Monday, July 12, 2004

23. Dick

Batman drove for about 20 minutes; I'm pretty sure he circled a few blocks and took a few unnecessary detours just to throw me off. Didn't he trust me? I mean, I was the one climbing into the car of a man whose face I'd never seen, putting a blindfold on, and hoping for the best.

I felt the car slow to a halt, then heard the engine cut off. "We're here," Batman announced. Maybe it was wishful thinking on my part, but I could swear his tone was slightly less gruff this time.

I heard him open his own car door, then walk around the vehicle to open mine. I felt his hands wrap around my shoulders as he helped me to an upright position. One of his gloves brushed against my cheek as he lifted the blindfold from my eyes. Every moment of contact was electric.

He guided me out of the car and through a sparkling clean garage to a much larger room. I was dumbfounded by what I saw: electronic equipment of every conceivable variety, a fully stocked arsenal of equipment, a personal gym to rival the finest facillities in Gotham City, racks of costume supplies, and vast amounts of other things whose functions I could only guess. All of it was in impeccable order.

"I call it 'the Batcave,'" he told me.

"Very Goth," I replied. "Big Bauhaus fan, are ya?"

He didn't get the cultural reference. No surprise. Anyone with a secret life this elaborate clearly had no time for the pop culture of the last 30 years. I started to regret the years I'd spent memorizing Joni Mitchell lyrics and learning the names and voices of minor "Simpsons" characters instead of doing something truly useful with my time.

There was far more to the "cave" than I could take in. My eyes eventually settled on a section of the room loaded with restraints and torture devices of every description: stocks, crosses of various types, a rack, and much more.

"That's quite a dungeon you've got there," I said.

"This is where I practice ... escapes. My enemies have devised ingenious means to torment me, and it is essential that I understand how they are constructed," he explained.

"Yeah, whatever," I mumbled, imagining selected items in use. "Have you ever invited anyone to try this stuff out with you?"

"From time to time. Like you, each guest has been brought here blindfolded. No one knows the location."

We spent the next hour touring the facility, and then it was back into the car, blindfold on, lying down once more. There was almost no talking on the way to my home, which gave me the opportunity to pay attention to the ride itself: different route, equally circuitous.

"Sit up," Batman barked after about 20 minutes. "Take the blindfold off first."

With that, we were at my corner. Silence. "Uh, thanks for the tour," I said as I prepared to open the car door. He said nothing in return. I toyed with the idea of giving him a peck on the cheek on my way out of the vehicle, but decided against it. "Goodnight," I told him, even though I noticed it was almost morning.