by Syl Francis
Gasping, Wayne reached his hand up to the roof. A surprisingly strong grip, closed around his wrist, and he found himself being assisted expertly onto the rooftop to safety.
The amateur sleuths moved across the roof's tarmac. Wayne watched Johnny move with cat-like feet in the shadows. Observing how the boy carefully placed his feet toe to heel on the pebble-strewn blacktop, Wayne followed suit.
Finding a maintenance door that led to the bar below, Wayne tried it. To his disappointment, it was locked. Johnny stepped up to it and studied it by feel.
"Doc, do you have a light?" he asked. Wayne immediately struck a match and held it next to the door's lock. Johnny smiled and quickly took out a straight pick. Within seconds, he had the door open.
Wayne blinked, slightly taken aback. Johnny grinned.
"I'm a circus brat. You'd be surprised at the kinds of things I've picked up both inside and outside the ring."
Wayne shook his head in mild disapproval, but shrugged.
They were in. At the moment, that was all that mattered.
"Stay here, kid," Wayne whispered. They'd made their way down to a shadowy corridor adjacent to the main bar area. The narrow hallway was a dark, enclosed space, with the rancid odors of countless patrons who'd been sick or who'd relieved themselves along its darkened recesses rather than bothering with the ten additional feet to the men's room.
Johnny gagged at the overpowering sour stench. The Haly Circus animal cages smelled better.
Trying to take his mind off the stink, Johnny glanced into the smoke-filled bar. He could make out several hardcases who were too busy drowning their sorrows to care about anyone around them.
"Keep your eyes peeled," Wayne warned. "No telling if things could get rough."
"What are you going to do?" Johnny asked, worried. He remembered Wayne's ineffectiveness in a fistfight.
"Nothing," Wayne said straight-faced. "I'm just another drunk looking for my next shot."
Johnny nodded and took up a position near the door. This offered him the clearest view of the entire bar area, that is, whatever wasn't obscured by the thick haze that seemed to just hang there.
Observing Wayne weave his way across to the bar, Johnny's attention was suddenly caught by two men who were walking towards him. Realizing he'd be caught if he didn't do something quickly, Johnny ducked into the men's room.
The smell was worse in here. No wonder most of the drunks relieved themselves in the hallway. Even drunk, they had enough presence of mind to be disgusted by this place!
The restroom had four stalls. Johnny ran quickly to the farthest one and locked it. Trying not to see what was inside the overflowing toilet, and attempting not to lose his lunch, Johnny held his breath and climbed onto the toilet seat.
Not daring to think about germs, Johnny held his hand to his face and forced himself to breathe through his mouth.
The door to the men's room opened. Eyes wide, Johnny remained as still the Great Marko's, loyal assistant and loving wife, Maria. The Great Marko was the Haly Circus' famed knife-thrower. His assistant knew the importance of total muscle control, since the slightest twitch could cost her her life. Johnny had grown up watching them practice their act.
I hope I've learned something, he thought.
"I don't like this, Grady! We'll end up taking the fall--"
"Shut up, Tip," Grady answered. "Mr. Daggett gave his word. Once the trial's over, we return 'em safe'n sound to Wayne. You'n me, we skip the country. Rio de Janeiro, here we come!" He laughed. "Just think, Tip! We'll be rolling in dough 'n dames. And the feds won't be able to touch us!"
"But Grady, the trial is over two weeks away," Tip argued. "The cops and the feds are hot on our trail. They'll find us!"
"Not unless one of us lets something slip," Grady insisted. "Besides, Mr. Daggett says that there ain't gonna be no trial. Not once this doc gets wise to who has his wife and kid that is, not if he ever wants to see 'em alive again."
"Awwww, no, Grady," Tip whined, clearly upset. "I ain't gonna ice no baby. I done a lot bad things in my life, but a baby and his mother? I'm no angel, but I ain't no baby-killer!"
"Shut up you, idiot!" Grady hissed. "You want 'em to hear you in Metropolis?" Tip kept muttering that he "wasn't no baby-killer."
