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Author Topic: L&C Pilot episode novelized  (Read 1923 times)
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Rugal 3:16
Last Son of Krypton
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« on: April 08, 2003, 06:49:45 AM »

Credit goes to Sarah wood

http://www.geocities.com/Hollywood/2501/lctrans.htm

============
LOIS & CLARK  *  SEASON ONE  *  EPISODE  #1

THE PILOT EPISODE
Written by Deborah Joy Levine

*  INTERPRETED BY SARAH WOOD (e-mail me at
102116.3615@compuserve.com with comments or questions)

*  I would like to thank the many FOLCs who contributed to this
transcript, especially Pam Jernigan, Chris Mulder, Genevieve
Clemens, Georgia Walden, Kathy Brown, John Dobson, Donna Hafner,
and Donna Brown. Their input was invaluable.

*  A word about this transcript: There are three different ver-
sions of this episode. The original airing was a two-hour movie,
and it was re-shown in the United States as two hour-long episodes
with additional scenes. The European/Australian version has even
more scenes added in, and some scenes are in different places.
This transcript follows the European/Australian release as closely
as possible, since it is the most complete version.




     The relative stillness of an early Metropolis morning was
broken by a taxi that came tearing down the street. It made a wide
U-turn, riding over the edge of the sidewalk and sending a few
pedestrians scurrying out of the way, and came sharply to a stop
in front of a landmark building with a large globe over the en-
trance, home to the Daily Planet, the greatest newspaper in the
world.
     A bearded young man wearing a woolen cap and carrying a video
cassette emerged from the cab. He kicked the taxi's door shut and
quickly headed inside the building.
     Inside the newsroom it was still rather quiet, although not
deserted. The man headed for a particular desk, where he shrugged
off his jacket and got a pair of scissors. Reaching under the
front of his shirt, he carefully snipped at, and began pulling
out, strips of binding cloth, looking very glad to be freed from
their tight restraint. He sighed in relief and wiggled his shoul-
ders.
     Jimmy Olsen, the paper's young copy boy and all-around
gopher, approached the man. "You're in early," he commented. He
inspected the man from different angles. "I like the beard...
but the mustache isn't working for me," he teased. "Want me to
do it?"
     The bearded man nodded in resignation, and squeezed his eyes
tightly shut, preparing for the pain to come. Jimmy ripped off the
false facial hair, revealing a lovely young woman. She triumphant-
ly held up the videotape and two rolls of film.
     "I nailed 'em, cold!"
     "All right!" Jimmy congratulated. He took the evidence, and
the young woman removed the woolen cap, fluffing up her shoulder-
length hair. It hadn't been easy, but she never backed down from a
challenge and never took "no" for an answer.

      *****

     "Million Dollar Car Theft Ring Exposed" was the headline on
the Daily Planet's morning edition the following day, an exclusive
by Lois Lane. All the papers and television stations picked up the
story quickly. "A stolen car ring was smashed by a brilliant
raid..." a newscaster was reporting on the television screen in
the newsroom.
     Lois Lane had made a startling transformation from grubby,
scruffy man to beautiful, professional woman, now wearing a
sharply tailored suit and high heels, with her dark brown hair
glossy and shining. She accepted the congratulations and admira-
tion of her co-workers with modesty. "Oh come on, you guys, it was
nothing, really," she said. A beaming smile that lit her brown
eyes with a glow showed how pleased she was, nonetheless.
     "I still can't believe they thought you were a boy," Jimmy
Olsen said, shaking his head in wonder.
     "Well, the mustache helped, and thanks for teaching me how to
boost a car," she said to him.
     Jimmy raised his coffee mug in a toast. "To Lois Lane, still
going where no reporter has gone before!" he joked. The staff
members clapped and laughed until the booming voice of the
editor-in-chief cut through their ranks.
     "Hey, hey, hey! Turn that thing off," Perry White instructed
someone with a curt gesture to the television. "Now Jimmy, don't
encourage her, she's got a head as big as the Metro Dome as it
is!" he said gruffly, as he gave Lois that special smile he
reserved just for her.
     "Well it's nice to know I'm appreciated around here, Chief,"
she said saucily.
     "What do you expect... garlands thrown at your feet?" he
suggested with a wicked smile.
     "No," she said with a quick laugh. "But I would like a
raise."
     "Well I'd like a 145 foot triple-masted schooner with a teak
interior but hey, Lois..." He showed her the insides of his empty
pockets. "Times are tough." The gathered staff members laughed,
and Perry looked around at the party going on in his newsroom.
"What's everybody standing around for? This is a newspaper, not
Happy Hour at Buckingham Palace," he said firmly.
     Jimmy followed his boss across the newsroom, eagerly trying
to get his attention. "Chief, I got an angle on the mini-mall
murders. Chief, I figure there was blood on the burritos because
-- check this out -- they were eating, right, and the perpetrators
come --"
     Perry stopped at the door of his office and turned to face
the enthusiastic boy. "Did you finish those obituary updates?"
     Jimmy looked crestfallen that his boss wasn't interested in
his idea. A murder was far more exciting than the obits. He won-
dered if Lois Lane had started off writing obituaries.
     "Jimmy," Perry began, sounding each word out clearly, "never underestimate the need for a good obituary." With that, he went
into his office and closed the door.
     Jimmy turned away. "I can think of one right now," he mutter-
ed under his breath. He headed over to Lois's desk, angrily toss-
ing down his notebook. She moved it from her work, making a face
at him. Then he spied her pink message pad. "Whoa, I guess you've
finally hit the big time!"
     Lois, concentrating on her work, didn't look up. "Huh?"
     "This time, Lex Luthor's personal assistant --" he began
teasingly with a big grin, and as Lois jumped to reach the pad he
danced back, trying to keep it from her. "-- returned your call,"
he finished in a rush as she snagged it from him. She looked at
it in disappointment and crumpled it up. "Give it up, Lois," Jimmy
said. "Luthor never gives one-on-one interviews."
     Lois just looked at him. "Well, he's never met Lois Lane
before, either," she said determinedly.

