TAC Table of Contents
Very nice costume. I'll be in touch Clark or should I say Superboy?
If the note had been left in Clark Kent's book satchel to create chaos in his double life, the message had achieved its mission one hundred per cent.
The youngster from another planet blamed himself. It was a result of his own carelessness to not make sure the combination lock had properly closed on his high school locker. It hadn't, leaving the contents of his personal space at peril.
And the contents were of enormous value. Not a wallet containing money, not a watch or a ring. But instead, the costume he wore when he performed his duties as Superboy, champion of the oppressed, enemy of all evil doers, dedicated to the cause of truth and justice.
But, yet, the costume wasn't stolen. It was intact, still in the bag as he had placed it before he went to work out in the Smallville High School's weight room.
Whoever entered his locker and removed the bag had tossed it into the school office during the student exodus at day's end and had chosen not to keep the red and blue outfit hand-made by Martha Kent.
Why return it? If the culprit had extortion on his mind, what better way than to hold the garment as hostage?
There was no question the person looked inside the satchel and saw the costume. He or she then took time to write and leave the revealing note. And even if they didn't know whose locker they were pilfering when they removed the open lock, they soon discovered the owner as the book satchel had the name Clark Kent written on the outside flap.
The youth's mind was brimming with confused thoughts as to what he should do.
Almost at random, he picked one.
"You may go in now, young man," the gruff voice of the desk sergeant stated.
Clark Kent slowly opened the door marked William J. Henderson.
"Come in and have a seat. What can I do for you?" the long-time Smallville PD veteran asked.
"I would like to report a robbery," the youngster answered.
"O.K.," he answered, reaching for the proper form. "Your name?"
"Jonathan and Martha's boy?"
"All right, Clark. What was stolen and from where?"
"My book satchel. It was taken from my locker at school."
Seeing a book bag in the boy's lap, the officer was confused. "Like that one?"
"This is the one that was stolen. I got it back."
"Uh, so it wasn't really stolen?"
"Yes, it was. Someone took it out of my locker at school this afternoon, but they threw it into the principal's office on their way out of the building."
"I see. You mean you want to report that the contents were stolen?"
"Well, no sir. The contents were still in the bag when I got it back."
Henderson looked strangely at the student, wondering why the boy was there.
"Clark, if you're saying someone vandalized your locker, you should report that to the principal, not the police."
"They didn't vandalize my locker. I accidentally left the locker open. But they entered it without my permission. That's illegal, isn't it?
"Well, technically yes. But you said you got everything back, so nothing's missing, correct?"
Henderson sighed, starting to lose his patience. "Just to satisfy my own curiosity, what was in the book bag when it was taken?"
"Uh, I'm sorry but I can't tell you that."
"Why not? It wasn't anything illegal, was it? Actually, you don't have to answer that."
"Oh no, nothing illegal. I just can't tell you what was inside."
"Well, the bag is empty now. What happened to what you can't tell me that was inside?"
"Oh, I'm wearing it now."
"So your clothes were inside the bag when it was taken?" the poor cop continued.
"More or less. But whoever took my book satchel put something inside it," he blurted out, realizing his mistake too late.
"So someone stole your book satchel and instead of stealing your property from the bag, they left something in your bag."
"What did the note say?"
"I'm sorry but I can't tell you that either."
"And why is that?"
"Uh, I just can't."
"Let me approach this another way, Clark. Did this note threaten bodily harm to either you or your parents in any way?"
"No sir, but I took it as a threat, but not the way you just said."
"In what way did you take it, Clark?"
"I'm sorry. I can't tell you."
"Son, why are you here? I mean, I'm sorry someone went into your school locker and removed your property. But it technically isn't theft because you got your property back. And if you can't or won't tell me what the note said, how do you expect me to do anything? I think the best thing for you to do is to go on home and be thankful you got your property back. Most people don't, ya know. Can you do that for me, Clark?"
"How about checking the book bag for fingerprints?" he pleaded.
Henderson, walking Kent towards the door, replied, "Lifting prints off canvas is usually not successful. And chances are the culprit was another student, so we're not going to have their prints on file for a comparison. Please just do what I asked. Go on home. And tell your folks I said hello?"
The officer closed the door as soon as he could. The frustrated student realized what a stupid idea it had been to go there...but realized it too late.
"Mr. Henderson must have thought I was an idiot," Clark Kent told his parents over their dinner.
"Don't worry about it, son. Bill Henderson has been a police officer for a long time. I'm sure he's seen and heard just about everything there is by now. Still, even I'm not sure what you expected to accomplish by going to the police," Jonathan Kent stated.
"Looking back now, I really don't either. Guess I was still in panic mode."
Martha added, "We should be thankful that you got your costume back. At least you can continue your duties as Superboy."
"Yes, but someone at school knows the truth about my dual identities."
"Any idea who it might be, Clark?"
The lad confided to his parents that his first guess would be Rip Mitchell, an upperclassman with whom he had several run-ins on the bus and at school.
"I was hoping we had come to an understanding about his trying to bully me. Yeah, Rip would be my first guess. He knows which locker is mine. Or..."
"Or what, son," his mother inquired.
"Well, I was going to say Lana, but I don't think even she would go into my locker without my permission."
"Why would you suspect Lana? She's your friend," Jonathan asked.
"Because she's been suspicious about me being Superboy almost from the start. She's even made wise cracks about it. But I thought I had pretty much convinced her she was wrong. I just don't know. Mom, Dad, what am I going to do?"
"Not much you can do, son, except wait it out. Try to go on as if nothing has happened. I know that won't be easy. And hope nothing more will come of it."
"You don't think that will happen, do you Dad?"
"Frankly no. Whoever this person is may just be playing mind games with you, or they may have something more serious in mind. As I said, we'll just have to wait it out."
"I'll get the dessert," Martha offered.
"Dad, being at the police station this afternoon did give me an idea. I think it would be a good idea to fix up some sort of communication device with the Smallville PD so they could contact me when it's necessary. I was thinking a short wave radio."
"Yes," he thought, "a short wave does sound like a good idea."
"Being this far out in the country, I'm sure I'm missing out on things happening in town."
"We could set it up in the extra room behind the living room bookcase. After all these years, that old room would be good for something besides storage."
"Did your father really use that room for making whiskey?"
"He sure did. Back during Prohibition. Not that I'm necessarily proud of it, but times were really tough when I was growing up. Pop made and sold his own whiskey for extra money to get us by. He sectioned off that part of the living room, we called it a parlor back then, and installed the bookcase that opened and closed. His still and everything was in there. He used to laugh and say that folks around these parts didn't eat all the corn they grew."
Jonathan continued, "As for the short wave, we can put it in the extra room, and I can rig it to the lamp on my desk, so when the police are calling, the lamp will blink. That way we'll know from out here. And another thing I've been thinking about. The tunnel at the store is working out so well, why not do the same thing here at the house? Put a trap door near the short wave with a tunnel leading into the woods. That way, you could take calls, then leave straight from in there. You can make that space your Superboy room."
"Yeah, that's great," he answered with enthusiasm. "But if this mystery person decides to tell everyone I'm Superboy, all of these secrecy measures will be for nothing."
"Try to stay positive, son. Martha, how's that pie coming?
The next school day, amazingly, passed without incident.
Kent looked at Rip upon boarding the school bus, but Mitchell immediately looked away, saying or doing nothing.
Before going to the general store in the afternoon, Clark decided to stop by the police station and apologize to Henderson for acting like a babbling idiot during his previous visit.
"Don't let it bother you, Clark. I understand how you were feeling. No one likes their property messed with. Fortunately, it amounted to nothing serious. Probably a friend playing a joke on you," the office consoled the youngster.
