Chapter 21: Naimh Ross
Niamh Ross (pronounced Neeve ) was born to be a society gossip columnist, if not a full-blown newspaper journalist. Hers were not humble beginnings, .. oh no, ... for Niamh was born into the home of one of Gotham's most prominent State Senators ! Republican or Democrat, perhaps I hear you ask ? Actually neither ! Pat Ross was strictly independent. He had got elected on the back of a strong Irish American vote, and on a strongly pro-family ticket, ... which was the whole problem for Niamh, as she was growing up. Right from an early age, she knew hypocrisy when she saw it.
For Pat Ross, as hugely popular as he would become in Gotham, was simply not the person he seemed to be , ... In fact, the young Niamh Ross knew, that he wasn't that person at all ! In public, he was so congenial, so friendly, always kissing babies, and enquiring after the children of his most wealthy supporters. At home, he wasn't the least bit interested in Niamh, nor her brothers and sisters. In fact, he would often lose his temper with them big time, and she would always suspect, that he had, on several occasions, beaten her oldest brother very severely indeed, though neither would ever admit it. She also came to know for a fact, that her father had also had a number of illicit affairs behind her Mother's back, despite her unwavering loyalty and support for his political career.
But that would never amount to the total sum of Niamh 's disappointments in life, ... oh no ! There were other things, that were to leave lasting scars ! For most of her childhood and teenage years, Niamh would need to wear braces on her teeth, something that would cause her immense pain at the hands of so many at school, both boys and girls alike! In fact, the happiest day of her life was to be the day, when she would finally be free of them for good. Not that her teeth had been exceptionally crooked. It had been a purely cosmetic exercise, again on the part of her Father, so that he could present a host of perfect children to the world. Niamh had learned the hard way, that everyone is judged in this world by appearance, and by appearance alone !
Then there was the great love of her life, Francis Hammer the Third ! At least that was what he had called himself ! Alas, he was not to be quite what he seemed either ! He would charm Niamh with days out in his fancy convertible, with promises to take her away on fancy holidays, and would always manage to work into the conversation something about how wealthy he and his Family were, only for the poor girl to discover that the guy was living one big lie. Now don't get me wrong. .. He was, for the most part, a nice enough guy. .. He could be very thoughtful, and thought the world of Niamh. He was even very good looking. In fact, most girls her age would have considered him to be quite a catch. But, what had disappointed her the most, was the fact that Frank thought, that she would only be interested in boys, who had more money than she did, and that he had to wear a mask to impress her. The irony was that, had he simply just been himself, she probably would have fallen head over heels for him. She ended the relationship. She had felt deeply hurt. The only relationship, that would matter for her, with a guy in the future, would be one with no masks.
This was to be the crux of the matter for Niamh Ross, masks. Everywhere she looked, people would wear masks. It shocked her to discover, that very few people around her felt confident to be themselves with others, or, even if they did, that they still felt obliged to be someone else, in order to be more of a success, both socially and professionally. It really did strike home to the young Niamh, that there was often no place in the higher echelons of society for the truly decent man or woman in the street.
Hence what was to prove to be her chosen career, ... a life in Journalism, ... her quest, to seek out hypocrisy wherever she could find it, and all the masks involved. The real people behind the masks, ... who were they, ... and what made them tick ? And Gotham seemed the most perfect place to start. It was awash with masks ! And there just happened to be an opening in the local Gotham rag, for a Society Gossip Columnist at the time. For Niamh Ross this was the life! Soon, her talents could not remain unnoticed, and she was offered a junior position with Gotham News Network, an offer she welcomed with open arms ! If anything, you might say that Niamh had the knack of always being in the right place at the right time, ... the only girl free to interview Victoria Bross the day after Batman first appeared on the scene ( now there was a man, and a mask ! ), and the night Gotham was struck by the Joker's first prank, when she had her first big break with CNN, but, as we shall see, maybe being in the right place at the right time is not quite the way to describe the way the fortunes of Niamh Ross would soon unfold !