TAC Table of Contents
"Trouble In The Old Home Town" was first published in The Adventures Continue magazine in the summer of 2001. Steve recently asked me to republished it on the TAC website. I was happy to oblige, and Randy Garrett graciously agreed to colorize the illustrations he initially provided back in 2001.
Steve began the story with this note: In the first season of the Adventures of Superman, we learned something of the lives of Jimmy, Perry, and Lois outside of the Daily Planet. We followed Jimmy to Moose Island, Maine, to visit his aunt; we went fishing with Perry and Jimmy to one of his old haunts; and we traveled with Lois to what apparently was her hometown.
Clark never had this opportunity. At the end of "Superman on Earth," Sara Kent is still living, to be joined soon by her cousin Edith. What if Sara called Clark back to Smallville to help the local police clear out some big-time crooks? That is the basis of "Trouble in the Old Home Town." Think of it as a possible 1959 season story.
Sara Kent and her cousin Edith entered Seth Grey's general store. It hadn't changed in thirty years. Sara smiled at the old plow and oxen yoke in the corner, that hadn't moved in decades.
Bolts of cloth sat upon shelves behind the counter. Tools and hardware were in an adjoining room. Tables were piled with all kinds of knick-knacks: kitchen gadgets, yo-yo's, pocket knives, anything you could imagine. The modern meat freezer, back in the corner, seemed totally out of place amidst the antique atmosphere of the rest of the shop.
"What can I do for you ladies?" Seth asked.
"I need a few yards of good material, Seth," Sara said. "Edith promised to make me a new dress, and she wanted me to pick out the pattern."
"I've got some good stuff just in, Sara." Seth reached to the shelf behind him.
"Just keep 'em up, while you're at it," a voice said from the doorway. "You too, ladies."
Sara and Edith turned to see two gunmen just inside the door.
"What is this, a robbery?" Sara demanded.
"Oh, no, this is a business meeting," one of the men said. "Isn't that right, Seth?"
Seth slowly turned, his hands still raised. "Maybe you ladies had better leave."
"Yeah. It might get rough," the other gunman said. "Come out here. Now."
Seth came from the protection of his long counter and faced the men.
"Have you thought anymore about what we discussed?"
"Those men tried to wreck my store," Seth said. "They said it was because I refused to pay them."
"Right. You didn't pay your premium, so we've got a right to take it in any way we can."
"And I'm going to tell all about it in court, too!" Seth proclaimed defiantly.
"Oh, are you?" One of the gunmen swiped Seth on the side of the head with his gun. Seth fell to the ground, nursing his aching skull. "You still going to testify?"
"No. No. I won't. I won't press charges."
The first gunman grinned. "Good. Glad to hear it." He looked at Sara and Edith and touched his hat. "Sorry you ladies had to see that. Good day."
When the hoods were gone, Edith said, "Someone has to do something about those men before they beat up every shopkeeper in town!"
Sara looked grim. "I know someone who will."
* * * * * * * * * *
Clark Kent emerged from the storeroom and adjusted his double-breasted gray suit. He tightened his tie and settled the horn-rimmed glasses in place. As he walked down the corridor past Lois Lane's office, and around the corner to his own, he sighed. It was tough work putting out that warehouse fire; it had spread through much of the building. At least he had been able to rescue all the workers and no one had been hurt. There were a few suffering from minor smoke inhalation, but none needed rushing to the hospital. He had saved the people, put out the fire, and now it was time to write the story.
He smiled as he considered his two-fold role: fighting crime and disaster as Superman and writing the exclusive story about it as Clark Kent. It was a bit unfair, and that's why he let Lois get some of the stories.
His intercom buzzed insistently as he entered his office. He clicked the switch and said, "Kent here."
"Kent! Where in blue blazes have you been?" The angry voice of Perry White cracked over the speaker. "I've been trying to get you for the last hour."
"Well, chief, I got a hot tip from Superman and have a story for you," Clark said. "I was out covering it, and just got back."
"What was the story?"
"A warehouse fire on Whitney Street."
"Great Caesar's Ghost! That's the very thing I wanted to tell you about. And Superman put it out?"
"Yes, and if I hurry the Planet will have the exclusive."
"Good. I want that story as soon as you have it on paper. It'll need to go to the typesetter in an hour."
