If you’re a DC Comics fan, the title for this one will likely intrigue you. Sadly, the story does not center on the dynamic duo. It doesn’t even follow more generic, copyright friendly expies of the caped crusaders. Rather, they have only a symbolic tie to the piece, which focuses on a man who gets into a fender bender after a meal with his Alzheimer’s afflicted father.
A majority of the story is fleshing out the main character, named Doug Sanderson. We learn that he had a brother who died some time ago and we see the various hardships that come with caring for a loved one who suffers from the condition. Ultimately, it has little to do with the titular altercation, but it does allow you to establish a connection to the guy rather than seeing him just as he’s about to get pummeled.
As to what Batman and Robin have to do with it; it’s explained that Doug and his father dressed up as the heroes for Halloween for one year; as noted, it’s purely a symbolic connection. It’s a shame as having a character get into a fender bender with the dark knight isn’t a bad plot hook.
Instead, it’s just a big guy who likely spent a lot of time in prison. He’s not exactly a memorable villain, but his only role is to punch the main character really hard. All we learn is that he doesn’t have a lot of money (or insurance or a driver’s license) and that his girlfriend is rather supportive. Considering how small a role he plays, it’s a decent amount of information, but he’s still a fairly flat antagonist.
It would have been nice to see Doug put up a better fight. Having him lose makes sense and it does give his father a chance to shine, but have him at least try to throw a punch. It really isn’t much of an altercation as it’s one sided the entire time.
It’s a simple story and it’s an easy enough read, but there’s not a whole lot of meat to it. Really, the biggest let down comes from the misleading title. Speaking of misleading, the intro also paints a false picture. When Stephen King talked about road rage between a father and son, one would be led to believe that a father and son would be fighting each other. It would also tie into the title to a greater extent as Batman and Robin do have a familial relationship. Considering the father’s state, it’s probably a good thing the son didn’t fight him, but what we get isn’t quite what was teased. All in all, this won’t go down as one of the greats in Stephen King’s short fiction catalog, but it isn’t a bad one by any stretch.