"If you only knew," Kent thought to himself.
After a few more minutes of friendly chit-chat, Henderson's intercom sounded, "Bill, we have an incident on the Silsby Highway. Couple of teenagers drag racing, apparently."
"O.K. I'm on it." Looking at his visitor, "Duty calls. Clark, stop by again sometime. I enjoyed our talk." Henderson grabbed his hat and headed out the door. "You coming?"
Kent responded, "Yes sir. Right behind you."
The cop rounded the corner, headed for the street.
Clark stepped back into the office, closed the door and quickly changed to his other persona. Making use of the open window, he flew towards the road to Silsby.
The desk sergeant on duty asked another on-duty policeman.
"Did you see that kid come out of Bill's office?"
"No, I didn't. Let me check."
"Yeah, he shouldn't be in there alone."
The officer open the door and peered inside. "Nope, he's not there."
"I must be slipping. He mustt have walked right passed me, and I didn't notice."
Streaking across the sky, the Boy of Steel easily spied the two cars racing side-by-side down the highway. Ninety was a conservative estimate of their speed. Up ahead, he could see a dump truck approaching in its proper lane.
Rapidly descending, he flew between the two racers and ordered them off the road immediately. Obeying his orders, they had just come to a halt when the dump truck passed.
"That's what would have been staring one or both of you in the face," Superboy admonished. "Now get out of your cars and give me your keys."
One obliged, the other did not. "You can't take my car keys away from me, whoever you are."
"Well, here's someone who can," he stated, seeing Henderson and another officer pulling up in a Smallville PD cruiser.
"Better do what he says, Gil. This is the guy who had the run-in with Brick Davis."
"Oh yes, Mr. Davis, another who likes to run his car really fast," the red and blue figure replied.
Henderson walked up, "I can take it from here. Let me see your driver's license, both of you." Reading the info, he remarked that he knew both of their fathers. "Officer Murray, show these men to the back seat of my car. Boys, I'm taking you back to the station and booking you. Then I'll call your fathers."
"What about my car? You just can't leave it here," the blonde boy asked.
"Both cars will be impounded and held at the police garage," the cop answered.
"You can't impound my car. You wait until my dad hears about this!" the kid went on.
"Oh, he'll hear about it. I'll tell him all about it when I call. Murray, put them in the car."
Standing alone with the mighty youth, Henderson extended his hand, "You would be Superboy, of course. I'm William Henderson. I want to thank you for your assistance."
"I'm very pleased to meet you," he replied, "I'm glad I arrived when I did or an oncoming dump truck could have caused some very serious problems."
"Well, thank God that didn't happen. The way these kids drive these cars. Really scary."
"I want you to know that I am at the department's and your disposal at any time."
"We would all be grateful. Now, if you'll excuse me Superboy, I need to radio in for some tow trucks to get these cars to the impound lot."
"Oh, I can do that for you. No need to send for any trucks."
"Uh, how do you propose to do that?"
"I'll carry them. Seems easy enough."
"You mean...as in flying them to the station? You can pick an automobile off the ground?"
"Oh sure," he answered casually. He took his right hand, grasped the underside of the roof at the open driver's window and effortlessly lifted the car three feet into the air, then set it back on the ground. "Yeah, no problem."
"I don't believe it!" the wide-eyed cop stated.
"So, where exactly do you want these?"
"Uh, the parking lot at headquarters will be fine for now."
"Very well, the cars will be there when you get back."
"Wait, wait. I have a camera in my car. I've got to get a picture of this." Henderson pretty much ran to his patrol car and grabbed the Kodak. "O.K. Superboy, whenever you're ready."
The Boy of Steel picked up the car in the rear with his left hand, walked alongside the other and picked it up with his right, gave a spring in his legs, and all three objects elevated into the blue sky headed back towards Smallville.
Henderson clicked the shutter
Thinking the story newsworthy, Bill Henderson, proud of his picture-taking talents, had taken his camera to Laurence Larson, editor of the Smallville Sentinel, the town's six-day-a-week newspaper. The police office had, indeed, captured the image of Superboy in flight, holding an automobile in each hand. Larson promised a front page story giving the policeman's accounting of the incident.
Late that afternoon, Henderson sat in his office feeling an amount of pride, a read copy of the day's edition atop his desk.
Elsewhere in town, another Sentinel reader tossed the daily news down onto a coffee table.
"Nice job, Clark."
The weekend had come and gone in a moment's flash. A run-of-the-mill Smallville weekend, except for Saturday night when Phyllis Coates, the recipient of her driver's license the previous afternoon, hosted Clark Kent, Lana Lang and Pete Ross to an evening at the local drive-in theater, using her parent's car.
The double feature was a mixed bag for the four. The gals loved IMITATION OF LIFE with Lana Turner. The guys found it too soapy and gooey, as Pete put it. The guys liked THE GIANT GILA MONSTER, even if the special effects left much to be desired.
At one point during the evening, Kent, hearing distant sirens and needing to slip away as Superboy, feigned hunger and excused himself for a visit to the concession stand. Lana, suspicious of his being gone longer than she thought necessary, checked the snack bar and saw no Clark. Upon his return, she asked why he was delayed.
"Yeah, I'm sure that was the reason," she spoke, not buying his explanation. Now she couldn't even remember the excuse he gave.
Kent again had that queasy feeling that she was back on the trail of his secret identity.
Sunday afternoon had been spent with Jonathan in the one time moonshine-making room of the Kent home, installing the new short wave radio, which would be used for Superboy's communication with the police department, and the construction of the trap door in the floor, which would give access to the tunnel. The Boy of Steel channeled it after dark.
It was several afternoons later when Clark went straight home from school instead of to the general store. When getting off the bus, he noticed a car in their drive. Upon entering the house, he found Martha hosting a visit from one of her friends, Gladys Parker. The ladies were tossing ideas off one another for the upcoming Fall Bazaar, held every October at their church.
"There's cake in the kitchen, son."
"Thanks Mom. Maybe later. I have homework. I'll be upstairs in my room."
The lad had no more than gotten settled when he heard his mother calling, "Clark, I thought you were going to fix this lamp for me. It's blinking on and off again."
Martha got a gold star for her way of communicating that he was needed by the police. The problem was getting Gladys Parker out of the room.
"Come on Gladys, let's go into the kitchen and have another cup of coffee."
"No thanks, I'm good," her guest responded.
"Well, come with me , and I'll have a cup. We can sit at the kitchen table."
Clark had journeyed down the stairs and was pretending to look at the lamp, waiting for the room to clear.
"We'll make Clark nervous while he's fixing the lamp, Gladys. Let's go in the kitchen...NOW."
Hearing irritation in her host's voice, Mrs. Parker stood and followed Martha out of the room, giving Clark the opportunity to disappear behind the bookcase.
Flipping the switch on the short wave set, "This is Superboy. How can I help you?"
"Superboy, this is Bill Henderson. We have a young child who has wandered off from his mother. His mother is frantic. Their name is Abernathy, and they live on the road that goes to Cliffton. I was hoping you could check the area by air."
"I know where that is. I'm leaving right away. Over."
"Oh, I left my cup and saucer in the living room." With that, before Martha could stop her, Gladys went through the door and retrieved her forgotten items. When she sat back down at the table, she told her host that Clark either fixed the lamp in a big hurry or had abandoned the project, because he was not in the living room.
"Oh that boy," Martha responded.
In his hidden room, that boy was shedding his regular clothing, quickly becoming the Boy of Steel. Lifting the newly-installed trap door, he dropped out of sight. Moments later he was soaring through the air towards his destination, hoping to find the lost youngster before any harm could come to the child
"So, was he safe?
