Triptych: Blind Justice

By

Tracey Claybon

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This is the first story in a trilogy.

From the Merriam-Webster online dictionary:

Main Entry: trip·tych

Pronunciation: 'trip-(")tik

Function: noun

Etymology: Greek triptychos having three folds, from tri- + ptychE fold

Date: 1731

1 : an ancient Roman writing tablet with three waxed leaves hinged together

2 a : a picture (as an altarpiece) or carving in three panels side by side

b : something composed or presented in three parts or sections; especially : TRILOGY



This is a set of stories in chronological order. All three deal with supporting characters for Batman in a Shadow of the Bat/Gotham Knights style. Story one mostly takes place during Batman's first year as the Dark Knight and is from Mackenzie "Hardback" Bock's viewpoint before he joined the GCPD; story two is from Year Five, when Barbara Gordon was still Batgirl and is from Jim Gordon's POV; story three takes place during Cataclysm and the NML and concerns how Renee Montoya sees Batman and Two- Face/Harvey Dent.

Virtual cream cheese brownies to anyone who can name the SotB issues for the characters I'm referring to in the story!

The Robert Frost poem quoted here, _The Road Not Taken_ is used without permission.

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Hardback remembered that day like it was yesterday.

He had been so very tired that night, but was thinking of the major English exams at the end of the week and the collegiate entrance exams he was to take the next day - he couldn't forget how hot it was, how heavy the books were in his aching arms - he'd spent most of that night stocking shelves and waiting on customers, only getting to study during his lunch break and the two 15-minute breaks Sam Morgan, the manager of Harrison's Hardware, made sure he took every night.

Morgan also made sure he left in plenty of time to get home safely and study at night. Morgan genuinely liked Mac and wanted to see him make something out of himself

That week had been particularly busy due to the Black Cat Killer - racial tensions were high and people wanted items to reinforce their homes, or make repairs so that burglars wouldn't find so many weaknesses to exploit.

During that day he saw both the Wendels, an older couple in the community who had always watched out for him in the neighborhood, and Sarge, the WWII vet who lived in the house on Mayfair and Finger* who'd been there forever and always had a kind word for Mac, and all the others he considered "his kids."

All the people from the neighborhood he knew were worried - the racial tension in town was so thick, you could cut it with a butter knife. Mac wasn't too concerned for himself - most of the neighborhood knew him well as a quiet kid, well behaved and always willing to help if someone needed it. Tonight, though, Sam told him to leave a bit early so he could get a good night's sleep. He was reciting a Robert Frost poem quietly to himself:

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that, the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

Just as he reached the end of Mayfair Street, where it turned into the area known as Crime Alley, Mac felt like he was being watched. By the time he had practically run through Crime Alley, he KNEW he was being followed. He could hear the taunts and crude, cruel laughter echoing around the buildings, and as he quickly walked toward the relative safety of the streetlights near the decrepit wreck of a once-beautiful old building that housed a movie theater, Mac finally spotted his pursuers.

It was a group of young white males, about eight in number. He saw that one was carrying a length of heavy chain and another held a baseball bat with a odd profile; it looked as if someone had driven nails, point-end out, into the bat. All of the young men except two(wearing punk spikes) wore cropped to the scalp hair, shorter than his own close-shaven curls, and upon seeing this, Mac's knees went to jelly - he recognized what these punks were.

The mayor's talk about "keeping those people in their place" just that week had resulted in a KKK and neo-Nazi skinhead rally in town in the last week to "support" the mayor's efforts.

The citizens of Gotham had mostly sent the Klan and the skinheads packing, but there had been isolated groups of mostly dropouts and other ne'er-do- wells from town that had stayed to listen to them spout their spiel of hatred and intolerance.

This pack of skinheads was obviously looking for a victim, and they picked HIM.

They caught up with him just after the Alley, talking about how they were going to "skin me a Black Cat" and "what you doing out this late at night, boy?"

Mac tried to back away from the trouble - one against eight odds were bad enough even if it was only fists, and it was worse when some of the eight carried weapons. - but his back was literally against the wall.

A lash of the chain set his right hand on fire with pain, as the notebook he'd been carrying went flying, scattering paper everywhere. But, before that chain could inflict any more damage, the shadows grew and formed themselves into the form of the Batman, who caught the chain and tossed it - with its wielder - into a rusty barbed wire and chain link fence that was mostly barbed wire behind where he'd materialized seemingly from nowhere. The man (boy, really) with the green spikes and the studded baseball bat tried to swing at the Batman and ended up with a bat in three pieces and an arm to match. Mac got in a few good punches, himself, and shortly only the Batman and Mac were still standing.

An long stare from the Batman sent the ragged remnants of the little skinhead gang scurrying away to nurse their wounds and escape.

Mac was thrilled - instead of getting pounded, he'd been saved by the Gotham growing legend. He turned to thank the Batman, but was only in time to see him fade into the shadows of the night, like a shadow himself.

Mac stood there, amazed, a few minutes longer. He'd had enough time to see that the Batman was obviously a white man - but a white man, like Sarge and like Sam Morgan, who felt that his life was worth something and that his life and honor were worth defending. To the Batman, justice was blind - it didn't see color, just injustice.

He realized right then that he wanted to do that for others in Gotham and the community as a whole - help to dispense justice, evenly to all, without regard to race, religion, creed, language, or any other arbiter except the one that said that all Americans should have equal recourse to the law.

And, because of that night, Mac decided that the best way for him to do that - after he graduated his classes - was to enlist, learn all the military could teach him, then take that knowledge back to Gotham City and serve her as an officer of the law.

"… and that's what started me down the road to becoming a detective, Renee. I never forgot what the Batman did for me that night, and I've always tried to hold it up as an example of what I want to be in my brightest moments as a officer of the law," Hardback said.

"Now, you promised, Jim. Your turn to 'fess up about YOUR first meeting with the Bat..."

The three talked animatedly on, as the skies outside grew crimson and rose pink, in anticipation of the shadows of the night ahead...

FIN, Part One.