Thursday, July 14, 2005

175. Bruce

I have met with Gustavus three times now, during which we have begun to map out the specifics of my "condition," as he puts it, and to discuss the "treatment."

He is a most peculiar man--charismatic in almost repellent fashion. An absolute cypher. He demands, and seems to receive, the upper hand in every exchange. I cannot say how I might have reacted to him at an earlier point in my life; as Batman, I faced many villains who used intimidation as a weapon, but I always knew I could hold my own. Indeed, I was the one who projected the confident facade. Ever since my final encounters with Hugo Strange, however, I seem to lack such resources altogether. My will has been broken, my nerves shattered, and I ... I confess I am no longer any match for a man like Gustavus. And that is precisely the reason I want to work with him: because it is time for me to relinquish the barriers I have placed around myself from an early age, to bring to light some of the secrets I have kept even from myself.

We have discussed fees. His are steep--$360 an hour for conventional sessions, more as the situation demands. I am willing to pay the price, because something tells me this is my best and only option at the moment.

I have made clear to him that confidentiality is essential. Alfred has drawn up legal documents which spell out the consequences of any breach of trust.

For the moment, I have of course not told Gustavus the full story behind what has brought me to him. He does not know of my past as Batman, and for the moment I feel it would be wisest not to reveal that secret to him. However, it is difficult for me to concoct a believable cover to explain what it is I have gone through and why I am seeking his help. In time, if the situation calls for it, I may need to tell him more, but for now, I am simply Bruce Wayne, wrestling with dark impulses of a sort not uncommon to other men in my position.

He has given me a most unusual assignment: I am to report this Saturday morning to a remote location an hour south of Gotham and remain there in total solitude until he summons me. (He has warned me that several days, if not weeks, may pass before I hear from him.) I have been told to speak to no one, to conduct no business of any kind, to sever all ties to the outside world. I will not be allowed to write anything down, here or elsewhere, or read a word of any publication. Gustavus describes this as a "meditation retreat" to empty my mind of all distraction, so that we may begin the next phrase of treatment with a clean slate.

I am intrigued, to say the least. This should prove interesting.