TAC Table of Contents
by Kirk Hastings
Robert Leslie Bellem Steve Post Whitney Ellsworth
Sgt. Helen J. O'Hara ... Joi Lansing
Mister X ................ John Eldredge
"Slats" Dugan ............ John Bennes
"Blinky" Evans ........... Harry Arnie
Duke Barlow .........Wayne Heffley
Abruptly an urgent police call came in over the scanner. Kent stopped what he was doing and turned the scanner's volume up.
"Cars 356, 497 and 298," the scanner blared. "Silent alarm just received from Fifth National Bank on Main Street. Robbery in progress. Proceed to location immediately ..."
By the time the report had been completed, Kent's office was empty. His gray, double-breasted suit lay in a heap on a nearby chair, and his office window was wide open, allowing the various sounds of the city to filter in.
"Hurry it up, lady, we ain't got all day!" shouted the man with a handkerchief tied over the lower half of his face. He waved his pistol in the teller's face as she nervously emptied the contents of her cash drawer into the open satchel that the man had put on the counter. A second man, who also had a handkerchief tied over his face, stood at the front door of the bank, his pistol pointed at the security guard who stood nearby with his hands upraised.
Finally the satchel was filled. The first man snapped it shut and headed quickly for the door. "Get down on the floor!" he yelled at the security guard, an older man, as he passed by him. The man complied, lying face down on the floor. He had already been relieved of his gun.
The two robbers fled out the door. They both hopped into a
dark sedan parked at the curb, the second man jumping behind
the wheel. He started the engine and put the car into gear, preparing
to roar away.
The driver of the getaway car calmly turned off the car's ignition and pulled the handkerchief off his face. His partner did the same. As armed police officers surrounded the car, the two men got out, their hands in the air.
"Don't get excited, guys," the driver said in a calm voice. "We give up."
"Yeah - we ain't gonna give you guys no trouble," the other robber added. Both men were smiling broadly, almost as if they were enjoying being captured.
A short while later, at police headquarters, Superman entered the office of Inspector William J. Henderson. Henderson was sitting behind his desk, leaning back in his chair, a frown on his face.
"What's the matter, Inspector?" Superman asked him, coming over to his desk. "We caught the bank robbers red-handed. But you don't look very happy about it."
"I'm not," Henderson replied. "I just found out that those two were only a decoy. While you were apprehending them, two other crooks were in the process of robbing the Fourth National Bank a few blocks away! In the confusion the second pair got away clean, without a hitch!"
Now Superman was frowning.
"A clever ruse," he muttered. "And no doubt a professional job. Inspector, I'll bet anything that all four of these hoods are members of Mister X's criminal organization."
"I'll bet you're right," Henderson replied. "And he's outsmarted us again."
Superman heaved a heavy sigh. This mysterious "Mister X" and his criminal organization had been giving them trouble for months, and had outmaneuvered them on more than one occasion. Now he had apparently managed to do it again.
Henderson leaned forward and pressed a switch on the intercom on his desk. "Have that polygraph machine brought in, will you?" he said into the box.
A moment later an officer came into the room, rolling a small table on wheels with a lie detector machine mounted on it. He placed it in front of Henderson's desk, and then with a nod left the room.
Superman grabbed a nearby chair and placed it next to the polygraph. Henderson then pressed the switch on his intercom again. "Now bring Barlow and Krell in," he said into it.
Another uniformed police officer escorted the two bank robbers that had just been caught into the room. They were both handcuffed. Henderson motioned for Barlow to sit down in the chair next to the polygraph. The other crook remained standing beside the officer that had escorted him into the room. Superman stood next to Barlow, his arms crossed over his chest.
Barlow still had an annoyingly sarcastic smile on his face as Henderson hooked him up to the lie detector unit.
When he was finished Henderson stared straight at Barlow. "All right," he said to him, "I want straight answers. Anytime you don't tell the truth, this lie detector will show it."
"You know I wouldn't fib to you, Inspector," Barlow replied, mockingly.
Henderson turned the unit on, trying to ignore Barlow's flippant attitude. "Your name is Duke Barlow, right?"
Barlow nodded. "Yeah."
"You and your 'pal' Whitey Krell were caught robbing the Fifth National Bank," Henderson continued. He indicated the hood standing behind Barlow.
Barlow shot a sour look at Superman. "Yeah - Superman nabbed us in the act."
"How many more of your mob were in on the job?"
"None of 'em," Barlow responded. "Just me and Whitey."
"How about it, Inspector?" Superman asked. "Is he telling the truth?"
Henderson studied the indicators on the machine. "According to this he is," he replied.
"But you do admit that you're part of a large criminal organization?" Superman asked, the question directed at Barlow.
Barlow noticeably puffed up with a perverse kind of pride. "The biggest," he said. Then his expression soured. "Or it was until you horned in. More'n half the gang's been put in jail the last few months - thanks to you." Then a defiant sneer crossed his face. "But there's still plenty of us left."
"That we already know," Henderson chimed in. "What we want to know is - who's the brains of the outfit? Who plans the crimes?"
Barlow shrugged his shoulders. "I couldn't tell you," he said. "We just get the orders from the top, and then go out and do like we're told."
"Yes, but who is he? What's his name?" Superman asked him.
Barlow shrugged again. "I couldn't say. All we know him by is 'Mister X'".
Superman looked at Henderson, who studied the lie detector's indicators again. Henderson shook his head.
"The polygraph says he's telling the truth," Henderson said in a dejected tone.
"I told you I wouldn't fib to you!" Barlow repeated, sneering again.
Henderson swore something under his breath, then disconnected Barlow from the polygraph unit.
"All right. Take him out. Lock him up," Henderson said brusquely.
The uniformed cop who had brought them in escorted the two thugs out of the room. Henderson went back to his desk and plopped down into his chair.
Superman came over to stand next to him. "Inspector, you're never going to clean up this crime syndicate until you find out who that head man is," he told him.
"You can say that again!" Henderson replied in a despondent tone. "But how can we catch him when even his own mobsters don't know who he is? 'Mister X'!" he growled.
Superman knit his brows together. "There must be some way to learn his true identity," he said, half to himself.
"Yeah, we've been working on it," Henderson continued. "I've had the whole department working day and night. And getting nowhere."
"Not even a clue?"
"Not even a hint." He flipped the switch on his intercom. "Send Sergeant O'Hara in," he said into it.
"One of your detectives working on the case?" Superman asked.
Henderson nodded. "Yes, and one of the best on the force ... and just as baffled as the rest of us." He looked up at Superman. "And when O'Hara's baffled, that's really something!" he added.
Just then the door to Henderson's office opened.
"You sent for me, Inspector?" O'Hara asked.
Superman's eyes went wide. Sergeant O'Hara was one of the most beautiful women he had ever seen. Her long blonde hair swirled loosely about her shoulders, and she wore a very professional-looking dark blue jacket and skirt over a light blue blouse that tried very hard to hide the delicious curves of her body, but didn't quite succeed.
"Yes, I want you to meet Superman," Henderson told her.
O'Hara returned Superman's interested gaze. She walked over to him, admiring his own obvious masculine qualities as she went.
"Superman, this is Sergeant O'Hara," Henderson continued.
O'Hara offered her hand to Superman. "I'm glad to know you, sir," she said, still eyeing him.
Instead of shaking her hand Superman took her hand in both of his. "It's my pleasure, Sergeant," he said, smiling broadly. "Inspector Henderson tells me you've been working on the case of Mister X."