Clark explained to Martha Kent that the Abernathy tyke had wandered off while his mother was hanging laundry on the clothes line
"She said she took her eyes off him just for a moment, and when she looked back, he was gone. He really didn't get far, just out of her sight. Mrs. Abernathy panicked and called the police.
"You have to stay on top of children when they're that age. They have no fear, so they will wander off. I'm just glad you found him quickly.
"I think she was just as scared when she saw me flying him back to their yard. The youngster seemed to like it though.
"Well, go wash up and tell your father that dinner's ready.
Several afternoons later found Kent working in the family's store after school. Both he and his father were waiting on people when two more customers entered...Lana Lang and Judy Nugent
"Hi Clark," they both greeted him
"Hey, I'll be with you in just a minute.
"That's O.K. I just need a few things," Lana responded
Just as he started towards his two friends, Dan Grayson, from down the street, flung open the door
"Jonathan, do you have a fire extinguisher? A car parked right in front of my shop is on fire!
The two Kents made eye contact
"Check in the back Clark," the elder Kent instructed
"O.K. Dad," the son answered, knowing that this was more of a job for Superboy than a fire extinguisher.
As soon as Clark closed the stock room door behind him, Lana and Judy ran out to the sidewalk to check the disturbance
"Judy, I'll bet you a dollar that Superboy will be here any second.
"Huh?" Judy asked
"Just a hunch I have," the redhead replied
And sure enough, ten seconds later, Superboy, indeed, dropped from the sky. Taking a big breath, he emptied his lungs with enough forceful air that the flames were extinguished
A fire engine was approaching, having received Grayson's call. Superboy waved to them that the emergency was over. One of the firemen stepped down from the big pumper with a clipboard, then told his co-workers to go on back to the firehouse
An unsettled citizen, the car owner, explained to the fireman that he had dropped his lit cigar, and it rolled under the driver's seat. Before he could retrieve it, the cigar had ignited the car's carpeting
"So I jumped out of the car. I'm sorry.
"Fortunately, no one was hurt, sir. Superboy put the fire out before the flames hit the gas tank. But your car's in pretty bad shape.
"Yeah, it sure is. Well, Ross Insurance Agency is just up the street. Guess I'll go pay them a visit. After all these years, looks like I'll be filing my first claim. Now it's their turn to pay me money.
The fireman turned to thank the Boy of Steel but found an empty space
Lana and Judy went back into Kent's General Store, just as Clark was coming through the door with an extinguisher
"Forget it hero, the excitement's over," the redhead informed
"Really? The fire department?" he asked
"Superboy, or do I really need to tell you that?
"You know what I mean," she answered, throwing a sarcastic look Kent's way. "Come on Judy. Let's get the things I need and go home.
As soon as all the shoppers cleared out, Clark told his father, "Well, Lana's at it again.
"At what again?
"About my secret.
"Are you sure?
"Oh yeah. She gave me that look and said, 'you know what I mean.' Oh, why did she have to be here when I had to slip out?
Jonathan held up his hand. "Let me get the phone. Good afternoon, Kent's General Store. Sure, just a moment.
Holding the receiver in the air, he motioned, "It's for you.
Young Kent took the phone, "Hello.
"How are you Superboy?
"It's him!" Clark whispered to Jonathan
"Nice job putting the fire out a minute ago.
"What is it that you want?
"I think it's time we got together for a little talk. Whadya say?
"All right. When?
"Saturday," the caller stated
"O.K. How about the back room of our store? We can have privacy there.
"No good. Somewhere in public. Make it Tony's Diner, Saturday, two o'clock. I'll see ya there. Don't disappoint me.
The line went dead
"He hung up," he informed Jonathan
"Did you recognize the voice?
"No. Sounded disguised. Like he used a handkerchief over the receiver. But definitely a male.
"Well, at least you know that Lana isn't the person who went into your locker.
"Yeah," Clark responded. "So that makes two people who worry me. One who knows my secret and one who thinks she knows.
Ten minutes before two o'clock registered his wristwatch as Clark Kent entered the door of Tony's Diner. Arriving early, he thought, would give him a moment to look the place over
He was disturbed when he saw the fourth booth occupied by Lana Lang and her friends Phyllis, Noel and Judy. Each was enjoying a milk shake and probably a helping of the latest gossip.
"Oh why do they have to be here!" the boy thought.
"Hey, there's Clark. Hey Clark," the redhead yelled, waving her arms.
He had to acknowledge her greeting but hoped he could keep it brief.
"Oh, hey everybody. What are you all up to?"
"Oh, not much. Just killing time on a Saturday afternoon," Lana responded. "We'd ask you to join us, but the booth is kinda cramped already."
"That's all right. I'll sit down there. See ya later." He scurried to the first booth, right inside the front door on the left.
Tony's Diner was one of Smallville's most popular eateries, the Burger Barn being the other. Tony did a good business, six days a week. If one visited the place for lunch between eleven and one, you'd often have to wait for a place to sit. Now, almost two, the place had thinned out somewhat. Two of the six stools at the counter and two booths were available.
The owner himself came to Clark's table to take his order. Kent informed Tony he was waiting for someone but would have a Coke while he waited.
At three minutes till, the youngster heard the door open.
"I knew it!" he said to himself when he saw Rip Mitchell walk in. "I figured it was Mitchell."
To his surprise, Mitchell, without even looking over towards the booths, parked himself on one of the empty stools.
"I guess he didn't see me," Clark thought as he approached his nemesis.
"Rip, I'm sitting over there in the first booth."
"Good for you, Kent. Now if you don't mind, I'd like to order some lunch. I don't want any trouble," Mitchell reported.
"Uh, you mean you didn't come in here to meet me?"
"I came in here to eat. I didn't even know you were here. Now, like I said, I don't want any trouble."
"Oh sure, Rip. Sorry to bother you." Clark turned to return to his booth where his soft drink was waiting for him. The soda pop wasn't the only thing waiting however. There was a body sitting in the booth.
"I'm sorry, but I'm sitting at this booth. This is my Coke," he informed the intruder.
"I know it is. Why don't you sit down and drink it? It's time for our talk."
Clark obeyed and took his seat, staring across the table at Brick Davis.
"Frankly, yes," the disguised Boy of Steel replied. "Well, I guess we should get down to brass tacks. Why are we here?" he proceeded cautiously.
"I was thinking you and I could form a little partnership," Davis answered.
"In what way?" Kent inquired.
"You help me and I help you. I confess that I don't really understand this Superboy thing you're doing. Like how you can do the things you do...flying through the air and being so strong and all. That's gotta be kind of neat though. And I want you to know that I didn't appreciate it when you interferred with me and the girl at the school. You see, the "Brick Man" likes pretty girls, and you queered my pitch that day. But you said you did it out of concern for people's safety, so I'll give ya that one. But why you don't want anyone to know that Kent and Superboy are the same guy, that I don't get, but I guess that's your business. And if keeping all of that quiet is important to you, that's your business, too."
"Let me ask you a question," Kent interjected. "What put you on to me?"
"Well now, that's the craziest thing," Davis responded. "I had no idea. I was just walking down the hall at school, saw a locker open, the coast was clear, so I peeked inside to help myself. So when I saw the book bag, naturally I opened it. I was hoping to find some money, but there wasn't any. Just the same red and blue outfit I saw the day you stopped me in my car. Then the bell rang, and I had to scram. Listen Kent, I always look at the lockers when I cruise the halls at school. You'd be surprised how many dorks, uh sorry, leave their lockers open. I've done pretty well picking up stuff during my four years at Smallville High."
