By Barb Pillsbury <Megats1776@yahoo.com>
Submitted: July 2002
Summary: In this elseworlds story, Lois moves to Smallville to teach high school English, and meets a handsome history teacher named Clark Kent. It doesn't take her long, though, to realize that even small towns have their difficulties…and dark sides.
Warning: This story has an adult theme.
Portions of the play, "The Male Animal" by James Thurber and Elliott Nugent has been recreated through permission of Samuel French, Inc.
I would like to thank Erin and Tricia for editing and BRing, as well as for all of their tremendous support. I would also like to thank Bethy, Laswa, Maria, Tank, Raquel, Merry, Gerry, Helen, LabRat, and so many others for their encouragement.
Clark Kent walked down the long, fluorescent-lit hallway of Smallville High School. The light blue walls above the long rows of gray metal lockers were festooned with colorful posters welcoming the students back from summer vacation and already publicizing the first football game against Hillsborough High. A canvas banner strung across the portal between two hallways displayed bright neon letters spelling out "Go Smallville Cyclones."
Clark was at school bright and early as usual because he preferred it that way. He liked to hear the sound of his feet echoing along the empty corridor and he always looked forward to the chance to do some solitary thinking. Being there before all the students arrived and the hubbub and noise of a day at school began, helped him to focus clearly on the tasks ahead.
He pushed open the large, glass double doors at the end of the first hall and walked quickly over to his locker. Twenty-eight left, two right. Those were easy, as they were his birthday—day, then month. Then two turns past zero and ending on seventeen. Seventeen, that was the very day in May that his parents told him that he had been found—found in Shuster's field inside a space ship that had plummeted to earth from a distant planet—May 17th, 1966, some twenty-seven years ago.
So much had happened to him in those twenty-seven years. He had grown up aided by two wonderful parents and eventually discovered he was quite different than the other kids in his hometown. He had spent a great deal of time reflecting on his uniqueness and together with his parents, decided to keep his powers secret. In due time, he had gone away to study at college, had done some traveling to remote parts of the world and now, now he was back home, back in Kansas teaching history at Smallville High School.
Clark put his lunch, the copy of "The Scarlet Pimpernel" he was re-reading, and his brown suit jacket in his locker in the teacher's lounge and walked over to the administrative offices where he picked up his new schedule and assignments.
In the distance he could hear the Smallville High School Marching Band just beginning their first day of practice. He recognized the theme from Star Wars and just made out music teacher, Sam Richards' voice barking out instructions to the group.
Today was the first day of his third year as a teacher. Although it was September 13th and there should have been at least a slight hint of fall in the early morning air, it felt like the middle of summer. It was hot and stickingly Humid, even at 7:10 a.m., and the air conditioner had already kicked into full tilt. He loosened his tie a bit and checked other papers in his mailbox. He found nothing really important and filed them in the corner wastebasket.
Beatrice, the administrative secretary and an old friend of his mother's, was shuffling through some papers at her desk. Efficiently dressed as always in a navy blue pleated skirt and white silk blouse, she looked up and smiled at Clark.
"Ready to start a new year?" she asked.
"Always ready," Clark responded.
"Do anything special over the summer?" Beatrice asked as she headed over to the mailboxes to dispense additional materials.
"Dad and I went up to Canada to do some fishing," he answered, then paused, not sure how to explain his other trip, a trip of self-discovery. It was only this summer that, through some diligent investigation, he had almost literally unearthed a document that recorded a UFO landing in Smallville, a UFO from Krypton. It had referred to logged-in specimens that had been secreted away at an unknown location simply referred to as Bureau 39 storage. But Clark had not been able to follow up on that lead beyond three dead ends.
"I went down to Washington, D.C., and did some research on a project," he finally admitted. "I enjoy the summers, but I'm really glad to be back at work."
He added the two flyers that Beatrice was distributing to the pile of papers remaining in his hand. The first notice, printed on bright green paper, welcomed the faculty and staff back and announced the date and time of the first faculty meeting. The second flyer, this time on hot pink paper, gave the names and phone numbers of the faculty and this year's school board members. The flyers felt warm in his hand and he realized Beatrice must have just run the copies. A new school year always had that fresh feel to it.
Beatrice had also placed in his box a new grade book. He opened it up and looked at the blank pages—pages that would be filled with the semester's activities. Unlike many teachers, not only did he enjoy the classroom experience, he liked every facet of teaching, even grading papers. This was a new opportunity for each student to reach his or her potential and the grades that would soon be written on those blank pages would document that growth.
Clark contemplated how the rest of the day would go, as starting a new academic year was invariably interesting and rather challenging. There were the new students excited to be in high school at long last and there was usually a new teacher or two who would be starting their first year.
Beatrice, completing her work, made a beeline for the principal's office, obviously to distribute information in that direction.
Glancing at the schedule in his hand, Clark saw that along with his regular teaching assignment—two sections of American History I, two sections of American History II, a section of American Government, and advisor to the student government organization—he was assigned to be a mentor to a new teacher, a new English teacher.
Clark opened the door to the hallway and left the administrative offices. As he walked leisurely toward the teacher's lounge, he scanned the resume attached to his new mentoring assignment and read the credentials and background of the mentee he was expected to indoctrinate regarding attendance forms, tardy forms, location of supplies, computer access, and all the other things a novice would want to know.
He was wondering how much he would have to help the new instructor regarding lesson plans, appropriate assignments, tests, etc. Clark knew that he would have the time to be of help to the new teacher, especially this year, since Lana Lang had moved away from Smallville at the beginning of the summer. He and Lana had actually drifted apart the last year and a half, and although they'd continued to see each other during that time, they both knew that their relationship was going nowhere.