"Yes, without much luck I'm afraid," she replied, her expression sobering. "I've even been trying to get inside his organization, but I haven't been able to figure out a way yet."
"I see," Superman replied.
The two continued to stare at each other while Henderson shuffled some papers on his desk. Finally, Superman broke the silence.
"Sergeant O'Hara - will you marry me?" he said, matter-of-factly.
Henderson suddenly looked up, his eyebrows arching high enough to touch the ceiling.
"What?!" he blurted.
O'Hara looked almost as dumbfounded as Henderson -- but also somewhat pleased.
"Why, I'd be delighted!" she said, smiling from ear to ear.
Superman looked at Henderson and started to laugh.
"Calm down!" he said to the Inspector, who looked like he was about to blow a blood vessel. "That's how we can lure 'Mister X' out of hiding!"
It quickly became obvious that Henderson was still too stunned by Superman's proposal to understand what he was trying to say, so the Man of Steel began to explain.
"If Mister X - and everyone else - thinks that I've married Sergeant O'Hara, then the most logical thing for Mister X and his men to do in order to get me to lay off them would be to grab my wife - right?"
Henderson's blood pressure began to lessen slightly.
"I suppose so," he said.
"Well, once they do that, with someone on the inside we'll have a chance to identify and grab Mister X!" Superman continued.
"That's assuming Mister X will show himself to O'Hara," Henderson added.
"Oh, I think he will," Superman replied. "I think capturing my wife will be enough of a lure to bring him out of hiding." He turned to O'Hara. "Of course, we won't really be married," he explained. "We just want people to think we are for a while."
"I understand," O'Hara replied. She knew Superman's plan was a good one. And she was more than willing to try it. But at the same time, although she had just met him, she felt a slight bit of disappointment in the fact that Superman hadn't really just proposed to her.
"This could be dangerous for you, O'Hara," Henderson told her. "Are you sure you want to go through with this?"
O'Hara nodded in the affirmative.
"Then I guess we should get better acquainted before we get 'married'!" Superman said to O'Hara. "How about lunch?"
"I'd love to," O'Hara replied, smiling.
Superman stretched out his arms toward O'Hara.
"May I?" he asked politely.
"Certainly," O'Hara responded. She slipped her arms around his neck as he picked her up.
Superman turned toward Henderson's large plate glass window.
"Inspector, would you mind?" he said.
"Sure, sure," Henderson answered. He got up and opened the window, then stepped off to one side.
Bending at the knees, Superman leaped out of the window with O'Hara in his arms.They soared through the air, O'Hara's long blonde hair blowing in the wind.
Even though they were hundreds of feet up, she had never felt more secure.
Soon thereafter, Superman and Sergeant O'Hara were sitting across from each other in a booth in the back corner of a small, cozy restaurant located in Watsonville, a few miles away from Metropolis. Superman was now dressed in his Clark Kent suit and tie, but he was not wearing his glasses.
"Why did you bring us here, instead of someplace in Metropolis?" O'Hara asked him.
"I thought it would be a good idea if we went somewhere out of town, where no one would recognize either of us," he explained.
"That makes sense," O'Hara replied. "And when you left me for a few minutes to pick up that suit you're wearing -- I suppose you went back to your own apartment for it?"
"No - my office."
"I don't imagine you would want to tell me where your office is, would you?" O'Hara asked coyly.
Superman smiled. "I'm afraid not, Sergeant. Just because we're getting married doesn't mean I have to tell you all my secrets!" he said.
They both laughed. Superman decided that he liked the sound of O'Hara's laugh.
"You don't have to call me Sergeant all the time, you know," O'Hara finally told him. "My real name is Helen."
"I'll remember that," Superman replied. "Helen."
For a moment they just stared at each other across the table.
Just then the waiter came by their table. Abruptly breaking eye contact they both picked up their menus, and placed their lunch orders.
After the waiter had left, O'Hara spoke first. "Well, let's get down to business. How are we going to pull this off?" she asked.
"Well, first of all, I'll have to give someone at the Planet newspaper the exclusive story of our 'wedding' for them to publish," Superman explained.
"How are you going to describe it?"
"With as little detail as possible. I'll just say we went to a justice of the peace in some small town upstate and did the deed. Hopefully by the time anyone finds out that the story is phony we'll have Mister X in our clutches. If possible I'd rather that people don't even know that you're a policewoman just yet."
"And where are we going to live?"
"Well, we want Mister X and his men to be able to find us. That is, you. Where do you live now?"
"On the eighteenth floor of the Beresford Arms apartment building."
"Do you mind if we just tell everyone that we're living there for the time being?"
"No, not at all. It's a nice place, and the security is top notch. I'm sure I can square it with the management."
"Hmmm. We'll have to do something about the security," Superman replied. "We don't want to make it too tough for Mister X's men to grab you."
"Right. But if it's too easy he might suspect something."
Superman nodded. "All right. Tomorrow afternoon I'll give the exclusive story of our 'marriage' to a Planet reporter. Then tomorrow evening after work I'll meet you at your apartment. What time do you usually get home?"
"It varies. Between about six and seven o'clock, I guess."
"How about if I pick you up at seven o'clock, and I'll take you out to dinner somewhere in Metropolis, so the public can see the 'newlyweds' out on the town together?"
"That would be fine," O'Hara replied.
She couldn't help wondering how they were going to work out the sleeping arrangements.
The next morning, Lois Lane was working at her desk when a sudden breeze blew open her office window that overlooked the street. Before she could get up to close it Superman came hurtling into the room, landing squarely on his feet onto the floor.
"Superman!" Lois exclaimed.
"Hello, Miss Lane," he said. He walked over to her desk.
"What brings you here today?" she asked him.
"I have an exclusive news story for you that I think will be somewhat of a huge sensation when it gets out."
"Really?" she replied, smiling. She grabbed a pen and a notepad from her desk and made ready to write on it. "I appreciate you bringing it to me then. What is it?" she prompted.
"Last night I got married."
Lois froze, holding her pen in mid-air. She couldn't have heard that right.
"Would you mind repeating that?" she asked.
"Surely. Last night I got married."
She slowly put her pen and notepad back down on her desk. She wasn't sure, but she thought that her heart might have stopped beating.
"You - you got married?" she managed to stutter.
Superman nodded. "Yes. To Miss Helen Joy O'Hara. She's a local girl that I've known for some time."
Lois tried to drink this stunning revelation in, but it wasn't going down very easily.
"Where - did this event take place?"
"In a small town somewhere upstate. We were married by a justice of the peace. I'm afraid I can't give you any more detail than that right now, in order to protect our privacy and my secret identity."
Lois nodded. She struggled to suppress the emotions she was feeling and to bring her reporter instincts to bear. She picked up her pen again.
"What else can you tell me?" she asked.
"We'll be living in Helen's apartment on the eighteenth floor of the Beresford Arms, until we can find a better place. We haven't really had a chance to work out all the details yet."
"Everything else I can tell you at this time is on this sheet of paper," Superman said, pulling a piece of paper out of his belt and offering it to Lois.
Mechanically she reached out and took the sheet of paper. She unfolded it, glancing down briefly at its contents.
"When I have more details I'll be sure that you get them," he told her.
"Well, I'd better go now." He headed back toward the window.
"Congratulations," Lois called after him, trying hard to sound as if she meant it.
Superman turned back toward her. "Thank you," he said. Facing the window once more he leaped out and was gone.
The Planet's presses ran all that morning and afternoon, trumpeting the news of Superman's marriage in a huge banner headline across the entire top of the front page.
