here’s an alternate universe in which Bruce Wayne is poor and I have my shit together. Without money, there’s no Batman; no Batmobile, no Batcave, no utility belts, much less a cool butler and a trusted sidekick. Without Batman, there’s no crimefighting, no hot vigilante action, no pensive brooding on the rooftops of Gotham. In this universe, Bruce Wayne drinks alone in his trailer home in Arkansas.

Bruce has one friend, me. He calls me in the middle of the night.

“Hey, it’s Bruce. Can you come get me? I’m feeling real low.”

I can tell by the sound of his voice that he’s been dumped again. In this universe, Bruce Wayne ain’t that lucky in love.

I pull up outside his trailer in my convertible ‘63 Lincoln Continental. In this universe, Kennedy wasn’t shot that day in Dallas when he rode in a car just like it.

Bruce makes his way inside the car, reeking of whiskey and cigarettes.
“She’s gone,” he says. “Can you stop by the store?”

When we get to the store, Bruce hobbles in. His knees and feet have seen better days. He’s got a couple of vertebrae in his lower back that cracked and healed poorly that gives him constant pain. He has chronic headaches that the VA hospital won’t do anything about, they say it’s psychosomatic.

I buy Bruce another bottle of whiskey and go back to my place. I know that he probably doesn’t want to talk. He just doesn’t want to be alone. I turn on the TV and we watch as he drinks. We watch The Tonight Show with Lenny Bruce. Tonight’s guest is Andy Kaufman.

He’s asleep by the time Late Night with Bill Hicks comes on. During the guest bit when Richard Pryor’s talking about the cure for Multiple Sclerosis I hear Bruce talking, unawake, but not rested. Bruce talks in his sleep and I would let him but when he starts screaming it’s not fucking right, it’s not fucking right, it’s not fucking right, I have to wake him.

When he finally realizes he’s awake, he instinctively moves for the whiskey. He’s shaking so hard he can’t pour it, so he drinks it right out of the bottle.

I sit next to him and hold him close to me.

“It’s okay, Bruce,” I reassure him, “There’s another universe out there in which everyone loves you. You symbolize justice in human form. Children read about you in comic books, adults make movies about you, and you recover from all your injuries.”

Bruce exhales loudly and looks up.

“And this in this other universe,” he asks, “What are you?”

“Bruce,” I say, “Don’t you concern yourself with that.”