I Am A Henchman

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I Am A Henchman
Date of Cutscene: 10 February 2019
Location: Gotham City
Synopsis: A series of articles printed over four days to the Gotham Gazette, by editor Mario Ito.

OOC Note: Some foul language. While I am aware a News source would not include them, they are included in this story/article.

Cast of Characters: Mario Ito, Corbin Smythe

My name is Corbin Smythe and I am a henchman.

If you're reading this chances are I'm dead and Tommy's sent this to Mr. Ito at the Gotham Gazette. He bought me a drink once and fronted me some money and I told him if it ever came down to it, I'd figure out a way to get him my story. Only stumbling block was if this got out then I'd be good as dead. Well hey. If Tommy sends this to you Mr. Ito then yeah. I've probably cacked it.

So I didn't start out this way. Nobody really does. I used to be a boxer. Second in the county and made my living at that for a time. But nobody really makes a career at being just good enough to eventually lose. If you want to make a good chunk of change though, and if you're good enough to make it look good when you hit the canvas, well then there's money to be had there. Thing is nobody tells you that you do that too often and you start to get a rep. Doors start to close in your face. Windows of opportunity shut. And you end up out in the cold.

Fine. Screw them. Still gotta make some cash. I started working for Tony Falcone out of the Bowery. Back then he wasn't big time. Just earning what he could running numbers. Sometimes people didn't pay him. That's when they'd call me. I'm not proud of it. I was young and stupid. I was used to a certain lifestyle. I did things to keep on with that lifestyle. And, for a time, it seemed like I could do this. I could make a living this way. Got a gal. Had some good times. Even got her knocked up. We were fine with it. It was just the life, you know?

Enter the Bat. What can I say about that? There are tons of saps out there with the same story. Was a typical thing of right place wrong time. Was just picking up some cash that was owed to me down at Tony's bar. Lights go out, big shadow drops down, I take a swing. Wake up in the hospital. Get a public defender that tells me all sorts of noise about my rights and going to do right by me. Helps me trade up my one year sentence in county to doing a nickel at Blackgate.

So at that point, my gal leaves me. Shoulda married her. She takes Chelsea, my daughter, with her. I get out, nobody there. Tony's moved up to Bludhaven. Five years is a long time and I get back to the neighborhood... and I don't recognize anyone. But I start to put things back together. One good thing about being a big guy, people always need things fetched and carried and toted and lifted. Worked out of Kafferstein's wharf. Money wasn't good. Honest. But still not good.

Then I got hit with the hospital bills. Collectors finally found me. Then Chelsea's mom decides I need to pay up child support. I mean, I want to. Just I didn't have the money. Didn't have a way to get the money. I beg with her to let me try to find some other way. But she tells me she has to look out for what is best for Chelsea. Still. I blame her. I go try and hit up my old friends. Try and get something. Anything. Any kind of action going. That's when I met Big Willy.

Big Willy wasn't one of those ironic sort of nickname guys. He was tall. Long arms and legs. Lanky. Not huge, he was skinny. But he had this schtick of being able to bend his arms and legs all over the place. It was pretty gross. But he told me that there's money to be had working for the costumed freaks that are all over Gotham these days. I call bullshit. Tell him he's full of it and poor Big Willy is so damn earnest about it. Nobody would usually hang out with him. He was weird. But he tells me 'No no, it's true.' and like an idiot I listen to him.

See there are these three bars in the city. <REDACTED> down on <REDACTED> with <REDACTED> working the front. Then there's <REDACTED> over on <REDACTED>. And if you need to work the southside then there's <REDACTED>. But you go to one and you've sort of been to all of them. It's dark outside. Very few lights. No signs. The windows are soaped over. Inside there are losers hanging around everywhere. When I first went into one of them it was like a sad sack convention and then I looked into the mirror and could tell I fit right in with them.

But it's at those three places that if you need a job, and nobody else will hire you, you can make good money. Really good money. You go in there. You sit down. You spend the whole day just waiting. Usually the food is terrible but you don't want to leave so you eat it. Since at any moment that door could open and a costumed maniac could come through and shout that he needs five guys for a job.

First day I was there nothing happened. I tell Big Willy he's so full of it. But he tells me just to wait it out. Second day and I'm getting pissed off. I could have been making some money at least. Not the whole bunch of nothing that I was getting for sitting there eating the terrible bar food and watching old men play Keno. But the third day, just a few minutes after they open, in walks Two-Face.

All the guys stood up as he did his insane rambling rigamaroll, and declares he needs ten guys. There were about seventeen there. He picks me right off the bat. Said I looked hungry and he liked that I had a messed up eye and some scars on the side of my face. So the guys gather, we get into his crazy mobile and off we go.

And it worked. We got a pay off, 10Gs. For a day's work. It was insane. He didn't kill anyone. We didn't get caught. A security guard got his face busted but all in all it was straight up well planned, precise, smarter than anything I had been involved with before. At the end of it he flipped a coin, paid us our money. And we were gone.