Perry White, the Managing Editor of the Daily Planet, scanned the front page of the new edition, fresh off the press. He went over and sat down behind his desk. Jimmy Olsen was standing in front of the desk, looking excited and happy. Lois Lane stood next to him. She looked anything but happy.
"Superman marries!" White read off the front page. "In an exclusive interview with Lois Lane, Daily Planet reporter, Superman revealed his surprise marriage last night to Miss Helen J. O'Hara of this city. The newly-wedded couple will reside at the bride's apartment on the eighteenth floor of the Beresford Arms ..."
"Golly, this'll be the first time anybody will know where Superman lives!" Jimmy cut in.
"What of it?" White responded, somewhat annoyed at the interruption.
"Well," Jimmy continued, "I mean ... if we keep the Beresford Arms under survey - surveil - if we keep an eye on the Beresford Arms, we'll find out who Superman really is!"
White snorted. "Don't be ridiculous, Olsen!" he said. "Obviously he isn't going to go in and out through the lobby! He'll use the window!"
"Besides," Lois chimed in, her voice barely audible, "aren't the bride and g-groom entitled to a little privacy?"
"Why of course they are!" White said. He looked at Lois. "And incidentally, Miss Lane, you told the story of Superman's marriage very well indeed."
"Th-thank you, Mr. White," Lois replied haltingly. "At least he did me the courtesy of giving me the exclusive, instead of Clark Kent."
"Golly, you sure are lucky, Miss Lane!" Jimmy told her. "It's the scoop of the year!"
"Yeah, I'm sure lucky all right," Lois replied, bitter irony stinging her words.
Noticing how upset Lois appeared to be, White turned to Olsen.
"Why aren't you out working!?" he barked.
Jimmy suddenly looked like a deer caught in the headlights.
"Well ... I don't have any work to do!" he replied defensively. Right after he said it, he realized that that had been exactly the wrong thing to say.
"Then go out and find something!" White yelled, starting to lose his temper.
Jimmy retreated backwards toward the door. "Yes sir!" he soothed. "Right away!" When he reached the door he opened it and quickly slipped out.
White turned toward Lois. "I've always known how you've felt about Superman, Miss Lane," he said sympathetically. "I guess his marriage hit you pretty hard."
Lois tried to respond, but couldn't. Her composure cracked, and she turned and hurried out of White's office.
That evening, just before seven P.M., the Café Ritz, one of Metropolis's most exclusive restaurants, looked like it was under siege. For more than two city blocks around it in every direction the streets and sidewalks were jammed with cars and people, all jockeying to get closer to the restaurant's front entrance.
Word had leaked out just hours before that Superman and his new wife had reservations to arrive at the restaurant any minute, and reporters and news people from every part of the country -- and indeed from around the world -- had descended upon the restaurant en masse, hoping to get a glimpse (or better yet, a photograph) of the famous couple.
"I've been here since four o'clock!" one disheveled reporter complained to a TV news cameraman, both caught in a surging mob of people almost a half block away, "And this is the closest I've been able to get!"
Just inside the kitchen of the besieged restaurant the manager and headwaiter spoke in low whispers to each other.
"Are you sure this is a good idea?" the maître d' was saying. "What if the news people and curiosity seekers decide to storm the restaurant?"
"They won't," the restaurant's manager replied, smiling. "I had security tripled for the evening. Besides, it's worth the risk. Just think of all the free publicity! After tonight we'll be the most famous restaurant in America!"
Security was indeed tight around the restaurant's entrance. There were a half-dozen uniformed security guards positioned around the long green carpet and awning leading up to the restaurant's front door.
"Look!" one reporter in the crowd suddenly shouted, pointing skyward. "They're coming!"
A small speck in the early evening sky slowly became larger and larger. Soon it became recognizable as Superman and his new bride. Descending, Superman landed on the street end of the green carpet, holding Helen in his arms. She was dressed in a very tasteful light blue ankle-length gown that ably accentuated her own considerable natural beauty.
As Superman stood on the carpet with Helen hundreds of flashbulbs popped. After a moment he set her down on the carpet and the pair walked into the restaurant. The flashbulbs continued to burst as the security guards tried their best to keep the crowd back.
Once inside the restaurant the famous couple were escorted by the maître d' to the best table in the house, in the main dining room. Everyone that was already in the restaurant, including many politicians and other assorted V.I.P.s, turned to gawk at Superman and Helen as they passed by.
"All this attention is really making me uncomfortable," Helen whispered to the Man of Steel, as they sat down at their table. "Do you go through this all the time?"
"I'm afraid so," Superman replied. "You get used to it after a while."
Fortunately, most of the clientele of the restaurant were of the upper-crust variety, and knew better than to disturb the famous couple in their midst as they enjoyed their dinner. Only one or two ended up coming by their table and asking for an autograph.
When Superman and Helen had finished their meal they headed for the exit, and the same melee met them that they had encountered on the way in.
"Do you think Mister X is watching all this?" Helen whispered to Superman, as he once again lifted her up into his arms.
"I'm sure he is," Superman whispered back. "It would be hard to miss, wouldn't it?"
They both smiled at each other, and then Superman bent his knees and leaped up into the air. The flashbulbs continued to flash until they had disappeared into the night sky.
Shortly thereafter, Superman came hurtling in through the window of the living room of Helen's apartment. She had previously left the window open knowing that, since her residence was located on the eighteenth floor of the Beresford Arms Apartments, there was no security risk in her doing so. Superman set her down on the floor, and they both turned and peered out the window to the street far below.
The sidewalk in front of the Beresford Arms was also tightly packed with reporters, sightseers, and gawkers. The street traffic was bumper-to-bumper and hardly moving, with many people leaning out of their car windows in hopes of catching a glimpse of the Super-couple.
"It looks like Lois's story in the Planet did the trick," Superman commented.
"Yes, it certainly did!" Helen replied. "Now
everyone in the world knows where I - I mean we -- live!"
"There!" she said. "That will give us some peace and quiet!"
They looked at each other.
"Well," Helen finally ventured after a minute, "... what do we do now?"
Suddenly Superman looked a little uncomfortable.
"I ... guess I should hang around a while, to give the illusion that I really live here," he said, a little haltingly. "Do you mind?"
Helen smiled, that smile that could light a thousand planets. "Of course not!" she said. She kicked off the high heels she was wearing and pushed them under a chair.
"Please - sit down!" she told him, indicating her couch.
Superman walked over to the couch and sat down.
"Would you like something to drink?" she asked him.
"No ... thank you," he responded.
"I meant coffee!" Helen corrected herself, smiling again.
This time Superman smiled too. But once again he said, "No thank you."
Helen turned and headed across the room. "Well, pardon
me for a moment while I get out of this thing," she said
casually, referring to her gown, as she headed to the door of
her bedroom. "I'll be right back."
Superman felt a mix of uneasy emotions as he sat there. Between his busy life as Clark Kent, reporter and that of Superman, he had never had much time for casual socializing. Especially as Superman. In his public persona as the Man of Steel he had never been in this kind of situation before.
A moment later Helen came back into the room, now dressed in a casual light-colored blouse and a dark blue skirt. She sat down on the other end of the couch.
"I really appreciate you going along with this plan of mine to catch Mister X," Superman told her. "I've been wanting to nab him for some time now."
"So have I. I'm only too glad to do it," Helen replied.
"What made you become a policewoman in the first place, if you don't mind my asking?" Superman asked.
