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Great Caesar's Ghost — Epilogue
by Tom Nichol

Based on the episode of the same name from the
Adventures of Superman

A week had passed since the surviving members of the Morley gang had striven to drive Perry White, owner and editor of the Metropolis Daily Planet, into an emotional state that would render him incapable of testifying against them in their trial on a charge of murdering their former leader. They had made this attempt by playing on Perry’s habit of exclaiming “Great Caesar’s Ghost!” in place of profanity whenever he became upset. The new head of the gang had made himself up to look like Julius Caesar and had appeared to Perry and called out to him in ways that were intended to seem supernatural. Even Jarvis, Perry’s long-time butler, had been recruited into this nefarious effort.

That effort had been dramatically foiled, however, thanks to the efforts of Jimmy Olsen and Superman. The Man of Steel had disguised himself to resemble Morley, and had appeared to the gang, warning them that he now intended to haunt them in direct retaliation for their conspiracy against him. The three criminals had thereupon confessed to murdering their former leader, a confession which Jimmy had captured on his tape recorder. Inspector William Henderson of the Metropolis Police Department, who had been in on the scheme, promptly arrested the three men and took them to headquarters, where a night magistrate had instantly ordered them held without bond.

In an incredible testimony to the resiliency of the human spirit, Perry had appeared in court the very next day, and had given absolutely damning evidence against the three criminals. On hearing the additional testimony of Perry White, Jimmy Olsen, and Inspector Henderson as to the three men’s efforts to reduce Perry to a state of insanity, the jury had promptly convicted all three men of the murder of their former leader. Jarvis, who had joined in the scheme unwillingly, and who had no prior criminal record, was placed on probation and released. The other two surviving gangsters, however, had been firmly sentenced to death. In an unbelievable act of compassion, Perry had forgiven Jarvis, and reinstated him in his position as butler. Needless to say, Jarvis had been grateful beyond words to his employer, and publicly vowed never to participate in any further criminal acts of any sort again as long as he lived.

The staff of the Metropolis Daily Planet had been in an understandable mood to celebrate when their boss had returned to work the following Monday. Although he was glad to be back, however, Perry gently but firmly informed his subordinates that he would simply prefer that they get on with their work and be done with it. Realizing that recent events had taken a toll on their boss in spite of everything, the staff reluctantly complied with their employer’s wishes.

That toll became a matter of increasing concern to Clark Kent, Lois Lane, and Jimmy Olsen, the three staff members who worked more closely with Perry than anyone else at the Planet. Jimmy, who was especially sensitive in such matters, kept a close watch on his boss. His concern was heightened when, much to his surprise, Jarvis had personally telephoned Jimmy to inform of his own concerns about their mutual employer.

I believe, Sir, that recent events have sent Mr. White into a state of depression, given the emotional roller-coaster ride he’s been through and all,” Jarvis explained, “and of course there’s almost always an emotional reaction of some sort after a crisis such as this one is over and gone. He had a physical examination before all of this happened, and his doctor reported that he’s in excellent health for a man of his age. In fact, Sir,” Jarvis added, deliberately lowering his voice to a whisper, “his age may be part of the problem.”

What do you mean, Jarvis?” Jimmy inquired, lowering his own voice to a whisper as if by instinct.

Well, you see, Mr. Olsen,” the butler responded, “Mr. White’s birthday is coming up the day after tomorrow!”

Jimmy stiffened with alarm when he heard those words. Perry White had always waved off any attempts to celebrate his birthday. The ordeal he had so recently come out of had only served to remind the older man of his own mortality, and in the worst possible way. The young ginger instantly realized that what his elderly boss needed right now was a strong dose of reassurance. His birthday, properly handled, would be the perfect time to give him that reassurance. He explained this to Jarvis, asking him not to mention the call to Perry unless Jimmy told him otherwise. Then, after thanking Jarvis for informing him about the situation, Jimmy hung up the phone.

The following morning, Jimmy came in to work at his usual time—only to find his two colleagues and Inspector Henderson talking just outside Clark’s office with a worried look on their faces. The reason for their expressions soon revealed itself.

You need to be very careful in talking to the Chief, Jimmy,” Lois informed him.

Yes, very careful!” Clark emphasized quietly, as the Inspector nodded his agreement.

