TAC Table of Contents
One: Claire Kent, Crime Reporter
The dark curtain of night had been drawn over the mid-western city of Metropolis for several hours. Most businesses had or were in the process of locking up for the business day, sans the better nightclubs, the sleaziest bars and a few drug stores spread across the city.
The footsteps tapping the sidewalk indicated a man over two hundred pounds with a slight limp was heading for the corner, hoping to get liquid refreshment at one of those sleaziest bars. He came up short. A dark sedan speeding past, lit up from the blazing weapons like a fireworks display at the county fair, nearly cut the footsteps’ owner in half. It made quite the mess for the city clean-up crew after the corpse was hauled off to the morgue.
Another hour into the bleak night passed before William J. Henderson, make that Inspector William J. Henderson, second in command of the entire Metropolis Police Department, made it back to his office on the second floor of the six story building in the heart of the city. Soon his desk was all but surrounded by subordinates waiting for their orders.
“Anything back from the lab yet?” the twenty-seven year vet barked.
“Not yet, Inspector. It’s been only an hour or so since we got to the scene,” Sgt. Murphy replied.
“Clancy, go down to the lab and sit outside their door until they have something for me. And don’t fall asleep!”
Henderson, who answered only to the Police Commissioner, asked for some coffee. Somehow in all the confusion, the request didn’t register with anyone. Then the intercom on his heavily scarred oak desk uttered a voice from the desk sergeant in the lobby.
“Yes, what is it?” the Inspector asked.”
“Uh, Inspector, it’s Kent from the Planet wanting to go up to your office.”
Looking around at his fellow officers, “Why sure, we’re having a party. Send Kent up right away.”
He shifted his comments from the wooden box on the desk to his coworkers. “All right boys, the press is on the way up. Let’s be careful what we say. No, in fact, I’ll answer all the questions, and Kent always asks plenty. And that’s an order!”
Only seconds passed before the door opened without a knock and Kent, the ace reporter from the Daily Planet, entered.
“Hello boys, don’t bother getting up!”
“That’s Kent?” came the response from Sgt. Dickson, the new guy in the room, recently transferred in from Phoenix.
“Yep, that’s Kent,” Henderson responded. “Kent, I believe you know everyone here, except Sgt. Dickson. He has been with us only a short time.”
“Well, I’d speak to everyone individually if I could see them through all this smoke. Why don’t you open a window and let some air in here?”
Dickson spoke up again, “You mean to tell me that Kent is a woman!”
“That’s right Sergeant. Claire Kent. And being a woman doesn’t bother me, so I hope it doesn’t bother you,” she replied.
“Oh, I don’t believe it,” Dickson continues. “A woman reporter? What’s the world coming to? She looks like a college kid. How old are you anyhow?”
“Well, normally that’s an impolite question to ask, but I don’t mind telling you that I am twenty-five.”
“Really Inspector, is this a joke? I’m a bit worn out for pranks right now. I’m in my nineteenth straight hour on duty.”
“Quiet Sergeant, I’m in my (looking at wristwatch) thirtieth. The facts are this: Claire Kent is the best reporter in the city, particularly in the area of crime reporting. Perry White has called her the best reporter he has had on his staff at the Daily Planet in over thirty years. The other papers in town...the Blade, the Sun and the Gazette have all tried to lure her away from the Planet but she has remained steadfast.”
“Let’s say, gentleman, that I believe in loyalty. Perry White was the only editor in Metropolis to hire me as a reporter three years ago. Now that I’m at the top of my field, the other papers want me now. But, too late. They all had their chances. I’m a Planet girl through and through.”
Dickson, still not convinced, “And you think you’re that good a reporter?”
“Let’s just say, Sgt. Dickson, I’m here right now, at all hours, working on my third Pulitzer in three years. You’re probably thinking that a man should have my job, and I should be like a lot of my contemporaries...married to a nice man, living in the suburbs, spitting out babies every year. Hey, that’s fine if that’s what one wants. But it’s not for me. I’m a career girl. Wake up Sergeant. This is 1947. Things are changing. Blame it on the War if you want, but that’s the way things are. NOW, can we get back to business? Who’s the dead guy?”
Henderson, caught off guard (actually enjoying Claire’s rant), “Oh. Yes. Of course. Our stiff is one Ed ‘Shortcake’ Mitchell. Anyone heard of him?”
Kent answered before any of the officers, “Mitchell, yes, part of the Crowley gang out of Pittsburgh, definitely part of Mr. Big’s empire. Specializes in racketeering, prostitution and lending people money at, shall we say, slightly inflated interest rates. And takes, or took, great pleasure scolding clients who failed to pay the money back on time. Of course, you knew all that, right, Sgt. Dickson.”
All, except Dickson, got a laugh out of that last remark.
Another twenty minutes dragged by before Officer Clancy returned with the preliminary lab work.
“There’s no autopsy report, Inspector, just ballistics,” Clancy reported.
“Uh, thank you, Clancy. I think we can all guess what killed Mr. Mitchell.”
Kent noted in her pad the info she needed from the lab report, then asked, “Any whereabouts of ‘Shortcake’ Mitchell’s brother Marty?”
“No. The last spotting of Marty Mitchell was in Chicago several weeks ago. He’s a suspect in a bank holdup there, but the gang made a clean getaway,” Henderson noted.
“Hmmm. Bet you a donut and cup of coffee he’ll head this way when he hears about his dearly departed baby brother,” Claire predicted. “Two, maybe three days, I’ll say. Well, thanks Inspector for the party invitation. Goodnight fellas,” as she shut the door behind her on the way out.
Two younger cops in the corner had made observations, no doubt learned at the Police Academy.
“Nice lookin’ chick. Brunette, no visible scars. How tall would you say?”
“Oh, five-five, seven in heels. And I’d like to check out the rest of her for scars.”
Chapter Two: Claire Kent, Crime Reporter
Dawn had come as the sun tried its best to pierce the morning rush hour auto emissions which veiled the giant city.
As soon as WWII had come to an end, the U.S. auto industry started back in full swing for the first time since FDR had declared “a date that will live in infamy.” The cars began popping off the assembly lines like popcorn in a hot skillet. The many thousands of servicemen released from the military swooped up the cars for their families, many of them who had fled the hustle and bustle of big city life to buy their dream houses in the newly-created suburbs, formerly occupied by Kansas farmers.
With their men away doing their duty, it was difficult for the wives to keep the farms going, and at the mercy of sharp-minded real estate minds, had sold the family farms and taken refuge in city limits apartment buildings. These real estate magnates moved quickly in subdividing their new rural properties into housing developments, putting up tract housing on the hope the boys would be coming home soon. Their plans paid off.
The tract housing sold quickly, but the husbands and dads now needed transportation to get to their city jobs and back home. Thus, the influx of automobiles on Metropolis thoroughfares. Within a year, smog-wise, Metropolis had become the Los Angeles of the Midwest.
Claire Kent, the ace criminal reporter for the Daily Planet, was already in her office, banging out the murder story of only a few hours earlier. Her Remington was making quite the racket when the young apprentice reporter entered the office and plopped into the chair near Kent’s desk.
“Morning Miss Kent,” greeted the young girl. “You’re here awfully early.”
“Jamie, I told you it was fine to call me Claire.”
Jamie was Jamie Olsen, a twenty-year-old journalism major at Metropolis University, Claire’s alma mater. Back in the Fall, editor Perry White had sent Claire to the school to speak to the journalism students, and at Kent’s suggestion, to look for a student who might be willing to work part time at the newspaper for on the job training. White required it to be a volunteer position, the student drawing no paycheck.
Claire had been impressed with the questions Jamie had asked during the guest lecture. She saw a fire in the kid’s belly, someone with great curiosity and an eagerness to learn the reporting business, in short, traits she herself had.
So far, Jamie’s track record had been less than spectacular...some occasional signs of genius followed by total ineptness.
“Claire, I’m thinking of letting Olsen go. She’s really not coming around like you said she would,” White said more than once.
“Come on, Perry. She needs time. The talent’s there. Takes a while to draw it out of her. I’m working with her. And besides, she’s not costing you a red nickel.”
“All right, but she’s your responsibility. The next time she messes something up, she’s gone,” demanded the gruff boss.
“Sure, Perry, sure,” Claire would answer, knowing White would probably go along with anything she said.
“So, what are you working on so early?” Olsen inquired.
“Getting the story of last night’s shooting finished for the early edition.”
“Ed ‘Shortcake’ Mitchell”
“The mobster gunned down on Second Avenue around 1:30 this morning.”
“How did you find out about that?” asked the young girl, as if she was conducting an interview.
“A good reporter has to know what’s going on, Jamie. Actually, my short wave radio in my apartment. I keep it tuned to the police frequency. I heard the call come in at 1:40 am.”
“Isn’t it illegal for a private citizen to be on the police frequency?”
“Well, Jamie, technically it is, but I won’t tell anyone if you won’t.”
“Oh no. Not me. My lips are sealed.”
“Thank you. I was at police headquarters until 3:30, went home, showered and changed clothes, then came in to the office.”
“You mean you didn’t even go to bed?”
“Not this night, I didn’t. That’s a reporter’s life, Jamie, sometimes sleeping is a luxury. So, no classes for you today?”
“Just one, but it’s not until after lunch. I thought I would come on in this morning and sit in on the big meeting in Mr. White’s office, if you think that’s OK?’
“The meeting. I had forgotten about the meeting. What time is it supposed to start?
Looking at her wristwatch, the kid replied, “In ten minutes.”
“TEN MINUTES! Good Heavens!”
“What’s wrong?” Jamie asked.
“Uh, nothing, just slipped up on me.”
Jerking the paper out of her Remington’s cartridge, “Here’s what I need you to do, Jaime. Take my story down to composing right away, then go to the meeting for me. I’m not going to be able to make it.”
“You’re not? But it’s supposed to be a very important meeting, city officials, top businessmen, the whole works.”
“I know, I know. You go for me and tell Perry I had to go out in a hurry on a follow-up lead to last night’s shooting. Have you got that?”
“Yeah, story to composing, then you went out to follow up the shooting. Got it.”
“Thank you, Jaime, now go!” Claire said as she edged the mentor out into the hall, closing and locking the door behind her.
“Why, she practically pushed me out,” the confused youngster exclaimed.
Hearing Jamie Olsen’s footsteps fading away, Claire Kent stepped back from the door clear of the frosted glass window so that she wasn’t visible from the hall, put her hand to her brunette hair, gave a slight tug, detaching the wig revealing golden blonde hair. Then quickly unbuttoned her blouse, removing it and her skirt, took three fast steps and leaped out her twelfth story office window!
Chapter Three: Claire Kent, Crime Reporter
Perry White’s office was almost full of people anxiously awaiting to learn the reason they had been called together for a very important meeting.
Standing next to White were the Mayor and the Police Commissioner. Seated were reporters from the other city newspapers, each with their own photographer.
“We should get started,” White announced as he looked at his wristwatch. “Gentlemen, we have gathered today to announce the formation of a new Crime Task Force. Organized crime, it appears, is trying to move in on our city, and this new task force is going to stop it. Just last night, Ed ‘Shortcake’ Mitchell, a long time syndicate goon was gunned down on one of our streets. Bank robberies have been prevalent lately as well as a number of business owners threatened unless they agree to pay a ‘protection’ fee to keep their stores and factories free from foul play. We all know what that is.”
The audience members all shook their heads in agreement, the reporters taking notes, an occasional photograph being taken.
“Let me introduce you to the members of the Citizens Against Crime Task Force. You all know the Mayor and the Police Commissioner. Standing behind us are Police Inspector Bill Henderson, our District Attorney Walter Canby and prominent business leaders Peter Kilgore and Alexander Crane. There is one more member of the task force who was supposed to be with us, however I suppose something came up, and...”
White was cut off by a whooshing sound. The editor looked at the window and smiled, “And here she is. Gentlemen, I give you Supergirl!”
The men gave a polite round of applause, flashbulbs blasting like a Fourth of July fireworks display.
“Thank you, gentlemen. I hope I didn’t hold up the meeting.”
“Not at all, I was just introducing the committee members to the press,” White answered.
“And speaking of the press, I’m a bit embarrassed that every paper in town is represented today except my paper, and the meeting is in my office.”
“Yeah, why is that, Commissioner? Why not have the meeting at Police Headquarters? Seems the police are giving the Planet preferential treatment like you always do,” demanded Steve Martin of the Metro Blade.
“Not at all, Mr. Martin,” Henderson responded. “The meeting is in Mr. White’s office because he himself is a member of the Task Force.”
“Yeah, I’ll bet,” a disgruntled Martin responded.
“Nevertheless,” Perry White continued, “I had hoped Claire Kent would be here, but I was told moments ago she had to go out on a lead to last night’s murder.”
“Well, I’m here,” Supergirl stated, “that’s the important thing.” Leaning over to White’s ear, she whispered, “I’m meeting with Miss Kent later this morning. I’ll fill her in on the meeting’s happenings. You’ll have your story for the afternoon edition.”
“Thank you, Supergirl. But when she gets back, she’s going to catch it from me.”
“Oh, give her a break. She’s probably out there walking her high heels off working hard.”
“All right, for you Supergirl, I’ll go easy on her.”
Supergirl, in her trademark red and blue uniform, ‘S’ emblem on her chest, addressed the gathering.
“Gentlemen, there have been enough individual instances to form a pattern that we all strongly believe that organized crime has targeted Metropolis as an expansion city for their organization. Metropolis’s central location in the United States is a perfect location for these people to operate. We have learned from interrogations of the members of this syndicate that have been captured that their leader is known as Mr. Big. At this point, we do not know who Mr. Big actually is, but amongst the task force standing before you, most believe Mr. Big is already here in Metropolis.”
She sees a disagreeing head shaking.