He entered the teacher's lounge, got himself a coffee and a doughnut, and continued reading. According to the resume, the new English teacher had graduated from Metropolis University five years before, had done student teaching in the Hobbs Bay district of Metropolis, so should be prepared for just about anything, and then had taught for four years at John Adams High School on Metropolis' west side.
Clark looked out the window as he heard the Marching Band begin to tackle the theme from E.T. and he took another sip of his coffee.
His eyes returned to the pages in front of him. So this wasn't a novice teacher. It was just someone new to a rural setting. Clark wondered why the switch. Why would a teacher who obviously was getting a better salary in a large metropolitan city's school district, choose to come to a small town—a small town in middle America? That would be something to find out later.
Clark ran his hand through his thick, dark hair as his mind drifted to the many things he had to deal with, and then, finishing his coffee, he tossed the styrofoam cup into the basket at the other side of the room. Two points. He picked up the resume again and looked at the sections dealing with extra- curricular activities. The college paper, it said. Well, that was obvious, since this position would involve not only teaching English but also acting as advisor to the high school newspaper. The list went on: Chess Club, Collegiate Singers, Drama Club, golf, gymnastics, and the Tai Kwan Do Club. "Hmmm," Clark said out loud. "This might prove interesting."
Martha Kent looked up from the counter of the Cabbages and Kings Bookstore where she had been deeply engrossed at her computer. "Hi, Wayne," she said as she saw the UPS driver enter the store with a load of boxes on a dolly. "I've been waiting for this shipment."
Wayne, a thin, gawky looking man in his early fifties struggled with maneuvering the dolly into the middle of the store's entryway.
"Got a lot here," Wayne informed her as he stuck the clipboard under Martha's nose for her to sign.
"How's Miriam?" the bookstore owner asked as she signed the forms.
"Just fine. She says to say hello," Wayne responded as he looked over at the computer screen. "I see you're working on something for the 'Players.'"
"Yes," said Martha. "What do you think? Is it eye catching enough?"
Wayne looked down at the poster that had just come out of Martha's printer. Across the top were the masks of comedy and tragedy, and in bright colors of purple and blue below the logo, it said:
Smallville Players Announce Auditions for James Thurber's "The Male Animal" Sunday, 3:00 p.m., Sept. 19th High School Auditorium
"Yup," said Wayne. "It should really get people's attention. How long's your theatre group been going now, Martha? Seems like it's been nigh on to twenty years?" Wayne asked as he began removing the boxes from the dolly.
"Just about, Wayne. This is our eighteenth year," Martha said proudly. "So this," she said, holding up the poster, "is our 53rd production. You know I just love being involved in theatre." She put the poster on the counter and then, turning to Wayne and over-dramatically using excessively exaggerated gestures, she emoted, "It's drama and passion, mystery and comedy…and life."
Martha chuckled at the strange look on Wayne's face. "When are *you* going to try out for a part?" she asked, looking at him expectantly.
"No, no, no! Not me," he responded. "The rest of you are so good. Beatrice, Donald, Keith, Clark, Cindy, Dan… You have enough actors," he said, moving back to the counter to retrieve his clipboard.
"We always welcome new people, especially since the community gets tired of the same old faces," Martha explained. "That's why we plaster the town with posters."
As if on cue, an excited teenager bounded energetically through the bookstore's front door, left ajar by Wayne. "Hi, Mrs. Kent!" exclaimed Keith. "Have you got the posters ready?" he asked, interrupting the two at the counter.
"Don't you have to be in school today?" Martha asked, looking at him suspiciously.
Keith, a very attractive young man of seventeen, wearing jeans and a T-shirt with a picture of John Lennon and the word 'Imagine' embossed on it, flashed a smile at Martha. "I have study hall first period, so I told Ms. Grant that I would be helping you and that I would get back to school in time for second period," he said hurriedly. "It shouldn't take me too long to cover the town with these. What I don't get done now, I can finish after school," he added eagerly. "Okay, what part do I try out for?" he asked, looking at the poster and then winking at Martha Kent.
"Well, there is the part of the college student, a sophomore who writes for the college paper and sort of lets the cat out of the bag, so to speak. His job is to move the plot along," Martha explained, returning the wink. "I think you can get by with that since you'll be eighteen pretty soon anyway."
"What time period is the play set in?" he asked her.
"The 1940s," she responded.
"Great!" exclaimed Keith as he grabbed the posters and made for the door. "That means cool costumes. See ya later, Mrs. Kent."
"Oh, Keith," Martha yelled out the door at his retreating figure. "Take some of the posters to Clark, will you?"
"Keith really loves to act, doesn't he?" Wayne queried Martha as he watched the young man run off down the street. "He does the high school plays and also does stuff with your group, right?" Wayne removed the last box from the dolly. "What're his plans when he graduates this year?" he asked, moving the dolly toward the door.
"He hopes to go to Metropolis and become an actor," she told him. "He may be able to make it because he *is* talented enough. Keith can sing, dance, and act, you know— a triple threat," she explained. "I know our theatre group is going to miss him."
"His Dad won't," Wayne said as he, too, left the store.
