Chapter 31: A Diffrent Kind Of Guise
A Different Kind of Guise
That same morning, the morning after the night before, in Wayne Manor, as Bruce is having breakfast:
Radio: We bring you the latest news from the islands of Tahishi, in the South Pacific. An earthquake, magnitude 8, has been recorded in the region, according to leading seismologists. Fears have been growing, in the last half hour, of a potential tsunami, that could threaten the coastlines of several densely populated areas close to the epicenter. We promise to update all our listeners, as the news about a possible impending disaster continues to reach us.
- ( Bruce ) Oh, Alfred, may I introduce you to the latest member of the Wayne Household ! ... ( A dog suddenly comes round from behind the breakfast table. ) He's a Labradoodle ! ... a labrador and poodle cross. I've decided to call him Doodles ! ... I just happened to be visiting the Dog Pound yesterday afternoon, and there he was. One of the attendants told me that both his parents had been killed, when he was still a puppy, and that he was waiting to be adopted. So here he is !
- Really, Sir, both his parents were killed when he was young, were they ? ... One asks oneself, what Mr. Freud might have to say, in this instance.
- Oh, very good Alfred, very good. You know the thought had never occurred to me. … What with the events of last night, I didn't have time to tell you. They only delivered him here half an hour ago. I was out in the garden, when he arrived.
- Ah, that would explain, why one knew nothing about the matter.
- ( Suddenly returning to the main topic of conversation, he intended to have with his Butler ! ) ... You know, Alfred, I've found myself thinking lately, about something you yourself said once.
- Really, Master Bruce ? And what might that be ?
- About maintaining a persona.
- Oh really, Master Bruce ? How so, and in what context, might one so enquire ?
- There, you are doing it again !
- With all due respect, Master Bruce, to what, precisely, could you possibly be referring ?
- Precisely that, Alfred ! The way, you maintain the style of that personal equerry guy, you know the one, who was a personal servant to the Queen.
- Ah yes, now one remembers.
Radio: We are interrupting our current round of birthday greetings, to bring you an update on the latest from Tahishi. It seems, that the previous fears about a massive tsunami in the region, have, in fact, been realised, as early reports indicate that a wave measuring 20 feet high has been detected, moving at a speed of 150 mph. This is likely to reach a height of at least 35 feet, as it approaches the shallower waters of the islands and neighbouring land masses. Urgent alerts have been circulated to all those living in the villages, towns and cities, that will be affected, though fears are growing, that there seems to be little or no time to conduct effective evacuation procedures.
- My God, Alfred, that sounds absolutely terrible. That must be the third or fourth massive quake to hit around that part of world this year, and it is still only July.
- Indeed, one fears that, in that respect, you may well be correct, Master Bruce.
- There we are, trying to hold back the tide of crime, craziness and corruption, here in Gotham, and yet, we are completely powerless, when faced with the destructive forces of Nature.
- Quite so, Sir. But, begging the Master's pardon, you were saying ?
- Ah yes, creating a persona. ... Yes, Alfred, it has struck me recently, that Batman uses all manner of equipment and devices, that, despite all the efforts of my Head of Applied Sciences, could, nonetheless, be traced back by enquiring minds to Wayne Enterprises, and, obviously, to me. ... I reckon, that I need a different persona too, ... to leave me looking the least likely person in the world, who could possibly be Batman, or even, in the slightest respect, associated with him.
- And, may one be so bold as to enquire, what this different persona might entail ?
Bruce: (Playing with him ) Indeed one may, Alfred. Indeed one may. ... Basically, I am going to become a rather self-seeking, alcohol-abusing, womanizing playboy, who leaves all the day-to-day affairs of Wayne Enterprises to my Deputy CEO !
- Brilliant, if one may say so, Sir, ... and most wise, Master Bruce.
- It shall represent my fall from grace, ... permanently. After all, it IS the way the Tabloid Press likes to portray me anyway. All the charitable activities of Wayne Enterprises will, of course, continue, in the guise of the legacy of my Father, and his obvious commitment to humanitarian ideals.
- And when is this earth-shattering change in persona going to occur ?
- Why, right now, Alfred, right now.
Later on that same day, Aunt Harriot is having afternoon tea, and is talking with Alfred.
- Oh, isn't it awful what has happened out in Tahiti, Alfred ? Such a lovely holiday spot. Now it's all gone. ... Oh, please pass me one of your dear homemade muffins, Alfred. ... Yes, the ones with the lovely elderberry jam, you made last week.
- One made them especially, Miss. Cooper.
- Why, thank you, Alfred. ... You are worth your weight in gold. Turn the radio on, would you please, Alfred ?
Radio: Fears are now growing that over 100,000 people may have lost their lives in Tahishi alone, and a further 150,000 along the neighboring coastlines, amounting to approximately one in three of the estimated population exposed to the 35 feet wall of water, that struck their homes and workplaces today. Scientists and seismologists are baffled by yet another totally unexpected earthquake in the region. To a man, they have all said, that these run counter to all previous patterns of earthquakes, in the areas hit by the last four quakes, which have rocked the world's oceans in the last seven months.