Chapter 30: Puss In Boots !
Puss in Boots
Kaufmann Burns was, how shall we put it, a less than imposing, less than handsome looking man, not that popular with the ladies. In fact, he had a bit of a reputation for seeking virtual relationships in cyber space ! But, unlike his close friend and associate, Cranberry Stubbs, whom we have already met, he was never prepared to see any contacts, that he would make with the opposite sex there, through. Cranberry, though also a bit of a ridiculous character, was always more attractive to women. Kaufmann always hoped ,that maybe, just maybe, one day, he might pick up one of Cranberry's 'rejects', so to speak. The nearest Kaufmann Burns had come to a meaningful relationship with another woman was, in fact, a series of dialogues with chat line girls on the Internet, and very rarely talking, at that, ,... .rather, more often typing. such was his complete lack of confidence, when it came to matters of the heart, or anything else !
So, as you can well imagine, what an absolute thrill it was, one morning, in his office at the Old Cathedral, to find a new message on his private email page, and a photo message at that ! ... A tantalizing picture of a long, sensuous leg, in a long and sensuous black boot, with the following personalized message ...
' Well hello Kaufmann ! Our records show, that you have made regular visits to our sister websites. Let me introduce myself. My name is Puss in Boots, and I am making my debut video chat performance online tonight. You have been especially chosen, if you so desire, to be my very first caller ! Your call will cost absolutely nothing, and your confidentiality fully guaranteed. A slot has been reserved for you at 7.00 pm, either to speak to me personally, or to text me online. Why not log on then, and hear all the things I have been up to today. I have the most voracious appetite, and I can't wait to tell you all about myself ! Click on this box, if you wish to be my first special caller on the show tonight.
Felix Chat Services is a fully licensed Limited Company registered in the U.S.A.
All the usual terms and conditions apply. '
Whereupon, Kaufmann, almost salivating, clicks the box immediately ! He then presses his Secretary's button on his own personal mini switchboard :
- Oh Miss Perkins, please cancel all my social engagements for this evening. ( Swinging on his chair, with his hands behind his neck ) I have other plans for the evening ... ( Switching his Comm off ) Yes, ... other plans !
- ( Salina Kyle, viewing the ad. on her laptop screen, looking and sounding very satisfied, indeed. ) Yes, that ought to do very nicely. ... ( Clicks on her laptop ) ... Ah, ... I see, that he has taken the bait ! ( She strokes her pet black cat ) .. Well, well, well, Cleopatra, we ARE going to be busy tonight, aren't we ?
The young and sensuous Miss Kyle, as we have seen, had already acquired all sorts of information and interesting documents, following her fleeting liaison with the now, shipwrecked Cranberry Stubbs, all sorts of names, addresses, email contacts and dark secrets. ... Yes, dark secrets about those he dealt with, from his very own personal diary, including musings about the personal, private internet habits of his close 'friend' and business associate, Kaufmann Burns ! It came as a major revelation to Salina, that such business magnates, in the world of investments, could play such a double game, snuggling up to so-called friends and those perhaps a rung or two above them, on the ladder of success, and, at the same time, acquiring and storing up all the dirt, they could dig up on them, as a rather different kind of investment, that might come to fruition in the future !
Unfortunately for the young Miss Kyle, there were no references, of any kind, to anything dating back to the period leading up to the death of her father. The documents just didn't go back far enough. She began to consider, that Stubbs and Burns might simply have been bit players in the whole affair.
Rather puzzling, but nonetheless intriguing, however, were the constantly recurring references to a mysterious individual, that Stubbs only referred to as H.D., even in his own private diary. It reminded Salina of the evil Dark Lord in Harry Potter. ... They dare not even speak his name !
But, who could this H.D. be ? Certainly not the father of High Definition technology ! ... He was certainly the one, almost omnipresent figure in Cranberry's life, who genuinely scared him, ( That was before his fateful 'nuit de passion' with her feline alter-ego of course !) and, who had some kind of strong hold on him.