Martha watched as Wayne pushed the dolly through the door and she sighed. Yes, Keith's father would be glad that his son was leaving town. Ever since Keith's mother died four years ago, Fred Haley just wasn't sure what to do with his son. He loved him, that Martha knew; but he didn't know what to make of his son's proclivity for drama, dance, music, and lack of interest in sports and girls. Keith had outted himself to Martha last year but had never really spoken to his father about his sexual preference. In a town such as this, homosexuality wasn't just a difficult life style choice, it was a dangerous choice.
Clark walked to the principal's office. It was interesting how some of the old feelings still came back to him. As a high school student, one always dreaded going in and facing whatever the gruff principal had in store for you, and although Clark had always been a "goodie two-shoes," the principal's office most often spelled trouble to those in wait. Now, as a teacher, he still felt some pang of apprehension as he adjusted his tie, knocked on the door, and opened it in response to a "come in" that he heard from inside.
Dr. White, Smallville High School Principal, sat at his desk. His gray hair was combed straight back and he was wearing a three-piece blue suit with a loud tie. His jacket, however, was hanging on a nearby hall tree in deference to the weather.
The Principal's office was painted an institutional green, but to make it more his own, the wall had the familiar Elvis posters that Clark remembered even as a student there. But Clark's eyes were not looking at the Principal nor at his Elvis memorabilia, because sitting in a chair across from Dr. White, was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. It wasn't just that she was incredibly attractive, which she was. It was the glow of expectation on her face and a creative sparkle in her eyes that held his fascination as she looked up at him.
"Clark," Dr. White said, attempting to break Clark's stare. "This is our new English teacher, Lois Lane."
"Nice to meet you," Lois said glancing briefly at Clark and then returning her gaze to Dr. White. "Do you have my schedule ready?" she asked the Principal as she stood up.
"Yes, of course," Dr. White responded as he, too, rose to his feet. He scanned his desk, obviously looking for something that was apparently hidden under mounds of material. He moved some papers on his desk and then handed her a document to add to the green and hot pink flyers she already had and then looked at Clark. "Clark Kent, here, is in his third year at Smallville High, teaching history and government. He was born in Smallville and can help you both in regard to your teaching and in getting settled in our community. I have assigned him as your mentor and, knowing Clark, he will guide you and help you in any way he can."
"I'm sure I will be able to jump right in without any help as this is *not* my first teaching job," Lois said pointedly and turned and addressed Clark. "Clark Kent, is it?" Lois asked as she strode toward the exit.
"Y-y-yes," stammered Clark as he held the door open for a quickly moving Lois.
"Let's get something straight," Lois tossed over her shoulder as she led the way through the outer office into the hallway. "I did not work my buns off to get my teaching degree just to be baby sat by some simpleton from Nowheresville."
Clark rolled his eyes but followed her immediately, almost like a puppy, trailing after the determined woman. He watched her as she walked on ahead of him. She was dressed in a pale pink silk suit that set off her skin, and its skirt, with a provocative slit up the side, showed much of her long, shapely legs.
"Lois," he called out. "Wait a minute."
Beatrice looked up from her computer and watched the two of them depart. Small towns being the way they were, she gave them, oh, about a year to become engaged. She smiled to herself. Martha was going to be thrilled because already she knew that Lois Lane was the perfect partner for Clark Kent.
Lois and Clark continued down the hallway. "Look, Clark," Lois said as she turned back to him. "You may come from Smallville and know this town and this school. But I have been a teacher longer than you and I don't need a more inexperienced teacher to tell me how to do my job." She continued down the hall opening a door as she spoke. "Since I'm stuck with you being my mentor…"
"Lois," Clark tried to interject.
"I need to tell you…" she insisted.
"Lois," Clark tried again, catching up to her.
"What?" she asked loudly.
"That's the door to a janitorial closet, not the teacher's lounge," Clark said, laughing.
"Oh, of course," Lois responded, only temporarily halted before she opened the next door down the hallway.
"You need to tell me what?" Clark inquired as he followed her into the lounge. "Coffee?" he asked before she could respond, and he moved over to the coffee machine.
"Yes," Lois replied, sitting at the table and looking around the empty room. "Okay. You're History, not English, so you are *not* my supervisor. You will not tell me how to structure my classes or teach my students. You will not ask me questions. I will ask the questions. I'll tell you if I want or need anything. Got it?"
"Yeah," Clark said. "You like to be on top. Got it."
"Don't push me, Kent," Lois spat out. "You're way out of your league."
"Doughnut?" He smiled at her as he crossed over to the table, bringing the coffee.
Before she could answer, the door to the teacher's lounge opened and two men entered. The first, Lois could tell immediately was an obvious jerk and the second, a cute, eager young man who had student teacher written all over him.
"Ralph, Jimmy," Clark said, heading back for the doughnuts. "This is Lois Lane our new English teacher. Lois, this is Ralph Smoot, who teaches Math…" he continued, placing the box of doughnuts on the table and sitting down, "…and Jimmy Olsen, who student taught with us spring semester in Math, and is doing fall semester student teaching in Computers."
Ralph instantly pulled up the chair on the other side of Lois and, scooting even closer, put his hand on her arm. "I know what it's like to be new in town—lonely. I can show you around, and if you need anything, Lois, anything at all…I'm your man," he whispered.
"Uh, thanks, Ralph, but Clark has been assigned as my mentor and I'm sure he will be able to meet my needs," she said as she smiled at Clark with a "please save me" look.
Clark, already beginning to read her, nodded. "We have to go get Lois some of the forms she will need and get her to her classroom. So we'll see you both later."
"Hey, CK," Jimmy said to Clark. "Thanks for all of the help last semester. Can I use you as a sounding board if I'm in trouble?" he asked, not looking at Ralph, who had been assigned to help him.
