TAC Table of Contents
Folks living in the mid-western section of the United States know all kinds of weather. Strong winds are one kind. Often, in the form of devastating tornadoes. Those deadly funnel-shaped monsters cause a lot of damage, in terms of severe damage to homes, crops and businesses. They also kill people.
But big wind storms that aren't technically tornadoes can cause trouble for the residents as well. Hurricane-level blasts that strike quickly and disappear at the same rate.
Clark Kent, a sophomore at Smallville Junior College, had been in a science lab for several hours. This would be the last course of its kind he would be required to take, at least at SJC. He wasn't aware that the wind had been very strong for the last half hour. That is, until he finished his lab and headed out the front door of the science building.
Holding the door as he opened it, to prevent the gales from causing damage, he stepped out to the top of the steps.
"Man, it's really whipping it up."
Suddenly, a large branch snapped from the tree in front of the building. Caught by the strong gusts, the branch slammed him right in the chest. It literally bounced off his steel-like torso and landed around twenty feet away.
A number of students saw the limb strike young Kent, and their immediate reaction was to run to him to see if he was injured.
"Are you hurt?" one girl asked.
Before Clark could reply he was not, she froze, staring at him.
"Oh my gosh! Of course you're not. You're Superboy! Hey look, everyone!"
More students quickly gathered around, forgetting about the strong wind.
Until that moment, Kent hadn't noticed that when he was hit, the huge limb had all but shredded the shirt right off of him. There he stood on the steps in front of at least fifty students, his Superboy uniform clearly visible from the waist up. Even the portion of his bright red cape which could be seen was flapping in the wind.
"Uh...wait a minute. I can explain." Actually, he couldn't.
He was soon all but mobbed, as if he were one of the Beatles. Everybody wanted a piece of him.
"Hey Kent, why did you keep it a secret?"
"Yeah, if I was Superboy, I'd want the world to know!"
"Will you fly me home at Christmas so I can save bus fare?"
"Why don't you play on our football team. Nobody could beat us!"
"How about a date?"
The now unruly group backed him up against the front doors. All of the students wanted to touch him, shake his hand, pat him on the back.
"How fast does it take you to do your class assignments?"
"How about eating at my table in the cafeteria tonight?"
"Can I be your roommate next semester?"
“How many crooks have you caught?"
Finally, the Boy of Steel could take no more. He shouted, "S...T...O...P!!"
The next student who touched him was sent sailing. Pete Ross crashed over the desk chair in the dorm room he shared with Clark Kent.
The noise woke the sleeping strongman, who turned on the lamp next to his bed.
"Pete! Are you O.K.? What happened?" he asked as he picked his friend up off the floor.
"You must have been dreaming. You yelled 'STOP' so I came over to wake you, and you pushed me away...all the way across the room I might add."
"Yeah, I'm fine."
"I'm really sorry. I didn't realize what I was doing," Kent answered. "I just had the worst nightmare I've ever had."
"Wanna talk about it?" a dazed Ross asked.
Clark laid out what he remembered, wrapping it up with "And there I stood, in front of this crowd of kids, my secret revealed, and I was helpless to do anything about it. Then they all got in my face, yelling questions at me, and I guess I snapped."
"Wow, that must have been awful, but all is well now so let's try to get back to sleep."
The room went dark, and no more than two or three minutes had passed before Pete Ross, the human chainsaw, was back to cutting logs.
Young Clark wasn't as fortunate. The nightmare still had him rattled somewhat.
"What if my secret was revealed to everyone? Would people really act that way towards me? If they did, I'd have to become a hermit to ever have any peace," he thought to himself.
That would be the kind of change that he wouldn't like at all, just like the fact he was having to deal with his long-time girlfriend Lana Lang's transferring to a college in California. Said she had to get away from Smallville. Yes, she had asked him to go with her, but Smallville was his home and he felt the obligation to remain. Several months into this new situation, he was dealing with it the best he could, but he missed her.
Sure he could fly to the west coast in a matter of minutes, but his comings and goings would create too much suspicion, and with Lana, suspicion brought lots of questions. She had for years tried time and time again to prove that he was Superboy, sometimes to the degree that it jeopardized their relationship. He couldn't remember a time when he flat-out lied to her..."No, Lana, I am NOT Superboy," but he had to "stretch the truth" and wiggle around many times to diffuse her curiosity.
As his parents had told him numerous times, his Superboy abilities gave him the opportunity to help others in need and to help make the world a better place, even if it meant making personal sacrifices.
He agreed, and he was now dealing with the situation. In recents months, he lost both his late father and his girlfriend.
Even to a Boy of Steel, it wasn't an easy thing.
As Clark Kent was getting back to sleep, a hidden-by-the-night figure was zeroing in on the open third floor window of the SJC girls' dormitory across the campus.
Supergirl ended her flight entering that window, setting down as quietly as possible. Still, the landing made a noise loud enough that it grabbed the attention of Phyllis Coates and her roommate Lucy Lanning, who resided next door.
Little time passed before there was a quiet knocking on the door.
Quickly Supergirl donned the brown wig which covered her blonde hair and the clothing she had worn that day as Lisa Landon, her earthly counterpart.
"Yes?" she answered, without opening the door.
"Lisa, it's Phyllis. Are you all right?"
Then opening it, she replied, "Yes, I'm fine. Why?"
"We heard a noise and wanted to make sure you were O.K."
Lisa apologized, "I was trying to be quiet. I'm sorry if I woke you."
Coates replied, "No problem. Just wanted to be sure you didn't fall or anything. You're up kind of late."
"Yeah, you know, burning the midnight oil." She laughed.
"I understand. Well, see you in the morning." Phyllis headed back to slumberland.
Lisa closed and locked her door and fell on the bed. "That was a great show tonight," thinking out loud.
That show was a Broadway production performed just a few hours earlier over a thousand miles away from Smallville. After finishing dinner, she had decided, on a whim, to fly to New York City and see her first Broadway play. One of the perks of having extraordinary abilities like flying through the air at incredible speeds. Taking her time returning, she made the flight back in fifteen minutes.
Now on Earth for two years, she had adapted well to her new environment. Having met Superboy six months earlier, she was realizing her dream of standing alongside him in working for truth and justice. Even though he had suggested keeping her Supergirl existence a secret from the world for the time being, she was now feeling the time was drawing near that she should be able to reveal herself. Certainly not as Lisa Landon, however, as not even the Boy of Steel was aware of the secret identity she had chosen. And likewise, she didn't know his disguise. They had agreed that they were both entitled to their own privacy.
The only person who knew Lisa was Supergirl was boyfriend Pete Ross, and he had discovered it by accident. She thought back to that Friday night...
Pete and Lisa had decided to remain on campus. After watching a little television in the student union lobby, Pete suggested they head downstairs to the recreation room. Lisa suggested they try their hands at the bows and arrows.
Pete took aim, "You'd better move, Lisa. I've never been very good at this. No telling where my shot might go."
"Go ahead. I'm three feet from the target. Besides, the arrows are rubber-tipped. You're not going to hurt anyone."
Ross retorted, "All right. But I warned you."
He cut loose with the projectile. He was bad at this game. His arrow went left towards Lisa. The rubber tip caught right under the front of Lisa's wig disguise and completely removed the false head covering to the floor, exposing her bright blonde hair.
Pete nearly fainted.
Pete handed the wig to Lisa, "Here. I don't understand. You're really a blonde? Why would you wear a wig to hide beautiful blonde hair?"
"Pete, there's a lot about me you don't know. Nobody knows, for that matter. But since we've become very close over the past several months, I feel I can trust you with a very, I repeat, very important secret."
"You can trust me, Lisa, I am very good at keeping a secret."
"Then watch," she instructed. Pete was in amazement as he soon saw his girlfriend wearing an outfit similar to his friend Superboy.
"Pete, I came to Earth from another planet and have the same powers of Superboy. I'll admit I haven't perfected all of them yet, but I'm working on doing just that."
Thinking to herself, "Pete's been great about everything. Just as we were growing fond of one another, I dropped that bomb on him, and...well, I love him so much. I know keeping my secret is very stressful on him."