      *****

     Sirens wailed, people hurried across the street like a herd
of sheep, cars honked their horns, and vendors shouted out their
wares, as a clean-cut young man stepped off a bus. He set down his
battered suitcase, embossed with the initials C.K. in gold, on the
sidewalk to stop for a moment and survey the bustling city,
breathing in the aroma of exhaust fumes and hot dogs. Inexpli-
cably, he felt both like a stranger and as though he had found a
home, especially when he saw the immense Daily Planet globe.
     Suddenly an insistent honking drew his attention. A city bus
was careening down the avenue, out of control! The traffic light
had just turned red, and the throng on the sidewalk began pouring
onto the pedestrian crossing without looking. The runaway bus
would mow them down!
     He didn't know what to do, but he knew he had to do some-
thing or people would get hurt. Abandoning his suitcase, he
swiftly ran into the street, right in front of the oncoming bus.
He caught a glimpse of the driver's horror-stricken eyes as he
held his hand out and braced himself for impact.
     The bus came to an abrupt halt, throwing its passengers for-
ward violently. The young man looked around fearfully, hoping
that no one had seen what he had done. A woman standing close to
him, who would have been in the direct path of the bus if it
hadn't been stopped, stared at him in stunned disbelief. "He...
he..." she stuttered, pointing at him and trying to get someone's
attention.
     The young man looked around anxiously, afraid that in avert-
ing a disaster he had revealed himself as someone extraordinary,
but no one was paying attention to her, and no one else seemed to
have seen anything. His heart pounding, he darted back to the
sidewalk, grabbed his suitcase -- which was miraculously still
there -- and melted into the crowd of pedestrians, hoping to dis-
appear in their midst. No one came after him, no one paid him any
attention at all, and he breathed a sigh of relief.
     The woman on the street stared in shock at the imprint of a
hand, imbedded perhaps an inch into the steel of the bus's
grillwork.

      *****

     A middle-aged man wearing ragged and mismatched clothes came
out of the elevator and into the Daily Planet newsroom. He was
filthy, and he smelled of sweat and dirt and other things no one
wanted to try to identify. He looked around the busy newsroom for
someone. "Lois Lane? Lois Lane?" the man repeated in an urgent
tone as he weaved his way past people and down the stairs to the
pit, his eyes roving around the room. Seated at her desk, Lois
heard her name called, and she looked up for the source of the
disturbance. "Lois Lane!" he shouted as he spotted her. He bran-
dished a paper-wrapped parcel in one hand. "It's going to ex-
plode!" he yelled to her. Lois's brown eyes widened, startled, as
she stood up.
     "He's got a bomb!" someone cried out in alarm.
     "It's not a bomb," Jimmy derided.
     "It's my credentials," the man announced around him. Two
security guards from the lobby caught up with him at that point,
taking him by the arms, but the man's momentum carried him to
Lois.
     "I'm sorry, sir," one of the guards said to the chief editor,
who was emerging from his office to see what the commotion was.
"He ran right past me."
     "You don't understand," the man said urgently, handing the
parcel to Lois. "Miss Lane, the Messenger is going to explode!
Please, Miss Lane, you must tell my story!"
     "We've had trouble with him before," the guard said, begin-
ning to haul him away firmly.
     "No, please!" the man cried helplessly, "You've got to be-
lieve me!"
     "No, wait a minute, don't!" Lois called out to the security
guards, wanting to hear more. There was something in the man's
desperate eyes that urged her to find out more.
     "He's just a box short of a variety pack," the guard explain-
ed, paying no attention to her.
     "Please, the space program is doomed!" Still crying out his
pleas, the man was hustled out of the newsroom by the guards. Lois
looked down at the package in her hands with a slight frown,
wondering what was in it. Whoever he was, the man had fervently be-
lieved what he was telling her.
     A short while later Lois was sitting at her desk, now covered
by the contents of the package -- lots of crumpled pieces of paper
that she had been trying to flatten out. They were different sizes
and colors, with notes scribbled on them. Her attention was
diverted, however, when she heard the Messenger mentioned on the
television set nearby. She turned to watch with interest.
     Gloria Campos was reporting for Lex*Tel Communications News.
"The transport vehicle Messenger, piloted by Commander Jack
Latterman and carrying the final propulsion module for Space
Station Prometheus, is scheduled for lift-off Friday at 9:00 a.m.
Dr. Toni Baines reminds us that timing is crucial."
     The scene shifted to show the young blonde woman so central
to the space program. "Unless all the modules are in place within
the next few weeks, Space Station Prometheus will lose its orbit
and fall back into the Earth's atmosphere. That kind of an occur-
rence will surely spell the end to any future projects, and the
space program as a whole."
     The newscaster's voice then explained, "A series of delays
and launch failures have already put EPRAD's back to the wall."
     Lois looked at the papers on her desk. If that crazy-looking
man had been telling the truth, if the Messenger had been sabo-
taged and was doomed to explode, then the entire space program was
in jeopardy!
     As she turned, some of the papers slid to the floor. With a
sigh she got down on her hands and knees to retrieve them from
under her desk.
     Catherine Grant sailed into the newsroom, her luxurious coat
dangling languorously from one hand. As usual, she was dressed in
outrageous attire, revealing plenty of tanned, toned skin. "Morn-
ing, Lois," she said smoothly, her voice a deep, rich timbre. "On
your hands and knees again, I see."
     Lois collected the last of the papers and stood up, grimacing
at the typical jibe. Cat Grant never missed a chance to put her
down, but as always, she fired off a return volley. "Isn't it a
bit early for you to be in, Cat? I thought ladies like you only
work nights."
     Cat laughed. "Part of my job as society columnist..."
     "Mud-slinging rumor monger," Lois interjected tightly.
     "... is to maintain an active social life." Cat paused. "You
remember what's that like... or do you?" With a contemptuous laugh
she departed, managing to slap Lois's face lightly with the sleeve
of her fur coat.
     Lois shook her head slightly, grimacing. She had worked hard
to become a top investigative journalist, to be seen as an equal
to her male colleagues, and she believed that women like Cat, who
flaunted their sexuality and used it to their advantage, just made
things harder for women who would rather use their brains than
their bodies.
     Jimmy came up behind her, watching Cat.
     "What do men see in her anyway?" Lois asked grumpily. "Don't
they know she's just looking for another notch on her garter
belt?"
     Jimmy was quick to agree. "Pathetic!" Then a considering look
crossed his face. "Have you actually *seen* this garter belt?"
     Lois gave him a disgusted look as she turned to him and
smacked his chest.