"I'll have it for you as fast as I can type."
Clark snapped off the intercom and rolled paper and two carbons into his typewriter. His fingers flew at super-speed as he wrote out the story, error-free. He left his office and turned left, walking back up the corridor to Perry's double-doored office at the end of the hall. He knocked and entered. "Here's the story, chief."
Perry White nearly bit through his cigar. "Kent! I just talked to you two minutes ago! How did you get it done so fast?"
"Oh, sometimes a story really inspires me to top speed."
"Speed is fine, if the story's good." Perry ran his eyes down the two pages. "And this is good. Kent, I don't know how you do it."
Clark shrugged. "Just doing my job, chief. Where are Lois and Jimmy?"
"Duke Wilson is getting out of prison today."
"The strong-arm man?"
Perry nodded. "Lois and Jimmy are covering it. They should have been back before this."
Clark wondered if he should make another visit to the storeroom when Lois and Jimmy came in.
"So, there you are," Perry said. "Well, what did Wilson have to say for himself?"
"He says he's getting as far away from Metropolis as possible," Lois said.
"Did he say where?"
"No," said Jimmy, picking up the story. "He's a free man, he can go anywhere he wants, he said."
"Is he going straight?"
"He said he has a job out of town that he's going to," Lois resumed. "He didn't say anymore than that."
"Maybe somebody in another town needs muscle," Clark said.
"Could be," Lois mused. "Anyway, it isn't much of a story."
"Well, write up what you have," Perry said. "And be quick."
The trio started down the hall. A messenger stood hesitantly by the elevator at the other end.
"I'll start on my story," Lois said. "How soon can you develop the picture?" she asked Jimmy.
"It'll be ready in fifteen minutes." Jimmy hurried to take the elevator down to the darkroom, and encountered the messenger. "Can I help you?"
"Are you Mr. Kent?" the messenger asked.
"I'm Kent," Clark said, stepping forward.
"Telegram for you."
The messenger handed him an envelope; Clark tipped him, and headed for his office. After closing the door he slit the envelope open with a paper knife and read its contents.
His foster mother was in some kind of trouble. "Special help" could only mean one thing: Superman!
He tore off his glasses and started to unbutton his coat when Lois knocked on the door. He quickly replaced his glasses.
"Clark, I'm out of typewriter ribbon and don't have time to raid the supply cabinet. Miss Bacharach always raises such a fuss over supplies anyway. Do you have an extra?"
"Hmm? Oh, sure, Lois. In the top file drawer."
"Thanks." She stopped as she noted Clark's preoccupation. "What's wrong, Clark? Is it this telegram?"
Clark hesitated, then nodded. "It's news from mother. Bad news."
"Trouble in the old home town?"
"Yes. I'll have to ask the chief for leave to go back to Smallville for a few days."
He walked Lois to her office and continued through Perry's door.
Lois returned from dropping off the story in Perry's office and stopped at Clark's. The office was empty, but the telegram lay on his desk. Never one to stop at snooping, Lois read the cable. "Special help," it said. What could that mean?
"Miss Lane!" Jimmy called from the corridor.
"In here, Jimmy!"
"I've got the picture developed and it's on the way to be plated for the next edition."
"Good. I've got something else we can do."
"Clark got a telegram and evidently lit out of here immediately. Something about trouble at home, and needing his 'special help.'"
"What does that mean?"
"Well, where Clark goes, who usually follows?"
"What are you going to do?"
"Let's take the next bus to Smallville. Can you be ready in an hour?"
"Sure. But I don't understand…"
"I'll fill you in as we go. Come on."
* * * * * * * * * *
Clark walked up the road to the farmhouse. It was just as he remembered it, though much of it had gone fallow over the years. His mother and Edith could only work a small part of the land, and Zeke the hand they had hired a year after Clark left was also up in years. They made enough to stock the local general store and eke out a living, but that was all. Clark had been helping them out with a portion of his salary.
As he neared the house he saw Edith come from around the far side. He waved and called to her, breaking into a run. She shaded her eyes with a weathered hand and smiled as she recognized him.
"Sara! Sara, it's Clark! Clark!"
Sara stepped out on the porch, her wrinkled face brightened by her smile as she waved at her quickly approaching son.
The three of them embraced on the porch, Clark enfolding them both in his arms. A single tear trickled down his cheek: a tear of relief to see both of them well.