"Look, Tip, we ain't gonna ice no baby, okay? Wayne's gonna wise-up, and he ain't gonna testify against the boss. As soon as the DA drops the charges, the boss is home free, and we return the dame and her kid home. All safe and sound."
"Really? You ain't just sayin' that?"
"Would I lie to you? I'm your brother I love you, Tippy-toes!" Grady said calling his brother by his childhood pet name. "C'mere, kid! Didn't I promise Ma I'd always take care o' you?"
"Yeah," Tip said in small voice.
"Well, that's what I'm doing right now. Rocco's watching 'em while you'n me have a couple of brewskies! Whataya say? Buy you drink?"
Johnny didn't hear a reply; however, the 'timid' kidnapper must've nodded, because the next Johnny heard was the other one exclaiming, "Hey! That's more like it! Come on, little brother. Let's toss a couple back for the road."
Johnny listened for a few moments more. He heard footsteps, and then the restroom door opened and closed. Waiting a while longer, he finally risked a peek over the restroom stall.
Johnny quickly jumped down and made his way back out to the narrow corridor. He had to keep his eye on these two men and somehow get word to Dr. Wayne. A sick realization suddenly came over him.
He knew what they sounded like, but didn't know what they looked like.
Wending his way carefully through the hazy, smoke-filled room, Johnny finally spotted Wayne, hunched over the bar. Staying low, Johnny yanked at Wayne's jacket, indicating that he listen. He quickly filled Wayne in on what he'd overheard.
Wayne nodded and jerked his head, indicating that he wanted Johnny to get out of the bar. Making a face, Johnny nodded.
Wayne called the bartender over and took out a large bill. Placing it on the bar, he pushed it out to the obese bartender. The intense glare he gave the bartender told the corpulent man that the drunk to whom he'd been serving cheap rye liquor for the past half-hour wasn't quite as drunk as he'd seemed.
The bartender looked down at the bill, one hundred dollars. Swallowing, a hungry look of pure greed flitted across his piggy eyes. He reached his hand for the C-note, but a strong, vice-like grip closed around his wrist with snakelike speed.
"First things first," Wayne murmured. The bartender looked up at him, a shimmer of sweat on his forehead. His flabby jowls shook with nervousness as he nodded, once.
"I'm looking for Tip and Grady brothers," Wayne said in a low voice. "Point them out, and the money's yours."
The obese bartender looked pointedly to the left, over Wayne's shoulder. Wayne looked up at the mirror over the bar and saw the reflection of two men sitting in a dark booth. Nodding, Wayne released the bartender's greasy, sweaty wrist. The man's hand quickly closed around the hundred-dollar bill, and he turned away under the pretense of washing dirty shot glasses.
Wayne had a sudden desire to wash his hands. He made a mental note to call the city health inspector and have him pay the place a visit. Dr. Wayne must have observed at least a dozen violations of city health ordinances in the brief time he'd been here.
Keeping a keen eye on the two men, Wayne continued to play the part of sodden drunk. Finally, the two took a last deep gulp from their beer mugs and stood to leave. Wayne waited until they'd passed him and were halfway to the exit.
Standing slowly, he staggered towards the front door, following his prey.
When Wayne ordered him to leave the bar, Johnny remained at a low crouch and headed back the way he'd come in. Unable to sit and wait at his lookout position any longer, he moved stealthily in the back rooms for anything that might be of use.
Finding nothing, he made his way back up to the roof. Perhaps he'd be of better use watching people as they came and went. He might be able to spot license plates of suspicious characters or something.
"Who'm I kidding?" he asked himself. "Everybody in this place looks suspicious." Nevertheless, Johnny hurried to the roof and took a position watching the back exit and rear parking lot.
The clear, moonlit night held a slight chill. He shivered a little and gritted his teeth. He took a deep breath of fresh air. Johnny hadn't realized that he'd been taking short, shallow breaths inside Sharkey's Bar. How could people stand being in such a nasty place like that, he wondered.
After a few minutes, he heard voices. Listening, he realized that they were the same men he'd heard earlier in the restroom. Looking down, he followed them with his eyes. A stumbling shadow behind the men caught his attention.
