Chapter Three: GOOD GOD, WOMAN!
Bruce figured it out. Diana must have known that Bruce was cringing at the Kent Family's version of "gems of wisdom" as much as she was enjoying it. These days she was showing a mischievous streak (another of Clark's bad influences). It must have seemed too tempting, too hilarious not to turn around and see the stoic Batman going through facial contortions.
Now, when Diana turned towards Bruce's direction and commented on the attractiveness of the view, Superman also turned. The red-and-blue juggernaut nodded in agreement. Normally Bruce had no problem in believing that when folks talked in grand elucidations, they were talking about him; but in this case that meant that Diana and Clark would have had to suddenly come down with a severe case of GOOD TASTE. And Bruce knew better. The dark crusader lowered his binoculars and did an about-face. There, descending the grand staircase that led to the front doors were the children and caretakers. Yes, they looked tattered and disheveled, but even Bruce admitted that their precession was beautiful …. Well, except for the red-clad, shades-wearing idiot behind them.
"Okay, step lively," Pat said. "This is the end of our tour and please don't try to take any souvenirs. We nailed everything down, you know."
Ever the playful ham, Clark said, "Let's give these kids a treat. I'll bet they'll want to see a flying truck."
Bruce spun back around to the duo and agreed that Superman should fly the transport truck the rest of the way.
"If they're going to get a treat, why can't I fly it here, Ug— eh— Superman?"
"Because it takes a certain classy nature to do it with style. And only one of us has that."
"I agree," Diana smiled as they neared the Peacekeepers. "Why then am I not doing it, instead of you?"
Diana playfully used her finger on his chin to flick her partner's face upwards. The Bat-noculars caught it and Bruce found himself smiling.. . for a second.
The powerful twosome was shown the transport truck. Bruce saw Diana and Clark playfully elbowing each other out of the way. He's probably calling her "Hid" now. That will change.
Poor Clark didn't have Bruce's experience. A woman will accept a form of teasing from a friend, but those same words will not be tolerated from a lover. Different playing field, higher standards. After they come into an intimate relationship, if Clark lets that word accidently slip … HOOOO BOOOY!
Seconds later, the children ran onto the front yard with wide eyes, screeches and giggles. The smiling pair—Superman and Wonder Woman— was lowering the truck to the ground. Bruce, still on the porch, reflected again.
They took a long time to secure their best friends status. They knew each other more than just well, so this courtship should be quick. Then after the wedding, poor Clark had better remember to continue courting Diana a weekend per month. A happy wife means a happy life.
And though Clark was going to be graced with the most beautiful and trustworthy of mates, Batman fought back a devilish smile concerning his unfortunate pal. If a normal husband had his fill of his argumentative normal wife, all he had to do is hop into his car and drive for hours. Then he'd return home when he knew she was asleep. Now seriously, is there any fool out there who thinks that Superman could fly to any destination where Wonder Woman couldn't follow?
As Plastic Man walked towards the two powerhouse heroes and the children, a noble figure joined Batman on the portico. In the brief minutes that he spent with the man, Pastor Ernesto Flores had won his respect.
Bruce knew the answer before he asked, "You aren't going with them?"
"Why?" the thin, graying man replied. "I could contribute nothing more. You said that Wayne Enterprises would help put these children into loving foster homes."
While the children were mesmerized by Wonder Woman and Superman, Batman noticed that O'Brian was warily looking at the orange that was still in his hand. The idiot appeared to believe that if he bit into it again, the fruit would extract vengeance once more. As for the other two—the "Super" and "Wonder" monikers be damned. How could their cheek muscles not hurt after showing so much white for so long?
The pastor smiled and brought Bruce's mind back to their conversation. "I appreciate the venture into uncharted venue for the industrial giant. I've enormous confidence that God will guide and bless Mr. Wayne, his workers and the League for your care.
"As for myself, I need, and I want, to stay. There will be more orphans to take care of before the war is over. This is my mission and I would be sorely remiss to compromise my duty."
The pastor continued, "I can lend you two of my helpers to aid in the transition of life for the youngsters, but I and my staff will remain to do the Lord's work."
Bruce knew all this. Despite the physical differences, Bruce felt that, when he looked at the old fellow, he was looking at himself. The mission was their life's goal. Personal safety would have to be put on the shelf until the work was done.
"If you will excuse me, kind sir, I have some good-bye hugs to deliver."
"By all means, Pastor." Bruce replied. Batman saw the children gathered in front of the transport truck's rear gate. The farewells predictably produced outstretched little hands, wailing, and teary eyes.
OH LORD, he said to himself. That dope, Clark, isn't wiping his own eyes, is he? Diana better help the man get a grip. He's an embarrassment.
After seeing more trembling little lips and teary cheeks, Bruce turned away to lift his cowl. The back of his right index finger brushed one eye. Damn, how did dirt manage to get through his eye filter?
Oh, speaking of dirt…. Bruce rushed to the kitchen where Miguel was on his side, wiggling on the floor. The hapless elite guard raised his head as Batman knelt beside him.
"Since you have no qualms about endangering children once, you'll likely do it again. To prevent that from happening, I have no qualms telling the U.N. Peacekeepers that you are a rebel and you have to be returned to your people. Now you can look them in the face and feel the same terror they would have felt if you were in control."
The horrified man's eyes screamed in a decibel point beyond the range of any human voice.
Referring to his plan Batman concluded, "It's a little thing I picked up from a friend."
A pale mist emitted from Batman's gloved fingertips. The fumes found Miguel's nose and the man's head hit the floor again. Batman untied the man and stripped him of his uniform (save his pants). He then put the discarded poncho back on the cruel interrogator. That was how he gained access to the orphanage, so it was fitting that he left the same way.
