Night in the Museum
The next day before his nightshift begins curiosity gets the best of Officer Muldoon; thus the police officer retraces his footsteps of the previous morning down the deserted corridor of east wing of the 23rd Precinct. He reaches the end of the vacant corridor to find the Infirmary’s big door lying battered, its heavy hinges torn from its steel frame, on the hallway’s floor. Muldoon steps across the crippled door and into the infirmary. He switches on the overhead lights and finds the infirmary unsurprisingly empty. But there is broken glass everywhere. The heavy door to the padded cell has also been torn off its large hinges and lies on the floor next to Harvey’s desk. The observation window is blown out and a large electrical motor attached to a hoist wrapped in pieces of heavy broken chain lies on the floor in the center of the infirmary. Muldoon scratches his head and mumbles, “WOO!” He spies a larger playing card strewn over the glass near the exam table. Muldoon walks towards the card causing the broken glass to crunch loudly under his boots. He retrieves the oversized purple card from the floor and examines it. The officer finds it is the joker card from a deck of playing cards. He subconsciously pockets the card as he moves to the observation window, its frame lined with pieces of thick jagged glass. The officer flicks a wall switch upwards and the cell is suddenly flooded with light. He peers into the cell examining the shambles.
On the floor within the cell is a partial piece of a twisted steel frame with large snapped and twisted anchoring bolts lying in a heap atop a warped metal bar. The remnants of thick leather ankle straps hang on each end of the horseshoe shaped steel bar. Muldoon leaves the window and steps atop the padded door and enters the padded cell. He reaches down and picks up a canvas straightjacket that appears to have been discarded where it was removed. The officer notices a distinct odor of burnt electrical smoke hanging in the cell as he spreads out the heavy jacket before him. He examines the immobilizing garment and finds the jacket’s myriad of thick leather straps is shredded and its big steel buckles are twisted and pulled apart. Muldoon holds the jacket by its collar in one hand and uses the freehand to shield his eye against the bright light as he looks upwards to survey the twisted remnants of the hoists mount dangling precariously high above the cell’s floor.
Fearing the twisted mount could fall at any moment he backs away towards the door. “What in heaven’s name has happened here,” whispers Muldoon as he spies Harvey’s black razor strap amid the crippled apparatus on the cell’s padded floor. The officer drops the jacket and returns to the infirmary. He scans the infirmary with it broken doors and blown out observation window and then considers the huge motor and broken chains strewn on the infirmary’s checkerboard tile floor. Then he looks back towards the blown out window from where the heavy motor and chain apparatus originated. “That hoist and chain have to weigh a few hundred pounds,” mumbles Muldoon. Finally he considers the man who wore the straight jacket yesterday and the jacket’s current condition. Muldoon’s mind races as he relives the events since he took the call at the museum yesterday. The colorful costume and big red boots that were in the infirmary are gone and so is Harvey. Suddenly the officer experiences an epiphany.” NO,” whispers Muldoon. “That lad I arrested at the museum really is Superman!”
Suddenly it all fits together like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Muldoon swallows hard considering the unlikely coincidence of the aged infirmary being opened after all these years for only one night and the same night the Superman masquerader is arrested. And then there is Sgt. O’Brien’s odd behavior and strange instructions regarding the same masquerader when he brought him to be booked.
Muldoon brushes his open hand over his hair. Muldoon decides the strange occurrence could not have transpired without the knowledge of powerful people within the police department. He quickly realizes he should have never returned to the old infirmary. The officer dashes from infirmary deciding to do what years of experience on the police force have taught him. He will look the other way and forget it ever happened! He will never speak of the incident again.
Comments by the author.
Well…the Joker is 2-0 by my score. Will Superman now heed the Joker’s warning and leave Earth. Could you really blame him if he did? The Joker has discovered the chink in Superman’s armor. Clark can either stand and fight, runaway or hide! Will Clark man-up and face the prankster again. If so will he be thoroughly trounced again…and then as the Joker eluded to – locked in a box and dropped into the depths of one of Poseidon’s oceans. Or will Clark prevail this time? Or will he choose Door Number 2 and flee Earth. Or will he pussy out and chose Door Number 3, hang up his tights, to hide behind the persona of a mild mannered reporter named Clark Kent.
Each encounter the Joker has ratcheted up the humiliation. What diabolic scheme does the mad clown have in store to humiliate Superman the third time around? Stayed tuned and look for the final sequel to “Superman Rides the Lightning.”
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