Here follows, verbatim, Harry Houdini’s report received at HMC HQ here on the East Coast in Madison Avenue, NYC:
Harry Houdini Report On Mission Nightingale
I take great pleasure in introducing my new invention: The Time Torture Cell. I’ve been confined to a time 32 years before my birth. Herein, chiefly, lies the imposition. My reputation is at stake. My standing as the most famous self-liberator depends upon my ability to free myself from this cauldron of peril. This situation takes on a grave aspect.
My mind has always been open and receptive and ready to believe. I am not a scoffer. I firmly believe in a supreme being. This Omnipotent Almighty has set me a task. I am not, let’s make it clear, making reference to Professor Delphi at the History Maintenance Commission here. Although, like the Almighty he does pass judgement upon us one and all and not always entirely favourably either. Only my sainted mother could ever feel at ease in His shadow, for if God ever sent an angel to roam Earth in Human form it was my mother.
I am ready to forfeit the sum of one thousand dollars to anyone who can prove it is possible to meddle with the flow of history before your own conception and it have no detrimental impact upon your later reputation or in any way skewer the leading of your life. I will achieve this trick and it will rightly go down in the annals of history as the greatest escape ever performed.
A great many people imagine you must have exceptionally rare talent to become a handcuff king, but such is not the case. It is not the trick that is to be considered, but the style and manner in which it is presented. A performer is there to please the public. Nothing is more offensive to an audience than a performer to appear surly and bad tempered. I address them not in an overbearing or bombastic manner but speak to them as one would a critical friend.
I shall lay my predicament on the line for you, hold it up for your gaze. I am here, confined to 1844. I have not long entered the bedroom of the sainted Florence Nightingale. I, the great Houdini, the greatest escapologist of them all who has escaped the confinement of the womb 32 years prematurely. I’ve been set the task of persuading Miss Nightingale to abandon the idea of clamping vehicles by displaying my talent for freeing myself from any fetters. But, I shall refrain from so doing. For to comply with such a request will be akin to falling into an inescapable trap. A trap that would ruin my reputation and render me contemptible. It is a terrible thing to have the finger of fate point at you. For, should I, Houdini, The Great Man of Fetters, successfully persuade Florence Nightingale to quit any ideas of ensnaring vehicles in her traps, then I run the risk, as our great lives overkap, that she won’t miss the opportunity to belittle me as I become famous at the turn of the new century.
‘Oh, that Houdini,’ she would denounce, ‘why he was dead keen on dissuading me from clamping things for a living.’ Should I then deny the accusation then a certain fascination would linger with the public. They would think that there was no smoke without fire, even though by that stage she would have abandoned the lighted wick for electric illumination. My career, which thrives on the lifeblood of my deeds and reputation, would lie at her feet in ruins. Furthermore, should I counter with the argument that the incident to which The Sainted One refers occurred 32 years before I had a physical presence in this world, then that would do wholesale damage to my virulent debunking of psychics and mediums. I have sought all my life to trash the supernatural, I would be doing myself a grave disservice to enhance its credibility by acknowledging an incident I was involved in three decades before my very birth!
I won her over by appearing upside down in her room. I have frequently needed to adopt this position for my daring escapes so felt comfortable in this greatest of all challenges to assume this pose while I called upon all my reserves of mental dexterity for this supreme test. My appearance in such an unusual form totally disarmed the young lady and I could tell that Richard Monckton Milnes had never stooped to such a level in order to win her heart. Her natural responses were nullified by my strange appearance. Part of the ability to mystify lies in the presentation of the trick.
I have never before encountered a woman of such noble class and breeding. Admittedly, being confined to padlocked trunks and water filled tanks somewhat inhibits this possibility. She communicated with a voice so much posher than any royal I had ever entertained. I refused, when politely requested, to provide her with my name but she swiftly, while sporting a mischievous grin, christened me ‘Batman’ due to my hanging upside down.
Batman furnished Florence Nightingale with a lengthy sermon on crime. Her candle was a quarter further gone when I concluded. Miss Nightingale was attentive and enthralled throughout and I could only assume Dickie MM hadn’t stumbled upon this topic of conversation for had he done so she would not have remained a spinster.
I wish to put the public on its guard and safeguard them against the practices of the criminal classes by exposing their various tricks and explaining the adroit methods by which they seek to defraud. She was impressed by my determination to do right for the masses and my experience having conversed with the chiefs of police and most famous detectives in all the great cities of the world.
The psychics I disparagingly call miracle mongers. Miss Nightingale, at this point, displayed her keen intellect by quoting Geoffrey Chaucer on the subject. I told her that Chaucer was by no means the first to turn shrewd eyes upon the wonder-workers and show the clay feet of these popular idols. Since his time innumerable marvels, held to be supernatural, have been exposed for the tricks they were.
Florence Nightingale was so impressed by my candor and enthusiasm to improve the prospects of everyone in society that she then proposed we form a crime and psychic fighting partnership. She said that she would instruct her Vehicle Disablement Operatives, if she decides to plunge herself fully into this line of business, to clamp the vehicles of anyone displaying psychic ability or activity. This will include:
- Anyone holding hands.
- Anone working at the Docks loading crates of liquor onto ships as this can be deemed to be a blatant attemp to raise spirits.
- Anone buying an off the peg shirt (although this only applies if they’re a medium).
- Anyone at The Evening World working overtime as this is clear evidence that they have unfinished business in this world.
- Anyone seen asking the public ambiguous questions such as ‘Does anyone know someone called Bob, Bill or even Rob or Will who may or may not have worked in a laundry?’
- Anyone visiting a physician due to a severe bout of indigestion. As this could be an early warning sign that they are going to bring up some ectoplasm.
As far as criminals are concerned, Miss Nightingale proposes to clamp vehicles parked near or outside banks in case
HOUDINI HOLOGRAM TERMINATED AT THIS POINT
The History Maintenance Commission terminated the Harry Houdini hologram at this juncture it becoming apparent that far from progressing the mission to persuade Forence Nightingale to ditch any possibility of running a parking enforcement business he was actually assisting her further in its pursuance. However, the most worrying aspect of allowing this mission to continue was the very strong possibility that a new crime busting duo would be unleashed upon the world known as Batman and Nightingale a full 96 years ahead of Batman and Robin’s debut in DC Comics. Indeed, had Batman and Nightingale made a name for themselves, and with Miss Nightingale’s determination that would be very likely, then Batman and Robin would never have been created as it wouldn’t have appeared at all original.
It appears that from the outset the Harry Houdini hologram was set upon escaping from his predicament rather than participating in the mission and endeavouring to achieve its goal in a wholehearted manner. There is no escaping the fact that the History Maintenance Commission made an error in launching an escapologist on this vital mission.
Categories: Florence Nightingale