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Disclaimer: Me? I'm not assuming anything! Don't be silly, of course I don't own Bruce Wayne. Although I may be daring enough to claim some small ownership to Tim...on second thought, nix that. I don't own any of them.

Dolphins and Bats

by RRP



“Hey, Rich boy. Whatcha still doing here?” The taunt echoes down the hall, causing several to laugh. I watch the object of their teasing stride towards the security offices, away from them; jaw set, eyes hard. The sweepers are acting like moronic first graders, and I suddenly wish I didn’t insist that Sam tell me how he knew Bruce Wayne.

I knew the billion-dollar doofus owned the Aquarium, but I always assumed it was just because the man liked fish. I guess that’s what he wanted people to think. And I think I just blew his cover to half the people in Blue Cove- considering half the people in Blue Cove are Sweepers or Cleaners at the Centre.

It all started as a normal evening- I left the Centre with some snapped words to Broots and Syd, and drove home. I made myself a small dinner (contrary to popular belief, I can cook) and ate in silence. (No, really. I sat there and talked to myself.) I was getting ready to read before I went to bed when the phone rang. I answered it with my usual, “What?”. There was a sniffle on the other end.

“M…Miss Parker?” I nearly jumped out of my skin. It was Debbie Broots. And I didn’t have a single clue to why she would be calling me at nine in the evening.

“Something wrong, Debbie?” How the hell do I do it? Manage to sound so caring and nice around her. Some maternal instinct, I guess. I resisted the urge to shudder.

“Do you know where my Dad is? He said he’d be home at six.” Something deep inside of me said uh-oh big time. Broots walked out of the Centre at the same time I did- an unusually early five forty-five.

“He left the Centre when I did, Debbie. He’s not home yet?” And with her answer, I was decided. Broots might be an idiot sometimes, but he’s not careless- especially when it comes to Debbie. Something was really wrong, so I hopped in my Spyder, and gunned it. Debbie spent the night at my house, and when Lyle called the next morning at four something (he’s worse than Jarod sometimes, really) demanding that I come in to see about a explosion in the Centre’s employee car garage, my heart sank.

I called Sam, and he agreed to come over, without asking questions or arguing, just saying ‘Yes, Miss Parker’ like he always does. I hung up, and woke up Debbie. Sam arrived about half an hour later, and I hastily explained. He simply nodded, and I left him with Debbie.

Outside, it was a bit cold for a summer morning, but I could live with it. Next to my Spyder in the driveway sat a sleek black Thunderbird, and I raised an eyebrow. I didn’t think we paid Sweepers that much money.

It wasn’t until around noon that day that I had all the answers- Broots had again been with Jarod, the bomb had gone off but he hadn’t been in the car, and the bomb wasn’t even meant for him. Things in the Centre get really messed up sometimes. Jarod found the bomber, sent him off to jail, and everything was fine and dandy. (Turns out, the bomb was supposed to be in the car of some Sweeper- old grudge or something.) Broots was shaken up, but okay, so I threw him in my car and called Sam. He answered, but when I told him who it was and when I’d be back, he paused and then his voice sounded a bit funny.

Then, I pulled into my driveway. The Thunderbird was still there, but the house was empty. Broots was again a nervous wreck, and I stood on the front porch wondering what to do. That’s when the limo pulled up. I could barely see through the windshield, just enough to tell that it was an older man. The doors opened, and Sam and a familiar looking man stepped out.

Debbie was flying into her dad’s arms a second later, babbling about a dolphin or something. Sam was standing there, looking a bit worried. Then the familiar looking guy introduced himself to Broots. I was too busy trying to figure out what the hell was up with Sam to listen to the introduction. Then, he was standing in front of me.

He knew my name, and I assumed Sam had told him, but I gave him the cold shoulder. His next words hit me like a freight train.

“Bruce Wayne.” I knew I had seen him before, I just knew it! His face has been across all the papers in America. I managed to shake his hand without looking like a complete fool, and then he strode back over to the limo.

“Sam, want a lift?”

“Sure, Bruce.” Sam shrugged, and climbed into the limo, and I was standing there trying to figure out what exactly had just happened. Sam, my Sweeper, was on first name terms with the world-wide known billionaire. He tossed the keys to the Thunderbird to a teen I hadn’t noticed before, and the kid pulled a hot-shot Olympic move over the roof of the car.

When we had our wits gathered, (sometime after the limo and Thunderbird left), I told Broots and Debbie to go inside. With what the man has gone through, I could at least get them something to eat. And I had to call Sydney and have him bring his Lexus around- my Spyder didn’t have enough seats for Broots and Debbie and me.

Back to the present, it’s two days later and I’m still wishing I hadn’t wormed the whole story out of Sam. His parents are millionaires or something up in Gotham, and he grew up with Bruce Wayne. He was sick of being regarded as some lazy, rich moron in Gotham, so he went to college and came here. I pointed out that all he had done was go from a lazy, rich moron to a underpaid one, and he laughed. I don’t think I’ve ever heard Sam laugh before. There’s more than meets the eye to this story. I’m sick of conspiracies.

My cell phone rings, and I answer with, “What?”

“Hello, Miss Parker.” The voice replies. I’m not sure whether to be angry, or melt. He’s getting awfully daring, calling me at work.

“Hello, Jarod.” Is my sarcastic, dry response.

“I found out something interesting yesterday.” He announces. He’s going to make me guess. God, I hate these games! Cool down, Parker. Play along.

“What, Wonderboy? That ice cream does indeed induce brain freeze?”

“Brain freeze?” Ooh! I caught him off guard! Score one for me!

