, please hold for transfer." The receptionist
set the phone down and adjusted the frames of her horn-rimmed glasses, and flicking a stray blond lock from her flawless face. She carefully read the application form that had been submitted by the man eagerly standing in the center of the room.
She took a careful look at him. He was of an indistinguishable age, probably early thirties. Tall, muscular, undoubtedly handsome beneath that black mask, and wearing a neat, pinstriped baseball uniform
that looked like something from the 1940s, though with a decidedly modern looking batter's helmet. He wore, as well, a shoulder belt, by which he carried on his broad back three baseball bats.
"Mr.-- Wayne?" The receptionist seemed slightly unsure.
"Oh, Wayne's my first name. My last name is Bruce. So Bruce-comma-Wayne
"Mr. Bruce," the receptionist began delicately, "I'm sorry, but you can't use the superhero name you've indicated as a preference."
Wayne Bruce looked downfallen. "But why not?"
"Well, because there's already a superhero called Batman
"But 'Batman' is just a comic book character. I'm for real. And besides I'm not 'Batman,' I'm 'The Bat Man.' You see, there's a pause there. I mean, ever since my father gave my great-grandfather's mystically enchanted baseball bat to me and I discovered the abilities passed down along the generations--" Wayne Bruce held out his hand, and the middle of his three bats flew off his back and into his hand. He hoisted it up on his pointer finger and spun it around, then grasped the handle and whirled it back and forth in a blur before flipping it high up in the air, only to have it land snugly on his back, right where he had taken it from.
He grinned a rock-solid grin at the receptionist. "Most anything you throw at me -- a rock
, a tank
, a bolt of lighting
, I can knock it out of the park with my trusty bat, and make it land right where I want it to, too. So it only makes sense that I would be called The Bat Man."
"Sir," the receptionist replied with a well-practiced evenness, "you can't be The Bat Man. People already have a different superhero in mind when they hear that name."
"Even if," she silenced him with a single finger in the air, "he is
just a comic book superhero."
"Well then.... what am I supposed to call myself? I mean," he gestured broadly at his outfit, "I've already got this whole gimmick going on."
"What is that writing on your bat?"
"Oh, Louiseville Slugger. It's a Louisville Slugger
"Then how about 'The Louisville Slugger'?"
"But I've never even been
"Okay then, how about, 'The Slugger
Wayne Bruce furrowed his brow a fold. "Wasn't there a supervillian called 'The Slug
"Hardly a supervillian -- in fact, there's
somebody who nobody will think of if you call yourself," she leaned in towards him, "'The Slugger
He half-stepped back. The way it had sounded coming from those honeyed lips just then.... well, it was just dandy!! Marvelous, even!! Wayne Bruce hefted his main bat and took a practice swing, booming out, "The Slugger!!" He nodded his approval as she handed him back the clipboard.
As Wayne Bruce -- The Slugger
-- left, another applicant entered. This one was a plump, red-masked chef
, with a large black cooking pot under his arm, and an oversized ladle
in the opposite hand. "I come to register as a superhero," he declared with rolling r's highlighting his thick French accent. "Vis my mama's magic recipe, I stop ze villains by pouring enchanted soup
"Oh no," the receptionist moaned to herself, "don't tell me--"
"Yes!!" the chef continued, "I am Soup-pour Man!!"