Wednesday, April 13, 2005

153. The omniscient narrator

"Robin," the naked man whispered as he fumbled with the crude lock on the second cage. "Dick." The names felt unfamiliar and somehow wrong, but they were the only ones that came to him.

Oh god, please wake up...

The man outside the cage stared at the man inside it. He was dishevelled, hairy, broken. And he was ... could it be? ... beautiful.

This man is my partner ... my friend, he thought to himself as he opened the little door and tried to slap the caged being back to consciousness. That man over there is neither.

Acting on instinct yet again, he leaned over and kissed the sleeping Object Y on the lips.

The second man opened his eyes. "Wha--"

"We ... have to get ... out of here," the first man said.

The second man was reluctant to move. Better to stay put, he thought. Safer that way. We'll be punished if we disobey... He glanced over and saw Strange, the man who had become the new Batman, lying prone and immobile on the floor. The image was mesmerizing. It was as if the bodies of the two men he loved, his two mentors--his psychiatrist and his crimefighting partner--had magically merged into one. But this Batman was in bad shape.

"Is ... he ..."

"Don't know," the first man answered. The smoke was growing thicker as the room grew hotter. "No ... time. Have to... go. NOW."

"Can't ... leave h...him...," the second man objected. He realized that he was speaking aloud now, a direct violation of the master's orders. Frightened beyond words, he began to move toward the fallen man with the same physical difficulty that his companion was facing. "Have to..."

"NO," the first man rasped as loudly as he could. Something about that knee-jerk response--the anger, the passion, the sheer force of it--triggered a reaction in both of them, as if a forgotten memory had suddenly reasserted itself for each man in a quick and fleeting flash. Old roles were being revisited, reinvested with meaning.

Still dazed, still barely able to think or move, the two men nonetheless began to make their way out of the smoky room in silence, leaving behind the body of the captor--the man they each now felt they loved--in the flames.

They travelled as if in a dream, the journey calling for immense reserves of strength they no longer thought they possessed.

At some point in the dream, they each heard a loud crash, then sirens, yelling, maybe a gunshot or two. If this was yet another hallucination, it was working on both of them at the same time.