TAC Table of Contents
date: New Year's Eve – 1961
A quaint little town in the midwestern portion of the United States, the true heartland of the nation. Town and county combined - maybe three thousand people. Everyone knew everyone. Most of these citizens got along, most of the time. Neighbors brought flowers and food during times of births, sickness and death. Almost all of the citizens outside the town limits farmed. Those residing in town owned and worked the stores...a drug store, a bank, three restaurants (although one could get a pretty good grilled cheese at the drug store soda fountain). A newspaper which published everyday but Sundays and major holidays, an A.M. radio station, a junior college, hospital, fire department and police station. A quaint little town. A good place to raise a family. A good place to grow up. A quaint little town.
No one from Smallville had ever become a world-wide or even national celebrity. However, one of its residents was in the process...SUPERBOY.
The only survivor of the doomed planet Krypton, home of a race of fine and noble humans far advanced over those of our own world. Whose scientist father sent him hurtling into the far reaches of inter-stellar space in a tiny craft moments before great Krypton exploded into a billion fragments, speeding the space ship on its course for planet Earth, where landing safely, the infant was found and adopted by the Smallville couple, Jonathan and Martha Kent, who named the child Clark and reared him as their own.
Now, sixteen years later, the boy is a freshman at Smallville High School. A decision was made with his parents sometime earlier, but still carefully guarded, that the meek, retiring manner of Clark Kent would hide the exciting secret known only to himself and his foster parents...the secret that Clark Kent was in reality...SUPERBOY, champion of the oppressed, enemy of all evil doers, dedicated to the cause of truth and justice.
The time: 10:10 p.m.
The Kent family was stationed throughout the living room of their modest but nice home. Martha was in her favorite chair doing some needed repairs on a few shirts. Jonathan was stretched out on the sofa. Clark in another chair, looking through the current TV Guide.
"I declare, Clark, you sure are rough on your shirts. Seems like I have to reinforce these buttons every other week."
"I'm sorry, Mom, but most of my changes to Superboy have to be done in a hurry. I can't help it."
"No, I guess not. Jonathan, if you don't sit up, you're going to fall asleep and miss Guy Lombardo. He's on in twenty minutes."
A mumbled elder voice answered, "I'm not asleep. Just resting my eyes. I haven't missed Guy's New Years Eve show in years."
"You mean, you haven't seen it in years. I've had to tell you about the show for as long as I can remember. You always fall asleep."
Clark gave a big smile just as the signal lamp on Jonathan's desk began blinking, alerting him that the Smallville Police Department was calling Superboy.
"Uh oh, I was hoping we could get through New Year's Eve without any trouble." He jumped up from his chair, swung open the bookcase leading to the secret room he used for his Superboy business and closed it behind him. Taking a seat by the shortwave radio, he flipped the switch to transmit, "Go ahead, this is Superboy."
A brief moment later, Clark, now in his red, blue and yellow uniform he wore when functioning as the Boy of Steel, slowly walked back into the living room.
"What is it, son? What's wrong?" Martha asked.
Jonathan quickly sat up.
"A car wreck on the road to Metropolis. I've got to get out there. There's a fatality."
"Who son? Anyone we know?" elder Kent inquired.
"I'm afraid so. Earl Ellsworth. Rusty's father."
A small gathering, mostly law enforcement, had assemblied at the crash site, including Officer William J. Henderson and the Boy of Steel.
"What a mess," Henderson lamented. "Earl never had a chance."
"Have you determined how it happened?" Superboy asked.
"We'll know more after daylight when we can get a better look at the skid marks, but by the way the cars were damaged, it appears the car coming towards Smallville crossed the center line and hit the Ellsworth car almost head on. A neighbor right up the road here said that Earl was already dead when he got to the scene. The driver of the other car, a Jackson Sidemark of Metropolis, was shaken up pretty bad, but conscious. Ambulance took him to the Smallville hospital for treatment."
"You said alcohol was involved?"
"Oh, for sure. Two open liquor bottles in Sidemark's car, and it reeks of booze. He's drunk all right, just how drunk we'll know after the doctor does a blood test."
The lad pressed, "And Mr. Ellsworth?"
"I've never known Earl Ellsworth to take a drink in all the years I've known him, but the autopsy will tell us for sure. I'm wondering what he was doing way out here this time of night. Maybe Edith can tell us."
"Does she know yet?"
Henderson replied, "No not yet. The boy either. Earl and Edith had one son. Name's Rusty."
Having to hold back somewhat in his answer, Superman replied, "I believe I know who he is."
"He hangs out with the Ross and Kent boys."
"Oh yes, now I know who you mean. Kind of short for his age, isn't he?"
"Yes, that's Rusty. A good kid."
"Bill, the cars are ready to go. Is that O.K.?" a tow truck driver inquired.
"Yeah, Hank, take them both to the police garage. I'll be there as fast as I can, after I inform Mrs. Ellsworth. Well, Superboy, now comes the really unpleasant part, informing the family."
"Mind if I join you, Officer Henderson?
"No, not at all. You want to meet me there or do you want to ride with me?"
"I'll ride with you."
As Henderson navigated his squad car back towards town, he told his passenger how this would devastate Edith Ellsworth. "She's not a strong woman to start with. Earl has always been the sole bread winner, paid all the bills, took care of everything concerning the family. Edith has always been a housewife who ran the household. Some medical issues in the past...periods of severe depression, has to take medication for it, I understand. I'm worried this may be too much for her. Rusty, too. He and Earl were close. Rusty's got to be fifteen or sixteen by now. A bad time to lose a parent, with all the usual issues teenagers go through. Are you sure you want to go in with me Superboy?"
"Yes sir. I may be able to help Rusty somehow."
"Very well. We're almost there. You know, Superboy, I've had to do this more times than I wish to remember, and it never gets any easier."
"No sir, I guess not."
It was after two in the morning when the lad from Krypton entered the tunnel leading to the Kent home. Returning to the guise of Clark, he entered the living room via the bookcase surprised to see both his parents waiting up.
"Mom, Dad, I thought you'd be asleep."
"We couldn't go to bed without knowing what happened."
The youth relayed the known facts of the crash. As bad as that was, his report from visiting the Ellsworth home was equally disturbing.
"As Superboy, I couldn't comfort Rusty as much as I could have as Clark, but I did my best. I'd say that Rusty's pretty much in shock. Mrs. Ellsworth collapsed. Mr. Henderson had to call an ambulance to take her to the hospital. They're going to keep her for observation."
"What about Rusty?" Martha asked.
"Pete's father saw the cars at the house and came over. He took Rusty home with him for the night. The police will know more in the morning. I'll check in with Mr. Henderson then, then go see Rusty as Clark. That's about all we can do right now. I'm going to bed."
"Good night, son," his mom said.
"Happy New Year, Clark," Jonathan added.
"Happy New Year...yeah, right."
"More than twice the legal limit of alcohol in his bloodstream." Henderson told Superboy the following morning. "We've charged Jackson Sidemark with vehicular manslaughter. Judge Hamilton denied any kind of bail. His lawyer is on the way from Metropolis. Sidemark won't make any statement until he talks with his attorney."
"Probably the smart thing to do," the lad responded.
"He'll have a tough time beating this at trial. Open liquor bottles in his car. A witness placing him being the steering wheel. The blood test. If his attorney's a good one, he should try to make a deal with D.A. Bruton. But that's not my job."
"What about skid marks?"
The cop continued, "There weren't any at all from Sidemark's car, only Earl Ellsworth's. Earl made an attempt to swerve away from the oncoming car but couldn't. Sidemark never even applied his brakes. Now, that's how drunk he was."
"How's Mrs. Ellsworth this morning?"
"Still sedated. She hasn't awaken yet. The doc says maybe he'll know more later today, but she'll be in the hospital a couple of days."
"He'll be staying at the Ross house, at least for the time being. You know, Superboy, this situation is very bad, not just losing Earl, but if Edith isn't able to go back home fairly soon, I'm afraid Rusty will have to be placed in a foster home, at least for the time being. Not a good start here for 1962."
