by Dave Barnowski
When they got to Bruce Wayne’s car, he handed the two envelopes to his uncle. “I haven’t looked at them, Uncle. Would you please make sure that it is what we want?”
Philip Wayne smiled a sad smile and said, “Thank you for letting me retain my dignity, Bruce, but I wonder why there’s two envelopes.” Philip opened the first one and examined the content briefly, and then said, “Yes, this is what we wanted.” He then opened the second and shook his head sadly.
“What’s wrong, Uncle Philip?”
“These are photos of Reggie Von Gleason.” The men sat in silence for a moment, and then Philip said, “Reggie committed suicide last year. I always wondered why; now I know.”
Bruce started the car, and they began to drive toward Philip’s townhouse. Each man related what had happened to the other. Bruce told his uncle that he was surprised to learn that Philip was a crack shot.
Philip snorted at that and told his nephew that he had always carried a gun with him since Bruce’s parents were murdered, except in Bruce’s presence, because he knew how guns in general bothered Bruce ever since that horrible night. Philip also said that he practiced shooting daily.
They rode in silence for a time after that, each in their own thoughts. Then Philip said, “You know, it’s strange… in the Great War, I shot down eighteen enemy planes, and I know I killed at least twenty-three of the men in those planes, not to mention all the poor infantry I strafed. I fought against Baron Von Richthofen and his Flying Circus and Hans Von Hammer, the Hammer from Hell. I lost my duels against them, of course, but I survived against certain death when I lost. And yet those two men I killed today thought that I was too afraid of them to shoot them just because I am a homosexual. I had the drop on them, and yet they tried to shoot me.” Philip shook his head. “The fools — the damned bloody fools.”
Philip then changed the subject and asked Bruce how his fiancée Julie Madison was. Bruce told him that she was in Hollywood now, acting under the stage name of Portia Storme, and he rarely got to see her, but that she was fine. Philip then asked Bruce what Julie thought of his masked identity. Bruce told his uncle that she didn’t know.
“What? You can’t be serious, Bruce.”
“I am, Uncle.”
Philip looked at his nephew and said, “Bruce, I’ve known many men who’ve led double lives. Now, I grant you, it’s not the same kind of double life that you’ve been leading, but not one of them were ever truly happy in a relationship. And not one of their relationships worked in the long run. If you don’t tell her, I’m afraid you’ll lose her.”
“I know, Uncle Philip. I know,” said Bruce Wayne. But the fact was that Julie had already broken off their engagement not long ago; he just didn’t have the heart to tell his uncle about it, knowing how fond he was of her. (*) He wasn’t sure if he was ready to talk about it with anyone at all, and he certainly wasn’t ready to face up to the fact that being the Batman may have cost him a chance at happiness.
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Clayface Walks Again,” Detective Comics #49 (March, 1941).]
The car pulled up to Philip’s townhouse, and Philip Wayne got out and said good night.