So, all this information and documentation was one major acquisition for Salina Kyle. The money he had kept in his several private safes was another. It had been payback time, as far as Salina was concerned. She was simply beginning to take back, what was rightfully her father's, and which would, hopefully, one day allow her to re-establish the family Safari Park, she so desperately missed. Oh yes ! .. and the technology, that allowed her to hack into, and manipulate the otherwise highly secure private email worlds of men like Stubbs and Burns, THAT was another ! Funnily enough, to that particular end, she had acquired a few bits and pieces from a somewhat distant subsidiary of Wayne Enterprises.
- Oh, that reminds me, Cleopatra, I have to email that lovely Dwayne of mine, and tell him, that I won't be able to make our usual online date tonight. ( She types and clicks away.)
Meanwhile, back in Wayne Manor, or should I say under it, Bruce and Alfred are in the Bat Cave, at the Bat Computer, the brainchild of Bruce's star employee, Mr Lucius Fox. The computer's quantum technology allows it to perform its tasks at phenomenal lightning speeds.
But, before starting to research their latest matter of interest, Bruce's attention is briefly diverted by a sudden email that flashes up on the screen ! He quickly clicks it off before Alfred might catch sight of it, but ...
- Oh really, Master Bruce, one knows that it is none of one's business, but a gentleman, such as yourself, should not need to resort to the technological pursuit of a meaningful relationship.
- On the contrary, Alfred, a gentleman like myself, with billions of dollars to my name, and albeit unwelcome celebrity status, finds the anonymity afforded by such technology suitably liberating, when it comes to finding someone of like mind to oneself. My God, Alfred, I'm beginning to sound like you now !
- Ah yes, of course, Master Bruce. One must find it almost impossible to be sure, that a woman is not interested in one, for one's money and celebrity alone ( a slight wry smile).
- That reminds me, Alfred. ( Rather mischievously, for he knows, that there is a chink in his Butler's armour ! ) Victoria Bross hasn't called at the Manor for some time now, do you know if she is alright ?
- ( Coughing ever so slightly, and doing his level best to conceal it ). .. I believe she is out of the country, Sir.
- Oh really, Alfred. ,... How long for ?
- For an indefinite period, I believe, Master Bruce, for an indefinite period.
- ( Again, somewhat mischievously ) Oh, that's such a shame. You know, Alfred, I can't help thinking, that she must have a bit of a thing for me. It's like, she is constantly making excuses to come to the Manor, for some reason or another.
- One really doesn't know what you mean, Sir. ... ( Quickly changing the subject ) But, perhaps back to the latest matter in hand. ... You asked me to monitor the possible activity of Doctor Viktor Fries ….
- Yes I did, Alfred, so I did. ( Viewing lightning quick images of CCTV footage, newspaper cuttings and various files.) One of the Newspaper headlines read: MR. FREEZE ATTACKS MOSCOW !
- You were absolutely right about him, Master Bruce. His certainly does not, in any way, match the profile of an archetypal villain. ... Observe. ... ( Points to screen) ... On the one hand, you see him, and the armed band around him, attacking certain military and government buildings in Russia and this Country. And, on the other, there is more than circumstantial evidence of incredible humanitarian efforts being made by himself, to treat people, especially the young, suffering from hitherto incurable degenerative diseases. And there is anecdotal evidence to suggest, that he is meeting with unbelievable success.
- How so, Alfred ?
- Seemingly he is exposing his patients to short-term spells of extreme cold, together with injections containing some kind of formula. Some of these people have joined him, and are swelling his numbers.
- I bet that the formula, he is using, is what allowed him to be cryogenically frozen in the first place ! Yes, Alfred, that's it ! Only, .. there was something wrong with it, and he, and everyone who was exposed to it, can't exist in normal temperatures. In my father's journals, I read, that his daughter suffered from a fatal degenerative disease, yet, when I rescued her from the car park that day, she had been fighting fit, quite literally ! ( He types something more into the 'Q' )
- What is Sir doing now ?
- 'Sir' has just ascertained, that Fries and his Ice Warriors have never operated in temperatures warmer than – 8 degrees centigrade. That is their sealing, - 8 degrees.
- Brilliant, Master Bruce, quite brilliant.