Little did Lisa know, that Pete probably felt stress from the other direction as well, as he also knew Superboy's secret identity.
Daylight came quickly for both superheroes.
Clark up in the middle of the night having a nightmare and Lisa's spur-of-the-moment trip to New York. But neither showed signs of lack of sleep at the breakfast table in the college cafeteria.
They were joined this morning by Pete Ross, Lucy Lanning and Phyllis Coates.
"So, easy class day or tough class day?" Pete asked all.
"Easy," said Clark.
"Me too," Pete said, answering his own question.
"Three classes for me," replied Lisa.
Phyllis added, "Every day is tough for me. I'm carrying eighteen hours this semester."
"Tough for me, too," Lucy Lanning, the roommate of Phyllis and newest addition to the 'group' declared.
"Lisa, you sure were up late studying last night," Lucy said.
"Uh...yeah. Paper due at the end of the week."
"I have a paper due this week as well. I'll be at the library most of the morning doing research," Kent added.
Phyllis inquired, "So, Lisa, how is it having a private room this year?" Seeing Clark's slight reaction, she apologized.
"It's O.K., Phyllis," he told her.
"Well, I certainly miss Lana, but I'm enjoying it. I've never had a room all of my own. I had to share a room at the Midvale Orphanage with two other girls," came her verbal response, while thinking to herself, "Plus a private room makes my comings and goings as Supergirl much easier."
Pete perked up, "Well, will you look at that! Everybody's friend Lex Luther and his "bodyguard" Rock Templeton just sat down over there.
"Yeah, he doesn't come in here very often," Lisa responded.
"Hey Lex, you decided to join us little people this morning?" Pete yelled.
"PETE!" said Clark.
"Something like that Ross. Need to see how the other half lives once in a while," Luthor answered in a sarcastic tone.
"I don't understand. Why don't you all like him?" Lucy stated. "Isn't he the guy who cleared your girlfriend of murder?" looking at Clark.
"Yes, he is. And for that, I'm grateful. But it goes back a lot further than that. We had some very unpleasant things with him. Let's change the subject."
"Speaking of subject, one of my subjects today is World History, and it starts in fifteen minutes, so I've got to go," Lisa added.
"I don't have a class until after lunch, so I'm going back to bed," Pete replied.
"Well, I'm off to the library," Kent stated. "See you all later."
The table was soon clear of all occupants. Lex and Rock remained at their table, eating their breakfast.
"Rock, this slop just reminded me why I don't like to eat here."
"Yeah, I wondered why you decided to come this morning."
"Like to keep my eye on those guys. See what they're up to."
"What guys?" asked Rock.
"Pete Ross, for one, but mostly Kent. He and I have some past issues. You know, the Lang girl."
"Oh yeah that's right...I forgot."
"Come on. Let's get out of here."
"What about your classes Lex? You have two today."
"I decided to skip them. What do I need to know about civics? What a bore. Let's go."
The two slid their chairs back from the table and started to walk away.
"What about our trays Lex? We're supposed to take them over there."
"Let somebody else do it," Luthor snapped. "Come on."
A stack of five reference books sat on the table where Clark Kent gathered information for an upcoming paper due later in the week.
"Pretty busy in here for so early. Maybe all the instructors got together and decided to assign essays all at once," he chuckled.
As he continued to make notes, he felt a vibration on his left wrist coming from the signal watch he wore to keep in touch with the local police.
The lad pulled the book pile closer to him and leaned his head down towards his hand. "This is Superboy, how can I help you?" he spoke softly into the watch's transmitter.
"Superboy, this is Inspector Henderson. A dump truck cut the corner of Amity Hill and Monroe streets too sharply and turned over. It isn't really an emergency. The driver is all right, but it would save the department lots of time and manpower if you could help us out over here."
"Amity Hill and Monroe. I'll leave right away. Over."
Getting up from the table, "I guess this will have to wait."
He headed down the steps towards the front door of the library.
Having decided to "skip" class, Lex and Rock headed towards the parking lot to return to the Luthor mansion.
Suddenly, Rock spoke, "Look Lex. There's your friend Kent."
"There, coming out of the library," Rock replied.
"Yeah, I see him. He's walking around the side of the building, pretty fast too. Why would he do that? There's nothing back there."
"I don't know Lex."
Swiftly, Clark shed his outer clothing to take over as Superboy, "This is an isolated area. Nobody will see me change here. I'll leave my books in the bushes until I return."
A moment later, to their amazement, Lex and Rock observed Superboy soaring into the sky from behind the library building. He was soon out of sight.
"Rock, you saw that, didn't you?"
"Uh...yeah. What do you make of it?"
Luthor snapped, "What do you think? Let's go over and see if Kent is still there."
Upon their arrival, they saw that he wasn't. "Very interesting," Luthor thought audibly. "It really hadn't occurred to me, but it would make perfect sense."
"What do you mean Lex?"
"Come on Rock. Do I have to draw you a picture? Kent runs behind the library, seconds later Superboy flies away from behind the library. Kent isn't here. Where else would he go?"
"Well, here are his books, Lex? Should we steal them?"
"No, leave them. That way he won't know we were here. I need to have a little talk with my friend Clark Kent, or should I say Superboy!"
"Lex, you mean you think that Kent is Superboy?"
"Uh...YEAH! It looks that way, doesn't it dummy? Come on, let's go."
At the accident scene, the Boy of Steel quickly returned the flipped dump truck upright and gathered the bulk of the spilled sand from the road.
"Anything else I can do for you Inspector?"
"No, that's plenty, Superboy, thanks so much."
"You're welcome," he answered as he sprung into the sky, unaware of what had transpired on the college campus during his absence.
Lex and Rock didn't hang around the library long enough to see Superboy retrace his path from landing behind the building to Clark Kent's heading back inside to continue his research.
Luthor figured he had seen enough to convince himself that Kent was indeed the Boy of Steel. Now how to proceed was the main objective.
"Good gosh, Rock, where did you park the car...Metropolis?"
"Sorry Lex, parking spaces around here are tough to come by. I got as close as I could."
"I should have had you pick me up where you dropped me off, and you could do all the walking by yourself."
"Just a bit further. I'm sorry."
"There it is," Luthor exclaimed, spotting the car.
"Finally," he said disgustedly, as he slid into the back seat." He always rode in the back, assuming people would be impressed to see him "chauffeured" around town. Fortunately for his "bodyguard" Rock, Lex didn't insist the door be opened and closed for him.
"Where to Lex?"
"Back to the house Rock, and step on it."
The assistant turned the key but the engine made no sound. A second and third attempt produced nothing as well.
"NOW WHAT!" Luthor shouted.
"Let me check under the hood," Rock's meek answer came.
So he exited, raised the hood and looked everything over.
"Here's the problem Lex. One of the battery cables came loose. It'll just take a second."
"HURRY! I want to get home!" came the voice from the back seat.
As Rock bent over to attach the loose cable, the silver medallion he always wore around his neck touched the battery connection simultaneously with the cable. There was a huge spark and a scream. Luthor looked out the window to see his "servant" motionlessly sprawled on the ground. The jolt had knocked him five feet from the car. He jumped out and rushed to his fallen comrade.
There was no response.
"HELP! Somebody help!" Luthor screamed.
A small group of nearby students gathered around.
"Somebody go call an ambulance. HURRY!" he instructed.
Several scattered to find the nearest telephone.
Back at the same table continuing his library research, Clark Kent's super sensitive hearing picked up the cry for help. Pointing his x-ray vision in the direction of the scream, he could see Lex kneeling beside the fallen Rock.
"Even if it is Lex Luthor, he needs my help."
Kent repeated the same cycle he had done about an hour and a half earlier, and Superboy came to earth at the accident scene.
"What happened?" asked the rescuer.
"Electrical shock. I think someone's gone to call an ambulance."
Likewise, Lisa Landon heard Luthor's yelling, excused herself from her class and ventured outside. Her x-ray vision revealed that Superboy was on the scene.
"Thank goodness Superboy is there. Otherwise, I would have had to be seen by the crowd to help."
She returned to her classroom.
