[Editor’s Note – This column originally ran on the site on July 17, 2013.]
“So Bruce, what do you say we try Oliviero tonight? I heard the ribollita is to die for,” Selina said as she lay on top of the hotel mattress, lazily flipped through the TV channels.
Bruce was in the bathroom, shaving. He looked at himself in the mirror and, for a second before slathering his chiseled chin with shaving foam, he considered regrowing his goatee. Nah, Selina would never go for it. She already made me throw out my old house coat, he thought as he dabbed the foam onto his face.
“Honey, you know we have to go to that little cafe that’s on the Arno,” Bruce said as he ran the razor up his neck.
“I hate that place,” she said. “The waiters are all rude and the food is bland. And we’ve eaten there every single day for the past three weeks. Besides, every time you order one of those Fernet-Branca’s, your mouth tastes like some disgusting combination of rhubarb and sweat.”
Selina tried to focus on the Italian cooking show on the TV, but she couldn’t stop thinking about the “friendly” waiter who got a little too handsy last Friday and the black hair she found in her cinghiale in umido on Tuesday.
“You know we have to keep going back there until I see Alfred,” Bruce replied. “I need him to know that I’m still alive.”
“Can’t you just text him or send him a postcard or something? Or, I don’t know, maybe you could have given him a heads up that you planned on faking your own death. I mean, he’s an old man, for christ’s sake, and we all went through a lot with the siege on Gotham. You’re lucky he didn’t just collapse when his greatest fear – and the thing he abandoned you in order to try to prevent – happened right before everyone’s eyes,” she fired back.
Distracted, Bruce nicked himself shaving. He dabbed the spot of blood with a washcloth. He was fuming with anger, but saw no reason to get into another fight. If he started arguing with her, they’d never get to the restaurant. He let out a long sigh and gave himself a moment to compose himself before speaking again.
“This is just something I have to do, Selina. And I need you to support me on it. Like how I supported you using my Batpod to brutally gun down a man in front of me, flagrantly breaking my one and only crime fighting rule while I lay bleeding on the marble floor,” he said finally.
“Fine, let’s just go to your stupid fucking cafe before you start yelling at me in the Cookie Monster voice again,” Selina said as she shut off the TV. “I assume I’m paying, since that man I gunned down – saving your life, I might add – bled your bank account dry before seizing control of Gotham.”
“I can’t remember, how did he get the fingerprints he needed to hack my account again?” Bruce replied.
“Just get dressed. I’m hungry,” she said, defeated.
By the time the castagnaccio and coffee was served, both Selina and Bruce were emotionally exhausted. It didn’t help that he kept glancing over her shoulder every 10 seconds in hopes of seeing his old butler.
And then, just when they were about to pay the check and prepare themselves mentally to do it all over again tomorrow, Selina saw Bruce’s face light up. A rush of excitement flooded through her. This was the moment. The past three weeks would finally be worth it. And, best of all, tomorrow they could finally try Oliviero.
“So it’s him? He’s really here?” Selina asked.
“Yeah, it’s him,” Bruce said with a smile. He made eye contact with Alfred, smiling and giving a little nod of acknowledgement. Selina turned her head to catch subtly catch of glimpse of Alfred out of the corner of her eye.
“That’s so great, sweetie. I’m so excited for you. What are you going to say when you go over there?” Selina said.
“Oh, I’m not going over there.”
“What? What do you mean you aren’t going over there? Isn’t that why we’ve kept coming back to this dump?”
“Yeah, but that was it. Just the nod and the smile. I don’t say anything to him. He doesn’t say anything to me. But we both know that I made it and that I’m happy.”
“That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.”
For a moment, she considered excusing herself to the “bathroom” so that she could get the keys from the valet and drive off before the world’s greatest detective caught wind of her plan. But then she looked back into those big ol’ hazel eyes of his and knew she could never leave the big lug.
“So Oliviero tomorrow, honey?” she asked sweetly.
“Yes, of course,” Bruce said, clutching her hands on top of the table. “That works out perfectly for me. Gordon and I actually have this deal worked out where we’ll see each other in line for the bathroom and we’ll fist bump.”
Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. Follow Joel on Twitter @FreeMisterClark or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.