Wednesday, March 15, 2006

237. The omniscient narrator

Richard Grayson awoke just as the first rays of daylight were beginning to make themselves known. Under other circumstances, it might have been downright romantic: two lovers watching the sunrise together.

Only there was nothing even remotely pleasant about the actual scene. Dick's head hurt like hell, and the more he came to his senses, the more he began to sense he'd received a major-level bashing while he'd been asleep. He knew without looking that he was bleeding in at least two places, neither of them very good ones to be bleeding.

He looked up and saw Oll--Green Arrow, hanging upside down from a nearby tree branch, still unconscious, also bleeding, hands still tied behind his back, face turning red from the unnatural flow of blood to his head. Dick was bound, too, he soon realized: rough bark pressed hard into his spine and thick ropes traced a tight spiral from his neck to his feet. Both men were gagged.

He smelled cigarettes and cheap beer, then heard a voice he vaguely recognized from a few hours earlier. "Yer fuck buddy here learned a valuable lesson tonight," the apparent ringleader said. "Y'all don't belong here. The triiiiiibe has spoken."

The voice sounded like it was only a few feet away, but Dick could not see the speaker. The only thing he could see, other than enough trees to tell him he was in a forest somewhere or other, was the inverted body of the ... Arrow.

"The Arrow"? "Green Arrow" with no "the"? Just plain "GA"? What the hell was he supposed to call this costumed alter ego of the man he'd known for months as Oliver--sometimes Ollie--Queen?

Chalk it up to shock that questions of nomenclature were the biggest concerns on Grayson's mind in this dire moment. He wasn't trying to be the nonchalant sidekick--far from it. He was fairly certain he'd left his sidekick gig back in Gotham City months ago, along with his own pair of tights.

Tights. Green tights. He glanced over at Green Arrow--there, the new name was starting to come more naturally now--and wished the hero's introduction had been a bit less dramatic. Then again, his first meeting with Batman had been under similarly drastic conditions, too.

Batman... What would Batman do if he were here? If he still existed, that is...

For one thing, Dick thought, he'd have a belt full of equipment to help him out. Me, I've got two quarters and a handful of pennies in the pockets of my ...

Pants. Pants...

For the first time, Grayson noticed he wasn't wearing any. No, he was standing here out in the woods, tied to a tree, in his underwear. And from the looks of things, he and his latest costumed gentleman caller were about to die.