      *****

     The young man who had stopped the bus with one hand crossed
the street and stared up at the famous globe hanging over the
entrance of the corner building, reading the name "Daily Planet"
wrapped around it in neon blue lettering. He was here! He was
lucky that his connections had landed him an interview with the
Editor-in-Chief, Perry White. There was no time to stand on the
sidewalk, gawking at the massive iron globe like a tourist; he
didn't want to be late. He took a deep breath, and carried his
suitcase inside to ask for directions to Mr. White's office.
     Mr. White seemed a little less organized and efficient than
the young man had expected. In fact, he seemed rather distracted
as he rifled through the loose sheets of paper that covered his
desk. "So you are Mister, uh..."
     "Kent, Clark Kent," the young man supplied quickly.
     Perry White found the resume he had received. "Ah yes, Kent.
Oh, Professor Carlton called me about you; boy, I haven't seen him
in I don't know... Let's see here," he suddenly said, remembering
the purpose of the appointment and trying to bring himself back to
the matter at hand. "Editor, Smallville Press," he read slowly,
his smile faltering. He'd never heard of Smallville. "Where is
that, that's in...?"
     "Kansas."
     "Kansas," the chief repeated, trying to keep his voice
neutral. The phone rang with a shrill, insistent sound. "Oh, just
a minute please," he apologized as he reached out and grabbed the
receiver. "Yeah... Oh, tell him to keep his pants on! If Carlini's
can't deliver on time, just find a place who can!" he ended up
hollering into the mouthpiece before slamming it down. "Would you
believe I had to buy a blood pressure monitor last week?" he asked
Clark as he laid two fingers against the side of his neck and
looked at his watch.
     "Paava leaves," Clark offered.
     "I beg your pardon?" Perry asked blankly.
     "The Yolngu tribe in New Guinea eat paava leaves to relieve
stress, it puts them in a meditative state. Maybe you should try
it," he suggested helpfully. A woman entered the office and laid
some papers on Perry's cluttered desk, leaving silently.
     "Oh, well, I see you've done some traveling," Perry observed,
not quite sure what to make of that information. Eat leaves? Was
the boy serious?
     "Well, this is my first trip to Metropolis," Clark clarified.
"I have some samples of my work," he remembered, bringing some
papers out of his satchel.
     "Oh good, good, let's take a look," the editor said agreeably
as he accepted them. He liked this young man's honest face. "The
Borneo Gazette," he read slowly, getting a sinking feeling in his
stomach. "Mating rituals of the knob-tailed gecko?" With a sigh he
faced the clean-cut young man with the hopeful eyes, trying to
find a gentle way of breaking it to him. "Kent, I'm sure that
these are fascinating stories, but you see, son, this is the Daily
Planet! We're the greatest newspaper in the whole world! Now our
people are dedicated servants of the Fourth Estate who routinely
handle matters of international significance."
     He was interrupted by a dark-haired young man who burst
through the office door. "All right, Chief, I fixed the horn on
your golf cart," he announced happily.
     "Not now, Jimmy," Perry said abruptly.
     "The tone's still off," the lad continued apologetically.
     "Jimmy, not now!" Perry shouted. Jimmy didn't waste any time
leaving. "Now, as I was, uh, saying, you just can't walk in here
and expect..."
     He was interrupted again when a young woman burst in through
the door behind his desk, calling to him before she'd even entered
the room. "Chief! I think there's a story here and we should have
this guy checked out, you know, the crazy one from this morning?
He was an engineer at EPRAD for ten years..."
     "Lois!" the chief exploded. "Can't you see I'm in the middle
of something here?" he asked plaintively. Clark rose to his feet
politely to meet the woman, intrigued by the fire in her eyes and
the intensity of her manner.
     "Oh," she said, not sounding in the least apologetic. She
barely afforded Clark a glance before turning expectantly to her
editor and waiting impatiently.
     "Lois Lane, Clark Kent," Perry introduced.
     "Nice to meet you," she said, sparing him another brief
glance without really seeing him. She turned immediately back to
her editor. "Anyway, he worked on the Messenger..."
     Clark closed his mouth, his polite words of greeting having
been totally sideswiped by her rapid-fire words to Perry White,
and used the hand he had extended to Lois to adjust his glasses
instead. He was taken aback by her brusque rudeness and yet he
admired the dedication she obviously had for her work.
     "Wait, wait, wait a minute!" Perry interrupted, holding a
hand up to stop any more words from spilling out. "What happened
to that mood piece I gave you about the razing of that old theater
on Forty-second Street?"
     "I wasn't in the mood," she said with a touch of sarcasm.
     "You weren't in the mood," he repeated in disgust. "Now look,
Lois, you can't come in here and tell me you're not in the..."
     The young woman was no longer paying attention, and Clark saw
the golf-cart fixer making urgent faces at the glass window of
Perry's door, pantomiming a phone call. "I gotta go, I'll catch
you later!" she told her boss, drowning out his tirade as she
swept out of the office like a tornado of energy.
     "I tell you, if that woman wasn't the best damned investiga-
tive reporter I've ever seen, I...!" Perry put his fingers against
the pulse point in his neck again, sure that the stress of his job
would give him a stroke one day. Then he remembered what he had
been discussing before the interruptions: the Borneo Gazette
article this nice young man had written. "Look, Kent, I'm sure
that you're an intelligent guy, but you just can't walk in here
with this kind of resume and expect to get a job."
     "Mr. White, I know I lack experience," Clark said earnestly,
"but I'm a good writer --"
     "Kent," Perry interrupted.
     "-- and a hard worker, and I --"
     "Kent," Perry interrupted again, regretfully but firmly. "I
just don't have anything for you, son."
     Clark's face fell. "Well thank you, sir, I appreciate you
taking the time to see me," he said politely, realizing dejectedly
that he should not have expected his modest success in small
circles to translate into opportunity in the big city of Metro-
polis.
     "Okay," Perry said with a friendly smile.
     Clark shook the man's hand, picked up his satchel, and walked
slowly out of the office.
     Perry smiled until Clark had turned away, and then stared at
his throbbing hand with a grimace and a whimper of pain, holding
it away from his body. Then he looked in the direction the young
man had gone, his eyes wide.