Grinning broadly, he recognized Dr. Wayne. He shook his head in admiration. The man had grit, Johnny had to give him that. Wayne would have made a great circus performer. He had certainly displayed courage and determination this night, and he seemed to revel in performing feats of derring-do!
Wayne kept to the shadows and ducked into a recess along the wall. The men continued to their older model sedan, a Chevy Impala, Johnny noted. The driver had to turn the key several times before the engine finally caught and the car started. With a loud muffler spewing out a noxious oily smoke, the car putt-putted out of the parking lot.
Johnny saw Wayne sprint to where they'd parked the doctor's sleek sports car. Spotting a radio/television antenna mast about ten feet away from the building, Johnny estimated the speed he'd need for safe clearance. He saw one of the antenna's guide wires angling downward at approximately 45 degrees.
Without further consideration, Johnny leaped across the empty space, nothing between him and the blackness below. At the exact moment, he grasped his hands with around the guide wire. Wrapping his ankles around the thick cable, he quickly lowered himself, hand-over-hand.
Reaching the ground, he took off after Wayne, just reaching the passenger side door and sliding in as the car roared off in pursuit.
"You were maybe gonna leave without me?" Johnny asked. Wayne grinned and pushed down harder on the accelerator.
Keeping a safe distance from the kidnappers' car, Wayne and Johnny followed, blending into the Gotham City night traffic. Johnny wasn't familiar with the city and soon felt hopelessly lost. They seemed to be driving through endless corridors of skyscrapers and gothic towers.
The glare of the city lights drowned out the weak moonlight. Johnny caught sight of it occasionally amidst the giant glass towers.
At last, they left the bright lights of the central business district and began driving through a less developed part of the town. As they drove, Johnny began to recognize familiar landmarks.
"The fair grounds!" he cried. "We're near the fair grounds where the Haly Circus set up during our run last week." He looked around eagerly. "If I remember correctly, the Gotham City Amusement Park should be just over the next rise." He waited as they drove past the fair grounds.
"There!" Johnny said. "You can just make out the giant Ferris wheel."
"The amusement park isn't due to open for another month," Wayne mused. "If they're holding Martha and Bruce here, then they'd have the place to themselves until at least Memorial Day, which is still several weeks away."
"That's right," Johnny said. "I remember reading a playbill that announced opening day for the park's summer season as Memorial Day."
They saw the target car pull up to a side gate. Wayne immediately turned off his headlights and coasted to a stop. As they watched, a dark shadow leaped out of the car ahead of them and ran forward to open the closed gate.
He opened the gate and let the car drive through, then closed it behind them. The car drove on into the amusement grounds.
"Let's go!" Wayne said.
They jumped out of the sports car and ran towards the gate. It was locked. Johnny could've easily cleared the fence, of course, but the top was covered with sharp razor wire and there was no guarantee that Wayne could've climbed it without serious injury.
Johnny easily picked the padlock, and they ran in.
Following the sounds of the ancient muffler, the two would-be gangbusters ran across the deserted amusement grounds. The moon had already set; therefore, Wayne and Johnny relied on the weak light of the starry night.
At last, the rattling sound they'd been pursuing died out. Johnny felt an icy hand grip his insides at the sudden stillness. He looked around the abandoned grounds.
The Ferris wheel stood silent sentinel over the park. A light breeze kicked up papers that lay scattered throughout the deserted compound.
"This way," Wayne whispered, waving Johnny to follow him.
They kept stealthily to the many shadows that were being thrown up by the silent amusement rides and shuttered booths. Rounding a small roller coaster, they came to the 'Haunted House.' Parked between the Haunted House and Tunnel of Love entrance was the late model Chevy Impala they'd been following.
Johnny walked quietly up to it and placed his hand on the hood. He nodded at Wayne. It was still warm. Narrowing his eyes at a sudden idea, he stooped and began gathering dirt and small rocks. Opening the gas tank, he shoved as much as he could into the narrow opening.
"Good thinking," Wayne said, smiling in amusement.
Satisfied that the car, which was already in poor condition, wasn't going anywhere anytime soon, Johnny wiped his hands on his jeans.