"Sure, Jimmy," Clark responded.
Lois and Clark got up, tossed their cups into the trash, and headed to the door as two more teachers entered the lounge. The first was a tastelessly bedecked woman who looked like she was entering a cocktail lounge instead of a teacher's lounge. The second was an attractive man in his early thirties. Her arm was in his, and both of people were laughing. They stopped short, seeing Clark and his new charge.
"Oh, Clark," said the colorfully attired woman as she released the man she'd been holding to move in on Clark, putting her arm through his. "I have been looking for you all morning," she said, running her finger up and down his chest. "When are we going to take up where we left off after the Labor Day picnic?" she purred.
"Cat, cut that out." Clark glared at her as he freed himself from her clutches and then apologetically turned to Lois. "Lois Lane, this is Catherine Grant, known as Cat. She teaches French."
"Cat," Lois repeated, sizing up the woman in front of her.
"Mais oui," Cat replied, continuing to ogle Clark and not paying any attention to Lois. "French is my life," she said, licking her lips.
"Lois," Clark interrupted, ignoring Cat's flirtations. "This is Dan Scardino, our Physical Education teacher. He also coaches the football and basketball teams. Lois will be teaching English, creative writing, and advising the students on the Sentinel," Clark informed both of them.
"Welcome, Lois," Dan greeted her warmly, noticing that here was a woman he wanted to get to know much better. "If you need anything, let me know," he said as he moved aside to let Lois out the door.
Cat watched as both Clark and Dan appreciated Lois retreating into the hallway and realized that these two men were no longer her sole province. Lois was definitely going to be competition.
Barreling down the hallway and coming to a screeching halt before almost knocking Lois over as she left the teacher's lounge, was a student loaded down with posters in his arms.
"Hold it, Keith," Clark said as he reached Lois' side and put his arm around her waist to steady her. "No running in the halls. You know that."
Clark let his arm linger there longer than was really necessary, but as Lois offered no immediate resistance, Clark didn't feel the urge to remove it.
Lois had moved closer to Clark to get out of the way of the approaching tornado and felt Clark's arm around her. It was warm and reassuring and she didn't automatically pull herself away which normally would have been her first instinct.
After a moment or two, however, although she had sensed a gentleness and concern in his actions, not a "come on," she stiffened, remembering that she couldn't let her defenses down. She had left Metropolis because of a bad relationship and because of a problem she had had with the administration of her school, the two being intricately intertwined.
She had sought out a place that was as far removed and different from what she had left behind as possible. And, if she was going to make this new job and new town work, this was not the time to get involved again. She simply could not let it happen once more.
Clark felt Lois tense up and released his hold on her. "This is Keith Haley, a senior here," he said. "He will be in your American Lit class and one of your advisees since he writes for the Smallville High Sentinel. Keith, this is Ms. Lane."
"Hi, Ms. Lane. Welcome to Smallville. Oh, Mr. Kent," Keith went on speaking very quickly. "Your Mom wanted me to bring these posters to you so you could hang them up here at school. I have first period off so I will put them up around town."
He took a breath and handed Clark a few posters. "I have American Lit second period so I'll be back and will be seeing you then, Ms. Lane. Bye!" he yelled back over his shoulder as he ran, then looking back at Clark, slowed to a very fast walk toward the exit.
"Is he always like that?" Lois asked Clark, chuckling.
"Yeah, always," a soft voice responded.
Joining the two of them was a pleasant looking woman in her mid forties.
"Hi, Barb," Clark greeted the woman who had turned to Lois questioningly. "Barbara Friskin, counselor, this is Lois Lane, new English teacher. Barb is the cement that keeps everything together here. Not only does she help students who have problems, but she keeps the rest of us sane as well."
"Welcome, Lois," Barb said, looking at her warmly. "If you need anything—a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, or…" she sized Lois up quickly, "…chocolate, I'm here for you."
"How did you…?" Lois began.
"It's a knack," Barb responded, sure of what Lois was asking. "Come see me anytime and we'll talk. My door's always open. Clark," she went on, "you *especially* need to come visit me." She smiled. "No," she responded to Lois' quizzical look. "Mr. Absolutely Perfect has no earthly problems, but we have a student to discuss."
"Here," Clark said to Barb, handing her a poster. "Put one of these up in your office. Only crazy people need to read it," he said, grinning.
"I'll drop in soon," Lois said, liking Barb already.
"Your first class is this way," Clark said, smiling at Lois and escorting her to the stairway. "It's room 217."
"What's the poster for?" asked Lois as they walked up the stairs to her classroom. She was beginning to loosen up a little. Clark had saved her twice. Once from Ralph and once from being bowled over by Keith. Mr. Absolutely Perfect, as Barb called him, appeared harmless, nice, and when he smiled at her…
"My Mom is involved in the local community theatre, the Smallville Players," Clark explained, handing her one of the posters. "She directs the shows and makes the costumes. Since I'm her son, I've been coerced into being in a few productions, as has everyone in town whose arm she can twist."
"Oh, 'The Male Animal,'" Lois said, reading the poster. "I'm a Thurber fan. Maybe I'll come to auditions. Will you be trying out?"
The question erupted from Lois before she could stop it. There she was, doing it again, jumping into a situation without thinking. She should remain aloof. Just teach her classes and not get involved with the community, with the students outside the classroom, with other teachers—and especially not with this handsome man, whose eyes the color of chocolate were looking at her so intently.