He’s in an extremely foul mood, son,” Henderson added grimly, “and if you’re not extremely careful, he’s liable to bite your head off on the slightest provocation –”

Or on none at all!” Lois concluded. Grimly, Jimmy nodded his understanding, realizing that his employer was still reeling emotionally from the Morley gang’s machinations.

Just then, Perry came out of his office with a world-class set of storm clouds on his brow. He had been on the phone for the past several minutes, and the expression on his face showed clearly that the conversation had not been a pleasant one.

Is something wrong, Mr. White?” Jimmy asked quietly, trying his best to avoid provoking his employer.

YES, something’s wrong, MIS-ter Olsen!” the editor replied, in tones of acid that would have seared the skin of a crocodile. “That wretched schmuck the Morley gang has for an attorney just spent the last five minutes chewing me out for daring to testify against his clients. He blamed me for their conviction and death sentence, and said that, in his appeal, he was going to do everything in his power to make my testimony the grounds for getting their conviction and death sentence overturned! He even said he was going to go after poor Jarvis and put all the blame on him, when I know for a fact that THEY were the ones to blame for getting him involved in the first place!”

As Jimmy and his friends reeled in shock, trying to process what they had just heard, the owner and publisher of the Daily Planet continued to rant and rave for a full five minutes, unloading on Jimmy increasingly as he did so. Understandably, the young ginger’s face began to turn as red as his hair as his employer proceeded, his jaw muscles bulging with anger. Clark and Lois’s faces also became increasingly dark with rage, and so did that of Inspector Henderson.

Finally, Jimmy could simply take no more. Before any of the others could stop him, the young James Bartholomew Olsen simply exploded with fury, bellowing at the top of his lungs, “CHIEF! SHUT UP!!” As the elder journalist’s mouth dropped open in astonishment, Jimmy went on, “This kind of behavior is just not worthy of you, Mr. White! You’re wallowing in self-pity! You’re making a fool of yourself right here in front of everyone—which is probably what the Morley gang’s attorney wanted in the first place! Don’t you see, Mr. White? They’re trying to accomplish this way what they couldn’t accomplish when they pulled that stupid Julius Caesar stunt at your house! You ought to know better, Mr. White! This newspaper deserves better from you than what you just did! Mr. Kent deserves better than that! Miss Lane deserves better than that! Inspector Henderson deserves better than that! And, yes, for whatever it’s worth, I deserve better than that—and for that matter, Sir, so do you!!”

As the other four people around him stood with their mouths wide open, the young ginger concluded his rebuke of his employer by saying, “It all comes down to two words, Mr. White--” He paused just long enough to take a deep breath, then again bellowed at the top of his lungs, GROW UP!!” With those words, Jimmy turned on his heel and stormed away, in the direction of the nearest men’s rest room.

For a long moment, Clark, Lois, the Inspector, and especially Perry White himself, remained silent. Then, finally, Inspector Henderson spoke up in an awestruck whisper: “What in the world was that?”

That, Inspector,” Clark replied, his face again turning dark with anger, “was Mr. James Bartholomew Olsen giving a very creditable impression of the explosion of Mount Krakatoa in human form –” he paused for a moment, giving his now white-faced boss as stern a look as he ever had, then concluded, “and deservedly so!”

As the normally blustery Editor-In-Chief of the Daily Planet now hung his head in shame, Inspector William J. Henderson took command of the situation. Pointing in the direction that Jimmy had just taken, his voice and his face both as steely as any of his three friends had ever experienced, he commanded, “Perry White—if you want ANY of us here to ever speak to you again, you go find Jimmy and apologize to him in the humblest terms you can summon up—AND I MEAN RIGHT NOW!!” Without a word, Perry nodded and headed for the men’s room.

To his immense relief, he found his young employee still in the men’s room, leaning over one of the hand sinks, crying bitterly. The older man groaned inside as he realized how badly his young friend’s feelings had been injured. As he slowly entered the rest room, Perry beheld an expression on Jimmy’s face that showed him only too clearly that the young cub reporter had been torn apart inside. Now, it was up to him to at least try to repair the emotional damage he had inflicted on his junior employee.