"But, Brick, that's stealing."
"It's no big deal. Just a few bucks here and there. Buys gas for my rod. It's not like robbing Fort Knox."
Clark shook his head in disgust.
"O.K., you don't approve. But let's get back to why we're here. I'm sure you know, even if you're just a freshman, that I'm the captain of the basketball team, and I don't mind saying that I'm pretty damn good, too. So good that I have a couple college scholarships offers. And good colleges. Not places like Smallville Junior College, but the University of Kansas and the University of Nebraska. That kind. But here's my situation...a couple of my grades aren't quite what they should be, and if I don't have my averages up by Christmas break, I can probably kiss those scholarships good-bye."
"What does that have to do with me?" Kent asked.
"I checked around. I know you're a good student. I figured that with all those special things you can do, ya gotta have a smart brain to go along with it. So, I need you to help me out a bit so I can land one of those scholarships. Who knows, maybe someday I can even play pro basketball."
"Brick, how can I possibly help you get a scholarship?"
"Man, are you thick or what? I mean, doing homework and writing papers for me. I don't do so good at English. And senior English is a lot of writing, including a big term paper before the end of the semester. You write my papers and do my assignments for me, and that should be enough to get my grade up to where it needs to be. Shouldn't take someone with your abilities any time at all?"
"You're asking me to cheat?"
"It's not for yourself, it's for me, so don't look at it as cheating," Brick hammered on.
"Davis, I can't do that."
"Well, I'm real sorry to hear you say that, Kent. Seems to me that helping me out a little would be worth me keeping quiet about what I found in your locker."
"So, this is blackmail," Clark emphasized.
"Like I said, I'd prefer to call it a partnership. So what's it gonna be? You gonna play ball or do I sing like a canary and tell the whole damn town that Kent is Superboy?”
"Everyone just stay calm, and do what I tell ya, and nobody will get hurt!" came the deep voice just inside the door.
All the patrons of Tony's Diner looked in the direction of the command and saw a tall figure, wearing a pillow case with two eye slits over his head, brandishing a rifle.
Judy Nugent, sitting at Lana Lang's table, let out a short scream.
"QUIET! Everybody be quiet. All of you, let me see your hands and nobody move! Now, who's the boss here?"
"I-I-I am," a meek Tony answered.
Stepping towards the diner owner, the culprit demanded, " Put all the money in your register into this sack, then I'm coming around to everyone here and each of ya will put your wallets and jewelry in the sack, understand?"
His moving further into the diner was a blessing for Clark Kent.
"Shhh, stay very still," he instructed Brick Davis.
The customers, including nosy Lana Lang, facing the street all watched as Kent stealthfully made his way to and out the front door.
"Hurry up, Pop, I don't have all day," the gunman shouted at a shaking Tony.
"Drop the rifle, your fun time is over."
The robber did a one-eighty to see Superboy staring at him. "Who in the blazes are you, dressed in that get-up?"
"Someone you don't want to know. Now I said drop the rifle."
"Is that right? Well, you listen to me. You take another step closer, and ole Betsy here's gonna make a big noise."
"Oh really," the impervious figure responded, indeed moving closer.
The rifle blasted a shot, dead center at its target. A crushed bullet hit the floor. Superboy rushed the shooter, and with a pulled punch to the jaw, the culprit was looking at the ceiling, not knowing what day it was.
"Here's a souvenir for you, Tony," the Boy of Steel stated as he bent backwards the barrel of the rifle, setting it on the counter. "Watch him until the police arrive." And with that, the red and blue dressed hero exited through the door he had entered.
The occupants of the place surrounded the unconscious robber, that is, except Lana Lang. Her eyes were stationed on the front door.
"No doubt, Clark will show back up any minute now."
And, as predicted, thirty seconds later, Kent did appear with one of Smallville's finest. The officer got the man to his feet and pulled the pillow case from his head.
"Anyone know this bird?"
No one answered that they did.
"O.K. mister, let's take a little ride."
Lana smugly walked over to Kent, Well, you did it again."
"How's that, Lana?"
"You ran out, Superboy saved the day and left, and you returned. Ya know, I'm losing count of how many times that's happened now."
"Lana, I went for help. I flagged down the police officer and told him what was happening. I think I showed extreme bravery."
"That's right, Miss. Kent was running up the street, waving his arms for me to stop," corrobated the officer, as he and his prisoner left the diner.
"See, smarty," Kent replied.
"Well..." was all she could say, rejoining her girlfriends in their booth.
Clark returned to his booth as well.
"Nice job, Kent, very nicely done," Brick Davis commended.
"Shhh," Kent requested.
"So, do we have a deal? You help me and I'll help you," Davis inquired.
"I really need to think this over. Can I tell you on Monday?"
"Do you want me to jump up and spill your secret right here and now?"
"No, no, don't do that? Just give me until Monday. You're asking me to cheat for you. It may not bother you to cheat, but it does me."
"All right, just to show you what a good guy I am, you have until Monday morning at school. Meet me at your locker before the first bell. And I really hope you have the right answer. I'll see ya Monday."
"I don't know what to do," Clark told his parents as they sat at the dinner table, having just finished their evening meal. "What should I do?"
The "deal" proposed by blackmailer Brick Davis completely dominated the entire supper.
"I wish we could get through just one day without a calamity like this," Martha scorned.
"I'm sorry, Mom. It's all my fault."
"No, Clark, don't say that," she answered.
"It is. If I hadn't left my school locker open, Brick would never have gotten his hands on my costume, and I wouldn't be in this mess."
"Your mother is right, son. It isn't your fault. Had Davis not been dishonest and entered your locker, this wouldn't have happened. He is the one responsible, not you."
"So, I have to do his schoolwork for him or he tells everyone my secret. Cheat or be exposed as Superboy. It makes me so mad I could break him in half."
"Now, we don't need that kind of talk, Clark. I know you don't really mean that."
"Of course not. But I'm back to square one. I just don't know what to do."
Jonathan continued, "I wish I could tell you what to do, but I can't. Your mother and I have taught you the difference between right and wrong. And cheating is wrong. And we've also discussed how important it is to keep secret the fact that Clark is Superboy. Either way you turn, it looks like you lose. Whichever I told you to do would violate a code by which you have chosen to live your life. I can't tell you what to do because I don't know."
"I understand. I'll just have to figure it out somehow. May I be excused? I have some things to do in my Superboy room."
"Sure," both parents answered in unison.
Eleven o'clock rolled around quickly. Clark had made no decision. More reasoning with Brick Davis would be a waste of time. He'd already tried that. Davis wanted those college scholarships and needed better grades to get them. And he's not capable of, or at least, not willing to do the work honestly. Threatening Brick was out of the question. That's not the Kent way. Maybe a good night's rest would help him think more clearly in the morning. So the beat down super hero headed for his bedroom.
Changing to his pajamas, the youngster from another planet thought, "Every night I have to take off two sets of clothing, since I secretly wear Superboy's outfit under Clark's regular clothes. But that may not be necessary after the school day Monday. There may not even be a reason for Clark Kent to exist after Monday. I could live as Superboy all the time if I had to, but that would put Mom and Dad in danger from any enemies I might have."
As he crawled into bed and turned out the light, his parents passed his room, "Pleasant dreams, son."
The school day came much too quickly for Clark Kent. The bus ride from his home was a long one. At least, Rip Mitchell wasn't a problem now.
Kent slowly entered the building, as if he were headed for the gas chamber. The walk to his locker to stash his super costume seemed to take forever. Then he saw Brick Davis approaching.
"Hey Kent, I have to take care of something so we'll have our little talk at the end of school today. So be right here at the final bell. Understand?"