"Not at all," she responded. "My father was
a policeman, and so was his father -- so I guess it's in my blood.
I was an only child, so I was the only one Dad could groom to
carry on the family tradition!"
"If you don't mind my asking, why do you do what you do?" Helen asked.
Superman thought for a moment. "Well, for obvious reasons I can't reveal a lot about my personal background -- but I can say that I was brought up by a kindly farm couple in the Midwest, who taught me from a very young age to respect and obey the law, because most laws are for the good of everyone."
"I couldn't have said that better myself."
"And since I have the powers and abilities that I have, I'm in a better position than most to help people who might be in distress, or in need."
"That's wonderful. Where do your powers come from?"
Superman explained to Helen that he had been born on a giant planet in another solar system called Krypton, which was destroyed when internal eruptions caused the planet to blow apart. His unique physical powers came from a combination of Earth's lesser gravity, the rays from its yellow sun (Krypton's sun had been red), and the fact that his molecular density was much greater than that of Earth people.
"Do you remember much about Krypton?" Helen asked.
"No, not really. I was only a baby when my parents sent me here in a small rocket ship."
"Where did your uniform come from?"
Superman explained how his adoptive mother had made his costume from the blankets he had been wrapped in when he landed on Earth, and that its design reflected what he could remember of how Kryptonian people dressed.
"Are your adopted parents still alive?"
"My father passed away a number of years ago. My mother is still alive."
The expression on Helen's face turned somber. "It must be difficult for you, then, to be virtually alone in the world, and then to have to isolate yourself even further from people in order to protect your double identity."
As she said this, she moved closer to Superman, and touched him on the shoulder.
"Yes, it can be lonely sometimes," he admitted. "But I firmly believe in what I'm doing, and that I was meant to do it. Unfortunately, the personal sacrifice part comes with the job."
He looked at Helen. "I imagine it can be much the same way for you," he said.
"Yes," Helen replied. "Public service such as the kind we do can tend to isolate you somewhat. But the rewards can be great also. Just knowing that you may have helped someone who couldn't help themselves can be a great comfort."
"Yes," Superman agreed.
As they continued to talk, Superman found himself relating to Helen in a way that he had never done before with anyone else. The evening passed quickly. Eventually he noticed that a clock on Helen's wall showed that it was after midnight.
He stood up. "Well, it's getting late," he said. "I guess I had better be going. You must need to get to bed in order to get up for your job."
Helen stood up too. "Yes, I do," she agreed. "But I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed talking to you," she said. "Thank you for a wonderful evening."
She reached up and kissed him on the cheek.
Superman briefly squeezed her hand, and then stepped over to the window, opening it.
"I'll see you tomorrow," he said.
Superman leaped out of the window and was gone.
The next morning, as usual, Helen was up bright and early. After dressing in an attractive light blue blouse and skirt outfit she took the elevator on her floor to the parking garage located under her apartment building, where her car was parked. When she reached the basement level she stepped out.
Usually there was a security guard on duty in the parking garage, but today he was nowhere to be seen. He had been told by Inspector Henderson to not patrol the garage in the early morning when O'Hara was scheduled to leave for work, so that any attempt to kidnap her by Mister X's henchmen would not be hindered. Helen went over to her car and put her key in the door lock. Suddenly she felt something hard pressing against her back.
"Don't make a sound, lady," a gruff voice announced from behind her.
Slowly she turned around to face two sinister-looking men, one tall and one short. They were dressed in expensive suits, and had their hats pulled down over their faces. The tall one was holding a gun on her.
"We have another car waiting for you today," the smaller man announced. "This way."
The pair led O'Hara to another car, a large sedan, parked a few spaces away. The short man produced a piece of rope and quickly tied O'Hara's hands behind her. Then he tied a gag around her mouth. The tall man opened the trunk of the car and motioned for O'Hara to climb in. She did as she was told. Once she was inside the tall man slammed the trunk lid down, and both men jumped into the front seat of the car. Pulling out of the parking space they roared out of the garage.
A well-dressed, middle-aged man with neat gray hair and a well-trimmed mustache sat in a plush easy chair, intently reading the Wall Street Journal. His residence was a large turn-of-the-century mansion located on the outskirts of Metropolis, on Dover's Cliff near Willow Falls. The sitting room he lounged in was quite opulent, furnished with expensive imported furniture and decorated with a number of priceless antiques.
A red light on an instrument panel across the room flashed on. At the same time there was a knock on the door to the room.
"Come," the seated man said.
The door opened, and three people walked in. It was Helen O'Hara and her two captors. The ropes on her wrists and her gag had been removed, but the tall man, a hood named "Slats" Dugan, held a gun at her back. She looked a little disheveled from her ride in the car trunk, but otherwise appeared none the worse for wear.
"We didn't have a bit of trouble grabbin' her, Boss," Dugan announced.
"Yeah, that story in the Daily Planet told us where she lived, and the rest was easy!" said Dugan's partner, "Blinky" Evans. Because Dugan and Evans were his personal bodyguards, they were the only two mobsters in Mister X's criminal organization who had ever been allowed to see him face-to-face.
"I was sure it would be," Mister X replied, standing up. He had the utmost confidence in his associates.
Helen faced Mister X and looked him straight in the eye. "What's the meaning of this?" she said indignantly. "Why should these men take me out of my apartment building and bring me here against my will?" she added, playing dumb.
Actually, it was all she could do to keep a look of recognition from crossing her face. She recognized "Mister X" immediately upon seeing him - he was actually Walter Canby, a man who, some seven years before, used to be a prominent Metropolis attorney and the Chairman of the Citizen's Committee for Clean Government. At the same time he had also been the mysterious Number One Crime Boss in the city - until he was exposed and captured by Superman. Apparently due to some clever legal maneuvering, he was now out of jail and once again up to his old tricks.
"My dear Mrs. Superman," Canby said, answering her question, "shall we say that I had an impulse to have you here as my guest? And when I have an impulse I never fail to gratify it." He bowed graciously. "So, welcome to my headquarters."
"Headquarters? Who are you?" O'Hara asked, still doing her best to play dumb.
"My associates call me Mister X."
O'Hara feigned surprise. "You must be the man the newspapers are talking about - the head of the crime syndicate!" she said.
Canby nodded. "Yes," he replied. He stepped past O'Hara and approached a large console loaded with electronic equipment situated against the far wall. "Now if you'll excuse me while I make a telephone call," he said.
On the side of the console hung a custom-built telephone unit outfitted with a special line that was untraceable and at the same time made the caller's voice unrecognizable. He picked up the receiver and dialed a number on the unit.
"You can't hold me prisoner here!" O'Hara exclaimed. "You'll never get away with it! When my husband hears about this he'll... "
Canby held up his hand in a gesture bidding her to be quiet.
"Oh, he'll hear about it," he interjected. "I'm calling a friend of his right now to make sure that he does. But he won't do anything about it. This is one time that Superman is going to find himself quite powerless!"
His call went through. "Hello, Daily Planet?" he said into the receiver. "Connect me with Clark Kent please."
Clark Kent was busy typing at his desk. The phone on his desk
rang, and he picked it up.
"Hello, Mister Kent? This is Mister X speaking," came the scrambled voice on the other end.
"What did you just say?" Kent replied.
"I said this is Mister X speaking. My organization is holding Mrs. Superman as a hostage. Will you contact him and give him this message: unless he stops interfering with our activities he'll never see his wife again. Will you tell him that?"
