Stanley Myers was a man who prided himself on a strict sense of propriety. He tried to do everything in the proper way. This desire to be correct in action and purpose carried over from his professional life to his personal routine. It was a simple matter of expectations. If one wanted to succeed in life, then one needed to establish a series of habits designed to ensure reliable results. Thus, one April morning, the prim and oh-so-proper bank manager found himself at a loss when he realized his cherished Gotham City United Bank had been robbed.
“Miss Richards, how could this happen? Did the security system fail? I know we had no hold-up!” he said in a trembling tone.
His pretty redheaded teller wept copiously. “Oh, Mr. Myers, this is so frightening! The system is fine. No one broke in. If someone had tried to rob the bank, we would have followed your strict policy about tripping the silent alarm! All the girls know that!”
Myers frowned in concern. “The only alternative is that someone who knew how to deactivate the security system did so and robbed the bank.”
Miss Richards blubbered again before replying to her boss. “But, Mr. Myers, you are the only one who knows the security code!”
Stanley wiped his balding head with his carefully folded handkerchief. “I know, I know! Th-this is most upsetting!” he stammered.
That afternoon found Gotham City Police Commissioner James W. Gordon in a meeting with the city’s noble defender, the Batman. They sat across from one another while the nervous Mr. Myers perched uneasily on the edge of a third chair.
Batman smiled slightly. “Mr. Myers, I want you to understand that you are not to blame for the loss of the bank. I have assured the board members, including my friend Bruce Wayne, of that fact. He has total confidence in you, as always. You have nothing to fear from either the authorities or from me. I want to help you discover what occurred.”
Gordon nodded in agreement. He was still a bit amused by the way his old friend could project different demeanors for different audiences. Batman could be a relentless and grim avenger to those who broke the law. And while the popular press and local tabloids played up this image in recent years, Gordon knew Batman’s driving motive was much more noble. He wanted to protect people. He wanted to keep the city safe. Thus, Batman could project a comforting, almost paternal side as well when the need to do so was present. Gordon knew this from years of association with the Caped Crusader and from seeing him with the frightened victims of crime, his two young partners, and above all with children. Batman had gone out of his way to help the most unlikely of people in the past. He had displayed compassion and consideration for former foes and for small children. Now, he showed such concern for Stanley Myers.
Mr. Myers nodded eagerly. “Mr. Wayne! He’s such a nice man. He always remembers to ask about Mother!”
“First of all, let’s establish the facts,” said Batman. “Your bank was robbed. However, no one was detected either via the security cameras or any tripped alarm. You certainly have not revealed the codes to anyone.”
Mr. Myers stammered in worried tones. “N-n-no! I didn’t! I swear it!”
“Calm down, sir,” said Gordon. “We know you did not betray your trust. Other banks have been robbed recently, too, under similar conditions.”
Myers gasped in surprise. “Really? No one detected the thief either?”
Batman shook his head. “The thefts were detected, but the actual thief eluded notice. I’d like to borrow the security films from the bank, if I may.”
Myers nodded readily. “Batman, can you save us? I mean can you restore our tarnished reputation?”
Batman stood up and placed one hand on the timid man’s shoulder. “If I can’t, then my own reputation will suffer. I can’t let that happen, now, can I?”
That night, an unmasked Bruce Wayne sat in front of a machine while his loyal butler Alfred Pennyworth and his youthful ally Jason Todd sat nearby. “Bruce, have you found something?” asked Jason. “You have a certain look in your eyes!”
Bruce looked up and ruffled the boy’s hair. “I’m an open book to you, huh? You’ve learned all my secrets? Why don’t you look at the evidence, or rather listen to it, and tell me what I’ve found.”
Jason grinned and turned a precisely set dial. A hum began to sound from the tapes being played in the machine. “Some kind of sound. You amplified it from the security tape with our special equipment here at the Batcave,” said Jason. “What does it mean? It was too high-pitched to be detected by normal means or the human ear.”
