It’s the middle of the night. And the sky is glowing like mad radioactive red. And if you squint, you could maybe see the moon through a thick layer of cigarette smoke and airplane exhaust that covers the entire city like mosquito net that won’t let the angels in.
And if you look up high enough you could see me-standing on the edge of a eighty seven story building.
And up there-a place for gargoyles and broken clock towers that have stayed still and dead for maybe like a hundred years-up there is me.
And I’m freakin Batman.
And I gots Bat-mobiles and Bat-a-rangs and freakin Bat-caves like for real, and all it takes is a broom closet or a back room or a fire escape and Danny’s hand-me-down jeans are gone.
And my navy blue polo shirt? –
The one that looks kinda good on me but has a hole on it near the butt from when it got snagged on the chain linked fence behind Arturo’s but it isn’t even a big deal cause I tuck that part in and its like all good? –
-that blue polo shirt? –
- It’s gone too. And I get like, like transformation-al.
And nobody pulls out a belt and whips Batman for talking back –
-Or for not talking back –
And nobody calls Batman simple –
- Or stupid –
- Or skinny –
- And nobody fires Batman’s brother from the Eastern Taxi Company ‘cause they was making cutbacks, neither, ‘cause they got nothing but respect, and not like afraid-respect. Just like respect-respect. ‘Cause nobody’s afraid of you.
Cause Batman doesn’t mean nobody harm.
Cause all Batman really wants to do is save people and maybe pay Abuela’s bills one day and die happy and maybe get like mad famous. For real.
…And kill the Joker.
Tonight, like most nights, I’m all alone. And I’m watching…And I’m waiting…
Like a eagle. Or like a –no, yea, like a eagle.
And my cape is flappin’ in the wind (‘cause it’s freakin’ long), and my pointy ears are on, and that mask that covers like half my face is on too, and I got like bulletproof stuff all in my chest so no one could hurt me and nobody – nobody – is gonna come between Batman,
From where I am I could hear everything.
Somewhere in the city there’s a old lady picking Styrofoam leftovers up outta a trash can and she’s putting a piece of sesame chicken someone spit out into her own mouth.
And somewhere there’s a doctor with a whack haircut in a black lab coat trying to find a cure for the diseases that are gonna make us all extinct for real one day.
And somewhere there’s a man, a man in a janitor’s uniform, stumbling home drunck and dizzy after spending half his paycheck on forty-ounce bottles of twist-off beer and the other half on a four hour visit to some lady’s house on a street where the lights have all been shot out by people who’d rather do what they do, in this city, in the dark.
And half a block away from JanitorMan there’s a group of good-for-nothings who don’t know no better waiting to beat JanitorMan with rusted bicycle chains and imitation Lousiville Sluggers, and if they don’t find a cent on him – which they won’t – they’ll just pound at him till the muscles in their arms start burning, till there’s no more teeth to crack out.
But they don’t count on me.
They don’t count on no dark night (with a stomach full of grocery store brand macaroni-and-cheese and cut up Vienna sausages),
Cause they’d rather believe I don’t exist,
And from eighty-seven stories up I could hear one of the good-for-nothings say “Gimmethecash” real fast (like that) just “Gimmethefuckingcash” and I see JAnitorMan mumble something in drunk language and turn pale and from eighty-seven stories up I could hear his stomach trying to hurl its way out of his Dickies.
So I swoop down like and fast and I’m like darkness. I’m like SWOOSH –
- And I throw a Bat-a-rang at the one naked lightbulb –
- And they’re all like “whoa-motherfucker-who-just-turned-out-the-lights?” –
(Silence. The BOY breathes, re-enacting their fear)
“What’s that over there?” –
- “Gimme whatchou got old man” –
- “Did anybody hear that?!” –
- “No, really” –
- “There ain’t. No. Bat.” –
But then –
- One out of three good-for-nothings gets it to the head!
And number Two swings blindly into the dark cape before him but before his fist hits anything I grab a trash can lid and –
-- Right into the gut, and number One comes back with a jump-kick but I know judo-karate too so I’m like –
-- Twice –
-- but before I can do any more damage suddenly we all hear a CLIC – CLIC –
And suddenly everything gets quiet
And the one good-for-nothing left standing grips a handgun and aims straight up, like he’s holding Jesus hostage, like he’s threatening maybe to blow a hole in the moon.
And the good-for-nothing who got it to the head who tried to jump=kick me and the other good-for-nothing who got it in the gut is both scrambling back away from the dark figure before him.
And the drunk man the JanitorMan is huddled in a corner, praying to Saint Anthony ‘cause that’s the only one he could remember.
And there’s me,
Eyes glowing white, cape blowing softly in the wind.
Bulletporoof chest heaving. My heart beating right through it in a Morse code for “fuck with me, just once, come on, just try.”
And the one good-for-nothing left standing, the one with the handgun, he laughs he lowers his arm, and he points it at me and gives the moon a break, and he aims it right between my pointy ears, like goalposts and he’s special teams.
And JanitorMan is still calling Saint Anthony but he ain’t pickin’ up,
And for a second it seems like…maybe I’m gonna lose.
SHOO – SHOO! FUACATA! –
--“Don’t kill me man!” –
--Wrist CRACK –
--Skin – meets – acid –
And he’s on the floor. And I’m standing over him. And I got the gun in MY hands now. And I hate guns, I hate holding ‘em cause I’m Batman, and –
ASTERICKS: Batman don’t like guns ‘cause his parents got iced by guns a long time ago – but for just a second, my eyes glow white, and I hold this thing, for I could speak to the good-for-nothing in a language he maybe understands,
…CLIC – CLIC…
And the good-for-nothings become good-for-disappearing into whatever toxic-waste-chemical-sludge-shit-hole they crawled out of.
And it’s just me and JanitorMan.
And I pick him up.
And I wipe sweat and cheap perfume off his forehead.
And he begs me not to hurt him and I grab him tight by his JanitorMan shirt collar and I pull him to my face, and he’s taller than me, but the cape helps so he listens when I look him straight in the eyes and I say two words to him:
And he does, checking behind his shoulder every ten feet.
And I SWOOSH from building to building on his way there, ‘cause I know where he lives. And I watch his hands where he lives. And I watch his hands tremble as he pulls out his keychain and opens the door to his building.
And I’m back in bed before he even walks in through the front door.
And I hear him turn on the faucet and pour himself a glass of warm tap water
And he puts the glass back in the sink.
And I hear his footsteps,
And they get slower as they get to my room.
And he creaks my door open like mad slow.
And he takes a step in, which he never does.
And he’s staring off into nowhere, his face the color of sidewalks in summer, and I act like I’m just waking up, and I say,
“What’s up, Pop?”
And JanitorMan says nothing to me.
But I see, in the dark, I see his arms go limp and his head turns back, like towards me, and he lifts it for I could see his face,
For I could see his eyes,
And his cheeks is dripping but not with sweat.
And he just stands there, breathing, like he remembers my eyes glowing white.
Like he remembers my bulletproof chest.
Like he remembers he’s my pop.
And for a long time I don’t say nothing.
And he turns around, hand on the doorknob, and he ain’t looking up my way but I hear him mumble two words to me.
(A pause, the BOY is suddenly strong again.)
And I lean over and open my window just a crack.
…If you look up high enough you could see me.
And from where I am? ... I could hear everything.