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It Was Perfect
It came from the thrift store; it was the last one they had
and it was perfect.
Not just a mask, the entire Batsuit, all one piece; helmet, black cape, blue tights, and blue shirt with the official Bat-signal across the chest
-the real one -the official spread-wing bat emblem—in black
over a broad gold oval
Black gloves with gauntlets up to the elbow, black boots, a gold utility belt with real utility pouches filled with capsules that went SNAP! when they hit,
and poison pills that turned water red,
and antidote pills that turned water blue.
The helmet had ears of its own, bat ears -and covered everything, the face, eyes, and nose, leaving only a mouth exposed.
It was perfect.
Home was never perfect.
Mom didn’t feel good, laying on the couch, like always.
“When your father gets home,” she said. “He can take you. Now go find something to do.”
Dad was tired and angry when he got home, like always,
just wanted to relax and have a beer in peace and quiet.
“Is that too much to ask?” he said.
That got them fighting, Mom and Dad, yelling back and forth, so they didn’t hear the doorbell.
“Trick or treat!” they said.
Older boys from some other neighborhood.
Not from around here.
By now the streetlights were on.
“Hey, it’s Batman!” they said.
“What, no candy?” they said.
“Why aren’t you out with your Justice League Super Friends?”
They all laughed.
“Go on now,” Dad said. “Go on out with your buddies there. Just don’t be late,” he said.
“And stay out of trouble.”
“All right!” the boys laughed some more. “Batman’s with us. Come on, Batman. Let’s go!”
There were three of them.
A pirate with an eye patch, a white shirt, and a red bandanna on his head.
A big green rubber-headed Frankenstein with big green rubber hands, black pants, and a big black suit coat.
Those big hands must have made it hard for him to carry a bag …so he didn’t.
And a ghost…a ghost like no one had ever seen --wearing a big white sheet with two big eye holes that never stayed straight.
They laughed and smoked cigarettes and walked real slow, the three of them --sometimes going up to the dark houses with no lights on just to look in the windows.
On a really dark street, at one of the really dark houses, Pirate leaned in.
“Okay, Batman,” he said. “You ready?”
“There’s not a moment to lose,” he said. “This city needs you -now more than ever.”
Ghost shoved Frankenstein forward with his ghostly sheet-covered hand.
"Okay Batman,” he said “Ole’ Frank here is going to give you a boost up to that window,” Ghost said, pointing his ghostly hand.
“Then you’re going to move through the dark all quiet -silent, like a bat -all the way up to the front door and let us in,” he said. “You got that?”
The boys laughed and giggled –like boys ought not to do.
Inside the house was dark alright, dark as night.
But bats can see in the dark, so that was alright.
The phone was yellow, hanging on the wall in the kitchen with a long curly yellow cord that touched the floor.
“Police and Fire,” the lady said. “What’s your emergency?”
The front door opened wide, and the boys came inside, Pirate, Ghost, and Frankenstein.
“Now you go wait outside,” Pirate said. “Right over there,” he pointed with his plastic sword.
“There in the shadows, and keep your eyes peeled for the Joker and the Penguin, and anyone else who might show up,” he said.
“You let us know if anyone’s coming, okay?”
“You can do that, can’t you?” Pirate said.
“He’ll be just fine,” Frankenstein said. “He’s Batman. Batman would never let his friends down. Ain’t that right, Batman? Now come on. Let’s go.”
Those boys made so much noise inside, laughing and breaking things, they didn’t hear what was coming -didn’t hear anything at all -until it was too late.
“You were very brave,” the officer said. “Batman would be proud. Now let’s get you home.”
The policeman drove slowly through the streets with no sirens, but his blue and red lights flickered against the neighborhood houses on either side.
A pale blue glow from the dashboard lights glinted off his badge, handcuffs, and gun.
It was a real gun because he was a real cop, the kind people could trust; the kind who isn’t afraid of danger, the kind who never says bad words or smells like beer or does mean things to moms or dogs or little kids.
Dad was passed out -asleep on the couch. The policeman couldn’t wake him, and Mom was gone.
The policeman looked around. “Will you be alright all by yourself?”
“You just call if you need anything, okay?” And he left his number by the telephone.
The Batsuit was smoothed out, hung up, and hidden in the closet where no one would ever find it
-back behind the clothes that didn’t fit but didn’t get thrown out either,
"Just in case,” mom always said. “Money doesn’t grow on trees, ya know.”
That’s what she always said.
“Your grandmother sewed all my clothes by hand,” she would say. “So you should be grateful I don’t make you wear clothes like that.”
That’s what Mom always said. But Mom couldn’t sew anyway.
The next day at school, things were different.
No one knew the difference, and that was how it was supposed to be.
But at recess, the boys were more careful now, and they didn’t push the girls around -not without consequences.
And teachers were always on their best behavior, not yelling or screaming or making a fuss.
Yeah, everything was different now.
People behaved themselves and treated each other with kindness…
Somehow they all knew.
Somehow everyone knew.
-and it was perfect.