“I know Mr. Canby, our district attorney, doesn’t believe Mr. Big is here in Metropolis, and at this point, arguing over the leader’s location isn’t that important. Wherever this Mr. Big is doesn’t matter, because he could be giving his orders to his army of syndicate soldiers from anywhere. The fact is...they are here. And no doubt more will be coming. So we must be prepared to protect the innocents citizens of this city. I’ve been told that the Police Department has been given sufficient funds to bring in officers from other areas, and that all MPD officers will be on a 24-hour call. We’re asking for the full support from all four city newspapers. Run stories about what’s going on so the public will be aware. We don’t want a panic, but, well, you all know how to do your jobs. Help out the police and the task force is what we’re asking. And I pledge my full support in rounding up all these rats and shutting down their organization. Thank you.”
More applause and flashbulbs.
“One last thing before we go, boys. The Metropolis Police Department is very grateful for the help Supergirl continuously gives us. She has been the best friend of the department since she came to Metropolis, what, three years ago?”
“With her help, four of the five recent bank robberies were thwarted and the culprits arrested. We continue working on these men for information, but we do know they’re all in Mr. Big’s organization. That’s all I have.”
Then, the meeting is adjourned,” Perry White announced.
Three of the reporters stayed for photos of Supergirl and the committee. Steve Martin of the Blade stormed out, taking his photographer with him. After five more minutes, Supergirl announced she needed to leave. She shook everyone’s hand, turned, took a few steps and flew out the same window she had entered. The men rushed to the exit spot and watched as she disappeared across the city.
“Look at that. Isn’t that incredible?” exclaimed the Mayor.
“Sure is,” answered Henderson. “Nice looking, too. Wonder if she’s seeing anyone?”
Canby replied, “I don’t know. Maybe your wife knows, Bill.”
As soon as the office cleared, White opened his door, stepped out into the hall and yelled one word, “OLSEN!” His yelling jolted his secretary, Miss Bachrach, whose desk was right outside the door.
Jamie came running around the corner, “YES MR. WHITE.” “Go see if Kent is back in her office, and if she is, tell her I WANT TO TALK TO HER!”
Kent was back, and Olsen told her.
We’ll return to CLAIRE KENT, CRIME REPORTER in just a moment.
It’s time to get caught up on a bit of background information that may be helpful as our story progresses.
What do we know about Claire Kent? We know she is a twenty-five year old woman who is a reporter for the leading Metropolis newspaper, the Daily Planet. As a matter of fact, she’s the Planet’s ace reporter. A veteran of just a few years, she has already garnished, not one, but two Pulitzer Prizes in journalism for her investigative crime articles. She’s helped put quite a few of society’s scoundrels in the pokey. She has her own apartment in Metropolis (complete with secret closet, which she installed herself) and illegally monitors the police frequency on her own short wave radio set. This gives her an advantage to criminal activity as a reporter. There’s another reason, which should become clear in a bit. She’s had a few dates but nothing has become serious. She really can’t get involved with anyone, and that should be understandable later as well.
She has a nice office at the Planet, crackless plaster walls painted a light blue (the same color as her eyes) with dark oak trim. And yes, there is a window (she really needs a window). She owns no automobile. She has access to a company vehicle when she needs one, but overall, she gets around pretty well on her own (that also will become clear). Most mornings, she stops in the lobby of the Daily Planet at a nice little bakery, run by Mr. and Mrs. Willy, a nice elderly couple. Donuts and java are her favorites, which she takes with her up to her twelfth story office. She also patronizes Jasper’s Jewelers, another store in the lobby area. She’s friends with Bobby Exbrook, the young man who runs the shoe shine stand. Everyone on the Planet staff knows her, of course, and some aren’t wild about her. Most likely envious of her early success. Perhaps they should work a little harder.
But what is Claire Kent’s early story? Where did she come from? Here’s where it gets a bit complicated, but to know her history, we must take a long journey, actually millions of miles through outer space. Yes, outer space. To a planet in another solar system. A planet (no longer existing) by the name of Krypton, once the home of a race of fine and noble humans far advanced over those of our own world. Krypton was caught in the middle of a horrific meteor shower which at first didn’t seem to cause any long term effects. But one of the planet’s leading scientists, Jor-El, through his studies and experiments, realized that the meteoric collisions had knocked Krypton out of its regular orbit, moving it closer to the red sun which powered the solar system. Time after time he tried convincing the Kryptonian Council that the life of the planet and everyone on it was coming to an end, but they scoffed and ridiculed him and paid him no mind. To save himself, his wife and their only child, he began construction of a rocket ship which he hoped would be capable of carrying the three to the nearest planet which could sustain human life...the Earth. But his calculations were not entirely accurate, and the final day of Krypton’s existence arrived before the space vehicle was completed. All he had was a smaller testing unit he had first constructed. Having room for only one passenger, he begged his wife Lara to go, but she insisted it should be their daughter (six Earth years of age). Lara would remain and perish with her husband.
Just as the space craft cleared the gravitational pull, the planet Krypton exploded into a billion fragments and was no more. After several months, the craft entered Earth’s atmosphere and came to land in a Smallville, Kansas pasture owned by Eben and Sarah Kent, who pulled the child from the spacecraft. Dumbstruck was the elderly couple, but Sarah felt it was a heavenly sign that after all those years of not being able to have their own children, one had been sent to them. So they kept the young girl, named her Claire (Sarah’s mother’s name) and reared her as their very own.
It became apparent as the girl grew that she was no ordinary child. Shortly after arriving, she lifted the Kent tractor off the ground with one hand. On a trip to visit the Grand Canyon, young Claire came too close to a ledge and went over the side. Sarah screamed, knowing her daughter was killed, but the girl flew back to the top of the rim from where she had slipped. Soon afterwards, extra special vision and hearing developed. Fearing the authorities may try to take the girl from them, Eben and Sarah sheltered her from society as much as possible. By the time came for Claire to start school, she had mastered speaking English and understood that she was not to display any special abilities in public.
As she grew older, Claire blended in more with the locals and was considered part of the community. Then, when she was sixteen, a drunk driver crossed the center line on the road to Metropolis, hitting the Kent vehicle head-on, killing both Eben and Sarah. Authorities were astonished that Claire received not a scratch. The County sent Claire to the nearest orphanage, a very nice facility in nearby Midvale. With the help of Eben’s attorney, she sold the Kent farm and banked the proceeds for her college education.
It was there that she remembered a conversation she had with her foster parents about one day using her remarkable abilities for the betterment of society. Sarah had made a nice red, blue and yellow uniform out of her swaddling for her to wear when she performed the super deeds. So, at eighteen, she moved to Metropolis to attend the university and began her life as Supergirl. To better aid her in her never ending battle against the forces of evil, she decided that the meek retiring manner of Claire Kent (now with brown wig and eyeglasses) would hide the exciting secret known only to herself...the secret that Claire Kent was in reality Supergirl, champion of the oppressed, enemy of all evildoers, dedicated to the cause of truth, justice and the American way.
Upon graduating from Metropolis University with a journalism degree, Claire set out to find work in one of the city’s newspapers. The Blade, the Sun and the Gazette wouldn’t touch her, but when she interviewed with long time Daily Planet editor Perry White, there was something about the brunette he liked, so he hired her on the spot.
The rest, as they say, is history.
We now return to CLAIRE KENT, CRIME REPORTER.
Chapter Five: Claire Kent, Crime Reporter
Mid-morning found Perry White behind his desk concentrating on the afternoon edition. The morning paper had been on the streets for several hours. Composing had verified that Claire Kent’s story concerning the Task Force meeting had been turned in.
“Well, I guess Claire and Supergirl got together after all. I can always count on Kent.”
Suddenly, without any warning the door to his office swung open and in came Jamie Olsen.
“Ya got a minute, Chief?”
“WHAT did you call me?”
“I’m sorry. I mean Mr. White,” the nervous girl answered.
“Olsen, have you ever been told that a closed door signifies knocking before busting in a room?
“I’m sorry Mr. White. But this is important.”
“It better be. So what’s on your mind, Olsen, if you have one?”
“Well, I’ve been doing some thinking.”
“Well, that is a switch,” the gruff editor responded.
“What I mean is that I’ve been thinking about the Task Force meeting.”
“And what would you know about the meeting. You weren’t there.”
“Well, I was, in a way. Someone must have accidentally left the switch on your intercom open, and I accidentally overheard the meeting in the City Room.”
“And I suppose that someone couldn’t have been you?”
“Yes. I guess it could. Anyway, I have an idea who this Mr. Big might be.”
“Oh you have? Well then, tell me Miss Olsen, what is your theory? Who is Mr. Big?”
“Well...it could be anybody!”
Poor White, almost in tears, “I blame myself. Hundreds of journalism students at the college, bright students, and Claire recommended you, and I said yes.”
“And you won’t be sorry either, Mr. White,” Jamie insisted.
“I’m sorry already.”
“No, no, please hear me out.”
“Go ahead. Tell me who Mr. Big is, then go!”
“Well, it could be Mr. Kilgore or Mr. Canby or Mr. Crane...or even you.”
Holding back from throwing his desk, White interrupted, “Yes, you’re right. I’m Mr. Big. As if I don’t have enough to do running this newspaper, I have lots of time to be the ringleader of a huge crime syndicate.”
“Oh, I don’t really think it’s you, but...”
Perry jumps to his feet screaming, “GET OUT OF HERE! GET OUT OF THE BUILDING! GET OUT OF THE CITY! GO COVER A STORY! JUST GET OUT!”
Excited, Jamie gives him a peck on the cheek, and heads for the door, “THANKS CHIEF!”
“THANKS FOR WHAT!”
“For telling me to cover the story!” She slams the door on her way out.
White slumps back into his chair, “GREAT CAESAR’S GHOST!”
Chapter Six: Claire Kent, Crime Reporter
District Attorney Walter Canby had just finished assigning upcoming cases to his staff of Assistant DA’s when his intercom buzzed.
“Yes, Mrs. Thomas.”
“A lady from the Daily Planet to see you.”
“Fine, send her in.”
The door opened and in walked Jamie Olsen.
“Why, you’re not Claire Kent,” Canby observed.
“Didn’t say I was, Mr. Canby. Miss Kent isn’t the only female reporter at the Planet.”
“I don’t believe we’ve met, Miss...Miss.”
“The name’s Olsen...Jamie Sarah Grace Olsen.” She extended her hand. “Glad to meet you.”
“It’s a pleasure Miss Olsen. Now how can I help you? I haven’t much time. I’m due in court right after lunch.”
“I wanted to give you my assurance that I’m available to help the Task Force break up this crime syndicate. I’m at your service day or night.”
Canby squirmed a bit, “Well, thank you very much, Miss Olsen. I appreciate it very much, and if I need your services, I’ll feel free to contact you. Now is there anything else?”
“No sir. Just wanted you to know I’m at your disposal.”
“Well, thank you again for stopping by, Miss Olsen. Please make sure the door closes as you leave.”
“Yes sir. Well, goodbye.”
Jamie stood outside Canby’s door, feeling pretty good about herself. Then she noticed a familiar face in the hall. The man turned the corner and went out of sight. She ran to see where he went. Peering around the corner, she spotted the man going into an office. The Payroll office.
“Jeepers,” she exclaimed.
Planet reporters Larry Lane and Claire Kent sat in the two chairs in front of Perry White’s desk. The boss was actually complimenting them on recent articles they had written.
“I was a bit angry with you Claire that you didn’t show for the meeting this morning, but the Olsen kid told me you had a lead on the Mitchell killing. Anything pan out?
“Oh that. I’m afraid not, Chief. A dead end.”
“Well, you had to check it out. Now the reason I called you two in here is to discuss the Planet’s role in the Task Force situation. We’re going to give it plenty of ink. It will be a lot of work, so Larry, I’m going to shift you to the crime beat, and you’ll work with Claire.”
“CHIEF!” Kent objected. “Crime is my department.”
“Well, it’s Larry’s too, until this organized crime situation is resolved. I want the two of you to work together.”
“Gosh, thanks Chief,” Larry Lane replied.
“Look Claire, I can see that you’re not overjoyed with my decision, but I need two people on this assignment. They’ll be lots to report. You two will all but own the front page. It’s too much for one person. You’re not Supergirl you know.”
“Are you sure,” she mumbled.
“Did you say something, Miss Kent?” he scoffed.
“No sir, just clearing my throat,” came her reply.
“I thought so. Now the first thing I want you both to do...”
White was cut off by the ringing of the phone on his desk.
“Hello, White speaking...Who? Who’s calling?”
“It’s me, Mr. White?”
“Jamie, Jamie Olsen. I’m at the Court House.”
“What are you doing at the Court House? Let me guess...you’ve been arrested.”
“NO! Please listen. I was coming out of Mr. Canby’s office when...”
“CANBY! Oh no! Why in Heaven’s name...”
“Be quiet and listen.”
White’s face turned crimson hearing that remark.
“I came out of Mr. Canby’s office and saw Marty Mitchell.”
“Yeah, Marty Mitchell. I followed him, and you’ll never guess where he went. Into the Payroll Office here at the Court House. He’s robbing the Payroll Office! I’m in an empty office next door, and...”
White then heard a short scream. Then the phone line went dead.
Shouting at Kent and Lane, “That fool Olsen saw Marty Mitchell at the Court House. She said he’s robbing the Payroll Office. Then she screamed, and the phone went dead. You two get over there right away and see what’s going on.”
Jumping up, Claire answered, “I can handle this faster by myself. Let me go.”
“Nonsense, the Court House is ten blocks away. In this lunch hour traffic, the car won’t get there any quicker with just one person in it. Both of you, GO!”
It was ten minutes later when the Planet car was stopped for a traffic light.
“This would happen,” Lane complained, “but just two more blocks.”
