by Al Maudlin.

I spent 125 hours on the costume and about three thousand dollars in rubber, molding, paint, tools and accessories.  I gave up three weeks of vacation to build the suit that perfectly matched the 1992 Batsuit seen in “Batman Returns” based on my extensive research into the designs including rare magazines, screen captures and other artists’ designs.  I lost 35 pounds to fit into the suit as it was sized originally for Michael Keaton’s proportions and I trained my voice and mannerisms accordingly.

I wanted to be a hero. I wanted to save the day somehow, be a light in some child’s dark time.  I’d never solve crimes or beat down super villains, but maybe I could help in this small way.  So I became Batman and volunteered at the city pediatric cancer center.

The staff was nice and people cheered as I walked through the hospital lobby.  There were pictures taken and handshakes with the staff.  I stopped off in the cafeteria and posed with doctors and nurses, shared thumbs-up with secretaries and felt like a star.  I was there to save the day and even the doctors were thrilled to see me.  They took me to the treatment wing where kids from three to eighteen were battling all kinds of degenerative illnesses, mainly cancer.  I was overwhelmed as they looked up to see me, some looking more exhausted than I’ve ever been in my life.  They raised their hands to wave, bright eyes beaming from over face masks and skull caps.  Beautiful babies fighting to survive the worst battle of their lives.  Somehow they saw me and saw hope.

I turned a corner and one of my handlers told me I had to meet Brian.  He was looking so forward to meeting me, she said.  He couldn’t wait.  So I went into his room and there he lay on his bed, a kid almost nine years old – thin and hairless tied to machines pumping poison into his body that they hoped would kill his bone cancer before it killed him.  He looked up to me and he cried. His cracked lips parted into a weak smile.  His eyes were full of hope.

“BATMAN,” I said. “Thank God you’re finally here.”  He put his arms out toward me.

“Did you bring my cure?”