From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: “Operation Mancave” complications

Master Bruce,

I hope that you are staying safe as you track Ra’s al Ghul through the sands of North Africa. I also hope that you have Wi-Fi, as I have a somewhat urgent request. You see, I find myself overseeing of the most audacious subterranean construction project in the history of mankind. I beg you to abandon it, because the crew is catching on.

They are paid well to not be curious. But it has been many months of toiling in the depths of a vast, damp, underground chamber. And the questions have begun to trickle in, like drops from a stalactite.

“Are you sure Mr. Wayne needs these titanium bomb doors to his—uh, what’s this room for again?” one worker asked.

“An indoor track,” I said, from inside your Batplane hangar.

“Oh, right. Are you sure he needs the titanium bomb doors to his indoor track triple-reinforced?”

“Yes, please.” I said. “Paparazzi,” I suggested.

It took an entire IT team to install and waterproof your 600-terahertz supercomputer in the “theater room.” One man said to his colleague, “This is an awful lot of processing power for a hole in the ground.”

“He must watch Blu-rays or something,” said his friend. Rather a freebie, I suppose.

I admit that the rank-and-file are not the brightest bunch. At any given moment, I reckon that roughly half of them are either scratching their bums or playing an alarming game they call “Jackhammer Chicken.” But Master Bruce, even a blind squirrel finds a nut from time to time. And this small army of squirrels puts your nuts in grave danger.

Far worse are the municipal inspectors; they are not so easily thrown off the scent. Last week, one approached me.

“Your lab isn't up to code,” he said.

“I'm sure I don't know what room you mean,” I bluffed. “There isn't any ‘lab.'”

“The room that's outfitted for forensic pathology?” he said, showing me the blueprints. “It's not up to code for that use.”

“Oh, you mean the game room?” I said.

“Game room?”

“Yes! We're, er, planning to put a billiards set in there.”

“Next to the autopsy table?” he asked.

“Erm, yes,” I said.

“We put hors d'oeuvres on it,” I said.

“Because it's easy to wheel around,” I said.

And not three days later, I fought with the same inspector over the fate of your beloved underground waterfall. He pointed out, rightly, that its splashing causes a serious slip hazard. I told him that damming it was a nonstarter. He asked why. I passed it off as the eccentric fancy of a bored plutocrat. Perhaps I should have told him the truth—that you really like how it's “so broody”?

Truthfully, I can deal with the crew and the inspectors. But have you considered that one of Gotham's ten million residents might notice the cavalcade of excavators, backhoes, bulldozers, and cranes going in and out of a giant opening in the Earth about three acres from your estate?

Or do you think that perhaps a supergenius like the Riddler might notice a subtle clue like the *million-and-half bloody bats* that pour out of the cave mouth every morning when the machines arrive?

I shudder to think that I first inspired this madness. You had outgrown your batarang cubby in the conservatory and needed more space for your vigilante operations. I will forever rue my proposal: together, we would render hospitable a modest space in the caverns near the estate. A touch of drywall, a smattering of electrical outlets, a rudimentary water closet. A small headquarters and a serviceable safehouse, should the need arise.

Yet today, I found myself supervising the installation of an enormous underground hydraulic car platform, which spins up through a bladed aperture mechanism—all a quarter of a mile beneath the earth’s surface, of course. One of the welders turned to the foreman and said, “Boy, you'd think he'd be parking the Batmobile on here or something.” My blood froze. The foreman responded, “Come on, Batman would never draw this much attention to himself.”

You'd certainly think so, wouldn't you, Bruce?

Perhaps you think I am wringing my hands for nothing. I know that I am prone to nag you about trivialities: your reputation and family name, the solvency of your global megacorporation, the state of your spinal cord. I’m sure my anxiety stems from the deep love that every butler feels toward his billionaire.

But set aside the noise, the scaffolding logistics, the liability insurance. You are jeopardizing your most precious asset—your identity itself! And I cannot stand idly by while these sweaty hard-hats hawk their loogies closer and closer to your most sensitive secrets. I beg you, turn back from this audacious enterprise, lest your hubris prove your downfall!

Perhaps you would allow me to convert the conservatory into a headquarters for you instead? I would make it as broody as you could possibly imagine. You have my solemn word.

Your devoted servant,
Alfred

Join upcoming November classes in Satire Writing, Sketch Writing, and Stand-Up Joke Writing.