I keep thinking I need a new title for these recurring reports on the Monk saga. After all, I'm free of his clutches at last; I'm a new (Bat)man!
At least for now. I feel absolutely great--stronger, clearer than ever regarding my identity as a hero. But--as I expected--there are still lingering traces of his influence over me. While withdrawal hasn't been nearly as painful as I'd assumed it would be, it's still a struggle sometimes. And I've been lucky to have been so busy in my daylight life that I haven't had much chance to think about the other one. Sooner or later real-world obligations will let up, and that's when I'm most vulnerable. (To the Monk, at least. But actually I've noticed that the "ratself" tends to be strongest at precisely those moments when I'm most stressed out--tired, open to self-doubt, etc.)
Tonight I suited up, as I've been doing as often as possible lately (and let me tell you: it feels damn good to be back in that uniform), and one of my colleagues--the one whose capture by the Monk I am directly responsible for--wanted to see me on camera. "Man, you even look like him now," he said.
That was creepy, because I'd had exactly the same thought when I looked at myself in the mirror with the mask on a few days ago. The new one is a tight fit, and it contorts my features in a way that distinctly recalls my archenemy's face. It was almost as if I was looking at him--as if he really was "inside" me, as he'd insisted was the case. I told myself at the time that it was just my imagination--after all, the Monk's parting words to me were intended to fuck with my head and convince me that this newfound "freedom" was really just a new form of captivity, that I was simply doing exactly what he wanted me to do by reclaiming my old identity. But I admit it's an effective mindfuck.
Speaking of which, have I ever unleashed my spiel here about how amusing I've always found those classified ads that demand "no game players"? While it's true that I don't really want to be jerked around by a real-life partner, in this particular fantasy realm, what I'm looking for is an excellent game player--since this is, after all, a game at its very core. And when you get right down to it, aren't most human interactions one sort of game or another? In any case, the man beneath the Monk is one of the best--no, the best--I've ever encountered, and obviously I miss the regular interactions with him I once enjoyed, as I figured I would. But something tells me he's not gone for good.
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