Tuesday, August 09, 2005

180. The omniscient narrator

Bruce Wayne lay in bed, half awake and half asleep. The sheets felt like silk against his naked body. Indeed, everything about his temporary quarters displayed a level of opulence and luxury he had denied himself ever since he'd assumed the identity of Batman several years earlier. To be sure, he'd kept up the appearance of upper-crust splendor in his own home, but that was all an act; in reality, in his Bat-days he'd spent many an evening sleeping just an hour or two in the Cave, or not sleeping at all.

In the weeks he'd been staying here, he'd had ample time to reflect on his past--his failings as a vigilante, the hollowness of his quest, the emptiness of his present existence--and just as much time to enjoy the delights of Gustavus' compound. The aesthetic of the place was high minimalism; there was very little furniture, but all of it was of the greatest possible caliber. The pool and gym facilities were first-rate; a fully stocked library beckoned. (Wayne took note of the volumes laid out for him, and reach each one from cover to cover.) The walls of each room were painted in restful colors. It was a resort fit for a king. Each day, three times a day, food appeared for him, already prepared. He never saw anyone else enter or leave the space, but someone was clearly looking out for his every need.

That meant, of course, that someone was looking in on him, too, watching his every move. In this regard, the confinement period felt a bit like his time in the office of Dr. Strange--only this time he was here by choice, and not a victim but a guest. A client, in fact, paying dearly for the pampered treatment.

He saw right through the strategy: spend a while in the palace, then relocate to the dungeon. He knew all of this was designed so that he would miss it when he was deprived of it all. (That thought invariably excited him.)

There were times, though, when he began to doubt that was the motive. It was too obvious, too textbook. There were times when he doubted everything about himself: his detective skills, his years of training, even his own motivation. He felt more and more like a fraud: a rich man dressing up like his childhood fantasies for no reason other than to get his rocks off. He'd been accused of it many times, sometimes by his enemies and sometimes in the pages of the local press. Now, at last, he was beginning to believe it himself. If that's really what I am, he'd thought to himself, then I may as well be it. Pay this man to do to me what I once relied on criminals to do...

He felt his dick harden. Heard the phone ring, too. Which came first? It was impossible to say. The phone calls were coming several times a day now, teasing him, toying with him--and turning him on.

He picked up the receiver, as he always did, sooner or later, expecting to hear a click on the other end.

Instead, for the first time in weeks, he heard the voice of another human being. A man.

Get dressed, Wayne, the voice demanded. I'm coming over.