14 year old Kid Flash didn't like stopping.
Part of it was his joy in using his speed, zooming across the landscapes of cities, towns even states in the same time that other boys would take to sprint across a basketball court.
Another part was the damn suit.
He wasn't quite so small and skinny as he'd been when he first became Kid Flash at age 11 and 9 months. But at five foot four and a tiny waisted 107 pounds he still didn't hang around to let civilians see every muscle in his fat free body. He was proud of being the fastest boy alive. But the damn suit was just too revealing. Thankfully there was no seam in the back. At least it didn't ride up . . there. But everywhere else it stuck to his skin, not uncomfortably, but too revealingly even for the proud speedster. Even other heroes up in the Justice League Watchtower satellite used to smirk at him. The worst was almost literally bumping into Wonder Girl up there. A beautiful girl maybe the same age as him. He'd been anxious to meet her. Her eyes went from his head to his toes and back up. She smirked. Before he could even finish extending his hand to introduce himself, Wonder Woman swooped in and dragged her away. Damn suit.
He had developed a reputation for being a cocky wiseass. It wasn't exactly fair. A gesture here. A word or two there. The people who called him that didn't know that the sleek teen's body flooded with pleasing endorphins when he used his super speed. Oh, it was true that he'd showed off a half dozen times he went out as Kid Flash. But 5 of those 6 were seized upon by the local news and CNN while the other 200 times he'd gone out and patrolled or worked with Flash and been all business got ignored.
He's so cocky, he even wears a skin tight suit to show off!
Not exactly. A few years before, he'd even pleaded with Flash to let him wear a looser uniform or a black uniform. All black would be really cool! Flash said he understood that 12 year old Wally was self conscious about how obvious it made his speedster body. But Flash said it couldn't be looser, had to be skin tight so that it didn't move or bunch or ride up as they ran. They couldn't have any friction. And he said their uniforms should be bright. They should attract attention to themselves in public. The public should see them in a crowd and know it's them. Besides, he said, black's too negative. Villains wear black.
"Batman wears black," noted Wally.
"Yeah, well, Batman's a little off kilter," replied Uncle Barry before hurriedly adding. "Don't tell him I said that."
Wally nodded then sighed in frustration. Damn suit.
A week later, he rescued two sisters from a car accident in Jump City. The driver was 16, the other girl 15. They were driving home from their catholic private school. Their SUV started to roll over.
Courtney, the driver said she didn't know why and that she didn't do anything wrong. The car just careened out of control as if it had a mind of its own! Police said she was texting and putting a new CD in the Expedition's player when she hit the median strip.
The two girls might've died when the vehicle rolled and then slammed into a bridge abutment at 60 miles per hour. But just as the vehicle started to go out of control, Kid Flash was speeding past. He pulled both girls from the careening SUV leaving them gasping and stunned at the side of the road standing next to each other trying to stop flinching in anticipation of the accident and figure out how they'd gotten there.
"Wha . . ?! Wha . . ?! Wha . . ?!"
"Ohmygod . . ohmygod . . ohmygod!"
Fourteen year old Kid Flash zoomed back to them, standing a few inches shorter then both of them in their green plaid skirts and white blouses.
It didn't go at all the way he wanted.
Kid Flash remembered that Flash was always so commanding in those post rescue situations. But somehow he couldn't seem to consistently get the same response. No girl ever pulled Flash into a hug, thanked him over and over and then called him "Ohmygod, like, just the most delicious boy ever!" before convulsing in shrieks of joy. And no second girl ever took liberties like that with Flash's butt! God!!
He was also sure Flash would have gotten out of visiting their school when the principal showed up a minute later. Flash was so smooth at stuff like that. He didn't get roped into anything like that yet no one ever took offense at his excuse. But, somehow, Kid Flash couldn't seem to find any opening to get out of the guy's insistent invitation and found himself shaking the man's hand while the girls whispered back and forth behind him then burst into giggles. Damn suit.
He recounted his visit to Aunt Iris, terming it "the most humiliating half hour of my life". He didn't see why she got such a kick out of all those girls trying to pinch his butt and then asking him those risque questions in front of everybody at that school assembly. The principal had to step in and stop it.
