[ Prev ] “FEAT OF CLAY, Part V” [ Next ]
B L Ü D H A V E N
1013 Parkthorne AvenueOne thing that Dick had tried to avoid was delving into the morality of everything that the Batman had taught him as a boy. The classic moral imperative, can one uphold the rule of law if he does not hold himself to the law? It was a philosophical no man’s land that didn’t lead to any pleasant thoughts or memories.
Dwell on it too much, a man could easily become just as cynical and brooding as Bruce.
Like a good novelist, Dick was carefully crafting a narrative to support the identity of the character that he was creating. Like a detective, he was doing his research in order to make that story plausible. The character had to be identifiable. Personable. Relatable.
With a surgeon’s skill, he was stitching together the pieces. A trained eye contemplating all the ways in which the deception he was engaged in would need to stand up to scrutiny. Falsified public records were about attention to the details.
He had the Center for Missing and Exploited Children database up, running cross-comparisons with data in the New Jersey state records. Extracting names and details, almost like a fisherman casting a line out from the shore. Dick wasn’t certain just what he was looking to bite, but he figured that he’d know it when he saw it.
That was when he stumbled across Jackson Todd.
If there was a dead end in life, this kid seemed to have found it. His father was dead in a gang-related shooting in Chicago. His mother was serving two twenty year sentences related to robbery and drug-related charges, neither of which had been a first offense. He’d been in the custody of a grandmother, but she’d lost custody of him to the state CPS and the boy had run out from the foster home system multiple times. He’d racked up a slew of arrests by the time he was 12 years old, done time in both the New Jersey Training School and the state Juvenile Medium Security Facility, before getting paroled to a transition program that had attempted to place him back in a foster home.
He’d run off. This time, when the state caught up with him, he was dead. They’d found him along the train tracks. Possible suicide. Possible accident.
It was tragic, but it was also an opportunity. An identity that no one would be looking for. A means by which to craft a persona for Toyboy, with the theatrical byline that read based on the true story.
He kept the part about the time at the New Jersey Juvenile Medium Security Facility. That and the arrests in connection with a chop shop gang would give this identity some color. The father’s death in gang related activities dovetailed nicely with that narrative. But a mother in jail would be problematic for someone backtracking the origins of the problem foster child that Dick was carving out. Instead of being the child of Catherine Todd of New Jersey’s Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women, he would be the son of Shelia Haywood. An opioid addict who had died of an accidental fentanyl overdose.
Carefully, Dick duplicated the Jackson Todd file. The record of Jackson’s time at the Juvenile Medium Security Facility was expunged, keeping instead only the portion at the New Jersey Training School. When he had finished, the man looked at the copy file that he had manipulated using the data from the Medium Security Facility.
Jackson would have been one of the younger inmates, so it was possible that some of the staff might recall a kid named Todd. He’d need a similar name...
In his mind, Dick was running a list as his fingers drummed on the keyboard. James? Jacob? Joshua? Joseph?
No, it would need to be close to Jack. Not Joseph. Jace? Jason. Plying his fingers to the keyboard, Dick at last deleted the name at the top of the file. In it’s place, he wrote JASON TODD.
Well, that was Toyboy’s juvenile arrest and foster care record for the state of New Jersey. Now, Dick just needed some fake insurance, birth, and school records. But, the hard part was behind him now.
It wasn’t exactly the kind of origin story that made people stand up and shout, God bless America -- momma was a crack whore and daddy was a gang banger -- but as far as the state of New Jersey was concerned, Jason Todd was a real, living human being. And that meant it was a chance for Toyboy to have some semblance of a life that he could call his own.
Not that there was really a lot of choice. Dick worked with cops. If he had to guess, there were at least three members of his department digging through public records trying to figure out what kid that he’d adopted.
He wondered what Chambers reaction would be when she read the file, but he figured that she’d make her feelings on the matter known. Probably sooner rather than later.
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Compared to the last time that he’d seen him, Toyboy was looking intact.
Unfortunately, that seemed to be about as much as Dick could say on the matter. “He’s unpacking the software package,” Sarah Charles commented, as the man knelt down to inspect the doll’s face. The glassy eyes of the automaton stared vacantly ahead, as though utterly oblivious to Dick’s presence. “The operating system is in place, but his processor capacity is being consumed by the software suite installation.”
Straightening back up, Dick turned to glance back at the woman. “How long’s that going to take?”
Sarah just gave a shrug. “Take him home. Put him to bed. When you wake up, he should be fully functional again.”
With a heavy sigh, Dick held out both hands to steady the doll, guiding him from off the edge of the table. The automaton started to crumple to the ground and Dick found that he had to scramble to keep Toyboy upright. Pain shot up Dick’s back, as he bent to hoist the doll up and set him back on his feet.
Pointing Toyboy toward the door, Dick was a moment too late to stop the doll from walking into the doorframe instead.