Jimmy looked up and saw Perry coming into the room. Before he could say a word, however, his employer held up his hands in a gesture of surrender. “Jimmy,” he said softly, “may I talk to you for a few moments—PLEASE?” His anger already beginning to fade away, Jimmy wordlessly nodded his head. Taking a deep breath, Perry began the process of eating crow: “I’m sorry, son—I really am! You had every right to chew me up and spit me out the way you did! I deserved every bit of what you gave me—and a lot more besides, if the truth be known! I should have realized what the Morley gang’s attorney was up to, especially having been trained as an attorney myself!”

Jimmy nodded his understanding. “I didn’t enjoy chewing you out like that, Mr. White—I really didn’t!” he said quietly. Then moving closer to his employer, he put his hands on the older man’s shoulders, he went on, “But sometimes, when you care about somebody—sometimes you simply have to yell at them to help them understand the truth!”

Putting his hand on Jimmy’s shoulders in return, Perry responded, “You’re right, son—you’re absolutely right! And I do appreciate the fact that you cared enough about me to yell at me the way you did!”

I know there have been plenty of times when I’ve given you reason to yell at me, Sir – ” Jimmy began.

Perry held up his hand and gently interrupted his younger colleague, “Yes, and I’m sure I’ve probably yelled at you too many times, son—far too many, in fact! But I
will try to do better in the future. Fair enough?”

More than fair, Mr. White,” Jimmy replied, a smile beginning to return to his face at long last, “And I’ll do the same!” He thereupon extended his right hand to his employer, who warmly shook it. Then, suddenly, the two men embraced each other for a long and wonderful moment.

As they released each other, Perry said, “Now, let’s get back out there and tell the others we’ve reconciled our differences before they decide to send out a search party for us!”

Yeah!” the young ginger chuckled, as he held the door open for his employer.

Just outside Clark’s office, Clark, Lois, and Inspector Henderson were waiting anxiously. Then, suddenly, Lois pointed and cried, “LOOK!” The trio all sighed with immense relief as they saw Jimmy and Perry walking toward them, smiles on their faces.

Jimmy called out to them, “It’s all right, folks—we’ve made peace!”

Thank God!” Lois whispered.

Amen!” her two companions replied.

The quintet thereupon went into Perry’s private office, where Perry explained the call from the Morley gang’s attorney in more detail. Inspector Henderson was furious. “That’s unprofessional conduct from a fellow lawyer, Perry!” he cried, his face now flaming red with anger. “You need to report that schmuck to the State Bar Association right now and start proceedings against him to have his law license revoked—PERMANENTLY!!”

I agree, Chief!” Clark added. “You also need to notify the District Attorney’s office so that they can investigate.” Turning to the Inspector, he asked, “Can you take care of that for us, Bill?”

You bet I can, Clark,” the Inspector rejoined hotly, “that is, if Perry here gives me permission to do so!”

You have it, Inspector!” Perry shot back.

Just then Jimmy spoke up. “You don’t happen to have a recording of that conversation, do you, Mr. White? If so, that would give the Bar Association an airtight case against him!”

Yes,” Henderson added, “not to mention more than enough evidence to support a charge of criminal intimidation against that schlemiel – which is a felony all by itself!”

For answer, Perry White opened a drawer in his desk, revealing a tape recorder, which was connected to Perry’s private phone line. “I sometimes find it necessary to record my phone conversations, although of course I notify the party on the other end of the line that I’m doing so.”

Henderson nodded his understanding, then asked, “Did that conversation get recorded?”

We’ll soon find out,” Perry responded. He thereupon rewound the tape for a few seconds, then activated the playback mechanism.

Much to Perry’s surprise, the entire conversation between himself and the Morley gang’s attorney had been recorded in complete—and infuriating—detail. By the time the playback had concluded, all four of the faces of Perry’s associates were brick red with anger. “No wonder you were so angry when you first came out of the office, Chief!” Lois exclaimed. “Yes, but that still didn’t give you the right to jump all over poor Jimmy the way you did,” Clark pointed out, giving his boss a look of disapproval.

In response, Perry nodded his agreement. “You’re right, Clark, of course,” he answered, “but, as Jimmy here will tell you, I’ve already eaten a substantial amount of crow for my misconduct towards him!”