“One other factor was found in common at all robberies,” said Bruce. “When I amplified the security tapes for the day before the money was found to be missing, I was able to detect the slightest hum. This sound was not unfamiliar to me. It’s the hallmark of one of our old enemies at work. I have to give him credit; he has found a rather clever way to twist his normal M.O.”
“So when do we get him?” asked Jason.
“You’ve got a math exam tomorrow, and I believe our man has departed Gotham City for New York,” said Bruce. “That means this is one time Batman goes solo.”
Jason sighed. “OK. That’s the way my luck goes. Still, you’ll be back in time for the baseball game Saturday right?”
Bruce slipped on his cowl and said, “I wouldn’t miss it for anything — unless the Joker gets loose again.”
The next day was a glorious spring day in New York City, and the weather brought out people of all types to enjoy the sunshine. This desire was evident on the campus of Manhattan University, where a lovely, raven-haired young woman in a short pink skirt, high heels, and a high-collared white blouse watched a few other students dancing on the campus quad. She remained to one side, but she smiled slightly as she listened and watched them dance.
A thin blond man noticed her and called out to her. “Raven! Let’s get down! C’mon!” he said.
The New Titan called Raven shook her head. “James, I thank you, but I have no skills in that area. I would merely appear silly.”
He clasped her hand and said, “Just copy me. We’re all just goofing around. This isn’t Dance Fever!”
Raven laughed, removed her shoes, and slowly tried to mimic his movements. She began to enjoy herself after a few moments. Perhaps this dancing was not such a bad thing to do. I wish Roy was here, she mused, thinking of her new paramour, Roy Harper. I would enjoy dancing with him. Perhaps I owe my newfound willingness to try such new activities to him. He is such a free spirit!
She frowned slightly and slipped her high heels back on as she noticed a dark-haired woman pass by. “Maddy? Why do you not join us?” she said as she excused herself and followed one of her fellow pupils. “You — you seem to be in pain.”
Maddy turned and said, “Raven? No. I need to get home before four. My husband expects me. I’m fine.”
Raven felt waves of pain from the woman. Her keen empathic nature allowed her to sense such sensations with ease. “Your back is sore. You are limping. How did you injure yourself?” she asked gently.
“Raven, I slipped. You know how clumsy I can be. Now, I need to go!” said Maddy, nervously glancing left and right.
Raven started to offer to help her rid herself of the pain, but she sensed more than the simple if unpleasant sensation of physical pain. She felt the woman’s fear of exposure and her shame as well. It was clear to the empath that her classmate had troubles beyond the physical.
James moved closer and said, “You did great. How about another dance?”
Raven shook her head. “I cannot. I think I have work of my own to do.”
She hurried out of sight of the others and teleported herself back to her apartment. Once within the small sanctuary, she slipped into a stylish white gown and high heels. Maddy’s pain was strong; I need to help her, she mused. I fear she is being badly abused. Her husband sounds as if he is all too possessive. We have spoken before in class, and her phone number is on our study group list, although she has never attended one of our outside meetings.
Picking up a thick, brown-covered book, she said, “I am glad Richard told me all about the use of the Polk directories. I rather like doing things as others would do them without use of my Azar-granted gifts.”
Raven looked quickly through the reverse directory and found the number and its corresponding address. “I am ever loathe to intrude upon the private shames and pains of others, but if I do not act, I fear Maddy may be seriously harmed,” she said. Raven slipped on a white cloak and hood before using her power to vanish from her home in search of her troubled classmate.
She reached the seedy apartment Maddy Astin shared with her husband Kerry. Raven glanced around, noticing the staring eyes of neighbors, who peered and peaked out of their own apartments or leered as the lovely young woman made her entrance into their building. These people feel such self-loathing and anger. They are victims of societal injustices, yet they respond to their own pain by hurting others. I wish I could cleanse them all of their sorrow, but even my powers extend just so far, she thought, then forced herself to concentrate on the problem at hand and block out the emotions flowing from those around her.