"You bet your life I'll tell him!" Kent replied angrily. "And when I do you'd better duck for cover! He'll come over there and tear your place down brick by brick!"
"Oh no, no he won't," Canby replied calmly. "In the first place he doesn't know where we are. In the second place, one wrong move and Mrs. Superman's health will suffer very severely indeed."
"You wouldn't dare harm Mrs. Superman!"
"Oh no? I wouldn't bet on that if I were you," Canby told him. Then there was a click as Canby abruptly disconnected the line.
Kent repeatedly tapped the disconnect button on the telephone, but couldn't get the connection back. "Hello? Hello?" he said into the receiver.
Finally he hung the phone up. Then, he leaned back in his chair and a slow, satisfied smile spread across his face.
Canby turned away from the phone and faced O'Hara. "You see? Superman won't dare try to rescue you. The only way he can protect you from harm is by staying away, and keeping his nose out of my business."
"You've got it all figured out, haven't you, Mister X?" O'Hara replied sarcastically.
"You'd be surprised how well I have it figured," Canby said. He picked up a small boxlike gadget from the top of the console. "For instance, take this portable television camera ... it transmits by battery power over a closed private circuit to this receiving set here ..." He indicated a large TV set attached to the console.
"What do you use it for?" O'Hara asked, now genuinely interested.
"You'll find out," Canby responded. He handed the transmitter to Evans. "Blinky, you know where I want this connected," he said.
"Exactly. Now get going... fast."
Evans left with the TV transmitter.
"We'll give him a ten-minute start," Canby said to Dugan. "Then we'll put the second step of my plan into operation."
"What step is that, Boss?" Dugan replied.
"We phone Perry White, publisher of the Daily Planet."
"Phone call for you on line 3, Mr. White," Perry White's secretary told him over his desk intercom.
"Who is it, Miss Bachrach? I'm extremely busy!" White growled.
"He didn't say, Mister White. But he did say that he has what could be an important news tip for you."
White pondered for a moment. "All right, put him through," he finally said. He picked up the telephone receiver on his desk for line 3. "Hello? Hello? Who is this?" he snapped into the telephone line.
"My name isn't important, Mr. White," Canby said, disguising his voice a little. "But I thought that you might like to know that the private contractor I work for is getting ready to test a new kind of bathysphere down at Metropolis Harbor that will make all other diving bells obsolete. Its interior controls are completely different from anything ever used before."
At this information White perked up. "Oh, really?" he said. He had participated in some underwater exploration work just after the war, and diving bells were an interest of his. "Excuse me just a moment please," he told the caller. He covered the mouthpiece of the phone with one hand, and with the other flipped a switch on his intercom that went to the City Room. "Olsen? Come in here a moment. I have an assignment for you," he said into the intercom. "Bring Miss Lane with you."
"Yes sir, on the double," Jimmy's voice came back.
White switched off the intercom and then uncovered the phone receiver.
"Now, you were saying? ..." he continued. He picked up a pencil and started to scribble on a note pad on his desk. "Yes ... Pier 96, eh? ... Okay, I've got it ... Thank you very much. Thanks for calling. Goodbye."
Just as White hung up Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane came into the office. They both went over to White's desk and stood in front of it.
"You sent for us, Chief?" Lois asked.
"Yes. What do you know about Pier 96 down at the harbor?" White queried them.
Jimmy looked like he was thinking. Then he said, smiling: "Pier 96? Well, it's one pier beyond Pier 95!"
White glared at him. "That's a big help!" he snorted.
"Pier 96?" Lois interjected. "Isn't that the one they haven't used for the past two or three years?"
"Right," White replied. "Have you heard about anyone parking a bathysphere down there recently?"
"Don't look at me!" Jimmy responded defensively. "I didn't park it there!" Then he added: "What is a bathysphere? Is that something you take a bath in?"
A disgusted look crossed White's face.
"It's a diving bell, you blockhead!" he shouted.
Lois turned to Jimmy. "You go under the water in it so you can study the floor of the ocean," she explained.
A blank look crossed Jimmy's face. "I do?" he said. Then he added quickly: "Oh no I don't! Not me!"
"No one's asking you to!" White said, wondering why he ever hired this kid to begin with. "I just want you and Miss Lane to go down there and look it over. I've had an anonymous phone call that we might find an interesting story in it."
Lois and Jimmy started to leave. Then White added: "Wait a minute... I think I'll go with you!" He got up from his desk and grabbed his hat from the hat rack.
Lois and Jimmy exchanged puzzled glances. But then they both shrugged and followed White out the door.
Soon afterward, the oddly-matched trio found themselves walking together along Pier 96 on the Metropolis waterfront. The entrance to the pier had been gated off and was marked "No Trespassing", but the gate itself was unlocked. They had taken this as a sign that they were allowed to enter. They came upon the huge bathysphere at the end of the pier, suspended from a davit-like derrick with a complex winch and cable system that was connected to a small structure on the pier which housed the exterior controls for the bell. The bathysphere itself was round, with a dome-shaped top and a flat bottom. Its entrance hatch was level with the deck of the pier. White tugged on it. It was unsecured, and he opened it.
Across the pier were a number of crates and packing cases piled into a heap. Lurking behind them, unseen by the others, was "Blinky" Evans. When he had seen White and the others approaching, he had turned one empty packing crate on its side and placed the TV transmitter inside it. A hole had previously been cut in the side of the box to accommodate the transmitter's lens, which he pointed toward the open hatchway of the bathysphere. He switched on the transmitter's controls.
Back at Canby's headquarters he was standing a few feet in front of the TV receiver set, talking to O'Hara. Dugan stood next to her.
"This will be one of the biggest and most daring robberies this city has ever seen. Three million dollars... just like that!" he was saying. He snapped his fingers for emphasis.
"But - why are you telling me all this?" O'Hara asked.
"Because you'll never repeat it," Canby explained.
Suddenly the TV receiver set lit up. Dugan gestured to Canby.
"Look, Boss - Blinky's got the TV camera switched on!" Dugan said.
Canby turned about and sat down in a chair situated directly in front of the set. He fiddled with some controls on its front face.
"So he has, so he has," he muttered, watching the screen intently.
The black-and-white picture on the TV screen showed White, Olsen and Lois Lane standing in front of the bathysphere's open hatch.
O'Hara moved a little closer to the set, so that she could see the TV picture more clearly. Dugan followed her.
"Well well well, we are in luck!" Canby said. "My phone call to Perry White worked better than I thought!"
"What do you mean?" O'Hara asked.
Canby pointed to the TV screen. "He not only sent the
two reporters to Pier 96; he went there himself!" Canby
explained. He got up from the chair and picked up the special
telephone receiver hanging nearby.
"Hey look, Boss - that Olsen punk - he don't want to get in the thing!" Dugan reported.
Canby looked back at the TV screen. It was obvious from the picture that White wanted to go inside the bathysphere, but Olsen was resisting the idea. There was no sound on the TV set, so whatever they were saying to each other could not be heard.
Canby shook his head, unconcerned. "Don't worry, he'll get in," he said. "Newspapermen are noted for their curiosity." Then into the phone receiver he said: "Daily Planet? Give me Clark Kent."
Kent was busily typing at his desk when his phone rang. He picked it up.
"Hello. Kent speaking."
He listened to the voice on the other end for a moment, then he said: "What's that? You say you've got Lois, Jimmy and Mister White?" in a concerned voice.
"That's right," Canby replied. The special telephone was still disguising his voice. "And since all three of them are friends of Superman, I thought perhaps you might like to warn him that they are in the gravest danger ... yes, that's what I said. Pier 96."