There were some really pretty girls at that school though most of them were older than him. It was just so weird, all of them treating him like a walking . . sex toy or something. Hmmph. Speedy probably would've loved it. It was like the suit gave everyone permission to treat him like-like an object or something even though he wasn't doing that to them. Damn suit.
But he wasn't the only one who disliked his Kid Flash suit.
One day after school, he was ambling home in his hugely oversized pants, shirt, knit hat and sneakers bought from Goodwill when his ring vibrated twice on his finger.
Again, it vibrated twice. He jogged around a street corner to get out of sight of any other kids, then in a split second pulled off his regular clothes and pulled on his Kid Flash suit. He sprinted home so fast he was essentially invisible and dropped his clothes in his room, vibrating through one wall and out another. From there he sped off to police headquarters. He zoomed up five flights of stairs and, just 2 seconds after the signal had been sent to him, suddenly appeared in front of Winston, the african american police seargent with whom he always dealt.
"Winston?" he asked, waiting for the usual address and capsule description of the emergency. 432 Main Street, Jump City Bank's being robbed, or 4117 Taylor Road, got to evacuate an apartment complex where there's a gas leak.
This time, Winston just handed him a piece of paper with an address. 1581 Jump Boulevard.
"What's this, Winston?"
Winston smiled. "I can't tell you Kid. You just gotta go there. They want to talk to you."
"Who wants to talk to me?"
Winston shook his head with another smile. "Just . . just gotta go there, Kid."
Kid Flash looked back with a sigh. It didn't seem dangerous. Winston would never get him hurt but who was it who wanted to talk to him? He looked down at the paper. 1581 Jump Boulevard.
It wasn't an address with which he was familiar. He sped past the bank at 1571. Hmmph. Saved that one from a couple robberies. Then he slowed at the restaurant on the corner, 1591. He got the paper out from under his glove, standing there as a child just buckled into a safety seat in a mini van pointed at him and shrieked. "Mommy! Ki' Flass!!"
He waved without looking. No, it was 1581. Hmmph.
He jogged back the other way a hundred feet. Soaring spires. Stained glass windows. Gargoyles. Crosses. And the sign on the door read "Roman Catholic Church, Archdiocese of Jump City". Granite steps led up to two huge front doors but the small number on them was 1577. He looked to the right. Shaded by some huge maple trees and diligently maintained topiary was what looked like another squarish building attached to the side of the church. Kid Flash zipped to the door there. The number on it was 1581.
He knocked and heard a small voice beckon, "Come in."
He walked in and closed the creaky door. He stepped forward across groaning dark hardwood floors to a desk surrounded by books and papers and behind which sat a very small woman dressed in dark gray. The whole room was dressed in dark gray, it seemed. The books on the shelves that covered one wall, the dingy paint on the other wall, the floor, the ceiling. It seemed to him that he, with his orange hair and bright red and yellow uniform was the only color element in that dingy little black and white world.
"May I help you?" asked the little woman.
"I was told to come here to speak to someone."
"And you are?"
Kid Flash glanced around. Who else would I be dressed like this?
"Um, I'm Kid Flash."
"Oh, the boy they're expecting. I was wondering what that name meant. I-I don't keep up with things in the world of entertainment. But I-I'm sure you're a wonderful ballet dancer," she said with a very sympathetic smile.
Kid Flash sighed angrily and opened his mouth to correct her but decided it wasn't worth it and only nodded a sort of thank you. Then the woman got up and led him to a set of high double doors at the back of the room. She ushered him into the next room and closed the doors behind him. He found himself in a square shaped room 15 feet on each side with crammed bookcases and pictures of jesus and the pope on three walls and a desk with a window behind lowered blinds on the fourth wall. A series of 8 chairs were set in a circle around an open center of the room. On those chairs sat two nuns wearing habits, four priests, he knew that by their collars, another man in an old style dark suit and another in what looked like some kind of bishop or cardinal or church official's outfit. Again, Kid Flash felt like the only element of color in a black and white world. The man in the higher church official's outfit waived for Kid Flash to step forward into the center of the room onto the picture of Jesus on the cross that was woven into the thick black rug there.