"No sir. It isn't. Well, thanks for the information. I'd appreciate udates when you get them. You know how to reach me."
Even though the Kent General Store was closed for New Year's Day, Superboy went straight there, assumed his Clark Kent persona, and walked to the Ross residence to pay his respects to his good friend.
"So, did you see Rusty?" Martha Kent asked her son when he arrived home.
"Yes. He grabbed me and burst out crying. He's really tore up. I think he's still in shock."
"Son, I'm sure he is. It's going to take him time to work through this," Jonathan added.
"I wish I knew what I could do to make things better for him."
"Just be there for him, son. It might not sound like much, but it really is."
"Mr. Henderson said that if his mother doesn't get back home soon, the court will have to place Rusty into foster care."
Martha asked how Edith Ellsworth was doing.
"They don't know how bad she is right now, Mom. She probably won't be out of the hospital in time to attend the funeral. Oh yeah, Pete's dad is helping Rusty with all of the funeral arrangements. The service is day after tomorrow."
In the background, Martha was playing the radio as she often did when she was home. She always tuned it to the local Smallville AM station.
'Good afternoon, this is your mid-day news, Tommy Carr reporting. Our top story at this hour...Smallville police continue to investigate a traffic accident which took the life of local citizen Earl Ellsworth last night on the Metropolis highway.'
"I've been hearing that every hour all morning," Martha informed her men.
'In other news, the start of the young year, so far, has been a busy one for local authorities. We have just learned that officers are en route to the Jasper Jarvis farm to investigate a break-in during the night. Some damage has been reported. The property owner and police will determine what, if anything, was taken.'
"Maybe I should look into this as Superboy," the youngster stated.
"It's probably nothing, Clark. The police would have called for you if it was important," Jonathan volunteered.
"You're probably right, Dad, but it wouldn't hurt for me to check it out. I'll be back later."
"Superboy, how did you know we were here?" Henderson asked as soon as the Boy of Steel touched the ground at the Jarvis farm.
"I happened to be listening to the news report on the Smallville radio station. You didn't contact me."
"I didn't want to bother you, Superboy. It looks like a routine case of tresspasing. Jasper here is looking the barn over to see if anything was taken."
A few moments passed when the farmer walked back over to the officer.
"Jasper," Henderson offered, "I'd like for you to meet Superboy. Superboy, Jasper Jarvis."
Shaking hands, the lad stated it was a pleasure to meet him.
"Same here, young man. I've been reading some amazing stuff about you in the Sentinel. Glad to have you around."
"Well sir, I'm sorry I wasn't around here last night to prevent this burglary. But there was an auto accident..."
"Yeah, I know about that. Heard it on the radio this morning. Damn shame about Ellsworth...good man."
"Well Jasper, is there any damage?" the officer inquired.
"Other than a busted lock on the cabinet over there, I can't see that anything else has been messed with. Probably some kidswandering around on New Year's Eve up to a little mischief. There is something missing though."
"What's that?" Superboy asked.
"Two sticks of dynamite are missing from the cabinet."
"Now, that could be a problem," Henderson added. "Are you sure that it's two sticks?"
"Sure am," Jarvis quickly replied. "Had a full case of twenty-four. Bought it right before Christmas at Kent's General Store in town. Hadn't had a chance to use any of it yet, with the holidays and all."
The lad in red and blue inquired as to why he needed dynamite.
"Well, Superboy, I can see that you've never spent anytime on a farm." The Boy of Steel smiled. His question had been asked on purpose to give both men that impression. "Blowing up stumps, son. When you need to clear off some land for planting, you blow up the stumps. That's the only way to get 'em out of the ground."
"Not anymore. Anytime you need a stump or tree removed, I'll be glad to do it for you. A lot less dangerous that way."
"Well, that's mighty neighborly of you, young man,"Jarvis responded. "Was gonna blow a few next week. But how can I get in touch with you?"
"You can call me, Jasper," Henderson voluntered. "I can contact Superboy."
"Yeah? How do ya do that?"
"Well, we keep that just between us, but when you're ready, let me know. The less dynamite used around here, the better. Every time anyone uses it, the department gets a slew of calls from folks asking what's going on. It will work out much better all around letting Superboy do it. Now, are you sure that's all that was taken, just two sticks of dynamite."
"Yep, that's it," the farmer replied.
"Well, I guess all we can do is keep our fingers crossed that nothing more comes of it," the bewildered policeman remarked.
"Probably took them to just set it off for some thrills," Jasper added. "I wouldn't worry about it."
The second half of the Smallville High School year began bright and early the next morning. Students spent much of their out-of-class time comparing their holiday stories. Many were joyous. Rusty Ellsworth's was not one of them. Losing his father on New Year Eve's at the hands of a drunk driver, then watching as his mother was admitted to the Smallville hospital with a mental breakdown was more than any sixteen year-old should have to bear.
The family of Pete Ross had stepped up and taken in Rusty until his surviving parent could return home. Funeral arrangements had been made for Earl Ellsworth. The following afternoon at three o'clock.
Clark Kent was totally consumed by a number of things...getting back into the flow of school, for one. There were a few new courses this semester. His friend Rusty's dire situation was another, as was the break-in at the Jarvis farm resulting in the taking of two sticks of dynamite. And never knowing what other situations might arise requiring his super services. It was a busy life for a teen.
"We'll all be right there with you tomorrow Rusty. You know you can count on us for anything," redheaded Lana Lang told him.
"That's right," Pete, Chester, Noel, Phyllis and Clark added.
"Thank you all. You guys are the best," he responded.
Some talk spreading around the school cafeteria during lunch was the fact that Jason Jarvis, the son of Jasper Jones, had dropped out of school over the holidays.
There was a contingent of students who seemed glad to hear the news.
"Troublemaker," one kid said.
"He smokes dope, you know," from another.
"I heard he and his old man had one heck of a fight."
"Oh, they haven't gotten along for a couple of years."
Clark was saddened to hear that Jason was no longer in school. "Seems like such a waste. I thought he was pretty smart."
"He was in junior high," Lana stated, "but then he kind of took the wrong path. He's been arrested twice. Reckless driving and leaving the scene is what I heard."
"Well, that's not very smart, but he hasn't been arrested for anything criminal, has he?" Kent asked.
"I don't think so," Lana replied, "just a matter of time I'll bet."
Kent thought to himself it might be worth the time to try and talk with the Jarvis boy. "Seems such a shame to throw your life away when you're only seventeen."
The funeral service the next afternoon was about what Kent had expected. The church was filled with friends of the Ellsworth family. Edith Ellsworth was still a patient at Smallville Hospital showing little improvement, so she was not in attendance. Rusty sat in the front pew, surrounded by his close-knit group of male and female friends. Jonathan and Martha Kent sat right behind them, along with the Ross family.
At the end of the service, the citizens of Smallville passed by Rusty offering their condolences. Soon it was just him and his close friends. Jonathan and Martha spoke with Rusty, then told Clark they were heading back to the store.
"I'll be there as soon as I can, Mom and Dad."
Over the next ten minutes, the gang slowly desolved, leaving only Clark and Rusty.
"If you need anything, be sure and call me," Kent offered to his friend.
"Clark, actually, I did want to ask you something."
"Sure, what is it?"
"Well, it's like this. Pete and his family have been just great letting me stay with them since, well, you know. And I don't mean to sound ungrateful, but Pete's two younger sisters are driving me crazy. Always telling me how cute I am and stuff like that. You know how little girls are."
"Well, Rusty, what guy wouldn't want girls telling him things like that?"
Young Kent should know. As Superboy, every teenage female in town fawned all over him.
"Don't joke around with me, Clark. Those girls have me climbing the walls."
"Clark, I was wondering, and hoping that, until my mom gets out of the hospital, could I stay at your house?"
