"I've heard youíve found a possible connection."
Commisioner Gordon turned to the cloaked figure standing in the far corner of his office. "Yes, I think we might." He lifted a manila folder marked "S. Garzey" and handed it to the Dark Knight.
"Wasnít this the man who fell to his death earlier today?"
"The same," confirmed Gordon, sipping on a potent cup of coffee, "Steve Garzey, a down-and-out attorney who was trying to make a professional comeback here in Gotham. After an alleged laundering scandal broke apart his counseling service, he ventured into the entertainment industry trying to hook up with various celebrities, hoping name recognition would get him back on his feet. Failing this, he disappeared for the last few months before turning up dead on the intersection of Jackson and Faribault Avenues today."
Batman scrutinized the contents of the file. Apparently unimpressed with the majority of its contents, the costumed vigilante paused for a second to look at a scrap of orange paper that had fallen onto Gordonís desk.
"What is it?" asked Gordon.
"A list of names. Listen to these: Brian Sandoure. Dennis R. Boaruy. Diane Soburn Yar. Randy Enos Aburi. Sidney Aubarron. Bernard I. Auson. Know anything about them?"
"Canít help you," sighed the weathered commisioner. "Perhaps a list of former clients?"
"Thereís something unusual about these names," continued the Dark Knight, tracing each character with the tip of his finger, "they all share the same number of letters, and the exact letters themselves. All anagrams of possibly one true alias."
"Come to think of it, I think Garzey listed some of those names with his contacts. Perhaps he diverted some fundings into the pockets of a partner, while listing them as six different people?"
"If so, Garzey went back to his laundering schemes. And call it a hunch, I think his partner caught him in some sort of double-cross and took care of Garzey personally. And this person is also responsible for the deaths of the Terncliff family recently."
Gordon leaned back against his desk, his arms crossed. "How do you figure that?"
"I saw what was left of Garzey. His expression matched those of the Terncliff family members found on the wharf. The same agonized, delirous grin. Tell me....what celebrities did Garzey work with?"
Gordon scrunched his brow. "There were several, not many. Summer Gleason when she worked with WGTM-TV.....Matt Hagen during his "Death Valley Desperado" series....and I think a few more that escape me."
Batman plopped the folder back onto the desk and stepped out onto the window ledge. He produced a cable-gun and fired it across the courtyard into the Gotham City Federal Building.
"Where are you going?" asked Commissioner Gordon.
"Iíve an idea where to find the answers," replied the Dark Knight. He then turned and glided into the night, which yawned like an open chasm under the pale aura of the moon.
"Iíll just wait here then," grumbled the commissioner, who was nonetheless curious as to what the costumed detective had discovered, "Iíve had enough fresh air for one night."
The Batmobile sped undaunted through the quiet city streets of Gotham. Inside, the Dark Knight patched into his computer and accessed its primary data processor.
"Computer," he began, "access the databanks of the Terncliff estate with the clientele database of Steve Garzey. Cross-reference any available names with the following people: Brian Sandoure. Dennis R. Boaruy. Diane Soburn Yar. Randy Enos Aburi. Sidney Aubarron. Bernard I. Auson."
"Analyzing" replied the computer. "Completed," it continued a few seconds later.
"What are associated names with Terncliff, Garzey, and the rest?"
"Associated name between Terncliff and Garzey is Barney the Dinosaur. Brian Sandoure, Dennis R. Boaruy, Diane Sobyurnar, Randy Enos Aburi, Sidney Aubarron, and Bernard I. Auson are all anagrams of Barney Dinosaur."
"Good work," said Batman, "now find me all available articles and features on Barney the Dinosaur from the last six monthsí of the Gotham Gazette."
"Well kids, I feel absolutely sttuppenndouussss!"
The crowd of blue-vested children clapped and cheered, as the cherubic purple dinosaur sauntered down the halls of McRidge-Bishop Academy. The children seemed oblivious to the dying, writhing forms of their teachers strewn about the floors.
