“Bruce, lunchtime!” Her voice was almost melodic and no matter how far out on the grounds of Wayne Manor he ventured, he always seemed to hear her. He took off faster than a bullet, printing across the back lawn. The vast mansion set on the hill bathed in the summer sun, the red bricks glowed a warm orange in the peaceful, radiant light. Up the short stone steps, standing in the open doorway of the glass back doors, she stood watching as she approached. She was elegant and above all, happy. She always seemed like she was happy, as if all was right in her life. Her long brunette hair was brushed and held out of her soft, pale face by a headband, the same sky blue color as her sun dress. As her five year old son approached the paved patio set like a peninsula in an ocean of green grass, his foot caught on the edge. Martha watched it happen in slow motion, already she knew what was coming next, it was her Mother’s intuition. Bruce flopped forward crashing to a sudden stop as he landed on his stomach. Immediately Bruce sat up, holding his knee and grimacing in pain.
“Ow, ow, ow!” he exclaimed with his eyes squeezed tight to hold back the tears leaking through.
“Bruce, are you alright?” she asked with controlled worry in her sweet voice. Already at his side, she knelt down on the patio in her clean, dress. Her gentle hands rested on his shoulders as she looked down at the bleeding gash on his left knee. “Let me look at it,” she said. “Ow, that looks like that hurts,” she said sympathetically. Bruce sniffed up his running nose as he whimpered and nodded. “Aww, lets get that cleaned and bandaged up,” she said. Lifting him into her arms, she carried her sobbing son inside. She spoke soothingly into his ear as she stroked his hair and continued down the vast halls of Wayne Manor. They went she carried him down to the kitchen, backing into the mahogany swinging door.
“Ma’am?” a mustached man wearing black slacks and a vest and tie to match asked. “Is there anything I can assist with?”
“No, no Alfred, thank you,” Martha smiled at the butler. “Bruce here just had a nasty trip is all. I’ve got it.” She set Bruce down on the counter then ducked into a cupboard, retrieving a plastic white case with a cross of red. Tenderly and while continuing to sooth him with her words, she cleaned the gash on his knee, applied a sanitizing gel then gently placed a white Band-Aid over the red wound on his knee. “There,” she said smiling at him. She leaned down and kissed the bandage softly, leaving a red smear from her lipstick. “All better,” she said as she rubbed the smear off of the bandage. Bruce’s tears ceased and a smile spread on his young face.
“Love you, Mommy,” he said. Their foreheads touched as she smiled back at him.
“I love you too,” she replied. The young boy laughed happily as she tapped his nose.
“Wonderful bedside manner, Ma’am,” Alfred said with a grin.
“Four years as a registered nurse, Alfred,” she remarked. “It’s like riding a bike.” Alfred turned towards the young mother the suddenly frowned.
“Oh, Mrs. Wayne, you have blood on your dress,” he said regretfully. Martha looked down to find the smear of blood on her abdomen, a vivid, dark red splotch on the sky blue fabric. Even as a six year old, Bruce recognized just how wrong this image was.
The gunshots cracked in the night. A man and a woman lay side by side in puddles of their own blood, a splotch of fresh maroon overflowing in the wound in her abdomen. She breathed heavily, deep in shock, her blood flowing and spilling over at an uncontrollable rate. Two minutes later, she was gone and her young eight year old son was left alone kneeling in the alley over the bodies of his parents.
His eyes still covered by the black shades, Bruce opened them, looking down at the large sculpted gravestone. The stone was a single base of sandstone at the foot of two intricately designed markers. The peaks of the headstones were linked together by an archway capped by a stone crucifix. A single red rose was lain at the foot of the headstone to the right.
MARTHA KANE WAYNE, BELOVED WIFE AND MOTHER. A small black and white picture was set in the stone above her name. Bruce set his hand on the warm sand stone.
