Saturday, September 22, 2012

City of Tomorrow, Part 4

The only person in Metropolis who ever knew everything there was to know was Jasper Finds.

Yes, it was probably an alias.  Finds had an alias.  Charlie Varrick was an alias.  Even my name, Barton Summary, is an alias.  Names can be changed.  Names aren’t important.  The important question is, can you tell the truth about someone by looking at them?  Most people assume they can, but most people are wrong.

By all accounts, Finds had an uncanny ability to read people.  He didn’t even have to question them to know their answers.  It was the same with everything else.  He was the most intuitive man alive.

The major newspapers attempted to get him on staff repeatedly.  As a consequence, he never granted them an interview.  He didn’t like the intrusion.  A man who read the world like an open book probably preferred to keep his own life as private as possible.  I assume it was his revenge.  If he was to have a gift, he wasn’t going to make a mockery of it by giving away his secrets.  If anyone had been worthy, they would have been able to do it themselves.

Finds was asked many times to help unravel the mystery of Charlie Varrick, and it was the only request he denied, other than those about his own life.  It made more than one person wonder if Finds was in fact Charlie Varrick.  Let me put that rumor to rest right now.  I knew Jasper Finds.  One does not accuse one legend of being another.  Finds wouldn’t have had time to be Charlie Varrick, besides.  People would have noticed him missing.

If you want to have a secret like that, your other identity had better have a good excuse for missing time.

Finds never had any missing time.  He could account for everything.  He started out as a police informant, found on a routine hustle on the street, brought in and questioned, and when he baffled every officer sent into the interrogation room with his answers, the truth was eventually revealed.  He had never shown up on the radar before.  He was a complete surprise.  The explanation worked itself out.

That doesn’t mean that the law didn’t keep tabs on him.

Once exposed, however, everyone seemed to learn his secret, and the increased public scrutiny helped shake the hassle of detectives who had been shadowing him, which for a man like Finds was like a mosquito buzzing about, impossible to ignore.

He never sought any of it.  He would have preferred to live his own life.  I heard enough complaints about it from Finds to confirm that it wasn’t just an act, that he was genuinely annoyed by the reaction to his gift, that he wished he could just crawl back to obscurity, when he could pass his skills off as coincidence, which most people are more than ready to believe.

The more I dug around, though, the more I learned that even that would have been impossible, that he had been used by the very culprits in the sting operation that had exposed him.  Most people love a good conspiracy even more than they love coincidence.  Someone finally decided that Jasper would finally be found.

The thing about Finds is that his memory remained sharp.  Often when someone uses a gift like that, it grows dull, like a punishment in advancing age, a payment in turn for abusing it over the course of a lifetime.  Maybe the Apex Club wanted to study him for that reason alone, or maybe they were just hoping that he would help them solve the riddle of Charlie Varrick once and for all.  One legend leads to another.  That’s the way it always works.  At least, that’s how most people like to believe it.

In the City of Tomorrow, a man like Jasper Finds demonstrated throughout his life that big achievements could have simple methods and ordinary results.  He was always a neighborhood concern’s first refuge.  Care to know the truth about someone?  You could always trust that man to tell you.

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