Eddie slowly put one foot out of the car at a time, still sitting in the driver’s seat. He twisted around; grabbing both his bag and the cane the doctor gave him in the emergency room last night. He gripped the curved handle tightly and forced himself up from the chair. Eddie put the bag over his shoulder and took each step carefully until he was able to pick up his pace.
“Eddie?” a voice called out.
Eddie looked down the aisle, seeing Nina Damfino catch up to him from her own car. “Oh, hey Nina.”
“What the hell happened to you?” She asked, genuinely concerned.
Eddie shrugged his shoulders. “Uh, just an accident.” He said. While he never really lied, Eddie did not want Nina to know that his father beat him with a fireplace poker. Nina gave him a look as though she did not believe him. Cringing, he caved. “My dad was incredibly drunk and he beat me with a poker.”
“Oh my God.” Nina answered. “Here, let me help you with your bag.”
“I got it, thanks.” Eddie answered.
“Yo, Nashton!” a voice shouted. Eddie turned around and saw Jim Hastings, Nygma’s last victim. “What happened to you?”
“Just an accident at home.” Eddie answered. “What are you doing here? I heard a rumor your scholarships were withdrawn.”
“They were, but my dad is still Dean of Students, so I get a discounted tuition rate.” Jim answered with a smile. “I can’t go back on the team until next semester, so I got some free time on my hands.”
Interesting. We should make use of that free time. Nygma whispered in Eddie’s head.
“That’s a shame.” Eddie said. “Well I need to get going. Class starts in a little while.”
“Hey, whatever happened to your girlfriend?” Jim asked. Eddie just walked away, not answering his question. “Eddie?” He called out once more, watching as Nina walked with him.
══ After Class ══
Eddie wobbled through the hall with cane in hand and his other pressed against his forehead, hoping his internal monologue would silence.
Jim still walks, at least Amara is already gone. However, he still has a lesson to learn. If he’s done it once, he has or will do it again. We need to look for the evidence.
“Ugh, why won’t you shut up?” Eddie said aloud. He got an odd look from a passing student. “Sorry. Bad headache.” He said as he passed.
Come on, Eddie. Do some digging. Check GreenLight, they may have something.
Eddie stopped walking and looked up to the ceiling. “What continuously speaks, even in silence, uses no words but can tell stories?” His inner voice quieted, almost as if it were waiting for the answer to the riddle. Something sparked in his mind. “Body language.” He resumed walking, picking up his pace. “Jim seemed defensive to me when I saw him, like he was still hiding something, and if he is, no doubt his father is the one covering it up.”
He made his way to his favorite computer lab. It was empty except for Eddie, who was happy to see that he was all alone. Eddie sat down at a desktop and pulled up a terminal window. He typed in several command codes and it brought him to a screen with a green question mark on the screen.
Good thing we installed our own little account on the school server.
Eddie stayed silent, doing his best to ignore Nygma. “Okay.” He whispered. “Let’s see what we can find.” He plugged in his go-to flash drive into the computer and typed. “Okay…Dean Hastings’ own files.” Eddie’s fingers rapidly clashed with the buttons on the keyboard, using the mouse to click and drag files from the Dean’s computer. “Let’s see what you have to hide, Dean Hastings.” Eddie disconnected the flash drive and removed it. He typed in GreenLight’s command code and logged onto the sight, opened Nygma’s inbox, seeing he had a new message.
Did not think this was something you would be interested in. GreenLight runs deeper than just Pandora’s Box and the Gotham U girls. Like you, I expose campus conspiracies, however, I don’t use your level of bravado. Unlike you, I don’t plan on eventually getting caught.
Eddie scoffed, shaking his head. “Love the gall on this one.”
Respond. See what happens. Nygma answered.
Eddie rolled his eyes and clicked the reply option.
Thanks for the vote of confidence. Bravado, hubris, whatever you wish to call it—I want them to know who beat them. Let them writhe in mental anguish that there is someone out there who’s smarter than them. Regardless of my methods, I think we can work together on something much bigger than Pandora’s Box…The Dean. I got his files. Want to meet?
Eddie pressed send and got up from the computer, making sure he had logged off everything before leaving. He shut the lights off as he left the lab, his phone vibrating in his pocket. It was a message from his father, but he ignored it.
══ At Home ══
Eddie quietly limped through the door, hearing the loud snoring of his father passed out on the living room sofa. He did his best not to make any noise as he walked into the kitchen. He opened the fridge, seeing several six-packs of beer and a few bottles of harder liquor. Eddie scoffed, shaking his head. With a thought or two, he propped his cane up against the kitchen counter and grabbed one of the six-packs and began popping open the bottles, dumping the beer down the kitchen sink.
