Chapter 7: Davis and Salina Kyle
Davis And Salina Kyle
Davis Kyle, like Tom Wayne and one or two others in his year at Gotham High, had been born a multi-millionaire. His Father had made his fortune in property and land deals. Funnily enough, the wealthy background of the 'Jet Set ' students didn't so much guarantee them select and special status in the school, rather the opposite, if anything. For, more often than not, they would be the object of jealousy, from both tutors and fellow students alike.
He was the eldest of four children. He had three sisters. But, unlike the two boys whose friendship he craved the most, Tom Wayne and Harvey Dent, his was to be an uneventful and relatively insignificant passage through High School. He wasn't nearly as good looking as they were, and was labeled as the 'year nerd' at an early stage of his academic career. His first real friend had been Oswald Cobblepot, who very kindly offered him help with his mathematics, when he would fall behind.
But, as was the case with Oswald Cobblepot, on a few occasions, when he became the object of ridicule, he would find in Harvey and Tom champions, who were prepared to risk their own hard earned popularity and status, amongst a small number of their fellows, in order to defend his dignity. However, he never quite managed to penetrate their inner circle of friends, and could only realistically rely on Oswald for friendship.
The one aspect of his life and character, that was to define Davis, was to be his love for animals, especially endangered ones. Right from the very start of his time in Gotham High, if there had been a stray dog or cat around, then, sure enough, he would be the one to go and pick it up, offer it a little comfort and reassurance, and then, probably, half his lunch ! He would bring pet frogs, mice and even crickets to school. This would buy him a little bit of popularity, temporarily, amongst his peers, but it was always short lived.
When he finally graduated, he had already made the decision, that the world of animals, and not people, would be the world for him. They always made more sense to Davis than people, certainly the people he had known, and so, he decided to make Africa his university of choice. Like Tom Wayne, he, too, wouldn't enter, in any way immediately, into the Family Business. Rather he wanted to see something of the world outside America first, and broaden his horizons. Ironically, it was to be this decision, that was to occasion the first real moment, when he sensed real respect from Tom and Harvey !
- Well, good for you Davis. At least I'm not the only multi-millionaire this year to be bucking the trend, and making my own way in life, said Tom.
- Yeah, man, and it's likely to be really dangerous too ! Respect, man, respect ! Harvey added.
There would be more to follow, as we shall see.
To be fair to his Father, Davis did find in him someone who was prepared to support him in his conservationist endeavours. Davis had been able to persuade him to set aside an area of land on their estate to provide breeding space for some endangered species of apes and monkeys. And his Father was prepared to fully fund his years in the African Jungle and Bush.
And it was while investigating and documenting the lives of animals in their wild and natural habitat, that he was to meet and then marry the most beautiful woman in the world. Eat your heart out, Tom and Harvey ! To Priscilla, Davis mightn't have been the most handsome guy in the world, but he was the most caring and sensitive. She, too, had dedicated her life to the African Wild, and found in Davis the most incredible kindred spirit and soul mate !
They soon married, and together pursued an attempt to establish a Safari Park, to protect locally endangered wildlife from a growing army of property developers, who were buying up vast areas of land, to sell as farms to the local native tribes people at exorbitant rates. But, as a result of poaching, which Davis always suspected as being sponsored by the Developers themselves, they both decided to transfer the location of the Park to America.
Not long before, his Father had died suddenly, and, even though he had divided up the Family Estate equally amongst his children in terms of land, he had, nonetheless, entrusted the lion's share of the financial inheritance to Davis. And so, Gotham's nationally renowned Safari Park was born !
- Hey, Priss, that was really nice of them.
- Nice of who, Darling ?
- Harvey Dent and Tom Wayne, two old school friends of mine. They sent me congratulations cards from Somalia !
Not long after the Park was opened, little Salina was born, the absolute picture of her mother ! Davis thought that life simply couldn't get any better than this. It was so satisfying to be involved in conservation, and, at the same time, to afford the opportunity to the public, to be able to see the animals roaming free in conditions that closely resembled where they had come from, not to mention the educational and research programmes involving schools and universities !
Yet Davis was to be denied the joy of many years with his beautiful wife, and Salina with her beautiful mother, when, after a brief trip to Africa, to pick up a replacement rhino for their small herd, she contracted a rare form of malaria, which robbed her of her life, just days after returning home. Davis would have to bring up Salina on his own.