"I was afraid one of you were ill. It's so good to see you!"
"And wonderful to see you again, son," Sara said.
He held her by the shoulders and looked into her eyes. "What is it, ma? Why did you call me home?"
"Step inside, and I'll tell you."
* * * * * * * * * *
"So that's it," Clark said, when Sara and Edith had finished. He had hardly touched the tea and cakes they had set out. "So major crime has even moved out here."
"This is the first time Chief Parker has had to deal with anything more than the occasional drunk or minor robbery or traffic violation," Sara said. "That's why I called you."
"Chief Parker? Didn't he retire last year?"
Edith smiled. "Yes, he did. She meant his son, Larry."
Clark smiled. "Of course. Larry and I went through school together. So he's the police chief now. Good for him."
"But this is too much for him to handle. That's why I called for you," Sara said, "so you can contact Superman."
"Can you really get Superman to come here?"
Clark touched his glasses. "He should be here soon. He wanted me to kind of spy things out first."
"Then let me tell you what we think," Sara said. "A lot of the merchants here are being forced to pay protection insurance, or else something happens."
"Ollie Carson, the barber? He was beaten up the other day. And Charlie Nelson, who owns the soda shop, had his windows smashed.
"Has Larry caught any of the men responsible?"
"He's locked up several of them, but then Ollie and Charlie refused to press charges."
"Somebody probably got to them before they could," Clark said.
"Exactly. Just today, Seth Grey, who runs the general
store, was beaten so he wouldn't testify."
"There are a lot of rough looking men hanging around town; but Larry can't do anything about it unless someone agrees to testify in court."
"That's why we need Superman; to put the fear of the law into these men," Edith said. "Oh, Clark, when do you think Superman will get here?"
"Cousin Edith, I think he'll show himself very soon."
* * * * * * * * * *
Sam Newman had run the jewelry shop in Smallville since Clark had been a boy. He was small, with a head slightly large for his frame. What little hair he had was gray and curled profusely around his ears and the back of his head. He bent over a set of emeralds from a recent shipment, examining them through his loupe. A shadow fell across the emeralds; Sam looked up.
Two hulking men in dark suits stood over him. Sam swallowed. "Can I help you?"
"No, but we can help you," one of the men said roughly. "We're here to offer you some insurance."
"I already have insurance on the entire store, thank you," Sam said. "It's through Lee Crawford, the insurance broker down the street."
"Yeah? Well, we represent another firm, and we think our rates are better."
"Yeah. Besides, we guarantee our coverage." He leaned heavily on the glass case containing an assortment of gold necklaces. "You've got some nice stuff here. It would be a shame if anything were to happen to it."
"I have theft insurance, thank you."
"Oh, but like I said can this Crawford guy guarantee that
it won't be stolen in the first place?"
"Well, we can. You pay us our premium, and we'll see to
it nothing gets stolen."
The hood picked up a handful of the emeralds. "These would be good for starters. What do you think, Dawson?"
The second man peered at the diamond rings in an adjoining case. "Not good enough," he said. He drew a snub-nosed .38 from a belt holster and smashed the case. He grabbed a handful of rings. "This should do it."
"Yes, I should say so," a deep voice said.
The men spun around. A tall, muscular figure stood in the doorway.
"Superman!" the first hood exclaimed.
The Man of Tomorrow stood hands on hips, his red cape flying in the breeze. "You're going to put those things back. Now. Or I'm going to have to take them away from you."
Brady, the first hood, drew his gun and fired. The bullets
bounced from Superman's chest.
Sam stared at his rescuer. "Superman! I've heard of you, but never thought to meet you."
Superman acknowledged the compliment with a nod. "Would you please call the police, sir?"
"Of course." Sam picked up the phone and called the
operator. "Connect me with Chief Parker," he said.
"It's all right, folks," Superman said. "These two men tried to rob Mr. Newman."
"Superman stopped them! You should have seen it!"
"Wow! Superman!" squealed a teenage girl.
"Break it up here, break it up," a voice called from beyond the crowd. Some of the people stepped aside, and Chief Larry Parker entered.
* * * * * * * * * *
Larry was startled as he first saw the Man of Steel.