Rock remained motionless at the scene of the accident.
"That ambulance is taking forever!" a frustrated Lex shouted.
"I can get him to the hospital right away."
"Uh, you sure? Well, O.K. I guess, I'll get there as soon as I can," Luthor stated, actually showing some humanly concern.
Seconds later Superboy, carrying the unconscious victim, was in flight towards Smallville Hospital.
Having paid a student $100 to connect the battery cable, Luthor arrived at the hospital forty minutes later. Entering the emergency room, he asked the whereabouts of Rock. The receptionist informed him the doctor was working on him and would be out as soon as he could.
What seemed like eternity, the doctor on call emerged from the swinging doors and asked Peggy the receptionist if anyone was there for his patient.
"That young man, Doctor," pointing to Lex.
He approached the bald teenager, "I'm Doctor Waring. Are you Mr. Templeton's family?"
"He doesn't have any family in the area. I'm Lex Luthor. He works for me."
"I'd prefer to contact his family."
"Look Doc, if you and this hospital want to get paid for your services, you'll talk to me. As I said, he works for me, and I'm the closest thing to family he has. So let's have it."
The doctor, quite taken back by Luthor's remarks and tone, answered, "Very well. Mr. Templeton suffered a severe shock, which caused some damage to his nervous system. Permanent or temporary, too soon to tell."
"What kind of damage?"
"We're still running some tests to get as much data as possible. The good news is that he has regained consciousness, but the bad news is that he is blind."
"BLIND!" Lex answered.
"Yes, regretfully. He has confirmed that he can't see anything. Now, as I said, this may just be temporary. As his nervous system settles down from the trauma, his vision could return, completely or part way, or..."
"Never," Lex asked.
"Never," answered the doctor. "I'm admitting him for the night. I'll evaluate him in the morning. If there is no change, I'll have him transferred to Metropolis where specialists can treat him. That's all I can tell you at this point. You're welcome to wait out here or you can leave your phone number, and we can contact you of any change."
"Can I see him?"
"No, I'm sorry. As soon as we finish the tests, I'll sedate him. His body needs rest more than anything. Why don't you go on home? Like I said, we'll call if there is any change. If you don't hear from us, check by in the morning. I need to get back. Excuse me."
Doctor Waring disappeared through the doors from where he came. Lex Luthor slowly walked towards the door.
The usual gathering at the cafeteria dinner table went off without a hitch. The talk of the day was, of course, Lex Luthor's bodyguard being injured on the campus grounds.
"Sure was a good thing Superboy was around to get the guy to the hospital," Lisa volunteered. "Anyone heard how he is?"
"Nope," Pete answered.
"Me either," added Clark. "Well, it's back to the library for a couple more hours of research for my paper." And hoping he can work without interruption, he thought to himself.
"What are you ladies going to do this evening?" Pete inquired.
"I have an idea," Phyllis suggested. "Let's go back to the dorm and wash and set each other's hair. We used to do that when we were in high school. It'd be fun."
"Yeah, that's O.K. by me," Lucy replied. "We used to do that back in Silsby, too. How about you Lisa?"
"Uh, well, not tonight. I plan to spend some time with my cute boyfriend (referring to Pete). We haven't had a "date" in almost a week. But you two have fun."
"So, Pete, should I wait up for you?" Kent joked.
"No, mother, that won't be necessary," Pete laughed. "Let's go Lisa."
The couple excused themselves and headed out of the dining hall.
"Of course I couldn't participate in the hair-washing thing. Wouldn't they be surprised if they found out I wear a wig?"
"OH YEAH! I was!" Ross answered. "So what are we going to do?"
"Let's go to a movie," Lisa suggested.
"The only problem with that, Miss Landon, is that the only theatre in Smallville is the drive-in, and we have no car."
"No, Pete, I was thinking of going to Metropolis to see a movie."
"And we get there how...on a bus."
Lisa stopped in her tracks, "No silly, we can fly to Metropolis."
"You mean?" he asked.
"Oh yeah, what do you say?"
"Sure. I've got twenty bucks. We can paint the town red with twenty bucks," Pete bragged.
"Come on, let's go behind the science building," she said, taking him by the hand.
She made a quick change to her Supergirl alter ego.
"Come on, hurry," she instructed. "Hold on tight."
She pushed off and the two of them shot into the dark sky.
Taking it easy as not to worry Pete, the two were soaring over the Metropolis skyline in fifteen minutes.
"Now to find a spot to set down," she said.
The couple touched down in a dark alley between two restuarants on one of the busiest streets in the big city. Another fast change and they were soon walking down the sidewalk, looking for theatre marquees.
"There's one," Pete observed. "And they're playing CAT BALLOU. I heard that was supposed to be good. How about it?"
"Fine with me," she answered. Ross, the big spender, laid out the required five dollars for two tickets and in they went.
Bookworm Kent had finished up his research for the night and headed back to his dorm. The room was void of his roommate.
"They must be having a good time, wherever they are."
He decided to head up to the roof, change to Superboy and patrol the Smallville area before turning in. He also considered going by the Kent home to see his mother Martha but decided it was probably too late. Another time.
As he circled back towards the SJC campus, he observed someone quickly exiting Grayson's General Store, formerly his family's business. He dropped down to the street right in front of the running intruder.
"SUPERBOY!" the teenager exclaimed.
"You seem to be in a hurry, young man."
"Yeah, I need to get home," came the reply.
"What's your name, son?"
"Pastor Berne's son?" the Boy of Steel inquired.
"You know Stan, don't you believe you're a little young to be smoking?"
"What do you mean?" the kid asked.
"I mean, the five cartons of cigarettes you have in your jacket. I don't think Mr. Grayson would appreciate your breaking into his store and stealing from him, especially something that isn't good for you. Now, do you?"
"No sir," the lad said, lowering his head.
"What are you going to do to me?"
"Well, if I took you to the police department, there would be a big fuss, papers to fill out, your parents would have to be called. You wouldn't want that, would you?"
"Why don't we do this? Let's take the cigarettes back to Mr. Grayson's store and try to fix the lock on the front door."
"I didn't break the lock, I jimmied it open, it isn't broken."
"Then you'll have to jimmy it open again to put the cigarettes back. I'm sure you can do that, right?"
"Then do it."
Just as the two were standing in front of the store, a Smallville police car cruised by and slowed to a stop. The officer swung his spotlight around until the two were in the path.
"Oh, Superboy, I didn't realize it was you. Is everything all right?"
"Yes officer, just seeing that this young man gets home O.K. Thank you."
"Great. Thanks Superboy, good night."
The boy opened the door, quickly replaced his attempted contraband, returned outside and pulled the door shut.
"O.K. Now to get you home. You live on Willow Street, isn't that right?"
"Yes, you mean, you're going to walk me home?"
"No, Stan, I'm going to fly you home. You'll love it."
Shortly, they stood in front of the Berne home.
"Goodnight Stan. Get on inside. Your folks are probably worried where you are."
"Are you going to squeal, I mean, tell my parents?" the nervous teenager asked.
"No, Stan. You decide whether or not you should tell them. And remember this, if you and I should ever meet again under similar circumstances, the outcome will be different. Understand?"
"I SURE DO!"
"Goodnight Stan," the Boy of Steel replied as he lifted off the ground.
"Now, back to the dorm."
Stubby Kaye and Nat 'King' Cole reprised the title song and CAT BALLOU came to an end. As the sixty or so patrons hit the sidewalk outside the Metropolis Lyceum Theatre, Pete asked Lisa if she liked the movie.
"Oh yeah, really funny."
"Yeah, it was good. I didn't know 'Dobie Gillis' was in it," Pete added.
They stepped into a small cafe for a bite to eat. Lisa had a donut and coffee, and always hungry Ross had pie...three pieces. After all, he still had fifteen of those twenty bucks burning a hole in his pocket.
"All done, or you going for four," Lisa laughed.
"Nope, I'm finished. Guess we should be getting back to Smallville."
He left the waitress a fifty cent tip and paid the check. "Great, I still have about eleven bucks."
"O.K., Mr. Rockefeller, let's go," Lisa said, grabbing him by the arm.