Salina Kyle would have only the vaguest memories of her mother, but was the spitting image of her in every way, even down to her deep love for animals and a concern for their welfare ! She would become both an ardent environmentalist, as well a conservationist. From an early age, as early as she could remember, she was involved in the care of even the most dangerous of the animals. And, by the age of nine, she was given a not insignificant responsibility for the animals, that had always been her favourites, the big cats !
For years, she had learned to observe their behaviour, both in the Park and on safari with her beloved Father in Africa. Indeed, they were to make many trips there, and Salina was to discover much, not only about the Continent's animals, but also the culture and practices of it's peoples.
And yet, there was another love in Salina's life, and nothing whatsoever to do with Nature. It was gymnastics ! Her Father offered her every encouragement, converting a large room in their Manor into a private gymnasium for his daughter, and very soon she was a junior champion several times over. In fact, by the time she reached the age of sixteen, she had been selected to represent her country in the next Olympic Games !
Until tragedy struck once more ! The family had already been coming under pressure, ironically, from property developers, the now infamous Property Cartel. Two of her Aunts had decided to sell their land and to 'up sticks'. The third, though reluctant to sell to the same developers, suffered a severe financial setback, that she would never discuss, even with her brother, Davis, and soon she, too, sold up and moved away. This was prime real estate, ideal for new luxury homes, apartments and business tower blocks !
Extreme pressure was applied to Davis to sell the Safari Park. Business, though not poor, wasn't quite as good as it once had been. People didn't want to see wild animals in the shadow of luxury apartments, as you can imagine. Davis had sunk every last bit of available liquid capital into establishing it and funding the educational end of things, and the funds were running dry. And the Cartel had the muscle to pressurize the Banks into refusing him any bridging loan. Keeping it a secret from Salina, he was seriously worried that they might lose the Park. This was his very life !
Davis had just celebrated his daughter's sixteenth birthday and the accompanying news of her selection for the Olympics Team, when, driving along a cliff-top road, on his own one evening, his car mysteriously veered off the road, killing him instantly, as it crashed onto the rocks below !
Controversy surrounded the incident. Was it suicide ? Had he been drinking ? Had there been another car involved ?
Salina was totally devastated, not just at the sudden tragic loss of her Father, but at the loss of the Safari Park she had loved so much from childhood. It was to be a double blow, that was to have far-reaching consequences, not just for her, but for nearly every property developer in Gotham City !
As the developers, themselves, arrived to oversee the dismantling of the Park, Salina, who had to be involved with the safe relocation of the big cats, would never forget the totally cynical disregard they showed for her cats, poking and prodding at them, deriding them, and, almost in the same breath, deriding the memory of her beloved Father. One of them, the young Cranberry Stubbs, made this suggestion to another young friend, Kaufmann Burns:
- Hey, Kaufmann, take your belt off.
- Excuse me ?
- Your belt...lend me your belt for a minute.
Whereupon he took his own belt off, and fastened it to his friend's, using it as a whip, beating the big cats and pretending to be a Lion Tamer !
- Hey, pretty cool, eh, Kaufmann ?
- Why yeah, Cranberry, that is so cool man, so cool. Hey, let me have a go ! ( Thrashing towards the cats ) Hey, this is really awesome, man !
- Hey, leave those cats alone !Salina was insensed.
- Hey, Girl, cool it, Girl, cool it. we are waiting for the cat woman to arrive.
- That would be me.
- Hey, aren't you a little young to be a cat woman ?
- I am the 'cat woman', as you so crudely put it !
All the animals were sold and successfully relocated to other parks around the country, all except for a number of the cats Salina had cared for. Kyle Manor still remained in the Family's hands. Davis had somewhat mysteriously altered his Will just weeks before, leaving the Manor and all its enclosed grounds to Salina, together with a relatively modest investment fund, that would be sufficient in the financial upkeep of the property. No one could touch it. His daughter's welfare was secure, and his daughter wanted to maintain some link with her Parents' heritage and the life she had shared with her Father, her big cats ! So she maintained a mini park, as it were, in the grounds of Kyle Manor !
It wouldn't be long before Salina was to discover the role property developers, and the Cartel, had played in the demise of the Family's Safari Park and Estate. Their behaviour towards her cats, that day, would dictate the nature of the revenge to be wrought in her Father's name ! And that term the 'Cat Woman' stuck in her head, too !
- They'll wish that they had never tangled with the Kyles, she told her lions, panthers and tigers one day, and it will certainly not have been the last time they ever set eyes on you, my great big little sweethearts !