"I just might," Clark said, making a mental note to let his mother know he had changed his mind about taking the whole year off.
In January, he had told his mother that he didn't want to try out for any of the shows this year and had stuck to his guns, agreeing only to help his dad build the set for the April show. But being in a show with Lois sparked his interest, especially if there were going to be love scenes. His mind wandered to what it might be like to kiss her when his fantasy was interrupted with their arrival at the door to her classroom.
"Oh, we forgot to get the forms you need," Clark told her. "I'll bring them right back."
Lois walked into her classroom and looked around. She put her materials on the desk. Almost instantaneously, Clark was at her side with the forms.
"There were…uh…some in the room next door," Clark explained in response to her puzzled look.
"Clark…" she began.
"I…I have to go get ready for class. I'll see you later," he said as he got a far away expression on his face and made quickly for the door.
A few seconds later a blur arrived behind a tree next to a tall railway bridge about five miles south of the high school. From his hidden position, Clark heard again the three short blasts of the whistle, which was the universal danger signal, and saw the engineer anxiously trying to brake the locomotive. He listened again and heard the engineer yell to his assistant that a portion of the bridge was out up ahead and that he couldn't stop.
Clark pulled down his glasses, and two red rays emanated from his eyes, slicing a part of the metal work over which the train had already passed. Then, using his super breath, he blew the large piece of track over to the farther side and, with his heat vision, sealed the new piece in place just as the train ran over it.
Clark smiled, knowing that he had helped, and flew quickly to the back entrance of the Smallville Hardware Store run by Jonathan Kent. "Dad," Clark called out as he came into the store. Then, looking around to see if anyone was close by, he crossed over to his father, who was sorting some nails. "Dad," Clark began. "I have to tell you that I just shored up a railroad trestle to prevent a crash."
"Did anyone see you?" Jonathan looked up from his work and asked nervously.
"I was careful, Dad," Clark assured him.
"If they find out about you," his father continued, "they'll put you in a lab and…"
"…dissect you like a frog," both Clark and his father said together.
"I know, Dad, I'll watch out," Clark acknowledged. "Since finding copies of that information in the old records of the Aeronautical Space Museum on my trip to D.C., I have been more careful about how I use my powers," he said, again checking around to see if anyone was in earshot. "If I can find out that information, so can others."
"Son, your Mom and I have worried about this for a long time, especially when you first left Smallville. Being back here these last few years, we have begun to relax a little because you're among friends," he said. "But you still have to watch out."
"Listen, Dad, I've got to get back to school. Can you call Rachel Harris at the sheriff's station and let her know that there is a gap in the bridge and have her close it down before someone gets hurt?" he asked. "Another train is not expected for a while, but it may take some time to get out there. I'll see you and Mom tonight for dinner. I've got something to tell her."
Clark zoomed back to the high school and walked into room 121 just as the bell was ringing. "Welcome to American Government," Clark said, looking around at his class.
"Being citizens of our country isn't easy," he began. "It takes a lot of knowledge, commitment and courage. Citizens of this country make a difference," he continued. "As Robert Kennedy said, 'Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not.' Each one of you can be a hero. And with a country full of heroes, you needn't be afraid to stand up and be counted."
Up on the second floor, Lois looked around at the students facing her. "Hi," she said, smiling. "I'm Lois Lane and this is my first year here so I guess we have a lot of learning to do together. Welcome to first period Creative Writing. "Being a writer isn't easy," she continued. "It takes a lot of knowledge, commitment, and courage. Writers make a difference," she explained. "Benjamin Franklin said, 'Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.' But you must live before you write, and write about what you have lived. As my favorite author, Henry David Thoreau, said, 'How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.' You can all be creative writers. And with a room full of potential writers, we can stand up and be counted."
Clark's parents lived in a rambling white clapboard house on the edge of town. When Clark had returned to Smallville three years ago, he had moved into a small, converted carriage house at the other end of town so that he and they could have some distance. But Clark, as was the custom, had dinner at his folks' house three or four times a month.
"Great dinner, Mom," Clark said as he pushed his chair back from the table and took his dishes to the sink.
"It's the first home cooked meal I've had in a long time," his Dad insisted. "Your Mom is so busy with the bookstore and with the community theatre, especially just before a production begins."
"Now tell me more about this new English teacher," Martha interrupted, wanting to change the subject.
Clark took the slice of pie that his mother handed him and returned to the table. "Lois is…well, she's complicated, domineering, uncompromising …brilliant," he informed them, the last word being said softly.
Martha gave her husband a knowing look, but Jonathan didn't need to see it. They both knew from Clark's voice that Lois was going to be something special.
"Mom," Clark said hesitantly. "I think I'll be auditioning for 'The Male Animal' after all," he said with his head down, concentrating on the dessert in front of him.
It was 4:45 on Wednesday afternoon. Clark finished a meeting he was having with the student government and walked into the teacher's lounge. He looked around anxiously, hoping to catch a glimpse of her. He knew that Lois had had a meeting with the Sentinel staff and should still be around.
There she was, sitting with Dan, who was fresh from football practice. He was explaining the attendance sheet record that she was attempting to complete. Why did Dan's being so close to her bother him? Clark had just met Lois Monday morning. He had ushered her to classes on Monday and sat beside her at the Tuesday meeting. He had also spent a short time with her Tuesday afternoon, referring her to a garage where she could get her car's oil changed.
He would have tried to be with her longer, as she was beginning to drop that hard shell attitude and had more questions, but he had to tell her that he forgot to pick up a prescription in order to sneak out and surreptitiously stop a truck from going off a bridge down on Highway 17.
