Batman: A New World

Ch:14 The Incredible Edward Nigma !

The Incredible Edward Nigma !

by Brian Mark

For the next number of years, after his incredible intellectual assault on Principal Harley, the young Edouard Nikma would be passed from pillar to post, from one school to another, or one institution to another. But first, both he and Harley found themselves in Arkham Asylum together, Edouard in the Junior Wing !

Principal Harley had been admitted immediately, Edouard soon afterwards, following several examinations by a child psychiatrist, who described his actions that day as a psychotic episode. Needless to say, the young Edouard disagreed !

From time to time, some of the adult inmates would share the same courtyard as the juniors. Edouard just couldn't resist one last opportunity to challenge his unfortunate former Principal.

- Principal Harley, do you reckon that it is possible to compose a meaningful sentence where the word 'and' appears five times consecutively ?

- It sounds most unlikely, if you ask me. You can't have a sentence, where the word can be used twice together, let alone five times !

- An Accountancy and Law firm had a new office-front sign painted. The man in charge was unhappy with the painter. He wanted to draw his attention to a flaw in the way he had painted the title. ' There is too great a gap between 'Accountancy' and 'and' and 'and' and 'Law', he said.

- Ah, .. nice one, ... nice one ! Yes, ... well done, Edouard, well done !

Unfortunately for Harley, he would never be a Principal again. In fact, he would never teach again. The fact, that he had spent a period of time in an Asylum would prejudice the entire world of academia against him. Apart from his Parents the only other person to visit Edouard while he was in Arkham was Miss Grey, now Principal Grey, following a unanimous decision by the Board of Governors ! In fact, she would visit him several times, making sure that he was keeping up with some school work she had set him, but also to conduct a few simple tests on his vision, the results of which she passed on to the Authorities. This finally led to one of the first ever diagnoses of Pronounced Dyslexia in America.

Edouard would never forget the debt of gratitude he would owe Miss Grey. He would never forget the kindness she showed him, when no one else seemed to care, but he would also never forget, that he had been able to change things for the better at Kane's Memorial. The School never looked back after Miss Grey's appointment as Principal, growing from strength to strength, introducing a screening process for children with learning difficulties like Edouard's. He would never forget, that he had been able to get rid of someone, who had been incompetent in his job, and have him replaced by someone better.

O yes, I must also mention that it was while Edouard was in Arkham, that he discovered he could play the piano ! One of his male nurses, rather inconsiderately insisted on playing jazz music on the ward's record player. This would normally have proved a great annoyance to Edouard. Well, it would have done had he not discovered that he loved jazz, and could play it effortlessly on the old piano in the visitor's room. In fact, Edouard rather singlehandedly transformed the sombre mood of the place for patients, parents and staff alike, with his impromptu sing-songs on Visitor's Nights !

Institution-wise, he was passed from pillar to post. You name it, whatever the establishment, Edouard had experienced it. Not one demonstrated the slightest ability to help someone like him. Mind you, sometimes he didn't exactly make it easy for them ! When it came to school, sometimes he would wind up expelled. He would always remember with affection one moment in particular:

- All I happened to say to the teacher was, " So what if I can't spell Armageddon, it's not the end of the world." !

But he did notice one thing. He couldn't but help noticing it, time and time again. In every one of those institutions, from Arkham and thereafter, the wrong people were at the helm. There would always be the isolated example of someone who seemed to know what they were doing, especially when it came to Edouard's case. They would be sympathetic, maybe because they, too, shared some of his experiences, symptoms and frustrations, but they would suddenly be moved, or their suggestions as to how to help him would be rather casually over-ruled.

Edouard was dumbfounded at the fact that he would end up on the receiving end of sadistic treatment, of the verbal kind, from those who were meant to be acting ' in loco parentis '. In fact, it amounted to persecution. He would often be denied favours and requests, when he had problems, and needed some things in particular.

It never escaped his attention that the wrong people always seemed to end up in the wrong jobs. It was always the case of who you know, not what you know. With his sharpness of mind, Edouard reckoned that it saved the Authorities money to have rather incompetent, or less than able, people in control of things. New ideas, or more effective approaches, though very cost-effective in the long term, can involve a bit of expense and a lot of effort in the short term. Too much effort, and THOUGHT, for the powers that be. Edouard had come to the inescapable conclusion, that too many people just didn't want to THINK !

His parents were of absolutely no help. It was as if they had totally disowned him. They had too much faith in institutions, and never believed their son, when he would complain about the many ways they had failed him. And they just couldn't cope with his perceived erratic behaviour.

Push came to shove again. Edouard decided to go freelance !

But, before we go any further, there are one or two other significant things about his life around this time. It all started with communications he would receive through the post ! First of all, as had happened all too often before, they would spell his Christian name wrong. It was now Edward Nikma, time and time again. Despite his many efforts to rectify the situation, he was still Edward Nikma ! Then the ' piece de resistance '. One day, a letter arrived addressed:

' Edward Nigma '

And that was it. The name stuck. And Edouard would be Edward Nigma for the rest of his life !

- E. Nigma, he thought to himself. Mmmm...how appropriate !

And then there was Edouard's great role model, the Penguin ! Edouard had recognised in Oswald Cobblepot a kindred spirit, and knew where he had been coming from completely. Most telling, one might say, was the fact that Edouard would always have the same newspaper cutting on his bedroom wall, wherever he would go. It was a photograph of the night of the big football game, Cobblepot's first caper, with the quote caption written below:

" You made me the man I am today ! "

But, I did say that Edouard had decided to go freelance. He decided to become independent. Obviously, he needed money. Well, Edouard had always looked older for his age, and, from the age of fifteen, he would earn his living in clubs and bars, playing jazz !

He was incredibly accomplished, and gained incredible respect as a musician, from the singers and performers he would accompany at the old Joanna ! This would fund totally what Edouard came to recognise what was the start of his true, albeit unorthodox, education. He was determined to educate himself ! Second hand text books, encyclopaedias and the early forms of internet access in public libraries. He taught himself how to decode the confused visual signals to his brain. So he could now read ! He embraced practically every intellectual discipline and subject, becoming as fluent in them as he was in the many languages he had come to learn. He learned incredibly fast. In fact, he learned so incredibly fast, that he wanted to research into WHY he could learn so incredibly fast, ... and think so incredibly fast.

He researched the geography and workings of the brain, and finally came to one startling revelation. .. He had always thought that his outstanding powers of thought were due to his exposure to multi-lingual circumstances as a child, leading to a rapid development of intellect at an early age. But now he calculated that the synapses of his brain, from the time in his mother's womb, must have developed and been wired in such a way, that his cognitive functions were actually channeled through his brain's optical system, the fastest working of it's systems, and not the usual cortex, causing a continuous overload on his visual recognition capacity, but instant thought and memory, ... fibre-optic broadband !

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