- But, they seem so humanitarian.
- Nonetheless, one has taken the liberty to make preparations for any future visit, he might make to this general vicinity. ... One has enlisted the support of one Hans Anders Christiansen from Norway, a former colleague of one's, from one's arctic mountain training days, to come here to Gotham, and begin a training regime for you in Arctic Combat.
- What, Alfred ? Have you completely lost your mind ? What about confidentiality, and our strict secrecy code ?
- You need have absolutely no worries about Hans Anders, Master Bruce. ...You see. he is none other than the Arctic Fox, Norway's very own answer to Batman, but on ice ! ! !
- Very droll, Alfred, very droll.
- Why, Master Bruce, you ARE beginning to sound just like one, after all !
And so, to the main event. The night was dark. They usually are ! … And Kaufmann Burns, cancelling his last appointment of the afternoon, had rushed home to his private apartments, to be ready to liaise with a woman, who, in his mind at least, was going to be a vision of loveliness, sexiness and beauty !
So caught up in the moment was Kaufmann, ( It would be the only moment, when he would ever live in the moment! ) that, rather like Cranberry Stubbs before him, he fails to notice, that the skylight above him has been slightly forced, and is lying slightly ajar, and, again like Stubbs, he has completely neglected to secure the front door after him.
Soon it is 7.00pm. He logs on to the brand new website, wondering what he might see, whatPuss will look like, what she will be wearing, ... or not, as the case may be, ... what she will sound like, and what she will say.
But, as he clicks on the icon indicated, what confronts him, but a less than attractive looking young woman, chewing gum, and with a most common sounding New York accent !
- Why, hello there Sugar, how's it all hangin' ? II believe you wanted to know all the wonderful things I got up to today. ... Well, first of all I treated myself to four lovely, scrummy jam doughnuts, ... then, a quick cup of coffee, followed soon after by three huge chocolate chip muffins. ...
- No. Oh no, there has got to be some mistake here. Where is Puss in Boots ? ( He rather frantically starts clicking on his mouse, and pressing buttons on his keyboard, but to no avail. )
And it is precisely at this moment, that Catwoman slips down with her pet cat, through the open skylight.
All of a sudden, an incredibly frustrated Kaufmann is distracted by the sight of this dainty looking black cat, dressed in delicate tailor-made black boots, walking along the floor towards him.
- My God ! ... What the ... Why, I 've never seen the like before. Is this some kind of a sick joke ? ... ( Bends down towards the cat. ) Mind you, she does look kind of cute. ...
Suddenly, the lights go off momentarily, and, for a split second, there is total darkness. Then, as the light comes back on, there before him is a black panther growling aggressively ! Burns is terrified. The big cat moves suddenly out of his view, ... and then, ... there is Catwoman, wearing tight short pants instead of her usual complete cat suit, and long black boots ! She makes the exact pose which formed the picture, that had so tantalised Kaufmann earlier that day.
- Well hello, Kaufmann. I'm so sorry for the stunt on the website. ... I thought I'd surprise you, and come in person instead. ... Is this the sort of thing you wanted ?
Whereupon, she performs a dance, part erotic, part war dance. Kaufmann begins to think, that maybe, just maybe, his luck has finally changed ! Catwoman pulls, from around her belt, that iconic whip of hers. She cracks it !
- Well, what about it, Kaufmann, fancy a bit of domination ?
Burns half lifts his arms, as if to say 'maybe', ... then he thinks again. .. Of course ! ... How could he have been so stupid ? ... This is the Catwoman, ... the very woman, who so terrorized his friend and partner months before ! Suddenly the front door breaks open ( It is the handiwork of one giant, by the name of Lazlo. ), and a large male lion leaps through, only to pause a matter of feet in front of him.
- Kimia, she says, kira ! .. Lala chini !
The lion falls silent and lies down.
- OK, Kaufmann, where is the safe !
- ( Burns scared stiff ) The safe, ... what safe ? ... I don't have a safe !
