Jim Reed A.K.A Flex, one of Port Alexander’s newest heroes, was using the opportunity since gaining his new powers to turn over a new leaf seeking to leave behind a broken life as well. He worked now at the Wander No More house as a general handy man. But in the evenings Jim sought to use his powers as Flex to help others but without the power to strike back.
His last case had finished only the night before with Flex escaping from Dr. Saruva, the man partially responsible for Jim becoming Flex. Into the bargain he had managed to free a number of prostitutes, Saruva had been using as his guinea pigs in his twisted genetic experiments.
Flex had stuck around long enough for the police to take in Jackal, one of Saruva’s super powered henchmen, then ducked out. "I still feel somewhat disorientated." Jim thought to himself. The adventure had began when he had been trying to rescue what he thought was a girl about to be mugged, only to find he was the target not her but him. "Funny they then thought about torching the place, the girls and all. Saruva had been so protective before!" Jim continued in his musings as he took in what had happened. He still felt physically tired, what with work his training and his patrolling, life had been busy.
Jim saw that he had left the window open when he entered last night, he got up to look out. Even before he got to the window he could hear the paper seller down the street. Although still partially asleep, as Jim turned to the mirror something bothered him. The daily chore of shaving was one that Jim’s new powers made irrelevant. Since he could shape change he could grow hair or make it disappear! But somehow since being a boy he had always enjoyed the thought of shaving. He remembered watching his dad still hold to the old ways of using a cut throat razor. Jim shuddered, he loved watching his dad carefully trim his face but always held his breath so as not to disturb his dad - least he cut himself in the process. Now Jim found some comfort still in the daily routine of shaving, although he much preferred a electric shaver. "It makes my skin crawl just to think of having a naked blade that close to my throat every morning." Jim thought.
It was not until he had got to brushing his teeth that it suddenly occurred to Jim what was wrong. He could still hear the seller and the news stand shouting out, "Saturday special! Get your Saturday Special!"
"Saturday, hang on." Jim thought, "But today is meant to be Monday." Jim didn't have time to think about what he had just discovered because he could hear a rattling at this door. His room was his own space. No one, ordinarily, would come in. "What was going on?" Moving without thinking about it Jim leapt out of the window, extending his arm and fingers like a whip he caught the familiar drain pipe outside that he had reinforced and used it to catch the wall before leaping past the second floor and onto the roof. With his window open and the street still quiet below Jim listened in. He could just make out Granny Maud’s voice. "Strange I could have sworn I heard young Jim moving about. Have you not heard anything from him?" "No mam! I tried missing persons and the place where his Mom is, but no one has seen him for over a week. Right about the time, we saw him last…." "That was Sarge." Jim thought. "…Although I don’t know what is going on I am afraid for that boy. I think he is hiding something." That may as be," said Granny Maude sharply interrupting Sarge, "But he has proven himself of worth and I trust him." "Well that may be, but after the trouble we have had recently, we can be none to careful about things. I will call some of my friends down at division, see if anything has come up."
Jim was glad he was sitting down when he had heard this, the voices quietened as the two left his room, locking it again behind them. "Heck I have missed a week. How long was I ought for?" Jim tried to piece the fragmented pieces of his memory back together as he thought through what had happened. When he had come to, he was in one of those glass tubes same as the women Saruva had operated on. "At the time I guess I had assumed that it was only a short while that I had been unconscious for. But a whole week…What am I going to do."
Just then the noise of an approaching jet momentarily drew Jim’s attention. "Hey that jet gives me an idea. I hate to lie, but I don’t know the Sarge well enough to tell him the truth. Besides I am not sure that he could let me stay here, if he knew who I was.
Gathering himself together, Jim checked the street to make sure it was clear before lowering himself back into his room. A short while later Jim had packed a bag and cleared the house. Going over the roof tops to avoid being seen, then after finding a quiet alley to alight into Jim walked back to the house. As he steeped into the wide entrance way Madeline, one of the volunteer helpers, almost dropped the tray she was carrying when she saw Jim walk in.