The would-be thieves were coming to. Superman hauled them to their feet. "I'll lend a hand, Chief. Where's the jail?" He remembered it well, but he couldn't let Larry know it.
"I'll lead the way. Come on."
The police station was in the same spot, but had grown a bit over the years. Smallville still had little crime, but after all this was 1959. Superman saw a couple of rough types in leather jackets on motorcycles roar down the street, darting around traffic. A patrolman hopped onto a cycle of his own in pursuit. This type of thing hadn't gone on when he was a boy growing up here.
"We're small, but we have a pretty good police force," Larry said. "Nothing like what you have in Metropolis, I'm sure. But we do the job."
"I'm sure you do," said Superman. Just like your father, he wanted to add.
Two uniformed officers took the crooks back to the lock-up.
"Can I offer you something? Coffee? A donut?"
"Thank you, no. There are probably more men like these two around Smallville, and I'd better be on the lookout for them. If you'll excuse me?"
Superman stepped outside, ran a few steps, and leaped into the air.
A few minutes later, Clark Kent entered the police station. "Is Chief Parker here?"
Larry came from his office. "Who is it?" He stared hard at his visitor's face. "Clark? Clark Kent?"
Clark smiled. "Hi, Larry. Ma told me you were chief now."
They shook hands. "Come on in the office," Larry said. "Hey, what's with the specs?"
Clark gave them a touch. "Oh, too many years staring at newsprint, I guess."
They entered the office and Larry shut the door. "I know
you've been back to visit your mother and her cousin several
times, but we've never seen each other since you left a few years
ago." Larry sat at his desk. He stared at Clark seriously.
"This room is sound-proof. Now, I'm a cop, Clark. A big part
of my job is being observant. I saw Superman at the jewelry
store, and now, you show up. Is there some connection?"
Clark replaced his glasses. "Sounds good to me. Does Chuck still run the diner?"
"Yes, Chuck's Wagon is still open. Treat you to a
hamburger and a shake, like old times?"
"Twenty years from now people will be looking back at the Fifties and saying they were the good old days," Larry said as he opened the door.
They walked down the street toward the converted railway car that was Chuck's Wagon. They passed the bus depot as a bus pulled to a stop.
When he was a few steps beyond the depot, Clark heard a voice.
"Clark! Clark, it's us!"
Clark turned to see Lois and Jimmy descend from the bus and start toward him.
Jimmy carried their overnight bags as they joined Clark and Larry. Clark did the introductions all around. As he did he recognized a third passenger who emerged from the bus and met with a second man.
"What brings you to Smallville, Miss Lane?" Larry asked.
"Clark told me about the telegram he received from his mother, about trouble back here. We didn't want him to face it alone..."
Clark glanced at Larry. "So you decided to come here and help."
"Of course," said Lois. "What this job really needs is Superman; but he's not here, is he?"
"We were just getting ready to go to lunch," Clark said. "Why don't you join us?"
"That's perfect. We've got something to tell you anyway," Lois said.
Clark could guess what it was; for the last passenger to alight from the bus was Duke Wilson.
* * * * * * * * * *
After they ordered their burgers and shakes, Larry said, "Funny you should mention Superman, Miss Lane. He was here, just an hour ago."
Lois shot Clark a meaningful glance. "Oh, really?"
"Yes. Rounded up two of the strong-arm men I've been after. Caught them in the act."
"Speaking of strong-arm men, that's what I wanted to tell you, Clark."
"Duke Wilson was on the bus with you."
"How did you know?"
"I saw him get off."
"Don't you think it's odd that he'd show up here?"
"It's an interesting coincidence," Clark said, "but it fits in with what's going on here."
He and Larry filled them in on the protection racket.
"With Superman around to offer his own brand of protection, you shouldn't have any more trouble," Lois said.
"Superman will have this gang cleaned up in no time, won't he, Mr. Kent?" Jimmy said.
"Let's hope so, Jimmy."
Their lunches arrived, and they exchanged small talk between bites.
Bart Nolan's office was at the edge of town, away from the main business district. His business, however, put him indirectly in touch with the shopkeepers and tradesmen of Smallville. Nolan was tall and beefy, with a heavy jowelled face. Dark hair was brushed back from his forehead. He took a drag on a cigarette and regarded the man in his office.
The man was broad-shouldered and wore his hat tipped back on his head. He had come from lounging around the jail with news for his boss.