Canby hung up. He smiled at O'Hara and Dugan.
"If I know Superman, he'll be on his way to Pier 96 as soon as he hears the news," Canby told them with a self-satisfied smirk.
This time Clark Kent was not smiling. He jumped up from his chair and began yanking off his glasses and necktie. A moment later Superman leaped out of Kent's office window.
Meanwhile, at Pier 96, Perry White and Lois Lane were still trying to convince Jimmy to get inside the bathysphere with them.
"We've got to go inside it!" White insisted. "The man who phoned me said that's where we'd find the story!"
"What if it starts going down while we're inside?" Jimmy protested. He had been soaked many times in his adventures as a Planet reporter, and he was not anxious to repeat that experience.
"How can it when there's no one working the controls?" Lois assured him.
"And besides, lots of people have taken rides in bathyspheres!" White explained. "All you do is close the hatch and the water can't come in!"
"What if it leaks?" Jimmy insisted.
White let out an exasperated sigh. "For heaven's sake!" he snapped. "If you're scared, say so. I'm not!" With that he climbed into the bathysphere's entrance hatch.
Lois looked questioningly at Jimmy.
"Come on, Jimmy, come on," she prompted.
"Oh, all right. I'm coming. Don't rush me!" Jimmy replied. Resigned to the inevitable, he climbed into the sphere. Lois followed him in.
A moment later, Superman landed on the pier in front of the bell with a thump.
"Miss Lane! Come out of there!" he exclaimed. He stepped into the sphere after her.
Canby, O'Hara and Dugan were all watching this on the TV receiver. As soon as Superman disappeared inside the bell Canby pressed a switch on the electronic console next to the set.
The door to the diving bell abruptly closed and latched. Before Superman or any of the occupants of the bell could make a move, the sphere started to sink into the water.
"What's going on here?" Jimmy yelled. He looked at the porthole. His worst fear was now becoming a reality; the water line was rapidly rising up the glass!
"We're sinking!" Lois cried.
The bell descended rapidly, its cable paying out as it did so.
"Superman! Do something!" Lois shrieked.
Superman looked out of the sphere's glass port.
"Not while we're still dropping, Miss Lane," he explained. "You wouldn't have a chance."
The bell continued to drop for some minutes. Finally it hit the mud at the bottom, jerking everyone inside it momentarily off their feet.
Once everyone had steadied themselves once again, a voice came out of a speaker mounted on the sphere's ceiling.
"Superman, this is Mister X," the voice said. "You are now 250 feet below the surface ... you'll stay there until I decide to bring you up again!"
"Mister X!" White exclaimed.
"I warn you," Canby continued, "Don't try anything rash if you value the lives of your companions, and the safety of Mrs. Superman."
At this revelation everyone looked at Superman.
"Yes, he's got her too," Superman admitted.
"Isn't there anything you can do?" Lois pleaded.
"Well, Miss Lane, I could break out of here and swim to the surface, but..."
"Then why don't you?" Jimmy interrupted. "We'll swim up with you!"
Superman shook his head. "Not at this depth, Jimmy. The water pressure would crush you in an instant."
"You mean - we're stuck here?" Lois asked, her voice shaking.
"I'm afraid so, Miss Lane," Superman replied. "For the present."
Other places along the Metropolis waterfront were not nearly as deep as the spot where the bathysphere now sat, but the trench that it rested in had been recently dredged in order to test the capabilities of the newly-updated bell. Superman crossed his arms and leaned against the wall of the bathysphere, pondering his current situation. Fortunately, when the bell's door had closed, it had automatically caused an interior light to come on, so that they were not all in pitch blackness. They could survive all right for the time being, until the air in the bell ran out. According to the gauges on the wall, Mister X had not done them the favor of activating the bell's air purification system, so their time was limited. But he was now just as worried about Helen as he was about his friends. His plan to capture Mister X had not worked out quite as well as he had hoped it would.
Back at Canby's headquarters, Canby moved toward the door of the room, beckoning Dugan to follow him.
"Blinky should be back from the pier at any minute," he said to Dugan. "You come help me with the dynamite."
Dugan pointed at O'Hara, who was still watching the TV screen. "You gonna leave her here alone?" he asked.
"She won't escape," Canby assured him. He turned toward O'Hara. "As you can see, the windows are barred, and the door has an excellent lock," he said to her. "Just make yourself at home."
Canby and Dugan left the room, locking the door behind them. O'Hara waited a moment, then went to the door. She tried the door handle, but it was locked, just as Canby had said. She went over to the window and tested the metal grating over it. It was securely locked also.
She went back over to the TV, watching Superman and his friends on the screen. Then she got an idea. She picked up the microphone that Canby had used to talk to the occupants of the diving bell, and switched it on just as she had seen Canby do.
"Superman - can you hear me?" she said into the mike.
The reaction of the Man of Steel on the TV screen told her that he did.
"I may not have much time," O'Hara continued. "Mister X and his crime syndicate are planning the biggest robbery they ever pulled ... there's an armored truck taking three million dollars in currency to the Federal Reserve Bank in Metropolis. It's coming by Route 65, a back road, but Mister X knows the route and the schedule..."
"Is that ... your wife?" Lois asked Superman.
"When it crosses the old wooden bridge over Southport Ravine at three o'clock they're going to blow up the bridge," O'Hara went on. "The truck will fall into the ravine and burst open. The gang will grab the cash and make a getaway..."
Hearing a noise O'Hara glanced toward the door. It opened, and Canby and Dugan came in. Canby was carrying a half-dozen sticks of dynamite tied together.
O'Hara turned back and continued speaking into the microphone: "Superman, this is Sergeant O'Hara. Mister X and his crime syndicate are planning the biggest ..." she began again.
Dugan ran over and grabbed O'Hara, while Canby snatched the microphone from her hand.
"You hear that, Boss?" Dugan exclaimed, holding O'Hara by her wrists. "She called herself Sergeant O'Hara!"
"Yes, I heard," Canby snapped. "So - you're a policewoman!" he said to O'Hara.
O'Hara smiled at him. "Yes - and I'm pretty proud of it, too!" she said defiantly.
Inside the bathysphere, Perry White looked at Superman. "She was cut off!" he told him.
"They probably caught her giving me the message," Superman replied.
"But she'd already given it," Lois pointed out. "Why do you suppose she started all over again?"
"Because she wanted them to think that she hadn't had time to give me the message - that she was just beginning to talk," Superman explained.
Canby still held the microphone in his hand as he addressed O'Hara: "Lucky we caught you before you had a chance to tell Superman our plans. Not that it matters now." He switched the microphone on again. "Superman, this is Mister X," he said into it. "Too bad your wife turned out to be a policewoman. I'm afraid she's about to retire from the force - permanently."
O'Hara struggled against Dugan, but it was no use. He was too strong for her.
"As for you and your companions, I regret to inform you that I have decided to let you stay at the bottom of the harbor - from now on!" Canby added. Then he clicked off the microphone.
"That means... we're doomed," White said.
"Jeepers - it's the biggest story we've ever had, and we'll never get it into the paper," Jimmy pronounced gloomily.
For a moment no one said anything. Then Lois broke the silence.
"At least you can save yourself by smashing out of this bathysphere and swimming to the surface," she told Superman.
Superman looked at her. "Oh no, Miss Lane. I've already told you what would happen to all of you if I did that," he replied.
"I know, but the water pressure can't crush you," Lois said. "At least that's the only way you can stop the robbery, and save -- your wife!"