Claire heard nothing he said. She was focusing her x-ray vision at the Court House.
“Oh my God! There’s a safe hanging out a fourth story window, and JAMIE’S IN THE SAFE!”
“Claire, how in the world,” Larry inquired to a now empty passenger seat. “Now, where did she go?”
She went about half a block back up the street. Stopping at the first suitable place, she jerked off her wig and glasses and ran into the alley. Seconds later, Supergirl appeared and lifted off into the air.
At the exact same moment, the ropes of the block and tackle snapped, the safe plummeted toward the street below. The Girl of Steel landed on the sidewalk just as the heavy object reached her. Catching it as if it were a bed pillow, she gently placed it on the concrete and ripped off the steel door.
Larry Lane arrived at the same time, “Supergirl!”
“Hello, Mr. Lane.”
“Is she all right?”
“I believe so,” she answered as she helped the shaken Jamie Olsen from her metal captor.
“Are you all right, Miss?” Supergirl asked.
“I think so. Something hit me on the head, and everything went dark.”
“Hold still.” Using her x-ray vision once again, this time checking the young girl’s skull. “No, there’s no fracture. I’d say you were pretty lucky.”
“Yeah, lucky you were here to save me.”
“Well, I’m glad I was here, too. Now I must be going. And young lady, a bit of advice...”
“From now on, try to stay out of other people’s safes. So long. Mr. Lane.”
“Thanks Supergirl,” he gestured.
The breeze from her taking off briefly cooled off Jamie, Larry and the spectators.
“I need to get you to the car.”
“JAIME! JAMIE!” shouted Claire as she ran towards them. “Are you OK?”
“Sure, I’m fine. I got to meet Supergirl. She saved my life.”
“Thank God. Larry, where’s the car?”
“I parked right up ahead.”
“How about getting Jamie back to the office? I’m going in the Court House and find Marty Mitchell.”
“But, Claire, we’re supposed to work on this together.”
“Jamie’s well being is more important. Please.”
“All right. Come on Jamie. I’ll help you to the car.”
Chapter Seven: Claire Kent, Crime Reporter
“So, where is Olsen now?”
“I got her back to the Planet, then put her in a cab and sent her home, Chief. She was pretty shaken up,” reporter Larry Lane answered.
“Fool kid! Nearly got herself killed over a wild notion. So Claire, did you find Marty Mitchell?”
“Not exactly, Chief,” Kent responded.
“What exactly does not exactly mean, Claire?”
“I found the man Jamie thought was Marty Mitchell, and to her credit, he does bear a resemblance to Mitchell, but it wasn’t Mitchell.”
“Well, who was it?” the editor inquired.
“It was Barney, one of the courtroom bailiffs. He was in the payroll department supervising the crew removing the safe. Barney told them the ropes wouldn’t hold, but they didn’t listen.”
“I’m curious about something, Claire,” Lane spoke.
“How in blue blazes did you know Jamie was in that safe and from two blocks away? You’d have to have x-ray vision like Supergirl?”
“C’mon, Larry. It was just a hunch. My reporter’s gut and woman’s intuition combined. Like Jamie’s hunch she saw Marty Mitchell. Her hunch was wrong and mine turned out to be right.”
“I’m just glad that Supergirl was nearby,” Larry added.
“Well,” White interjected, “the fact remains someone tried to kill young Olsen...knocking her out and putting her in the safe. She would have suffocated even if the ropes hadn’t snapped. And where did this happen exactly?”
“Right around the corner from Walter Canby’s office,” Kent replied.
“And immediately after she talked with Canby. Hmmm...Olsen followed the man she thought was Mitchell, but someone followed her. Probably heard her telling me about Mitchell over the phone, then silenced her. Very interesting.”
“What are you thinking, Chief?” Larry inquired.
“No one really knows who Olsen is over there, but she did tell Canby she worked for the Planet. Canby could have followed her and, no, it doesn’t make any sense.”
“Unless Canby is part of our city’s problem,” Lane stated.
“I’ve known Walter Canby for years. I can’t believe he would be, shall we say, on someone else’s payroll besides the city’s.”
“Just to be sure, I’m going to do some digging,” Larry announced.
“Discretely, Larry. Don’t let this blow up in your face. It could be very embarrassing to the Planet,” White warned.
“Uh, you were speaking of Jamie working for the Planet, Chief,” Kent stated.
“What about it?”
“Considering what the poor kid went through today trying to do good work for the paper, don’t you think it’s time you started tossing her a little cash every week?”
“WHAT!” He thought silently. “Oh, all right. Tell her starting next week...”
“You meant this week, didn’t you?”
(Ahem) “Very well...this week. Tell her she’s now on the payroll at $25.00 a week.”
“Gosh, Chief. I guess my hearing is bad today. Did you say $25 or $50 a week? Just want to make sure I heard you say $50 per week. I wouldn’t want to give her the wrong information.”
“VERY WELL! $50 per week. Now both of you get out of here and earn what I pay you!”
Walking towards their respective offices Larry asked Claire what time she wanted to leave for the citizen’s meeting that evening?
“It starts at 7:30, so we should probably head out around 6:45,” she replied.
“OK. 6:45. I’ll be in my office. Supergirl’s giving the main speech, you know.”
“Yes, I heard,” Claire Supergirl Kent responded.
Kent spent the next hour or so at her desk, scribbling down a few key points she wanted to say in her evening address at the citizen’s meeting. Also putting together her stories for her Daily Planet radio news report scheduled at 6:00 pm. The reporting staff alternated doing the audio newscasts, and Wednesdays belonged to Claire. As she was putting the finishing touches on her radio stories, her super sensitive hearing detected what could be an alarm sounding. Going to her office window, she zoned her hearing on a certain part of the city. Then with her x-ray vision, she observed an armed robbery taking place at Kansas Savings and Loan about twelve blocks from the Planet building.
“Great Scott! Another bank holdup. Must change to Supergirl quickly and get there at once.”
Claire Kent stepped back from the door clear of the frosted glass window so that she wasn’t visible from the hall, put her hand to her brunette hair, gave a slight tug, detaching the wig revealing golden blonde hair. Then quickly unbuttoned her blouse, removing it and her skirt, took three fast steps and leaped out her twelfth story office window.
Within seconds she was approaching the Savings and Loan. She spotted two men jumping in a car and speeding off at an extremely fast rate.
“They’re going to kill innocent people driving like that!”
She passed the car, then landed in the street about half a block in front of the oncoming getaway vehicle.
“It’s Supergirl!” the driver of the car yelled at his partner.
“RUN HER DOWN!” the thug screamed.
The black Buick sedan made contact with the Girl of Steel at 75 mph. Supergirl budged not one inch, but the automobile folded like Lawrence Welk’s accordion. The passenger went through the windshield past their target and flopped onto the street. He was dead right off. The driver’s head crashed into the steering wheel.
The lead story of Claire’s radio broadcast was now the savings and loan robbery. Kent told the listeners that the two hold-up men were notorious syndicate members Big Ed Bullock, who died upon impact, and Mike’ the Crusher’ Dana, in a coma at Mercy Hospital in critical condition.
As soon as the broadcast was over, Kent took the elevator up to her office to gather her things she needed for the citizens’ meeting. Over her intercom she heard the Chief...
“Claire, you there?”
“Yes, Perry. Just walked in from the broadcast.”
“Come to my office right away.”
“On my way,” she answered.
Thirty seconds later, she walked into Perry’s office.
“Yes Chief, what’s up? Larry and I need to leave for the Civic Center.”
“Claire, it seems there are people out there who believe Supergirl works here at the Planet.”
Taken off guard, Kent shouted, “WHAT!”
“Mr. White, please tell Miss Kent not to yell at me!” his secretary Miss Bachrach insisted.
“I’m sorry, Miss Bachrach, I didn’t mean to frighten you.”
“Well, there’s no need to shout,” the spinster added, wanting to get in that last word. “As soon as your radio broadcast ended, I received five different calls from people wanting to speak to Supergirl.”
Taking a breath of relief, Claire replied, “Oh that. Chief, I closed the newscast with the announcement of the reward the city has put up for information concerning Mitchell’s getting gunned down. I didn’t say Supergirl worked here. Believe me, I would never say that.”
“Oh, I see. Perhaps Miss Bachrach misunderstood.”
The Puritan-like secretary, whose face actually resembled that of a bird, shot the boss a glare as if she had been offended by his remark that she could be wrong about anything.
“Miss Bacharach, give her the list, then Claire and Larry can talk with these people tomorrow morning. Something may pan out.”
“Right Chief. Now I really need to grab Larry and get to the meeting.”
“Fine. Go. Go.”
Bachrach gave the sheet of paper to Claire, along with a stare that could have been filled with Supergirl’s heat vision.
Chapter Eight: Claire Kent, Crime Reporter
Kent and Lane walked into the lobby of the Metropolis Civic Center right at 6:55 pm, and already the building was nearly two-thirds filled with angry and frightened citizens who wanted to hear from the city fathers about their town’s being under siege. The closest seats the Planet team were able to grab were on the fifth row. Fifteen minutes later, the facility was at capacity, and the hundreds of spillovers were directed to the annex. It filled as well leaving more people out on the city sidewalk.
At 7:30 sharp, the members of the Task Force who had first met publicly in White’s office all sat in their chairs on the stage provided. One chair on the stage remained empty, only because its intended occupant was sitting in row five. Mayor Wilson led the proceedings, giving a brief opening statement, then recognized the Police Commissioner, who stated that Inspector William Henderson would speak on behalf of the Police Department. DA Walter Canby promised he would prosecute to the fullest extent of the law all syndicate members captured. Business moguls Peter Kilgore and Alexander Crane each spoke after Canby, stating that each of them had received threatening anonymous phone calls warning them of bad happenings if they didn’t start hiring the ‘right people’ and paying ‘insurance premiums’ to make sure nothing happened to their factories and warehouses.
As Kilgore took the dais, Claire told Larry she was going out to the annex area to interview people and get their feelings down on paper.
“OK Claire, but you’ll miss Supergirl, if she’s coming. She should have been here by now.”
“I have a feeling she’s already here. I’ll catch up with you at the end of the meeting.”
She left her seat and walked towards the lobby. Someone in the crowd grabbed her arm. She turned to see who had latched on to her. It was reporter Steve Martin of the Blade.
“So again the Planet gets seats up front, and I have to stand at the back. I’m really getting tired of this crap.”
“Well, Martin, if you had arrived earlier, you could have gotten up front, too. But you probably dragged in at 7:45. Now take your hand off me.”
He released her, and she continued to the front of the building. The lobby was jammed with taxpaying citizens. Claire had to find the stairs to the basement to be alone. Once inside the deserted stairwell, she put her hands to her brunette hair, gave a slight tug, detaching the wig which revealed her natural blonde hair. Removing her outer garments and shoes, carefully concealing them inside the pouch on the underside of her cape, she stood in her full super regalia. Exiting the basement door, she flew to the back door of the building and entered the stage area. The last speaker on stage, Alex Crane, saw her in the wings, then introduced her to the massive audience. To say the place went wild would be an understatement.
As the greatest crime fighter in Metropolis delivered her remarks, Larry Lane, writing in his fastest shorthand, thought how nice it was of Claire to voluntarily let him remain in the auditorium during Supergirl’s speech while she was squeezing through the outside mob asking them questions.
The Planet duo met up out on the sidewalk after the meeting ended.
“Let me hail a cab, Claire. It may take a few minutes with this big crowd.”
“I don’t believe I’ll go back to the office tonight Larry. I’m beat. I’m going home. I’ll write my part of the story first thing when I get to the office.”
“Well, OK, if you’re sure. I’m going back to my office and knock my story out while it’s fresh. I’ll see you in the morning.”
“See you in the morning then. Good night.”
The female half of the investigative crime team headed up the street towards her apartment. Naturally she didn’t intend to walk all the way. As soon as she came to the first dark alley, she darted off the sidewalk, and moments later, a figure was streaking upward into the black sky. Shortly afterwards, she arrived via her bedroom window, changed from her super suit into her lingerie, fell into the bed and was in slumber land in three minutes.
She had no idea how many times her telephone rang before it aroused her from deep sleep. Barely able to get the receiver to her ear, she answered in a very groggy voice...
“Yes. Who’s calling?”
“Oh, I am sorry to disturb you at this time of the night. This is Elyse Lane, Larry’s wife. I’m really worried. Larry isn’t home yet, and it’s after two o’clock. Would you have any idea where he might be?”
“Uh, no I haven’t Elyse. When did you speak to him last?”
“A little after eleven-thirty. He called me from the Planet and told me he had gone back to his office to write his story about the civic center meeting. And he would be home right after he stopped at Pep’s Diner to grab a sandwich. He hadn’t eaten any dinner. But that was nearly three hours ago. He should have been home a long time ago. Claire, I’m really scared. I thought about calling the police. Should I?”
Kent, now wide awake, replied, “Oh, I don’t think that’s necessary. He probably got a lead on a breaking story and went to check it out. You know, just being a good reporter. I tell you what. Let me make a few calls and inquiries. I’ll call you back as soon as I find him. Would that be all right?”
“Oh, thank you, Claire, and again I am sorry for ruining your night.”
“No no. Don’t worry about that. Now try not to worry Elyse. I’m sure there’s nothing wrong. I’ll call you later.”
“Good night, Claire.”
Hanging up, she immediately dialed Larry Lane’s office number, but there was no answer.
She then called Oscar’s extension. Oscar was the night watchman, on the job for thirty-six years. Maybe getting a bit long in the tooth to continue in the job, but Perry White had a soft spot for Oscar. There was no answer at Oscar’s phone either.
“Probably making his rounds,” she assumed. “One last try,” she thought as she dialed the Chief’s office. It rang twice. She heard someone answer, only to hear the receiver immediately replaced into the cradle, and the line went dead.