Leaving the restaurant, they returned to the same alley as before. This time the alley wasn't deserted. Fifty feet in, a silhouetted figure stepped in front of them. A gruff voice demanded all their money and jewelry.
"Get behind me Pete," Lisa ordered. He obeyed.
"Isn't that nice," said the mystery man. "Hiding behind your mother's skirt. Well, ain't that sweet? Now, do what I told you."
"I don't think so," Lisa responded firmly.
"A young lady with gumption. I like that. Listen, honey, do what I said or you and your boyfriend are going to get hurt."
"You may be the one getting hurt. Why don't you beat it? We don't want any trouble."
Angrily and out of patience, the figure commanded, "You don't seem to realize that I'm holding a gun on you, and I'm not afraid to use it."
A ray of her heat vision turned the 'Saturday night special' into a searing piece of metal.
He dropped the gun and screamed, "What the...? O.K., no more mister nice guy!"
Whipping a switchblade out of his pocket, he released the blade, charged Lisa and tried to stab her below the throat. The metal blade broke off as if it were a child's plastic toy.
"Now it's my turn!" she answered. Grabbing the wannabe thief by the front of his shirt, she lifted him two feet in the air, calmly walked to a trash can half-filled with restaurant rubbish and stuffed the assailant into the slop. "He'll be out for a while. Shall we head back?"
Lisa made her quick change, grabbed Pete and they were airborne.
"Close your eyes, Pete. I'm going to push it a bit."
They were on the ground behind the science building in five minutes. Again as Lisa, Pete walked her to her dorm, kissed her several times and trotted to his dorm.
Entering his room, he found Clark stretched out reading the Smallville Sentinel. "Well, hello stranger. I was beginning to think you ran off and joined the circus. You two have fun?"
"We sure did!"
"What did you do?" came the next question.
"Well, you see Clark, it's a secret between Lisa and me."
"Oh my gosh, you two didn't elope, did you?"
"NO! But it was a date I'll remember for a long, long time."
To his credit for possibly showing concern for a fellow human being, Lex Luthor was at Smallville Hospital bright and early the following morning to check on the status of his friend(?) Rock Templeton.
He was informed that Mr. Templeton was to be released, probably around ten o'clock.
"Really?" Lex inquired.
"That's what my notes say, Mr. Luthor," answered the nurse on duty. "You can wait in the lobby or come back around ten."
"I'll come back," he replied. "I have a class at SJC at nine, so I'll take care of that and be back around ten."
Having to drive himself to campus, Luthor figured attending his economics class was as good a way as killing an hour as anything else. He had, after all, skipped the last three econ classes.
His quickly changed his mind as he walked towards the building when he spied Clark Kent just ahead of him.
"Hey Clark, wait up."
Young Kent was not at all pleased when he turned around to see Luthor approaching.
"Morning Clark, on your way to a class?"
"Well, actually no, not right away. I was going to the student union."
"Can we talk for a minute? The most interesting thing happened yesterday. I thought you might want to hear about it."
Clark asked, "You mean about your friend getting hurt? I'm sorry about that."
"No, not that, although I'm happy to say he's getting to go home from the hospital this morning."
"Oh, glad to hear it."
Luthor requested, "Let's step over here out of the main stream so we can talk privately."
The two sat on a nearby bench and Lex began. "It's about something that occurred yesterday but before the Rock was injured."
"O.K.?" Clark answered. "What?"
"Well, it seems that Rock and I were on our way to the parking area to leave yesterday morning, when we saw you walk out of the library and go around behind the building. Then, amazingly, just a moment later, we saw Superboy fly off from behind the library. Care to comment on that? I just thought it interesting."
Kent took a gulp, trying to hide his surprise by the ambushing question. "Lex, not that what I do is any of your business, but it so happens that Superboy asked me to meet him behind the library for something."
"Oh really. What for?"
"Well, that's between him and me."
"Fair enough. But right after Superboy flew off, the Rock and I went behind the building, and you weren't there. Your books were, but you weren't. We thought it odd you disappeared so fast and left your books."
"Luthor, I don't know what you're driving at, but if you saw Superboy fly away, then you must have seen me with him, didn't you?"
"Actually, we didn't."
Clark continued, "Well, you should have because Superboy took me with him."
"It didn't look to us like he had anyone with him."
"Well, he was going pretty fast and probably had his back to you. That's why you didn't see me. We returned about an hour later, I retrieved my books and went on my way. Now, if there's nothing else, I'll be going."
"O.K., O.K. Maybe you're right. Just trying to put two and two together, I guess."
Kent replied, "Yeah, you added two and two and got forty. So long Lex. I suggest you worry about yourself and leave me out of it."
Luthor was left sitting alone on the bench. He laughed it off and decided to skip that stupid class after all and go pick up Rock.
Lex had been waiting about twenty minutes when he saw a wheelchair-bound Rock being rolled towards the lobby.
"Why are you in a wheelchair, Rock?"
"Just routine," answered the nurse. "He can walk fine. Young man, you may bring your car up to the front door. We'll be waiting for you."
Minutes later, Lex pulled out onto Main Street and headed for the Luthor mansion.
"You O.K. Rock?"
"Yeah, I'm fine. I woke up around six this morning, and my eyesight was back. The doctor checked me out and said all the tests they ran showed no serious damage, and since my vision had returned, he saw no reason why I couldn't go home, except I'm supposed to take it easy for about a week."
"Great! Rock! Great! I don't know about a week though."
"But Lex, there's something I didn't tell the doctor about my eyes."
"Lex, you ain't gonna believe this, but I can see through stuff. It's amazing!"
"What! Through stuff? You mean, like x-ray vision?"
"Yeah, I guess just like Superboy can. Ain't it neat?"
"You mean all the time?"
"Naw. Like right now, everything is normal looking. But when I open my eyes as wide as I can, then I can see right though stuff. I'll show you. Around this curve up ahead, there's a man wearing a green shirt sitting on the front porch swing of his house."
"I don't even see the house yet," Lex remarked.
"You will as soon as we take the curve."
Thirty seconds later, the Luthor automobile passed the house, and on the porch swing sat Deke Barber, the homeowner, wearing a green shirt.
"See, Lex, I told you the truth."
"Yeah, so you did Rock."
Immediately, the wheels of trouble began rotating in Lex Luthor's warped mind.
"I want you to do something for me Rock."
"Today? Lex, I'm really tired. The doctor said..."
"No, not today. I'm in no hurry. You can do it tomorrow."
Rock, a bit annoyed, answered, "What's so important that it has to be tomorrow? How about next week?"
"Tomorrow Rock, tomorrow. After all, how much rest do you need? And if you do a good job, they'll be a $1000 bonus in it for you."
"O.K. Lex, what do you want me to do?"
"O.K., listen carefully. Tomorrow morning, you take the car..."
During a break from classes, Pete Ross and Lisa Landon shared a small table in the snack bar area of the student union building, enjoying a soft drink and potato chips. Pete was especially enjoying his mini-meal, as he was devouring his fourth bag of chips.
"Sweetheart, lunch is in two hours. How do you expect to be hungry by then?"
"Oh, not a problem," Ross replied, crunching his treat.
"I don't know where you put it."
"Lisa," Pete lowered his voice to a whisper, "Have you seen Superboy lately?"
"Actually, no, not for several days, why?"
"I just wondered if you were still going to talk to him about going public with Supergirl, you know."
She replied, "I plan to, as soon as I see him. I think it's time, don't you?"
"Pete commented, "Sure. You deserve to be in the spotlight, too"
Lisa added, "Pete, it's not about that. It's just that having to keep Supergirl's existence a secret limits the things I can do. Like the other day, when that bodyguard of Lex was hurt, if Superboy hadn't been there to help, I would have had to reveal myself or just walk away. I wouldn't have felt right doing that. And if I had shown myself, Superboy might have been angry."
"Oh, he wouldn't be mad. He'd want you to help someone in trouble, no matter what."
"Well, fortunately he was there, so I didn't have to make the decision."
Ross tossed another question, "And when do you plan to tell him that Lisa is Supergirl?"