"The police chief's got Brady and Dawson in jail. They were caught while trying to hustle Newman, the jeweler."
"So? Newman won't bring charges. "I'll see to that."
"I don't know. There's something I didn't tell you."
"They were caught by Superman."
"Superman? What's he doing here?"
"Who knows? He's trouble."
Nolan's eyes narrowed. "You're not turning yellow, are you?"
"Me? No. But you gotta be careful, boss. Superman's a tough cookie."
"We'll find a way to deal with him. Did you bring the new man with you?"
"Send him in."
Duke Wilson entered. "You wired me in prison and said you had a job for me when I got out?"
"That's right. You were muscle for some boys in Metropolis, weren't you?"
"I understand you like that kind of work."
Wilson smiled crookedly and smacked a fist into a palm. "Yeah. It's my favorite kind."
"Good. I may have a job for you as early as this
afternoon. Mapes here will go with you."
"Protection. You're familiar with the game, I take it?"
Nolan studied Wilson over his cigarette. "There's one other thing you should know. And I think the fact that you're from Metropolis may help us. Today, two of my men were caught by Superman."
"Yeah. What could have brought him here?"
"What indeed. Now, you've dealt with Superman before, haven't you?"
"He's the one who put me in jail."
"Good. Tnen maybe you have some idea how we can deal with him."
Wilson smiled. "I got a real good idea. Guess who was on the bus with me?"
"Superman's girl friend and his young pal. All we have to do is nab one or both of them and we got hostages."
"Good plan. If the opportunity comes to grab them, you can take them to the old shack I have a few miles from town."
"I know the place," Mapes said.
"Good. You two have some work to do now, don't you?"
* * * * * * * * * *
"Why don't you come back with me and stay at my mother's
farm?" Clark said as they exited the diner.
"Maybe later," said Lois. "I want to talk to that jeweler. Maybe there's a story in it."
"Lois, I don't think the chief will be interested in a
story about a little town like Smallville," Clark said.
Clark shrugged. "You may be right. I'll take your bags back home for you. Well then, dinner is at six. Larry, you're invited too. See you then?"
"Sure. Thanks." To Lois and Jimmy he added, "I'll meet you in the lobby of the Smallville Hotel about four."
* * * * * * * * * *
"He was even more magnificent than I had imagined," Newman told Lois. "I had heard stories about bullets bouncing off his chest, and things like that, but I thought they were just that: stories. He didn't even blink. In fact, it bored him. He said so himself."
"It's happened so many times, it's no wonder," Jimmy said.
"Anyway, as long as he's here I know none of us have to worry about those bullies."
"He'll clear them out; you can bet your shop on it," Lois said.
"You think so?" a voice said.
Lois turned around. Two men stood with guns in their hands.
"Duke Wilson. So you are involved in this," Lois said.
"You guessed right. You've placed yourself right where we
want you, Miss Lois Lane. You too, Olsen."
"You've got that right. You see, our boss sells insurance. We're taking out a policy on ourselves. And you're our premium."
Lois frowned. "I don't understand." Though she believed she did.
"You're our insurance against Superman." Duke gestured with his gun. "Now. Get in the car. We're going places."
* * * * * * * * * *
About four-thirty Sara Kent's old crank-up phone rang. "Yes. Oh, hello Larry. Yes, Clark's here. Just a moment." She stepped into the living room. "Clark, it's for you. It's Larry."
Clark took the phone. "Hi, Larry. Did you pick up Lois and Jimmy?"
"That's what I'm calling about. Clark, they never showed at the hotel. I went to see Newman and asked if they had talked to him. He was evasive at first, but then admitted he saw two men abduct them. And guess who one of them was?"
"That's right. Newman's description of him matches the
one you and Lois gave me at lunch."
"At a phone booth in the drug store. Uh oh."
"What is it?"
"Duke and another man just came in."
"Make them sit tight until I can get Superman there." Clark hung up the phone. "Cousin Edith, it's been quite a day. That was Larry. There will be a delay before they can get here. I think I'll go to my room until they arrive."
Sara smiled as she understood the pretense. "Let me come with you a minute, Clark."
They reached Clark's old room and shut the door.
"Ma, Lois and Jimmy are in trouble and somebody's about to shake-down the drug store. Larry's there, but he needs help."
