I don't own them, bla bla bla.

Not my best, but damnit, I'm really bored today at work.

A Night Out

Thursday night had started out spectacularly. I had coaxed my wife Dana away from the horrible mystery novel she had been reading for the last two weeks and convinced her to come on a date with her 'ball and chain'. My son was safely tucked away in his dormitory at Brentwood—I know, I called to check. I didn't like surprises. I was sure he was a good kid at heart. Mostly I blamed myself for not being there before he was a teenager, so now all this discipline is a new concept for him (and me) and he's definitely trying to rebel against it. Hence his stay at Brentwood, after his idiotic little trip into No Man's Land. But we were taking a break from thinking about where we went wrong with Tim tonight. We were going to the movies.

The movie itself hadn't been half bad. I'd had to let Dana pick, if I wanted popcorn. My son called me a 'health food nut' but when your wife is a personal trainer, you sort of pick these things up. Child size bag of popcorn, no extra butter. Not all of us could have a seemingly bottomless pit of a stomach, consume all manners of salt, sugar and grease, and still keep all those muscles. I was a bit jelous. I had NEVER seen him pick up a weight, and he looked like that. It must have been his mother's genes, God rest her soul.

Alright, not thinking about Tim. Not thinking about… "What?" I asked.

"Do you want to go out for dessert?" Dana asked.

I laughed a little. "Sure. There's a diner around here, somewhere." I stuffed the remainder of my small bag of popcorn in my pocket, then wrapped her arm around mine. "This is how it should be," I told her in all seriousness. "The fall air blowing by, my 'best girl' by my side, on our way for a milk shake—two straws…"

She swatted at my arm. "We're not in high school," she reminded me. God, what had I been like when I was in high school? Had I been even a fraction as frustrating as Timothy? Not thinking about him tonight…

We walked out of the theatre down on the waterfront and turned onto the main drag. This particular theatre was a multiplex job, and we probably could have stayed inside and ate at one of the shops on the different levels, but it was such a nice night. And the diner I was thinking of was very… moody.

"Well, lets pretend. Just for a few minutes. Forget about work…" And the kid. Forget about how you failed the kid.

"Jack, do you know where we're going?"

I looked around. "Of course I do. It's about a block away, and around the corner." We walked just a little faster. We seemed to be in a block that was… kind of dimly lit. I liked to stick to the areas that were well-lit, especially in this city. I'd been all over the world. Paris and Gotham were two cities you didn't want to fall off the beaten path in. And maybe New York.

"Just around the corner, aye?" she seemed a little bit mad. Well, that didn't bode well if I was going to get any tonight. I'd have to try harder.

We stopped dead in our tracks, coming around the corner. Ok, Jack. Where's the diner?

"Maybe we should have turned left instead of right when we came out of the theatre. But I know it's just--"

There was the ear-shattering sound of gunfire. The sound bounced off the buildings and stabbed into my ears. I pulled Dana close to me.

"Get the bird!" I heard a high-pitched voice squeal. The sound was distant, and it echoed like the gunshots and burned my ears. We had to get out of this side street. I began turning us around, quietly and quickly, only to see the barrel of a gun in my face. "And if you can't get the bird, get some bait. Hello lady and gentleman." The Joker.

"Birdsy!" he called out. "I gots me some hostages! Get down here, boy! PRONTO!" he lowered the gun, and grinned fiendishly. This was what the devil looked like. "Kids today."

"Let them go," a steely voice ordered, and behind the Joker, a short figure dropped down off the roof. "You have me, now let them go." The bird the Joker had been talking about was Robin. The urban legend. You know, the one I don't believe in.

I couldn't see his face… but God, he sounded like Timothy. If I couldn't see his face, he couldn't see mine… and Dana was pulled behind me.

"Or you'll WHAT?"

"Batman will be here soon. You know that as well as I do. Save yourself the trouble." ItwasntTimitwasntTim…pleasedontletitbeTim… "You want Robin, you've got Robin. No need to get other people involved."

The Joker's grin widened and the gun raised to my head. "Or I can kill the 'innocents', still get the birdy where I want him. Why just kill the bird when you can kill other people too?"

Well, couldn't argue with THAT logic, now could I? I was dead. Dana and I were both dead. And I was hallucinating that the urban legend sounded like my son.

It all happened light lightening flashing. Just a blur, then the smoke rising, as if off a burnt tree. Suddenly, a sea of black, a shadow with substance came down and landed on him. The gun never fired. Dana clutched on to my arm so tightly I thought it would break.

The black shadow had the joker on the ground, and overtop his body, I could see a wide-eyed 'birdy'. Without warning, the trance broke, and Robin was gone. A second after that, the Bat was gone.

I turned back to Dana, and we both stared at each other with wide, vacant eyes. "That boy is so dead," I muttered finally.