Five days later he's back and we do it again. Only this time the cops were waiting for us. Nicked some of the guys who were keeping watch. Hey, life sucks sometimes. But we got away. 5Gs. I pay off my child support, I move out of the hell hole I was living in. I actually put some money away to save for Chelsea in case she wants to go to a good school.

Third time though was not the charm. Big hullabaloo and I still don't know exactly what happened. A guy with, I shit you not, his head on fire decides to jump into things and it all goes insane. Two-Face shoots at him, gets his suit turned into gold and falls over unable to move. Soon as he goes down everyone starts giving up. And I'm like, 'Well, that's it. It was too good to be true. Short career.'

Thing is, and this is why I'm writing to you Mr. Ito, is that that wasn't the end. Most people have no idea. Heck, I think most of the superheroes, the cops, have no idea what sort of... industry? I don't know if that's the right word. But what sort of industry has grown up around this. I learned that when a bunch of us get nabbed you tell the police and prosecutors that you feared for your life.

Which, really, is often true. Some of them can flip from one instant to the other and will kill one of the guys if they say something stupid. You learn to shut up quick. What's that phrase? There are old pilots, there are bold pilots, but there are few old bold pilots? Yeah, same goes for us.

You learn to keep your mouth shut unless directly addressed. You do what you have to to get the job done. Rarely do you have to do anything unless the shit hits the fan. And if you get nabbed. 'I'm sorry officer, I feared for my life. Do you know what the Joker will do to my family?' And it's true. But once you get into the game you can't get out since over time the maniacs learn about you.

I've worked for almost all of the crazies at one point or another. The worst of them. The silliest of them. I've had to wear a toga, a three piece suit, a cheshire cat costume, a butterfly. I've been more animals than I can count. But it pays. My first year I ended up working about three weeks total out of the year. But I made six figures. And sure I spent about 4 months in county because of the times I got caught, but that just saved me rent money. The bottom line was that I was making bank.

Now that's not to say it was all hot dogs and hula hoops. There was a time I was absolutely sure Joker was going to shoot me in the head. He didn't, it was just a little bang sign inside the barrel. But still, scared the crap out of me. He usually just picks up his guys from <REDACTED> so I just decided to never go back there. Best to avoid that. But then there was also the time when this vigilante tried to take us all out and almost died because of it.

To be fair I have no idea who he was. He had a hockey jersey on and a mask. He was pretty good and had these two sticks that had shock prods on the end, and he did do a number on Big Willy. But this guy was just jumping around like an idiot, and when one of the guys got those sticks away from him it was clear this masked goofball was definitely a D-list vigilante. He got clocked by one guy, then he got shot in the side. And I know this guy is going down for the count. Luckily so did he so he starts to hoof it. Usually most bosses will let them go and just make you work harder to get stuff done faster. But not Two-Face.

He flips a coin, points at the guy as he runs off, and then looks at me. I'm all, 'Well shit.' and then he tells me to 'Get him.' So I take off after him since you do not say no to Mr. Two-Face. I get outside, look around, and at first I don't see him. Then I hear a guy puking and I run over and it's Mr. Sticks. He holds up his fists and he tries to fight me, and I swear this guy had never even been to the Y to pick up a few lessons. He's all haymakers and prayers. And I'm trying my best to not get hit. But I know if I get this guy down Two-Face... he's going to kill him.

So I tell this mook, 'Hey fuckface. You gotta hit me. But you gotta get out of here. So hurry up. Right cross.' and it was like I was from another planet. He takes another swing and I have to slap his hand out of the way and I tell him, 'Jesus, where'd you learn to fight?' But eventually he gets the message, and I do what I'm best at. Taking a dive. Down I go. Eventually Two-Face comes back out, sees me there. I tell him he pulled out some kind of electric device and shocked the hell out of me. He bought it.

I do this for four years. Four years working for random bosses doing some insane things. Over that time I've earned enough money that wherever my little girl wants to go to school she can, and if she wants to go to graduate school? Covered. But I've paid for it. My body is a mess. I've been shot. Stabbed. Beaten. I've been in incarcerated eleven times. I've been in the hospital a few more times than that. When I wake up in the morning and get out of the bed my joints pop so many times it's like a fat kid rolling around on some packing peanuts.

Sidenote, here's a tip, wait til you're in prison before you talk to a doctor. The state will pay for it.

So now we're at the end of the story. How does it end? Wish I knew. I have no idea how things are going to go. What am I hoping to accomplish this? I don't know. This just started with you asking me about why I do what I do, Mr. Ito. Well this is why. I'm not advocating this to anyone. Hell no. I'm an idiot that has made so many mistakes that people should take it as a blueprint on how not to live. But who knows? Maybe some good will come of this.

Tell Chelsea I love her. And I'm sorry I couldn't have been there more.

< Editor's Note: Mr. Smythe's body was retrieved from Miller Harbor seven days ago. He is survived by his daughter and one aunt. There will be no service. >