Superman smiled, impressed at Lois's willingness to sacrifice herself for the sake of Sgt. O'Hara. He screwed up his forehead in thought.
There had to be another answer to this dilemma. But what was it?
At Canby's hideout, Dugan had just finished retying O'Hara's
wrists together. Canby looked at his watch.
"What do we do with her?" Dugan asked.
"We take her along," Canby replied.
"What for, Boss?"
Canby started ushering O'Hara toward the door. "As a policewoman she's probably deeply interested in explosives," he said. "I'm sure she'll be interested in what I have in mind."
He opened the door and pushed O'Hara through.
"Interested... not necessarily happy," he added.
Southport Bridge was a small, unpretentious wooden span that had been constructed over Southport Ravine, a relatively shallow gully located some miles outside of Metropolis in an uninhabited area along Route 65, which here was little more than a small back country road.
After pulling off the side of the road a dark sedan came to a stop a short distance from the bridge behind some rocks and bushes. Two men got out of the front seat.
The two men were Dugan and Evans. Evans was carrying the sticks of dynamite stuffed under one arm, and a long coil of fuse wire wrapped around the other. A moment later Canby and Sergeant O'Hara got out of the back seat of the car. Her wrists were still tied.
Standing together as a group, the car's occupants surveyed the area. There was no one in sight. Up to now Canby hadn't ever gone along on the robberies he planned, allowing his subordinates to take care of that. But he couldn't resist participating personally in this particular caper. He looked at his watch.
"The armored truck should be here in exactly seventeen minutes," he announced.
"Then we'd better get busy with the dynamite, eh Boss?" Evans inquired.
Canby nodded. "Yes. Do a good job," he said. "I'll
stay here and keep an eye on Mrs. Superman."
"It should be quite an explosion," Canby gloated to O'Hara. "Too bad you won't be here to tell about it."
As she watched Dugan and Evans walk away O'Hara wondered exactly what Canby meant by that.
Inside the bathysphere, Lois and Jimmy sat quietly on some pieces of equipment, while Perry White continued to stand next to Superman, who was frowning in deep thought.
"Miss Lane's right, Superman," White said, breaking the silence. "No matter what happens to us, you've got to get out of here." He looked at his watch. "It's a quarter of three now. They're going to blow up that bridge in fifteen minutes!"
"I know, I know," Superman acknowledged. "If there was only some way to stop them without sacrificing all your lives!" he said, frustration echoing in his voice.
"If you were only on the outside, you could just lift the bathysphere up to the surface!" Jimmy suggested, thinking aloud.
Superman's eyes suddenly opened wide. He looked at the ceiling of the bell.
"Lift it?" he exclaimed. "That's it!"
Jimmy looked bewildered that Superman had actually taken his suggestion seriously.
"Jimmy, you've just given me an idea!" Superman continued, still staring at the ceiling.
"Huh?" Jimmy grunted.
Superman pointed to a circular metal plate riveted to the center of the bell's ceiling.
"That plate holds the cable to the top of the sphere," he explained. "If I can pull the plate off and get hold of the cable, I can pull us up!"
Lois and Jimmy both stood up. For the first time since the bell had settled on the bottom of the harbor they were allowing themselves to feel some hope that rescue might be possible after all.
"Of course a little water may come in, but I don't think
it'll be dangerous!" Superman continued. "Let's try!"
Superman started to haul the cable into the bell hand over hand. As he did so, Jimmy looked out through one of the portholes.
"We're going up!" he announced excitedly.
Meanwhile, at Southport Ravine Dugan and Evans were in the center of the bridge, hanging over the side of it, just finishing attaching the sticks of dynamite to the underside. Evans attached one end of the coiled fuse wire to the dynamite, and then stood up. He started off the bridge, uncoiling the wire as he did so. Dugan followed him.
Canby and O'Hara waited at the car, as Dugan and Evans slowly came toward them, paying out the fuse wire as they went. Finally they reached the sedan. "All set, Boss," Dugan announced.
"Good," Canby replied. He looked at O'Hara. "Come along, and we'll inspect it," he said to her.
"I don't want to see it," O'Hara said, averting her face.
Canby grabbed her arm and forcibly propelled her forward.
"I said come along!" he ordered. "You too, Dugan," he said to his associate.
The trio headed back toward the bridge, O'Hara trying to drag her feet. But she was no match for the two men who kept forcing her to go forward. Evans had remained at the car.
Canby dragged O'Hara onto the bridge and pulled her to where Evans had placed the dynamite, Dugan following close behind. When they had reached the spot Canby knelt down and inspected Evans's work. Smiling, he stood up again.
"Expert workmanship," he said to Dugan. "Tie her to the rail," he added, indicating O'Hara. Canby grabbed O'Hara's wrists and forced them onto the bridge's railing.
"Wh-- what for?" she protested.
"You'll see," Canby replied, holding her wrists on the rail. "Go ahead, tie her," he commanded his associate.
"No ..." O'Hara pleaded. Ignoring her Dugan quickly untied her hands, and then used the same rope to tie her to the rail.
"There ... I hope that won't be too uncomfortable," Dugan quipped when he was finished.
"Does it matter?" O'Hara retorted bitterly.
"Not really," Canby told her, leering. "In a few minutes you won't feel it at all."
With that Canby turned and headed off the bridge, followed by Dugan.
Now alone, O'Hara struggled desperately with her bonds. But she was tied too tightly, and she knew her situation was hopeless.
She thought about how pleasant it had been to be Superman's "wife" -- if only for a little while.
Superman continued to mightily haul in the bell cable hand over hand, pulling the bathysphere up toward the surface, as the water that was spraying in slowly filled the bottom of the sphere. Now it was up to his ankles, and rising.
"I sure hope he makes it!" Jimmy yelled above the sound of the rushing water.
"If he doesn't, it's all up with us!" White added. He was bent over with his hat pulled down over his face, trying to protect himself from the water pouring down on him. His clothes were soaked.
"And your wife!" Lois added, directed to Superman.
Canby, Dugan and Evans were now standing next to their car, looking back toward the bridge. Evans held the end of the fuse wire in one hand, and his lighter in the other, ready to light the fuse on Canby's order.
"How about it, Boss? Is it time to light the fuse?" Evans asked.
"How long have you got it set for?" Canby replied.
"It'll burn exactly five minutes," Dugan interjected. "Then ... whammo!"
Canby studied his watch. "We'll wait just a few minutes more," he said. "The armored truck is still eight minutes away - with three million dollars on board!"
Superman was still hauling laboriously on the bell's cable. Water continued to gush in from the sphere's ceiling, soaking the occupants. The accumulating water in the bell was now up to their knees.
"Hurry, Superman, hurry!" Lois shouted.
White looked at his watch.
"It's six minutes to three!" he yelled.
"What do you say, Boss? Ain't it about time?" Evans asked again.
Canby was still studying his watch. "You can prepare to light it in exactly one more minute," he said.
On the bridge O'Hara continued to struggle with her bonds, but she was getting nowhere. She knew time was running out, but she was determined to keep trying to get free until the last possible moment.
"Now, Boss?" Evans repeated impatiently.
"Thirty seconds ..." Canby told him.
The armored truck was approaching just down the road, less than a mile away.
Superman continued hauling in the bathysphere's cable, when suddenly there was daylight coming in through the portholes.
"We're breaking the surface!" Lois cried.
The water ceased pouring in through the bell's ceiling. Superman stopped pulling on the cable but retained his grip on it, holding the bathysphere on the surface.