Lois hadn't been around for lunch on Tuesday or earlier today as she ran out to do errands related to getting settled in the small house she had rented. So this was his first chance to be with her since yesterday.
The new English teacher wasn't his, but he felt as though, on some level, he was sort of responsible for her. Dan was getting up and heading away, and Clark saw Ralph making his way to take Dan's place at the table. Clark Speedily, without letting his super powers take over, cut Ralph off and straddled a chair right beside Lois.
Before Clark could say anything to Lois, however, Cat walked into the room, stopped behind Clark, and put her arms around him. "When are we going out to dinner?" Cat asked. "Now that Lana's gone, I'd like the inside track."
Clark winced and took her arms from around his neck. "Cat," he said. "Can we talk about this later?"
"Sure." She smiled maliciously over at Lois and then looked back at Clark. "Anytime," she said, and oozed out of the lounge.
"How's it going?" Clark asked, smiling at Lois. "I have already heard from some of the students about how great you are and I want you to know that I agree with what you said Monday. I don't see myself as teaching you, but maybe learning from you." He looked down and then looked into her eyes. "We all can be better teachers."
Lois regarded Clark. She was not sure about him. Was this another line like the ones she had heard from other men, especially that one other man? Clark *was* a man after all, and there was Cat, and there had been a…a Lana. She went back to working on the papers in front of her.
"See you tomorrow," Ralph said as he gathered up the copies he had just finished making and beat a hasty retreat, leaving Lois and Clark alone in the room.
Clark, not knowing how to come up with a reason to stay and be with Lois longer, stood up and went to his locker. He took out his jacket and the novel. He put the book down on the table while he slipped into his jacket.
"Oooh," Lois commented, eyeing the title of the book. "'The Scarlet Pimpernel.' That's one of my favorite books. I love his two identities and the fact that his wife, Marguerite, is disenchanted with the foppish character she has married. Instead, she's fallen in love with his alter-ego and is totally oblivious to the fact that he is two people."
"Somewhat implausible, perhaps even impossible," Clark remarked, "but the ruse works and allows Percy to be of help to save people from the reign of terror." He picked up the book.
"What's impossible is this," Lois said, sighing. "I'm supposed to turn in my W4s, my health insurance application forms, my retirement choices, finish these student report forms, and sign off on the stories the students submitted to be published in Friday's Sentinel—not to mention having to prepare for classes tomorrow. I guess I'll be here for a while, since Dr. White wants me to have these done before I leave." She looked at Clark. "Can you help me with some of this? Dan wasn't able to explain these particular forms," she asked. Then, remembering what Cat had said, she added, almost as feline-like as the French teacher would have, "I hope you didn't make dinner plans." Clark took off his jacket, putting it and the book back in his locker, then sat down and put his arms on the back of the chair. "I'm all yours," he said, putting his chin down on his arms and smiling at her.
They worked for the next hour on the forms, and Lois finally got up to stretch. "I'm starving. Is there a good Chinese take out place in town?" she asked.
"I know a place," Clark answered, grabbing his jacket. "I'll be right back."
"Don't you even want to know what I want?" Lois asked as she sat down at the table again.
"I'll bring an assortment," he responded as he made his way out the door of the lounge.
Clark darted out behind the high school and, after looking around, flew off. Going to Shanghai and returning to Smallville took all of ten minutes. He re-entered the teacher's lounge with several baskets in his hands.
"That was quick," Lois reflected, looking up at him.
"I took a shortcut," Clark replied before she could question him further.
Lois, noticing the steam, opened the basket tentatively. "It's still hot," she said, carefully taking out a dumpling. After taking a bite, she exclaimed, "This is out of this world!"
They ate in relative quiet. Lois read the papers spread out in front of her while Clark kept watching her and indicating a place to check every now and then. He was definitely enjoying spending this time with her.
Lois opened up her fortune cookie. "It's in Chinese!" she exclaimed.
Clark took the small slip of paper from her.
"Oh don't tell me you read Chi…"
"A good horse is like a member of the family," read Clark, handing it back to her.
"I hate that," Lois said. "That's not a fortune."
Clark laughed and stared at her. He couldn't help it. She was so amazing.
Lois looked at Clark. He was smiling that wonderful smile of his. She was beginning to realize that he was different from the men she had known. He was handsome, but it was his warmth, genuineness, and kindness that she was finding uniquely appealing.
"You are a strange one, Clark Kent," she said.
"Am I?" he asked, his voice husky and his eyes attempting to penetrate her hard shell.
"Yeah, but I think I got you figured out," Lois said, trying to keep the upper hand.
"Really?" Clark queried, leaning back in his chair.
"Uh-huh," Lois said.
Clark smiled. "Didn't take you long."
"As a teacher, one needs to see beyond the external," she explained.
Clark held his breath. He had never been with a woman that affected him this way. She lit him up inside.
Lois could feel her heart racing. The way he looked at her with his deep, chocolate colored eyes made her feel something that she had promised herself would never happen again. 'But this man is different,' a part of her was saying. But even if it was true, she was just not ready to face this. Not so soon after…
"Don't fall for me, Farmboy," she finally said. But as soon as the words were out of her mouth, an instant of regret hit Lois right in the pit of her stomach. She looked at the handsome man sitting next to her—at his smile, his eyes, and the way a lock of hair fell down on his forehead, begging to be fixed, and wondered if she was the one who would fall.