"Some people just donít know what to make of me," chuckled Barney, "but you canít say I donít leave them smiling! Now if you kids could please tell me where I might find a very, very Special Friend, Iíll just be on my way!"
"Who do you wanna find, Barney?" asked a little girl with a red ponytail.
"Well, his name is Raymond. Raymond Gunderson. Can you tell me where to find him?"
"Here I am, Barney!"
The portly purple reptile turned and wobbled gleefully. "Thank you, Raymond! Say, do you want to join me on a very special journey?"
"You bet! I love you Barney! Iíd go anywhere with you!" answered the sandy-haired boy, adjusting his glasses upon his lanky, freckled face.
"Why thatís suuppperr-deee-duuupperrr!" bellowed Barney the Dinosaur. "Come follow me out to my van, our good friend Baby Bop will drive us to a real fun place!"
Minutes later, Barney and Raymond sped off in a purple and green minivan away from the grounds of McRidge-Bishop Academy. Like a spell being lifted, the children left behind gradually returned to their senses and were confronted with the dead, grinning corpses of their teachers sprawled across the hallways. The ensuing screams, witnesses later said, were heard for miles.
"Well, well, well," grinned the Joker, stepping out of the sleek purple roadster, "I think we may have found our man."
Harlequin and the rest of the gang exited the vehicle and curiously studied the area. The purple and green minivan had been spotted late last night pulling into the long-defunct Studio B, formerly owned by WGTM-TV. A tipoff passed onto one of the Jokerís henchmen prompted an early-morning visit by the Clown Prince of Crime and his associates.
"Gee Puddiní, I donít know if thereís anyone in there."
"Oh theyíre here alright," chuckled the Joker, "I can smell a phony from a mile away. Time to give our impostor friend a little charity call. Only without the complementary copy of The Watchtower. Bruno, hand me one of my gas grenades. Letís see how long our..."
"Why hello there! I just love getting surprise visits!"
The Joker and his gang turned and gaped at the fat, smiling, corpulent form of a plush purple dinosaur. It was accompanied by a young boy and a green, shorter dinosaur clutching a blanket. The three stood on a loading dock, hand in hand.
"Iíve got to lay off the PEZ," murmured the Joker. "Harley, do you see what I see?"
"Uh, yeah, Mr. J.....and itís creeping me out!"
"My nameís Barney, and I want to be your Special Friend....and here are two of my Special Friends, named Raymond and Baby Bop!"
"Well, isnít that just peachy," snarled the Joker, "and what, may I ask, are you doing here in Gotham crimping my style?" The clown-faced villain snapped his fingers and two henchmen approached the dinosaur and levelled machine-guns at him.
"Oh my," fretted the purple dinosaur, "I must say, someone could get seriously hurt with those nasty guns! How about we just sing a happy song, instead?"
"Oh yes yes yes, I loooveee songs!" gurgled Baby Bop, "can me and my blankie sing along too?"
"Why yes you can, Baby Bop," answered Barney, "and have I told you and Raymond lately how much I love you? Wonít you say you love me too?"
"Mr. J," Harlequin squeamishly blurted, "I think Iím going to be sick..."
"Hush, Harley," snapped the Joker. But he too, like his henchmen, was beginning to fall under the Purple Demonís sacharrine spell.
"I love you, you love me, weíre a happy family...." sang Barney.
"Canít......must resist.......ooohh, my stomach....." groaned the Joker. He dizzily spun around, and noticed that Harlequin and his henchmen had already collapsed and were staring dumbfoundedly into space.
"...with a great big kiss and hug from me to you, wonít you say you love me too?"
The Joker stumbled back and tripped across the numbed bodies of his henchmen. As the Joker lost consciousness, he saw little stars and birds flittering before his eyes, only to be replaced by plump purple dinosaurs and preening green lizards with blankies. The next instant the world went completely black.
Click here for Chapter Three of Batman vs. Barney.....