Kid Flash felt apologetic somehow without a word having been said. He wished none of them could see him from behind or below the waist in front. Nuns and priests!
"So, you're Kid Flash, are ya?" asked the man in a slight irish accent.
"Yes sir, I'm he," Kid Flash nodded. He noticed, uncomfortably, all the religious icons behind the large desk and felt nervous that they might ask about his own religious affiliation, which was essentially none. And he noticed that 8 pairs of eyes, the eyes of priests, nuns and other church officials were intensely scrutinizing him standing still in his skin tight suit, a suit only meant to ease his moving at speeds that were practically supernatural. And the expressions on those 8 faces were very harsh.
He tried to settle on an appropriate posture. Slouching seemed almost like admitting a crime or sin to these people. But standing up straight, at attention, felt like he was almost inviting them to stare at his speedster butt. Nothing felt right. He kept shifting his weight and fidgeting.
"I'm Bishop Callahan," he said and went around the circle introducing the others. Kid Flash was so nervous the names barely registered. They were looking at him so sternly. There was a "Ryan" and a "Kennedy", a "Giavanello" too and one of the nuns was a Sister Margaret. He couldn't have said which was which and the other names didn't stick at all. He turned to face the first name and realized he was turning his Kid Flash suit clad buns toward a nun over his left shoulder. He almost froze. Every new name meant turning his back on another church man or woman. And he could see the way they were all looking at him. Minor shakes of the head. Little "hmmph" snorts. A nun's eyes widened in disgust staring at the front of his suit, the lower middle front. This was now beyond uncomfortable.
"You're probably wondering why we've asked you here, me boy."
"Yes sir, I am."
One of the priests cut in. "You don't call a bishop 'sir'. You call him 'your excellency'."
Kid Flash bowed his head slightly. "I-I'm sorry, your excellency."
"Don't worry, me boy. It's a pittance. Now, what would be your religious affiliation, Kid Flash?"
Kid Flash gulped. "Um, my family doesn't really go to, um, church much I think we're, um, metho . . . pisco . . . tarian, um something like that."
Damn, he knew he'd gotten that wrong. There were smiles all around but he could tell they were the sort of smiles of an adult at a child's charming ignorance. But at various times his mother had said she was methodist, episcopalian and unitarian.
"Well, whatever ya are my boy, I'm sorry you're not a catholic. Ya do fine work. Fine work indeed," he added in his slight irish brogue. "A boy of your age giving of himself to save the lives of others is a wonderful example isn't it my friends?"
Kid Flash stopped feeling quite so uncomfortable as he looked around the room. A session of thank yous wasn't torture.
"Goodness gracious, yes."
"Oh my yes!"
and several grunts of assent came forth.
"Well, thank you, your excellency. I-I just try to make the best of the gifts I've been given."
"Let me shake your hand," he said and held his out. Kid Flash stepped forward and shook his hand with his red gloved hand and the man reached up and patted his orange hair. He turned to a dark haired priest on one side.
"Don't tell me a boy like this isn't irish, Giavanello! Look at that hair! And what a handsome boy!"
There were mild chuckles around the room and Kid Flash smiled bashfully as well. He then withdrew a step back toward the middle of the room and but quickly a stern cold look fell across all their faces again and he was again feeling uncomfortably trapped standing still in his suit surrounded by the 8 sets of church eyes.
"It's hard to reproach a boy such as you, lad, but, we can't turn our eyes away from what's right and what's wrong and it's staring us right in the face right now."
There was a long pause.
Kid Flash glanced side to side. What the hell is he talking about?
"Sir? . . . I mean, your excellency?"
"The suit, me boy."
Kid Flash looked down at his chest. "My suit?"
"It's a provocation," harrumphed a voice from one side.
"An incitement," sneered a nun from the other side.
"A virtual demand to be thought of in the most sexual way possible!"
"And you a minor, me boy. You are a minor, aren't you?"
Kid Flash nodded as he blushed nearly as red as the bottom half of his uniform.