"Oh, I don't know. I kind of enjoy the mystery of it. Why, do you think I should tell him?"
"Well, yes I do, actually. You're going to have enough on your hands keeping your secret from everyone else. Keeping it from Superboy, well, it doesn't make sense to me. And if he has a secret identity, I think he should tell you."
Of course, Ross was perhaps speaking from a personal standpoint, as he was caught in the middle of it all, being both Clark Kent's best friend and Lisa Landon's boyfriend. He was uncomfortable having to hedge on each of them, but he had given his word, and he repeatedly had vowed to keep it.
"Maybe you're right, Pete. It's all very complicated, isn't it?"
"Yeah, tell me about it."
"I guess I could call the Smallville police and they can contact him for me. Then we could have a meeting and discuss it. I'll think about it and..."
At that point, she was interrupted by the sound of screaching tires. "Hear that," she asked Pete.
"Hear what?" he responded.
"Screaching tires. I'd better go," she whispered as she left Pete to his Coke and chips.
Checking out the perimeter, she fortunately saw an empty room down the hall. "I can change to Supergirl in that office."
Quickly flying out the window of the empty room, she headed in the direction of the alarming sounds she had heard.
Shortly she hovered above what was an overturned cattle truck. The driver appeared to be unconscious in the cab. The field and road were bustling with disturbed cows wandering around the area. Just when she thought she was being forced to make that decision she and Pete had discussed, she saw Superboy approaching.
"I'll check the driver. You put the truck right-side up," he instructed.
Minutes later, he reported the driver had no broken bones or concussion, just a big bump on the head, but was starting to come around.
"Help me get these cows back in the trailer," she asked.
It was an image Norman Rockwell would have loved to paint. Two superheroes from other planets lifting cows and returning them to their hotel on wheels.
"I'll stay with the driver for a bit. You need to scat before he sees you," the Boy of Steel stated.
"Can you join me at our meeting place? It's important."
"As soon as I can," he replied.
Superboy radioed for police assistance using his signal watch and stayed with the driver, who was alert and talking, until the requested help arrived.
Then he was in flight to the old smokehouse on the deserted Robinson farm at Supergirl's request.
Thirty minutes had passed by the time the Boy of Steel arrived at the usual location where the two super heroes got together when necessary.
"How was the driver of the truck?" she inquired.
"They took him to the hospital to be checked out, but other than a golf-ball sized lump and a headache, he'll be fine. The officer called his brother to pick up the truck and the livestock. So what's this get together all about?"
"I've been running a speech through my head, so I would appreciate it if you let me give it and not interrupt me, as I may lose my nerve."
"Yes ma'am," he answered. "You have the floor, even if it is a dirt one."
"Well Superboy, I feel that the time has come that everyone learned of Supergirl's existence."
"I agree," he interjected.
"Now, you said you wouldn't interrupt. What...what did you say?"
"I said I agree with you."
She gave him a big hug. "Oh, thank you."
"No, you deserve it, Supergirl. I'm all for it. I know you wouldn't have asked if you felt you weren't ready. But believe me when I say that it won't be easy. It isn't all a bed of roses."
"I know that. It hasn't all been a bed of roses to this point with just two of you knowing."
"Two? Who else knows?" she inquired.
"A close friend accidentally found out, but he swore he wouldn't tell anyone, and he hasn't."
"O.K.," I believe you.
"He also believes that I should tell you my earthly identity, and for what it's worth, you should tell me yours, he said, assuming you had one, and you told me you have. Well, I'm game. How about it?"
"You told him your secret identity? That could be a problem, for the both of you."
She added, "Oh, I didn't tell him. He found that out accidentally as well. One thing sort of led to another. But I trust him completely. Actually, he's my boyfriend."
"Boyfriend?" the Boy of Steel asked.
"Yeah. He said that he has met you," she responded, nervous that Superboy was getting angry.
"What's his name?"
"Pete Ross. He's a student at Smallville Junior College."
"Pete Ross!" Superboy began to laugh. "Oh no! You're joking!"
Now she started to get angry, "What's so funny? Pete's a great guy."
"Yes he is! So if Pete Ross is your boyfriend, then you're Lisa Landon?"
"Uh...well...yes. How do you know that?"
"How do you do, Lisa Landon. I'm Clark Kent." He laughed again.
"NO! You're not! It can't be!"
"Well, sorry if you're disappointed, but that's about the size of it. We see each other almost every day, and I never suspected anything."
"Me either," she answered. "Does Pete know about you?"
"Yep, about four years ago." He explained to her how Pete, also accidentally, discovered his secret.
"That poor baby. Knowing both of our secrets and not being able to tell either one of us. What have we done to him?"
"I have a feeling that Pete's life will be a lot less complicated after we both come clean with him," Superboy added.
After they both calmed down, she asked how he wanted to handle announcing Supergirl to the world.
"I've actually been thinking about this for whenever the time came. Clark and Pete have a good friend, Rusty Ellsworth, who works at the Smallville Sentinel. He's been there since we all started high school. He started on the janitorial staff, then switched to the press room about a year ago. The Sentinel is a small town paper, so almost everyone wears more than one hat. But what Rusty really wants is to be a reporter. Laurence Larson, the editor, has given him a few small assignments, sort of filling in when they're short of help, but hasn't really taken Rusty seriously. If we let Rusty have this story, Mr. Larson, I'm sure, would really take notice of him. It could be the shot-in-the-arm Rusty needs."
"I'm sure any reporter at the Sentinel would love to have this story."
The Boy of Steel responded, "The Sentinel? Walter Cronkite would love to have your story. Give me a couple of days to set it up."
"All right. Well, I guess we don't have to meet here anymore, do we? We can just talk on campus."
"Sure, we can try it that way."
"So, when do we tell Pete of today's events?" she asked.
"Sooner the better, tonight after dinner. Well, back to school. So long Lisa."
"See ya Clark."
They laughed again and simultaneously zoomed skyward.
Rock Templeton was stationed outside the Smallville Junior College boys' dormitory at seven o'clock the following morning, waiting to carry out the orders given him by Lex Luthor.
"I'll do what Lex says, but I don't understand what he expects to accomplish by doing this. But if it all goes well, there's an extra grand in my paycheck this week. O.K. Clark Kent, I'm ready when you are."
Soon it was 7:30 and no sign of the object of Rock's attention.
"Where is this guy?"
If the Rock had only looked upward, he possible might have caught a glimpse of the Boy of Steel as he landed on the dorm roof.
But he didn't.
Kent had entered his room to ask Pete if he was ready for breakfast, but the room was empty.
"That's right, Pete has an early meeting with one of his professors," he remembered.
So he headed down the stairs, through the lobby and exited the building, headed for the dining hall.
A couple of cute co-eds passing by had distracted the watchdog-in-waiting so he missed Kent's leaving the building.
A moment later, he returned to reality. "Doggone it! There he goes!" he said as he spotted his target at least fifty feet ahead of him. "How did I miss him?" Two pretty girls might be the answer.
Starting out in pursuit, not wanting to attract attention, he hoped a slightly faster-than-usual walk would enable him to catch up with Kent, but it didn't. Clark entered the building for his morning meal.
"Doggone it! Now I'll have to wait for him to eat." So he parked himself on the top step outside the cafeteria.
It was 8:15 as Clark and Chester Sartania walked out into the morning Smallville sun. They passed by Rock, still sitting. At the bottom of the steps, Chester went left and Clark went right.
"O.K., here we go." The Rock followed in pursuit. Fifty or so feet down campus, Clark was met by Lisa Landon. The two began chatting. Rock couldn't hear them as they discussed the happenings of the previous afternoon. Both were laughing at the irony of Clark and Lisa's being friends and neither knowing each other's super hero identities.
"Now's as good a chance as any. Hold still, Kent, for another second or two. You don't know it, but you're about to get a free x-ray courtesy of Lex Luthor and the Rock," thinking to himself.
He focused his eyes to the point his newly-acquired vision centered on Kent, and to his surprise, Rock then understood why Luthor had sent him to do what he had thought was a crazy idea. Zooming through Kent's outer sweater and shirt, he clearly saw the red and yellow insignia of Superboy.
