"As you wish, sir."
As Alfred turned to get the door, he turned back for a moment and looked at Bruce as he lifted the body off the floor. "Thank you, sir."
Bruce said nothing, but fixed Alfred with a look of ... What? ...
Alfred turned and continued to the living room foyer as the bell rang several times in quick succession. ...
The man stood firmly, holding his hat idn his hands, and looked Alfred directly in the eye. "Good day. I'm sorry to bother you, but I would like to speak to Mr. Wayne. It's rather important." ....
"Please, don't hand me that 'Mr. Wayne is busy' crap. I know he's home. I have something to say to him. It's very important. I know this is unusual and, again, I'm sorry for the interruption...
Alfred was not moved by his pleas. "I'm sorry, sir, but I'll have to ask you t--"
"Batman, sir, is not here. I do not know where you can find him. If you wish to speak to him, I suggest you rob a bank."
"Look. Sir. I know what you're thinking, what I look like. I'm not here to beg for money and I don't want to hurt anyone. I only want to talk. That's all. I'm only asking for a minute of his time...
Alfred did not waver.
"Please. Just get him. I only need a minute. He'll want to hear this."
After careful consideration, he relented. He let out a heavy sigh. "Very well, sir. Follow me, please."
Alfred said nothing as he led the man to the drawing room and showed him to a hard chair in the corner, facing away from the door. "Please have a seat. I shall inform Mr. Wayne of your..
"Oh, I'm sorry", he said with a nervous laugh. "My name is Alan Waltrip."
"Very well, sir. Wait here and I shall see if Mr. Wayne is available."
Alfred left and Alan sat, looking around the room. Bruce Wayne, he thought...
But that was another lifetime, one he'd left behind over 30 years ago now, since that tragic night when the crazy train he had been riding since...
Further reverie was interrupted when Bruce Wayne entered the room and greeted him.
Alan stood and offered his hand. "Yes, sir. Alan Waltrip. I'm glad to finally meet you, Bruce. I've waited a very long time for this."
Bruce shook Alan's hand. "Yes, so you told Alfred, my butler. May I ask what this is regarding?"
Bruce sat in a high-backed leather reading chair across from Alan, who followed suit. "Here, have a seat on something more comfortable", he said, pointing to a similar chair closer to his own.
"May I offer you some refreshment? Coffee? Tea? Something stronger?"
Bruce noticed a light flicker briefly behind Alan's eyes at the mention of "stronger". In a heartbeat, it was gone.
"No, sir. Thank you. I won't be long."
"OK, then. Alfred said you had something to tell me, something important? What's on your mind, Mr. Waltrip?"
"Mr. Wayne, Bruce, I have a secret. It's been eating at me for years. Decades, now."
"I'm not sure how to say this, Bruce, so I'll just spit it out."
Bruce nodded. "OK, go on. I'm listening."
"Many years ago, I was a wreck. I was an ...
Alan interrupted him. "Alan. Please."
"Fine. Alan, is there a point to this? If you need therapy, I can..."
"OK. OK. I'll get to the point. Bruce, I am, in a way, your father."
Bruce was visibly angry now. "What?"
Alan looked at him, a sadness clouding his face.
"So, first, you say you're my father and, now, you're saying you're Batman? ALFRED!!"
Alan would not be deterred. "Bruce Wayne, you are Batman. Your parents were murdered by a robber 34 years ago in an alley. In Hogan's Alley, in fact, off 54th Street, October 1984."
"That's the night Batman was born. The night you started to become who you are today. And I'm to blame. Or thank, depending."
"What are you saying?"
Bruce just stared.
"Bruce, I killed your parents that night. I was the robber in that alley. I was a junkie looking...
Bruce was stunned, his face unreadable. Alfred walked in as Alan continued.
Alfred looked at Bruce.
Bruce snapped out of his daze. "What? Oh, yes. Thank you, Alfred."
He turned back to Alan, whose face was blank, lost in the memories of a night he'd tried and failed to forget.
"If it's no trouble, may I bother you for a Scotch, neat?"
"Certainly", he said, and walked out, reluctantly, leaving the two men alone.
They sat in silence for some minutes, until Alfred returned with drinks. Bruce put some ice cubes on his glass...
"Alan, tell me: Why are you here? What do you want? What do you expect me to do? Should I call the police? Should I kill you?"
"I'm old, Bruce. My time is coming. Soon. I can feel it. This has been eating at me since that day, when I sobered up and figured out what I'd done. I made up my mind then to get clean. I had wrecked too many lives along with my own and didn't want...
"Bruce, Mr. Wayne, this has been eating away at my soul for 34 years now. It only gets worse as I get older. I had to get it off my chest. I'll be dead soon and I'd rather die in peace.
"That's all I came to say. I've done the most horrible thing a man can possibly do and there's no way I can make it right. The best I can do is try to atone for it in some way."
Bruce rose to meet Alan and...
"Well, Alan. Um, I'm not sure what to say, except that, umm... I'm glad you turned your life around. I'm sorry that it took ...
They reached the door. Bruce opened it and walked with Alan onto the stoop. He fished a business card out of his wallet & gave it...
"If there's anything I can do for you, feel free to call. My personal number is on there. I wish you all the best in your future endeavors."
Alan faced him, a look of unspeakable sadness & grief clouding his face.
With that, he pulled a small pistol from his breast pocket and put it to his head. Bruce realized...
"No. No! NO! NOOO!"
...he was too late, as Alan's body slumped to the sidewalk..
They appeared to be fresh. There was a card. ...
"For what I have done, I now pay, for all eternity. May you know peace the rest of your days. - Al."
For the first time in many years, Bruce wept.