The three Kents encircled the kitchen table having a light supper of sandwiches. The afternoon funeral was the conversation topic. Both Martha and Jonathan stopped eating when Clark relayed Rusty's request.
"Oh my," Martha spoke first. "Son, if ours was a normal household, your father and I would have volunteered to have Rusty come and stay with us right away. But you know ours is far from normal."
"Your mother's right, son. We're both very fond of Rusty, but under the circumstances, he's probably better off staying with Pete and his family."
"I know what you're saying, Mom and Dad. Having Rusty here could cause some problems with my Superboy activities, but he's miserable at Pete's, and he's been through enough already. Please, can't we let him stay with us?"
"Clark, I don't mean for this to sound callous, but there is much more at stake here than just Rusty's situation. Keeping your identity a secret is a top priority, and having him here, well, it's just too risky."
"But Dad, isn't my creed as Superboy to help people who are in need? Rusty is one of my very best friends, and he certainly needs some help right now. If I turn my back and don't help him, I'll feel like a phoney. It goes against everything I stand for. Please don't ask me to refuse him."
Jonathan thought in a silence for a moment.
"Very well, son. I see what you mean. And you're right. You, as Clark or Superboy, should always be of help to your fellow man. O.K. Martha?"
"Well...O.K.," she responded. "He can stay in the guest bedroom across from your room, son."
"Great, I'll go call him."
Returning from the living room, Martha and Jonathan were told Rusty would be out in about an hour.
The Ellsworth truck pulled into the Kent's driveway at about 8:00. After Clark helped take his friend's things up to the guest room, Rusty came downstairs to the living room and expressed his appreciation to Martha and Jonathan for their kindness.
"I hope this didn't upset the Ross household, Rusty?" Martha asked.
"No ma'am. They understood completely. Pete joked that I was leaving him alone to fend off his two bratty sisters by himself. The younger one cried because I was leaving, but she'll have to get over it. If we were both five years older, it might have been different." He laughed.
Jonathan turned on the TV set, then retired to the sofa. Martha went to her favorite chair. Clark took the other chair.
Rusty asked Jonathan if he could use the desk to do homework.
"Of course, will the television bother you?"
"Oh, no sir."
Maybe fifteen minutes later, Jonathan had dozed off as the desk lamp began to flash on and off. The lamp which serves as a signal that the Smallville Police are calling the Boy of Steel. Clark and Martha both tightened up.
"I didn't do anything to it, I promise," Rusty stated defensively.
"I know you didn't, Rusty, it, uh, has a short in the cord. We need to replace it before it burns down the house."
"Great Scott," Clark exclaimed, "I just remembered I have a paper to write for class tomorrow. I'd better get upstairs and get on it. Then I'm turning in," his eyes meeting his mother's.
Taking her cue perfectly, she announced she had cake in the kitchen. "Rusty, won't you join me?"
"Sure, thanks Mrs. Kent. Ya comin', Clark?"
"Not tonight. Duty calls. See you in the morning, Rusty."
Kent stood firm until Martha and his friend cleared the kitchen door. He then walked quickly, opened the revolving bookcase into the concealed room, then closed the case behind him.
Sitting at the short-wave radio, he announced to the police they had reached Superboy.
"We could use your help, Superboy. A couple of break-ins, uptown Smallville, Gower's Drug Store and Grayson's Fix-It Shop. We have our people at both locations."
"I'm on my way. Over."
He shed his outer Kent clothing, dropped into the darkness via the trapdoor in the floor, reached the end of the tunnel into the woods he himself had dug and was on his way.
Clark was up before Rusty the following morning. His night had been a long one, not getting back home from the town break-ins until after midnight. Fortunately, the lawbreakers hadn't created much damage. Dan Grayson was missing a couple of appliances (toasters and irons), and Gower's Drug Store was short several cartons of cigarettes. Perhaps a teenager or two with nothing better to do. Maybe even the same person or persons who had taken the dynamite from the Jarvis barn. Henderson wasn't confident of catching the perpetrators.
On the way back to his room from taking his shower, he knocked on the guest room door, making sure his friend Rusty was awake. It took a series of knocks before there was a sign of life from the inside.
"Rise and shine, the bathroom's all yours."
Changing his routine, the host closed and locked his door before donning his red and blue uniform, then covering it with mild-mannered Kent's clothing. Noticing the pair of suspenders his Mom had given him for Christmas, he decided to wear them for the first time. A bit later, when he sat down at the kitchen table for breakfast, she made mention of them. It then occurred to him that the paper he was assigned for one of his classes was still to be written. It hadn't been just an excuse the night before to get away to fly into town. The four page, single-spaced report was completed in ten seconds.
Standing at his locker in the main hall of Smallville High, he was joined by Rusty and Pete.
Rusty asked Pete again if there were any hard feelings about his deserting the Ross home for the Kent farm.
"No, Rusty, not a problem. I told you that last night. I just hope Clark can tolerate your snoring better than I could."
"I don't snore, Pete."
"Then I guess a hive of bees somehow got into my bedroom."
Lana Lang interrupted the conversation drawing all attention to her.
"Wow, suspenders, nice touch, Clark. A nice change of pace from the usual boring red, white and blue. Kent just rolled his eyes .
"You know, Clarkie, you never have let me take you shopping. You promised you would. I can really spiff up your wardrobe, and get rid of that Clark Milktoast image you have. Make you a bit more dynamic."
"Dynamic, yeah, like Superboy," Rusty remarked.
"Now, Rusty, I'm not a miracle worker. Clark could never be like Superboy, uh, no offense, Clark."
"None taken, I guess," he replied.
The first bell sounded, forcing everyone in the busy hallway to disperse to their homerooms.
As four o'clock in the afternoon rolled around, Rusty entered the kitchen door of the Kent home. Clark had gotten off the bus back in town to work at the general store. The houseguest's attention was diverted by a note on the kitchen table.
Clark is supposed to help his father at the store this afternoon, and I'm at Gladys Parker's house. I should be home to start dinner by 4:30. There's still some cake, so help yourself. Feel free to use Jonathan's desk again to do any homework you might have.
"Clark has such a great mother. I hope my mom can come home soon," the boy thought to himself.
Young Ellsworth, smaller than most of his male friends in statue, but able to outeat any of them, had two pieces of cake and a glass of milk before heading into the living room to knock out the little bit of homework he had been assigned.
He was finished in ten minutes. Having a study hall sixth period this semester really helped out in getting take-home work done.
"Four-twenty. I can still see the last ten minutes of HUCKLEBERRY HOUND," he remembered as he rose to get up. He gathered his notebook and text books, but as he rounded the desk for the living room couch, caught his back foot on a desk leg. As he went down, he dropped his books and stuck out his right arm to catch himself against the bookcase. He made contact with his right hand, but the wooden bookcase gave him no support. It moved!
The bell on the door of Kent's General Store sounded as young Clark entered, greeting his father.
"School all right today, son?" Jonathan Kent inquired.
"Yeah, it was fine. Dad, could I ask a favor?"
"Could you spare me for about an hour? There's something I'd really like to do."
"Considering you and I are the only people in the store right now, I'd say yes."
"Thanks, Dad. I'll need to use the truck."
"Oh, this is a Clark thing, not Superboy? What is it? Lana?"
"No, not Lana. But it is about another student."
"Well, the keys are in the truck. Wearing the new suspenders your Mom gave you for Christmas I see. They look good on you."
"Oh, yeah. Thanks. I'll be back as soon as I can."
Smallville's newest driver headed west out of town for his ten minute drive, stopping the Kent truck beside the home of Jasper Jarvis.
There was no answer to his knock on the front door. Walking around the side of the wood frame house, he was stopped by a deep voice.
"What can I do for ya?" property owner Jasper Jarvis asked, not missing a beat chopping firewood.
"That's right. Who are you?"
"My name is Clark Kent, sir."
"Jonathan's boy. Yeah, now I recognize you from the store."
"Yes sir. I was hoping to talk to your son Jason."