The question that faced them was which attraction to go into, the Haunted House or the Tunnel of Love?
"We should split up," Johnny suggested.
Wayne nodded in reluctant agreement. "Very well. I'll investigate
the Haunted House. You check out the Tunnel of Love." He paused,
and then added, "But under no circumstances are you to try
anything by yourself. Do I make myself clear?"
Wayne nodded in reluctant agreement. "Very well. I'll investigate the Haunted House. You check out the Tunnel of Love." He paused, and then added, "But under no circumstances are you to try anything by yourself. Do I make myself clear?"
"Yes, sir," Johnny agreed.
"Good. Let's get going, then," Wayne ordered.
The two set out towards their respective objectives.
Wayne entered the Haunted House without trouble. If the kidnappers were here, then they'd foolishly left the door unlocked and unguarded. Once inside he waited a few seconds to allow his eyes to grow adjusted to the deeper darkness. As he squinted, his eyes fell on a sign immediately to his left.
"BOYS AND GIRLS!!! Get your 'Captain Midnight' see-in-the-dark goggles and decoder ring! Only $3.99 for a complete set!"
A life-sized poster of a caped and hooded figure,
presumably Captain Midnight, stood in a heroic pose surrounded by
admiring children. He was wearing a set of dark goggles--"The
better to see in the dark, no doubt," muttered Wayne--and he
held out a tightly closed, gloved fist, which prominently displayed
a ring with the initials 'CM'.
Wayne rolled his eyes at the cheesy advertisement. About to move
on, he halted. On impulse, he reached for one of the 'see-in-the-dark'
glasses, which had probably lain there during the off-season, forgotten.
Wayne rolled his eyes at the cheesy advertisement. About to move on, he halted. On impulse, he reached for one of the 'see-in-the-dark' glasses, which had probably lain there during the off-season, forgotten.
Not entirely current on comic book superheroes, Wayne wasn't certain who 'Captain Midnight' was, but if the haunted house carnies were hawking his goggles to their customers as they entered the popular attraction, then there was the slightest possibility that the cheap glasses might prove useful.
Closing his eyes, Wayne donned the glasses and then slowly opened his eyelids.
"Hey, neat stuff!" he said, unselfconsciously. He smiled at himself. How quickly one reverted back to one's childhood, he thought. The Captain Midnight goggles had specially treated red-filtered lenses that allowed the wearer to literally see in the dark.
"Probably, the better to see the monsters that are supposed to 'jump out' at the nervous customers." He took a breath. "Here goes nothing."
Wayne stepped into the Haunted House's labyrinthine interior.
Johnny furtively entered the Tunnel of Love. The place had been locked tight, but he'd made short work of all locks he encountered.
"They can't be in here," he muttered to himself. "All the locks were outside. They couldn't have come this way. Unless, there's a side entrance somewhere," he added. Nevertheless, Johnny squared his shoulders, determined to investigate the entire place.
He stood immediately inside the maintenance entrance. The tunnel was comprised of a narrow, shallow canal through which young lovers rode on small, two-person open boats. The couples would be subjected to 'frightening' scenes from history and legend in order to make the young ladies more amenable to being held and 'protected' by their male companions.
Johnny rolled his eyes at the silly premise. Still, it was an honest living for the most part, and while circus people didn't always get along with carnies, their line of work was somewhat similar.
Keeping carefully to the maintenance walkway, he made his way silently through the drafty tunnel. He could hear water dripping from the ceiling to the water-filled canal below.
After a few minutes of walking, he was just about ready to turn back, when he heard it, a baby's cry. His eyes widening, Johnny felt his legs speed up almost of their own accord. As he listened, he began to make out voices, male and female, echoing eerily down the length of the tunnel.
Stopping to listen, Johnny felt a chill shoot down his spine. The baby! Its cry was mingled with something else. Straining to hear, he finally made it out--coughing. The baby was coughing.
"This place!" he growled. "They've kept the baby in this damp place all this time?" A burning anger swelled within him. Forgetting Wayne's warning about not taking chances, Johnny rushed headlong into danger.
