by Vendikarr DeWuff
Jay Garrick came to a stop outside the tent set up behind the speaker’s platform at the FDR Memorial. Looking at his wife, he remarked, “You’d better fix your hair, hon. It’s a little messy.”
Joan Garrick nodded to him and walked off to find a mirror. Jay and his son John stood in the tent, just watching the people running back and forth. Then Amanda Waller walked up to them.
“Mr. Garrick, glad you’re on time. Lord is up on the platform talking about the formation of the party. If you stand near the tent flap, you should hear your name. Then you and your family should go up to the platform, and you can give your speech.”
“I understand, and I spent a few minutes on the way here preparing a few words.”
“Not necessary, Mr. Garrick. I have a speech prepared. If you can just look it over, we can go out in a few minutes. Looks like a full house. May not have the main anchors, but appears the networks and most major news outlets are represented. Lord even got a break into network airtime. How he got that, I have no idea.”
“Well, he’s an important man.”
“Not that important. Now familiarize yourself with that speech; you go on in a few minutes,” replied Waller. She then walked off and left Jay and John standing alone.
“She’s a rather powerful person,” commented John Garrick.
“That she is. I think we’re lucky to have her helping us. I sure wouldn’t want to be opposing her.”
Joan then walked over, seeing her son standing there while her husband was pacing nervously. “Jay, stop that. You’re going to wear a rut into the ground,” she said.
“I only did that once. It’s not like it’s a regular occurrence.”
“When did you do that?” asked John.
“The day you were born,” replied his father.
Jay decided to do something constructive, and walked over to the press table, familiarizing himself with the names and organizations each reporter belonged to. He picked up a press kit and saw that it, too, had a copy of the speech Amanda Waller had prepared for him. Thorough, he thought to himself.
“Jay, sounds like he’s wrapping up. Come here,” Joan called, and Jay walked to the open tent flap.
Through the flap, he heard, “So that is why we felt a new party was necessary. And now we would like to introduce you to the man we have chosen as the first presidential candidate of the All-Star Party. Mr. Jay Garrick, the Flash!”
If Cat Grant hadn’t been forewarned about that announcement, she felt she would have had the same shocked look on her face as most of her colleagues now had. She could tell a few knew, or at least suspected by their reaction, but most were caught completely by surprise. Good. Then the questions she had prepared would be better than the generic ones the others would come up with.
Jay took the podium, and she watched. “Hi everyone. Great day, isn’t it? I’ve always loved Washington in the fall; it’s such a beautiful place.” He paused, then looked down at the pages he held in his hand.
“The people here were kind enough to prepare a speech for me. It’s a great speech. But I’m not going to read it. I need to talk to you from the heart. But don’t worry. You’ll all get to see a copy of the speech. It’s in your press kits.”
Cat then quickly flipped to a blank page in her pad, and her new partner Terry Chase turned on her tape recorder, both hoping to catch every word spoken.
“I have agonized over what to call everyone. I loved the phrase ‘My fellow Americans,’ but former President Nixon tainted that one for me. Calling you friends would not be accurate. I have plenty of friends, but I won’t generalize. I think I just settled on you the people. I know, not the best, but I am betting someone will come up with something better.
“Great place they picked for this, isn’t it? I knew FDR. You people may think I am a hero, but a man like him, he’s the hero. It’s likely things would be very different in the USA if not for old FDR.” Jay turned and looked at the statues of him with the JSA. “I remember when that photo was taken. I still say the picture made me look fat. But Joan said I looked fine. Oh, everyone, over here is my wife Joan and my son John. You’re going to be seeing a lot of them in the years to come.
“Let me get to why I am here. You have been told about the party. It’s a great idea. This country needs it. You may not know why, so let me tell ya. I have seen the parts of the country ravaged by the Crisis last year. Much of it isn’t fixed yet. Mrs. Waller, my campaign manager, had mentioned to me Cabrini-Green in Chicago, so I stopped by. I knew it was a tough neighborhood before, but now it’s worse — armed camps, wrecked buildings, the people living in fear. To tell you the truth, I didn’t know that was happening.