"Holy smoke! I work for the smartest guy in the world. Lex was right. CLARK KENT is...SUPERBOY."
If only the poor Rock had panned to the right a bit more, he would have discovered there's a Supergirl as well, but he didn't. Instead, he casually turned around and started the long walk to the car he had left at the other side of campus, the same parking area of his accident.
"Now, how do I want to spend that thousand dollars!" he shouted!
Lex Luthor was ecstatic upon hearing Rock's report.
"Are you absolutely positive," he inquired.
"Yeah, Lex, saw that "S" as plain as day."
"I figured that was how he operated, wearing his Kent clothes over his Superboy outfit."
"What ya gonna do now? I know, blackmail him."
"No Rock," Luthor interrupted, "Nothing illegal. I'm enjoying my freedom too much to risk being locked up again. I've spent half my life locked up. Never again. But I have an idea. We're going to make it so that super boob can't walk down the street anymore."
"I don't get it, Lex."
"We're going to let the good people of Smallville do the dirty work for us."
"Rock, I want you to spend the rest of the morning downtown. Go into a bunch of stores, stop people on the street."
"And do what?"
"Just go up to these bumpkins, strike up a brief conversation and say, 'You know the talk going around? Clark Kent is Superboy.'
And then move on. Do this a dozen or so times, and it will be all over the county by nightfall."
"Ya really think so, Lex?"
"Rock, hick towns like Smallville are fueled by gossip. It spreads like a brushfire. Everyone wants to know who's fooling around with whom, what prominent citizen drinks too much, stuff like that. Clark Kent's being Superboy will create more excitement than "War of the Worlds'!"
"Yeah...I get it," the Rock replied.
"Great...head for town."
Clark's mom, Martha, was taking a batch of home-baked cookies from her oven when she heard the phone ringing in the living room. Placing the hot cookie sheet on a cooling rack, she walked quickly and answered it on the fourth ring.
"Martha? Gladys Parker."
"Oh, hello Gladys, how are you?"
"Well, I'm fine, but I want to ask you a question, Martha."
"Sure. What is it?"
"Martha, I thought we were good friends."
"Uh...we are Gladys, but that doesn't sound like a question."
"Well, if we're such good friends, why did you never tell me that Clark is Superboy?"
The startled Martha nearly dropped the receiver. "What did you just say, Gladys?"
"I SAID, why did you never tell me that Clark is Superboy?"
"Gladys, what in the world are you talking about? Whatever gave you such a silly notion?"
"Everybody in town is talking about it, Martha."
"What exactly are they saying?"
"They're all saying that your boy Clark is really Superboy!"
"Who started this nonsense? If my son was Superboy, don't you think I'd know it!" Martha answered, about to lose her temper.
"I heard it from Lucinda Hobbs at the drug store. She was telling just about everyone who came in there this morning."
"Lucinda Hobbs...and you believe her? Gladys, you know Lucinda Hobbs as well as I do. She loves to start idle gossip just for the attention. Last week, she was telling people that the reason the Mayor raised corn in his garden was because he had a still in his basement. I learned a long time ago to take Lucinda Hobbs with a grain of salt, and so should you!"
"Well, you don't have to yell at me!" Gladys replied.
"Listen Gladys, spreading gossip like that can be very hurtful to people. You wouldn't want me telling everyone made-up things about your son Luke, now, would you?"
"Then I'd appreciate it if you would stop this nonsense talk about Clark right now. I'll be very disappointed if you don't."
"O.K. Martha. I won't breathe another word of it."
Martha hung up, shook her head in disgust (and a bit of concern) and headed back to her cookies.
Gladys Parker had one more call to make. She telephoned the Smallville Sentinel and demanded to speak with editor Laurence Larson.
The afternoon paper had hit the street thirty minutes prior, so the daily craziness at the paper was beginning to subside. Nevertheless, Larsen's secretary buzzed his intercom.
"Yes, what is it?" he grumbled.
"Gladys Parker insists she speak with you right away."
"Not now. Tell her I'll call her back."
"Mr. Larson, she said if you don't talk to her, she'll come down here and park herself outside your office."
"Oh, for heaven's sake, put her through."
Not knowing he would regret his decision, he answered, "Good afternoon, Gladys. How are you today?" in his most pleasant, albeit, insincere tone."
"Laurence Larson, what kind of newspaper do you run in this town?" she snapped.
"Well, we try to run a professional newspaper, Gladys. What can I do for you?"
"I just got my paper, I'm a long-time subscriber, you know..."
"Of course I know, Gladys, we are next door neighbors."
"Well, I want to know why the biggest news story to hit this town since Lindy crossed the Atlantic is NOT in today's paper, NOT a mention!"
"Now, calm down, Gladys. What story are you speaking of?"
"What story! Why, the story that Martha Kent's boy Clark is Superboy! That story! Haven't you heard about it?"
"Oh. Well, actually, I have. When I was eating lunch in Tony's Diner a while ago, several folks were spreading that around. Being curious, I asked them about it. They said they had heard it in Dan Grayson's store this morning. I asked them what proof they had, and they said none, it's just what they heard."
"O.K., so there, it's all over town," she argued.
"It very well may be all over town, Gladys, but the Sentinel doesn't print gossip. We are a professional newspaper, not CONFIDENTIAL magazine. We don't print things without proof. There's a thing called libel, and I'm sure you're aware, Gladys, that libel is a serious crime. The Sentinel can't afford..."
He heard a click.
"Good, she hung up."
Just as he started to organize the next day's layout, Bernie from circulation stuck his head in Larson's door to advise him that a Mrs. Parker had just called and canceled her subscription.
"Thanks Bernie. You're new here. Gladys Parker cancels her subscription about four or five times a year, every time we do something she doesn't like. She'll call back in a day or two and start it back."
It turned out that during the next couple of hours, Martha received four other calls, all inquiring about the talk spreading around town. They ranged from "Isn't that sweet?" to "You must be very proud" to "Can he drill a new well for me so I won't have to hire someone." Losing her patience, she took the receiver off the hook. That didn't help.
Shortly, the local radio station pulled up in the Kent front yard. A reporter rang the bell and asked for an interview. "What is it like being Superboy's mother?"
She snapped back, "Roy, I've known you since you were born. I can't believe you've fallen for all this lunacy. Why don't you go interview Lucinda Hobbs at the drug store? She seems to know everything!" And she slammed the door.
Not being a very persistent reporter, Roy left as requested. But as he pulled out into the dirt road heading back to town, several cars whipped into the Kent drive, blowing their horns. When Martha opened the door to see who was causing such commotion, the trespassers were yelling, "Hey, where's Superboy, we want to see Superboy, is this where Superboy lives?"
She stormed back inside and called the police department for assistance. Asking specifically for Inspector Henderson, he advised her that a car would be dispatched immediately, and would remain outside her home until the craziness stopped.
"Do you want trespassers arrested, Martha?"
"No, just try to keep them away from here. My sister Edith is down in her back, and I have my hands full taking care of her."
"As you wish, Martha."
Unaware of all the commotion created in the Smallville business district by the Rock (at Lex Luthor's instructions), Clark Kent, as Superboy, had ventured to town at the same time his mother was being harassed by her many "friends" of the community.
No longer able to use the secret tunnel in and out of the former Kent's General Store, he landed behind a dumpster at the rear of the Smallville Hotel, changed to young Kent and set foot towards the drug store for some needed items, unaware of what waited for him.
The very first person he met on the sidewalk gave a resounding, "Hello there, Superboy!"
Startled, he replied jokingly, "You...er...think I'm Superboy. That is a good one." He laughed and went on. By the time he had walked a block, no less than five others said similar things.
"What's going on here?" he thought.
Before reaching his destination, he stepped into his family's former business, now owned by Dan Grayson, a long-time family friend. Fortunately, it was a slack time and only Dan was inside.
"Hi, Mr. Grayson."
"Clark, what a surprise. Good to see you. How's college?"
"Fine. I like it a lot."
"Say, Clark, I'm sorry about Lana. Her moving, you know?"