"I'm a Grayson," he muttered. "Courting danger and defying death is a family trait."
Wayne searched the Haunted House thoroughly. So far, the glasses had aided in startling him out of several years growth, he admitted chagrinned. The specialized lenses allowed the wearer to see images that were plastered to the walls, 'invisible' to the naked eye, but which showed up clearly under the treated lenses.
In reality, the images were treated with a special compound that showed up under ultra-violet light. Wayne finally realized that the Captain Midnight glasses had a filter that allowed light in the ultra-violet spectrum to be visible.
He grinned. The kids must love these things. He could almost imagine their squeals of delight at being frightened by the images along the haunted house's interior maze. After several minutes, he finally arrived at the exit. It was locked.
Sighing, Wayne turned around and hurried back the way he'd come in. Time was running out.
"I tell ya, Rocco," a familiar voice whined, "the baby's sick! If he dies while we have 'im, it'll be the same as a murder rap!"
"Shaddup, Tip!" a menacing voice growled. "Grady, if you don't shut your brother's trap, I'll shut it for him!"
"It's okay, Rocco," yet another voice answered. "I'll take care of it."
"Grady, you promised! Nothing'll happen to the kid and his mother. You promised me!"
"Hey, Tippy-toes," Grady said with quiet affection. "What've I been tellin' ya all along? I'm your brother, remember? Nothing's gonna happen to the baby or his mother. I promise."
The baby's wail cut through the conversation. Interspersed with the crying was a terrible, hacking cough. Finally, a new, pleading voice broke in.
"Please my baby needs a doctor. Please, I beg you he's running a high fever." A quiet desperate sob interrupted her pleas. "Please, don't let my baby die."
"Shaddup, lady!" Rocco's harsh voice threatened.
The baby broke out in frightened cries at the sound of Rocco's threatening voice. "And shut your brat up, or I swear I'll throw 'im into the canal and shut 'im up myself."
Johnny arrived at the scene, remaining in the gloom. Mrs. Wayne was sitting, wrapped in an expensive fur coat on the cold, concrete floor. She was crouched in the far corner, holding her tiny, baby-blue bundle. Johnny's heart almost broke as he saw the young mother desperately rocking her baby and crooning quietly to him.
Tears of fear and frustration were streaming down her dirty, bruised face. Johnny felt a surge of outrage almost consume him again. Her beautiful face was puffed and discolored where she must've been struck, and stained with dried blood. They'd obviously mistreated her horribly.
"Hush, little baby don't you cry," she sing-songed quietly. "Mama's gonna sing you a lullaby "
Little Bruce continued to cry inconsolably. His cries were increasingly interrupted with a hacking, choking cough.
"If that lullaby don't sing," she sobbed, "Mama's gonna buy you a diamond ring "
"SHUT HIM UP!!! Rocco screamed.
Little Bruce burst into even louder, more frightened howls.
Desperately, Mrs. Wayne hugged him tightly to her, using her body as a shield.
"If that diamond ring turns brass," she murmured in quiet despair, her face buried in the baby's blankets, "Mama's gonna buy you a looking glass "
She gasped as she saw Rocco moving towards them
The Captain Midnight glasses made running through the darkened Tunnel of Love simple.
"Enter Dr. Mid-Nite!" Wayne said half-jokingly. "Guardian of Truth, Justice, and the American way!" As he ran, he got into the spirit of things, partially to take his mind off his wife and baby's danger.
"With his young sidekick, Kid Acrobat, mild mannered Dr. Thomas Wayne by day, dons his special see-in-the-dark glasses and becomes--Dr. Mid-Nite! Defender of those who can't defend themselves uhmmm Helper to those who are uhmm helpless!"
Pausing to get his bearings, Wayne listened for any sounds. "Face it, Thomas, you'd've made a lousy comic book superhero!" Suddenly, he heard the distinct sounds of a baby crying.
"Bruce--!" he cried, momentarily stunned. Recovering quickly, he took of at breakneck speed.
Before Johnny could Brainstorm's Corner, Tip broke away from his brother and jumped on Rocco's back.