      *****

     Clark found a room at the Hotel Apollo. It was a seedy dive,
but it was all he could afford until he got a job. He put his
suitcase down in the rather bare room, looking around at the grimy
walls, the cheap furnishings, and the pay phone on the wall. From
the room next door came the sound of rock music playing loudly. It
wasn't much of a home.
     Home. He closed his eyes, and the word conjured up the
knitted afghans his great aunt had made for his bed, the collec-
tion of photos on the mantle, the smell of something delicious to
eat, and all the love and warmth that made a house a home.
     He got out a quarter to call his parents. Hearing their
voices always cheered him up, and after that disappointing inter-
view he sure needed cheering!
     "You want me to wire you some cash?" his dad offered right
away.
     "No, I'm fine," Clark said half-heartedly, wondering how long
he was going to be able to afford to stay at this crummy hotel
while he looked for a job.
     "How'd the interview go?" Martha Kent asked eagerly.
     "Not so good, but something'll turn up, I'm sure," Clark said
into the phone, not feeling at all sure and not sounding at all
convincing.
     "Nyeah, I think I should wire you some cash," Jonathan put
in.
     "I'm fine, Dad."
     "You're still going to make it home on Friday?" his mom
asked.
     "What, and miss your home cooking?" Clark asked with forced
cheer.
     "What home cooking?" Jonathan snorted. "I haven't had a home-
cooked meal in..."
     "Clark, you're being careful, aren't you?" his mother asked
into her phone, cutting off her husband's complaint.
     "Sure, other than the bus incident this morning, but that --"
     "Bus incident? Clark..." his mother began, her happy smile
vanishing.
     "Metropolis isn't the Outback, you know," his father warned,
ignoring his wife's glare. "People in the city are always looking
to make a quick buck. If they find out about you, they'll put you
in a laboratory, and..."
     Clark finished the familiar refrain in a chorus. "... 'dis-
sect you like a frog.' I know, Dad. Believe me, I'm trying my best
to be like everybody else here."
     "Well, I'll get that cash out to you tonight," his dad told
him.
     "Dad..." Clark stopped his automatic refusal as he realized
that he needed the money, and that his father would feel better if
he accepted it. "I'll pay you back, I promise. Okay, I'll talk to
you guys soon."
     "Bye, honey," his mom said gently, giving her husband a
slightly sad smile.
     Clark hung up slowly, feeling a pang of loneliness... that
lifelong companion of his.
     Intending to look in the classified section for another job
opportunity, Clark had gotten a copy of the Daily Planet. He lay
down on the bed, reading an article about Russia on the front
page, putting off his task. It was a great paper, and he had
really wanted to work there.
     The light above his bed, a bare bulb on the ceiling, flicker-
ed and buzzed annoyingly, distracting him. With a frown he tossed
the newspaper aside and, with no sign of effort, he willed himself
to levitate, floating gently upwards to the ceiling. He was still
stretched out horizontally, looking for all the world as though he
were still laying on the bed.
     As he neared the light he reached out and touched it with his
bare hand. Unheeding of the temperature of the bulb, he gave it a
turn to tighten it. The flickering stopped, and he hovered there
for a moment, testing it cautiously with a gentle tap. Satisfied,
he slowly floated back down to the bed.
     He lay on the narrow, springy matress, staring at the grubby
ceiling, unwilling to pick up the paper again and start job
hunting. He had been so excited by the prospect of working at the
Daily Planet! Now his hopes had been ground to dust, and these
strange powers of his were of no use to him. Sure, he could float
up to the ceiling, but could he get a job? A regular job like any
regular guy?
     Getting up, Clark began to pace restlessly across the small
room. Two steps, and he was at the wall. He checked the pay phone
to see if his quarter had miraculously passed into the coin return
slot, then turned and paced to the opposite wall. Two more steps
and he was at the phone again. This time, instead of turning
around, he placed his foot on the wall and walking right up it to
the ceiling!
     He tried to "stand" still for a moment, with his feet on the
wall and his back resting against the ceiling, but his nervous
tension needed an outlet. He paced down a few feet, then returned
to the ceiling. He gave the light bulb another gentle twist, but
it wasn't misbehaving anymore. He walked back down the wall,
smoothly making the ninety degree transition to the floor. He
threw himself down on the small bed with a deep sigh and drummed
his fingers on his pillow.
     He was almost out of money, he was staying in a miserable
hole, his hopes for working at the world famous Daily Planet had
been utterly crushed, and he was beginning to think he ought to
just return home to Smallville and ask for his old job back.
     Admit to everyone that he couldn't make it in the big city.
     Admit to himself that, despite having awesome powers, he just
couldn't cut it in the real world.
     He didn't want to give up his dream. He liked what he had
seen of Metropolis so far; the bustle and excitement and constant
activity. He would just have to get a job somewhere else.

      *****

     Each of the four locks turned one at a time, and Lois entered
her apartment, an elegant home tastefully decorated with fine
furnishings. She juggled a bag of groceries and her keys, her
handbag and her satchel like an expert city dweller. "Lucy?" she
called. "Are you home?"
     "Hi sis!" came a bright voice from the bedroom. Lois's young-
er sister, who was staying with her for a while, came into the
kitchen in her bathrobe as Lois set the grocery bag down on the
counter. "I thought you were going out tonight," she said in sur-
prise, looking inside the bag.
     "Oh, I gotta work, I can't. Don't start!" she warned over her
shoulder as she went to put her handbag and satchel down on the
sofa.
     "Did you find an escort to Lex Luthor's White Orchid Ball
yet?" Lucy asked, following her into the living room area.
     "No, I did not," Lois said clearly, feeling that she'd had
quite enough of this old conversation already.
     "Lois, it's tomorrow night!" Lucy reminded her unnecessarily.
"What about Mitchell? I thought you liked him."
     "Mitchell is a hypochondriac," Lois pronounced, taking some
files from her satchel and trying to escape into the kitchen.
     Lucy followed her. "They can't all be bad, Lois. They can't
all be boring or stupid. What are you waiting for?"
     "Fine. I'll ask Mitchell to take me," she said as she pulled
a frozen dinner out of the grocery bag.
     "I'm not just talking about the Ball, Lois. You've got to get
out more," Lucy insisted.
     Lois groaned. "Will you stop?" she demanded, with the card-
board end of the box clenched between her teeth. "Geez, you sound
like Dad! I'm only twenty-six!" She popped the frozen dinner into
the microwave.
     "Twenty-six today, thirty-six tomorrow," Lucy warned ominous-
ly, following Lois again as she took a folder from the kitchen
back to the sofa. "And I know why that dentist, Alan, never called
you back; dragging him to the Women In Journalism seminar, 'Weak
Men And The Wise Women Who Love Them'. You've got to stop scaring
them off, Lois!" She grabbed the folder from her sister's hand to
get her attention, to make her listen. "You've got to stop being
so smart all the time, so intense!"
     Lois looked at her sister. "Look, I'm just being myself, and
if they're not man enough to handle it, then I guess I'll just
have to wait 'til I find someone who is." Lois Lane was not about
to hold back merely to entice a man.
     "I just hate to see you sitting at home," Lucy replied almost
sadly, cutting off her sister's tirade.
     "I get out plenty, I have dates," Lois said defensively.
     "You have interviews," Lucy corrected gently. "It's not the
same thing." Lois opened her mouth to refute that, but she real-
ized that her sister had a point. "Lois... I just want you to meet
a super guy."
     Lois couldn't remain irritated when she saw her sister's
sweet, hopeful face. Deep down inside, she too wanted to meet a
super guy. She dreamed of romantic walks on the beach, of candle-
lit dinners and slow dancing in Mr. Right's strong arms. Exper-
ience had taught her, though, that reality didn't work that way,
and she wasn't convinced that super guys still existed. If they
did, she was willing to bet that they had all been taken, or were
gay, or would want nothing to do with a woman like her.
     Later that night Lois was sitting in bed propped up against
her pillows and snuggled under her comforter, reading some papers
with a pair of glasses on. Yawning, she threw the papers down,
took off her glasses, and picked up the remote control. She was in
the mood to watch one of her favorite tapes, The Ivory Tower. She
fast-forwarded through the credits, and munched on some popcorn as
she watched.
     "Gwendolyn, have you made your decision?" a dark-haired man
asked on the screen.
     Although she knew it by heart, Lois felt herself getting
caught up in the story.
     The pretty blonde tossed her wavy hair. "All right, you win,"
she replied almost defiantly. "I'll keep my promise. Tonight my
body is yours. But my heart... my heart beats only for one man,"
she finished in grand melodramatic fashion.
     "Oh!" Lois wailed softly, hugging the comforter to her and
beginning to cry. Why couldn't *she* feel that kind of passion?
Would she ever find her one true love? As the dark man began to
nibble on Gwendolyn's neck, Lois pulled a tissue from beside the
bed. With a little whimpering sound she wiped her eyes, blew her
nose, and sniffled.
     The Ivory Tower always had that effect on her.