It’s true, Mr. Kent, he did,” Jimmy piped up in response, “but, please, let’s not go over that again – it’s too painful – for both Mr. White and me!” The others nodded their agreement.

At that point, Perry completely rewound the tape, removed it from the tape recorder, and gave it to Inspector Henderson. “We’ll make a copy of the tape and turn it over to the District Attorney’s office,” Henderson explained, “and then return the original to you so that you can forward it to the State Bar Association, so that they can start disbarment proceedings against this wretch!”

Fair enough, Inspector,” Perry replied. With that, the meeting broke up.

As soon as his three friends were out of Perry’s sight and hearing, Jimmy pulled them all aside, and pointed out that the next day was Perry White’s birthday. “I know he doesn’t like to make a big thing about his birthday,” Jimmy explained, “but in this case I honestly think he needs it – to let him know we all still care about him – you know what I mean?” His friends smiled warmly in response. Jimmy then outlined a plan he had come up with for a small party in Perry’s office the next day. His three comrades enthusiastically agreed, and thereupon went their separate ways.

After making sure that his work assignments for the day had been completed, Jimmy took the elevator down to the lobby of the Daily Planet building. Going out the main door, he turned to his right and headed for a small tobacco and cigar shop that Jimmy knew his boss frequented. The shop’s owner, a recent Cuban exile, was an expert in matters relating to pipes and cigars, both of which Perry smoked. Making sure that his employer did not see him, Jimmy explained the situation. “I want a full box of his favorite cigars in his favorite size – preferably gift-wrapped!” he requested emphatically. The owner, who knew and liked Perry, grinned enthusiastically. He insisted on giving Jimmy a substantial discount for the occasion. Gratefully, Jimmy wrote out a check for the purchase and handed it to him. “I'll pick it up from you the first thing in the morning,” he explained. The owner nodded his agreement, and shook hands with the young ginger, who thereupon made his way home. On the way, he stopped at a small shop that sold greeting cards, and picked out one that he felt best suited the occasion. After he reached home and had dinner with his mother, he thought long and hard as to an appropriate message, which he then inscribed upon the inside of the card. He grinned as he added one final touch, then tucked the card into its companion envelope and left it on his desk before going to bed.

Jimmy arrived at work before any of his friends did. Much to his delight, his beloved boss had not yet arrived either. Lois and Clark, followed by Inspector Henderson, arrived only moments later. They had just enough time to place a birthday cake, paper plates, plastic forks, paper napkins, and plastic glasses, along with a bottle of champagne, on the side table just before Perry entered the building. Jimmy placed his gift and birthday card on Perry’s desk, and they all slipped to either side of the office doors just a few moments before Perry came in.

Perry White stiffened as though he had been struck by a thunderbolt at the site of the gift box and card on his desk. Before he could utter a single word, however, the four conspirators all cried, “SURPRISE! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” and gathered around him to offer their congratulations. Blushing with pleasure in spite of himself, he warmly thanked them. As he did so, Inspector Henderson slipped around behind Perry and placed a second, larger gift box on Perry’s desk.

On turning around, Perry blinked in even greater surprise at the sight of the second gift box on his desk.

Well, come on, Chief, open them!” Lois urged.

Slowly, Perry sat down at his desk and opened the larger box first. He gasped in shock at the sight of a beautiful, Sherlock Holmes-style calabash meerschaum pipe, together with a pound of his favorite tobacco.

Well aren’t you going to open the other one, Chief?” Clark inquired, his blue eyes sparkling with mischief. As he com-plied with Clark’s request, everyone but Jimmy joined Perry in gasping with amazement at the sight of the box of cigars.

For a moment, there was silence. Then, slowly, his hands now trembling somewhat, Perry reached out and opened the envelope containing the birthday card. After reading it, he wordlessly showed it to Clark, Lois, and Henderson. They were all stunned as they read Jimmy’s message:

Dear Mr. White – As I started to tell you yesterday, I know I’ve given you a lot of reasons to yell at me since you hired me four years ago. Please remember, though, that I’m still young, and I know I still have a lot to learn about being a reporter. I can only hope that what this small gift will show you, in spite of all of that, is that I care – and I always will!

Jimmy Olsen

P.S.: Happy Birthday, Chief!”