"Don't you hurt them!" he screamed. Rocco fought to toss the younger man off him.
"Get off me, you lily-livered mama's boy!" he roared. "Grady, get your sniveling brother off me, or I swear I'll blow 'im away!"
"Tip! Tip!" Grady yelled, panicked, pulling at his brother. "Tippy-toes, leggo of him. He'll kill you, little brother."
"No! He'll hurt them," Tip sobbed. "I can't let 'im. Not a baby! Grady not a baby. Please! You promised."
While they struggled, Mrs. Wayne was slowly scrunching her way to her feet and hugging the wall. Still keeping herself as a shield to protect her baby, she began to sidle towards Johnny.
Seeing his opportunity, Johnny attempted to signal her.
"Hey!" Rocco roared, pointing at him. Too late! They'd spotted him. Not waiting for the kidnappers to react, Johnny instantly sprang into action.
"Run, Mrs. Wayne!"
Hearing the sounds of what could only be a struggle, Wayne didn't hesitate for an instant.
"Run, Mrs. Wayne!"
"Johnny!" Wayne muttered. "I thought I told you stay out of trouble." Needless to say, he was gratified that the boy would risk his own life for strangers. The boy was a real hero, he thought. Brave in the ring, and in real life.
Wayne came upon the fray.
"Martha!" he cried, hugging his wife and son to him. "Martha go!" he urged. "I've got to help the boy." Taking off the Captain Midnight glasses, he handed them to her. "Here! Put these on. They'll help you see in the dark."
Martha nodded and did as told, donning the specially treated glasses. Smiling tremulously at her husband, she headed out in the direction that he'd just come from.
"Tip, are you crazy? He'll kill us both!"
"I'll get you, you sniveling pantywaist!"
"I don't care! I ain't no baby killer!"
Wayne jumped into the confusion of arms and legs. Johnny was displaying a virtuosity of kicks, flips, and punches that Wayne knew weren't the usual moves that the Kid Acrobat used during a public performance.
"Are you two out of your minds?" Rocco screamed. "The dame's getting away with the kid. When Mr. Daggett gets done with you two bozos, there won't be enough of you left to send home to your Mama--in a cigar box!"
Johnny connected a kick with Rocco's jaw. As the large thug went down, Johnny spun and kicked out again. He struck Rocco a solid blow to the side of the head. The dangerous gangster went down.
As Rocco crumpled, it was as if Grady finally realized that there were two other players in the struggle. He'd been so engrossed with saving his brother from Rocco's explosive anger that he'd blocked everything else from his mind.
As quiet settled into the echoing, drafty tunnel, Grady noted that Tip was kicking Rocco's unconscious form.
"Take that, big man!" Tip sneered. "Hah! Doesn't feel so good when it's you at the other end, does it? How would you like it if I tossed your worthless carcass into the Love Canal?"
"Tip uh, little brother," Grady said, trying to get his brother's attention. Wayne and Johnny were glaring at them, their looks as close to murderous as any Grady had ever seen. And he'd seen plenty.
"Uh, Tippy-toes," Grady said, calling his brother by his pet name, "I think that you'd better stop what you're doing, little brother."
Tip looked up and then turned to face what his older brother was staring at--the muzzle of a .22 revolver held in Wayne's sure grip.
Besides Wayne, only Johnny knew that the gun pointing so menacingly at the two inept kidnappers was actually empty.
Wayne hugged his family to him. Tears of joy and relief streamed unashamedly down his face. He held his arms out for his son. Smiling through her own tears, Martha handed her husband their baby.
Little Bruce began to cough violently. Martha gasped in fear.
"Don't worry, dear," Wayne reassured her, "we'll get him to the hospital." The ambulance attendants were urging Martha onto one of the stretchers. She just as adamantly was shaking her head, 'no'!
"Young lady," Wayne said affectionately in his best 'doctor-addressing-a-stubborn-patient' voice, "you'd best follow orders and get on this thing, or no chocolates for a month."
Martha nodded, her exhaustion finally overcoming her. As she was about to be led away, Gordon came up to them. Wayne held up the ambulance attendants.