"Not here," the farmer continued.
"Oh. When might he be home?"
"Don't know. Maybe never."
"I don't understand, Mr. Jarvis."
"Kent, I haven't seen him since before Christmas. Took off again. He's staying with my wife's sister over in Silsby, or at least, he was. Whadya need to see him about?"
"Well, Mr. Jarvis, the talk around Smallville High is that he dropped out of school, and I was hoping to talk with him about changing his mind and coming back."
"Why does that matter to you?"
"Well, sir, I think he's making a terrible mistake, and..."
"Kent, some folks might stop you right here and tell you it's none of your business, but I appreciate your concern. You're Jonathan's boy all right. Maybe an outsider could reach Jason. I can't. He won't listen to me. But, like I said, he ain't here."
"If I might ask, why did he drop out?"
"Kent, Jason and I have been buttin' heads for a couple of years now. He won't listen to either his mother or me. I have rules, and he won't go along with them. There's a lot of work to do on a farm, and he won't pull his weight. Started losing interest in his school work a while back, too. Principal Winters called me about a month ago and said that if Jason didn't get his grades up, he'd have to repeat the tenth grade next year. The boy said no way and quit. He's seventeen, so I couldn't stop him. Then we had a big blowup. I lost my temper and said he wasn't go to live here if he wasn't going to stay in school and help do some of the work around here, so he up and left. He won't take our calls. My wife is heartbroken, me too, but I just can't do anything with him."
"I'm very sorry," Kent offered.
"The boy started smoking a year ago. I wasn't crazy about that, but I felt I couldn't come down on him too hard for that, because I did the same thing when I was a kid. Heck, think I was fourteen. But pot I will not tolerate."
"He uses marijuana?" Clark asked.
"I have to go down to the barn. Walk with me." He continued, "Not only smokes it, but I found him growing the damn stuff, here on my land. I've worked too hard, too long to go to jail for having pot grown on my farm. We had a big brawl, almost came to blows. Kent, do you think all that pot has messed up his brain or something?"
"Gosh, I don't know, sir. I've never been around marijuana."
"I love my boy. I know I've made mistakes as a parent..." he went on as they approached the barn.
Just as Jarvis put his hand on the door and started to open it, Kent spotted a tripwire of some kind. Quickly using his x-ray vision, he saw dynamite rigged to the door on the inside.
"Stop, Mr. Jarvis!" he yelled as the door was pulled.
The lad was able to push the farmer somewhat out of the way as the booby trap detonated. The concussion of the blast carried Jarvis about ten feet. The semiconscious injured man was moaning. With one huge breath, Clark blew out the fire, preventing additional damage to the structure.
Clark rushed over and knelt down, rolling the blast victim onto his back. The farmer looked up through glazed eyes and said one word before passing completely out..."Superboy."
Kent, using his super speed, rushed to the house, entered the back door and called emergency personnel. He was instructed to keep the victim as warm as possible but not to move him. He rushed into a bedroom and pulled a blanket off the bed. As he headed out of the room, he caught his reflection in the mirror. The explosion had blown or burned a huge hole in the front of his best white dress shirt, exposing the red and yellow insignia of the hidden uniform he always protected.
Thinking quickly, Kent rushed back into Jason's bedroom, opened the closet door and rifled through the left-behind clothes until he found a windbreaker. He put it on and zipped it all the way up, covering his ruined shirt which revealed his Boy of Steel uniform. Then rushed back to the injured Jarvis.
On the way back, he met a neighbor who had rushed over.
"What happened?" the man inquired.
"An explosion. Mr. Jarvis is hurt. The ambulance is on the way."
Moments later, two vehicles, an ambulance and police car, came down the slight hill to the barn. The rescue squad duo began examining Jasper Jarvis. The squad car occupant, Bill Henderson, approached.
"Clark, what are you doing here?"
"I called for help Mr. Henderson."
The lad then explained to the officer what had happened.
"You're not hurt?"
"No sir. Mr. Jarvis was closer to the explosion than I was. The blast knocked him over where he is. I was just knocked down."
"You sure you're not hurt?" Henderson pressed.
"No sir. I'm O.K. My ears are ringing a little. That's all."
"What were you doing here, Clark?"
"I came out to talk with Jason Jarvis about maybe returning to school. Mr. Jarvis was telling me about what has been going on between him and Jason, and that Jason left home a few weeks ago."
After getting all the details from Clark, Henderson deduced that the stolen sticks of dynamite were the common denominator.
"Someone steals explosives from here, then returns to the same spot to use them. Interesting. Turning to his fellow officer, "Murphy, call Jasper's sister in Silsby and see if the boy Jason is there."
"Mr. Henderson, you don't believe Jason did this, do you?"
"He's certainly a suspect Clark, considering the trouble he's had with his father."
"But...kill his own father!"
"Clark, I have to cover all the bases. We'll know more after I talk with the boy. How bad is Jasper hurt?" Henderson asked the medical personnel.
"Hard to say. He's unconscious. Check at the hospital after the doctors check him out."
"I will. Thanks."
As the ambulance siren grew fainter as it headed for the hospital, Henderson told Kent, "Son, I'm glad you weren't hurt, but it is a good thing you were here. Jasper couldn't have been out here injured for who knows how long. By the way, where's Mrs. Jarvis?"
"I haven't seen her, Mr. Henderson."
"Hmm, maybe in town. I'll see if I can track her down. She'll need to get to the hospital. You can go now, Clark. If I have any more questions, I'll call you."
"Oh, and Clark, you might want to have your doctor check out that ringing in your eyes."
"Yes, sir," he thought, knowing that wasn't necessary.
Rusty Ellsworth, temporary house guest of the Kent family, lay face down on the living room floor after tripping over the leg of the desk chair. He had fallen against the built-in bookcase behind Jonathan Kent's desk. Normally, that would have supported, maybe even prevented, his tumble to the floor. Not so this time, because when Rusty's reached out his right arm for support, the bookcase gave way.
The youngster wasn't injured. In fact, he was more stunned at what he discovered.
"Oh no! Rusty, you dummy! Been here one day and already caused trouble. You broke Mr. Kent's bookcase!"
He examined the structure, ajar two or three inches.
"Maybe I can pull it back out, and it won't be noticeable."
He dug in his heels, expecting his opponent to not give very easily. More surprise when he pulled it closed with ease. It actually didn't stop moving when it returned to its original position. It was now open several inches the other way.
"What the heck? This thing is made to open and close."
He gave it a push back the way it originally opened. Through the space large enough for his head to fit, he struggled to see into the dark area.
"Jeepers. There's another room back here."
Getting braver, Ellsworth opened the bookcase enough to enter. He fumbled an inner wall until he felt a light switch. Illumination filled the space as he turned 360 degrees examining his discovery. He walked over to the short wave radio.
"Wonder why the Kent's have a short wave?"
On the same desk as the radio were several file folders and a diary-like notebook. Knowing he had no business to examine his discoveries, his curiosity prohibited his stopping. He thumbed through the first file folder.
"Newspaper clippings. I remember some of these. They're from the Sentinel. And here's a Daily Planet from Metropolis. Why, they're all about Superboy. Gosh, here's the article about Superboy saving Noel and me on the ferris wheel at the fair. And here's when he saved the airplane from crashing."
The boy then looked through the other file.
"Just like the other one. Articles about Superboy. Nothing else. Just stuff Superboy has done. And this notebook...looks like a log or something. September 5, 1961 - stopped speeding car leaving Smallville High, talked to driver (Brick Davis), flew girl (Noel Neill) back to school building. October 21, 1961 - apprehended driver in stolen car. It goes on and on, something for almost every day up through...yesterday (break-ins at Grayson's and Gower's). It's a record of things Superboy does. Why would the Kent's keep all of this stuff?"
Continuing to walk around the room, he noticed boxes stacked four and five high along with several old trunks. Looked like regular storage just like in his attic at home. He opened a sliding door to a small closet. Several shirts and slacks on hangers, several red sweaters. He had no doubt to whom those belonged. Then the big shocker. A red and blue uniform just like the one worn by the Boy of Steel.