On Thursday morning Lois smiled at her second period class and turned to face the blackboard where she wrote:
American Lit. assignment #1: Take one of the following controversial topics and apply it to Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood." A. Capital Punishment B. Childhood Trauma as a Cause for Adult Violence C. Gun Control D. Homosexuality
The room became extremely quiet as the students slowly read the assignment. Then, all at once murmurs arose simultaneously from around the room as they leaned over and whispered to friends.
"Any problems?" Lois asked as she turned to face the class.
"How do we do this, Ms. Lane?" a blonde, attractive girl asked.
"Well," Lois answered, looking at the seating chart, "Cindy, let me tell you more about the assignment. I chose this particular novel because it takes place in Kansas and would have a lot of interest for you," she explained as she walked down one of the rows of chairs. "It is also considered to be one of the first documentaries written in the form of fiction, which is so much a part of TV docu- dramas today," Lois continued as she walked up another row.
"Each of you will read the novel which we will discuss in class next week, and then, starting the week after next, you will be divided up into four groups with five to six students in a group. Each group will tackle one of the controversial issues by researching it, making a presentation in front of the class, and then writing a group paper relating the novel to the topic," she finished as she walked slowly back to the front of the class.
"Ms. Lane," Keith Haley said, raising his hand. "How are the groups chosen?"
"Making 'thure' you get the 'thweetest' group?" said one of the students, who Lois had already realized was considered a leader, and who was now badly imitating a lisp and gesturing with a limp wrist as an attempt to show off to the rest of the class.
The other members of the class laughed. Lois looked at the seating chart and realized that the tormenter was the son of the school board president. She looked at Keith, then at the other students. This definitely *was* Kansas. Lois walked over to the bully's desk. "Get up!" she exclaimed.
"What?" he asked her, trying to save face in front of his supporters.
"Apologize to Keith!" Lois demanded.
"Not to that friggin' fairy," he said, stubbornly remaining in his seat.
"Get up and get out!" Lois insisted. "You will not return to my classroom until you have apologized to Keith, to me, and to the rest of the class."
At noon, Lois walked over to the administrative offices before heading to the teachers' lounge for lunch. Clark was leaning against a filing cabinet, hoping that Lois would eventually show up. He smiled when she entered the office.
"What's this?" Lois asked Clark, reading a flyer that was in her mail slot.
"Oh, that," Clark responded, looking over her shoulder. "It's the annual first-of-the-year faculty party sponsored by the school board. They have this get together the first Saturday of the school year to meet new teachers like you, and for the new school board members and the veterans to hob nob with the elite," he explained as they both began walking over to the teachers' lounge for lunch.
"Would you go with me?" he asked, eyeing her.
"Is this a date?" she asked, obviously hesitant.
"No," Clark hurriedly responded. "Just business. You know…mentor to mentee."
"In that case, yes," she said.
"This year," Clark explained, "the party is at the large meeting room in the bank because the new school board president is also president of the bank."
"Sounds like a very important guy," she said.
"Yeah, if you like that type," Clark said somewhat angrily.
Lois looked at him. This was interesting. Clark had never said an unkind word about anyone. But, having that altercation with the president of the school board's son earlier in class, Lois wondered if perhaps the apple not falling far from the tree could be applied here. Lois looked down at the flyer extolling the get acquainted party. The invitation was signed President of the School Board, Lex Luthor.
"Lex Luthor hasn't answered my telephone calls," Lois complained to Clark during lunch on Friday.
"You've been calling the school board president?" Clark asked her. "What about?"
"Jaxon Luthor," she replied. "I wanted to talk to Mr. Luthor about his son's attitude in my class. There was an incident yesterday morning and, when I arranged to talk to Jaxon about it after school yesterday, he didn't show up. And I haven't seen him today."
"Jaxon has been trouble for many years," Clark told her. "Talk to Barb Friskin about him. She's attempted to work with Jaxon and might be able to give you some insights on how to deal with him in a classroom setting."
"Yes, I'll try that," Lois responded. "But as my mentor, I guess I *do* need to talk to you about what happened in my American Lit class yesterday morning. I probably should have talked to you about it yesterday, but I wanted to talk to Jaxon first."
She paused, and her face took on a look that Clark would soon come to know. "I'm concerned about something. Something that maybe you can help me with."
"Sure, Lois. What is it?" he asked as he hung up his jacket and they sat down at the table in the lounge.
"I use a theme to focus upon when I assign novels for my students in my American Lit classes. I've used…" She stopped in reaction to the lunch Clark removed from a paper sack. "You eat like an eight year old," she said, eyeing the Ho Hos and Ding-Dongs he placed in front of him. "Now I love chocolate," she said, "but this is ridiculous. How do you do it? You look like Mr. Hardbody. Tell me your secret."
"Must be a metabolism thing, Lois." He smiled, noting her appraisal of his body. Then, quickly changing the subject, he said, "You were wondering about something that took place in your class."
"I've decided to use 'In Cold Blood' as the first reading assignment," she explained.
"Whew," Clark whistled. "You're starting with some pretty heavy stuff."
"Yeah, I got that feeling," she responded. "Especially…" she went on, "…when I told the students that I wanted them to relate the novel to one of four controversial topics—capital punishment, childhood trauma leading to adult violence, gun control, or homosexuality," she finished and looked at Clark, waiting.
"You're courageous and I applaud what you are trying to do," he said. "This *is* a small town, and although we live in the 1990s and have access to cable TV and videos, we are not quite that cosmopolitan yet."
"I figured that out when Jaxon chose to spew his homophobic venom at Keith," she said thoughtfully.