“That does it.”
Kent threw back the covers, and her feet hit the bedroom floor.
“That was a stupid thing to do,” one shadowy figure told the other. “I ought to kill you right here for that. But I’m here on a mission. Now where does Perry White keep his personal files?”
The figure giving the orders and asking the questions went to the cabinet, not surprisingly, finding it locked. Finding a letter opener on the desk using only a dim flashlight for guidance, he jabbed the tool into the cabinet, moving it around until he heard a loud click. The cabinet popped open. Quickly rummaging through the folders, the thief apparently located his quarry.
“I found it!” he told the other.
A silhouetted female figure leaped out the Kent bedroom window.
“Fine, go home. But first I go, then you go. Understand?”
Now but one person stood in White’s office. The Girl of Steel set down on the outside ledge, pushed the windows inward and entered the dark room.
Approaching the voice, she exclaimed, “Mr. Lane!”
He stood rigid, a cataract-like glaze in his eyes.
With no response, she made her quick transformation to Claire Kent, turned on the lights and again called his name, this time adding a good shaking.
He finally showed signs of snapping out of his trance.
“Where are we?”
“We’re in the Chief’s office. I just got here. How did you get here?”
“Well, the lock on the door has been jimmied.” She gave the office a quick examination. “Nothing seems to be out of place. Wait a minute, Perry’s private file has been opened. Did you do that?”
“Here Larry, you should sit down. I’m calling Perry and the police.”
Chapter Nine: Claire Kent, Crime Reporter
Twelve minutes after she placed the call, Claire Kent saw Bill Henderson get off the elevator at the end of the hall and make his way into Perry White’s office. He did stop to look at the jimmied lock on the door.
“Dust the knob and, oh Hell, dust the door and frame.”
Being up at 3:30 in the morning no longer was an enjoyable novelty to the long-time policeman.
“So Claire, tell me what happened.”
Across the dark city, a not-so-handsome man, hair slicked back, pencil thin moustache, sat in a plush reading chair, taking drags on his Cuban cigar, the sixth stogie of the day for him, or maybe seven. Attired in a silk smoking jacket and custom-made slacks, he read the bulldog edition of the Daily Planet, uttering words such as ‘pigs’ and ‘dirty coppers’, stopping occasionally to sip brandy.
“Those pigs really do want a war in this town. Well, we can accommodate them.” He gave a deep, sickening laugh just as there was a knock on the door.
“Pete. Someone at the door!”
A smaller man, fully packed shoulder holster, stopped at the door, then asked, “Who?”
“Mac” came the reply.
“It’s Mac, boss.”
The well-dressed ‘gentleman’ signaled Pete to admit the visitor.
The man called Mac entered, stopped to look around the very posh room, wiped his forehead with his handkerchief.
“Great digs, boss.”
“Thanks. I like it.
“Well, Mac, I hope you have good news for me.”
Removing a file folder from under his left arm, “White did have a file like you hoped. Here it is.”
Taking the file folder, “This all of it?”
“Yep. It’s all there. He had a lot of file folders on a bunch of subjects, but this is the one you wanted.”
“Good job, Mac. There’s a bonus in this for you. Have a drink while I look through it. Pete, fix Mac a drink. He’s earned it.
Perry White had stormed into his office.
“Great Caesar’s Ghost. What in the Devil is going on here?”
“As you were told on the phone, someone broke into your office, and your reporter Larry Lane was found in here by your other reporter, the lovely Miss Kent.”
“What were you two doing in my office in the middle of night?”
Claire related to Henderson and her boss everything she knew, starting with Elyse Lane’s telephone up to calling the police, everything except how she got to the Planet and her attire upon arriving.
“Larry, I’d like to hear your version of what went on here,” Henderson requested.
“That’s just it, Inspector. I don’t remember how I got here.”
“Larry, have you been drinking?”
“Well, even now, you’re acting very strange, as if you’re drunk.”
“Inspector, I remember leaving here around eleven-thirty and stopping at Pep’s Diner for a sandwich. The next thing I recall is that Claire and I were standing here in your dark office.”
“Uh huh...” Henderson responded. “Officer Callahan, take Mr. Lane down to headquarters. Have whoever’s in the lab draw blood from Mr. Lane. I want the full blood work results on my desk when I get back, no more than an hour.”
Claire, sensing where this situation may be going, told Larry Lane to answer no more questions and to call his lawyer and wife as soon as he got to Police Headquarters.
“Hey, whose side are you on anyhow?” Henderson quizzed the female reporter.
“I’m for finding out what really happened here, and if you think Larry is responsible for all this, excuse me Bill for saying so, but you’re blooming crazy?”
“Perry, anything missing?”
“Well, everything in sight is where it’s supposed to be, and everything on or in my desk is the way I left it last night. Let me see if anything is missing from my filing cabinet.”
“Well, boss, find out what you wanted to know?” Mac asked his employer.
“I’m afraid not, Mac. While the file is extensive, it’s just clippings from the Planet and the other Metropolis newspapers. I was hoping for more personal information to support a theory I have.”
“Gee, I’m sorry, Boss.”
“It’s not your fault, Mac. You did what I asked you to do. You’re not responsible for the contents. I’ll just have to put Plan B into motion in the morning. Pete?”
“Have Ruby here at nine in the morning.”
“So Mac, tell me what happened tonight.”
“Well, you see, it was all pretty easy. Lane left the Civic Center in a hack and went back to the Planet. I waited outside for him to come back out, which he did around eleven-thirty. I followed him on foot down to Pep’s Diner. He sat at the counter and ordered a sandwich and cup of java. I went in, sat close to him and started up a casual conversation. That’s me you know, the friendly type. Anyways, the waiter brings him what he ordered. I’m just shootin’ the breeze with him. Then I knocked his napkin on the floor, and when he reached down to pick it up, I poured that stuff you gave me into his coffee. What was it again?”
“Sodium Amytal. The Nazis used it during the war to get information from POWs.”
“Yeah, that stuff. Well, I poured it in his coffee. He took a big slug, and seconds later, he was floatin’ on a cloud. At my instruction, he walked out of the place with me, didn’t even finish his meal. Some alley cat probably got half a ham and cheese on rye after we left. We walked back to the Planet. He knocked on the door to the lobby, and some decrepit old geezer let us in. Lane was acting like he was soused, so I guess the old watchman got suspicious and started asking questions. Maybe he didn’t like Lane’s answers, so he told us to stop where we were. He picked up his phone, dialed the operator and asked for the cops. That’s when I killed him.”
“You killed him?”
“Well, that little old man, I guess when I hit him with the barrel of my gun, his head must have cracked like a walnut shell. So I hid the body, and Lane and I went up to White’s office. I jimmied the door, then broke into the cabinet, took the file and here I am. Ya know, Boss, you might think that since whatever you wanted wasn’t in the file folder, that I killed that old man for nothing. Not true. It felt good when I killed him. It’s been a while since I took a life. Stress was building up in me. Killing the old goat took away the stress.”
“Mac, I like the way you think.”
“I won’t be needing you anymore tonight, Mac, so you can go catch some shuteye. Thank you for your service for our cause.”
“Thank you. Goodnight, Boss.”
“Pete, please show Mac out, and you can call it a night as well.”
“Yes sir. Thank you, Mr. Danelli.”
“Well, Perry, what’s the story?”
“Henderson, I’ve looked through my cabinet, and as far as I can tell, there is one file folder missing. My file on Supergirl.”
“SUPERGIRL!” Kent blurted out. “You keep a file on Supergirl? Why?”
“It’s very simple, Claire. This cabinet is sort of my own personal morgue file. That way, I don’t have to waste time having to go all the way down to the basement to dig through the Planet morgue. Saves me a lot of time.”
“OK,” she said, “But why Supergirl?”
“Because Supergirl is a top newsmaker, and I like to have the stories we run on her for reference, if you must know. If you’re jealous of her, I also have a Claire Kent file. It’s in the personnel department with all my other employees. You know, in case I ever want to fire anyone.”
“Ha ha, very funny. So there’s just newspaper clippings in the Supergirl file?”
“Well, what else would be in there? Her address and telephone number?”
“I hope not,” Kent whispered to herself.
“The real question here is,” Henderson jumped in, “why would anyone go to all the trouble to break into your office and take only a file on Supergirl?”
“I have no idea, Inspector, but I’m sure they’ll de disappointed when they go through it.”
“Did Larry Lane know what you kept in your file cabinet?”
“Sure, but if he wanted anything in it, he wouldn’t have to break in to take it. He has access to my morgue any time he wants. He used it many times doing research. Claire, too. All of my news reporters.”
“So, you see Bill, your idea about Larry is way off.”
“INSPECTOR HENDERSON!” came a voice from down the hall. “WE FOUND SOMETHING!”
The officer walked quickly into White’s office. “We found a body, on the stairwell between the lobby and the basement. An older man. The ID in his wallet says he’s Oscar Kierbach.”
“Oh God!,” Claire shrieked.
“You know him?” the inspector asked.
“My night watchman. Dear Lord. He’s been night watchman here longer than I’ve been editor. It’s my fault. He wanted to retire after his wife died last year, and I talked him out of it. Told him the job would help fill his lonely hours. Great Caesar’s Ghost!”
“Well Perry...Claire, Larry Lane’s troubles just multiplied by a hundred. Now he’s mixed up in a homicide. I’m going back to my office to get the truth out of him. Officer Murphy, you’re in charge of the body. Give it the full treatment. I want lots of photographs from the lobby to where you found the body, fingerprints, too.”
“Already on it, Inspector.”
“Perry, I am so sorry about Oscar. He was a sweet man. And it isn’t your fault. He chose not to retire. You didn’t force him to keep working here. Just one of those things.”
“That doesn’t make me feel any better, Kent.”
“I know, Chief, but Oscar’s gone now, but Larry isn’t, and he needs our help.”
“You know Claire, you’re always talking about your reporter’s gut? Well, my reporter’s gut, which I’ve had since before the days of Capone and Dillinger, is telling me that these scumbag hoodlums are behind Oscar’s murder. DAMMIT! They’ve made it personal. First, the Olsen kid and now Oscar. Two of my people. They’re not going to get away with this, I SWEAR IT!
Chapter Ten: Claire Kent, Crime Reporter
“Here’s the lab report on Lane, Inspector.”
“Have a seat, Roy, I may have some questions.”
Henderson took the sheet of paper and put it on his desk. He took a huge gulp from his coffee mug followed by a drag from his Chesterfield.
“Roy, another night without seeing my bed. Maybe I’ve been doing all this too long.”
“Just going through another rough period, Bill, hopefully it won’t last much longer.”
“I hope not, but Metropolis is under siege from a powerful bunch of very dangerous people. And we can’t catch them, because we don’t really know who we’re looking for...sorry, the report.”
Henderson took a couple of minutes to read and digest its contents.
“Hmmm...interesting. So Lane wasn’t drunk?”
“No, at least not from alcohol,” Roy from the lab replied. “But he was definitely drugged.”
“Sodium Amytal...truth drug.”
“I certainly know what it is, but don’t know much about it, how it works I mean.”
“I’ll keep it simple, Bill, since you’re so tired. Sodium Amytal relaxes the brain to the point that a person’s reasoning and decision-making processes are very vulnerable. If you want my opinion...”
“I do, Roy, you’re the expert.”
“OK. In my opinion, Mr. Lane was at the mercy of anyone who told him what to do, whether it be good things or bad.”
“For how long?”
“A safe dose? Ninety minutes, two hours tops. Of course, it the person had caffeine in their system, a little less.”
“Larry did say the last thing he remembered he was eating a sandwich and drinking coffee.”
“OK, then I’d guess sixty-ninety minutes, depending on how much coffee.”
“That would fit the timeline,” Henderson mumbled.
“So if someone Mickeyed his coffee, he’d be at their mercy within thirty seconds, and no one in their right mind would give themselves Sodium Amytal.”
“And while he’s under the effects of the drug, he would have no recollection of it?”
“None, Bill. A black hole in his memory.”
“So when he was under the influence, he wouldn’t remember who drugged him. However, he might remember the same person from before the drug took over.”
“Sure, that’s possible.”
“OK, thanks Roy, my best to Betty and the kids.”
“Thanks, Bill. Another on the way.”
“Well, good for you.”
The exhausted cop took a moment to lean back in his chair, trying to squeeze in a short nap. It wasn’t to be. He heard a familiar sound, and it was drawing closer. As he leaned forward, the Girl of Steel entered through the open window.
“Good morning, Supergirl. I was counting on hearing from you. Larry Lane, no doubt.”
“Yes Bill, we need to talk about Larry Lane. Now we both know...”
“Hold it, hold it,” he interrupted, “I’ve released him. Even though he was in Perry White’s office, I’m certain he wasn’t there on his own accord. He’s down the hall looking at mug shots. And by the way, how did you know about this?”
“A little bird told me.”
“Well fill me in, please,” she asked.
But just as he was about to repeat everything he had just discussed, his phone sounded.
Yawning, he picked up the receiver, “Yes...Henderson.” A pause. “WHAT! Just now? The address? OK. Have my car brought up.”
He rose from his chair, now wide awake. “Alexander Crane was just shot and killed at his residence. I’ve got to get right out there. You want to ride with me?”
“No, I can get there much faster. What’s the address?”
“1644 Apple Tree Lane.”
At nine sharp, there was a knock on the door.
Pete opened it. There was Ruby. A nice-looking dish about forty. Her mannerisms showed that she’d been around.
“Come in, Miss Ruby. I’ll tell Mr. Danelli you’re here. Make yourself comfortable.”
She swiveled her way to the sofa. Danelli entered from his bedroom, puffing on his second Cuban of the morning.
“Ruby, so good to see you.”