"Damn! It's Superboy's uniform!"
His head was almost spinning from all that he had seen.
"All right Rusty, stay calm, relax. Need to get out of here."
It was all racing through his brain as he stepped into the living room. Carefully closing the bookcase to its correct position, he picked his books up off the floor.
"The newspaper clippings and pictures, and the uniform. This is incredible! And I thought Lana Lang was crazy all this time, but she's been right all along. Clark IS Superboy."
Three Kents and one Ellsworth encircled the table for the evening meal. Martha asked both boys how their school day was.
Clark, "Fine Mom."
"Did you turn in your paper?"
"Yes. Glad it's out of the way."
"How about you, Rusty? Did your day go all right?"
"Uh, yeah. I mean yes ma'am. It was O.K."
His mind seemed to be elsewhere.
"You're not eating very much, Rusty. Don't you like my meat loaf?"
"Oh, I'm sorry, Mrs. Kent. The meat loaf is really good. I'm just not very hungry. Probably shouldn't have had cake this afternoon. Maybe it spoiled my appetite. I promise I won't do that again."
Martha and Clark exchanged glances of concern.
"You're not getting sick, are you Rusty?" she asked.
"No ma'am. I don't think so. Just not very hungry."
Throughout the rest of the meal, Clark noticed his friend's staring at him several times. When their eyes met, Rusty looked down at his food. Finally he spoke, "Clark, you didn't wear that shirt to school this morning, did you? You wore a white shirt."
"Oh, uh, no. I got that shirt dirty at the store and had to change."
Ten minutes later, when Jonathan pushed his chair back from the table, signifying he was finished, Rusty asked if he, too, could be excused.
"I have a couple of chapters I need to read in history, then I think I'll go to bed. I'm really tired."
"Well, you let me know if you need anything," she stated.
"Thank you, I will. Good night," he answered as he left the room.
Martha declared she was concerned about his behavior.
"Now Martha, the boy has been through a lot in the last week. He needs some time alone to grieve. Let's just let him be," Jonathan told her.
As Clark helped his mom clear the table, she asked him if he had any idea what was bothering his friend.
"No I don't, Mom," the lad replied. "He seemed fine at school. Dad's probably right."
The evening hours passed without a blinking lamp. Around ten o'clock, Clark told his mother he was turning in. Jonathan, as usual, had been asleep on the sofa for an hour.
Ten minutes after turning off his bedroom light, Clark heard a quiet knocking on his door.
"Clark, you asleep?"
"No, come on in, Rusty."
Kent quickly put on his glasses and turned on the lamp next to his bed.
His friend entered and sat at the foot of the bed.
"I need to talk to you about something, Clark."
"Sure. What's on your mind?"
"Your mom asked if I was sick. Well, to be honest, you might say I have a conscience ache."
"Well, I'm a pretty good listener if you're sure you want to tell me."
"Only if you promise you won't tell your Mom and Dad."
"Sounds serious, Rusty."
"I'm not in any kind of trouble or anything like that. I just don't want your parents to think any less of me than I think of myself right now."
"O.K. You have my word, I won't tell them."
"Or anyone else...please?"
"O.K. What's going on, Rusty?"
"Clark, you and your folks have always been swell to me. Especially now, I mean, taking me in while my Mom's in the hospital. I don't deserve it."
"Why would you say that?"
"Well, this afternoon, I was disrespectful to your parents...and to you. It was never my intention. It started out as an accident. I could have stopped, but I didn't. My curiosity got the best of me. I'm so sorry."
"Sorry about what, Rusty?"
"Well, it's like this," he continued his confession. "Clark, I found out your secret...that you are Superboy."
Kent tightened up and hoped his face didn't turn white as a sheet. He did his best hiding his shock when friend Rusty Ellsworth admitted he had learned that Clark was Superboy.
"Superboy!" the lad exclaimed. "What would make you say that, Rusty?"
The temporary boarder relayed what had happened during the afternoon...tripping, falling into the bookcase, discovering the secret room, files about the Boy of Steel and the red and blue uniform hanging in the closet.
"Clark, please believe me. I wasn't snooping at all. I really fell, and the bookcase opened. But what I did after that was totally wrong. I had no business going into that room. And I certainly had no right prying through the files and the closet. Like I said, my curiosity got the best of me, and I'm so sorry. I'll understand if you never want to speak to me again. And I promise, Clark, I won't tell anyone that you're Superboy."
"Hold on, Rusty. Let's not put the cart before the horse, O.K.? You're right, you shouldn't have gone into the room. That was an invasion of my family's privacy. But considering the circumstances, I can't say I wouldn't have done the same thing."
"Then you forgive me?"
"Sure, Rusty, we're best friends. Nothing's going to change that. You've asked me a favor of not telling Mom and Dad about what happened. Now, I want to ask you a favor right back. I'm asking you not to repeat what I'm going to tell you."
"You've got it, Clark."
"Well, it's like this. Ever since Superboy appeared in Smallville, I admit I have had a real fascination about him. I'm not sure if hero would be the exact word, but mainly curiosity. So I started cutting out newspaper articles about him, any I could find. And I write down in a notebook things he does to help people. I'm sure he probably does things that don't make the newspapers, but I record anything I can. That's all that is. A hobby. You understand, don't you?"
"But, Clark, the uniform in the closet. It's Superboy's uniform."
"Rusty, it's a replica of Superboy's costume. You already know about it. Remember, I was going to wear it during the History Festival back in the Fall, that is, until Lana ripped it. Then I had to go as Wyatt Earp."
"Oh my gosh. That never occurred to me. Sure, I remember that. You were mad as a wet hen at Lana for tearing it."
Kent continued, "Not just me. It caused some real tension with my Mom. She told Lana off in our kitchen. Unfortunately, it seemed to do very little good."
"Is Lana still up to her scheming about you and Superboy?"
"Not lately, but I'm sure she'll get back to it when she has nothing better to do."
"But the uniform looks just like Superboy's. How did your mom get it so close?"
"Oh that. I asked Superboy if he minded if I go to the festival dressed like him, and he said no. He even came out one afternoon so my Mom could use his uniform as a guide to make the replica. I thought she did a great job with it."
"And then that dumb Lana ruined it," Rusty stated, very annoyed. "So you and Superboy must be good friends, huh?"
"Well, he's been here and in the store a couple of times, but to say we're good friends might be a stretch. You probably know him as well as I do, Rusty."
"Gosh, I wish I knew him better. Ya know, Clark, and this is a secret, so please don't..."
"The only way I got through my Dad's funeral service the other day was to daydream that I was Superboy and could do all the things he could. I had to think about something else other than my Dad. I know that sounds like I'm five years old."
"Rusty, any way you can get through what has been thrown at you, I say do it. And I'm sure Superboy would be touched if he knew."
"Thanks, Clark, for understanding and letting me off the hook."
"Well, thank you, Rusty, for not telling anyone about my...new hobby."
"Good night, Clark."
Hearing the door across the hall close, Clark rested his head on his pillow certain that Rusty no longer believed he was the Boy of Steel and would not repeat to anyone the experience of the afternoon.
However, he wasn't so sure about what Jasper Jarvis might have said at the hospital.
The following day, Clark Kent's afterschool hours started much a carbon copy as the previous day. He disembarked the bus in front of his family's store, with Rusty going on to the Kent home. He checked in with his dad, then asked to be excused for a bit while he took care of an errand.
The errand being to check on the condition of Jasper Jarvis, the man with whom he had shared a dynamite blast.
The youth walked the three blocks to Smallville's hospital, entered the main door and stepped up to the reception desk.
"Hi, I'd like to visit Mr. Jarvis. Could you tell me his room number, please?"
"Are you family, young man?" asked the lady on duty. An attractive woman in her late twenties, totally professional.
"Uh, no ma'am. A friend," Kent answered.