"And you're going as Superman?"
Clark nodded. "You've never seen me in costume, Ma."
"Go on, Clark."
Clark quickly removed his outer clothing, straightened, and
stood erect in the bright red and blue costume.
Superman bent his head, as he face turned slightly red at his mother's words. "I'd better be going now, Ma. Jimmy and Lois need me," he said, his voice a little deeper.
Superman opened the window and leaped out. He reached town in moments and landed outside the drug store. The Man of Tomorrow stepped inside.
Duke Wilson and another thug leaned on the pharmacy counter. They were nonchalant about the gun that Larry Parker held on them. Wilson straightened when he saw Superman, and smiled.
"You seem glad to see me," Superman said.
"Not exactly. But I know you can't do anything to me."
"He's been like this since I arrested him," Larry said. "It doesn't faze him."
"There's no need for me to do anything to you, Wilson," Superman said. "Chief Parker has the situation under control."
"There's only one thing you have to do, Superman," Wilson said.
"Tell Parker to let us go."
Superman frowned. "Let you go?"
"Let us go, or Miss Lane and the Olsen kid get it."
Superman stepped forward. His muscular six-foot two-inch frame towered over Wilson. "You've got some explaining to do."
"It's simple. We have the kid and the girl. If we're put in jail, our boss makes a phone call and that's the end of your friends."
Superman doubled his fists at his sides, but controlled his anger. He stepped back to Larry's side. "Chief Parker, you'll have to let them go."
"I can't risk Miss Lane's and Jimmy's lives."
"You're letting these two go, when I had them red-handed?"
"I've got my reasons. Release them, chief."
Larry stared at Superman, whose eyes held some secret he could not fathom. He sighed, released the cocked hammer of his revolver, and said, "All right. Whatever you say."
"Now, Superman, get out of town. And give your word you won't come back."
Superman hesitated, then nodded. "All right. You won't see Superman in Smallville again. I give my word to that." He turned, leaped into the air, and was soon out of sight.
Larry grudgingly let the men go. They snickered as they sidled past him and went to their car.
Superman hovered in the clouds above. Thunderheads were gathering for a storm, and under their cover he would not be seen.
He used his X-Ray and Telescopic Vision to spot Wilson's car. They pulled away and headed toward the outskirts of town. The car stopped at a building near the edge of town and Wilson let the other man out. Wilson drove on. Superman made a mental note of the name on the shingle tacked to the building: Bart Nolan. This man, most likely, was the big boss. Larry would make good use of that information. He followed the car from above. Wilson drove out on the highway a few miles and then turned off the main road, finally ending up at a cabin. Superman's Kryptonian eyes saw his friends, tied and gagged. A half dozen men were in the cabin, playing cards or reading the paper. Superman recognized two of them as the thugs he had seen at the jewelry store. He let Wilson go into the cabin, then started his descent.
* * * * * * * * * *
Lois and Jimmy exchanged glances as they heard the familiar whoosh of Superman's body through the air.
"Hey, that sound," Wilson said, drawing his gun.
"It's just the wind, ain't it?" one of the thugs said.
"No! I know that sound! It's..."
Superman burst through the cabin door, and one of the hoods started shooting at him.
"Don't bother!" Wilson said, grabbing the man's gun arm. Wilson pointed his own gun at Lois. "Here's how you stop him."
Superman stood still.
"Make one move closer and your girl friend gets it,"
Wilson said. He placed the gun next to Lois's head.
"Hey!" The gun was getting hot, burning Wilson's hand. With a cry he dropped it.
Superman grabbed one of the men and threw him into another. Both went to the ground. Another punched him in the chest, breaking his hand. Superman brushed him aside. Wilson tried to escape but Superman grabbed him by the coat collar and threw him on the growing pile of defeated gangsters. A few quick, restrained punches and the rest of them were unconscious.
Superman tore at the ropes that tied his friends, and in seconds they were free.
"Boy, are we glad to see you," Jimmy said.
Superman smiled. You always are, he thought. "Now, Miss Lane, if you will call Chief Parker, he will bring some men out here to round this crew up."
"Gladly," Lois said, as she picked up the phone.
* * * * * * * * * *
Dinner was delicious: Sara Kent's beef stew, homemade biscuits, and tossed salad with fresh sour cream dressing. Glasses of iced tea washed the wholesome meal down.