"Yeah, I'll be here."
The day dragged. Both of Clark's first and second period teachers had to request he pay attention in their classes. The only bright spot was that his super deeds were not required during the morning.
He picked at his food in the cafeteria. Pete and Rusty asked why he wasn't eating.
"Just not hungry," Clark replied.
"Are you sick?" Pete asked.
"No, not really, just not hungry."
"There's the fifth period bell. Civics time...ug," Rusty stated.
The teacher began the class by stating that, it being Monday, they would start with current events. And since last week's topics were less than stellar, she would award one point to the student's final grade for the six-week period who had, in her opinion, the most significant current event. That got the attention of the class.
Lana Lang volunteered to go first. She thought she had a winner. "Nikita Khruschev arrived in New York yesterday for the opening session of the United Nations General Assembly," she reported.
Lang's friend Judy Nugent tried to trump her friend's story. "A commercial airplane crashed three minutes after takeoff from Guam, killing eighty people who were on board."
The teacher acknowledged she had heard about the plane during a morning news report.
Clark Kent's hand shot up like a rocket.
The Kent youth rose from his desk, "Well, here goes nothing." He walked to the front of the class, calmly faced his fellow students and announced, "I am in a situation in which I can't win. If I don't do something a guy wants me to do, he says he's going to tell everyone something about me. So I decided the best thing I can do is tell you all first. You see...I am Superboy."
A wave of laughter broke out.
"It's true! I am Superboy!"
"Yeah, Clark, and I'm Paul Newman," Rusty Ellsworth answered.
Another outburst began and continued until Kent went to the chalkboard and began writing at super-speed "Clark Kent is Superboy." He wrote it over and over again.
"Wow! Clark is writing so fast, I can't see his hand moving!" Nugent yelled.
"I KNEW IT!" Lana shouted.
His classmates were firing comments left and right.
"Why did you keep it a secret?"
"This is unbelievable!"
"Clark is the last guy I would have thought was Superboy!"
"Yeah, he's always so quiet and unassuming."
The teacher stepped in, restoring order, "That's enough class."
"I hope that's good enough for the point to be added to my average."
"Uh, yes, I would say so. Please take your seat, Clark."
As he walked down the aisle, everyone he passed patted him on the back."
"I have to say, Clark, I am taken aback at your revelation. I mean, Superboy willingly revealing his identity as Clark Kent. I'm not sure why you have kept this information secret, but that's your business. Tell me again why you chosen to reveal this here and now."
"Well, it wasn't for a one point bump on my grade." He then began relating to the class the situation with Brick Davis until the teacher stopped him.
"That's enough. I think you and I should go to the office. Class, until I get back, begin reading chapter three in your textbook. Let's go, Clark."
Principal Winters paced up and down in his office, having heard Kent's full story.
"These are serious accusations you have made regarding Brick Davis. Have you any proof to backup these charges?"
"Well, sir, you're the one who gave me back my book satchel the other day."
"Yes, but I didn't see Mr. Davis toss it in here. Any one could have done that." He asked the secretary if Brick was here yet. She replied yes. "Send him in."
A somber Davis entered and took a chair.
"Okay, Kent, repeat everything you just told me now that Mr. Davis is present."
When he finished, Winters turned to the other student, "What about that Brick?"
"I have no idea what he's talking about."
"Is any of it true?"
"No sir," Davis responded, "not a word."
"I thought not. Kent, Brick Davis is one of our finest students here at Smallville High. He's captain of our basketball team this year. We're counting on him to lead our team, we hope, to a state championship. We're doing all we can in helping him get a nice scholarship to a really good college so he can continue playing ball. If that happens, that'll make us all look good. It'll bring recognition to our school. Now, your picking your civics class to make the revelation that you are Superboy...well, I want you to know that in the brief time we have all been aware of Superboy, I admire what you have done. I really do. And I know that being a teenager isn't easy. Believe it or not, I was one myself. I can only imagine the pressures involved with what you're dealing. But I am disappointed that you chose to blame your personal problems on this young man, who just happens to be my nephew. My sister's son."
"What I told you is the truth, Mr. Winters."
"Enough! Brick, you may go back to your class. Mr. Kent, consider yourself suspended for one week. Any tests you may miss will be recorded as zeroes on your grade sheets. Leave the school grounds immediately. You are not to return until Tuesday of next week. And think about this...all the good things you may do as Superboy can easily be erased by the negative things you do as Clark Kent. You may go."
"Breakfast is on the table, you two. Come and get it or I'll throw it out!" Martha yelled up the stairs.
"I'm not dressed, Mom."
"You can eat in your pajamas. Let's go."
As she stirred her coffee, she asked her son if he slept well.
"Not really. Guess this Brick Davis thing is getting to me." He then told both parents about the dream, or rather nightmare, he had. How he revealed his secret identity to his class and ended up suspended from school.
"Are you any closer to a decision about what you're going to do?" asked Jonathan.
"Well, I know I'm not going to do what I did in that dream. But beyond that, no sir."
"We have forty-five minutes to get to church, so let's get a move on," commanded the matriarch.
Clark brushed his teeth and took his shower.
"Well...today I have to decide what to do concerning Brick Davis. He wants an answer the first thing tomorrow morning. But for know, I must get dressed for Sunday school and church. Then this afternoon, I'll get away by myself so I can think the matter through," the lad thought as he buttoned his dress white shirt and knotted his tie, covering the red and blue uniform he wore underneath.
Just after the Kent's midday Sunday meal found the Boy of Steel soaring through the clouds, the time of solitude he had promised himself. The answer to his dilemma was slow in coming. Using his telescopic vision, up ahead and far below was Parson's Pond, the location kids used during the hot months for swimming. Several summers earlier, Lyle Parsons had built a couple of bathhouses for the kids to change clothes and two diving boards, one low, one high. Clark had swam there with his friends many times.
"This might be the last weekend for the year, since the weather is starting to cool off. Believe I'll check out who all is there, but not as Superboy."
Landing secretly in the woods, he returned to the guise of Kent and made his appearance. The first person he spotted was his good friend Rusty Ellsworth."
"Hey, Clark. Where'd you come from? Your folks drop you off?"
"No, I, uh, caught a lift with someone."
Another friend, Tom Rogers, yelled, "Hey Clark, come on in. The water's great."
"Gosh, Tom, I can't. I forgot to bring my suit."
"That's all right. I have an extra pair of trunks in the bathhouse. You're welcome to them."
"Thanks, Tom. I think I will. Might be the last chance to swim until Spring."
Shortly in the dressing room, having changed to the bathing suit, Clark pondered, "Since I hadn't planned on swimming, I didn't make any provisions for my Superboy outfit. I'll have to hide it somewhere. I can fly into the woods at super-speed, so no one will see me, then hide it in a spot it won't be disturbed."
Seconds later, fairly deeps into the woods, "I'll hide it under this rock, then get it later."
Zooming back to the bathhouse, Kent exited and approached the water.
"Hey Clark, don't forget to take off your glasses."
"I'll be careful, Rusty. Believe me, it's very important that I wear my glasses," he chuckled.
His buddy climbed out and headed for the diving boards. "C'mon. Let's go off the board."
"Well, I guess so."
The two started up the ladder. Clark stopped at the lower board as Rusty continued climbing to the high dive.
"Try the higher board, Clark. It's more fun."
Deciding it was time to put on the timid act, "Uh, no thanks. I don't like heights. I might get dizzy up there. This board is fine."
"Ah, come on, Kent. You going to be a scaredy cat all your life?" one of the swimmers yelled.
Ignoring the last remark, he jumped off the diving board, carefully holding the eyeglasses against his face.