"I'm sorry, but the doctors have limited visitation for Mr. Jarvis to immediate family and law enforcement."
"Oh, I see. Well, thank you just the same."
He did a one-eighty and retraced his steps back to the street.
"Now to Plan B."
Clark walked around to the back of the building, found a secluded space, a quick change of garb, and was in about one minute walking back into the hospital and to the reception desk.
"Good afternoon, I'm here to see Jasper Jarvis. What's his room number, please?"
"Young man, I told you..." she looked up "Oh my goodness. Superboy! My goodness, but you're even better looking up close."
"That's nice of you to say, Mrs. (looking at her badge) Holland."
"Mr. Jarvis is in room 214. And it's Miss Holland. And I get off at 5:30."
"Thank you," he said, giving her a cute smile and wave as he walked to the elevator.
A supervisor in the vicinity quickly scolded her, "Diane, don't you think you're a little old for him?"
Holland quickly responded, "If I were 75, I wouldn't be too old for him."
He stepped off the elevator, and headed down the hall of the second floor. Every time he passed an open door, he heard the occupants say, "There's Superboy."
Tapping on the door of room 214, he heard a weak "Come in."
He walked in and greeted patient Jarvis.
"Superboy, hello," he whispered.
"How are you, Mr. Jarvis?"
"They say I'll live, although I have a killer headache. A serious concussion. Dr. Adams said I'll be here three or four days, then I'll have to take it easy for a couple of weeks."
"I'm so glad that it isn't any more than a bad concussion. It could have been worse."
"Yes, I know. Somebody tried to kill me, Superboy."
"The police are working on finding the person that did this to you. And I'll help them any way I can. Can you tell me what you remember about the explosion?"
Jarvis related how Clark Kent had stopped by to see his son and was told he had taken off weeks before. That he and Kent walked down to the barn, and just as he opened the door, he felt something hit him, probably the blast. Then he woke up in his hospital room.
"You don't remember anything right after the explosion or being transported to the hospital?"
"No. Nothing. It's all a blank."
The Boy of Steel exhaled, "Whew!"
Not wanting to tire the man out, he stayed another minute or two, then left. Stopping at the nurses' station, he asked if there were any children patients who could receive visitors and asked their room numbers. There were three, on the first floor.
He stopped in on the Simmons boy in room 104, then the Eury girl in 107. The youngster in 111 was a familiar name.
Sticking his head in the door of 111, he smiled and said, "Benjy Banks, what are you doing here?"
"Hi, Superboy! Come on in."
He walked over by the bed.
"I had my appendix taken out yesterday."
"My goodness. Are you feeling all right?"
"Yeah, I'm fine, just a little sore. I have ten stitches."
"Ten, wow, that's pretty good, Benjy."
"Tell me, Superboy, have you caught any bad guys today?"
"No, not today, it's been pretty quiet in Smallville. But the police and I are looking for a bad guy."
"Well, you'll catch him, Superboy, I know you will."
"Thanks for the vote of confidence, Benjy."
"Heck, nobody's smarter than you. I know you'll catch him."
"When ya going home, Benjy."
"Mom said day after tomorrow. Can't wait to get out of here. The food's awful."
Laughing, he answered, "Yeah, that's what I hear."
"Say, have you seen Clark lately?"
"You mean Clark Kent?"
"Yeah," the Banks boy replied.
"Let's see, yes, I saw him a couple of days ago."
"You know what, Superboy, you and Clark are the neatest guys I know. I haven't forgotten how you both helped me out with those creeps on my paper route."
"Well, I think I can speak for Clark when I say we were both glad we could help out."
"Heck, instead of stealing my money, those guys say hey to me these days."
Ten minutes later, the Boy of Steel stopped at the nurses' station to thank them for the good work they did.
After they left, one nurse said to the other, "I'd say a visit from Superboy was probably better medicine than any we have in this hospital."
Smallville High School English teacher Mr. Nolt finished passing out the test papers to his students.
"Class, you have thirty minutes to complete the test. You may begin."
Lana Lang, Clark Kent and Noel Neill began right away with question one. Pete Ross glanced over the entire exam before beginning.
Clark could have finished the exam in seconds but had to hold back and took the test as his Earth companions were. A third of the way through the time allowed, he was a bit past a third of the test when he and everyone else heard the noise of heavy shoes running down the main hall towards the front door. The deserted old wooden floors of the hall gave off a good echo. Seconds later, the emergency alarm sounded along with an announcement from Principal Winters.
"Attention, attention. We have a situation requiring everyone to exit the building immediately. Please exit your classrooms as quickly and calmly as possible, moving to the front door area. Do not go to the back part of the building. I repeat, do not go to the back part of the building."
"You heard him, class. Try to stay together once when get outside," Nolt ordered, as he led his students out into the now very busy hall. Other than competing for space in the hallway, the evacuation went fairly smoothly. The Principal and faculty moved all the kids back from the building about fifty feet.
"I smelled smoke in the hall," Pete informed those around him.
"Yeah, me too," another agreed.
"Gosh, it's cold out here," Noel complained. "Wish I had my coat."
"Hey, where's Clark? I don't see Clark anywhere," Pete observed.
"Yeah, what could have happened to him?"
Lana snidely answered, "Ha, maybe he ran into an alley, took off his glasses and turned into Superboy."
"That's not funny, Lana," Pete snapped back at her.
Lana's sarcastic comment turned out to be, in part, accurate. Kent had gone upstream in the bodies of students, disobeying the Principal's instruction. Discovering the furnace room completely engulfed in thick, grey smoke, he darted in.
"In this dense smoke, no one will see me switch to Superboy."
Using his x-ray vision, he located the school's huge, but old, coal furnace. Opening the door of the cast iron monster, he used his super breath to completely blow out the flames, rendering the unit useless. Then with another breath, he inhaled until the room was void of any sign of the dark vapor.
"That takes care of the problem. Now to rejoin the others."
A minute later, as Kent reached the front of the building by walking around the outside, three Smallville Fire Department engines reached their destination.
"There he is," Noel shouted.
"O.K., where have you been, roaming boy?" Lana inquired.
"Gosh, I got pushed and shoved around in the crowd in the hall and ended up going out the side door."
"Well, glad you're all right," she admitted.
Fifteen minutes passed before the fire chief came back out and called Winters to the top of the steps to give him a report.
The principal, always loving the spotlight, turned to address the crowd as if he were a Roman orator.
"Fortunately, the building suffered no damage. But the furnace has been turned off, meaning the building will become cold quickly, so I am dismissing class for the remainder of the day." There was a roar. "Quiet! I intend to get the furnace people out here as soon as possible, so as of now, your educational experience will resume tomorrow morning at the normal time. If, by chance, that the furnace is not repaired by that time, I will have an announcement on the Smallville radio station tomorrow morning. That is all."
"Thank goodness!" Lana said. "How that man can go on."
Everyone retrieved their school books and coats, and soon the campus was deserted of young people.
Jonathan Kent had to look at his watch when son Clark entered their store more than three hours earlier than scheduled. The lad explained the excitement of the furnace problems at Smallville High.
"Sorry to hear that, but I'm glad you were able to minimize the damage," the elder Kent stated. "Actually, it's convenient...in a way. Martha called about twenty minutes ago. She said the desk lamp has flashed several times this morning, so you might want to contact the SPD."
"Yeah, I'll do that right away. I'll use the phone in the back room."
A moment later, a voice sounded, "Good afternoon, Smallville Police Department. O'Hara speaking."
"This is Superboy calling. Has the department been trying to reach me?"
"Yes we have, Superboy. Bill Henderson wanted you to know that the Silsby PD picked up Jason Jarvis this morning. Bill has gone to pick him up and bring him back to Smallville for questioning. He said you're welcome to sit in if you wish. Said he should be back around two o'clock."
"Please tell Mr. Henderson that I will be there. Thank you."
Right on the dot of two, the Boy of Steel entered the police building and went directly to Henderson's office, where the veteran officer sat at his desk.
