He had not been long in the super-villain trade - in his previous life he was probably just some college graduate, too smart for the room, who had turned his intelligence and skills with a computer to evil. He was a professional cyber-hacker capable of draining a bank's resources to enrich his own coffers. Dr. Motley would have done well as a desk-bound henchman for one of the more powerful criminal overlords in the country - Lex Luthor or Mr. Schubert, perhaps.
But no, he was like all the others gathered there that night, with an insatiable need to flaunt his larcenous talents from behind a masked persona.
And apparently, even though I was garbed in a drab brown approximation of the costume once worn by my father in his too-soon terminated stint as a super-villain in Gotham City, I must have stood out from that crowd as well. For Dr. Motley noticed that I had been staring at him. Seeing that as my opening, I lifted my glass in salute to him.
Motley excused himself from a discussion with several lesser lights in the Evil League of Evil and - although he had a slight limp, - he began to wend his way through the swarm of super-villains towards me, the bells of his fool's cap announcing his approach.
It was quite the turnout of ne'er-do-wells, gathered for a memorial tribute to Clockwise, one of the arch-nemeses of Black Scorpion. The Time-obsessed villain had died in prison, stripped of his alias and known as Benjamin Tickerman - but as his twin brother The Riddler pointed out in his eulogy, that moniker was just as false as his own of "Edward Nigma".
Having suffered through the other testimonials by Big Hand and Little Hand, the henchmen of Clockwise, and by the still lovely Hourglass, everyone had retired to the bar to celebrate the criminal career of Clockwise. And it was there that I planned to lay the trap for Dr. Motley.
I had nothing against the lad personally. It was merely business to me, another contract hit to be carried out in a style that would celebrate my late father's own criminal career. But as I listened to that puffed-up cyber-pirate prattle on about his exploits in Bay City and Central City and now Starling City, especially knowing that for the most part Dr. Motley had his fool's cap handed to him by the super-hero defenders of those cities, I knew I would feel no compunction in killing him.
"One of my first jobs as the 'Cyber-Jester of Crime'," Dr. Motley said as he reached me, "was to download the files about the villains of Gotham City. Straight out of the Bat-Computer itself! So I recognize that you're wearing. But....."
"It's based on my father's costume," I replied. "That's who you have in your files - the original Bookworm. But sadly, he's gone now and I've inherited the family business as it were. The costume, the weapons, even some of his henchmen - Index and Appendix, and Chapter and Verse - worked for me after his death. I have new henchmen now, however, ever since they retired."
Dr. Motley nodded, and those insufferable little bells tinkled annoyingly. "I remember his M. O. - he based his crimes on plots from books, didn't he? Because he couldn't come up with an original idea to save his life?"
I smiled, if you could call it that; more like thinly pressing my lips together. I would enjoy putting an end to his miserable life! "Everything I am today I learned by my father's side. When I was old enough, I became his sidekick 'Sequel'. However, I have taken his modus operandi and I have adapted it to suit my own needs. As a matter of fact, I'm delighted you sought me out, Dr. Motley."
The fool was pleasantly surprised. "You've heard of me?"
"Who hasn't heard of the great escapes made by Dr. Motley by outwitting the superior super-heroes Flash and NightMan long enough to run away?" As I expected, the sarcasm was lost to him, buried beneath the flattery. "And now to have eluded this new upstart in Central City? What are they calling him? The Arrow?"
"Yes...." Dr. Motley winced as his hand instinctively massaged his thigh. But for a moment I feared that he might turn on his heel and break off our conversation. "I was under the impression that Starling City was free of super-heroes. This guy with the bow and arrows must be a newbie."
I made certain that I didn't mask my dismay that he must have been injured by the archer. "I see that you're limping, Doctor. That is a shame, as I was rather hoping to solicit your advice, considering your expertise with cybernetics."
"Oh?" That piqued his interest. Everyone likes to be considered a genius in some capacity.
"I've developed a computer program, which I have named 'Amontillado', which should turn public opinion against one of the super-heroes here in The City. However, it would have required a small amount of travel, no more than just around the corner on the next block. But if it should pain you to walk, I suppose I could always confer with Harold Finch......"
"Finch?" Dr. Motley scoffed. He snagged a drink from a passing waiter and quickly quaffed it. "Harold Finch? Finch wouldn't know the difference between the Ziggy super-computer and WOTAN!"
