A Day in the life...

The continuing Journal of Amy Rohrbach

DEAF EARS

Chocolate! NO, Double Choco-Chocolate Chip with peanuts and whip cream. And don't give me that hardening of the arteries spiel. I have come to the conclusion that I will die of a massive coronary before the rookie is off his first year's probation.

The day started quiet.  Hell, the last week had been a real snooze.  The highlight of my week was when we stopped to eat on Monday. We went to this dive called the Six o' Clubs Diner, and Dick Grayson (the rookie) introduced me to the waitress and her 6 year old daughter Andrea.

Andy, as he called her, is both deaf and mute. According to her mom, Margie, the child had been somewhat of a recluse until she met Officer Grayson.  I smiled as I told her he has that effect on a lot of women. She laughed.

When I asked how they met, she told me that he had said hello to her daughter one day while she was sitting alone on the curb.

 "Ever the protective mom, I came running from the laundry room, yelling at him to leave her alone. He just smiled and introduced himself. He told me that someone had told him there was a little deaf girl that lived in this housing development and they thought he might know someone who could help her. I don't know who would even know since we had just recently moved here and had not even enrolled her in school yet." Margie flinched, as if there were more to the story of her daughter not being in school, but I didn't push it. I have seen enough in my career to recognize the fear of the system. I have seen my share of single, low-income parents with handicap children that have had their children taken from them for the child's good. It's not always for the best, but sometimes it is.

 She cleared her throat and continued.

"He gave me a phone number of a clinic in Gotham and said that when I was ready, I should call it.  The Doctor would schedule time to come out to the house and give her a complete check up, and based on her diagnosis she will start treating her.  If her hearing problem cannot be reversed she can still learn to speak. I wasn't sure it was a good idea. I didn't like the thought of her being teased by others cause she was different."

" I thought a long time before I made the call," She continued, "But some…one told me I was being selfish not giving her a chance for some normalcy, so I called. The test said she was born deaf, which I had thought as much." "Her father beat me the day she was born, causing her to be born a little early. The doctors wanted to do tests but I couldn't stay in the same town for fear her father would make good on his threat and kill 'his little bastard child.'"

After hearing her say those words, I remember needing to go beat the crap out of a couple of men just for the hell of it. Andy was a beautiful little girl who seemed well-taken care of. Margie said that I would not have known that same little girl if I had met her a couple of weeks ago. "Good to his word the day after the Doctors appointment the doctor came back with the results and Allison, a student a Gotham University and our tutor."

Margie continued, "I told her I didn't take hand outs and she told me it was not a hand out. By letting Allison teach us she was getting credit for her degree in teaching. And once a week I would be picked up and taken to her clinic to help with filing and some cleaning.  Dick also got me the job here. Imagine my shock when I found out he was a cop here in Bludhaven. NO offense." She defended.

"None taken," I assured her.

"Just look at her now. That's my little girl," she shined. I looked over to find the little girl and my rookie in deep conversation with their hands. I didn't know he even knew sign language. When I confronted him with it later that night he said he also spoke some Spanish, some French, some German, some Italian, and Rom. "You can't be raised in a circus without knowing or learning a little of all of it."

 Margie told me she had some problems with her landlord after he found out Andy had a tutor. He was all set to toss them out of their one room apartment in the Baxter Building on 5th, because he believed if they could finance a tutor then they can afford to pay him more.

 I can assure you that place isn't worth what anyone is paying now. Not to say that the Baxter building was a slum area but most of the kids have pet rats the size of Pit bull dogs.  It seems nothing ever came of the incident with the landlord. Even though the doctor and Margie waited all day to explain to him how she could have a tutor without a large income. In fact, Margie said the landlord hasn't even returned to pick up this months rent.