The only guy on the premises who was fully dressed was freshman Bob Cummins. He chose not to swim at all.
"Well, at least Clark's not as scared as Bob here. They're both a lot alike, but Bob is even worse than Kent."
The comments made by the two juniors cut into the boy. He heard things like this frequently. Young Cummins had come to the swimming hole only because he figured pretty Sylvia Stevens would be there. Bob had a big time crush on her and thought she was the most gorgeous girl in the world. She was there all right, not to swim, but to flirt with as many young men as possible.
Finally mustering up enough courage, Cummins approached her, "Uh, Sylvia, do you think you could, uh, talk a walk with me?"
"You know I won't, Bob. I've told you before. I don't like namby-pamby boys. I want a boyfriend who is not afraid of his own shadow, like you or Clark Kent."
Overhearing her last comment and seeing a dejected Bob walk away humiliated, Clark thought, "Poor Bob. At least when I'm timid, I'm only acting that way to protect my secret. But he's really meek and most likely always will be. If only I could help him."
Perhaps Clark could help him, but in a way he'd never expect.
Cummins had walked off into the woods to get away from his embarrassing rejection.
"I could swim and dive as good as any of them if I just had the confidence in myself. I'd do anything to become the kind of guy Sylvia wants, but I don't know how."
In a split second of rage, the boy lashed out, kicking a rock in its path, nearly breaking his toes in the process. As he grabbed his foot in pain, he noticed the good-sized rock had moved just enough that he could see something bright blue underneath. Using all his might, he moved the rock enough to free the object.
Holding it up and watching it unfurl, he was stunned. "Holy Cow! It looks just like Superboy's costume."
He tried to rip the material at a seam but couldn't.
"It must be Superboy's. I wonder how it got way out here. How can I return it to him? I don't know where Superboy lives." He thought a bit longer, "or maybe..."
Coincidentally, at that very moment, Clark focused his super vision into the wooded area to check on his hidden garment, only to see it wasn't hidden any longer.
"Great Scott! There was a one in a million chance anyone would find it. I have to get it back from Bob, but I can't as Clark Kent. I must get home as fast as I can. I'll have to fly super fast in my street clothes so no one will see me."
He casually walked into the bathhouse as quickly as he could without attracting attention.
Jonathan was sacked out on the living room sofa, and Martha was sitting in her favorite chair cutting out a dress pattern when the revolving bookcase flew open and Clark burst into the room.
"Mom, where is my spare costume? I need it."
"My gosh, son, your sweater and slacks are full of holes. Is that smoke I smell?"
"Yeah, they caught fire as I flew home at super-speed, so no one would see Clark flying."
"I don't understand. What's going on?"
"I don't have time right now, Mom. The spare costume?"
"It's in a box on the top shelf in your closet."
He disappeared up the stairs and was back in thirty seconds, dressed again as Superboy.
"I'll explain later. I have to hurry."
"Clark, wait. Remember this spare costume is made of normal material. It isn't like your other one. This one can be damaged if you're not careful."
"Yes, I remember. I'll go easy on it."
The bookcase slammed closed as he left, waking Pa Kent from his Sunday afternoon nap.
"What was that noise?" he asked, as he sat up on the sofa.
"It was Clark, something's wrong."
Having to fly slower than usual to protect the extra uniform from damage, the Boy of Steel sighted Bob Cummins close to where he was earlier, again with Sylvia Stevens, but he didn't see his outfit anywhere. Landing behing a nearby tree, he focussed his super-hearing on the conversation in progress. Sylvia was giving poor Bob down the road.
"Look, Bob, I already told you. I don't want anything to do with you. Now you leave me alone, you get it?"
"Wait, Sylvia. I-I have something I want to tell you. I promise it will change your whole opinion about me."
"Don't be silly. There's nothing you can say that will change my attitude towards you. I already told you that I don't go out with little boys."
Bob, a bit out of character, pressed forward, "But, Sylvia, there's a reason why I act so meek and unsure...a very important reason that I've, uh, had to keep quiet. But I'm so crazy about you, I'll tell you. But you mustn't tell anyone else. Please?"
"Well, it better be good. What is it?"
The Cummins lad took a couple of steps back and unbuttoned his shirt far enough to display the bold "S" of Superboy. "There, this is my secret."
Almost passing out, she blurted, "Oh my gosh! Bob, wh-why you're Superboy! No wonder you acted so timid and cowardly. You were protecting your secret!"
The real Superboy gasped under his breath, "OH NO! Bob, what are you doing?"
"Oh, Superboy, I mean Bob, of course I'll go out with you. I'll go anywhere with you. Consider me your girlfriend from this moment on. And I promise, I won't tell a living soul that you are Superboy."
The Boy of Steel was taken back at how superficial this girl was. "He's so desperate for attention, he doesn't see how she's playing him. I could intercede right now, but that would destroy poor Bob completely. I'll have to pick a better time when he's alone. But I have to get my costume as soon as I can."
On his way home, the super hero decided that after he had dealt with the infamous Brick Davis, he would pay a visit to Bob's home after school.
Wearing fresh clothing, Clark explained to his parents what had happened during the afternoon and why he had come home almost in flames.
"I'm certainly concerned about my uniform, but at least I know where it is. It won't be a problem getting it back from Bob."
"I hope you're right, son," Martha answered.
Jonathan added, "And what about Brick Davis? Have you decided what you're going to tell him?"
"Yes I have. When I see him tomorrow morning, this is what I'm going to do..."
The large school bus lumbered to a stop in the parking lot of Smallville High School. As he disembarked, Clark Kent spotted two of his best friends, Chester Sartania and Phyllis Coates. He quickly joined them. The three discussed what they had done over the weekend. Clark said the least of the three. Chester was concerned about the history test he had taken the previous Friday.
"Might get the grades back today."
"Oh Chester, I'm sure you did fine," Phyllis offered encouragement.
"Well, I hope so. Let's go. It's almost time for the bell."
"Yeah, we'd better get in there," Coates answered.
So the trio headed into the building, Clark in the center and a friend on each side, neither of whom had any idea that their timid companion was the dynamic Superboy.
As he moved through the crowd in the main hall towards his locker, the scheduled place for his confrontation with Brick Davis, Kent almost didn't notice several girls in tears.
"Wonder what that's all about?"
Reaching his destination, he became aware of how quiet the hall was this Monday morning. Usually it's so loud one can't hear to think. More girls with puffy eyes passed by. Many of the guys were walking slowly, very solemn.
"Come to think of it, the bus was more quiet than usual on the way into town. The driver didn't have to reprimand a single kid."
The bell for homeroom snapped him from his thoughts. Brick Davis had failed to appear.
The twenty or so students in his room were all sitting quietly as he sat down. Shortly, his teacher entered and took her place behind the desk.
"Students, there will be an announcement shortly," she informed them.
Almost on cue, the speaker on the wall made a crackling sound, signifying someone was about to speak.
"Students of Smallville High," Principal Winters began, "Today is a very sad day for all of us. No doubt, many of you have heard of the tragic events of yesterday afternoon. For those who haven't, I am very sorry to announce that two of our very own lost their lives in a tragic automobile accident. Both members of the senior class. Gloria Jennings, co-chief of our cheerleaders, Beta Club, History Club, Library Club. A wonderful young lady. And Brick Davis, basketball team captain and Monogram Club vice president. A great leader on and off the court. Funeral arrangements for both are incomplete. I ask that you keep Gloria and Brick's families in your thoughts and prayers. I know you hear it all the time from family and friends, but please...drive carefully. That is all."