“Hello Luigi.” She kissed him on the cheek. “It’s been a while.”
“Been busy, doll, haven’t you heard...we’re at war?”
“Oh for sure. And may I give my condolences regarding ‘Shortcake’.”
“Very unfortunate. Sit down please. Yes, very unfortunate about Mitchell. You know Ruby, sometimes men have visions of grandeur. They truly believe they are capable of doing more than they really are. That was ‘Shortcake’s’ problem. He convinced himself that he could run a business better than I, and when men get these crazy ideas, well, bad things can happen.”
“No one is better than you Luigi. Now how can I help you?”
“Ruby, something has been on my mind, and I believe you’re the person who can get me the information I need to move forward in one aspect of our organization.”
“Which is?” she inquires.
“I know you read the papers.”
“I do. Every day. All four Metropolis papers actually. Of course, the Blade is my favorite.”
Luigi digresses, “And let me say, and feel free to pass this along, that Martin is doing a great job for us at the Blade. I love the way he writes with that big chip on his shoulder.”
“Perry White should never have fired Steve,” she added.
“His being at the Blade, Steve’s in the perfect place to help us. His articles have a different slant than the other papers, especially the Planet’s. For every story they print about us, running us down, Steve writes that maybe we really don’t even exist. That their info is just Planet propaganda trying to brainwash its readers. I love it. And speaking of the Planet...the reason I need your help. Have you noticed that most every time Supergirl does one of her miraculous feats, the Planet gets the story on the street before the other papers.”
“Sure. I’ve noticed.”
“Well, Supergirl has to have a close connection with someone at the Planet. Someone she confides in, some sort of an arrangement. I want you to find out who that person is.”
Ruby responded, “Well, it would certainly be one of their reporters, and my intuition says it’s one of the females. But they have several. But don’t worry. I can handle it.”
“This is a rush job, Ruby. I need this fast.”
“Don’t worry darling. I’ll stock up on 8mm film, dust off my Kodak and start right away.”
“Great, Ruby. By the way, how’s your car doing?”
“The one you gave me a year ago? It’s wonderful.”
“Well, go get yourself a new one. A lady like yourself shouldn’t have to drive around in a year old automobile.”
“Thank you, Luigi. Same place as last time.”
“Yeah. Go see Griswold, tell him what you want. Lincoln, Cadillac, whatever appeases you. He’ll take care of the rest.”
“But those cars are expensive.”
“Not to Griswold. He doesn’t pay anything for them, if you know what I mean. His only expense is some labor filing down the factory serial numbers and a little paint, and for what I pay him every week, he can afford it. So pick out something really nice. I want you and your man Steve driving in style.”
“Steve’s my boyfriend, Luigi, but you’re my man.”
Chapter Eleven: Claire Kent, Crime Reporter
The Citizens Against Crime Task Force had been dealt a major blow.
One of the city’s most well-known businessmen, Alexander Crane, had been mowed down in a shower of bullets walking from his front door to his car. He died instantly in his own driveway. His widow, even in her panic, got a partial license number as well as a description of the car, which she passed on to the investigating Inspector William J. Henderson.
The girl who could fly was en route from the crime scene to her twelfth story Daily Planet office. She had enough time, typing at super speed, to get the story in the day’s first edition.
Imagine her shock when she flew in the window to discover someone was sitting in the chair in front of her desk.
“Supergirl! What are you doing here?” asked Jamie Olsen, her first day back from her near-death experience.
Thinking quickly, the Girl of Steel, answered, “Why, you’re the girl who was locked in the safe.”
“Yes ma’am. Jamie Olsen. Jamie Sarah Grace Olsen, but you can call me Jamie. And thank you again for saving my life.”
“I’m glad I could.”
The apprentice reporter repeated herself, “What are you doing here?”
“Oh, I had an appointment with Claire Kent. She told me to meet her here. But it looks like she’s late.”
“I guess so, I haven’t seen her this morning,” Olsen replied.
“Well, something must have come up. I’m sure she’s a busy lady. And I really can’t stay to wait. I’m pretty busy, too.”
“Yeah, I know you are.”
“Will you tell her I was here, and that we’ll meet soon?”
“I sure will, Supergirl.”
“Goodbye Jamie Sarah Grace Olsen,” lifting off through the window.
Olsen plopped back into the chair, humming Buttons and Bows, the number two song on the most recent Hit Parade.
Claire Kent walked into the office.
“Good morning, Claire. Guess who was just here? Supergirl.”
“DRAT! I forgot about our meeting!”
“She said you could set up another time.”
“Easy for her to say. I mean, how do I get in touch with Supergirl? I doubt her number’s in the telephone directory.”
“Gosh, I hadn’t thought of that,” the puzzled girl responded.
“Jamie, how about calling Mr. Lane’s house and see if he’s there. I want to see how he’s doing.”
“He won’t be home, Claire, he’s in his office.”
“He is! Well, I’m going down there. You may join me if you wish.”
“Sure. I really don’t have anything to do right now, but please don’t tell Mr. White I said that.”
“What are the chances of meeting Supergirl two days straight?” Olsen spoke as the two ladies walked down the hall.
“Oh, I don’t know, Jamie. Pretty slim, I guess.”
“Well, you know her real well, don’t you?”
“Not really. She and I bump into one another once in a while, but...here we are. Larry, how are you feeling?”
“Actually, Claire, I’m angry, humilated and broken-hearted about Oscar. And I have a headache big enough to drop an elephant.”
“You had a horrific night. Why don’t you go home and take it easy?”
Lane retorted, “No. I’m staying right here. There’s work to be done. But if I see Henderson any time soon, I may take a poke at him.”
Jamie jumped in, “Hit a cop! You’d go to jail.”
“I almost went to jail a few hours ago.”
“Look, Larry, I think I can understand your anger, but Bill Henderson was just doing his job. I’m sure he personally didn’t believe you were responsible for everything, but he did have to follow the evidence. But the split second he had evidence you weren’t responsible, he let you go.”
“I know, I know. I’m just mad that I let some thug give me a mickey and take advantage of me.”
“Larry, that could happen to any of us at any time.”
“But it got Oscar killed.”
“THROUGH NO FAULT OF YOURS. You didn’t crush Oscar’s skull. That mongrel did it.”
Lane announced, “Well, that mongrel’s name is Mac McGinn. I picked him out of Henderson’s mug books. There’s an APB out on him already.”
“That is great news, Larry. They’ll find him.”
“Maybe he’s Mr. Big,” Jamie volunteered.
“Not a chance he’s Mr. Big, Jamie, but he could lead us to Mr. Big, if they can find him. I have his record right here. Mr. McGinn, a Detroit native, has quite the history. Spent two years in a juvey home. Convicted of armed robbery in ‘35, did three years. Assault with intent to kill convention in ‘40, did six years of a ten year term, released last year. And now, I’m his latest victim.”
“Well, when he’s caught and convicted this time, that’ll make him a three-timer, and he’ll rot in prison,” Kent remarked, looking at her wristwatch. “Jeez, I’ve got to get the story on Crane’s murder written and to composing, or the Chief will explode.
Chapter Twelve: Claire Kent, Crime Reporter
Right before eleven o’clock, a dark blue coupe parked directly across the street from the Daily Planet. The single occupant fed the meter the required nickel, then crossed the street at the corner. After all, she didn’t want to break the law by jaywalking. Entering the Planet building lobby, she went straight to the large registry mounted to the wall beside the elevators. Eliminating all men as she went, she wrote down the name of every female reporter who worked for the newspaper, then calmly returned to her car and settled into the driver’s seat for what could be a long afternoon. The woman came prepared for the stay...a sandwich for lunch, two vacuum bottles of coffee (laced with brandy) and extra cigarettes.
She had copies of the Planet for each day of the last week beside her. Identifying the ladies would be easy for her, as the newspaper often ran the reporter’s name with the byline. All she had to do, besides feeding the meter five cents every half hour, was wait for six women to enter or exit the building, and since she arrived before lunch, it shouldn’t be very difficult. Odds were that none of them would eat their lunch at their desks out of a brown bag.
Ruby Jackson was a native of Terre Haute, the western Indiana city. Her mother died shorty after giving life to her, leaving her to be raised by her alcoholic father and whatever woman he had in the house at any given time. For her first fifteen years, she had to hear him, over and over, scream at her of how she had killed her mother because she had been born. And how he wished he had put her in a gunny sack when she was an infant and drowned her in the Wabash, like an unwelcome cat. She was abused by the old man in other ways besides verbally, so at fifteen, thinking it best to save the county the cost of a murder trial, she split, living off the road for five or six years, finding refuge wherever she could, shoplifting or running cons to have food to eat and something on her back. Along the way, she found herself with less than ideal men of various ages, 18 – 50, and from those experiences, she had three pregnancies. Not wanting a bratty kid to drag all over, she ‘miscarried’ all of them. When she was twenty-six and in Kansas City, she met another less than ideal man named Luigi Danelli, a mob soldier trying to work his way up the ladder of the organization. She fell for him hard, and he seemed to return her feelings. She kept waiting for that big rock to glamorize her left hand, but it never happened. Turned out she was but one of four and five ’beauties’ Dinelli had stashed for his personal satisfaction. Still, she couldn’t get over him. And as he was promoted over and over within the ‘business’ she stayed within reasonable distance, waiting for his call. It often came.
Now, at forty, she had settled in with Steve Martin, a reporter formerly with the Daily Planet, now of the Metropolis Blade. Martin’s hatred for the Planet came through in every article he wrote for the Blade. Martin placed the total blame of his unwarranted dismissal on the shoulders of Perry White. After all, was making up bogus witnesses and reporting false facts in his stories such a big deal? Dinelli immediately saw a use for him, so he made Martin a great deal to participate in the organization’s business. Causing trouble for the Planet and being paid more by Dinelli on the side than the Blade paid him was an easy choice for the so-called journalist. Through Luigi Dinelli, Steve Martin met Ruby. These were the best times of Ruby’s life, but she knew that the underworld way of living wouldn’t last forever. And she already accepted the fact that when it was her time to go, it would probably be as horrific a death as most of her life had been. But that was the hand of cards she had been dealt back in Terre Haute.
By three o’clock, Ruby had the footage she needed, so she tossed her cigarette out the window, cranked her car and vacated the parking space. Her back tire crushed the twelve butts on the street.
At the exact same time, Luigi Dinell sat in his plush reading chair, laughing at the morning headline concerning his ‘hit’ of Task Force member Alexander Crane earlier that morning. His radio was dialed to WMET, the city’s most listened to station and the same frequency people could hear the Daily Planet’s six o’clock news report.
Dinelli sat forward in his chair with the words, “We’re breaking into our scheduled recorded music program with a special announcement...Good afternoon, this is Claire Kent, crime reporter of the Daily Planet, with a breaking news announcement. The Mayor of this city, Hubert Wilson, was shot and killed less than an hour ago as he walked out of the Metropolis City Club to his awaiting car. Witnesses have described to police that they saw a man, six-foot two or three, approximately two hundred and twenty-five pounds, grey suit with black fedora, approach the mayor right after he stepped onto the sidewalk. The two appeared to be having a conversation when suddenly, three shots were fired, and Mayor Wilson fell to the sidewalk. The man calmly walked away and disappeared into the crowd which quickly gathered. An ambulance was called, but the city leader was pronounced dead on arrival upon reaching Mercy Hospital. Stay tuned to WMET for more information as it becomes available. And listen to Larry Lane’s Daily Planet news program at six o’clock this evening for further information.” The music resumed.
The mobster let out such a boisterous laugh his ‘servant’ Pete ran in from the kitchen.
“Everything all right, Mr. Dinelli?”
“Pete, everything is WONDERFUL! Get me a cigar.”
As soon as she was off the air, Claire Kent, walked quickly down the hall to the elevator, entered and pushed the button labeled twelve. Arriving on her floor, she continued her stride into her office. Locking her office door behind her, she stepped back clear of the frosted glass window so that she wasn’t visible from the hall, put her hand to her brunette hair, gave a slight tug, detaching the wig revealing golden blonde hair. Then quickly unbuttoned her blouse, removing it and her skirt, took three fast steps and leaped out her twelfth story office window on her way to City Hall.
Chapter Thirteen: Claire Kent, Crime Reporter
When the Girl of Steel arrived at the Metropolis City Hall, she immediately noticed the building was swarming with police officers. She was, of course, allowed entry up to the third floor to the office of the new mayor, Raymond Buckley, who had been given the oath within thirty minutes as soon as word of his predecessor Hubert Wilson’s murder reached uptown. Wilson had been shot and killed as he walked out of the Metropolis City Club. The assailant had been identified by Planet reporter Larry Lane as long time mobster Mac McGinn, still at large.
A police guard opened the door to the mayoral suite for Supergirl and upon entering, found more security officers and the remaining members of the Citizens Against Crime Task Force...Police Commissioner Parker, Bill Henderson, Perry White, Walter Canby and Peter Kilgore. It had already been decided that Ray Buckley would take the late Wilson’s spot.
“Gentlemen, as my first order of business as Mayor, I have been in touch with the Governor in Capitol City and asked for National Guard troops to be sent in to help us protect the city. He graciously agreed to do so. Some of them will be here by nightfall.”
Commissioner Parker stated, “Locally, I am assigning two personal bodyguards to each member of this Task Force, except for Supergirl, who obviously requires no protection.”
“Thank you Commissioner,” business magnate Peter Kilgore replied. “After what happened to Crane this morning, that will make me feel some better. So they’ll follow me home when I leave my office?”
“They’ll drive you to and from your home, Mr. Kilgore.”
“As for the courthouse, there will be extra men posted throughout the building, Mr. Canby, and a man right outside your office. Your two bodyguards by your side,” Henderson added.
“I appreciate the offer, Inspector, and the extra security in the building is fine, but I don’t want any bodyguards in my office while I’m working,” the DA insisted.
