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Five Minutes To Doom — Epilogue
by Tom Nichol

Based on the episode of the same name
in the Adventures of Superman (1953).

A week had passed since the dramatic events that had culminated in Joe Winters being saved, literally at the last possible moment, from being wrongfully executed for a murder he had not committed. Since then, Thaddeus Wayne, the unscrupulous contractor who had framed Winters, had been arrested and charged, not only with murder, but with a variety of other offenses, including the attempted murder of Lois Lane and Clark Kent, tampering with evidence, extortion, and fraud, Indeed, the district attorney’s office was still investigating the case, and so was the FBI, since there was a distinct possibility that federal racketeering statutes had also been violated.

Lois, Clark, and Jimmy Olsen were discussing the aftermath of the case with their boss, Perry White, the owner/publisher of the Metropolis Daily Planet. A former mayor of Metropolis, and a trained attorney in his own right, Perry had had dealings with Thaddeus Wayne on numerous occasions over the years. He had long suspected Wayne of racketeering, but had never been able to obtain any proof. Now, however, partly as a result of Jimmy’s impetuously posing as a vacuum cleaner salesman, and sucking out most of the fragments of several crucial documents from the wastebasket next to Wayne’s desk, the case had been blown wide open. The remaining fragments had been found in a proper search of Wayne’s offices, along with numerous other documents which proved the extent of Wayne’s criminal enterprises. The articles in the Daily Planet resulting from that search had directly prompted the FBI to enter into the case, and had shocked the Planet’s readership to its very core.

Joe Winters, Wayne’s intended victim, had been pardoned by the Governor of Kansas, and the record of his arrest, trial, and conviction had been officially expunged. In addition to the $10,000 which the Daily Planet had paid him for the story that had led to his exoneration, the state legislature of Kansas had unanimously voted to award the Winters family $5,000,000 in compensation for the ordeal that they had been subjected to. Also, on the advice of his attorneys, Joe Winters had filed a civil suit against Wayne and his literal partners-in-crime for wrongful arrest and wrongful prosecution in connection with the case.

What’ll happen if he wins the suit, Mr. White?” Jimmy asked his employer.

Well, Jimmy, that will be up to the courts to decide,” Perry responded. “Because of the complex nature of the case, it may be years before a final decision is reached. One thing is certain, however; Wayne’s business will be put out of business... permanently! Hopefully, Winters and his family will be awarded both compensatory and punitive damages as a result. “

More importantly,” Clark put in, “Wayne himself will almost certainly go to the electric chair in Joe Winters’ place for the murder Winters was wrongly accused of!”

Even if he doesn’t,” Lois observed, “with all the charges stacking up against him, and with the evidence that’s been accumulated, at the very minimum, Wayne will be facing a sentence of life without parole, on both the state and the federal levels!”

Jimmy’s face clouded over at this point. Seeing this, Perry asked, “Is something wrong, Olsen?” The young redhead nodded.

I’m concerned about the legality of the way in which I obtained those document fragments with that vacuum cleaner in Wayne’s office. I’ve read some comments to the effect that my actions might result in that evidence being thrown out of court! If that happens....”

Perry shook his head. “It won’t happen, son,” the editor replied. “I’ve already discussed that with both the district attorney here in Metropolis, and with the U.S. Attorney’s office. Both of those agencies are of the opinion that, because what you did helped to save an innocent man’s life, and helped to expose a major criminal enterprise, you’re protected from either civil or criminal liability. Although your actions were impetuous, to say the least, they were still within the bounds of legality. Given the circumstances, I’m positive that both the state and federal judiciary will turn down any such claim Wayne and his cohorts might make!”

As it turned out, Perry’s predictions were squarely on target. Thaddeus Wayne was subsequently tried and convicted of more than a dozen different charges. Of these, the most serious was, of course, the murder for which Joe Winters had been so wrongfully framed. It took the jury trying the case less than fifteen minutes to find Thaddeus Wayne guilty on all counts, and to recommend the death penalty. The presiding judge did not hesitate to impose just that penalty, citing Wayne’s cruel, cold-blooded efforts, not only to murder Joe Winters, but Clark Kent and Lois Lane as well. He also imposed the maximum prison sentences allowed by law on all the other charges Wayne and his cohorts had been convicted of, and the maximum fines for each count as well.

In spite of all his attorneys’ efforts to the contrary, Wayne’s appeals, both State and Federal, were all resoundingly turned down. On the second anniversary of Joe Winters’ narrow escape from death, his adversary, Thaddeus Wayne, was executed in the same electric chair which he had intended to be used on Winters. Perry, Clark, Lois, Jimmy, and the Winters family were all present at the execution. When at last Thaddeus Wayne was officially declared dead, they silently walked out of the State Prison, their facial expressions solemn. None of them took any pleasure in what they had just witnessed, but they all realized that a brutal, heartless, cold-blooded murderer had now been punished as he deserved.

Jimmy Olsen’s face bore an especially thoughtful look as the group prepared to go their separate ways. Seeing this, Perry put an arm around Jimmy’s shoulders. “Something wrong, son?” he quietly asked. Jimmy shook his head. “Not wrong, Mr. White, as such,” he responded. “It’s just that there’s a line from an old Sherlock Holmes story that seems unusually appropriate at this moment. In fact, I haven’t been able to get it out of my head all day!” “Oh? Which Sherlock Holmes story are you talking about, Jim?” Lois asked. “’The Adventure of the Speckled Band’, Miss Lane,” the young red head replied. “And the line from that story?” Clark inquired.

For a long moment, the young reporter was silent. Then, taking a deep breath, he quietly responded, “'Violence does in truth recoil upon the violent, and the schemer falls into the pit which he digs for another!'” His colleagues nodded their agreement. Then, after solemnly shaking hands with the Winters family, they headed back to the office.

Posted: August 10, 2017

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