"Couldn't you wear a larger size of that suit? Do you have to show your behind like that?" asked the nun on the other side, pointing at said behind.
"And the front!"
"The-the suit only comes in one size," protested Kid Flash.
"Couldn't you wear one of Flash's all red suits?" asked one priest
"But father Ryan, then he wouldn't get to show off his ass end to all the girls." chuckled another.
"Or his other side, either," sniffed one of the nuns.
"It's the sin of pride, pride in his animal capacities."
"More like animal dimensions."
'If those even are his dimensions. I suspect there's padding under there."
"The colors are the first clue to the boy's true exhibitionist goal."
"I think they wore things like that at that Studio 54 discotheque."
"And they had orgies in there!"
Kid Flash made the time out sign with his hands and spoke around the circle.
"Hey! Hey! Hey! Time out! First of all, my suit and Flash's work the same way. They first expand when we take 'em out of our rings but after a few seconds exposure to air they try to shrink back down to like an inch long. It's one size fits all and so's Flash's."
"Son," the bishop took command again. "There must be another way. We can't have a supposed role model running around indecent like that."
"Well, there isn't another way. I'm a Flash. Kid . . . Flash. Get it? We run thousands of miles at a time sometimes. Our uniforms have to be form fitting."
"Me boy, other crime fighters get along without practically paintin' ther bodies like that."
"That archer boy, Speedy, his uniform's not so indecent as yours."
"Maybe that one's not quite so interested in showing himself to the girls?" chuckled a priest.
Kid Flash looked to the ceiling, unable to believe that he was being compared unfavorably to Speedy for modesty and comportment in front of girls.
"You were at St. Catherine's girls school the other day, weren't you? I heard there was quite a commotion."
"Well . . yeah," sighed Kid Flash.
"You didn't show every square inch of yourself to 800 girls by accident, did you?"
"Indecency like that in front of hundreds of girls!" a nun gasped.
"Time out! Time out, again. I do not dress like this to impress girls. Do you understand?"
A hush fell over the group. Glances darted about and eyebrows were raised. Kid Flash felt a slight bit of satisfaction. They were listening.
"I knew it! I knew it," said a priest on one side but Kid Flash saw his expression was anything but agreeable. "I mean, come on. The tight suit . . . the colors . . . this one's after the boys."
"The way he wears the front of that suit!"
Kid Flash glanced quickly down at the red bulge of his crotch.
"What other sort would pad the rear of his suit like that?" sneered a nun.
His eyes bulged out and he reached back with both hands. Padded?!
"Makes him even more appealing to the boyos' roving eyes. The wings on the side of his head are a signal."
The bishop clapped his hands. "Please, everyone, remember! Hate the sin but love the sinner."
"Were you abused as a child?" half whispered a priest.
"What?! No! Look, I'm not-I'm not gay. There-there wouldn't be anything wrong with it if I was. But I'm not." He paused then spun around toward the sneering nun. "And I don't have any padding under this uniform."
"Those are real?"she asked pointing again to the rear of his suit.
"Of course they are!" he said indignantly after spinning around to face her. "I sprint hundreds, sometimes thousands of miles at a time."
"And that bulge . . ?" asked the priest next to her.
"Have ya got a sock in there, me boy?" whispered the bishop conspiratorially.
"Of course not! No! The only thing under the suit besides me is my . . dance belt."
"Like ballet dancers wear?" smiled the priest who'd said he must be gay.
Kid Flash groaned. "Yes. It's what Flash gave me to wear."
"Well, there must be something else ye can do."
"No. There isn't."
"Look, son, the bottom line is that nobody wants a boy running around in front of the daughters of our parishioners dressed like you are. And I want you to know, we're not just picking on you. We had the black haired boy, your size, oh what's his name, in the green and red?"
"Robin," prompted a nun.
"Yes. Robin. We noticed in newsclip after newsclip his, well, his generative organ, flopping around in the front of his uniform."
"Ob-scene!" hissed a nun.
Kid Flash put one hand over his mouth to hide his smirk. How would anyone notice such a thing? He'd seen lots of clips of Robin and he'd never noticed any such thing. But, the thought of the high and mighty leader of the Teen Titans getting this treatment was quite appealing.