"Superman said he saw one of the men go into Bart Nolan's office, and that was all I needed to clinch his part in the protection racket," Larry said over thick slices of apple pie. "On top of that, one of the men is testifying against Nolan and his buddies."
"So you've got the whole gang," Clark said.
"Yep, thanks to Superman." Larry took another bite of pie.
"We want to thank you for letting us stay, Mrs. Kent," Lois said.
"And especially for this great dinner!" Jimmy added.
Sara smiled. "You're friends of my son's. It's the least I could do. More pie, Jimmy?"
"The police from the county seat will be coming to transport them to the jail there tomorrow," Larry said. "My cells are barely enough for that crew."
"And I don't think you'll have any trouble getting their victims to testify now," Clark said.
"Since they're all in jail, everyone has come forward and promised they'd tell all in court."
* * * * * * * * * *
There was one last thing Clark wanted to do the next day before heading home. He drove Sara and Edith in one car while Larry drove Lois and Jimmy in another. Soon the arched gateway to Smallville Cemetery appeared before them.
Clark and his mother got out of the car and walked to the graveside. The rest followed at a respectful distance, as they stood over a fine but simple stone that read EBAN KENT, 1887 - 1951.
Clark remembered that day well. His mother had sent him into town for some cloth. He had wondered what it was for, because he knew she was well stocked with all the kinds she could need. When he had returned home, the tears on her cheeks told something was terribly wrong.
"Ma!" He dropped the bundle of dry goods on the porch as he steadied her. "What is it?
"It's... it's your pa. His heart."
His brows contorted in grief. "Is he..."
Sara shook her head. "No." She managed a slight smile. "He's stubborn, even now. He insisted on holding on until you were back."
"Then, I'd better see him... while I can."
He went into the bedroom to spend a few last moments with his father. "Pa, I'm here."
"Be still, pa. There must be something I can do. Just say it, and you know I'll do it."
"Then listen, Clark. There isn't much time."
"No, there has to be a way..."
"Clark, please. Listen to me, son. You came to us from some distant world we can't understand; a world of supermen. You have a gift, Clark; a gift of powers. My last wish, son..."
"Don't talk that way, pa..."
Eban shook his head. Even that effort drained him. "I know I'm about to leave this life. Listen to me, son. My last wish is that you use those powers to help people, to do good in this world. Be the Superman that you really are."
Eban closed his eyes, and Clark heard the doctor come in. Clark glanced at Sara as he returned to the living room, and felt totally helpless. He stood by the front door and waited, his great power impotent against the greater Power that was coming to claim his father.
The doctor came out a few moments later and stood with his coat over his arm, tired and drawn. Though he had gone through this many times with many patients, it was never easy.
Clark came to stand behind his mother.
"Is he all right, doctor?" Sara asked.
"I'm sorry, Sara," he said, and shook his head at Clark in sorrow.
Clark took his mother by the arms. "He was a good man, Clark. He was a good husband."
Clark nodded. "And a good father."
He held her close as she cried. He lowered his head. He was faster than a speeding bullet; but not fast enough to arrive home before his father was stricken. He was more powerful than a locomotive; but all that power could not resist death. He could leap tall buildings; but he could not fly his father to a hospital, where he might have been saved.
He resolved, then and there, to devote his powers to preventing death and destruction, to protect the weak, and defend the helpless. His father had asked that he do those things for others, but not for him. Perhaps by doing them for others, he would be serving his father.
It was a few weeks after the funeral that Sara unraveled the red and blue blankets they had found him in and knitted his costume. Shortly after, he had left for Metropolis.
A cool wind blew through the cemetary.
"Pa," Clark said quietly, "I've tried to do as you asked. I hope that, if you were still here, you would be proud."
Sara took his arm and whispered, "He is, son; he is."
Clark smiled down on her, and kissed her forehead. He turned. Lois and Jimmy were waiting a little behind him.
It was time to go back, for the work to go on.
Steve Brooks is the author of the mystery novels The Raid and The Raid II: Back to School, available from Amazon. He intends to continue writing more Lost Adventures of Superman and invites readers to contact him with suggestions. He also encourages others to try their hands at stories. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jim - July 9, 2008
"Like The Only Real Magic -- The Magic Of Knowledge"