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Flashbulbs popped and the bright lights of 17 TV cameras reflected off the face of Harvey Lee Dent. The number of reporters gathered on the steps of City Hall in the chill of December was the largest Knox had seen in some tme. Larger than when the Joker was on the loose, larger than even when the Batsignal was first used and everyone wanted to know why. Dent had gotten everyone talking with his first round of indictments against Zucco family underlings, and kept them talking even when it was pretty clear he had nothing more he could do.

Only now, the tide had shifted again. Rumors about an impeding warrant for Tony Zucco’s arrest were everywhere, even before Dent called a 3 pm news conference. By the time the appointed hour had arrived, everyone knew that Dent had the upper hand. And Knox, despite not being a crime reporter any longer, had to be there. Officially, he was just there to help Marty Yan get it right. But she was ready to do this without him. And he wanted to see history in the making.

Zucco was untouchable. He had managed to survive years of mob infighting and endless investigations without a scratch. He even got out of the Joker’s killing spree with his hide and his organization intact. No one wanted to call him Gotham’s Godfather, or its last surviving ganglord, but he qualified as both. And Dent somehow made an indictment stick when no one else at the local or federal level ever had.

“My friends, you know me to be one to get to the crux of the matter. So here we go. As of 1:15 pm today, Anthony Zucco is a guest of the Gotham Correctional Facility. A warrant for his arrest was issued at 11 pm last night, and we took him and several associates into custody as what he thought was a safehouse early this morning. Thanks to the diligent efforts of the men and women of the DA’s office, the Gotham police, the US Attorney’s office, and the FBI and DEA, Boss Zucco has been served noticed!” It was very unprofessional of many in that crowd of reporters to applaud, but it was also hard not to. Knox didn’t

“The details of the warrant are long and dull, and you can read all about them in the press release than my office is distributing as I speak. But you know what we have him for. And you know that we are once again sending a message to the mob, and to the people, that Gotham is no longer a playground for crime!” Dent, Knox mused, played the crowd well. He would be a shoo-in for outright election. Assuming he could get the conviction.

“I also wish to announce that given the importance of the case, I will return to the courtroom and face Zucco and his cadre of shameless mob lawyers myself.” That silenced the reporters. DAs don’t try cases. A grandstand ploy? Well, yes, of course. Only Knox got the sense that Dent wasn’t leaving it to chance. That in Gotham, if you want it done right, you do it yourself.

Dent began taking questions, and then cut off the crowd after five. The show was over for Knox. There wasn’t anything here that needed a column just yet, but the story was far from over. Soon, Zucco would make bail. There would be the usual hearings and subpoenas and accusations from both Dent and Zucco’s lawyers. And there would be the trial. The biggest mob trial Gotham would see in decades.

It should have excited the veteran reporter. But he had a sense that Dent had gone too fast. There was a reason that Gordon and the Feds never brought in Zucco. Surely Dent understood that. Or did Dent have a secret weapon? Was Batman really getting the goods? Was that even usable in court? Only time would tell, but Knox couldn’t shake that bad feeling.

He left the press conference, passing a few reporters he knew, and noticed a familiar face. One that was out of place, at that. What was Matches Malone, the waterfront’s most notorious third-rate gangster, doing here? Did he want to be arrested to? Or was he just confirming that Zucco had indeed been arrested? Hell, given the longstanding bad blood between Malone and the Zucco family, was it possible that Dent had gotten Malone to testify? Knox thought to say hello just to see how Malone reacted, but Matches was gone. Odd.

Knox went for a cup of hot coffee, and then headed home, to see how it all played on the 6 o’clock news.

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November 2011

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