“Happy Mother’s Day, Mom,” he whispered. Bruce turned away, tugging the collar of his black trench coat tight around his neck to fight a chill. Whether the cold breeze was an act of nature or a figment of his imagination, a product of his cold outlook, he couldn’t be sure. Bruce walked down the paved walkways through the freshly mowed lawn, winding down the hilltop where the Wayne gravesite was located in the Gotham Cemetery on the edge of the Palisades. Bruce approached the tall, spiked iron, gate encircling the cemetery grounds. He walked through the archway and strode down the sidewalk with his hands in his pants pocket. Three cars were parked along off the side of the road along the sidewalk. Bruce held his keys, aiming the electronic lock remote at the silver Jaguar parked in the back of the three. Pressing the button, his sleek silver car beeped as the lights flashed.
“Oh, its about time you show up!” a woman’s voice called out. Bruce looked up from the sidewalk, his gaze instantly drawn to her slim, smooth legs, up to her fine, subtly rounded hips. Her hands were set indignantly on them from over her brown lengthy, leather coat. “Do you have any idea how long I’ve been waiting here?” Bruce stopped in his tracks, caught completely by surprise by the sudden attack.
“I’m sorry, what seems to be the problem, Ma’am?” he inquired warmly.
“My car is trapped by you and this other jerk!” she shot back pointing to a black Cadillac and his silver Jaguar. Parked set tightly between them both was a cherry red, 1972 Mustang Convertible. Bruce rubbed the back of his neck with a wince.
“Oh, I’m sorry to inconvenience you,” he said. “Here, I’ll move it.”
“Thank you!” she exclaimed. Bruce climbed into his Jaguar and fired the engine, letting it roar before shifting to reverse and pulling back along the sidewalk. The woman wasted no time tossing her purse into the passenger seat, approaching her Mustang and sitting down in its old, leather interior. Bruce climbed back out of his car, leaving the engine running. Standing outside, he heard the struggle of her car’s engine as the ignition whined but refused to turn over. Tossing her head back, she muttered to the sky.
“Sounds like you need a jump,” Bruce said. The woman opened her eyes to find him looking at her with a grin on his chiseled face. At any other time, she’d find him rather charming. She was absolutely beautiful. Bruce found it hard not to look at her. Her emerald green eyes clashed so elegantly with her wavy, dark red hair bound back by a bandana. All she could do was chuckle in disbelief as she nodded.
Bruce pulled his Jaguar up beside her Mustang then climbed back out and dug through the trunk for jumper cables. Already the hoods were flipped open to both cars as Bruce approached and clamped each end of the jumper cables. “Have somewhere you need to be?” he asked.
“Not necessarily,” she replied. “Its just no fun standing around a graveyard for ten straight minutes.” She looked up at Bruce with an apologetic smile. “Sorry I went off on you like that.”
“No harm done,” Bruce said as he secured the final clamp. “Go ahead and start her up,” he said. She climbed back into her car and mumbled a prayer as her fingers turned the key in the ignition. The ignition whined again then finally prevailed as the engine turned over and the Mustang roared to life.
“Oh thank heavens,” she sighed. Bruce removed the jumper cables then closed both of the cars’ hoods. She beamed up at him gratefully as he approached the side of her car, removing his black shades from his eyes. “Good lord!” she exclaimed placing her hand over her mouth to hide her shock. “Bruce Wayne just gave me a jump,” she giggled.
“Well now that you know my name,” Bruce said, leaving his words aloft freely along with his firm hand. She placed her delicate hand in his.
“Andrea Beaumont. My friends call me Andy.”
“A pleasure, Andy,” Bruce said smoothly. “We should meet again in a warmer setting,” he suggested.
“Hmm, haven’t gone out with any billionaires in a while,” she mused with thought. “What the heck, could be fun.” Reaching into her purse set in the passenger’s seat, she retrieved a pen and a stick of gum. Bruce watched in amusement as she unfolded the stick of blue gum, tossed it in her mouth then scribbled ten digits on the wrapped. “Don’t lose that,” she said as she handed it to Bruce. She changed gears then pulled free of the parking spot as Bruce watched her drive away down the road. He lingered there, still able to see the silhouette of her car in the distance. Okay, she’s gone, you can stop pretending, he told himself. He tried to wipe the smile clean from his face but as he looked on down the road, the muscles of his face wouldn’t relax. The smile was real, the warm feeling inside was real.