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Squad Stories: Funerale 1/2

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posted by alias Lord Allo on Wednesday 7th of November 2018 09:28:17 AM

Harleen Quinzel can’t remember the last time she was on a train. She remembers fields of flowers slipping by out the window, and her mother, smiling at her from the opposite seat. She remembers her bright, powder blue shoes. She remembers nothing else. Harleen squints her eyes, and gazes out at the train yard, gray and industrial. The long rickety tracks speeding off into nowhere. She blinks as the train whistles, and feels her stomach flip, just barely, as the wheels begin to slowly grind. In the seat across from her, Digger Harkness lights up a cigarette and passes the lighter to Floyd Lawton in the seat next to him, who does the same. Floyd reaches a cigarette out to Harley, who politely shakes her head. The cigarette smoke, trainyard gray, acts like a signal, and summons the stewardess, who has the two douse their lights, and produce their tickets. Harleen Quinzel would be the first to admit this wasn’t what she planned for her Friday evening. Digger: So many bloody rules nowadays. Back in th’day you could just blow smoke wherever y’please. Asthmatics are ruinin’ this already wretched country eh? Floyd: For once, I have to agree. Digger: So uh, I’m sorry ‘bout your Auntie, Jesterbells. S’always hard losin’ family like that. Harley: Thanks, Booms. Y’know it’s weird. I didn’t even know her all that well. I was kinda amazed when her sis sent me the invite. Kinda taken aback really. I mean, d’ye think they know who I am now? You’d think if they knew they’d have disowned me or somethin’. Digger: Y’know, I was always surprised me own brood didn’t turn their backs on me when they learned of all the knockin-over and throat-slittin I was doin’. It’s a real testament, family. Harley: Either that or they just plain don’t realize. It’s not like my villain name’s much of a stretch though, it’s just my normal name with the Jewish stripped outta it. Digger: Maybe they don’t watch much TV? Harley smirks a little: Maybe. Floyd takes a deep breath: You two got lucky. Ma never forgave me for tryin’ to kill pop, and neither of em forgave me for Ed. There are more words on Floyd Lawton’s lips, but he falls silent before they can escape. There is a few moments of silence between them. On the overhead speaker, a cheerful conductor lays down the law. Two seats behind them, a child cries, it’s mother bidding it be silent gently. And old man sleeps in the seats across the walkway from them, and outside, and endless wall of trees rockets past. Floyd: So Harl, I gotta ask. . . why us? Harley: Whatcha mean, Cowboy? Floyd: I get that you’d want backup to go to somethin’ like this, but why us? I can’t say we’ve ever been particularly fond of each other. Harley is silent for a moment, then a small smile creeps across her face. Harley: Heh, it sounds kinda crazy, but you two are like, my only friends in the world right now. I certainly wasn’t gonna bring Waller or Sonar, or, god forbid, the Answer guy, and it was too short of notice to call Pammy. That leaves me with you two lugs. But I mean, think about it, the three of us have been through so much crap together, what’s one more thing? Digger: I c’n get behind that. Whatcha say Floyd ole boy? Ready to admit you’n I could be friends? If Floyd Lawton had access to a cigarette, he would have blown the smoke in Digger’s direction. Floyd: Don’t push it, Aussie. There’s a faint smile on his face. Harley: C’mon, Floyd, Y’know you don’t hate us as much as ya pretend to. Someday you may even like us. Floyd is still smiling as much as Floyd can smile. “Someday,” he says. Another few minutes goes by, but it’s impossible to tell. To the uninitiated, time stands still on a train. Digger Harkness at one point, wanders away to the dining car and returns with a bottle of wine and three glasses. He uncorks it, and hands it to Floyd, saying he’s more qualified to pour than Digger is. Floyd relents, and pours. He doesn’t spill a single drop. The first glass goes to Harley, the second the Digger, and the third, he downs himself. One easy gulp, then pours a fourth. It’s never strong