Venting by Hugh Stan J. Schlicker

The therapist sits and studies her next three patients. They each wear some kind of costume. One is a man, one a boy, and the last a young woman. The boy is about thirteen; the girl looks to be in her late teens. The therapist assumes they are going to a costume party.

“Hello, I’m Dr. Ivy Pepper. I want to start by saying that this is a safe space. We can talk about everything that’s bothering you without having to worry about how it might make the others feel.”

They look at her; at least the man and the boy do. The girl seems glued to her phone.

Seeing they don’t know what to do, the therapist calmly suggests they tell her their names.

The man answers in a pleasantly deep voice, “I’m Batman, he’s Robin and she’s Batgirl.”

“Hi,” Robin says.

Batgirl looks at Dr. P., rolls her eyes, then goes back to her phone.

“So why are you three here?” the doctor asks. “What are you hoping to accomplish from this?”

“Let me go on record by saying I don’t want to be here,” Batman states.

Confused, the doctor asks, “So why’d you come here?”

“Robin made us come.”

Batgirl chimes in, not taking her eyes from her phone, “Yeah, he was, like, totes cray-cray, and I was like OMG, FINE! Leave me alone, you brat.”

“Okay, it seems you have something you want to talk about. Isn’t that right, Robin?”

“Um, yeah.” Robin takes a deep breath and exhales slowly before continuing. “Batman, you’re a good man, and your heart’s in the right place. But I have to ask. Are you out of your freaking mind?”

The sudden exclamation shocks both Batman and the doctor, and even makes Batgirl look up for a second.

“Seriously, Batman, every night we go out and fight crime. I’m thirteen years old. But you have me out getting into fist fights with drug dealers, murderers and child molesters.”

Robin stands and begins pacing back and forth, waving his arms and ranting on and on. Through all of it Batgirl just keeps texting.

“That’s not even the worst part,” he says, turning to the doctor, “Not only do we fight criminals, we also fight crazy people and monsters, one of whom is so messed up that he’s mutated with crocodile genes. Oh, and here’s the kicker. I’m not even the first Robin. Yeah, the first one had his head bashed
in by a guy who dresses like a freaking clown.”

For ten minutes, Robin rants before having to stop and catch his breath.

“Okay, Robin, it’s obvious you’re upset, but I need you to take a deep breath and sit down,” Dr. P. calmly suggests.

After Robin takes a seat, Dr. P. turns to Batman and asks, “Is that true?”

“Which part?”

“Any of it.”

“Yes,” Batman admits, “It’s all true.”

Absorbing this information, Dr. P. asks, “Now, Batman, do you think it’s a good idea taking a child out on these, er, expeditions?”

“What else are we supposed to do? I mean, it’s like our thing,” Batman says defensively.

“Well . . .”

“How about once in a while we just go out for pizza or something?” Robin asks.

Batman turns to Robin. “Okay, kid, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I drag you around fighting crime. How about next time we go out it’s just to have fun and hang out?”

“Sounds good,” Robin says with a small smile.

“Great, can we, like, go now?” Batgirl asks obnoxiously.

“No,” Robin says, turning to her. “We’re not going because you are completely unreliable. Just last night we fought some gang members, and I turn around and see you sitting in the Batmobile texting. What the Hell!”

Batgirl looks at Robin, then goes back to texting. “Ugh, Drama Queen much. OMG. It, like, wasn’t even that bad. You’re just totes cray-cray.”

“I had to fight five fully grown men. I got a bruised rib cage and a broken nose! Why didn’t you help me?”

“You were fighting in, like, an alley, and I didn’t want to get my boots all dirty.”

Robin gawks at her. “That’s your reason!?! Oh, I could’ve been killed, but your boots would’ve been clean! I mean that’s obviously more important than my life, right?”

“You know, it’s, like, whatev’s. I don’t even care anymore, I’m just gonna go.”

With that Batgirl stands and leaves the room with a fuming Robin hot on her trail.

Batman stands and shakes the doctor’s hand. “Thank you, Doctor, for all your help.”

Dr. P. smiles as she shakes his hand. “I just hope you and your kids work this out.”

“Oh, they’re not my kids,” Batman corrects her.

With a smile frozen on her face, she responds, “In that case, I’m calling Child Protective Services.”

Batman runs out of the room, and the doctor can hear him yelling as he goes: “Batgirl, Robin, we need to get the Hell outta here, LIKE, NOW!”

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