"Perhaps. But your leg..... And I really do need to have the Amontillado system checked out tonight. I don't want to face Captain Liberty if my plan is not fully operational."
"A new computer system, you say....?" I could smell the burning hamster flesh as they furiously spun the wheels in his mind. "And just a block away?"
"Just around the corner." I continued my feigned protest. "But your leg....."
"Forget about my leg!" he snapped. "I made it to this little shindig all the way from Starling City, didn't I?"
It could not have proceeded more according to my plan than if I had asked Dr. Motley to rehearse it with me.
He grabbed yet another drink which seemed to eliminate the pain in his leg, at least for the moment. Taking the path of least notice by the others, I quickly and quietly led Dr. Motley from the hall and into the warm summer night of The City.
Motley was as good as his word in keeping pace with me as I led him down the street to an abandoned building around the corner. It was situated in the middle of a large lot with no close neighbors and across the street were a row of warehouses, all lifeless so late in the night. Once I had conceived of this plan to dispatch Dr. Motley, my new henchmen, Ibid and Op Cit, transformed this building to appear as though it was under renovation.
"The Montresor Building!" I announced proudly.
"This is your base of operations?" Dr. Motley asked with some hesitation.
"Only for the time being. At least until my current mission is completed. Surely you must admit it is beneath the notice of Captain Liberty in this state of repair. Eventually I hope to transform the place into a gambling casino to be called the Fortunato. That is, if I'm able to circumvent the laws currently which make gambling a crime in The City."
"Well, if anybody knows about the books, it's you, huh, Wormie?" sniggered Motley.
"Indeed....." We entered the cavernous lobby and I beckoned Dr. Motley towards the stairwell. "I have a few members of The City council in my pocket, but Captain Liberty is leading the campaign against my grand design."
Motley smirked. "'Grand design'.... You sure do talk fancy, Wormie."
"The curse of a well-read man," I replied. I longed for that moment when I would be rid of this fool so that I would nevermore hear that sobriquet of "Wormie" again!
My victim suddenly winced and had to lean against the stairwell railing for support.
"Dr. Motley!" I protested. "Let me take you back to your hotel, or to your lair, wherever! I had no right to ask this of you. I should have contacted Harold Finch and not bothered you." It was a risk, making such an offer. But if I was to honor the memory of my father properly, I had to follow the details in the original story as best I could.
"To hell with Finch!" Dr. Motley spat and he pushed off the wall to hurtle down the stairs with some determination.
Upon reaching the basement, I led him deeper into the catacombs with only the luminance provided by the flashlight I picked up from a work counter.
"So where is this computer?" he grumbled. "I want to see what this Amontillado program of yours can do that's going to take out a super-hero."
"It's just ahead, Doctor." I pointed to a shadowy alcove about ten feet away. "You'll find it in there."
Motley entered ahead of me, causing a break in the electric eye beam. This caused a barred gate to come crashing down to trap him inside.
Dr. Motley spun about, a mixture of fear and anger splayed across his features. "Bookworm! What the fu-#"
"Language, Doctor," I cautioned him. From another pocket of shadows where they had been hidden, Ibid and Op Cit came forward - with a barrow full of fresh cement and a hod of bricks.
"What is this, Bookworm?" Motley demanded as my henchmen quickly constructed a wall to entomb this "Cyber-Jester of Crime" as he proclaimed himself.
"I apologize for the bars, Doctor," I said. "I know I should have chained you to the back wall if I was going to adhere to the original text. But I couldn't risk you still being strong enough - and sober enough! - to overpower me. Better to side with caution thanks to some literary license."
"What the hell do you think you're doing?" He gripped the bars and rattled them, but they held fast as I knew they would. And with each attempt to shake them loose, the insipid bells of his cap tinkled as though to mock his efforts.
"Why, Doctor, I'm shocked," I said in mock surprise. "Obviously you're not familiar with the classic tale by Poe - 'The Cask Of Amontillado'. To be fair, I gave you plenty of clues - 'Montresor', 'Fortunato', the name 'Amontillado' itself. I would have thought that for all your vaunted computer savvy, you could have invested in a Kindle."
Suddenly Dr. Motley screamed, raising a cry that would have alerted someone to his predicament - anywhere else. Ibid and Op Cit ignored him as they added another layer of bricks. It wouldn't be long before he was immured fully... and forever.