"All right Miss Lane! Open the door and step out on the pier!" he shouted.
Lois tried to open the hatch, but the heavy door would not move.
"It won't budge!" she said frantically.
"Stand back please!" Superman commanded.
Lois backed out of the way. Still holding onto the cable, Superman freed his right foot from the floor of the bell and aimed a powerful kick at the door. The door flew open with a loud bang. Lois, Perry and Jimmy quickly hurried through the hatchway and jumped onto the pier outside.
But then Lois turned around and poked her head back into the open hatch."Superman - come on!" she shouted to him.
"I can't Miss Lane!" he told her. "If I release this cable, the sphere will go to the bottom!"
"But you can't stay there!" Lois insisted.
"I realize that!" he said. "Now please go!"
"What are you going to do?"
"Eventually, after you get out of here, I'm going to let go of this cable. Then the sphere will sink. Then I'll swim to the surface! Now will you kindly get out of here?"
Finally understanding, Lois backed out of the hatchway. As
she did so, Superman let go of the cable.
"Let's get a couple hundred yards away to be on the safe side. In five minutes it will all be over!" Canby said. "Now, light the fuse!"
Evans lit the fuse wire with his lighter and then dropped the wire onto the ground. The fuse ignited. As it sputtered along the ground Canby and his two thugs jumped into the car. Dugan started the motor and quickly turned the car around. Then it sped off down the road.
O'Hara still struggled with her ropes, but she remained securely hogtied.
Meanwhile, the armored truck barreled along directly toward the bridge, completely unaware of the fate that awaited it.
The last few feet of the cable ran up through the bell's ceiling, and the metal plate it was attached to banged against the top of the sphere as it hit the bottom of the harbor with a heavy thud. Superman was momentarily thrown off his feet, but he quickly righted himself. Hurling himself at the closed hatch he burst through it. The hatch exploded outward, and Superman shot toward the surface like an underwater missile.
At the same time, Dugan pulled the sedan onto the side of the road again behind another outcropping of rocks, and the three men got out. Canby looked at his watch.
"Any moment now!" he announced.
Unknown to the three thugs, Superman was now flying rapidly toward them, soaring high over the countryside south of Metropolis.
Meanwhile, the fuse wire continued to burn along the ground, getting closer and closer to the bridge where Sergeant O'Hara was tied, helpless, to its railing.
The armored truck rumbled down the road toward the structure. Suddenly Superman appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, landing right in the middle of the road in the truck's path. He put his hands up. The truck screeched to a halt just a few yards in front of him.
"Stop! Turn around and take the other road into town! Hurry!" Superman shouted to the driver.
The driver well knew who Superman was, and though he didn't understand what was going on, he wasn't about to disobey a direct order from the Man of Steel. He immediately backed off the road and turned the truck around. Then he headed back the way he had come.
Superman leaped back up into the air.
The fuse wire was burning up the side of the bridge now, and was only a few feet from where O'Hara was tied and where the dynamite was secured. She was just resigning herself to the inevitable when suddenly she heard a sound like rushing wind. She looked up.
"Superman!" she cried.
Superman landed on the bridge and ran over to where O'Hara was tied. Quickly assessing the situation he tore the ropes off of O'Hara's wrists.
"Come on!" he told her, taking her by the hand. They both sprinted off the bridge together.
Once back on the roadway Superman yanked O'Hara around in front of him and quickly wrapped his arms around her. She huddled against him just as the bridge blew up with a thunderous explosion.
Smoke and debris swirled angrily around them, and some large chunks of wood bounced off of Superman's back. When the concussion died down he looked back over his shoulder. The bridge was gone. Nothing remained but a pile of charred, heaped-up rubble. But fortunately O'Hara was completely unhurt.
"Thank you," she whispered in Superman's ear, hugging him.
"You're welcome," he replied, smiling back at her.
Suddenly O'Hara became a policewoman again. "They're over there!" she said, pointing to a car parked near an outcropping of rocks just down the road.
His expression turning serious again Superman released O'Hara and leaped up into the air in the direction she had indicated.
"Now, let's go collect our three million dollars!" Canby was telling his partners. He was grinning from ear to ear. But just as the three men were about to get back into the car Superman landed a short distance away from them.
Dugan's eyes went wide. "Superman!" he yelled.
"Sorry to disappoint you, gentlemen," Superman said to them, "... but the only place you're going is to jail!"
Evans went white as a sheet, as did Canby.
"Shoot him, you clowns! Shoot him!" Canby shouted.
Dugan and Evans both pulled pistols out of their pockets, as did Canby, and the three of them proceeded to empty their weapons at Superman. But the bullets just bounced off in every direction.
Superman charged forward and grabbed Dugan and Evans. He lifted both of them up off the ground and cracked their heads together. Then he allowed them to crumple to the ground, unconscious.
When Superman came toward him Canby meekly handed his gun
over and threw his hands up in the air.
"That's the first wise decision you've made today," Superman told him, taking the gun. He was a little disappointed that Canby had given up so easily, as he was itching for an excuse to drop him too, for almost blowing up Sergeant O'Hara and drowning the rest of his friends. But he held himself in check until O'Hara came running up.
"I see you've got everything under control," she said.
"Yes," Superman responded. "And look who our 'Mister X' is." As he said this he handed Canby's gun over to O'Hara, who used it to cover the three felons.
"Our old friend," O'Hara said sarcastically. "There's some more rope in the car trunk. We can use it to tie up our friends here."
Superman walked over to the car and forced open the trunk, retrieving the rope. He gave it to O'Hara, who used it to tie the criminal trio's hands together. Then Superman forced the men into the back seat of the car. He slammed the door shut.
"You can drive them back to town now, and see that they're put where they belong," he told O'Hara. She nodded.
The pair faced each other.
"Well, it's been a pleasure working with you, Sergeant," Superman said to her.
"It's been a pleasure working with you too, Superman," O'Hara replied. "I hope we can do it again sometime."
"I'm sure we will," Superman told her, smiling.
O'Hara leaned up and kissed him on the cheek. Then she turned and got into the driver's seat of the car. She started the engine, and pulled the sedan back onto the road.
Superman watched as the car disappeared down the highway, touching the spot on his cheek where O'Hara had kissed him.
Later that day Sergeant O'Hara paid a visit to the office of Perry White at the Daily Planet. He was back behind his desk, and Lois, Jimmy, and Clark Kent were also there.
"So you see," she was explaining, "Superman and I weren't really married at all. He figured that if Mister X thought we were married, he'd try to get at Superman through me."
"He figured right - and it almost cost you your life," White told her.
"That's my job, Mr. White - and I had to get inside the gang."
"You're a brave man, O'Hara!" Jimmy said admiringly. "Golly, now that you're not married to Superman ... uh, I might ask you to marry me!" he said, blushing a little. Then he quickly added, "If I were the marrying kind!"
"Oh, thank you ... thanks a lot Jimmy!" O'Hara replied, smiling at him. "But I think I'll just wait around for Superman to ask me again - for real."
"Well, I feel I must warn you," Lois interjected, smiling too, "You've got competition!"
Kent put an arm around Jimmy's shoulder. "Well, Jimmy, it looks like ordinary fellows like you and I don't have a chance anymore," he said, half jokingly. "These young ladies don't seem to think there is anyone in the world but Superman!"
In chorus, both Lois and O'Hara replied: "Well is there?"
They looked at each other, and then everyone started laughing.
Posted by Jim