Henderson and Supergirl exchanged glances.
“Well, uh, because...well, lots of confidential work takes place in my office...dictation, phone calls, and such that no one is entitled to hear.”
“Walter, my men aren’t going to go snooping through your desk or your file cabinets,” Commissioner Parker stated. “They’ll be there only for your own protection.”
“I’m grateful, but NO! I must be adamant about this. Put twenty men outside my office door, but no one will be inside my office BUT ME!”
“As you wish, Walter.”
“And Perry, your two officers will take you back to the Planet whenever you’re ready to go.”
“I’m not crazy about having bodyguards watching over me like a hawk, but I’ll go along with it,” the Chief responded.
Supergirl casually made her way over to Henderson, “I’m intrigued by Canby’s reaction.”
“You and me both. Do you buy his explanation?
“Well, if some of the business going on in his office is not on the up and up, yeah, it would make sense. You know Bill, I keep thinking about what happened to Jamie Olsen right down the hall from Canby’s office.”
A few minutes past seven o’clock that evening, Pete answered the short knock on the door of Luigi Danelli’s plush apartment.
Ruby, in a fast stride, announced, “It’s showtime, Luigi.”
“You know, Ruby, when Pete told me you called and needed to come over for ‘movie night,’ I was shocked. It’s quite a feat filming everything in one day, but getting the film developed so quick. How in the world did you manage it?”
“There’s a camera shop in the next block from my apartment. It’s amazing what great service a helpless looking woman can get when she gives the manager an extra fifty for one hour service.” She laughed.
“You...helpless? That is a laugh. Pete has the projector and screen all set up. Let’s see what you got.”
“You might want Pete to make us some popcorn. After tonight, Luigi, SCARFACE may not be your favorite movie anymore. It might be THE WOMEN OF THE DAILY PLANET.”
She laughed again.
“Leave us alone Pete,” came the order.
“Yes, Mr. Danelli,”Pete responded, going into the spare bedroom. “I’ll get the lights.”
Ruby carefully threaded the 8mm reel of film through the various sprockets and hit the ‘on’ button. The projector started up slowly, giving a grinding-like sound, then built up speed as the film leader proceeded...6...5...4...3...then the first image hit the screen.
“My God! What is that?” the boss yelled.
“Ha! Ha! I left this in as sort of a cartoon before the main attraction. You are looking at Bea Bachrach, Perry White’s secretary. A real snoop and busybody, good traits for a reporter, but she never aspired to be one. She’s content to be White’s girl Friday, going on thirty years now. OK, fun’s over, here we go. You are looking at Barbara Tuttle. She is the society editor.”
“Nice looking,” he noticed.
“Mrs. Tuttle, emphasis on Mrs., is the society editor. She handles engagements, anniversaries, weddings, divorces. Has three kids at home, husband’s an electrician. No way Tuttle is Supergirl’s contact.
“Next up is Myrna Van Cleaver. She’s the Miss Lonely Heart for the Planet. Gives love advice to women who write in asking how to get and keep Mr. Right. Apparently Myrna knows what she’s talking about. She’s had the same man for ten years. He’s a podiatrist by the way.”
“Nice, but it’s not her,” Danelli comments.
“Agreed. Now next is Joyce Weldon, obituaries.”
“Well she had a busy day,” Danelli laughed.
“Weldon’s single, lives with her mother. She’s not our girl.”
“How did you get all this personal information about these women?”
“Well, ask a guy at the delivery dock to light your cigarette, then start the chit chat, and it’s amazing what all comes out of their mouths.”
“But are we going to run out of prospects?”
“Patience, Luigi, patience.”
“Now showing...Eve McCredy. News reporter. Covers City Hall, politics and the court system. Busy girl. Single.”
Number five is Vera Harper, another reporter. Covers education. That’s gotta be awful...bratty kids. Also single.”
“Damn, it could be either of the last two, Ruby.”
“That’s what I was thinking, too, but keep your eyes open. Here comes the payoff. This dish is Claire Kent, the Planet’s ace. She runs circles around all the male crime reporters.”
“Yeah, I’ve read some of her stuff. Seems pretty sharp.”
The footage shot by Ruby Jackson caught Kent exiting the glass front doors of the Planet, walking down the street, just like all the other gals. But at the entrance of the alley beside the Planet, she disappeared into the storeless space. Ruby had spliced out the dead footage, resuming just as Supergirl appeared where Claire had entered and flew into the city sky.
“Whoa! Can I see that again?”
“I thought that might get your attention.”
Ruby hit the ‘stop’ button, then reversed the reel all the way back to Claire’s first frame, then the machine again went forward.
Danelli watched in amazement as Kent hit the sidewalk, walked into the alley, then Supergirl appeared and flew away.
“That’s it! Ruby, you’re a doll! Tell me, how long was Kent in the alley before Supergirl showed up?
“Oh, a minute or so, two minutes top!”
“Well, that’s our answer! Claire Kent is Supergirl’s contact. They meet in the alley and Supergirl feeds her information for the Planet. No wonder Kent beats out Steve and every other writer in town.”
The screen went a bright white.
“Well, that’s all folks!” Ruby snickered. “So what’s next, Luigi?”
“Simple. Claire Kent has to disappear. That will put the squash on Supergirl’s Daily Planet whammy. And with Kent out of the way, it will be easier for Steve and the Blade to get more scoops. You know, the old two birds with one stone.”
“Steve will be very grateful.”
“Ruby, you’ve done incredible work today. Calls for a celebration,” the hoodlum shouted.
“Thanks, Luigi, but I have to drive home. I’d better pass on the champagne.”
“Now, who said anything about champagne,” he replied as his hand on Miss Jackson’s inner thigh moved upward.
Chapter 14: Claire Kent, Crime Reporter
Luigi Danelli and his gang of cutthroats didn’t let any grass grow under their feet.
Around seven thirty the following morning, a black sedan was parked right outside the home of task force member Peter Kilgore. A single figure lurked in the shrubbery just inside the opened iron gate. Just as Kilgore and his two police bodyguards approached the Metropolis Police car to drive to the office complex where Kilgore spent his days, Mac McGinn jumped out clear of the bushes and opened fired his Thompson submachine gun, spraying bullets until the firearm was nearly red hot.
The three figures went down.
The sedan pulled up to the end of the driveway. McGinn quickly jumped into the back seat.
“BURN RUBBER SAM!”
The Sam was Sam ‘the Fish’ Miller, another career mobster, known for his skills driving getaway cars after horrific events.
A few minutes later, now in the heart of the city, McGinn instructed Miller to park as close to the corner drug store as he could. ‘The Fish’ got three parking spaces down from their destination.
“I’ll be right back, Sam. Gotta check in with the boss.”
McGinn entered the drug store and walked towards the back to the vacant phone booth, adjusting the fedora he wore so less of his face would be visible. Inserting his nickel, he made his call.
On the receiving end of the call, a voice belonging to Danelli’s associate Pete answered.
“It’s Mac. Tell the boss...mission accomplished.”
Hanging up the phone, he left the booth and headed back towards the street, but stopped short when he spotted a familiar face at the counter...Blade reporter Steve Martin buying a pack of Camels. The two walked out together, spoke briefly, then parted ways, each getting into their respective automobiles and driving away. The on duty MPD officer nearby spotted the two together. By the time he could get back to the intersection, they were gone, but he quickly unlocked the police phone box and called in to headquarters. The call was patched through to a just arriving in his office William J. Henderson.
“Are you sure, Dockery? Mac McGinn and Steve Martin together?”
“Yes Inspector. I’m quite sure. I know Martin from the newspaper and McGinn from the APB. It was them all right.”
A good twelve to fifteen blocks away, Daily Planet reporter Claire Kent entered her living room from the bedroom, almost ready for another work day. As she stood in front of the mirror, covering her blonde hair with the brunette wig she used to shield her other identity, a police dispatch came over the always on when home short wave. The call concerning the shooting at the Kilgore house.
Removing the wig before she could make sure it was properly placed, “Claire will have to wait. Supergirl is needed.”
Back into the bedroom, the crime fighter in red and blue took off through the window on her way to yet another mob attack.
She actually beat Henderson to the scene. Upon arrival, she spotted Peter Kilgore, visibly shaken, sitting in the back seat of a patrol car, four officers guarding the car. Three squad cars had arrived. At least a dozen cops were on the scene as Henderson arrived. He immediately went to Officer Mooney to get the rundown of what had occurred.
“We were almost to our car when someone opened up on us. I pushed Kilgore down behind the car and covered him, but the shooter got Chris. He killed my partner!”
“Hank, we’re all lucky he didn’t get you as well. Kilgore too. You did your job. You saved Kilgore’s life.”
“But Chris is dead. What about Vera and the kids?”
“I know, I know. Just take it easy.”
“Bill, what goes on?” a voice came from behind.
Henderson did a one-eighty to see Claire Kent approaching.
“Oh, morning Kent. Not a good one though. An failed attempt on Kilgore, but the shooter killed one of our officers.”
“I am so very sorry. Can you give me the details for the first edition?”
“How about talking to Dickson other there. He can give them to you. I’m with the deceased’s partner.”
Claire got what she needed, returned to the hidden spot she had just come, made another identity switch and flew to her office and had the story written in a matter of minutes.
Chapter 15: Claire Kent, Crime Reporter
“An officer slain. They don’t care who they slaughter,” Claire Kent complained to her Daily Planet editor Perry White.
He replied, “They’re animals! All of them! The man had three kids according to Henderson. At least they didn’t get Kilgore or the other policeman.”
“Well, I hope his family will take some gratification in that their provider gave his life to save another, but...I doubt that will be much satisfaction.”
“I’m back Mr. White,” Larry Lane announced as he leaned through the doorway into the office.
“You’re back? Where did you go?” a confused boss asked.
“I went to lunch, like I do every day,” Lane confessed. “Now I’m going to interview one of our readers who claims he was a witness to the ‘Shortcake’ Mitchell shooting. Want to tag along Claire and watch a real reporter in action?”
“Why sure, Larry, always willing to learn how to cover a story. See ya later, Chief.”
“WAIT A MINUTE! Have you two forgotten who’s in charge at this paper? Great Caesar’s Ghost. I’m the one who assigns the stories around here,” White fumed.
“OK Chief,” Kent answered. “What is it that you wish me to do? The Kilgore story is on the street in the first edition. My desk is clear. Should I go down to the loading dock and help the men put rubber bands around the afternoon papers?”
“Here’s what you can do, Claire Kent. And you too, Mr. Larry Lane. You can both GET OUT OF MY OFFICE!”
“Crazy, just crazy,” Perry White mumbled, reaching for his milk of magnesia.
The Daily Planet coupe slid in beside the curb in a residential area of modest looking cookie cutter homes.
“1216 Rosemont. That might be it. I can’t read the numbers on the front porch mailbox,” Lane complained.
Claire verified the correct address via her super sight.
“Yes, that’s 1216.”
“You must have the eyes of a rabbit. I can barely even see the mailbox.”
“Maybe I eat a lot of carrots,” Claire quipped. “Let’s go.”
The two reporters exited the curb side of the automobile, walked up the brick walk and pushed the door bell to 1216 Rosemont. A short, slender, balding man opened the door, and upon seeing the press cards of his visitors, invited them inside.
Briefly exchanging pleasantries, the Planet people began the meat of their visit. They learned Perkins ran a tobacco shop directly across the street from the place Ed Mitchell was gunned down. The shop owner was locking the front door to his business as the shooting occurred.
“Mr. Perkins, why have you waited so long to come forward? The Mitchell shooting was days ago?” Larry began.
“Well, when I read that it was probably a mob shooting, I was afraid to get involved. I don’t want those mobsters coming after me.”
“So what changed your mind about getting involved now?” Kent followed up.
“I also read there was a reward being offered for information.” (Sheepishly) “I could use the five hundred dollars. That’s a lot of money.”
As the discussion pressed forward, Lane and Kent realized that all Perkins could tell them was a weak description of the car involved.
“Mr. Perkins, the police already have that same information concerning the car. Perhaps you got the license plate number?” asked Lane.
“No, I’m sorry I didn’t. As soon as I heard the shots, I hit the floor.”
“So there’s nothing else you can tell us that might help?” Claire inquired.
“That’s all I saw. Now, do I get the reward?” the meek gentleman asked.
“Well, Mr. Perkins, it’s the Metropolis Police Department, not the Daily Planet, who is offering the reward, but if that’s all you saw, I doubt it. You’d have to check with them. But thank you for your time.”
A disappointed host showed his reporting guests to the door.
As Claire and Larry started up the walk, Perkins asked again, “You sure I won’t get the reward?”
Kent and Lane rolled their eyes and continued.
The dark sedan sped up and as it approached the house at 1216, the repeating explosions from the Thompson destroyed the tranquility of the neighborhood.
“DOWN LARRY!” Claire screamed as she pushed her coworker to the ground behind the unkept hedge. On her way to the ground, she felt five or six submachine projectiles strike her torso. Naturally, she wasn’t hurt. Larry was spared as well, but Perkins was another story. He and his home were sprayed with gunfire. The meek man was sprawled across his tiny porch. He got his reward, just not the kind he had hoped.
Lane, starting to get up, “Claire, are you all right!”
“Yes, Larry. I’m fine.”
But maybe not so fine. The young woman from Krypton observed her blouse had been shredded by the gunfire. Clearly visible was a sizeable patch of bright blue and portions of her red and yellow shield, jeopardizing her duel Supergirl existence.
“Let me help you up, Claire.”
“No. No. Larry, I’m not hurt, but I can’t say the same for my clothing. Spare me your jacket, if you don’t mind.”
“Of course,” he obliged in his best Walter Raleigh mannerism.