"If I only had the boy wonder's minimal endowment, your excellency, there might be more options. All I can do is wear what Flash gave me."
"Ye won't do anything to lessen yer indecency?"
"Have you no shame?" asked a nun wagging a finger at him.
The bishop grabbed a stack of photos from the desk behind him and waved them at Kid Flash. "There are only so many of you that are even close to fit to be role models for moral youth. Look at this girl."
The photo was a picture of Raven, not a particularly good one.
"Supposedly the daughter of a demon. And this one's some kind of alien. This one's a green boy that changes into every creature god ever created. There's some others we think are probably simply evil."
He stopped his little oration with a sigh of disgust. His hand slapped the stack of them limply down on the end table beside him. Kid Flash could see the the picture on top was a girl's face. It was a very pretty face with cat-like eyes. He turned his head to the side a bit to keep looking at it as a priest spoke.
"If the ones who can be decent moral role models won't, then what's to become of our youth."
Kid Flash stopped looking at the picture.
"Look. I'm a bit embarassed to be seen like this," he said patting his hip. "But it's what I am. And it was given to me by the best man in the world. Besides, I mostly just sprint around and people don't see me. Isn't the important part that I help save lives? If I have to look like this," he held his arms out gesturing to his whole body, "to do it then I will. So, I'm not trying to be rude but I'm going to stay this way."
He sprinted back to the hollow tree just up the street from his family's tiny house and pulled off the offending Kid Flash suit then pulled on his boxers, hugely oversized jeans and shirt, socks, sneakers from Goodwill and knit hat. His other uniform in place, he started shuffling toward home, pulling his pants back up every 50 feet or so.
Inside the front door of their little house, his mother was at the table in the kitchen, she gave him a scowl which seemed to prompt smirks from his sister and her two friends in the living room.
"I hate those clothes," she said with a shake of her head before looking back down at the most recent issue of Vanity Fair magazine. "But your Aunt Iris, the high and mighty star reporter, bought them for you so who am I to criticize. She probably thinks it's funny, her sister in law's boy dressing like some kind of thug with those clothes."
"I like 'em."
"Wally, we can barely tell it's you in there. Like I said, you look like some kind of thug."
His sister and her friends got a good chuckle at that one, Wally, the nerd to end all nerds, a thug!
"So, what should I do, wear an outfit that looks like it's painted on me like that Kid Flash?"
"Only that boy should wear something that tight," said one of his sister's friends with her face twisted into an expression of extreme displeasure. "On you or all the other boys in school?"
The girl shuddered.
For a moment he was insulted. But then he remembered Uncle Barry's suggestion to use moments like that. The edge of the carpet at the transition from kitchen to living room caught his eye.
He shuffled toward the girls. "Oh yeah and like any of you could be Wonder Girrrrrr-!"
At that moment, he tripped on the edge of the living room carpet and went flying, knocking over a table next to a chair and causing a cascade of magazines down onto his knit hat covered head. The girls fell over on the couch laughing, roaring anew when Wally looked up with his hat somehow down over his face. He scrambled to his feet and straightened things up complaining about the carpet edge as the girls caught their breath as they finally finished laughing at him.
"Yeah, okay nerd."
"Couldn't you calculate where that carpet would be, Gangsta Geek?"
More gales of laughter.
He shuffled over to his tiny room off the kitchen.
His mother shook her head in disgust. "Honestly Wally. You look ridiculous. You need to get something that you can at least move around in."
Wally said nothing and just shuffled to his 6 by 8 room and closed the door as far as it would go. He picked up one of his books on security systems and flopped down on his bed then glanced at his lightning bolt ring.
I've already got it, Mom. I've already got it.
Author's note: This story was inspired by seeing a VH1 behind the scenes episode about the 60's Batman TV show in which the actor who played Robin told the story of how some catholic league for decency or some such group kept complaining to him that his, um, equipment was flopping around too visibly in the front of his Robin costume. In the few reruns that I've seen I never noticed that but I guess I don't have a church official's eye for such things.