      *****

     Forty-second Street was crowded when Clark arrived there
early the next morning, looking around tentatively. During the
night he had remembered the mood piece about the demolition of a
theater on Forty-second Street that Perry White had assigned to
that woman who had barged into the office during his job inter-
view, the sassy one who hadn't been in the mood. It had occured
to him then that some of his best work had been mood pieces. If
he could find the theater that was being torn down, he could
write a piece about it and take it to Mr. White. Perhaps the man
would at least want to use it.
     It wasn't hard to locate the theater that was being razed.
Construction workers with hard hats were coming in and out of the
old Sarah Bernhardt Theater, setting up equipment and maneuvering
a wrecking ball into place. A small but determined group of pro-
testers, all of them rather elderly, stomped around waving their
placards and chanting, "Keep the theater on the spot, we don't
need a parking lot!"
     An old lady wandered around, searching worriedly. "Where's
Beatrice? Bea? Bea?"
     Clark took a quick look around him, but no one was paying
attention to him with all the ruckus going on. He lowered his
glasses and looked over the top of them, at the brick wall of the
decrepit theater... then looked right through it. A woman stood on
the stage, a feather boa around her neck and an enormous floppy
hat on her head, surrounded by debris: fallen-down columns, empty
seats, old props and racks of costumes all over the stage.
     "After the dark death of autumn, and the cold barren winter,
how I wish this rock might be taken from my heart," she cried out,
her voice strong and clear, echoing slightly in the cavernous
interior.
     "Okay, Bill, start her up!" a loud voice shouted near Clark,
distracting him. He saw that the construction workers were ready
to begin razing the theater now. He glanced around again, then
stared intently at the machine, his glasses once again lowered. He
looked through the outer casing to the motor, and just as it
started he used his heat vision to burn through some of the
wiring, short circuiting it. The protesters cheered madly when the
engine failed, although it was only a brief respite from the
inevitable.
     Taking advantage of the confusion, Clark adjusted his glasses
and slipped inside the old theater.
     The woman on the stage didn't see him at first, and he
watched for a moment, listening to the heartfelt passion in her
voice. "Oh, for the days of my childhood, back when my soul was
pure. I slept right here in this nursery, looking out at the
orchard from this very room, and every morning I awoke with such
joy in my heart. My orchard is just the same as it was then. No-
thing is different. All of it, all of it, dressed in white. My
lovely orchard."
     Clark felt it only right to applaud the actress, his claps
echoing strangely and drawing her attention as he had meant to.
     "Who's there?"
     "Just... a fan."
     "I'm not leaving," she told him. "Not until I finish."
     He grinned. "All right. Do you mind if I watch? I always
loved this play."
     "You know it?" she asked.
     "The Cherry Orchard. Anton Chekhov."
     She looked pleased that he knew it, that she could share her
passion with someone who appreciated it. "His finest, don't you
think?"
     "Definitely," he agreed with a gentle half-smile.
     She smiled back at him wistfully. "They don't understand.
Theater is more than bricks and mortar." She looked around the
cavernous hall, seeing more than old age and decay. "It's drama
and passion, and mystery and comedy and life!" She looked at him
yearningly. "Don't make me go. I'm not ready."
     "We have some time," he assured her.
     "You understand. I just want to say good-bye."
     Clark knew that he'd found an angle for his piece. He watched
and listened as she lifted her face to the back row again.
     "...all of it dressed in white. My lovely orchard."
     Later, back in his hotel room, Clark gathered together his
research and the notes he had taken in his interview with Bea-
trice, the actress at the theater, and sat down at his laptop. He
typed away rapidly, fingers flying over the keys as the words
poured out of him. The poor machine struggled valiantly to keep up
with him, but it wasn't long before it began beeping pathetically,
issuing smoke. Impatiently he fanned at it with his jacket.
     When he was finished, Clark read over his piece, feeling a
deep satisfaction. "Beatrice was eighteen when she made her debut.
Warren G. Harding was President, the Unknown Soldier was interred
at Arlington, and Babe Ruth was sold to the Yankees..."
     A little later, Perry finished reading it in his office, his
southern accent caressing the final words. "... She came to say
good-bye, as we all must, to the past, and to a life and a place
that soon would exist only in a bittersweet memory." He smiled
broadly at Clark.
     "Smooth," Jimmy said admiringly.
     Lois had listened, spellbound, with her head resting against
the door, letting the words flow through her. Somehow this nobody
from the middle of nowhere had managed to slip through her tough
exterior, her shell of indifference, and made her care about the
changing of times, the inevitable passing of everyone and every-
thing. He had evoked memories of her childhood, those innocent
years before she'd understood the bitterness in her mother's eyes,
before she'd come to understand that no matter how well she did,
it would never be good enough in her father's eyes. She had said
good-bye to that life when her parents separated, and it was,
indeed, only bittersweet memory now.
     The sound of Jimmy's voice roused Lois from the spell Clark's
words had woven around her, reminded her that she was standing in
the Chief's office, and she hastily straightened up. She didn't
want anyone to know that the piece had touched something deep
within her. "Uh, yeah, if you like that sort of thing," she said
disparagingly, hoping to sound blase.
     "You know, Kent, there's only one attribute I value more than
experience, and that's initiative." Perry White looked him
straight in the eyes. "Clark Kent, welcome to the Daily Planet!"
He extended his hand to Clark, who took it in delight. Then Perry
remembered the last handshake he'd had with this boy and said,
"Oops!" He clasped Clark's wrist with his free hand so that he
could extricate his right hand from the young man's grip, and
patted Clark's hand instead of shaking it.
     Clark's moment of triumph was immediately interrupted,
though, when the office door was flung open.
     "The space shuttle's on fire!" a staff member cried out in
distress.
     "Lois, get over here!" someone else shouted.
     "Turn it up!"
     "Let's take a look," Perry said, including Clark in the
group. They headed into the newsroom and joined the crowd gather-
ing around the television monitor. The shuttle Messenger was still
on the launch pad, its rockets flaring and spitting out fire.
