But he asked a direct question--even though he didn't know it related to me--and evading that would have felt like hiding it. Not my style. Besides, he was standing there with that cocky grin, talking about how you can always tell--some temptations are just too much.
So I filled him in, with a straight face, and then had to fight desperately to keep it at his expression. I couldn't resist tweaking him a little--"But you knew that, right?"
He stammered something so transparently untrue it should have set me laughing out loud...except my amusement was starting to fade. I'd figured on surprise, but...
I pushed it. "And it doesn't...bother you?" I knew it probably wasn't fair to ask while he was still reeling, but...I wanted to know.
His smile was bright and panicked. "Me? Gosh, no!" Uh-huh. I could feel my mouth twisting sardonically.
That's when he looked at his watch, babbled something about an appointment, and then--so help me--jumped off the roof. Well, all right, what he really did was run off the roof and down the side of the building, but he couldn't have made a quicker exit if he *had* jumped.
"Right," I told his absent back. "Glad it didn't bother you."
I hadn't expected him to take it in stride. It would have been nice, but I hadn't expected it. But I hadn't expected him to just vanish on me, either. I was disappointed. And depressed.
Frankly, after that I wasn't expecting to see him again. Which is why I was surprised when he showed up less than five hours later-- five hours I'd spent heaping increasingly creative insults on both our heads, him for being a bigoted small-town idiot and mine for expecting anything different. So when he did show, I actually cringed--I was fully expecting that he was here with some excuse why he'd be too busy to see me for the next, oh, sixty years.
You'd think that I of all people would know better than to make assumptions like that about someone. What can I say? I'm not perfect either. A fact I promptly got my nose rubbed in when the first words out of Wally's mouth were, "I need your help."
I stared at him and he elaborated: "See, there's this bad guy, and I've got a plan to take him, but I need somebody else to pretend to be Flash--"
I interrupted, which around Wally is more of a survival skill than it is bad manners. Besides, I couldn't help myself. "You need help?"
"Yeah. See, he's got a hostage, and--"
"And you're asking *me*?" Okay, so only going on what either of us had admitted to out loud, he shouldn't have had a clue what I meant...but I think he got the message.
And give the man credit--this time, he didn't miss a beat. "Yeah. You're my friend, aren't you?"
That was it? Apparently so.
I felt a slow grin spreading over my face. "Now that you mention it, I believe I am. Tell me about this plan."
"It, um, could be pretty dangerous."
"It always is. We'll manage."
And we did.
Occasionally, someone wonders what Wally and I see in each other. I can't speak for him, but on my side, it's pretty simple. Yes, he can be a class-A idiot sometimes, but when you get right down to it, his heart's in the right place--and he's willing to act on what it tells him. People with both of those qualities don't come along that often. And I'm proud to have one for my friend.