In seconds, Batman was outside talking to the troops about the "rebel" inside. He then approached the truck that was to carry the children.
Batman was a man of action, not a spectator. Given his respect for the U.N., he found it easy to knife out small "windows" along the sides of the canvas that covered the seating area of the Peacekeepers' truck. If the children wanted to see the sights from above, they will. Diana was going to fly the truck to Brazil, where they would have lunch. Then Superman would carry them over water to Aruba where the orphans could play on the beach and sleep over at Grandma Kent's place. Then they would make their way to their new homes.
Pastor Flores and Pat O' Brian in waved farewell to the children. Batman joined in with one hand waving and the other pressing the transmitter on his chest. Aquaman answered saying that he was on the controls of the Justice League Receiving Station. Bruce requested the beaming-up of Plastic Man and himself to the station.
"Can't I stay with them?" Pat pleaded. "I was never in a flying truck."
Diana's powerful leg-jump covered the 30-foot distance between them. She then roughly grabbed his arm. "Let's put it this way, O'Brian… If you stay long enough, you'll eventually say something to offend me. And at 600 feet above ground, you'll find yourself sitting on nothing but air in a heartbeat."
"Besides," Bruce called out. "I'm not staying at the Watch Tower. You will be doing the report."
Diana's warning was more convincing than Bruce's words in changing Pat's mind. Batman noticed that Superman waved Wonder Woman back to his side, and away from the truck.
Bruce heard him say, "I have to say something, please." Then Superman's communicator was shut off. His back was towards Bruce and Pat. Did Clark really think that Bruce needed lip-reading to know what was going to occur? Diana's face was plain for Batman to see. Her thin smile died as she thought he was about to deliver bad news. Suddenly her eyes widened and a wider smile exploded across her face. As she reached around for Clark's neck, the bodies of Plastic Man and Batman shimmered and then phased out of the scene.
"THANK GOODNESS!" Bruce said out loud.
Upon finding himself standing in the Justice League Receiving Area, Plastic Man turned to his co-traveler. "Hey, was Wondy about to attack Big Blue? Do you think we should—?"
"Mind our business?" Bruce said cutting him short. "Absolutely."
Batman turned to Aqauman and asked that the small cameras attached to the sides of the orphanage be included in the Monitor Room's surveillance routine. Then Bruce added, "Arthur, I'll return in five minutes, and then I need to be placed on top of the roof of Wayne Towers, in Chicago. First I need to attend to a pressing concern.
Even the staunchest Batman critic had to admit that it sounded classier than saying, "I have to go to the bathroom and pee."
Before Batman made it to the door that led to the hallway, he heard an aghast, "WHAT IS THIS?"
The dark figure turned to see the half orange—no doubt, with teeth marks on one side of it—sitting on the counter top of the Transporter Desk Console. With the fruit between O'Brian and the Sea Monarch, the dolt responded.
"It's a memento from me to you. Bet'cha you don't have one of these growing in your undersea kingdom. Ehh, be careful how you bite into it. It has a nasty temper."
The blonde male leaned forward to peer into Plastic Man's dark glasses. Bruce made a hasty departure. If the short-tempered Arthur was going to send the moron to the hospital, he didn't want to be there to stop it.
Actually, Bruce knew that the Sea King wouldn't go beyond shouting at the fool, but it was a nice thought.
It was noon in Wayne Towers when Bruce found himself hesitating before activating his voice-command phone. He was going to request that his pilot go to New York tomorrow and bring back a passenger. Yes, he enjoyed the arrival of the attractive Lois Lane on those first-of-the-month Friday evenings. But he enjoyed their Sunday afternoon good-byes far, far more. When she was in a vertical position (which was about 13 hours out of 24), her nature was a hundred times more acidic than O'Brian's recent eye-squirting enemy.
Mercifully, his secretary interrupted her indecisive employer with a notification of a phone call on the "urgency line." The caller identified herself as Ms. Dee Emma Zahn.
He rolled his eyes— that had to be Clark's idea.
"It's Diana, Bruce. I don't need to tell you about Clark and me. You probably knew about it a week ago."
Smart princess, Bruce thought.
"You don't need for me to tell you, all is well either. You can hear the children laughing in the background."
Correct again, he thought.
"So let's cut to the chase. Because Grandma Linda loved it the most, we're trying to get the Margareta Island property back from Venezuela. If I can convince the thieving government to agree, the property in Aruba will be on the table again.
"Will you look at this?" Bruce muttered. "The time that they spent as a couple wasn't long enough to cool a cup of coffee and she was already muscling into his affairs like a wife. "
"But let's add this," Diana continued. "A V.I.P. bungalow on both beaches for family use— your staff cleans and caters.
"And Bruce— guaranteed free rooms for as many as twenty, anytime they are needed."
"GOOD GOD, WOMAN! HOW MANY STEEL-CRIB-BREAKING, POOP- DROPPING- FROM-THE-SKY, RUNNY NOSED BRATS DO YOU AND CLARK INTEND TO HAVE?"
Reference: Who is Grandma Kent? She was former 1940s movie heartthrob, Linda Turner. In the late '40s Linda met a very honest and lovable farmer from Kansas. She realized she had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in front of her. She packed up and left Slime-Behind-The-Tinsel Town (with plenty of change in her purse, by the way).
She had another headline-grabbing persona during the war years. If you care to investigate, use your search engine to punch up four words: Harvey Comics Black Cat.
Finally, I want thank the talented fiction writers at the Superman-Wonder Woman site. Their imaginations are sharp and entertaining. Their writing also taught me about character humanizing, naration, and story pacing.