     "... this fast breaking story, we have a reporter on the
scene and we're trying to establish contact with her. Carmen
Alvarado, can you hear me? She's on the launching pad right now.
Carmen?"
     Just then the Messenger exploded into a terrible fireball.
     The reporter on the scene, looking stunned, spoke directly
into the camera. "Wesley, you've just seen what we've seen here,
a terrible tragedy is unfolding, there seems to be something..."
     Lois gazed at the fiery scene, stricken. "I knew there was
something to Platt's story, I knew it," she said.
     "Now, Lois, just because one madman's prediction came true
doesn't mean that there's a conspiracy to sabotage the entire
space program," Perry said reasonably.
     "But with more than a hundred colonists going up on the next
launch, are you willing to take that chance?" she asked him
     Clark saw how affected she was by the tragedy, and her deter-
mination to investigate the story, and admired her for it. Here
was a woman who cared! Perry saw it too, and he knew that if there
was anything to this engineer's story about sabotage, Lois Lane
would dig up the truth.
     In Perry's office, Lois laid out her game plan. "I'll need a
task force, I can't cover this story alone."
     "You can have Jimmy," Perry offered.
     "Chief," Lois said dryly, "we're talking about the space
program!"
     "Okay, take Kent."
     "Kent?" she repeated incredulously.
     "Kent," he confirmed impatiently.
     "What about Myerson?" she asked hopefully.
     "He's busy."
     "Burns?" she tried, desperately.
     "Budapest."
     "Forget Kent," she declared.
     "Uh-uh," he said firmly. "He's a good man.
     "Kent is a hack from Smallville, I couldn't make that name
up!" she snorted.
     "Kent, or nobody."
     Recognizing the steely glint in Perry's eyes, and the final-
ity in his voice, she gave in with bad grace. "Fine. Don't ever
say that I'm not a team player." She turned on her heel and
stalked out of the editor's office.
     "Let's hit it," she told Kent, swatting his arm briskly as
she strode purposefully towards her desk.
     Clark, after a moment's surprised hesitation, put down the
papers he was holding and hurried to catch up to her. "Mind if I
ask where we're going?"
     "To interview Samuel Platt. He's convinced the Messenger was
sabotaged; I'll brief you on the way." Lois grabbed her coat and
bag from her desk, and Clark quickly grabbed his jacket to keep up
with her. "And let's get something straight, I did not work my
buns off to become an investigative reporter for the Daily Planet
just to baby-sit some hack from Nowheresville! And one other
thing," she said without pausing for a breath, as she stopped on
the stairs that led up from the pit of the newsroom to the eleva-
tors and whirled to face him, "you are not working with me, you
are working *for* me. I call the shots, I ask the questions." She
began to walk towards the elevators again, still laying down the
law. "You are low man, I am top banana, and that's the way I like
it. Comprende?" she asked over her shoulder.
     "You like to be on top, got it," he returned clearly, looking
straight forward at the elevator's impassive doors and not meeting
her eyes.
     Lois glared at him venomously. "Don't push me, Kent, you are
*way* out of your league." The doors opened and she stalked into
the elevator. Clark followed her in and took up a position just
behind her right shoulder, safely out of her sight, able at last
to allow the broad grin he had been witholding to light up his
face. He was delighted to be working with Lois, confident he could
quickly improve her low opinion of him. In the meantime, though,
if she pushed, he intended to push back.
     They took a cab to the address Lois had for Dr. Samuel Platt.
The condemned building was dark, dirty, and dank, and they had to
duck under police tape to get inside. A rat scurried away from
Lois as she walked purposefully to the only door within and
banged on it. "Dr. Platt?" she called out, seeming completely
unfazed by her surroundings. "Dr. Platt, it's Lois Lane."
     The door opened a fraction, and a wild-eyed, terrified face
peered out. Dr. Platt held a crowbar, as though expecting his
visitors to be dangerous, but he lowered it when he saw Lois, and
opened the door wider to admit them.
     As he led them inside, Dr. Platt began to ramble about his
circumstances. "And they said that I was crazy, but wouldn't you
be after the drugs? I mean, you know, they drugged me after I sub-
mitted my report to Dr. Baines."
     Lois looked around at the total disarray, then focused her
attention on interviewing the scientist. "Dr. Platt, how could the
Messenger have been sabotaged? In order to bypass the security,
you... unless the orders came from high up."
     The engineer attempted to explain things more clearly. "Well,
you see, under extreme temperature conditions the particle iso-
lators were in danger of shutting down, so in order to prevent
this we installed heating devices. But when I broke into one of
the off-limit labs, I discovered that the heating devices had been replaced... by coolant systems." He stared at Lois meaningfully.
     "To freeze the ion particles?" Clark added questioningly,
wanting to make sure he was following this correctly. He had been
wandering around the room, taking in his surroundings, listening
intently without interruption, letting Lois ask the questions.
     "Of course," Dr. Platt said quickly, turning to him, delight-
ed by his comprehension. Lois shot Clark a surprised look. Did
this farm boy actually understand this? "And emit fumes, and the
Messenger would blow up. I mean, it's all in my report."
     "What report?" Lois asked him, trying to steer control of
this interview back into her hands.
     "Well, the report that I gave to Dr. Baines."
     "Do you have a copy of this report?" she asked.
     "Ha! What kind of scientist would I be if I didn't keep re-
ports?" He began rummaging violently around, searching the over-
flowing bookshelves, behind the fish mounted on the wall above
them, and inside a child's tennis shoe, pulling out one crumpled
piece of paper after another.
     Lois exchanged a glance with Clark, not very hopeful. "Ah,
Dr. Platt, perhaps you could gather your report together some
other time, I'll have somebody come by and pick it up." Idly she
picked up a photograph from the clutter covering the desk, taken
in better times. The clean-cut, smiling man was Dr. Platt, and
with him were an attractive woman and a laughing child.
     Dr. Platt saw her. "My wife," he explained. "We'd planned to
live together on the Prometheus," he added sadly.
     "Where's your family now?"
     "Gone. They left when... Well, it's all for the best," he
finished gruffly.
     Lois's face softened. "Dr. Platt, who would want to sabotage
Space Station Prometheus?" she asked gently.
     "I don't know. See, the microgravity laboratory on the Pro-
metheus could be the key for curing hundreds of diseases here on