“Let see how you like this, Dad.” Eddie whispered. He smiled as he watched the beer swirl down the drain, bottle after bottle. He grabbed the second six-pack and did the same.
“The hell you doin’, boy?” a deep, slurred voice said softly.
Eddie turned around, seeing his father stare him down, catching him red-handed. “What do you call that which has no other option but to accept that what has happened to them?”
“You askin’ stupid questions now?” his father asked.
Eddie shook his head as he shook the empty bottle for his father to see. “Screwed.” He threw the bottle into the nearby trash bin. “You want more? Go get it yourself.”
“You dumb sumbitch.” His father whispered. He took a step forward. “You want another lesson, boy?”
Eddie shrugged. “Depends on what you’re trying to teach, Dad. How to be an idiot drunk for the rest of my life?” He could see his father’s rage building. “Touch a nerve, pop?” He smiled. “Here’s another question. What happens when you beat your son for years after he grows up?”
“He gets beat on some more.” His father answered, balling up a fist.
Eddie shook his head, waiting for his father to make the first move. His dad took a few steps to him and Eddie swung the handle of the cane across his father’s jaw, knocking his old man to the floor. Eddie stood over his father. “He gets even.” He raised his cane overhead and repeatedly hit his father in the head.
When Eddie finally stopped, he looked down at his father; he lied there motionless, Eddie could not even hear the sound of him gasping for breath as he did moments before. Eddie leaned back against the kitchen counter, sighing in relief. He shook his head. “That felt really good.”
A big weight lifted off your shoulders, huh? Nygma asked.
“Now, what to do with you, Dad…” He scoffed. “Now, there’s a riddle. How does one get rid of a body?” He looked out the window to the backyard. “There’s one option.”
══ The Next Day ══
Eddie walked through the hall with a more…upbeat attitude in his body language. He even spent lunch with Nina, which worked out well for him, since he could keep an eye on Jim Hastings while they ate. He pondered the next course of action he wanted to take with Jim.
Just do what you did with your father. Nygma said.
“Eddie?” Nina asked. Eddie turned to her. “Everything okay?”
He nodded. “Yeah.” He smiled, feeling quite relieved. “I feel fine. Feet hurt, but beyond that…”
Nina nodded. “Okay. Well, I get off work tonight around one, and my car is in the shop…any chance I could—”
“I’d be happy to bring you home.” Eddie quickly answered with a smile. He got up. “Now, I have class. See you tonight.” He smiled as he and the cane wobbled out of the cafeteria.
══ That Night ══
Eddie pulled into the parking lot of the storage facility, shifted into park and waited. The dashboard clock read almost one in the morning and he sighed, almost ready to fall asleep. To his surprise, he saw Diedre the bartender walk out of the front door. Eddie paid it no mind until he saw someone walk up to her. He adjusted his view, surprised to see who it was.
“Jim?” Eddie asked.
“Hey, babe.” Jim said. Eddie could hear his loud voice through his car. “Thought you could use some company.”
Eddie got out of his car and slowly approached. He could see Jim try to put his hands on Diedre. “Really?” Eddie whispered to himself.
What did I tell you? Nygma whispered in Eddie’s mind. He’s done it before, he will do it again. A lesson needs to be learned. Eddie nodded his head, not really focusing except on Jim getting handsy with Diedre. Do what needs to be done, Eddie. Nygma can teach him the lessons he needs to learn.
Eddie walked over to them in silence, seeing that Diedre saw him out of the corner of her eye. He put a finger to his lips, urging her not to say anything. Eddie adjusted his weight and tossed up his cane, grabbed it halfway down and smacked the curved handle on the back of Jim’s head.
“What the hell?!” Diedre nearly shouted.
“You okay?” Eddie asked back. She nodded. “Why don’t you head home? I’ll take care of this.”
“Why?” Diedre asked. Eddie gave her a look. “Why did you do that?”
Eddie shrugged his shoulders. “Because I’m smart enough to get away with it.” He looked down at Jim’s unconscious body. “Plus, he already hurt someone I cared about.” He looked back at Diedre. “I’m not letting him do it again.” He nodded. “Go on.” Eddie watched as Diedre walked away, looking back every so often until she disappeared around the corner. Eddie looked down, used the curved handle of the cane to pick his body up from the arm pit and dragged Jim Hastings to the back of Eddie’s car, where Eddie threw him in the trunk.
“Hey!” Nina shouted as he closed the trunk.
“Hey.” Eddie answered back. “You ready?” She nodded. “All right. Let’s get you home.” He walked around the car and opened the door for her, closing it when she sat down. Nina watched Eddie moved around the hood of the car and sit down next to her in the driver’s seat and ignite the engine, driving off into the dark of Gotham, with an unconscious body in the trunk.