"Thomas what you and the young Grayson boy did was foolhardy!" Gordon shouted. "Dr. Mid-Nite and Kid Acrobat, indeed," he said sarcastically, referring to the light quip Wayne uttered earlier when explaining their actions. "More like 'Dr. Idiot and Kid Dum-dum!"
Wayne nodded distractedly, rocking Bruce ineffectually to stop his crying. "Shush, now, little guy," he said softly. "We'll have you out of those dirty diapers in a bit. And we'll take care of that nasty cough, too."
The baby gulped a few times, drawing breath enough to begin another round of wails. Wayne waited for the new onslaught of crying, when instead Bruce looked up and gazed solemnly at his father. The baby gurgled happily, then yawned contentedly in his father's arms. Wayne looked tenderly down at his son, his heart filling.
"We'll have you safe and warm and fed and tucked away in your own bed real soon. I promise."
Wayne looked around for Johnny. Gordon harrumphed and clumsily held a finger out to touch the baby who was now sleeping soundly.
"Martha," Wayne said, "I haven't introduced you to your savior. Johnny!" Wayne called as quietly as possible so as not to disturb the sleeping Bruce. "Over here, son."
Johnny heard Wayne calling and hurried over.
"Martha, may I introduce you to a very good friend of mine? Johnny Grayson, of the Flying Graysons, the Haly Circus' family of aerialists."
"You tried to stop them that night," Martha said by way of recognition. "When they first grabbed Bruce and me off the street. I'm so happy to see that you're all right. When I heard the shot, and saw you fall, I was so afraid that they had--" she stopped, a small sob escaping. She held her hand out to Johnny and looked at him, her eyes filled with gratitude.
"How can I ever thank you, or repay you, for what you've done tonight? For me? For my baby?"
Johnny shrugged. "I just couldn't stand by and let those monsters hurt a baby, ma'am. Or his mother. It just wasn't right what they did. Besides, I kept hearing little Bruce's cries in my sleep. I knew I had to do something." He smiled broadly.
"But the doc here deserves most of the credit. If it weren't for his 'Presto Change-o' magic trick, we never would've found you." He smiled up at Wayne. "Your husband is really brave, Mrs. Wayne just like Papa up on the trapeze when he performs his solo act without a net." He paused, holding her eyes steadily.
"And you, Mrs. Wayne, you're brave, too. Like Mama up on the high wire." He smiled, his gray eyes admiring. "I think that the Waynes would make a great addition to the Haly Circus, ma'am. And when Bruce grows up just a little, I can teach him to walk on the high wire--just like a real aerialist."
Martha smiled, her eyes bright with tears. She pulled the boy down to her and kissed him gently on the cheek.
"Thank you, Johnny," she said simply.
The ambulance attendant broke in. "Dr. Wayne? We really need to go, sir." Wayne nodded. He handed baby Bruce to Martha.
"I'll follow the ambulance in the sports car, dear," he said softly. "You obey your doctor's orders, young lady. Y'hear?" He kissed her tenderly on the forehead. Martha held his hand, until the stretcher was loaded onto the ambulance.
Johnny and Wayne watched as the doors were slammed shut and the lights and sirens turned on.
Turning to head to where they'd left the sports car, they were stopped again by Gordon. Special Agent Reed had joined him.
"The brothers' statements, Grady and Timothy, AKA Tip, Finnegan, are enough for us to pick up Daggett on two federal counts of kidnapping and false imprisonment. I've already sent several units to his penthouse to have him taken into custody." Gordon paused. "Thomas, I think that it's finally over."
Wayne looked at him, tiredly shaking head.
"It'll be over when I can finally bring my wife and son home to stay, Jim, and not before," Wayne said. "I guess, Johnny, that tonight's adventures will be Dr. Mid-Nite and Kid Acrobat's debut and swan song. What do you say? Ready to go?"
Johnny nodded, happy with the way everything had turned out. Wayne placed a warm hand on Johnny's shoulder and they both turned to go.
Acknowledgement: This is in answer to a story challenge at Untold Tales mailing list.
All characters are DC Comics
This story is © 2000 by Syl Francis.
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