“Headache, genius. What did you discover?” I can almost see him shaking his head to clear thoughts he didn’t intend on having- refocusing and getting on track.

“I’m sure you’ve heard of the billionaire Bruce Wayne-” I cut him off.

“Oh, yeah. I should have mentioned that I dated him in college.”

“You dated him?” Lots of surprise there. He’s really slipping. Either that, or I’m getting better. This may be fun after all.

“I’m joking, Labrat.”

“Would you stop calling me names?” He demands before continuing. “Anyway,” Hey. I don’t think I’ve ever heard him say ‘anyway’ before. I really got him off track there. “There’s a certain member of your team that-”

“Sam.”

“What?” I’m enjoying this far too much. I think I’ve distracted him a total of three times already. That’s a record it’ll take a while to break.

“Sam. I know. I found out the other day when Wayne gave Debbie Broots a baby dolphin.”

“Oh.” Speechless Pretender! Score four for me! If I wasn’t in the Centre, I might actually cheer. “Well, then.” God, he sounds a lot like Sydney when he’s quiet like this. “Uh, Parker?”

“Hmm?” I surprise myself. I didn’t say ‘what’. I wonder what’s wrong with me. I’m being nice to him.

“Never mind. It was a stupid idea.”

“What?” I persist. Call me crazy, but I want to know what’s going on inside that head of his.

“I dunno. I thought maybe we could meet somewhere, talk for a while. Like we used to.” Uh-oh. Now what do I say? I don’t want to hurt him, but I don’t want to get hurt either. Ah, what the hell. Since when have I been one to not take risks?

“Where?”

“What?” He’s surprised again. I don’t think he was expecting me to say yes. I ask again.

“Where?”

“Um…how about the Aquarium? I think it’s pretty safe.” I dunno, Wonderboy. The Centre may have spies there to see if the sharks have high IQ’s.

“Mmk.” I’ll remember the Aquarium, but I scribble something else down on a piece of paper, just in case any one is watching.

“Saturday. Two PM.” He continues, and I can sense excitement in his voice. I know he’s going to be wary as hell, but he’ll come.

“Great. Seven, tomorrow.” I reply. I hope Wonderboy’s smart enough to figure out what I’m doing. “No, Jack. The names are just an old joke from work. See you then.” I hang up, with an understanding, ‘Ohh…” Coming from Jarod just before I do so. I love playing with his mind.

There’s a knock on the door, then Broots ducks in, looking worried as he always does. He puts some papers on my desk, just routine reports, and stands there for a minute as if working up courage to say something.

“Um, I wanna thank you for taking care of Debbie…” He finally stammers. I raise an eyebrow and reply.

“Don’t you think you should be directing that to Sam?”

“Well, if it wasn’t for you she would have been at the house by herself at that time.” Broots says, the logic of the statement ringing true. “I guess I’ll see you later today…” He nods, and backs out of the room. I swear. Did I actually just hear him squeak in the hall?

A clang from behind my chair startles me, and I whirl around to see the air vent duct pop off the wall, and Angelo crawl out. We sit there, looking at each other for a moment- me startled, and him studying me.

“Wayne has much hurt.” He finally speaks. I blink. “Wayne is the Dark Knight. Wayne is the Dark Knight.” How come when Angelo has these little revelations, I suddenly get the feeling that my life may be in danger?

“What are you talking about Angelo?” Who the hell is ‘Dark Knight’? Or, what? Angelo’s pacing now, rubbing his chin with one hand.

“Wayne is the Dark Knight.” He repeats. Angelo stops pacing, leans close, and whispers in my ear. “Bruce Wayne is the Batman.”

I don’t know what to do or say- Angelo’s rarely ever wrong, and I know that he’s never actually seen much of the world outside the Centre. How did he know about that old Gotham legend, then? Batman’s not even supposed to exist. It’s supposed to be some kid’s tale that they tell around Gotham to scare the would-be criminals. But Angelo persists, saying it again. “Bruce Wayne is the Batman.” And just like that, he’s gone. Disappeared, and I can hear the faint clink rattling in the air ducts as he flees.

Now I’m curious, and I’ve got to ask someone. Within half an hour, Sam’s agreed to meet me outside the Centre in the parking lot. I stand by my Spyder, waiting for him to appear. I spot him, but don’t say anything until he’s standing next to me.

“Angelo’s been acting up, babbling something about bats. You grew up in Gotham. Does the Batman actually exist, or did our resident empath get his hands on some old comic books?” A flicker of apprehension lights in Sam’s eyes, then is gone.

“I’ve never seen him,” He stammers. “But I’ve heard enough stories. I think he exists.” Sometimes, Sam is as easy to read as an open book. He’s lying, and I can see straight through him. I’ll take it a step further.

“Oh, I forgot to mention that for some reason Angelo thinks Bruce Wayne is the Batman.” The flicker lasts a little longer this time, panic and surprise mixed in with the apprehension.

“That’s…that’s insane.” He mutters, looking down at his shoes. I move in for the kill. I’m dangerously close to his face, and I think he’s starting to sweat.

“Is it? Don’t lie to me, Sam. I don’t like to be lied to.”

“Miss Parker…” God! He sounds like Lyle when he whines. “I’ve known Bruce since I was five. There isn’t a thing about him that I don’t know. This is just insane.”

“The idea that Wayne is Batman, or the fact that Angelo figured him out?” The flicker evolves into a full deer-caught-in-headlights look, and I turn and stalk away, satisfied with my answer. Sam is standing behind me by my car, hands at his sides, horrified look on his face. I sneak a look back, and see him fumbling with his cell phone. I think I just scared the Sweeper.

I’m having an okay day after all.











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