Earth," he explained earnestly. "In a zero-gravity environment we
can actually separate the proteins that form viruses. So many
children with crippling diseases..." His voice trailed off as his
eyes drifted to the photograph in Lois's hands. "... my daughter,"
he added, his voice a haggard whisper. "We could cure them!" He
raised soulful, sad eyes to the young reporters.
     "I think you and I should pay Dr. Baines a visit," Lois said
quietly to Clark, giving the tired engineer a sympathetic look.
They left him alone with his sorrows and his crowbar, and drove
one of the Daily Planet vans to EPRAD, where they managed to meet
with Dr. Antoinette Baines. She was a beautiful but hard-looking
woman with glittering eyes and an air of sorrow.
     "Naturally we're all still in a state of shock. I don't sup-
pose I have to tell you what a catastrophe this explosion was.
Captain Latterman was one of our best. His three kids, his wife
Anna..."
     "Dr. Baines, what's being done to investigate the cause of
the explosion?" Lois asked, all business.
     "Well, we won't know anything until we've examined the burned
wreckage. We're in the process of moving it to a hangar right now
for inspection."
     "Can we take a look at it?"
     "Sorry, no press allowed."
     "No exceptions?" Clark asked, looking directly at her.
     Dr. Baines looked into his warm brown eyes. Then she gave him
an appraising glance from head to toe. She obviously liked what
she saw, for she smiled and amended her hard line. "I'll see what
I can do."
     "Great," Clark said, flashing Dr. Baines a quick smile. If a
little extra friendliness gained them an advantage, he figured it
wouldn't hurt.
     Lois tried to keep from rolling her eyes. Didn't the woman
have any professionalism? "On the subject of Dr. Samuel Platt..."
     "Oh, I have his file right here," Dr. Baines said immediate-
ly, turning and getting it. She referred to its contents without
offering to show it to them. "A real waste of talent. Seems build-
ing the space station and his divorce finally got to him. He
started drinking, taking drugs... He went from bad to worse. We
kept him on as long as we could, but when he set fire to one of
the laboratories we had to let him go." She set the file down as
though that ended the subject.
     Lois had one more question. "Dr. Platt said that he submitted
a report to you, something about coolant devices installed to --"
     "Coolants," Baines cut her off, appearing to think hard for a
moment. "No, I don't recall any report. I could check my records,"
she offered.
     "Could you? And, give us a call?" Lois produced a business
card and handed it to Dr. Baines.
     "Certainly. I'd be glad to help." She eyed Clark once more,
and her voice softened as she added to him, "Let me know if I can
be of any further assistance."
     "Thank you," he acknowledged with another smile.
     A few minutes later, Lois and Clark were walking back towards
the van.
     "She seemed cooperative," Clark said to break the silence.
     "I don't trust her," Lois said.
     "Very attractive," Clark added. "Young, for a woman in her
position."
     "Typical!" she said in disgust.
     "What?"
     "That's a typical male response," she said scathingly.
     "Lois, trust me on this, I am *not* a typical male," Clark
assured her, amused.
     "No? Just because she's... okay looking..."
     "She's *very* okay!" he interjected with a grin, enjoying the
way he was getting a rise out of her.
     "... you automatically assume she's telling the truth?" Lois
ended.
     "That's pretty cynical, Lois."
     "It's realistic, Clark. At least I don't go through life dis-
appointed."
     He spent the rest of the trip back to the newsroom wondering
what had happened to Lois Lane to make her so hard on the outside,
and wondering what she was really like on the inside.
     Once back at the Daily Planet, Perry assigned Jimmy Olsen to
show Clark around the newsroom. "We have different sections, just
like the paper has different sections," Jimmy explained. "Society,
Sports, Entertainment... Come here." Clark obediently followed him
around, wondering how long it would take for all this bustle to
become familiar, wondering if he would ever feel a part of the
team.
     Cat Grant, who was at the coffee pot with Lois, let out a low
wolf whistle appreciatively as she watched the handsome, dark-
haired young man following Jimmy around. "Who's the new tight
end?" she asked in a throaty voice.
     Lois grimaced. "Why don't you throw your usual forward pass
and find out?" she asked in withering tones, putting a teaspoon of
honey into her coffee.
     Deciding that it would be a good place to start, Cat shimmied
out of her Toledo jacket and adjusted the bizarre red and black
outfit she wore underneath. Lois eyed the tacky outfit disdain-
fully; Cat had a seemingly never-ending supply of outrageous
clothes, all of them designed to display a lot of the body she
worked hard to keep toned and tanned. Lois wouldn't be caught dead
in any of them, preferring unobtrusive colors and buinesslike
suits. She took her coffee and went to get a file from one of the
nearby cabinets.
     Cat scrubbed her teeth with a finger and pinched her cheeks
to bring color to them before turning to block Clark's way as he
approached the coffee pot.
     "Ah, excuse me," Clark said politely, gesturing to the coffee
behind her.
     "Catherine Grant," she introduced in a deep, throaty voice.
"'Cat's Corner'." She held out a hand to be kissed.
     "Oh yeah, I've read your column." He held her hand awkwardly
for a moment before releasing it.
     "Oh, then my reputation precedes me," she purred, pleased.
     "Among other things," Lois muttered from the file cabinet
nearby, where she was unobtrusively listening and watching the
exchange.
     Ignoring that, Cat began to stroke Clark's tie. "You know, I
know what it's like to be new in town... Lonely... I'd be happy to
show you around."
     "Ah, that's very nice of you, Miss Grant," Clark said slowly,
flattered by the attentions of this exotic creature, but not
really wanting to encourage the way she was fondling his tie.
     "Cat!" she told him, almost hissing in a rather feline
manner.
     "Cat!" he repeated with the same ferocious inflection, not
sure whether to be amused or alarmed. "Um, maybe when I get set-
tled in," he suggested non-comitally.
     She patted his shoulder before starting to slink away, with
her jacket dangling languidly from one hand. She paused beside
Lois to turn and look at him provocatively over her shoulder and
tell him, "It's a date."
     Lois rolled her eyes, closed the cabinet drawer rather
loudly, and took her coffee to her desk.
     Clark poured himself a cup of coffee. He was amused by Lois's
reactions to the gossip columnist, but had the uncomfortable sen-
sation that Miss Grant had designated him as her next prey. "Cat!"
he hissed again, quietly, and grinned. There weren't too many
people like her in Smallville!