We had been chatting at the table for nearly an hour when the baby-sitter, Dana, came by to picked Andy up to take her home. Seems my partner found this angel of mercy as well.  The story I got there was Dana and her little girl Tanya where living in the street after her husband was killed in an automobile accident and they lost their apartment. Not such and unusual story here in Bludhaven. Dick got them an apartment in the same building on the top floor. So she picks up five of the apartment kids after school and takes them to her home.  Now five of the tenants have a baby-sitter and a way to get better paying job, and Dana has an income, a place to stay, as well as money to buy essentials.

Yep, that's my partner: two sides of a very complex coin, both lamb and lion. Either way he was never looking for the glory like most of the department, he really did just want to help others. I guess that is why he did what he did last shift.

The call came in as a fire on Fifth Street. I didn't recognized address until the rookie executed a perfect 180 in the middle of six pm rush hour traffic, and we pulled up on the Baxter building 3 minutes later.

Margie ran up to us as soon as we got there; the building looked like it was really cooking. Tears were streaming from her desperate eyes as she told us that Andy was still in the building. Dick folded the hysterical woman in his arms as I relayed the information to the fire chief, who said that he was sorry to hear that, but he was pulling all of his men out now. Next thing I knew my partner was heading up the front steps into the engulfed building that fire fighters were fleeing from.

 I guess it was my sense of responsibility 'cause I know it wasn't common sense that took over me, but I found myself hot on his heels and I do mean 'hot'. He was taking the stairs two and three steps at a time. I really believe that he could have gone faster if I wasn't behind him, he kept looking back at me. The third floor was just starting to cook, the sitter apartment was on the fifth and Margie's was on the fourth.

 According to the sitter, Andy was with them when she and the other children were heading down the back stairs, also known as the fire escape. But when they reached the bottom she was gone…Tanya said she let go of her hand at the forth floor. She tried to call her mom but figured she couldn't hear her. At least we had a clue now; the fourth floor meant that she was probably heading to her apartment. Unfortunately the smoke from the fire was quickly making its way through that area. I couldn't see my hands in front of my face, but I could hear what sounded like things collapsing all around us.

Dick pulled me to the floor as we reached Margie's apartment. I called out to her, totally forgetting she was deaf until he reminded me. Mother's instinct I guess. My partner led me around the room by following the walls. We found her hiding in the bathroom tub; she was cradling a small kitten in her hands.

The smoke had barely started to penetrate the small room until we opened the door and it fallowed us in like a thief. I was coughing like an eighty-year-old smoker with a cold by the time we found her. Grayson didn't even seem to be effected by the deadly fumes. He tucked the kitten into my jacket, put wet towels around our noses and mouths, and led Andy and me back out to the smoke filled living area to the only window in the apartment as if he had done this rescue thing all his life. Then with out a thought he tossed a dining room chair out the window.

As soon as the window broke the smoke seemed to get thicker and the fire hotter. Grayson helped us out on to the ledge of the dilapidated old building and held onto us as smoke billowed from were he stood in the window frame.  To my surprise and luck the chair managed to get the attention of the firefighters, and we weren't there long before the ladder truck quickly moved under the window. A firefighter quickly took the frighten child and began down the ladder.

 By now the smoke was getting to Dick. He pushed me further out the window onto the crumbling ledge. The old ledge would have not held the total of our weight so he remained in the window. I couldn't stop coughing so he held on to me until the next firefighter grabbed me. He no sooner had me than I heard someone yell out it "was going!" I looked down to see the third floor turn pitch black with an eerie organic red glow, and then suddenly it exploded. Someone said later it almost looked as the whole top half of the building popped up and landed back down on the columns.

I never noticed hitting the bottom of the ladder, hell I don't remember anything but the sound of glass shattering and the pelting of debris. The firefighter clung to me as the ladder rocked back and forth. I was sure it was going to be blown off its moorings. Dick was nowhere to be seen as flames shot from the window were he stood just moments before. I just recall the Chief and two other officers holding me back as I struggled to get up and go back to the building. They apologized for my loss but there was nothing more anyone could do. I remember the chief saying, "He's in the hands of God now." Funny, when this whole thing started I wouldn't have believed this man knew God.

