answering, then says, "If by himyou mean him or her? Then yes, I'm absolutely sure I can trust...that particular person."

Adam can tell a lot about someone by smell, revealing that ThatMan was not exactly lying but was enacting a subterfuge, protecting some important secret.

But Adam figured it was really none of his business and concentrated on rubbing his arm instead, with which he had smashed the window sill, but luckily, not any of his bones. He is not about to say, "it's only a flesh wound," so what he says instead is: "Oww, that hurts!" Forget Superhero stoicism.

Back at the parking lot of the Arkham Theater, in their various busses, the band is awaiting Adam's return. It is well over midnight and they are all tired and weary, but Adam has gone off on what could be a dangerous mission with that maybe-crazy super hero guy and they are worryied about him.

At 1:00 am Adam returns, also weary. The Ostrich's thugs who had committed the murder had been handed over to Commissioner Guardon and ThatMan was personally returning the laser rifle to Waine Industries. What would happen next depends upon just how corrupt the politics of Gotham Shitty really are, considering that the lives of all the City’s Financial Committee members had been at risk this time. But it’s not the band's problem, tomorrow they would be moving on to their next concert.

In the morning Adam and the girls, in the comfort of their big bed, listen to the news on Internet:

Extra, Extra, Read All About It! Arkham Murder Mystery Solved by THATMAN!

"But Addy, it was really YOU who solved it!" Melly complains.

"Rilly, Freakfoot," Lissandra adds, "that's no fair!"

"Yeah, well, who cares? As long as justice has prevailed." Adam shrugs it off, just like a true hero is supposed to do. What a guy!

Dramatic Actions & Events Occurred Last Night In The Dark & Dingy Streets Of Gotham City. Once again our favorite hero THATMAN has prevailed against the forces of Evil, this time with a HUGE new side-kick in tow, a Bigfoot Boy Wonder.

CEO and owner of Waine Industries, Bryce Waine himself, has commented that the laser weapon is being dismantled even now, so that it can never be used to commit murder again.

Gotham's famous masked champion, THATMAN, however, offered no comment and just slipped back into the shadows, as he so often does.

Who the fuck IS that masked man?

"Hmm, I just realized something about another secret," Adam says, "the CEO of Waine Industries is... " He stopped.

"Hunh? What?" ask the two love bunnies in his bed.

"...oh, never mind, it's not my secret to leak. There's been enough of that going around."

And that's today's More Or Less True Report, to be squeezed in among the digital pages of the AooE Document, just to provide some perspective between fact and fiction.

Bye, from Uncle Doug

Chapter 16

the Adam out of Eden series