Wind swept over the hilltop, the old maple tree stark against the cobalt sky, a lonely place overlooking the venerable city of Gotham. The bluff and the surrounding woods looked as if they had not changed since the days of the American Revolution.
The modern sound of a thrumming engine broke the silence, a dark, sleek shape gliding up a rough, dirt road. The engine cut and two figures emerged from the coupe: the tall, dark-caped Batman and his colorful sidekick Robin.
Bright ribbons of color trailed Dick as he performed somersaults, glancing at his mentor to see if he was watching. A slight smile was on Bruce’s face. Satisfied, Dick did a few backflips as he went back to Bruce.
“This is so cool, Bruce! Getting to see Superman again so soon!”
Bruce affectionately ruffled his ward’s hair. “We have to keep close tabs on this thing.”
Dick asked earnestly, “You mean about Dr. Smiesel?” Bruce nodded. “That was sad. I have some of his books. Mom and Dad gave me the books when I was a kid.” Dick missed the flash of amusement that crossed Bruce’s face at this pronouncement. “They were some of my favorite books.”
“You have good taste.”
Dick beamed. He started to dance a jig, kicking up little clouds of dust. He was feeling excited at seeing his hero again.
He had asked Bruce if he could meet Wonder Woman, too, but Bruce had only said, “We’ll see. She’s back on Paradise Island right now on…vacation.”
“And we can’t visit her because men can’t step foot on her island?”
“Because men hurt the Amazons a long time ago?”
Bruce’s pause was for a few seconds, then he answered, “That’s right, Dick.”
Now, standing on this bluff, Dick remembered feeling sad. He didn’t like it when people hurt each other. He liked a bright, happy world. He hoped that he and Bruce could make Gotham a happy place someday, like the circus had been.
In the circus, people smiled and were happy most of the time, and if they weren’t, they still put a smile on their faces and went out and entertained the crowds. There were glitter and spangles and the smell of popcorn and hot dogs and peanuts.
Dick hid his sudden wave of sadness. Bruce didn’t need to know how sad he could feel sometimes when he thought of his parents. Bruce understood that feeling, but he was so sad more often than Dick.
Dick looked up.
A small smile was on Bruce’s face, and then he feinted, shadowboxing with Dick, ending up in a hug as they laughed. Dick loved to make Bruce laugh.
Dick turned around and saw a tiny figure growing larger in the sky. Restraining himself from jumping up and down, he watched Superman grow bigger, a huge smile on his face as he anticipated this second meeting wildly.
Superman made flying look so easy. Dick wished he could fly just like the Man from Krypton.
Superman alighted, a bright smile on his face. “Hello, Robin.”
Dick wanted to perform backflips of joy. Bruce rested his hand on his shoulder.
The scarlet cape settled down around Superman’s shoulders. “Good to see you again. I hear that Green Arrow has taken on a partner, too.”
Dick nodded vigorously. “Speedy’s really great! He can shoot every kind of arrow there is and never misses!”
Superman’s smile grew brighter. “I should go and say hello to him, too.”
“He’d like that, Superman!”
“You can call me Clark in private.”
“You can call me Dick!”
Laughing, Clark shook hands with Dick. “Nice to meet you, Dick.”
Dick grinned. “Nice to meet you, too, Clark.”
Both pairs of eyes twinkled as they played with the ‘new’ meeting. Bruce shook his head at the duo, trying to hide his smile.
“What news?” he asked Clark.
Clark’s expression sobered. “Pedro Piccata’s death was just like Smiesel’s.” Looking at Dick, Clark gently ruffled his hair, then re-directed his gaze at Bruce. “He left a painting.”
“Let me guess. Similiar to Smiesel’s book?” Clark nodded. Bruce sighed. “Damn.”
They talked a few minutes more, then Bruce asked, “Dick, would you please monitor the police radio?”
“Sure!” Dick raced to the Batmobile, leaving the adults to further discuss the strange case of the Centre.