As the others gazed at Jimmy in astonishment, all profoundly moved by the young ginger’s words, Perry White silently rose from his desk, tears clearly visible in his eyes. Then, suddenly, the often-cynical owner and editor of the Metropolis Daily Planet rushed forward and, for the second time in as many days, threw his arms around Jimmy in an unmistakable bear hug of unspeakable joy and gratitude. The two men then both burst into tears as their three comrades gathered around them in an embrace of their own . . .

It was several minutes before calm was finally restored. As Lois moved over to the side table to cut the cake and pour out the champagne, two messages came in to cap the day off completely. One was from the State Bar Association to whom Perry had delivered that tape of his conversation with the Morley gang’s attorney on his way home the night before. It stated that, on hearing the contents of the recording, they had immediately begun disbarment proceedings against the man. The other message was from the District Attorney himself, who reported that he had personally secured a warrant for the attorney’s arrest, and that the Court had firmly ordered the immediate suspension of his law license, and that he be held without bond pending his own trial on charges of criminal intimidation.

After the cake and champagne had been served and consumed, Clark and Lois returned to their own offices, while Henderson returned to Police Headquarters. As Jimmy prepared to return to his own desk, Perry stopped him just long enough to warmly thank the young ginger for his kindness. Jimmy promptly replied that it had been his pleasure, and the two men embraced again briefly before Jimmy finally returned to his desk.

The rest of the day was a busy one, and Jimmy did not see or speak to any of his colleagues again before the day was over. When he entered the City Room of the Daily Planet the next morning, he was shocked to find that his desk was gone! At the young journalist looked around in apprehension, Clark Kent suddenly came in, a mischievous glint in his eye. “Looking for something, Jimmy?” he asked.

Yeah, Mr. Kent, my desk!” Jimmy answered.

Did I hear you asking about your desk, Mr. Olsen?” a familiar voice boomed from behind him. Jimmy gasped and whirled in response. Sure enough, Perry White had sneaked up behind him. Jimmy did a double-take as he saw his boss slip Clark a mischievous wink.

All right, you two, what’s going on here?” he demanded.

For answer, Perry called out, “Lois, our Mr. Olsen here seems to have misplaced his desk! Do you know where it is, by any chance?”

It’s back here, Chief!” Lois called back.

With that, the three men proceeded to the area where the offices used by full reporters and the Editorial staff were located. Lois was standing just outside an office that had recently undergone renovation after one of the paper’s older staff members had died. The name plate, however, was missing. As Jimmy and his two companions approached, the office door suddenly opened, revealing a wickedly grinning Inspector Henderson. Then, as Jimmy looked on in astonishment, the Inspector and Clark proceeded to fasten a new nameplate to the outside of the office door. It read simply, “Jimmy Olsen.”

Jimmy’s mouth fell open. At the Daily Planet, he knew, only full reporters were allowed to have a private office. Unable to say a word—actually, he was afraid to at that moment – he turned to face his employer, whose own countenance was beaming at him warmly.

As you pointed out in that card, Jimmy,” Perry stated, “you’ve been with the Planet for four years now. In those four years, son, you’ve come a long, long way. You have made mistakes along the way, it’s true – but you have also learned from those mistakes! In addition, you’ve been directly responsible for a number of the Planet’s biggest and finest stories. That being the case, Clark, Lois, and I all feel that you amply deserve to be promoted to the rank of FULL reporter! In fact, son,” Perry went on, “if the truth be known, it’s actually long overdue! Congratulations!”

As the two men exchanged a warm handclasp, Perry added, “Oh, and before you ask – from now on, you most certainly MAY call me ‘Chief’! You’ve more than earned it!” As Jimmy almost reeled in ecstasy, Henderson asked, “Any comments to make, REPORTER Olsen?”

A devilish grin coming over his features, Jimmy replied, “There’s only one thing I can say at this moment that’s anywhere near being appropriate!”

Lois stiffened in shock. “Jimmy,” she said slowly, “you don’t mean--”

Yes, I do, Miss Lane, and I want you all to say it with me!” Jimmy replied.

As even Perry White began to chuckle, Jimmy went on, “All together, now—good and loud! 1, 2, 3!” The quintet fairly bellowed, GREAT CAESAR’S GHOST!”, and then all of them burst out laughing.

Posted: July 27, 2020

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