Short Story: Reluctant Batman

His Father read stories of The Batman to him, like any good parent should.  He was raised on tales of the billionaire, ninja, orphan crime-fighting scientist who wore pajamas and hung around in wet caves with 10 year old boys.

Robin underwear.jpg
Perfectly normal stuff, really.

He knew the stories inside and out.  Boy sees parents gunned down, boy, rather than devote his billions of dollars to existing, proven crime fighting institutions like the police, decides to take the law into his own hands, boy places too much emphasis on flying rodents.  It was a common tale, ripped straight from the fables in the Bible.  The Batman was his hero.

So when his own parents were killed in a by-the-books bank hostage situation, he knew what he had to do – devote his life to beating up criminals and leaving them tied up in front of police stations with clever notes that somehow made a pun out of their crimes (these guys were trying to steal a diamond – I put them “on ice”!)

One small challenge stood in his way.  He had no desire to become a crime fighter, or dress up in tights.  Sure, he was depressed after losing his parents, but through sessions with a professional therapist (thank you Dr. Carver!) he was able to overcome many of his issues.

He realized that while the individual men who shot his parents were directly responsible, “crime” per se, was not.  Many criminals were, in fact, victims of demographics.  They needed to be helped through progressive liberal outreach programs.  He volunteered at one!

ARC Rehabilitation
Seriously!  They do great work!

Still.  He must become like The Batman, as his father taught him.  Rather than re-educate the criminals, he must beat them without mercy.

Maybe punch their necks, or something.

He lacked many of the advantages that Bruce Wayne had.  Money.  Size.  Athletic ability.  Coordination.  Basic reasoning skills.  Looks.  Money.  A butler.  A giant mansion, tits-deep in escape tunnels to a secret underground cave filled with supercomputers.  But he couldn’t let these things stand in his way.  He couldn’t let his parents down.

One of his last memories of his Father was (of course) reading a Batman story together.  It was Detective Comics # 275, where Batman becomes a Zebra.  After they finished the thrilling tale, he turned to his Father.  “Where does Batman live Daddy?  Can I meet him?”  His Dad had chuckled.

“Batman is fiction son.  This – ” he pointed to all the Batman memorabilia in the room “is for play.  It’s carnival.  You know Batman isn’t real right?”  The boy laughed at the whimsy of his Father and snuggled in for sleep.

“Son?” his father wouldn’t stop talking.   So irritating.  “I’m serious.  Don’t think this is real.  Never avenge my death through vigilantism.”

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His father wasn’t actually the first person to say that, it’s a pretty well-known expression.

He did what he had to.  He spent time studying martial arts movies while he went to community college.  He watched all the Batman movies over and over again.  They were terrible, especially the overrated Nolan ones.  He didn’t have a wise butler, but his wise landlord told him that his pipes were probably clogged because he kept flushing tuna down kitchen sink.  Years later, he was ready.

Sort of ready.

The first night he went out to face the criminal elements dressed in the mantle of his hero.  While he couldn’t afford one of the real batman costumes that were on ebay, he was able to fashion a mask out of old rain boots.

He went to the worst part of town and prowled the streets looking for action in his bat-shaped boot mask.  The denizens of the night did not disappoint, and he was soon accosted.

“Gimme your wallet” said the thug, waving a switchblade at him.

Recoil in horror at the true face of crime

“Your move punk” the boy said, and took a long, overhand swing at the muggers head.  He missed by a mile, and the dude stabbed him in the elbow.  Like, right in the bony part where the knob sits and makes your arm bend.  It really hurt.  The boy cried out in pain and dropped to the pavement.  Just like his parents must have when they were shot for being in the wrong place (in front of those bullets) at the wrong time (when they were fired).

“Father…” he wept at the uncaring sky, cradling his bloody elbow while the street punk helped himself to some cash.  “Forgive me…”

He went through two surgeries to repair his tendons and a further eight months of physical therapy.  He was laid off from his job at the pizza warehouse as he couldn’t meet the physical demands of the job.  The sacrifice was worth it.

He didn’t ever go back to crime fighting, but he felt like the effort had made his father proud.  He won his victories against crime where he could.  He didn’t give his change to the homeless anymore and when the policeman’s association would call for donations, he would only half-heartedly tell them to go fuck themselves.  He was healing.  He was better.

He just wasn’t The Batman.

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