"Oh...yeah. Well, thanks."
"And about you're being Superboy, if you are, well, I think that's great."
"What is this, Mr. Grayson? You're the fifth or six person to say something like that since I got to town. Why would you say something like that?"
"Well, Clark, the whole town's in a buzz about it. Some folks who have been in today are kind of getting it out of proportion. Me, I've always thought the world of you Clark, and your parents. It doesn't matter to me if you're Superboy or not. He's a great guy, too."
"Well, thank you Mr. Grayson, but let's leave Superboy out of this for the time being. Have you any idea who started all this talk?"
"Clark, please don't tell her I told you, but Lucinda Hobbs told me just before noon at the drug store. I asked her the same question. She said some nice looking young man, around twenty, came in this morning and told her that's what he had heard. Mentioned it quite casually and walked out. Well, once Lucinda gets ahold of something, everybody's gonna hear about it."
"Well, don't believe everything you hear, Mr. Grayson."
"I never do, son."
A customer opened the door, stepped in, and seeing Kent, turned and yelled out to the street, "He's in here. Superboy's in here!"
"Clark, leave through the store room. You'd better hurry."
"Thanks, Mr. Grayson."
He slammed the store room door behind him and by the time he had run to the back leading outside, he had already peeled off his Kent clothing. The instant he went through the door, using his super speed, blasted into the sky unseen by anyone.
Minutes later, he came to land on his dormitory roof, made his identity switch, quietly came down the stairs from the roof, and seeing the hall clear, quickly entered his dorm room.
He actually caught Pete Ross doing school work at the desk. Pete jumped up, "Where have you been! It's been crazy here!"
"What?" Kent inquired.
"About an hour ago, that goon of Lex Luthor's was walking up and down outside the student union building telling everyone that Clark Kent was Superboy! And as soon as I got here, guys were lined up, knocking on the door wanting to see you. I had to let several of them in to prove you weren't here, and they finally went about their business, but I'm sure they'll be back."
"Pete, it's spread all over town, too. I don't know what to do. I can't hide forever. Does Lisa know about this?"
"Not sure, I haven't seen her since this morning. But what can she do about it?"
"Well, actually, probably nothing. But she may have to take over all my duties for a while, if I decide to leave."
"Leave! Why would you do that? Leaving wouldn't change anything. People are going to believe what they want to believe. Seems to me the way to stop all this is to convince them that Clark isn't Superboy."
"Yeah...good idea...but how can I do that?"
Pete replied, "Well, that, I don't know."
Eating dinner in the college cafeteria was about like being at the circus.
Most everyone stared and smiled. A few smirked. Clark leaned over to Lisa and whispered, "Remember when I said it wasn't all a bed of roses?"
"Yeah, I see what you mean. How much longer do you think all of this will go on?"
Kent replied, "Who knows? Maybe forever, unless I can divert their train of thinking in another direction. I'm not hungry. I'm going back to the room. Coming Pete?"
"Not yet. I'll sit here with Lisa for a while."
As Clark got up from the table, someone yelled, "He's going to change to Superboy and go fly somewhere."
Losing his temper, he replied, "NO, I'm going back to my room to study."
As he approached the doors leading outside, Kent was met by the Dean of the school. "Clark, hello, I was coming to talk to you."
"I was just heading back to the dorm."
"Fine, I'll walk with you." Their trek began. "Clark, I'm aware of what has been going on today, and I'm sorry. I can't imagine what you're going through. What do you plan to do about all this?"
"Well, sir, I'm not sure. I guess I suppose I could let a car hit me. Maybe that would quiet everyone down, but I hate to get that drastic."
"Son, I know you don't mean that. Seems to me the logical thing would be for both you and Superboy to appear someplace in public together. That would take care of everything, and you'd see a lot of shamed faces."
"Well, sure, that would do it, however..."
"Hold on! Clark, I have an idea. The dedication day after tomorrow."
"Dedication?" the lad asked.
The Dean continued, "The new gymnasium. The dedication is in two days. They'll be a huge crowd, both from campus and from town. The Mayor, the Police Chief, the Fire Chief."
"Lex Luthor?" Clark asked as a lightbulb clicked on in his head.
"Yes, of course. It's because of Lex Luthor's generosity and donation of funds that the new gym was built. Being a modest individual, he declined to take a place on the platform, but he'll be in the front row."
Thinking to himself, "Modest, that's a laugh."
"Dean, I have strong reason to believe that Luthor is behind the rumor going around that I'm Superboy."
"Son, I'm sure you don't mean that, although I am aware that there is some history between the two of you. If I could get in touch with Superboy, I'd love to have him at the ceremony. Hey, he could cut the ribbon. But how would I find him?"
"I don't know, sir, but I'm sure he knows about the ceremony, and unless he has something pressing, I would think he'd be around nearby."
"I have it! If we could get Superboy to the dedication, you could introduce him. Then everyone would see both of you and your problem would be solved. And having Superboy here would make it an afternoon to remember."
"Well, sounds like a good idea, but..."
"Great. I'll call the Sentinel first thing in the morning and run a notice alerting Superboy that we need him at the ceremony. I'll call the radio station, too. Between the two, he's sure to know about it. Clark, all classes will be canceled the afternoon of the dedication, so I need you at the platform at ten minutes before two."
Clark, trying to speak, "But Dean..."
"What a great idea! O.K. See you then, Clark. Don't let me down!"
"No sir," Kent's voice trailed off as the Dean hustled away.
"Great! What a wonderful idea! Now all I have to do is appear at the dedication as both Clark and Superboy at the same time. Thanks a lot, Dean. You've been a great help!"
The "big wigs" of Smallville and Smallville Junior College couldn't have ordered better weather for an autumn afternoon. A sunny sky and sixty-five comfortable degrees. There wouldn't be many more days this nice for a while as Old Man Winter would soon be moving in, and mid-western winters could be unpleasant at times.
Clark Kent had reported at 1:50 p.m. as asked by the school's Dean. He stood off to the side of the 'honored guests' platform. The Dean looked concerned as he had seen no sign of Superboy. He had really stuck his neck out assuming the Boy of Steel would show up for the dedication. The school's President looked just as concerned and was focusing much of his attention on his underling. If the dedication was to be a bust without Superboy, he wasn't going to take the fall. The school would most likely have a new Dean the next semester.
Lex Luthor, the man of the hour, along with Rock Templeton, made his arrival to the huge applause of everyone both on the platform and the audience. Except one, that is...Clark Kent kept his applause to a minimum. Luthor noticed, and glared Kent's way, then cracked a smile, like the cat who just ate the canary.
Two o'clock arrived, and still no sign of Superboy. The President took to the podium, made brief opening remarks and then turned the proceedings over to the Dean. As far as the boss was concerned, at this point, the Dean was on his own.
The worried administrator looked to the skies for the Boy of Steel. Not seeing him, he had to begin. As a stall tactic, he switched his note cards around a bit and began with his acknowledgment of Lex Luthor.
"Without the wonderful generosity of this fine gentleman, and I might add, student of Smallville Junior College, we would not be standing here this afternoon. His monetary contribution, and his alone, paid for this wonderful ultra-modern physical education building, complete with classrooms, offices, basketball courts and Olympic-sized swimming pool."
The crowd roared. Folks near Luther gave him the glad hand, while others patted him on the back. Lex soaked up the adulation.
A few more minutes of saying virtually nothing sensible, the Dean wiped his brow, desperate for the Boy of Steel's arrival. It didn't come. Seeing the crowd getting restless and outright bored by his endless remarks, he decided to come clean.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, we had hoped this afternoon that Superboy would be able to join us and take part in our grand day by cutting the ceremonial ribbon, however it appears that he is unable to be here, so we shall proceed with our wonderful President doing the honors."
At this point, a few 'brownie points' by the Dean couldn't hurt.
The egotistical Luthor, unable to control his disdain for Clark Kent and Superboy, jumped to his feet, "Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to say a few words." He unexpectedly climbed the steps to the guest platform. Naturally, his being the guest of honor, the Administartion did nothing to stop him.