"What are you doing here, we thought…Sarge! SARGE get out here. You’ll never guess who has just turned up!" Madeline shouted in an excited fashion. Although Jim had been missing for a whole week he had not expected such a response especially from Madeline. She usually avoided him or at least never said much to him. Jim just thought that she was so engrossed in her studies, that she really did not pay him any mind.
Jim didn’t have time to consider this strange turn of events for with Madeline’s shout the whole house, it seemed, came running. Then came the questions. Jim hoped his story would hold. "Did you get my note…I am sorry I had to rush out…yes it was all last minute. Yes I am fine…the plane trip was tiring…I am the only living relative you know…it was urgent."
Jim hated fabricating such a lie but the house knew of his English background. His sudden disappearance seemed best explained by a emergency visit to a imaginary relative back in England. Although by the time the fuss had died down, most people just seemed relieved he was safe and well. The fact that messages had gone astray in the house before helped add credibility to his story, but Sarge still seemed to give Jim a puzzled look.
The rest of the day passed in a blur. Although technically it was Jim’s day off, a week out of action meant a lot of work had got piled up. So Jim got stuck in earnestly. Madeline passed by a couple of times, once even getting him some fresh coffee. Up until know he had not really noticed her. Jim’s luck with women had not been good so far. But now he Madeline was paying him some attention he suddenly realised how Madeline was actually a very attractive young lady. She was not around that much mostly at the weekends helping out partly because she needed cash to fund her studies. That is what Jim had been told. She was about his age but that was all Jim knew. "Hmm, I don’t even know what her last name is." Thought Jim as he sipped his coffee.
That evening as he was putting the tools away Sarge called Jim into his room for a beer. Jim felt more comfortable around Sarge than he had when he had first arrived. His unease was mainly down to the fact that he had a past. A past he did not want anyone, especially a retired Police officer, hearing about. They talked about football, catching up on all the house news and what had been happening in the area in the past week.
Just at the clock struck 11pm Sarge got up. "You know I really appreciate you Jim. You have been good medicine for Maude and the rest of the house. And what with the business with Dave and all…well its good that you’re back safe and sound. If you need to take off like that again though please let me know in person. Don’t leave a note. OK?"
"Absolutely, sorry and err…thanks", Jim blushed as he spoken, he had not been good with words, or more importantly with emotions certainly not in an open way such as this.
"Well I need to be turning in." Sarge spoke heavily as he opened his door to show Jim out. Just as Jim was going to walk through though, Sarge gently but firmly took his arm, "You know from the day I met you, I knew that you had been hiding something. We all have secrets you know. But sometimes we also need people to share those things with. You looked like a young man with many burdens. You know this places success is partly due to the fact that we can give people a helping hand. That people know there is someone who cares, unconditionally. If you need help you will let me know, won’t you?" Sarge looked Jim in the eye. "Jim, boy if there was ever a time to be calm and sincere then this is it." Jim thought, "Of course Sarge. I…I understand."
"I know your secret Jim." Sarge said looking more intently, and holding on to his arm now more tightly. "What…what do you mean?" Jim said trying to control any tremor in his voice.
"I mean I found out about your Mom, I did not mean to pry, you know. And I am sorry if you feel angry - but when you disappeared I looked into your background and found out about her. I am sorry to hear about her state Jim. If there is anything we can do to help you, you know we’re here for you. Sarge looked sincere and Jim just nodded. Relief washed over him mixed with fear. He could only hope that Sarge had not discovered anything else. Although Jim had talked about his Mom in passing somehow he could not bring himself to reveal the full story. "Thanks Sarge. Well must be turning in myself. Good night." Jim turned and walked up to his room. He felt so tired that he decided the Parts could do without Flex tonight, Jim was turning in.
Behind him the Sarge closed his door and moved to his desk, where he withdrew a file of papers. As he sat down to open them his fears only grew. "Had to pull a lot of favours to get this." Sarge mumbled to himself. "But now I know that you are not telling all the truth Jim, I don’t know what to do with you. I do know you are from England all right. But I also know from your Mom’s records, that you do not appear to having…any living relatives in England. What are you hiding Jim Reed? Surely it is more than your Mother's health…!"