Sobbing was audible in the class. Clark sat in shock. He didn't know Gloria Jennings well, only to see her in the halls and around town once in a while. And Brick, he certainly knew him. This explained why he didn't show up for their meeting a few minutes ago. Kent was curious as to how the accident had happened.
"How could I have not heard about this? As far as I know, the police didn't try to contact me."
The bell for first period terminated the silence. Everyone scattered to their classes.
Kent decided during the morning that he would leave school after lunch. He already had things he needed to do during the afternoon...paying a visit to Bob Cummins, for one. But now, he wanted to speak to the police about the fatal accident.
He went straight from the cafeteria to the office and checked out for the day. Since he would miss only one class and study hall, Winters didn't object. Finding a secluded spot behind the main building, a rapid change of garb, and he was in flight as Superboy.
William J. Henderson sat behind his ancient desk at the Smallville Police station going through mounds of paper work when there was a knock on his office door.
"Come on in."
The Boy of Steel opened the door halfway.
"Have a minute?"
"Superboy. Certainly. Sit down." After a handshake, he complied.
"Give me one second, please. Just trying to get a few things done. Mostly, the Youth History Festival coming up. What streets to rope off, security during the exhibits, things like that. Are you going to attend the festival?"
"There's a chance I'll be around," he answered aloud. "But as Clark Kent." That part wasn't for Henderson's benefit.
"So what can I do for you, Superboy?"
"I wanted to know the details of the fatal accident that occurred yesterday."
"Oh, yes. So, so sad. Ya know, I've been a cop for more years than I wish to remember. And I've run into just about everything during those years. But very few things I can think of are worse than the loss of young life. And so needlessly, too."
"Brick Davis liked to run his car fast, and I mean very fast. That's what he was doing yesterday afternoon. Superboy, when a person does foolish things over and over, sooner or later, it's going to catch up with them. That's just the way it is. And no matter how many times you tell people to be careful, they don't listen."
"That's what Mr. Winters said at school this morning."
"Uh, you were at Smallville High this morning?"
Realizing his faux pas, the Boy of Steel covered with, "uh, that's what someone told me."
"It's bad enough that Davis got himself killed, but he took an innocent passenger with him. I've known Brick's folks for years. I've talked with them about the way their boy drove a car. He had three reckless driving tickets on his record in just two years."
"And I had an experience with him a short time ago when he was using his car like a toy."
Henderson continued, "I'm already hearing talk that the Jennings family might file a wrongful death lawsuit against the Davis family. I hope Brick's folks have good insurance. There was already some bad feelings between the two families."
"How do you mean?"
"Besides being a speed demon and star athlete, Davis also considered himself quite the ladies' man. Seems he and Gloria had been seeing one another on the sly, even after Gloria's parents told her they didn't approve of her going out with Brick. Yesterday, Gloria said she was going to walk over to a girlfriend's house to play records. Her folks figure she met Brick somewhere. About an hour later, the call came into the station about a wreck on Midvale Highway, about ten miles outside the town limits. Apparently Davis lost control of his car on a curve, left the road and rolled several times. Both kids were thrown out. Gloria hit a tree. The car rolled over Brick. It was a gruesome scene. According to what skid marks there were, the car left the road between eighty and eighty-five miles an hour."
"I wish I could have done something to prevent it from happening."
"As much as you've done since you came to Smallville, even you, Superboy, can't be everywhere at the same time. If there were a thousand Superboys, things like this would still happen. You mustn't feel any blame. When I first started as a cop, I thought..."
His voiced trailed with another knocking on the door.
"Yes," the officer shouted.
A man in a lab coat entered. "Here's the autopsy reports on the two kids, Bill."
"Thanks, Hal," who immediately left.
Henderson scanned the reports, "I can't imagine there are any surprises of what killed them." Reading on, he commented no alcohol or illegal substances in either one. Nicotine in Gloria's blood. "Looks like she was a smoker. Winters would have a fit if he knew that. Oh God."
"What is it?" the lad asked.
"Gloria Jennings was pregnant. About two months. Well, that confirms a theory of Mr. Jennings."
"Mr. Jennings got a call a few weeks ago from McCredy at the hotel. Seems she tried to rent a room. When McCredy saw Davis trying to sneak up the stairs, he told Gloria he wasn't going to be a part of their shenanigans and told them both to leave. So it certainly looks like the two kids were doing more than holding hands."
"Yeah, it sure does."
"Ever been in love Superboy?"
"No, not like that."
"Oh, I didn't mean..."
"I understand what you mean. Actually, at this point in my life, dating would be difficult. I have so much going on, it probably wouldn't be fair to any girl for me to get seriously in a relationship."
"I bet any teenage girl in town would love to be that someone special. Any prospects?"
"Well, there is one young lady who has attracted my attention. I like her a lot, but it probably would be difficult to go out with her."
"How do you mean," the cop asked.
"She's a bit of a snoop. And there are things about myself that I..."
Henderson's phone rang. The officer took the call, then hung up the receiver.
"I'm sorry, Superboy, I'm going to have to cut this short. I have to go."
"An assault at the high school. A male student got beat up pretty bad. He's in the emergency room at the hospital. Jake Cummins' boy."
"You said Cummins? Bob Cummins?"
"I believe that's the boy's name. You know him?"
"I know who he is. May I go with you?"
"Sure, if you don't mind riding in a car instead of flying."
"Not at all." The less stress on his substitute suit he was wearing, the better.
"If you don't mind, Superboy, I think it best if I go in alone to see the boy. Your appearance may be a bit too overwhelming for him. He's been through a lot already," Henderson stated as he and the Boy of Steel reached the Smallville hospital's emergency room entrance.
"I understand. I'll be right here if you need me."
"Thanks," the cop replied. Approaching the desk and showing his badge, "the Cummins boy."
"Third curtain on your right," answered the nurse at the check-in desk.
The doctor on call was still with young Bob and his parents.
"How is he, doctor?"
"He took a good beating. A few cuts, numerous bruises. The two cracked ribs will be his biggest inconvenience."
"But he'll be all right."
"Sure, in couple of weeks," the doctor stated.
Henderson went to the patient's bedside, "Hello Bob. I'm Bill Henderson of the police department. Will you tell me what happened?"
The boy, still somewhat groggy from medicine he had received, began in a low voice.
"It's really my own fault."
"Son, no one deserves the type of beating you took. Tell me what happened."
Bob explained everything that had happened at Parson's Pond the day before. How he found and kept Superboy's uniform and had used it to impress a girl, who promised not to tell anyone that Bob was Superboy. He found out at school that she had spent most of Sunday evening telephoning her girlfriends bragging how she was Superboy's girlfriend. By lunchtime, the girls had spread it all over the school until after class, a guy started picking on him claiming he was a liar and not really Superboy at all. He challenged me to prove it. When I couldn't he tore into me out on the baseball field.
"Just one guy?" Henderson asked, writing as fast as he could.
"There were four guys. Three of them trapped me in a circle so I couldn't get away, but it was just the one guy who hit and kicked me. The others were just laughing. I think I passed out."
"Who attacked you, Bob?"
"I don't want to say. He'll come after me again."
"No he won't, Bob. I'll arrest him. He's going to pay for what he did to you."
"Then he'll kill me for sure."
Seeing he was getting no where with the lad, Henderson summoned Superboy to join him.
"Bob, I just told Superboy what all you have said, and he wants to talk to you."
"Superboy, oh no! He's probably mad at me, too."
"No Bob, I'm not mad at you. As a matter of fact, I feel a bit responsible for all of this."
"I don't get you."