      *****

     Clark went to his desk, took off his jacket, and sat down.
Lois was at her nearby desk in the middle of a phone call, and he
idly listened in to her conversation, fiddling with a pencil to
make it look as though he was doing something.
     "No, Mitchell," she was saying in a resigned tone, "I'm not
mad. If you've got the sniffles then you've got the sniffles...
Yeah, that could lead to complications," she agreed listlessly
into the phone while looking through her address book. "No, don't
call me, I'll call you."
     Lois hung up, knowing that she'd never call him again. Who-
ever heard of canceling plans to attend Lex Luthor's White Orchid
Ball because of sniffles? Now what was she going to do? The Ball
was that evening; how was she going to find another escort at the
last minute? She couldn't go alone. She'd never hear the end of
it! Feeling glum, she looked around the newsroom.
     Clark quickly pulled the phone book to him and opened it to
the first page, hoping to look as though he'd been busily absorbed
in some task. Belatedly he realized that Lois would probably find
it suspicious that he was looking at the 911 instructions, so he
began turning pages as though searching for something.
     Lois's eyes lit on the newcomer, Clark Kent, working at his
desk. She paused, eyeing him thoughtfully. He was new in town and
he probably didn't know anyone, so he might not have plans for
this evening. She could ask him. He wasn't exactly sophisticated,
but...
     No, that was a crazy idea!
     Then again, she was desperate, and she could make sure he
understood that this was a black tie affair, so that he wouldn't
embarrass her by showing up in jeans and a flannel shirt.
     She stood up, paused for a moment, then walked irresolutely
over to his desk, sighing heavily. "I don't suppose you own a
tuxedo," she said negatively.
     "I could get one," he said, looking up at her expectantly. He
knew what she was going to ask, and he was looking forward to
hearing it. "Why?" he asked, feigning innocence.
     "Oh, well, the man that I was going to Lex Luthor's Ball with
has the flu," she explained lightly, perhaps exaggerating Mit-
chell's condition a little, smiling in a manner that showed it
didn't matter to her, it was merely an inconvenience.
     "Ye-es...?" he asked expectantly when it appeared that no
more was forthcoming. He fought to keep a straight face; it was
evident that Lois didn't want to have to come right out and ask
him to be her date, but he certainly wasn't going to miss out on
hearing this!
     "Well, I was just wondering if you wanted to..." She stopped,
hoping he would save her from having to ask. Then she saw the
amused light in his brown eyes and the expectant look on his face.
He knew what she needed and he was forcing her to come right out
and ask him! He was enjoying this! She started to walk away,
determined not to give him the pleasure. After a few steps, how-
ever, the reality of her situation struck her again, and she
came back to his desk. "Do you want to take his place or not?"
she demanded in exasperation.
     Clark grinned at the blunt, almost defiant way she had
phrased it. It wasn't exactly a romantic approach! He feigned
indifference, hoping to get a rise out of her. "Well, thanks
anyway, Lois, but I thought I'd go to bed early tonight."
     "Are you crazy?" she asked incredulously. "This is *the*
social event of the season! Everyone who is anyone is gonna be
there, and you want to go to bed early?"
     He rose from his seat and approached her. "So, is this... a
date?" His pause emphasized his meaning. He knew, of course, that
it was no such thing, but he couldn't seem to help himself;
teasing Lois was fun, and he enjoyed the fiery light in her eyes.
     "Date? Oh!" Her voice turned deceptively sweet. "Oh, you mean
like in Kansas, where you meet my parents and then you try and
give me a hickey in the vacant lot behind the Dairy Freeze." She
glared at him then, and the mocking tone left her voice. "No this
is not a date! This is business. I am going to land the first one-
on-one Lex Luthor interview if it kills me!"
     "Okay," Clark said, stopping her tirade, deciding that if he
teased her any more she might withdraw her offer.
     Lois looked momentarily surprised. "Good. I'll see you
there." She started to walk away, then swung back to face him.
"Nine," she added. He nodded. "Okay," she said uncertainly, not
sure that it was a good idea to be at the Ball with her new co-
worker. She got her coat and her satchel, and turned to take one
last look at Clark. He waggled his fingers at her cheerfully, and
she left the newsroom.
     Clark chuckled. Even though she didn't seem very enthusiastic
about having him substitute for her original escort, he had to
admit that her take on dating in Kansas was pretty funny.
     Now that his evening's plans had substantially changed, Clark
quickly gathered his belongings and left work. He was having
dinner with his parents, and he decided to go straight to Small-
ville without stopping at the hotel. He ducked into a dark alley,
slipping his glasses into his jacket pocket in preparation for
his flight.
     Just as he began to take off, a man emerged from behind a
hanging blanket under a metal staircase. "Hey buddy, got a buck?"
the man asked, not very hopefully. His voice trailed off at the
end as he saw that the young man was hovering two feet above the
ground!
     Clark turned in alarm. He hadn't seen the homeless man in his
make-shift shelter. For a heart-pounding moment, he was afraid.
For one wild moment he hoped the man hadn't gotten a very good
look at him, and maybe if he took off really quickly his secret
would be safe. But Clark was never one to abandon a man in need of
help. He didn't have much money left, but he certainly had more
than this guy did. He reached into his jacket pocket, and walked
on air towards the man, handing him a five dollar bill.
     "Oh, oh, oh!" the man chortled appreciatively in a melodic
way. "You must be some kinda angel, brother!" Then he stared in
astonishment at Clark, who smiled as he rose slowly and gracefully
into the night sky, made a lazily looping circle overhead, and
vanished with a whoosh. "Some kind of... angel!" he repeated in
amazement.
     Clark swooped effortlessly past the skyscrapers, a satisfied
feeling from having helped someone transforming into a giddy ex-
citement. Metropolis spread out below and around him, a glittering
array of lights and muted sounds, full of excitement and danger,
and a sharp-tongued, prickly young woman with beautiful burnished
hair and lively brown eyes.
     It wasn't a date, he reminded himself; she wasn't interested
in him. The grin remained on his face all the way west to Kansas.
He landed in front of an old farmhouse which glowed softly with
welcoming lights, climbed the porch steps, and opened the door. It
was great to be home!

      *****

     "Dinner was great, Mom, thanks," Clark said warmly. After
eating take-out in his crummy hotel room, it was a balm to his
soul to eat a home-cooked meal.
     "Thanks, honey," Martha murmured in response, happy to have
him home for a visit.
     His father grunted an agreement, but couldn't re
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