enough for him. Harley: Ooh, OOH! We should do a toast! Floyd: What to? Digger: To cigarettes, eh Floyd? Harley: No, no, we need somethin’ real meaningful. Somethin’ worth a toast. Digger: You say Amanda Waller, and I pour this glass on the floor. Harley: I got it! To friends forged in fire! Floyd: . . . Really? Digger: naw, I like it! To friends forged in foire! He and Harley clink their glasses together, then extend their arms towards Floyd, who sighs, but good-naturedly. Floyd: To me never having shot either of you. He clinks their glasses back. Harley: I’ll take that. Digger: Comin’ from you Floyd, that’s an honor. Floyd: Chuck another tray at my head and that toast gets revoked. Digger: Yyyeaaahh, that’s fair mate. I gotta apologize f’r that. Wasn’t m’self y’see. Floyd: Oh you were yourself, you’re just lucky I’m used to yourself by now. They each take a few sips more, and just try and relax for a little while. Harley finds she can’t, doomed to stare out the window and wonder just who will be waiting for her at the end of their journey. Digger sinks lowers into his chair, remembering the events of a few nights ago, and pushing his glass away from himself gently. Floyd’s eyes just dart from person to person, seat to seat. Old habits die hard, and so will he. Harley rips her attention from the window: So, when was the last time either of you guys were on a train? Floyd puts his glass down: ‘Bout a year ago. Had some work for the Russian mob out of Coast City. Nailed the target from the moving train as another passed in front of me. Time before that, I fought Bats on top of a train headed to Metropolis. Harley: Have ya ever been on a train not for business before today? Floyd: Not until today. The business eats you alive. You oughta know that, Harls. Think of how many years you spent in costume, compare that to how many you spent as yourself. Swallowed whole I bet. Digger: That’s what I like aboutcha Floyd, always so chipper. Harley: How ‘bout you, Boomer? Digger smiles: So there I was, eh? Me, and Sam and Lenny, we was pullin’ one hell of a heist—Th’score that was gonna make us retire. Entire kit and kaboodle. Had it all planned out too, Sammy got us in, then created a giant portal to the mirror-verse, sucked the train right up. Lenny froze the wheels and all the staff on board, and I kicked about and clobbered anybody what gave us a dirty look, right? Or at least, that’s the game plan. But what happens is ole Lenny see, he gets too eager, he’s got bills t’pay and whatnot, maybe his ulcer is actin’ up. Who knows. Point is, he freezes the wheels too early, the train nearly bloody flips over, and by that point, ole yeller boots himself has shown up, zippin’ in and out as he does, right? Saving civvies and the crew and the like, but cause we were the ‘bad guys’ he saves us for last. By that time, Sammy’s bailed, he’s taken the first mirror shard outta there, and Lenny’s nowhere to be seen. Think he made himself an ice slide and slip-slid away, pretty as you please. So there I am, right, in this tumbling train which is slowly becomin’ a bloomin inferno. I think, me goose is cooked, right? By the time Ole Flashy’s saves me arse it’ll be char-broiled. I start whalin’ on the controls to no avail, and finally he gets to me. But like, I got a reputation to uphold, yeah? I can’t just start blubberin to him, beggin and all that. So I do what I do, I chucked some rangs at him, gave him a little challenge! Next thing I know: fist in me face, boot up me arse, and I’m back into the slammer. There’s a prolonged silence and then, Harley: Eaten by the business. Floyd: Jesus, that was a long story. Digger: What can I say, I like to get the details in. Game of cards? He produces a pack of cards from his pocket, and spreads them out on the table. With surprising efficiency, he begins to shuffle. Digger: Name the game eh? Poker, Blackjack, Rummy? Harley, sheepishly: How’s go fish sound? Digger: Get your reels out ladies and gents (and Floyd), we’re going fishin. Despite the game and Floyd occasionally flicking cards at Digger’s forehead with familiar accuracy, Harleen Quinzel finds that the only thing she can focus on is passing flowers and powder blue shoes.

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