The Most Formative Years Of Master Bruce
The Most Formative Years Of Master Bruce
Bruce Wayne's years at Gotham High were to prove largely uneventful, .. well, apart from a prolonged period of bullying, and a brief, but sparkling Basketball career ! He had begun his first year as an orphan. That had singled him out amongst his peers for persecution straight away ! Then, of course, he was a multi-millionaire. That didn't help either. His Great Aunt Harriot could have sent him to any one of the most prominent Private Schools in the country, but, like a number of wealthy families in Gotham, Bruce's family decided, that it was more beneficial for him to receive a more normal education, and Aunt Harriot was his family now. It is, however, debatable, whether his years in Gotham High could, in any way, be considered normal !
He was treated as a freak, by fellow students and tutors alike, not least because the young Bruce would be delivered to school every day by the World's most distinguished butler ! Most of his tutors were inherently jealous of his vast inherited wealth. Picking up on the antagonistic vibes he experienced in his first year, he shared what was happening with the only person in the World he could share things with, his beloved Alfred.
We have already seen, how Alfred had a rather cultured side. He was also very intelligent and well-educated. He had to be, to become a Captain in the British S.A.S. ! He had both been educated about the World, and then seen it for himself, and knew the value of learning and understanding. And so, his advice to his young charge was simple:
- Work hard for all your tutors, Master Bruce. Learn everything you can, and earn their respect.
As he would say, every morning he left him off at school:
- Learn much, understand more, and grow in wisdom !
He was to become a real all-rounder, though he didn't excel in any one subject, other than, perhaps Biology, particularly Animal Biology, given the decidedly eclectic nature of the hobby he had developed as a child !
When it came to bullying, this was much more verbal and psychological, than physical. His peers had discovered early on, that the young Bruce Wayne was not to be trifled with ! He had, however entered Gotham High a rather morose and depressed young man, and little by little, became reluctant to employ the simple moves imparted to him by his late Father.
In his second year, he was roughed up a little, to put it mildly. It was blatantly obvious to Alfred, what had happened, so his faithful Butler took it upon himself to greatly expand the boy's repertoire of options self-defence-wise !
- We begin, Master Bruce, with what is commonly known as the grab block, thus called because you grab the offending fist like so (grabbing Bruce's clenched fist. He continues to demonstrate ). Then, by applying greater and greater pressure on the said fist, you can lower the assailant gradually, and quite harmlessly to the ground, thus ! ... But, of course, bullies rarely act alone, and, as I too have discovered rather to my own personal detriment, they can come at you in numbers, and all of a sudden. Therefore sound evasion techniques are required !
Alfred's rather quirky turns of phrase would always make Bruce smile,and even laugh at times, something which didn't offend his Butler in the least, since this was nearly always his intention anyway !
- An instinctive, instant act of well-balanced positioning is required at all times. ( Demonstrating ) Perhaps the rock hard anchoring of the feet, while the upper body moves radically forwards, ... backwards, ... right, ... or left, ... thus ! In fact, you can do this, changing your physical position repeatedly, in such a way as to leave a relatively large number of assailants looking decidedly stupid and embarrassed, unable to lay so much as a glove on you. I believe that is the current idiom nowadays, young Master Bruce ! As the encounter continues, your tormentors become the object of ridicule to any passers-by. You did say, that the method of bullying they most employ is that of humiliation.
- Yes, I did say that, Alfred. Didn't I ?
Bruce had already guessed, that someone, who had once been his full-time bodyguard, would have been specially trained in the use of self-defense and weapons. It never quite escaped the young boy's notice, that Alfred, as much as he closely resembled the quintessential English Butler, actually bore secreted under his frock coat a Browning semi-automatic pistol, 9 millimeter ! Unknown to 'Young Master Bruce", Alfred also had in his possession a Heckler and Koch Mp5 Kurz Automatic Submachine Gun, that he would wear on special occasions !
How could Bruce possibly have known, that this Butler and Bodyguard combined had been a highly decorated Captain in the British S.A.S., who had distinguished himself in the course of the Unit's heroic action to end the Iranian Embassy Siege in London ! But he could definitely not have even remotely contemplated, that his dear, dear mentor was still in the employ of her Majesty's Government, undercover overseas, with a brief to be on the alert for threats to his country's interests, both at home and abroad !
Well, sure enough, within days of these lessons, Bruce had occasion to employ all the moves he had learned, in a way that totally humiliated the group of heavies concerned, evading every attempt they made to either punch or grab him, even down to the last moment, when one of them, having finally anticipated where Bruce's head was going to be, fell victim to the grab block. Down he went slowly and harmlessly to the ground, and believe you me, there were more than a few passers-by !
From now on, however, it would be the verbal and psychological tactics in the school of bullying, that would provide the young Bruce Wayne with yet another rude awakening to the harsh realities of life.
Those with a personal axe to grind, especially those Bruce had embarrassed before, the circle who liked to 'rule the roost' in his Year, the Mob, as they were called, would sabotage his satchel, or his bicycle, thereby getting their own back on him, time and time and time again.
- Alfred ?
- Yes, Master Bruce.
- Did you ever sabotage anything ?
The sense of irony certainly was not lost in the mind of Alfred 'Freddie McLeish' Pennyworth !
- In what way, young Sir ? .. I can't say that I'm exactly sure what you mean.
- Well, Uncle Harvey kind of told me, that you had been in the Army, and I just thought you might know how to sabotage things.
Once Bruce had explained the nature of the problem and the threats posed, Alfred, very cleverly, didn't exactly impart the exact ideas and techniques, used in the art of subterfuge and sabotage, certainly not for the rather basic tasks that pertained to Bruce's case. Rather, he simply shared the basic principles involved, only half-guiding the young man to conclusions, which Bruce then would be free to arrive at himself. Only later on in life, would it dawn on Bruce Wayne, that this was to mark the beginning of a process, which would ultimately lead to him becoming a tactical genius !
- What about the old 'half-cut' approach, Master Bruce ?
Well, it just so happened, that the 'Mob' loved basketball. In fact, they lived for it ! It was a real forum for all Bruce's persecutors to show off to all the thrill-seeking Cheerleaders, and to one another, in that age-old social anthropological struggle to become the Alpha Male ! Bruce wanted to get into their minds, and upset the apple-cart a little !
And, so it was, that one evening after Practice, the Mob took a bit of a tumble, ... literally ! As they were exiting the gym, each noticed that their shoes were a little loose, but none paid it any particular mind. Then, just as they were at the top of the steps, and had whistled to get the attention of the Cheerleaders, lo and behold, they all tripped, and tumbled down the steps, ... in front of all twenty cheerleaders ! To say that those guys were mortified would be an understatement. They picked themselves up, then their shoes, dusted themselves down, and ran as fast as they could to the bike sheds for cover. It had appeared to the, by now hysterical, group of girls, that their boyfriends had completely forgotten how to tie their shoelaces !
Also there, quite by coincidence, of course, was Bruce, to witness the whole spectacle. With an air of not insignificant satisfaction, he looked warmly and lovingly down at the penknife in his hand, the penknife that his Father had bought him for his Eighth Birthday.
He was now determined. He wanted to get into their minds !