I stared back at the building, watching as flames broke threw the roof and most of the windows. The water pressure was low in this area so what little water hit the building quickly evaporated into a white smoke. Margie and Andy came running to my side. One look in their tear filled eyes reality hit and I fell apart. God, I felt helpless.

I knew an old woman who once told me that if you stare into the heart of a fire long enough you will seed the devil himself emerge from the flames. She was right! I stared blankly at the inferno that now seem to swallowed up the building and I saw him appear, his blackened body silhouetted by the blaze. His horns were standing prominently on either side of his head.

Then as he got closer, or my head cleared, I noticed it was not the Lucifer of the Bible stories but the self- proclaimed protector of Gotham.

My stupor was broken through by the sound of medics rummaging thru their equipment behind me.

"Tommy! Grab the O2 unit and the burn kit," one of them ordered, "I have the drug box."

"Right behind you, dude." Tommy responded. "Batman in Bludhaven, How cool is that.  Stations 22 ain't ever going to believe this."

"Yea," the other medic returned "That is one lucky cop."

It was the word cop that sent me reeling. I finally realized that Batman had been carrying something under his cape, my wayward partner.

I rushed to his side. He was unconscious, but alive. His face was covered in soot and a bit red, and his hands were slightly blistered, but other than that he seemed unharmed. Tommy was placing an O2 mask over his face when he confirmed he was Ok by hacking up some of the smoke he swallowed.

I stood up to thank the Dark Knight, only to find not only was he gone, but no one saw him leave. So I return to my duties as a training officer and began reaming out my young partner. Not for going in the building, I'm sure the Chief of the FD will get with Redhorn and do that the day he gets back on duty. No, he scared the crap out of me … again. I had more gray hair since the day he became my partner than I ever had before. I ranted and stuttered; hem and hawed; then started ranting all over again.

 He fought with the paramedics about his need for the O2 mask; he kept pulling it off saying he was fine. They kept putting it on and saying let the doctors decide. Didn't matter, it just gave me more to bark about. Then next thing I knew Andy, the little girl who had been our reason for going in to the inferno, came up beside me, moving everyone out of the way to hug "our hero".  Margie and I watched as the hug finally broke into a lot of hand signs.

"She wants to know if the kitten is ok," Dick interpreted.

I had forgotten all about the kitten. To be honest I was a little afraid to find out with the little girl standing there, but as soon as I unzipped my jacket a beautiful set of eyes, one blue and one gray peered out at her and mewed.  Andy quickly extracted the critter and after it suffered through the child's loving hug it got passed back to me. And the hands began to fly again. Dick interpreted again. "She said she is sorry for causing so much trouble but she had to go find Grayson the Cat."

Dick then interpreted his own words as he replied. "I know Grayson is special to you but you must never, for any reason, leave the one who is caring for you. Whether it is your mom, miss Leslie, Allison, Dana or even your teachers at school. You could have been hurt or worse then what would we have done."

She apologized

"Yea!" I interrupted her "I accept her apology …but Rookie your not getting off that easy!"

And again Andy's hands broke out in words.

 Dick began to snicker then looked up at me, and he and Margie broke out in a full belly laugh, which for him lead to a cough, then both. When she could finally talk Margie interpreted. "She said she was really sorry she got him in trouble and that she was certain he was in big trouble 'cause you are yelling loud enough to wake the deaf."

Grayson will be back on duty in the morning. He got a clean bill of health about 15 minutes after he got to the hospital, but we were made to stay over night for observation, and the hero got another day off afterwards. Since they don't allow yelling in the hospital, I have spent the night brooding over this damned Diary and that bowl of ice cream. I even talked to my husband about what happened.  All he could seem to say is …. "BATMAN WAS THERE?"... MEN !!! URRRRRRRGHHH.

I guess in the long run, Dick just did what he had to do. I don't know what I would do if anything like that had happened to my family. It's nice to know that someone like him is around, heaven forbid it should come to that; still I will be damned if I am going to let him get off that easy. Not that he would ever listen… I may not know sign language but I do know when my words are falling on deaf ears.