"Ah, Superboy, come on in. Maybe now we'll get to the bottom of the explosion at the Jarvis farm."
"We're holding him in a room down the hall. Since he's under eighteen, I can't question him without a parent present. And with Jasper still in the hospital, I had to call Mrs. Jarvis. She's on her way. Hold on," he stopped. "Here she is now. Come in, Mrs. Jarvis."
A woman in her late forties, Arthie Jarvis looked every day her age. A careworn complexion and hands that hadn't been smooth in two decades.
"What is this all about, Mr. Henderson? Why in the world do you have my boy here? What has he done?"
"We need to question him, Mrs. Jarvis, about your husband getting hurt?"
"And you think Jason had something to do with that? Why, that's ridiculous!"
"We have to check out all possibilities, ma'am. Let me show you to him. Superboy, will you join us?"
"I believe I'll wait outside the door. I don't want to be a distraction. I'll observe by using my x-ray vision and super hearing."
The teenager sat at an old metal table, his foot continuously tapping the floor. Upon seeing his mother enter with Henderson, he blasted, "What's she doing here? I don't want her here!"
"Under the law, Jason, since you're underage, a parent has to be with you during questioning."
"How are you, Jason?" she asked.
"How does it look? Picked up by the cops. I wasn't hurtin' anyone. Just minding my own business. Does she really have to be here?"
"All right, settle down, Jason," Henderson ordered. "Yes she does. I just need to ask you some questions about your father."
"My father? What about my father?"
"Are you saying you don't know?" the cop continued.
"Know? Know what? Ya gonna let me in on your little secret because I don't know what you're talking about."
"Someone tried to kill your father, Jason."
"This a joke?" Henderson shook his head no. "Well, is he O.K.?"
"He will be, in a few weeks, that is. But right now, he's up the street in a hospital bed with a severe concussion. Whoever rigged an explosive to the barn door didn't quite get the job done. Where were you, Jason, this past Monday, between nine a.m. and, say, four in the afternoon?"
"You think I had something to do with that? Kill my own father? You're nuts!" The boy lit a cigarette.
"Well, did you?" Henderson continued.
"Look, he and I haven't been getting along lately, but I wouldn't kill him!"
"Might solve the problem," Bill suggested.
"And so would moving out, which is what I did! Listen, am I under arrest? If not, I'm splittin'."
The officer thought for a minute, then stood up, "Yes you are. Jason Jarvis, you're under arrest for the attempted murder of Jasper Jarvis. You have the right to remain silent. If you give up that right, anything you say may be used against you in a court of law. You also have a right to an attorney. If you can't afford an attorney, one will be provided free of charge by the state. Do you understand the rights I have just described?"
"Yeah. And I don't have any money, so you'd better be getting that attorney, because I'm not saying another word until I have one. Ya got that? Now get her out of my sight."
Henderson opened the door and signaled for another officer.
"Murphy, take the boy and lock him up."
Arthie Jarvis had immediately left the police station, walking quickly and in tears.
The Boy of Steel had returned with Henderson to the cop's office.
"Well, Superboy, what's your gut tell you?"
"I'm not sure."
"He never answered my question about his whereabouts the day of the explosion. His aunt said he wasn't with her during the time frame when the charge could have been set. She told me he took off right after breakfast, a little before eight. Didn't say where he was going. Jasper told me he had been in the barn that morning until around nine, milking his cows. The explosion happened after four. He left the farm during the morning to pick up supplies, didn't get back until noon. Fixed himself a sandwich for lunch, then went out to his pasture for several hours. He was chopping wood when the Kent boy arrived. So if Jason can't come up with a good witness to back him up, the boy had the opportunity to sneak on the property and rig the bomb. And motive-wise, we know the relationship with Jasper was volatile. They almost came to blows before he took off before Christmas. I'm sure the D.A. would feel he has enough to prosecute."
"I'll agree that's a good argument," the Boy of Steel admitted. "Still, barring an alibi, it's all circumstantial. You know what, Mr. Henderson, I have an idea."
"I'm open to suggestions."
"Maybe if someone around his age sat down with Jason, he might open up a little."
"Well, he said he won't talk again until he has counsel."
"That's fine. Let his attorney be present. He can stop Jason from saying anything incriminating."
"I'll go along with you, Superboy. I'll let you know as soon as he gets a lawyer."
"Oh, I wasn't thinking about my talking with him. He'd see me as a police associate. He wouldn't talk to me. I was thinking of Clark Kent."
"Sure. Kent's the one who went out to talk with Jason in the first place. He could use the fact that he could have been killed in the blast as a means of maybe reaching Jason's good side, and I'm not convinced Jason's a lost cause, at least, not yet."
"You think Kent would be agreeable?"
"Well, I can't answer for Clark, but it's worth a shot, isn't it?"
"I guess so. All he can say is no. I'll call him as soon as I line up a lawyer for Jarvis. Guess I'll give Aherne, the Public Defender, a call."
"Ah, Mr. Aherne."
"Oh, that's right. You know him. He, uh, well...never mind."
"It's O.K. Mr. Henderson. You can say it. He shredded my testimony to pieces in that bank robbery case. I thought for a while that the judge was going to charge me with contempt."
"He was just doing his job, Superboy."
"Oh, I know that. There's no hard feelings."
"Clark's probably at the store. I'll call him as soon as I talk to Aherne."
"In that case, I'll be going," the super hero stated.
Late in the afternoon of the next day, desk sergeant O'Hara answered an incoming call.
"Smallville Police Department, O'Hara speaking."
"Hello, this is Superboy. If Clark Kent happens to be there, may I speak to him, please?"
"Sure, Superboy, he's here. Hold on."
The phone on Henderson's desk sounded.
"Henderson," he answered.
"Hello, this is Superboy. If Clark Kent happens to be there, may I speak to him, please?"
"Yes, he's right here. For you, Clark. It's Superboy."
"Thanks." He took the receiver. "Hello?" There was a pause. "Actually I was getting ready to give Officer Henderson a report of my meeting with Jason Jarvis." Another pause. "Yes, I can do that," he responded, placing the receiver on top of the desk. "He wants to listen in," Kent told the policeman.
"Good. So, how did it go?"
Clark began, "Jason started off a little hostile, you know, like I was butting into his business, but as we talked, he calmed down. I didn't discuss his arrest or even what happened. We just talked 'guy stuff.' His quitting school, the problems at home. On several occasions, he said he was not the person the police wanted, that he didn't do it. Each time, Mr. Aherne cautioned him not to talk about it. Then we'd get back to school, girls...things like that. I felt like I shouldn't press my luck, so I wrapped it up. But he did thank me for coming by. He seemed genuinely grateful, as if he really needed someone around his age that he could talk to. Mr. Henderson, I'm not sure if he did it or not."
"Superboy feels the same way. But the District Attorney believes he has enough for a conviction. The boy had motive and opportunity. But until I'm instructed, the case is still open."
"Kent picked back up the receiver, "Did you hear all that, Superboy?" There was a long pause. Kent put up his hand to Henderson to signify Superboy was talking. "All right, I'll pass along your idea. Yes, right away. Thank you. Bye."
Kent handed the phone back to Henderson, informing him the Boy of Steel was gone. The police officer hung up the receiver. On the other end of the line, Jonathan, who had been listening, hung up as well. He then took the portable tape recorder with Superboy's recorded voice and placed it under the main counter of the general store.
"Superboy has another idea?" Henderson inquired.
"Yes sir, he does. He hopes you'll go along with his plan. This is what he suggests..."
All eyes were focused towards the head of the table occupied by Smallville's District Attorney Bruton. Seated around the old, scratched piece of furniture were Jason Jarvis, Public Defender Aherne, Officer Bill Henderson and Arthie Jarvis. The Boy of Steel stood out of the limelight.
"Jason," Bruton began, "I want you to understand that I don't have to be here this afternoon. I came at the request of Bill Henderson...and Superboy. My office is ready to put you on trial for the attempted murder of your father."