Donning her peer’s suit coat, making sure her wardrobe underneath was completely covered, she stood up and immediately noticed neighbor’s running towards them. The two also observed the late Mr. Perkins. One neighbor lady yelled out that she had already called the police and an ambulance.
An ambulance would be of no help for Gil Perkins.
Chatper 16: Claire Kent, Crime Reporter
Larry Lane and Claire Kent kept the gathering nearby residents from getting too close to the crime scene, a sight that had a few ladies run away in horror. Stretched across his front porch was their neighbor Gil Perkins, his bodied riddled with vicious bullet wounds. Blood was not modest in the vicinity.
The intent of the shooter was no doubt to also eliminate the two reporters, but in that aspect, a failed one. Larry survived only because Claire had pushed him to the ground out of gunfire reach. She had been struck repeatedly. Larry missed seeing that as his face was smothered by Perkins’ lawn. Claire suffered no damage being a receiver of a medley of bullets, but her upper clothing had badly shredded, jeopardizing her dual Supergirl existence. Only Lane’s suit coat, which she now wore, protected her secret.
Had Claire been alone, she could easily have transformed into her other identity and quickly tracked down the assassin in the dark sedan. But with a witness, she had to stay put and continue her guise as an ordinary person.
“The police are two blocks away. They’ll be here any minute,” she announced.
“And you know that how?” Lane inquired.
“I hear their sirens.”
“I don’t hear any...wait a minute, now I do,” he answered, satisfied.
Two squad cars, coming from opposite directions, parked at the curb. Sgt. Dickson drove one car, Inspector Henderson the other.
“So what happened!” the commanding officer demanded.
Planet reporters relayed their information.
“Are you both sure you’re not hurt?”
Lane answered first, “I fine, thanks to Claire.”
“I’m OK, too, just a new blouse short of when I started the day.”
Another vehicle came to a stop in front of Henderson’s patrol car. A most unusual looking new Lincoln, powder blue in hue. Exiting, the figure of Blade reporter Steve Martin approached the investigators demanding the facts of the incident.
“Or do I have to wait until the Planet ‘boys’ are finished. Oh, I’m sorry Kent. I didn’t recognize you in that sporty suit coat. Ya taken to wearing men’s clothes now? You might as well, since you’re trying to do a man’s job.”
“That’s enough Martin,” Henderson stepped between them. For your information, someone nearly killed Lane and Kent.”
“Oh, wouldn’t that have been awful?” a blistered Martin snapped.
“Listen Martin, you’re here to cover a story. So cover it. Get the details from Sgt. Dickson. But if you can’t behave in a professional manner, you can hop back into your pretty blue car and get lost. And by the way, how does a reporter for the Blade afford a brand new Lincoln?”
“It belongs to my girlfriend, if you must know.”
Several minutes later, Martin closed his notepad, replacing it in his inner coat pocket. “Well, thanks Henderson. Maybe I can actually get back to the Blade and scoop the Planet for once, no thanks to you.”
“I doubt it. Lane’s inside the house calling in his story. Isn’t that a shame?”
Steve Martin mumbled some obscenity under his breath and walked away.
“Hold it a minute Martin,” the inspector yelled. “Since you’ve already been scooped, another minute won’t really matter. I have a question for you.”
“There’s an APB out on a goon named Mac McGinn.”
“What about it?”
“How well do you know McGinn?”
Martin, startled, replied, “I don’t know him.”
“That’s odd,” Henderson went on, “One of my officers spotted you talking to him in front of a drug store.”
“Nah, not me.”
“You were recognized. All my men know the great Steve Martin of the Blade. They know Mac McGinn as well. He swears it was you and McGinn.”
Thinking quickly, all the reporter could come up with was, “He probably saw some guy stopping me on the street as I came out of the drug store wanting a light for his smoke. Yeah, sure, that’s what he saw. I didn’t realize it was McGinn.”
“No sale Martin. How about this? Why don’t we go back to my office and discuss this in more detail. I’ll let the officer get a good look at you, so he can be sure he saw what he told me he saw?”
“HOW ABOUT THIS!” the panicked reporter screamed.
Without warning, Henderson was on the way to the ground, his jaw the recipient of a near haymaker from the fleeing reporter. Claire was the first to reach him as he was getting upright.
“Take over Dickson!”
“Where are you going, Bill?” Kent yelled.
“NOW I finally have a real reason to take this guy downtown,” as he got behind the wheel and proceeded to pull away from the curb in pursuit. As he crunched the accelerator to the floor, he heard a door slam, observing he had an unwelcome passenger.
“Kent! What in blue blazes? You can’t be in here! It’s against regulations.”
“You want me to call a cop?” she answered. “Keep going. I won’t tell if you won’t.”
“God, I must be insane, letting a civilian tag along on a police chase. If you get hurt, I’m finished as a cop!”
“I promise I won’t get hurt. FASTER, Bill!”
The two in chase drew a bit closer to the runaway Blade employee. Radioing in to headquarters, “This is Henderson. We’re...uh...I’m in pursuit of one Steve Martin, reporter for the Blade. He’s driving a new looking powder blue Lincoln sedan. I’m not quite close enough to make out the license...”
“It’s J24Y97 ,” Claire offered.
“Make that John-2-4-Yellow-9-7,” yelling into his transmitter, glaring at Claire in amazement, just as Larry Lane had done earlier.
Martin made several quick turns through the residential area, Henderson and Kent gaining more speed.
“Get me some backup! I heading south on Clement Avenue, soon to intersect with Brawley Street.”
Martin, doing no less than sixty, cut right onto Brawley. His inertia was overcome by a Metropolis garbage truck making the turn in the opposite direction. The Lincoln clipped the back of the oversized monster, sending it into a series of flips, driver Martin hurling out the open window on the second rotation, coming to rest upon impact with a light pole.
Henderson grinded his car to a stop. Both he and Kent jumped out.
“You check the garbage truck driver, see if he’s all right!” came the inspector’s orders. Kent complied.
When Henderson reached the reporter, he knew it was hopeless. Martin’s flight had terminated when he hit the pole, back first, nearly breaking him in two. There was a slight moan when the cop rolled over his assaulter. Blood was flowing from Martin’s ears, nose and mouth.
“Martin, can you hear me?” Bill had to shout.
“Look after Ruby for me,” he asked, out of his mind, with one of his remaining breaths.
Backup arrived. The officer ran to join Henderson.
“Any hope Inspector?” Henderson shook his head horizontally.
Martin repeated, “Danelli? Is that you Danelli?”
The Inspector’s light bulb clicked on. Luigi Danell, Mr. Big.
“Uh...no Martin. It’s Mitchell, Marty Mitchell.”
“Marty, when did you get to town?” Martin managed to ask.
“Last night, but I have to see Danelli. Where can I find him? Tell me Steve, where’s Danelli?
“Cloverdale Apartments, Sycamore Street, Apartment 3D. When you see him, tell him to look af...”
Claire ran up beside Henderson.
“The driver’s OK. Martin?”
“No, he’s gone. But he talked. Luigi Danelli must be Mr. Big.”
“Danelli’s dead,” she countered.
“I thought so too, but Martin said he’s at the Cloverdale Apartments on Sycamore Street, Apartment 3D.”
Hearing that, Claire turned and started to run down the street.
“Kent, where in blue blazes are you going!”
“This is a job for Supergirl, I mean, I’ve got to find her!” continuing her journey.
The officer asked Henderson just what that was all about.
“I don’t know Harrison. Maybe she ran behind a house, ripped off her dress and turned into Supergirl. Here, let’s get to work here.”
Oh, William J. Henderson, if you had only paid more attention to your own words, you might be on to something even bigger than Mr. Big.
Chapter 17: Claire Kent, Crime Reporter
The Cloverdale Apartment building on Metropolis’s Sycamore Street was one of the most exclusive residential areas in the city. Tenants paid as high as $1000 per month to live there, an enormous amount for 1947, considering a comfortable two bedroom house in the suburbs could be purchased for $10,000.
Luigi Danelli wasn’t the suburban family man type. He had a very extended history of criminal activity and preferred fancy urban living. All law enforcement knew him but never quite had the goods on him that could be proven in a court. So when a coroner’s report was released several years earlier verifying the death of a man named Luigi Danelli (of a heart attack), the long arm of the law assumed natural death had saved some jurisdiction a costly trial, and his file was packed away.
Somehow, Luigi had tricked the authorities in believing he had been the corpse on the coroner’s table. Never missing a beat, the czar of the underworld had moved his operation into mid-western Metropolis, taking over the rackets of prostitution, drug selling, gambling and every kind of vice outlawed in the penal code.
Late afternoon found the czar sitting back in his plush living room chair, sanctuary for reading, thinking, plotting and device which made it easy for his women to please him. Ruby Jackson was called to service more than any of the others. Danelli’s workload of calling orders prohibited any to spend extended time in apartment 3D. So he had no ego problem of sharing the veteran Jackson with another man. The man of late had been Steve Martin, Danelli’s bought and paid for reporter on the Metropolis Blade newspaper, one competitor of Perry White’s Daily Planet, that is until less than one hour earlier when Martin demolished the brand new, illegally obtained Lincoln (owned by Jackson but obtained by Danelli) and ended his own earthly existence by being whipped, back first, into a lamp pole.
What remained of Martin was manipulated by police Inspector Bill Henderson into spilling Danelli’s location and job description as Mr. Big before his expiration. Claire Kent, on the scene, learned of Danelli’s place of residence and immediately vanished somewhere into the neighbor, briefly arousing Henderson’s curiosity as to why an investigative reporter would depart a fresh crime scene.
“So it went as I directed?”
Conscience-free assassin Mac McGinn replied, “Even better than you wanted, Boss. Got two reporters for the price of one. Maybe even the old geezer who lived in the crummy little house.”
“But you’re sure you killed Claire Kent?”
“No question, boss. I saw her go down, the guy with her, too. What I don’t understand is why was it so important to kill this dame reporter? I mean, how much trouble could she be?”
“Listen Mac. Reporters are a dime a dozen. Kill a reporter, they’re replaced in an hour. But this reporter was different. Claire Kent, is...(correcting himself) or rather was...Supergirl’s connection to the Planet. That’s why Supergirl’s crap always turns up first in the Planet, making it hard for Martin to keep up at the Blade. What she was writing, making our organization look bad to the public, Martin would write the same story from our viewpoint, making the police look like the imbeciles they are. You might say Martin is our public relations guy. Now with Kent dead, the Planet’s lost it’s advantage with Supergirl’s activities, at least for a while. Now I can get my viewpoints on the streets just as fast as the crummy Planet, controlling the press, you might say.”
“Now I get it,” McGinn answered. “So I done good?”
“Mac, you did really good. Go out in the kitchen and tell Pete to fix you the biggest steak we have.”
“Gee, thanks Boss.”
Rapture overtook Danelli’s mood as he lit his fifth Havana of the day. Simultaneously, he exhaled a billow of yellowish smoke and a screaming laugh.
The celebration ended sharply with a giant and loud explosion, the large picture window overlooking much of the city’s landscape destroyed by a red and blue projectile, now standing inside the room.
“Sorry I didn’t take the time to ring the bell, Danelli. I was in a hurry.”
“I’ll have the landlord send you the bill for that window, Supergirl. You can’t bust into a private residence like you just did.”
“You want to call a cop, Danelli? Be my guest.”
“The name is Canfield, not Danelli.”
“Well, you could certainly be Luigi Danelli’s twin. They say everybody has one, you know. Why don’t we take a trip to Inspector Henderson’s office and get all the misunderstanding sorted out?”
“I’m not going anywhere with you, Supergirl. MAC! SAM! PETE!”
“I was hoping you’d do that, Danelli!”
Instantly, two of the three hirelings burst in from the kitchen, Thompson machine guns blazing.
Dozens of bullets struck the Girl of Steel from her forehead to her waist, ricocheting in every possible direction. Sam ‘the Fish’ Miller entered the fray from the back room with an identical firearm.
“STOP SHOOTING!” Danelli screamed. “BULLETS ARE GOING EVERYWHERE!”
Just as he was finishing his statement, one struck McGinn in the temple. He was a goner before he hit the floor. The red-hot weapons went silent. As it hit the floor, one caught the plush carpeting ablaze. The crime fighter extinguished the flame quickly with one breath. Then gathered the other two existing goons and introduced one’s head into the other.
“Well, Danelli, that leaves just you and me.”
“Please! Please! Don’t kill me!” he begged, much of his arrogance evaporated.
“Killing is not part of my code, Danelli. But you and your criminal empire are finished. And by the way, Steve Martin is as dead as this fellow (she pointed to McGinn). In fact, it was Martin who told the police where we could find you.”
“That spineless jellyfish!”
“I guess you just hang out with the wrong kind of people. OK, Danelli, let’s go. Come over here to me. We’ll leave the same way I came.”
“You mean, you’re going to fly me?”
“Why sure? You’ll love it. I’ll give you a nice view of the city you thought you could rule.”
“I’m not going anywhere with you!” he screamed as he made for the door.
“I beg to differ,” she replied both verbally and with a right fist to his jaw. Easily picking up the two hundred and fifty pounder, she carried her passenger to the window and launched.
Chapter 18: Claire Kent, Crime Reporter
William J. Henderson a good cop. In fact, a great cop. Approaching thirty years with MPD, he had worked up from beat walker to second in command, only Commissioner reigned over him.
Great investigator, superb with details, greatest strength was interrogation. When Henderson got hold of suspects, he didn’t let go.
Things looking good in crushing Mr. Big’s underworld dynasty. Luigi Danelli in custody. Purposely left in dark, bleak room with only table and chair, the crime boss had screamed and beat on door demanding freedom until ordered handcuffed to table.
The Inspector walked with Supergirl, Danelli’s deliverer to headquarters, towards the confinement.