"You saw the location of the building," I pointed out over his screams. "We're isolated on this block. Even if there was somebody still about this neighborhood at this time of night, we're too deep into the bowels of the building for it to make any difference."
I could only see Dr. Motley now from his shoulders up and he suddenly disappeared from view as he stumbled back against the far wall. "Why are you doing this?" he asked hoarsely.
"It was never personal, Doctor." Of course, had I been forced to endure his company an hour longer it would have been. But there was no need to burden him with that opinion. "I am merely fulfilling a contract."
"Who wants me dead?" His voice quavered as though he was about to cry.
"Harley Quinn. You know who she is. She contacted you when you first embarked on your criminal career, remember? She demanded that you change your costume as it infringed on her own identity as a super-villain. But you laughed at her, I'm told. She didn't take kindly to that as you can see.
"It is as I told you earlier, Doctor. I've taken my father's stock in trade and applied it to my own venture. I'm a paid assassin who uses books as the inspiration for my contract killings. And in your case, 'The Cask Of Amontillado' seemed to be the perfect choice for your execution. You brought it on yourself by dressing the fool."
Dr. Motley rushed forward to the barred gate. He had to stand on tip-toe in order to see over the wall of bricks. There was a sad light of desperate hope flickering in his eyes. "I can do that!" he wailed. "I can get a new costume! There's no need to continue this!"
"It's too late for that, Motley. Ms. Quinn is determined to have her punishment carried out. And I'm not about to break a contract. Bad for business, bad for my own health." I patted the new wall between us. "Besides, that's not how the story goes."
There was just the one brick left to insert into the wall. Motley tried to shove his hand through the aperture, but Op Cit rapped it with his trowel.
"Bookworm!" he pleaded. "For the love of God!"
I smiled. The unexpected delivery of that line could not have been more perfect. "Yes.... For the love of God." Ibid inserted the last brick and then applied the cement wherever there was a possibility for air to get in to the not-so-good doctor.
"We'll be taking our leave now, Dr. Motley," I shouted. I don't know if he was able to hear me by that point. The wall was rather thick. At least I couldn't hear the tinkle of the bells on his cap, for which I was grateful. "We won't be coming back. I doubt anyone will be coming this way, not for a very long time. Certainly too late to do you any good."
Ibid and Op Cit stored away the equipment so that it looked like no one had been there since the last attempt at renovation. They left before me to get the Bookmobile from its hidden parking spot and then it would be off to a new location with a new contract to fulfill.
Someone in the government wanted a prisoner killed because of the information he held against that bureaucrat. Dale Biederbecke was the name of my next target, and apparently he was still a corpulent monstrosity despite being incarcerated for so many years.
Because of his girth, he was known as "Dale The Whale". So I think Mr. Biederbecke should be found dead in his prison cell with seven harpoons in his side. A rather novel idea, I think......
I don't really do fan fiction - at least, I don't consider my usual posts in the Inner Toob blog to be fanfic. But as I was writing up the posts about the TV adaptation of "The Cask Of Amontillado" by Edgar Allen Poe, the idea for this story came to me. Took me about three hours to flesh it out.
The only characters and locations unique to this story were Sequel/Bookworm II, the son of the original Bookworm, Dr. Motley, and the two henchmen (I pictured Op Cit as being Asian. I guess that's because the name suggests Hop Sing of 'Bonanza' to me.)
Because of the costume worn by Fortunato in the original story, it made me think of Harlequin so those plot points were set in stone. As for the stand-in for Montresor, I wanted to point out my acknowledgement to the source material, so who better than the Bookworm when it came to literary super-villains from Toobworld?
However, Roddy McDowall, who played the Bookworm on 'Batman', has been dead for over a decade. And I think most of his TV characters have passed away as well (save for those in the Future.) When it came to picturing the new Bookworm in my mind, I think David Tennant, the tenth actor to play the lead role in 'Doctor Who', is the perfect choice to be considered the son of McDowall. (They even played the same role in the movie "Fright Night" and its remake.)
- 'American Masters' - "Edgar Allen Poe"
- 'The Tick'
- 'Birds Of Prey'
- 'Black Scorpion'
- 'Person Of Interest'
- 'Doctor Who'
- 'Quantum Leap'
- 'The Adventures Of Superman'
- 'The Flash'
- 'The Man From Atlantis'