‘The funny thing about life is that we believe that moving on from bitter memories helps build character and helps achieve true greatness, but it isn’t really about moving on, Mr. Wayne, it is about remembering the causes that led to that bitterness and learning how to circumvent it, if the same chain of events were to come our way again,’ said Fox to Bruce, as they hung out the former’s bar at Florence.
The sun had long kissed the earth and the shutters of Le Fox Hole also had touched the cold floor. However, as an ode or as a practice from days of yore, the two partners of yesteryears met behind closed doors and discussed on matters of the long past that now tormented the rusty Knight of Gotham.
‘I don’t know, Lucius, Selina told me that moving on from what happened in that alley, years ago, is the only way for me to go about with my life as a normal person – ’ started Bruce, as he sipped a glass of Black Dog. The café was pitch black, save the lone white lamp on the counter, behind which Lucius was perched on a high-raised stool.
The moment Bruce said, “Normal person”, Fox spit out a little of his Guinness and yelled, ‘ – Normal person? Mr. Wayne, oh we crossed that bridge long back. We crossed that bridge the very moment you decided to carry a gun into that courthouse at Gotham. We drifted way past it when you decided to put on the black mask. Look, that memory was what made you the Batman, the Dark Knight, the Savior of Gotham, the Liberator and all those fancy names the people conferred upon on…’
‘…Lucius, Lucius, Lucius, what is more important to you, huh? Family or legacy?’ asked Bruce, moving side to side on his flimsy stool and staring deep into the darkness at the far end of the café. ‘A legacy that no one dares accredit to you? A legacy that has nothing to do with you and a legacy that comes with a heavy burden?’
‘Well, I want to say three things to you now, Mr. Wayne. One, you need to put that drink down and sober up. I don’t want Selina yelling at me at cockcrow. Two, I don’t know what it is like to have a family, so if you want to talk about family stuff, then I suggest you go to a different bar. Three, “heavy burden”? What do you mean heavy burden? Gotham is safe at the hands of Blake…’ said Lucius in his unwavering voice, as he stared at Bruce with his piercing eyes.
‘…Lucius, the Batman isn’t Bruce Wayne. If it were my legacy, then it would die with me. The Batman was meant to be a symbol, not attributed to me…’
‘…And so it is. You aren’t the Batman anymore! Nobody knows that you were once the Caped Crusader! I mean, Blake is the Batman now and he will sure step down when the times comes…’
‘…It is really hard to get over…to move on. I still want to be the Batman, the Dark Knight, the Liberator…all of that. It is hard not being the Batman, Lucius. Yes, I did it to help people, but it was me who was helping them. I felt pride in doing what I did. I liked that attention. Sure, they didn’t know that it was Bruce Wayne, but I was always more Batman than Bruce. But I gave up being the Batman, I gave up my identity…I am just a Bruce Wonzniak, a drinker and a father who cannot have his grips over his own son!’ moaned Bruce and threw the glass in his hand at the wall on his left.
The brown eyes of Fox grew closer and looked at Bruce with a sense of wonderment. He put his hand on the table and whispered, ‘Mr. Wayne, you need to calm down. I was just as involved with your vigilante days, but we decided that it was time to move on…’
‘…And that’s my problem, I cannot move on. You know that thing you told about learning to circumvent. Yeah, I learnt that and that’s how I became the Batman! If I give that up, then I’m just a scared, defenceless kid in an alley crying over the bodies of his dead parents! Do you know, there is not a single day that goes by when I think of what I could have done to stop that man from shooting my parents…’
‘Nothing, Mr. Wayne, you could have done nothing,’ interjected Fox sternly.
‘Bullshit!’ yelled Bruce and pushed his stool back at the door. He stood up stern, his eyes moistening and veins popping. ‘I could have saved my parents that night if only I knew how to fight, how to save people, how to punish bad guys. I would have saved my parents if I were the Batman!’ screamed Bruce with ferocity that Fox had never seen before. ‘Now I’m that kid again. I’m not the Batman, I’m fearful, I’m defenseless and I’m a nobody.’
‘Mr. Wayne!’ said Fox angrily, ‘You weren’t “the” Batman, you were just “a” Batman and you gracefully moved on. That’s the truth and you took that decision all by yourself…’
‘…Well, well, well, spoke a little too soon, did we, Mr. Fox?’ said Ostwald, as he chimed the ring on the door and walked inside. ‘Someone seems eager to be the Batman, well, I think I have just the medicine.’