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20 minutes before Knox would be ready to hand in his story about the Joker’s counterfeit money, any hope of an exclusive vanished as City Hall called a press conference. At 5 pm, Knox, and representatives of the four other dailies, the seven TV stations, the radio stations, and a few freelancers and stringers, stood at the base of the steps. Alongside Mayor Borg, Commissioner Gordon and DA Dent were a dozen men in dark suits with crewcuts, as well as Knox’s friend from Treasury, Coogan. One suit, an older man with half-spectacles, represented Washington while Dent spoke for Gotham.

To their credit, they denied nothing. The Joker had tapped into Grissom’s pool of counterfeit bills (usually used in scams in South America), added his own, and dumped them on a town of dupes. Anyone who had taken the “free money” from the Joker’s men was urged to surrender it to the police or the Secret Service. Knox didn’t like that they weren’t trying to explain how some of the money was real, but he got that no one had time to examine all of it for a greedy public. He also didn’t like how no one addressed what would happen to all the shopkeepers who took the money, thinking it was real.

And he hated not being able to ask any questions. The man from Washington took control of the press conference, clearly told by some Press Info Officer not to talk to Alexander Knox. He smiled ironically at the idea that his reputation was known that far from home.

Knox raced back to his desk and rewrote the story one last time. He suspected that outside the people of the city would once again be in a state of distress, wondering if their hard earned dollars were really fakes. In the morning, every bank in the city would be flooded with patrons looking for someone to inspect their bills. He figured that at this moment, Gordon was pondering turning on the signal, but deciding that masked men are better at stopping crimes than cleaning up after them.

At 6:39, Knox handed in the story. He kept the headline he’d envisioned from the first day he got wind of things…

“FUNNY MONEY” FLOODS STREETS.

And he cursed the Joker, getting the last laugh from beyond.

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November 2011

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