Okay, at the risk of seeming unethical, I'll explain the Black Budget.
The reader may wonder where I get the money to outfit my crimefighting activities. I'll be honest, it's fucking expensive, but that's the price you pay to play. As Big Daddy Kane and Ice T tell us, pimpin ain't easy.
I've got my nightstalker armor, which is periodically trashed and upgraded by My Guy. [ see post My Costume is Fucked Up, 8/27]
I've got my custom gym in the barn/garage, which I periodically trash with my own mid-range super strength. [see post My Gym, 8/28]
I've got the Secret Chamber, with all the kit. Sure, it's modest compared to The Weather Center or Striker Mountain, but that don't mean it's cheap. [see post The Batcave II, 9/7]
So how do I do it? How do I pay for all this shit?
I pull in a decent salary as a soulless middle-management suck-up at my nameless corporation, but that's not going to do it. I got a hefty settlement two years ago for The Accident, but a lot of that is tied up in mutual funds and shit. Besides, all of that money is above the board and taxable, and if you've got a secret identity, you've got to worry about The Taxman* as much as supervillains. You won't read that in comics, kids.
I use The Black Budget to finance my superheroics. Wombat introduced me to Numbers, his accountant, a former mob bookkeeper who went into the witness relocation program. Numbers is a wizard at keeping expenses off the books, and had some really good advice which I will not go into here. Plus, he does my regular taxes every year. Did you know that if you work in marketing like me you can write off the cost of a flat screen plasma TV? Well, you can if Numbers is your accountant. Score!
Without going into too much detail, here it is. Back when I first started my nocturnal second career, I intervened in a gunbattle down at the docks between some Triad bangers and the Russian mob. I pulled a wounded Russian dude out of the back of a burning limo, and the guy had a briefcase chained to his wrist. I dragged this guy to safety as the limo blows up, and he died puking blood in my arms - first time I had ever seen somebody die.
I busted the chain easily and popped open the briefcase.
You guessed it: one metric buttload of money.
Now I don't know what you would do in a situation like that, but I took the money. We're talking hundreds of thousands of dollars! I rationalize it in two ways: 1) It's dirty money 2) I'm going to use it to do some good, fight some crime.
To my knowledge, the Russians wrote off the money, assuming it had burned in the limo. They've never come looking for it anyway.
Thanks to Numbers, the money is squirreled away in some off-shore accounts collecting interest and I keep some in the house - and that's my Black Budget.
What do you think? Does that make me a bad guy? Or just pragmatic?
*Not the Midnight Rambler villain. I'm referring to the figurative Taxman, like in the Beatles song.