The Mask Was Enough

by Lara Wilson

It was a complete waste of time, but Tim would never fail to give one hundred percent to an assignment.

Skipping it entirely was completely out of the question. While his attendance at school was spotty at times, he never missed a test or turned a paper in late, even if every muscle in his body ached and he hadn't slept in two days. He had become an expert at covering up bruises with makeup.

So, he waited on the bench outside his guidance counselor's office, wearing a tie and his dress shoes, pretending to look as bored as he felt. Naturally, within two minutes of taking his seat he'd catalogued all possible ingresses and egresses, objects that could be turned into any number of weapons--including the pot of hot coffee that smelled way past burnt--and ranked the staff and other students as possible threats and/or hostages. As none of them would be at all useful as allies he hadn't bothered to mentally list the positive abilities of any of them.

The door to the counselor's office opened and a girl came out, immediately starting to chat with another girl who'd been waiting for her. As the boy next to him rose and Tim slid down the bench, his own seat taken by the person following him in line, he watched the two girls leave the office.

They were talking about some combination of shoes, boys, youtube videos, and a trip to the mall. It made no sense to Tim, but he'd learned years ago from any number of girls that deciphering what they were saying for clues didn't work. Boys just had to accept that they'd guess wrong on everything.

"This is lame, huh?"

Tim turned his head fractionally towards the boy next to him who had spoken. He had a nose ring and possibly had brushed his hair, but otherwise had done nothing to impress the counselor. For a moment, Tim despaired for the youth of America, then remembered he wasn't Batman, he was one of the youth of America.

"Yeah, totally." Luckily, he could do vapid teen speak as well as the next guy. "Like making us learn how to balance a checkbook. Dude, that's what online banking's for."

"Life skills." The other guy snorted, and Tim was saved from replying by the door opening and the first boy exiting and telling him it was his turn.

Tim rose, straightened his tie, and walked into the inner office. He shook Mr. Carlton's hand and handed him his one page, professionally typed resume, then took the seat he was offered.

"Well, Mr. Drake, why don't you tell me why you'd like a job at McDonalds."

He wouldn't, but Tim launched into a well-rehearsed recitation of all the reasons he wanted an after-school job and why he'd be perfect to wear a paper cap and ask people if they wanted fries with that.

After the mock interview, his counselor smiled. "Very good, Tim. If I really was the manager at McDonalds, I'd hire you. You have a good work ethic. Of course, that shows in your day- to-day schoolwork. You do need to work on your attendance, as we've discussed before. An employer won't be as forgiving of your absences or tardiness, regardless of how well you do the job."

"Yes, sir."

"But, if you do apply for after-school positions, make sure you put my name down as a reference. I'll give you a glowing one."

"Thank you, sir. I don't foresee needing a job, though, and I'll be interning at Wayne Industries in the summer."

"Oh, yes, of course." Everyone knew Tim was just a few formalities away from being adopted by the richest man in Gotham. He was one boy who would never need a paper route.

"But, thank you for the opportunity to interview," Tim said as he rose. "Learning new technique is always beneficial." As he exited the office, he began to integrate what he'd learned into his interrogation methods.

And, later that night as he flew through the skies of Gotham, he was very glad that he'd never need to wear a paper hat. The mask was enough for him.


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