"There's no reason to be disappointed that Superboy didn't show up this afternoon, because Superboy is actually here right now! You've all heard the rumors. And I'm here to tell you that the rumors are not rumors at all. The fact is that Clark Kent, standing right over there, is Superboy. Clark Kent is only a disguise. He's been tricking all of you for many years!"
Everyone was stunned at his remarks. Luthor's hostility appeared to jolt all the people gathered back to reality.
Chester Sartania ran up on the platform, shoving Luthor to the side. "Listen, Clark Kent has been my friend since we were both kids. All of you know Clark is a good person, and a better friend you'll never find. The same goes for Superboy. He is our friend and has helped many of us during bad times. Whether Clark is Superboy or not doesn't matter to me."
Agreement, along with some shame, began to filter throughout the crowd. Then suddenly, several in the crowd pointed upward and yelled, "LOOK!"
The assemblage watched as not one, but two, red and blue costumed figures grew larger as they descended towards the platform.
Lex Luthor's bald head and face turned as white as Casper the Friendly Ghost. He glared at Rock, "You stupid fool!"
Superboy stepped to the microphone, "Good afternoon everyone. Please accept my apology for being a little late. But now that I'm here, before going any further, I would like to introduce to all of you my good friend and new partner, Supergirl. You will be seeing a lot of her around Smallville from now on. You probably have questions you'd like to ask her, but let me say that by the time you all return to your homes and businesses this afternoon, today's edition of the Smallville Sentinel will be waiting for you. A front page story, written by my good friend and the Sentinel's newest full-time reporter Rusty Ellsworth, will tell you all about Supergirl. But, let's get back to the reason we're here. Let's dedicate this wonderful new gymnasium."
Declining the huge pair of scissors, Superboy used his heat vision to cut the ribbon across the front door.
The crowd applauded in approval.
Taking the microphone again, the Boy of Steel spoke, "One more thing, please." Looking over at Clark Kent, he continued, "Clark, I'm aware of what you have been dealing with the last few days, and I want you to know that I am very sorry for any misunderstandings involving me that caused you any inconvenience."
Superboy then approached Kent and shook his hand. The two super heroes waved to the crowd and were then airborne.
The crowd, many angry, turned on Lex Luthor. He and the Rock had to literally run for their car.
The President stepped over to the Dean, and shaking his hand, said, "Good job. Wonderful ceremony."
"Thank you, sir. It's a shame it all ended on a negative note for our man of the hour."
"Out of bad things come good things sometimes. The new gym is a good thing. As for Luthor himself, the crowd's turning on him, well, he probably won't leave his house for a month, unless he leaves town for good. He had it coming."
Clark, like Superboy, was nowhere to be seen.
It was an evening of celebration at the Kent home. Joining Martha and her sister Edith for supper were Clark, Pete and Lisa.
They surrounded a dinner table which held dishes of Martha's incredible fried chicken, mashed potatoes with gravy, green beans and homemade biscuits with honey.
"So nice of you to have us, Mrs. Kent," Pete said.
"Glad to have you, Pete. I don't get to see much of you these days, and it's so nice having you join us, Lisa."
"Thank you," she answered. "It's nice seeing where Clark grew up."
Clark's Aunt Edith volunteered, "It is nice having you young folks. Martha and I spend a lot of time, just the two of us, you know. By the way, how did you all get way out here from your school? There isn't a car outside."
"Uh," Pete jumped in, "We caught a ride with someone." He winked at Clark and Lisa.
"Oh, that's nice," the aunt replied.
As they all talked, the serving dishes became lighter and lighter until there was nothing left to consume.
"What a meal!" Pete approved.
"Yeah, Mom, really great."
Martha started to rise from her chair, "Well, I'll get the dishes to the sink."
As she usually did about dishwashing time, Edith asked to be excused. Every medical ailment she had, and some she probably didn't, seemed to flare up about when it was time to wash dishes or do housework.
"I think I should go upstairs and lay down for a bit. That old misery in my back is acting up again. Do you mind?"
"No, Edith, that's fine. Should I help you up the stairs?"
"No, I think I can make it," she moaned.
As soon as she cleared hearing distance, Martha told her company, "She could probably run up those stairs if she wanted to."
"Doesn't she help out around the house, Mom?"
"Not much," Martha answered, "but that's all right. I don't mind looking after her. She's good company."
Clark and Lisa cleared the table, filled the sink with hot water, and between the two of them, had washed, dried and put up any evidence that a meal had been served in a matter of minutes.
The four sat around the table, talking at a volume that couldn't be overheard from the upstairs.
"I must say, this has been a day of revelation for me. Finding out there's a Supergirl and then learning that it's you, Lisa. And I want to thank you for trusting me enough to take me into your confidence."
"I'm happy to do that," Mrs. Kent. "After all, you've kept one of the world's biggest secrets for twenty years. I know mine is safe with you," Lisa responded.
"And Pete, you rascal, knowing Clark's secret for all these years and not telling us. I ought to spank you."
"Please don't do that," young Ross laughed.
"Now son, I have to know, how did you pull off Clark and Superboy being at the gymnasium ceremony at the same time."
"Well, when the Dean of the school suggested I introduce Superboy at the dedication, that would squelch the rumors going around. It got me to thinking how I could do that. I talked it over with Pete and Lisa, and it was actually Lisa's idea. You tell her, Lisa."
"The solution seemed easy, but pulling it off was another thing. If we could make Pete look like Clark, then Superboy could fly in for his appearance. So I "borrowed" some latex and make-up from the drama department, and Clark and I made a sort of mask for Pete to wear."
"Yeah, Clark gave me his clothes and glasses, and I put black vegetable dye in my hair. It wasn't perfect, but by keeping my distance and not really speaking to anyone, it worked. And when Superboy apologized to Clark about the rumors going around, you could feel a lump in everyone's throat. Then they all turned on Lex. He ran like a crazy man."
Martha interrupted, "Well, it worked all right. Everyone who had been pestering me about the rumors called back and apologized for upsetting me. Well, everyone but Gladys Parker. But that's Gladys. The next time I see her, she'll act as if nothing ever happened."
"Mom, why did everyone automatically believe the gossip? These people are our friends, or so I thought."
"Clark, they are our friends. I guess it's human nature that we all like to gossip to some degree, not really thinking that it can be hurtful to those involved. In a way, it probably makes us feel important and noticed to say things like Clark is Superboy. We all like to be noticed. The ironic thing about all this is that the rumors were true. But without proof, they're still just rumors. Everyone heard about it and assumed it to be fact without any proof. Sometimes that can be dangerous. Sort of like a lynching mob back in the Old West. But now, it's over. It is over, right son?"
"As far as Smallville is concerned, probably so. But Lex Luthor, who knows what is going on in that mind of his? Back when he was Larry Leyton, he vowed he'd get even with both Clark and Superboy for having him sent back to juvenile detention. I'm sure this was part of his threat."
"But it didn't work Clark," Lisa added.
"Well, it did to a point," Kent answered. "And the fact that he was humiliated in front of much of the town today isn't going to sit well with him. He's trying to portray himself as the knight in shining armor these days."
"Well, it backfired on him today, that jerk," Pete stated.
"Which may make him even more dangerous, not just for me, but you too Lisa. Now that he knows there's Supergirl, he might come after you as well."
The next afternoon at the Smallville Sentinel, Bernie from circulation stuck his head into the office of editor Laurence Larson.
"Gladys Parker just called mad as a hornet. Wanted to know why her afternoon paper hadn't been delivered. I told her she had canceled her subscription, and she called me a liar."
"Bernie, I told you she'd call back. That's her way of saying she wants her subscription resumed. If her son Luke scores a touchdown in the Smallville High football game Friday night, and we spell his name wrong, she'll cancel it again. That actually happened last year."
"Yeah. Luke's name came out Luck in the story, and she blew her top. I'll hand deliver her paper when I go home this afternoon...as I do every time this happens. She lives next door to me."
"Oh, Chief, that must be awful," Bernie suggested.
"Not really. She's actually a pretty nice lady. Just likes attention. And Bernie..."
"Don't call me Chief."
"Like The Only Real Magic -- The Magic Of Knowledge"