"Well, Bob, if I hadn't left my costume in the woods, you wouldn't have found it and done what you did. Now, pretending you were me to impress a girl wasn't the right thing to do, but this other boy had no right to attack you. Now, who was it? Officer Henderson will see to it that he never bothers you again. You have my word."
"Well, his name is Rip Mitchell."
Superboy looked at Henderson. "You know him?"
"Not offhand, but I can find him. Mr. Cummins, are you willing to sign a complaint against the Mitchell boy? Otherwise, there isn't much I can do."
"Damn right I'll sign."
"Good. I'll go bring the Mitchell boy in."
"I'll go with you," Superboy offered.
"I'll be in touch, Mr. Cummins," Henderson stated.
"Superboy," young Bob began, "I'm really sorry for taking your clothing. And it's right over there (pointing to a chair). I wore it to school this morning. My parents didn't know. I wore it to impress Sylvia. It made me feel important. But I am sorry."
"I believe you, Bob. But try to remember that clothing doesn't make a person any more than he already is. It's what's on the inside that's important. And I can tell you're a good guy. It would make me proud if you would be my friend. Will ya, Bob?"
"You mean, after what I did, you'd be my friend?"
"Why, sure, shake on it?"
The two hands clasped.
Picking up his authentic outfit, the Boy of Steel answered, "That's great, Bob. You get some rest. Officer Henderson and I have an errand to run.
"So we rode out to the Mitchell place, and Mr. Henderson took Rip Mitchell to the station, but not before I got Rip off to the side and made it clear I'd better not hear of any more trouble with Bob Cummins," Clark finished telling his parents of the beating Mitchell had given the Cummins boy."
"That's awful, Clark. But I'm glad Bob will be all right," Martha stated.
"Hopefully, everyone involves will learn from it, including me. To not pretend to be who you aren't, not to bully people, and not to be so careless with something so important. That's twice now I've let someone take my costume away from me."
"So much for a peaceful evening, Clark. There goes the lamp.
Clark jumped up, swumg open the bookcase and sat at the short wave radio which linked him to the police.
"Go ahead, this is Superboy."
"Superboy, this Henderson."
"Yes sir. What's the trouble?"
"Actually, no trouble. I just wanted to thank you for the way you handled the situation this afternoon, I mean with Bob Cummins. Who has been released by the hospital and is resting at home, by the way."
"I appreciate what you said. All Bob needs is some confidence in himself, and maybe a friend can help give it to him."
The cop added, "Well, when that friend is Superboy, I don't see how it can fail. Anyway, that's all I wanted. I hope I didn't disturb you."
"Not all all, Mr. Henderson."
"Oh, Superboy, do you mind if I ask you a personal question?"
"What is it?"
"Where do you live?"
The Boy of Steel chuckled a bit before answering, "Smallville."
"Well, yes, but where in Smallville?"
"We'll just have to leave it at Smallville? Please?"
"Oh, O.K., well, good night."
Returning to the living room, Martha asked her son if there was a problem. He told her no. Henderson just wanted to touch on a few things from the afternoon.
"Well, it's been a very long day. I'm going to bed. Good night Mom and Dad."
"Good night, Clark," they responded.
Upstairs in his room, standing in his replica costume and holding the real McCoy, Clark Kent a.k.a. Superboy thought, "Boy, am I ever glad to get this back. No more spur-of-the-moment swimming for me...ever."
So much for a calm start to the new day. Young Clark awoke and squinted at his alarm clock.
"Omigosh! The alarm didn't ring. I have only ten minutes to get to school."
Excitedly, he rushed to the bathroom and burst into super-speed...combed his hair, washed his face, brushed his teeth, then hurriedly dressed and dashed downstairs to the kitchen to find a note: "Clark, I went to town with your father this morning to help him do some things at the store. There's oatmeal on the stove. See you this afternoon. Love, Mom."
"No time for breakfast. The bus has already passed. I'll have to fly to school to make it on time."
Entering his hidden room, he lifted the trap door above the secret tunnel and dropped into the darkness. Emerging from the tunnel's exit in the nearby woods, the Boy of Steel streaked skyward.
"Great way to start the day."
Several minutes later, he was in the same secluded space behind the school that he had used the day before. Just as he put on his glasses, the first bell rang.
"Five minutes to get to my locker, then to homeroom."
As Kent reached the main hall, Wheat Benson passed him and asked why he wasn't on the bus.
"Well, how did you get here so fast?"
"The fastest way I knew how."
Heading into his homeroom, he met Lana Lang at the door.
"Are you going to be at the store this afternoon, Clark?"
"As far as I know."
"O.K., I'll see you there. I have some shopping to do."
"Great," he answered, in a tone the redhead couldn't decipher if he was glad or disappointed."
Just as he sat in his desk, the tardy bell rang.
"Whew, made it."
Clark had been at Kent's General Store almost an hour when the perky, sly, red-headed Lana Lang came through the front door.
"Hi Clark, hi Mr. Kent," she spoke.
They both returned the greeting.
Town busybody Lucinda Hobbs was already doing her shopping.
"Horrible about those two teenagers getting killed in that wreck, isn't it, Jonathan?"
"Yes, very sad. And so pointless."
"Well, it wouldn't surprise me if the boy was drunk. He was a rowdy boy. Drove that car like a maniac. A wonder he didn't run people down on Main Street."
"Now, Lucinda, I haven't heard anything about his being intoxicated. Probably just driving too fast. You shouldn't spread rumors. His parents are suffering enough. The girl's, too," the elder Kent responded.
"Well, maybe, but I heard at the beauty shop that the Jennings girl was going to have a baby, and that Brick Davis was the father."
"Lucinda, whether or not any of that is true or not, does it really make any difference now? They're gone. They haven't even been buried yet."
"No, I guess it really doesn't matter now. I told Mr. Gower at the drug store I couldn't work tomorrow. I'm going to both funerals, hers in the morning and his after lunch."
"Well, it's nice of you to pay your respects," Jonathan continued, trying to terminate the discussion. "Here is your change. Thanks for coming in."
"I'm going so I can see who all is there. Toot-a-loo," the old bag replied as she headed out the door.
"Hey Dad, I noticed you didn't tell Miss Hobbs to come back," Clark joked.
"Lucinda Hobbs is one customer I really wouldn't mind losing."
With the old lady gone, the only customer was Lana, who had wandered to the far corner of the store, filling her basket with her needed items.
"Hey Clark," she yelled over her shoulder, "you're going to the History Festival, aren't you?"
"Sure, wouldn't miss it," he responded.
"Yeah, me too. I might go as Annie Oakley, but I'm not sure yet. How about you?"
"No, I don't think I'll go as Annie Oakley," he laughed.
The remark obviously irritated her, "Very funny. Leave the comedy to Jerry Lewis."
Just then, they all heard the blaring of sirens as two police cars sped by the store heading out of town.
"Dad, I'd better go," he whispered.
"Go ahead," Jonathan answered softly just as Lana approached the counter ready to be checked out.
"Uh, Clark, I think I just heard the buzzer on the back door. It may be that delivery I've been expecting. Will you go see?"
"Sure. Lana, my Dad will ring up your things."
He walked briskly to the storeroom door, closing it behind him.
"All right, Lana, let's see what you have here."
The always suspicious Lang, never missing an opportunity, ran from the counter towards the back room.
"Lana, you shouldn't go in there!" Jonathan shouted to no avail.
Clark had removed his glasses and sweater in his changing to the Boy of Steel
"I must investigate those sirens as quickly as I..."
He heard the door burst open.
A big smile broadened her face, "Caught cha! I knew it!, Clark Kent, you are SUPERBOY!"
Posted June 21, 2013
"Like The Only Real Magic -- The Magic Of Knowledge"