“You see, in the JSA, we have looked at things with a narrower scope. We fight the villains, the disasters, the arch-criminals. We were better about the common man in the old days. But things just kept us busy. Maybe we were too busy. What we did needed doing; the fights were necessary. But now I see more is necessary. The JSA has saved this world more times than I can count. But saved it for what — for the suffering I have seen? Well, when my old friend Neptune Perkins and Mrs. Waller came to me, I had no real choice.
“The need for the new party is simple. It’s become obvious that the current parties can’t or won’t do what needs to be done to get everyone in this country back on their feet. The All-Star Party can. I am an All-Star, as are my friends Dan Dunbar and Neptune Perkins. And from what I am told, more are jumping on the bandwagon every day. Pretty amazing, considering this whole thing was supposed to be a secret.
“Well, I wanted to keep my remarks to the people short, so let me just state it for the record. My name is Jay Garrick, and I’m running for President. Are there any questions?”
The White House:
“Very nicely done. I’d better be careful; I think somebody is after my title as the Great Communicator.”
“No, not really. After all, despite the disclaimer, I’m sure he had that all written ahead of time.”
“I wouldn’t be so sure about that, sir,” commented Red Robin, a bemused smile on his face. “I’m sure the prepared speech is quite different. But remember, he has a little advantage in public speaking — when your mind is moving a couple hundred times faster than anyone else’s, it’s pretty easy to decide what to say to a group.”
Ronald Reagan nodded in agreement. “A good point, my friend. Just as Mr. Garrick has an excellent point about our recovery from the Crisis. We’ve been doing what we can, but obviously it hasn’t been enough for all parts of the country. I just hope that, if he wins, Mr. Garrick isn’t too disappointed when he discovers how difficult it is to do anything with real meaning in this office.”
At that moment a flurry of hands flew into the air, all the people shouting his name. He pointed to one.
“Flash, what about the JSA? Will they be involved in your campaign?”
“First, call me Jay. The Flash isn’t running. As a matter of fact, for the duration, the Flash is retired. Secondly, except for a time as the Justice Battalion in World War Two, the JSA is not political. As an organization they don’t endorse candidates. But as individual Americans, they will just follow their hearts. My friend Wildcat is here, spotted him a little while ago.” Jay peered out into the crowd, then pointed. “Hey, ‘Cat.”
“Hey, Jay!” Wildcat called back.
“Next question,” said Jay Garrick, pointing to someone else.
“Mr. Garrick, Cat Grant, Metropolis Daily Star.”
“Daily Star? How’s that old son of a gun Jim Olsen? You tell him I said hi when you get back.”
“Er, yes, sir. Mr. Garrick, there have been reports of a super-speed-empowered youngster running around in Gotham with the group calling itself the Junior JSA. Is that your son?”
“Cat, you know there are laws protecting the I.D. of heroes?”
“Yes, sir, but honesty and trust are necessary for you to be accepted by the American people. Are you going to keep secrets from us?”
“Ms. Grant, everyone has their secrets. And I guess that by running for office, I am asking to be put under the magnifying lens. I can speak about myself, but my family, they are not running for office and are not open for discussion.”
And from the back of the platform, he heard John say, “Dad, it’s OK.”
Jay turned from the podium and addressed John, “No, it’s not.”
“Yes, it is, Dad. I won’t mess this up for you.”
John walked to the podium. “Hi, Ms. Grant. I am John Garrick, and yes, I am Whiz Kid. And that is all I have to say on the subject.” John then smiled at his mom and dad and took his seat.
The press conference went on asking about super-heroics, politics, and about agenda items Jay was not ready to discuss. After about a half-hour’s time, Amanda Waller walked up to Jay and said something silently.
“Sorry, everyone, no more time for questions. I am told I am booked for TV appearances across the country for the evening news and have to run.” Jay then waved to the crowd, and he and his family left the podium.