"BUT I DIDN'T DO IT!" the boy stated.
"Mr. Aherne, please keep your client under control, or this meeting is over."
Aherne whispered into Jason's ear.
"Now," the DA continued, "Mr. Jarvis, if either you or your attorney might have had the idea that I came here this afternoon to offer you the opportunity to plead down to a lesser charge, you are mistaken. As I said, I'm ready to proceed with my case against you for attempted murder."
"I DIDN'T DO IT!" the boy insisted once again.
"Son, I have been Smallville's District Attorney for over fifteen years now, and I can honestly tell you that I can count on one hand the number of people charged with serious crimes of this nature who admitted that they did it. Almost everyone claims they didn't do it. So your outbursts mean nothing to me. You had both the motive and the opportunity to commit this crime, and one thing you should consider is that the panel that will make up the jury that hears your case, the huge majority of them will most likely be parents, mothers and fathers. And considering that you're charged with trying to kill, not a stranger or even an acquaintance, but your parent, well...these folks are going to be thinking about that during your trial, thinking this could be their child who tried to kill them. That is definitely going to work against you. So..."
"I would never try to kill my father. Just because we weren't getting along..."
Aherne stopped him. "Hush, Jason, I told you."
"Quiet," demanded DA Bruton. "I never take a criminal case to trial unless I feel, at least, 98% certain I can get a conviction. Believe me, son, I've won cases similar to this one with the same amount of evidence. Now, Mr. Aherne here is a fine defense attorney, but he probably feels, and I know he won't say so here, that the emotions of the jury are going to make the difference when we get to court. I certainly feel that way. A group of parents deciding the fate of a kid accused of killing his father. Well..."
"You're sure you won't offer us any kind of deal?" Jason's lawyer asked.
"Pleading to a lesser charge? Like I have already said, no. But this is what I will do. If your client confesses to the charge and saves us the trouble of a trial, I will strongly recommend to Judge Hamilton that at sentencing, he not give your client the maximum sentence, which is twenty-five years. I'll recommend just fifteen. Of course, the judge doesn't have to grant my request."
"JUST FIFTEEN!" the boy yelled. "I'm not going to jail for twenty-five or even just fifteen years! I didn't do this! Mr. Aherne, HELP ME!"
"And we're not talking fifteen to twenty-five years in the Smallville jail. Son, we're talking either Hutchinson, El Dorado or Lansing State Prisons. And, believe me, these are not nice places. And since you're being tried as an adult, fifteen years or longer, well, that will be an eternity. And if you make it, you'll be around forty years old when you get out. Your twenties and thirties will be a wash. But maybe you should have thought about that before you rigged that dynamite."
"BUT I DIDN'T! PLEASE BELIEVE ME!"
"Sorry Jason, I guess we're finished here. I'll see you in court." The DA rose from his chair.
"STOP! STOP! I DID IT!"
Everyone spun around to Arthie Jarvis's direction. Her eyes were filled with tears. She stood up ranting that they can't put her son in prison for something she had done.
"This has gone far enough! I'm the one you want! I did it!"
Bruton sat back in his chair. "Now, Mrs. Jarvis, it's very noble of you to take the blame for your son, but I just don't buy it."
"What, you mean, because I'm a woman I can't booby trap a barn door to blow up? You give me no more credit that Jasper has all these years."
Henderson jumped in, asking, "Mrs. Jarvis, why would you want to kill your husband? You two have been married twenty years."
"Twenty years of hell!" she shouted."
"Mrs. Jarvis, you shouldn't say another word," Aherne advised.
"Why? It doesn't matter any more. I did it. I hate Jasper Jarvis. I wanted him dead. I set the dynamite. It's my luck that it didn't kill him."
"Jason. You saw how it was living with that man. He didn't treat me like a wife. He looked at me more as a mule, one of his farm animals, a servant. Cook the meals, wash the clothes, clean the house...day after day. If his dinner was five minutes late, I heard about it for a week. And when I suggested we come into town and eat out once in a while, you'd think I was asking for a miracle. And a new dress, well, forget it. 'You got a closet full of clothes,' he'd yell. Yeah, a closet full of clothes ten years old, worn to a frazzle. And the worst thing of all, he turned my own son against me, drove my only child away. I haven't been living in a house. I've been living in a prison already, so I figured, if I got caught, another prison wouldn't be any worse. But when you arrested Jason... Do what you have to do, Mr. Bruton. Just let my boy out of here. He's been telling the truth. He had nothing to do with it."
"Ma'am, you want me to believe you knew how to rig up that explosive?"
"Dynamite is part of a farm. I've been blowing up stumps since I married that monster. I had it all ready to go, just waited for the chance to set the charge. That morning, after he finished his milking and went to town in the truck, I wired it to the barn door, then got in the car and left. Just drove. Came back just before dark. Police were there. They told me what happened, and that Jasper had survived and was in the hospital. They also told me about the Kent boy. I'm so sorry about him, just thankful he wasn't hurt. So I went to the hospital and pretended to care he was going to live."
"Mrs. Jarvis, I'll need you make a formal statement and sign it," the DA informed her.
"Whatever you want. Take me to the judge, Mr. Bruton. As I said, twenty years in prison in my own home...state prison won't be any worse. At least I won't have to see that monster every day." Looking at her son, "Jason, honey, I'm so sorry things went the way they did. But I want you to always remember you have been the only bright spot in my life since the day you came into this world."
"I'm sorry, too, Mom," was all the youngster could muster through his tears.
"C'mon, Mrs. Jarvis. You'll need to come with me," Henderson requested.
Officer William J. Henderson and the Boy of Steel waited in the lobby of Smallville Hospital. Murder target Jasper Jarvis was going home.
Every few minutes, Superboy glanced over towards the reception desk. Each time, his eyes met a wink from hospital employee Diane Holland. He would smile.
"Looks like you have an admirer, Superboy," Henderson joked.
"Oh, you noticed?" he asked.
"I'd have to be blind not to," the cop laughed.
Just then the elevator gave a bing sound. The door opened, and a nurse rolled the wheel chair containing Jarvis towards the front door. Walking behind the nurse was son Jason.
"I know you're glad to be going home, Jasper," Henderson stated.
"I sure am. And Jason's going home with me."
Jason smiled. "Dad and I have been talking, and we decided that we're going to start over."
"Bill, it took something like this to open my eyes and for me to realize what a fool I've been all this time. But Jason and I are going to make it work, and he's going back to school."
"I sure am. Starting back Monday. Clark Kent is going to help me get caught up with what I have missed this semester. Actually, Clark's the one who convinced me to go back."
"Well, that's great," Henderson replied. "I wish you both the best. Let me know if I can do anything for you."
"Thanks, Bill," Jasper responded. "I can't do any heavy work for a couple of weeks, so most of the farm duties will have to wait. We're going to concentrate on Jason's studies."
Superboy jumped in, "While you're on the mend, Mr. Jarvis, I'll come by every day and take care of the farm chores."
"Now, Superboy, you're not a farm boy."
"Well, you can teach me to be one. I'll be out to your place tomorrow."
"I don't know what to say," the humbled man answered.
"Say goodbye and go home," the Boy of Steel laughed.
Jason brought the truck around to the entrance, helped his parent inside, and they pulled away.
"What do you think, Superboy, can they get along after all that has happened?"
"I hope they can. Time will tell. But it's nice to see them reunited and being civil to one another."
"Well, they're not the only ones to be reunited. Edith Ellsworth is going home tomorrow, so she and Rusty can begin their new lives together without Earl."
"That's great news!" the Boy of Steel remarked. "You know, Mr. Henderson, how bizarre...two Smallville homes ripped apart by losing a family member. And now, parent and son carrying on, hoping to get past their tragedies. I hope they make it."
"Smallville...a quaint little town, I'm not so sure."
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"Like The Only Real Magic -- The Magic Of Knowledge"