Thursday, July 15, 2004

28. Dick

I don't really know that much about Bruce Wayne. I've heard of him, of course--I mean, who hasn't?--but I never really read the society pages. One thing I do know is that he's pretty much always seen in the company of some allegedly hot babe or other: startlets, socialites, rock stars, you name it. I guess that explains why he's been so weird around me ever since our first meeting. Or not. I don't know--I'll have to bring it up with him sooner or later.

And it looks like I'll have plenty of opportunity.

I was silent for a moment after he told me who he was, and then I had to ask: "Why are you doing all this--bringing me here, night after night, showing me all these things, and now this?"

His turn to be quiet for a while. And then he answered: "Because I need you, Grayson. The image I show the world is by necessity one of strength and fearlessness, but the truth is I need help from time to time. On three separate occasions now you've shown me that you are capable of providing that help. In short, I trust you."

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. "So you're saying you want me to be your ... partner?"

Batman was quick to clarify. Sort of. "I don't know what I want you to be. Not yet. You need training--I can't let you join me on patrols until you've learned everything you'll need to know. And that day may never come. But in the meantime, I invite you to return here on a regular basis. From this point on, you may come and go as you please. My resources are at your disposal. In exchange, I ask that you be on call to lend me assistance as needed."

"You're joking, right?" I said.

"You may have noticed by now that I'm not a joking man," he replied. "I'm not looking for an answer tonight. Go home and think about what I've said. The risks involved in my work are enormous; the sacrifices are innumerable. The rewards are sometimes too minute to notice."

"And they are...?" I wondered aloud.

"Satisfaction that I am playing a small part in making the world a better place. A sense of purpose. And -- in the rarest of situations -- a peace of mind beyond any I have ever known."

He put his hand on my shoulder--the most intimate we've ever been--and I stared deep into his eyes. For the first time I was able to look at his entire face and recognize how handsome it was. And, in the same instant, to notice how sharp the contrast was between his head -- the head of Bruce Wayne -- and the rest of his body, clothed in a costume. The body of a man living a fantasy existence on the edge of night.

Where do I sign up?