- O come on Kauffy Baby, you should know the score by now. Remember what happened to your good friend, Cr..an..berry ? ... The poor guy is still a day patient at Arkham ! Why, the poor guy has lost all credibility amongst his peers. We don't want the same thing to happen to you now, do we ?
Burns points dispiritedly towards a picture on one wall.
- Now, that's more like it Kaufmann. ... Now let me see. ... What would be your favoured combination ? Let's try your Mother's Birthday. ... ( She punches in the combination ) ... Yep, that's it ... Honestly, Kaufmann, men like you are so predictable !
The safe opens. She clears out all the money, documents and, finally, his gun from the safe.
- You won't be needing this, now, will you honey ?
Burns reaches slowly to something around his neck, and presses something.
Well. my goodness, if it isn't a panic button ! And I thought, those were for little old men and women living on their own ! ... Well, Kaufmann, ( kissing him on the cheek) I'm afraid I'm going to have to love ya and leave ya ! ( And, with the same voice as the girl he heard before ) ... Good bye sugar ! … ( To the lion ) Hapa Kijana, ... haha kahii !
The lion follows her out, along with Cleopatra.
Meanwhile, Batman is returning from an early evening call out, in the Batmobile ! He suddenly gets an all too familiar call from Alfred.
- Have just intercepted a panic button call made from the Rainbow Plaza, Master Bruce, apartment one zero seven, a believed robbery in progress.
- I'm on my way.
The Batmobile does the most incredible u-turn and zooms towards the Plaza. As he arrives, he catches sight of a strangely familiar figure, and a particularly desirable one at that in the park adjacent to the complex:
- Not this time Sweetheart, not this time.
Whereupon, he leaps out of the car and gives chase. The woman is fast and agile, but then, so is he. She leaps a fence. So does he. He catches her and corners her. She looks around. ...
- Hapa Msichana ... Haha Kairitu !
But there is no response, no cat to come to her rescue
With a slight air of resignation, she launches herself at Batman, and a full-on street fight ensues, but Batman, clearly getting the better of her, seems to have her beaten. He uses all the moves he learned from Alfred, as a teenager, and as a youmg man, plus some from the Basketball Court ! Then, all of a sudden, he is knocked out cold !
The shadowy giant figure of a rather threatening looking Herzegovinian emerges from the darkness.
- What kept you ? ( She says in a nonchalant tone.)
A little later, Catwoman returns home to Kyle Manor, using the front door once more. Removing the distinctive elements to her costume, she slips into her dressing gown, in front of a large freshly lit log fire, just prepared by her Butler ! She feels the back of her neck, and nurses the bruises Batman has inflicted all over her body:
- Maybe, I should enlist the services of a martial arts specialist, .. but not tonight. … ( She looks purposefully towards her laptop.) … Maybe I should chat to the lovely Dwayne after all, she says to herself. It really does seem as if we are kindred spirits. .. We have so much in common. ( Suddenly her cat jumps up onto her lap) You know, Cleopatra, he lost his father, when he was young too. ... Mm, maybe I'm just a little too tired. ... It would have been nice to have spoken to him this evening, but ... ( She pulls out a wad of the cash she has just liberated from the clutches of Kaufmann Burns, and scattering it in the air. ) ... you can't have everything !
I'll email him tomorrow.
The next thing, that Bruce Wayne remembers, is waking up later in Wayne Manor, and seeing his trusted Butler there before him !
- I trust you slept well, Master Bruce ?
- Ohhh. ( feeling the back of his head.) ... What hit me ?
- One has absolutely no idea, Master Bruce. All one knows is, that your Comms suddenly went blank. ... Whereupon, one ventured out in the Rolls, picked you up, and brought you back here, ... and no, nobody saw one, Sir. That homing device in your Bat Glove is most effective. ... I had no trouble finding you. ... None whatsoever, in fact.
- ( Feeling the back of his neck) It was her again, Alfred.
- Who ? .. The Catwoman ? ... One heard the news reports later, based on the babblings of one Kaufmann Burns, the recipient of the said female's attentions this evening. ... We will have to find out, who she is, and what she is up to, Master Bruce.
- I couldn't have put it any better myself, Alfred. I couldn't have put it any better myself.