“I’ll have to take over with Danelli. Not that I don’t appreciate everything you have done, but it’s procedure. Don’t want any loopholes that his lawyer could bring up.”
“Fine with me, Bill. It’s your show. But I can go in with you, can’t I?”
“Of course, but I do the talking.”
A click in a heavy lock, the two entered.
“Just wait until I get out of here. I’ll sue both of you for false arrest.”
“Don’t get ahead of yourself, Luigi, you haven’t been arrested.”
“Then why am I here? And why is SHE in here? I’m gonna sue you, dearie, for breaking and entering, assault and battery and endangering my life flying me here. You could have dropped me!”
“Don’t think it didn’t cross my mind, Danelli. But I’ve never dropped anyone yet.”
“Well, if I’m not under arrest, I want out of here. I want my lawyer!”
“If you feel you need coundel, Danelli, we’ll call him. But let me tell you what will happen. If your lawyer comes, the first thing he will tell you is to not make any statements. And that will be very bad advice. At this point, the best thing you can do is come clean with me. We’ve got enough on you to put you under this jail.”
“YOU’RE BLUFFING, Henderson. YA GOT NOTHING!”
“I suggest you take a minute to listen to what I have to say,” Henderson continued. “Then if you still want your mouthpiece, you can call him. But before he can get here, you will be under arrest.”
“Good advice Danelli,” Supergirl tossed. “Better hear him out.”
“Luigi, I’ll cut to the chase. Every interrogation room in this building is occupied with members of your organization. Since Supergirl brought you here, I’ve been chit chatting with your wonderful employees, and you know what, they’re not as loyal as you thought they were. Every single one of them is helping themselves by spilling their guts about their careers, and they all say you’re the boss...Mr. Big. You give the orders. Orders that include drugs, prostitution, strong arming, loan sharking, assault with intent to kill, arson and the big one...MURDER!”
“They wouldn’t do that. You’re lying!”
“Well, let me look back at my notes. In one room we have your servant, or whatever you call him, Pete. Said he witnessed you giving the late Mac McGinn orders to kill Ed ‘Shortcake’ Mitchell, Alexander Crane, Mayor Hubert Wilson and Peter Kilgore. Next door, Sam ‘the Fish’ Miller verified what Pete said, told me he drove the car during the Mitchell, Crane, Kilgore shootings and that McGinn was the shooter acting under your instructions. Same goes for your attempt on Claire Kent and Larry Lane. That attempt failed but Gil Perkins wasn’t as lucky. And your man at the Metro Blade, Steve Martin who is dead by the way, told me with his dying breath that you called shots and were Mr. Big. Pete and Miller also ratted out Nick Marone, Mike ‘the Crusher’ Dana, Harry ‘the Runt’ McCann and Jim ‘Boulder’ Nolt. We’ll have them in custody very shortly. And I’m betting my pension that those guys will sing like canaries just like the others. None of them taking the fall for you Danelli. Maybe it’s because we have the gas chamber in this state. For their ‘cooperation’ the Commissioner and I will try to persuade our District Attorney to give them life instead of the pellet. They’re throwing you to the wolves, Luigi. You’re done. No life sentence for you. The big man of the organization gets the chamber. It isn’t an instant execution you know. Experts have told me that it can take ten minutes. They say when that hydrogen cyanide pellet hits that acid, and the fumes begin to fill the room, that first whiff makes your chest fill like it’s going to EXPLODE! Not the same euphoria you experience with Terre Haute native Ruby Jackson.”
“Ruby Jackson? Never heard of her!”
“That’s odd. She’s here, too and seems she carries a torch for you Luigi. Your stooge Steve Martin was driving a new Lincoln when he crashed, a Lincoln registered to one Ruby Jackson. Registration records show she’d had the Lincoln only a few days. Didn’t show much reaction when told of Martin’s grim demise, but got in a nervous flurry when told I had you locked up down the hall. And guess what, the Lincoln was stolen. So we have Ruby on falsifying registration documents, because she knew the car was stolen.”
“You can’t prove that!”
“Oh, now you know Ruby Jackson! We can prove she knew, because your motor pool man Murray Griswold told me he got the car for her per your instructions. So you see Luigi, Ruby’s going upstate with the others. And you know the kind of things happen to women in a state prison. They’re passed around, guard to guard, like a dollar cigar. Is that want for her?”
“GIVE A MINUTE TO THINK, WILL YA!”
Henderson glanced at the Girl of Steel with expression suggesting Danelli was at the brink.
A couple of minutes passed. Danelli wiped his soaking forehead with the sleeve of his $250 suit jacket.
“I have some conditions,” he stated.
“Such as...?” the cop replied.
“I don’t want Ruby charged with ANYTHING! Yeah, I got her the car, but she had NOTHING to do with the business, other than a few errands for me from time to time. She was NOT involved in any killings or the other stuff.”
“You said conditions, that’s more than one.”
“I’ll tell you what you want to know if you get the DA to spare me the gas chamber.”
“The Ruby request I can do, but not the other. No sir, Luigi, the big man gets the full treatment. Your execution might send a message to the other crime bosses in the country. No deal. Mr. Big gets the pellet.”
“But I’m NOT Mr. Big!”
“I was waiting for you to get to that. Sorry, not buying.”
“I’m telling you, I am not Mr. Big. But you get the DA to give me consideration, and I’ll give him to you. I’ll tell you everything! But I’ll need protection.”
“Keep talking,” Henderson instructed.
“Nothing more until the DA agrees I don’t get the gas chamber. I don’t want to die!”
“Nope. No deals until you talk and we confirm what you say is true. If you’re square, I’ll do what I can. That’s your only option, Danelli, take it or Supergirl and I are leaving, and you can take you chances with a jury.”
Heading for the locked door...
“ALL RIGHT! But you better do what you said.”
“Danelli, I give you my word. You give us Mr. Big and I’ll talk to Walter Canby.”
“Walter Canby...your boss the Commissioner...Perry White...Peter Kilgore...Mayor Buckley...”
“Yeah, what about them?”
Returning to a level of power, albeit for a short time, “You and Supergirl are fools! You’ve been working with Mr. Big all along. Mr. Big is a member of your holier than thou Citizens Against Crime Task Force,” trying to hold back his maniacal laugh. “He’s been right there with you!”
Supergirl motioned for Henderson’s attention, whispering into his ear. He nodded in agreement.
“Very well, Danelli, here’s your big chance to keep on breathing. You’re going to make a phone call, and you’re going to say exactly what I tell you,” she instructed.
Henderson had a phone brought in. Danelli rotated the dial seven times and waited for an answer.
“It’s me...Luigi. I just got a tip from Steve Martin at the Blade. There’s going to be a call meeting of the Task Force, nine tomorrow morning, in White’s Planet office. Have you been notified yet? Well you will. It’s time we got rid of all of them and here’s how we’ll do it...”
Final Chapter: Claire Kent, Crime Reporter
“I hope you realize how a last minute called meeting is annoying. I have to personally prosecute a case in court at 9:30.”
“Relax, Walter. You should be there in plenty of time,” Police Inspector Bill Henderson assured District Attorney Canby.
“I have important appointments as well,” the Mayor quipped.
“As do I,” business leader Peter Kilgore added.
“Gentlemen, I apologize for the late notice, but something broke late yesterday afternoon necessitating this meeting,” Henderson assured the three complainers as well as his boss the Police Commissioner and Daily Planet Editor Perry White.
“So where is Supergirl? The meeting was set for 8:45 and it’s 8:45. She’s late. I can’t wait. Sorry, I have to go.” Heading for the door, he stopped as it opened.
In walked the super hero.
“Gentlemen, shall we get started?”
“Yes, but please be as brief as possible. I am very busy today, and...”
“I know. I heard you a moment ago.”
“But how could you? You weren’t here.”
“I could have heard you had I been a mile away. But, that’s not important. Bill, you want to take the lead.”
“Thanks. Gentlemen, late yesterday a number of people were taken into custody. Supergirl delivered long time criminal Luigi Danelli to headquarters. Within a couple hours, we rounded up over a half dozen of Danelli’s soldiers and began questioning all of them. From most of these thugs, getting confessions was pretty easy. And in exchange for some consideration, they all chirped like parakeets, each of them admitting to what they had done in following orders from Danelli. I hope, Walter, that your office will play ball with the department and back us up with the promises we made.”
“Well, Henderson, why didn’t you contact me first? I may not be able to justify leniency. Depends what they confessed to.”
“Because of the situation, we had to keep it all close to the vest. But all stated in their now notarized confessions that Luigi Danelli was Mr. Big.”
“Great, then it’s over. Now I have to get to my office,” stated a Task Force member. “I’m going to be late as it is.”
“Gentlemen, that’s not all of it,” Supergirl revealed. “Bill then put Danelli through a grueling interrogation, and by the time it was over, Danelli had copped to the evidence we had on him as well. He folded just like his soldiers.”
The anxious member checked his wristwatch. 8:52 am.
“I really must go.”
Opening the door, he was greeted by two of the city’s finest, who stepped him back into Perry White’s office. The officers closed the door and returned to their posts.
“Sorry, gentlemen, but the police have been instructed to permit no one to leave until the meeting is over.”
“You’re holding us hostage! I’m the Mayor of this city. This is outrageous!”
“It’s important that everyone stay until we have finished,” Henderson admonished. “The only problem with our questioning Danelli is that he outright denied he was Mr. Big, even though his people all told us he was. He gave all the orders. He lived like a king in plush surroundings. They assumed he had to be the head of the organization. And I might would have assumed the same thing. But Danelli insisted he wasn’t. That he was second in command and answered to the real Mr. Big.”
“He could have been saying that to save his own skin,” Perry White suggested.
“Yes, he could,” Supergirl answered. “So we had to put a plan into action that would force Mr. Big to reveal himself.”
“SO DO IT!” The man glanced at his watch again. 8:56 am.
“The plan is in motion right now, gentlemen,” Henderson added. “We’ll know any minute now.”
“How is that?” a member inquired.
“Because Mr. Big is in this room as we speak,” the Girl of Steel responded.
“You’re accusing one of us!”
“We’re all respected citizens in high positions.”
“Bill, I’m the Police Commissioner. You suspect me of being this cockroach?”
“One moment, Commissioner.”
Another glance at the timepiece. 8:59 am. The man rushed to the door, this time screaming, “THE BOMB! I’M NOT GOING TO DIE!”
Trying to break through the now eight armed officers outside the office, they again pushed him back into the editor’s office, remaining inside.
“Gentlemen, meet Mr. Big,” Supergirl announced, holding the would be escapee by the arm.
“YOU’RE CRAZY! YOU’VE GOT NOTHING ON ME!”
“You gave yourself away, Mr. Kilgore. Only the person who knew about a bomb in this office would try to escape.”
“Well, get rid of it before it goes off! HURRY!”
“You can calm down, Mr. Kilgore. No bomb is going to kill anyone. You see, there isn’t a bomb. Never was. Just a device to get Mr. Big to reveal his identity if front of some pretty important witnesses. Luigi Danelli sold you out to save his own skin. He was in custody when he made the phone call to you.”
“It was Supergirl’s idea, actually,” Henderson praised.
“But those people tried to kill me, just like they killed the Mayor and Crane.”
“Oh, clever plan, Kilgore, to throw suspicion off of yourself,” Henderson replied. “A plan which cost a police officer his life.”
White answered desk phone, held out receiver, “For you Henderson.”
The officer listened to his caller, then “Thanks Dickson. Keep on it.”
Replacing the receiver into the phone’s cradle, “Right after you and your police escort left your residence a while ago for your journey here, a team of officers invaded both your home and your office, with proper search warrants of course. That call was from Sgt. Dickson, who is in charge of the search of your home, Kilgore. My men drilled into your safe and found ledger after ledger of your criminal activities, as well as bank accounts for all your phony businesses, and over $100,000 in cash. By the time they finish tearing your house and office apart, we’ll know everything about your organization. OK boys, take him to headquarters and lock him up. I’ll be there shortly to begin processing.”
“Yes sir, Inspector.”
“I’m sorry Commissioner, to leave you in the dark about all of this, but...”
“It was my idea Commissioner,” the Girl of Steel interrupted. “Please don’t hold it against Inspector Henderson. Danelli told us the identity of Mr. Big, but I thought it best if we said nothing, in case Danelli wasn’t being square with us. Turns out he was.”
“No ramifications, Bill. In fact, I might ask our Mayor here to give you a citation for your good work in capturing Mr. Big.”
“Great work Bill,” Camby and Mayor Buckley added as they exited. “And thank you Supergirl.”
“My pleasure, gentlemen.”
The Mayor was nearly knocked down leaving as Larry Lane and Jamie Olsen rushed into the office.
“What’s going on? We just saw Mr. Kilgore in handcuffs,” excited Olsen asked.
“Mr. Kilgore is Mr. Big,” the cop replied.
“He’s the one behind it all?” Lane added.
“He was. But his organization is finished.”
“Whew! So Metropolis is safe again,” Jamie relieved.
“Well, Jamie, we’re rid of this bunch. But crime never stops. The police department’s work is never done.”
“Yours either Supergirl.”
“Well, why are we all standing around when we have a paper to get out? Larry, you and Claire get on this story now. I want the afternoon edition on the street by NOON,” barked the boss.
“YES SIR!” he answer.
“Great Caesar’s Ghost! In all the excitement I forgot. WHERE’S CLAIRE KENT? Doesn’t she know we have work to do? She should be here NOW!”
“Oh, I bet she’s around somewhere. Maybe closer than you think.”
Supergirl winked at the Chief.
DON’T MISS THE NEXT EXCITING ADVENTURE of CLAIRE KENT, CRIME REPORTER...Coming Soon.
March 29, 2017
"Like The Only Real Magic -- The Magic Of Knowledge"