"Tenses": Ted Krosby sits inside the human resources department as Edward Burns and another employee review his file, which contains an incident report from three weeks ago.
Appearing in "Tenses"
- William Black
- Ted Krosby
- Edward Burns
- Carl T. Morgan
- Daphne Caldwell (Mentioned only)
- Liz (Phone call only)
Synopsis for "Tenses"
Ted Krosby sits inside the human resources department as Edward Burns and another employee review his file, which contains an incident report from three weeks ago.
Ted thinks they're talking about his mother's recent death, but they're not: They're referring to a customer service incident that occurred just before Christmas when Ted tried to dissuade a Miss Daphne Caldwell from purchasing a blouse, which he claimed was because he knew she would only wear it to her boss's Christmas party and return it the next day.
Suddenly Ted sees a vision of Burns dying in a violent car accident where he goes crashing through the windshield of his car.
Ted rubs at his head as Burns says he can see why Daphne Caldwell was upset and raised her voice. Customers don't like to be told they're cheats.
Ted says he knows he's been distracted lately... he's been having these nightmares... but he used to be a good worker. Burns says he only brought it up because he was curious. It doesn't have anything to do with "this"--Kane's Department Store is a subsidiary of Wayne Enterprises, and ever since Bruce Wayne returned to Gotham and took his place as CEO, he's been trimming the fat off his various companies. Ted has been downsized.
Ted stands in front of his employee of the month photo, shocked.
Bruce Wayne is at an upper-class party where he is dancing with a young woman while the other guests comment on how he's making a real mess of the company. He evades the business advice of his dance partner's father and heads out onto the balcony to pour out his gin and tonic.
A reporter named William Black from WGGC-TV corners him there and states that Bruce stinks of a story. He notes Bruce's sudden reappearance in Gotham and his history as well as his recent, strange financial decisions. He wonders how much people know about him.
Bruce says people know what he wants them to know, and he refuses Black's suggestion of an interview. When he says the interview is over, two security guards grab Black and remove him from the balcony. Black leaves, saying, "Think about what I said, Wayne... come out from the shadows..."
Ted goes to visit his mother's grave. He tells her that he still hasn't heard from "you know," but his mourning is cut short when he sees a skeleton lying against a tree nearby and stumbles forward, landing on his mother's grave. When he looks again, the skeleton is gone.
A smuggler named Lance and a colleague are celebrating a successful haul of military-grade explosives when one of them notices Batman crouched on the crates. He jumps down, landing on top of Lance, and he takes out his friend by firing his grappling gun through his shoulder. The other smugglers at the docks pull out their guns and fire at Batman, but he pulls down a crate on top of them, accidentally setting off a blaze when one gunshot goes stray and hits the crate. Lance recovers and calls Batman a "damn freak" before jumping down into the bay to escape.
A homeless man asks Ted for change. Ted pictures the man strung up from the fire escape overhead and panics, frightening off the man.
Bruce stands in front of the board of Wayne Enterprises and tells them he's not happy. He knows that some of them have devoted their lives to creating this company and making it strong, and he's grateful, but when he looks at these figures, he's not happy. He doesn't enjoy seeing his resources wasted, so more streamlining is in order. One board member says that drastic cutbacks could send mixed signals in the business community, but that's not Bruce's priority. And since Wayne Enterprises isn't a democracy, his priorities are the ones that matter.
Ted is drinking at a bar with a woman, who asks him to meet her in the phone booth around the corner in "fifteen." Ted tells her "thirteen"... is how many puncture wounds they're going to find in her stomach when they discover her corpse in an alley off 21st street. The woman storms out of a bar, and Ted tells the bartender that they never believe him. Then he tells him that a grease fire is going to take out most of his apartment, to bet on the Gotham Griffins to win the pennant within this decade... He knows too many things that haven't happened yet, but they will.
Ted drunkenly rambles to Lance about how his mom died of a heart attack in front of the TV, but she was dying of loneliness ever since his father left when he was a little kid. His mother never remarried, but his father has a new wife and new kids. He's tried to envision his father's death, but that one won't come to him.
Lance says Ted should be using his power to make money. He takes Ted with him when he and his colleagues go to rob a dead woman in a funeral home--and Ted, waiting out in the van, can't believe that he correctly predicted the woman's death.
Bruce puts himself through a punishing workout down in the Batcave before taking a shower. Afterwards, he wipes the mirror clear to see hthat is reflection is his own boyhood self. He punches the mirror, shattering it.
Lance and his crew celebrate their successful robbery, but they've only just begun. Ted hesitates, so to motivate him into making another prophecy, they beat him viciously.
Bruce has dinner with his stockbroker Carl T. Morgan, who says he doesn't know or care why Bruce is cutting back so much, but he's establishing a dangerous precedent. Other companies are wondering if he knows something and if they should follow his lead, which could put a lot of people out of work. Does he know something? Bruce says he knows himself, and he's not responsible for what other companies do. Carl refuses to believe that Bruce can believe that. He downsized two thousand workers last month, how much money does he need?
William Black walks up behind Bruce and says they don't understand Bruce, not like he does. When Carl excuses himself to call his wife, Black takes his seat and makes insincere small talk about family, asking if Bruce has any. Bruce knows that Black is well-aware of his situation. He tells Black to stop hounding him, or he'll sic his lawyers on him. Bruce pays the bill and leaves.
Ted wakes up from a dream of his abuse at his father's hand. He looks out the window and sees a vision of the building opposite going up in flames.
Bruce is in his office the next day, talking to his secretary over the intercom, when he notices a building on fire nearby. He tells her he's leaving early and, as Batman, he goes inside to rescue a little boy named Frankie who is trapped inside. He takes Frankie down to the ground near the Batmobile and tells him to go find his family.
Batman turns on the car and immediately learns of the robbery in process at Kane's Department store, where Lance's crew are taking advantage of the store's failure to hire a new security director after the last one had a stroke two days ago.
Ted is serving as lookout, but when he has a vision, he runs inside and tells Lance he can't take it anymore. Lance beats him, even though one of his colleagues asks whether that's really helping, because it's "a great stress-reliever."
The room then fills with gas as Batman falls upon the crew. Ted has a breakdown and tries to run away, so Batman knocks him down and ties him up. He notices that Lance has escaped him again.
Bruce returns to Wayne Manor where he finds it impossible to sleep. He takes a walk in the snow while wearing only boxer briefs.
Ted is committed, and in his cell, he has a vision of the end of the world. The guards rush in, and Ted asks them, "Ever... wonder what... comes after the end of the world...?" He turns to them, grinning, his forehead bleeding. "Me," he answers.
- This book was first published on August 27, 2003.
- Tenses is set just over a year after Bruce Wayne returned to Gotham on January fourth and about three weeks after Christmas, placing it in January of Batman's second year.
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