"Keith is a very strong young man," Clark said. "I have known him for years, both in school and out. He'll survive."
"It's not Keith I'm worried about," she explained. "It's the students who laughed at Jaxon's remarks. They didn't see that there was anything wrong about what he said or did. There should have been an outcry from *some* of them. But just the opposite happened. A few of the students were more than supportive."
"Lois, you're just going to have to be a bit patient."
"You've never tried to make your students think, grow as human beings, or infuse new ideas into the course material?" she insisted.
"I *have* been out of Smallville, Lois. I have experienced social problems first hand and I *have* brought it to my students' attention," Clark said, defending himself. "I have, however, not jumped into the water without checking its depth. You must do these things slowly," he said rationally.
"Well, Mr. Greenjeans," she said, staring at him, "I don't work that way." She got up and walked out the door.
"Lois," he called out after her and ran to catch up. "I'm not trying to stop you from doing what you think is best for your students. I believe they can learn a lot from doing the assignment. I just want to warn you that you will face some resistance from within the classroom and from without," he explained.
"I'm used to that," she said, continuing to walk down the hall.
"I'll bet you are," he said, grinning and following a step or two behind her. "You must have been a hell raiser at your last school."
She spun on her heels to face him. "Clark, teaching is more than giving students the three 'Rs'. It is getting them to think—getting them to become active participants in society. They have to not only be good, but good for something," she said, quoting her favorite author. "They have to have knowledge, commitment, and courage, and we are the ones that have to instill that in them," she finished, her eyes ablaze.
Lois had never looked lovelier. Clark just stared. He couldn't keep his eyes off her. He wanted to take her in his arms—right then and there— right in the middle of the Smallville High School hallway, with students just coming out of the cafeteria and heading toward their lockers.
"Clark?" she asked.
"Lois," Clark said, finally able to speak. "It's great to hear a teacher talk that way. I totally agree with you, and though you may not believe me, I try the same things in my classes. I try to make them see that there are many sides to an issue and that it is their job to find out who they are and to get out there and make a difference."
Lois smiled at him. After only a few days she knew he was different than Ralph, who simply made dittos and gave the students the same mathematical problems year after year. He was also different than Cat and Dan, who both saw their jobs as just jobs. It was obvious that Clark cared, cared a great deal. Some of her students had told her how good a teacher he was and she was already gaining respect for him.
"Look, Lois," Clark began. "I know that teaching is incredibly important to you. And I respect your dedication and ability. Dr. White respects you as well. He mentioned to me how you bowled him over during your interview with him in July and how, in talking to your various references, he understood that they all thought you were about the greatest teacher they've ever met," he said, pausing. "And not that it means anything coming from a simpleton from Nowheresville, but I think you're pretty terrific, too."
Lois looked up at Clark and she knew that here was someone she could trust. She saw in his eyes that he appreciated who she was and what she had to say. He was different than any of the men she had been attracted to before. Attraction? Was that what she was beginning to feel?
"Oh, Clark," Lois said, tears coming to her eyes. "I've had a rough day or two and I really needed to hear that. I…I want to apologize, too, for some of the things I said. I didn't mean…"
But she couldn't complete her thoughts as Ralph came bounding up. "Hey, you two! Did I interrupt something, heh, heh? Are you going to the school board party?" he asked.
Before either could answer, Jaxon Luthor came up to them. He glared at Lois and then addressed Ralph. "Mr. Smoot." He stared at the Math teacher. "About that grade I got on my last Trig test—we have to talk."
Ralph nervously followed Jaxon, and the two of them began talking animatedly over in the corner of the hallway.
Lois glanced over at them. It was obvious that Jaxon was in control of the conversation. Ralph was nodding and his body language indicated panic.
"Something should be done about that young man," Lois said angrily. "Just because his father is the president of the school board…" she argued, her voice trailing off.
Clark smiled at her. Although he had warned her against it, he loved that she was ready to jump into the pool without checking the water level first. She definitely was going to make an impact on the school and the community.
"You could probably railroad his dad at the party Saturday night," Clark reminded her.
"Great idea, Clark," Lois said, glad that he wasn't telling her to give up or cave in or settle down. He was saying something about meeting her there, but she wasn't really listening.
Instead, Lois was looking at him. She was holding her breath. She…she wanted to be in his arms, she wanted him to hold her and tell her that she was wonderful and to trust her instincts, and let her know that everything was going to be okay this time. But she had to put that out of her mind.
"Meet you? Uh, yes, that would be fine," she heard herself say. "Where? When?"
"Lois," he said anxiously, his head tilted. "I…I gotta go. I have to return a book to the school library," he explained and took off quickly.
"But Clark…" she yelled after him.
Lois started to follow him when she heard a loud commotion coming from the north side of the school. A crowd of students and several teachers were moving rapidly toward the sounds.
"What's going on?" she asked Ralph, who was just ahead of her.
"They're digging a new well and a workman has fallen down the shaft. It's over forty feet deep and he isn't responding to them. Potato chip?" he asked, thrusting a bag of chips at her.
"No, thanks," she replied glaring at Ralph. "Isn't anyone going to be able to help him?" she asked, pushing her way through the crowd to get closer.
All of a sudden the man's face appeared. He had floated to the top as the well filled up with water. Several workmen grabbed him and lifted him out to a waiting ambulance.
"What's going on?" Clark said as he slipped in behind Lois.
"A man fell into a well but the force of the well water pushed him to the surface," Lois explained, turning around to see Clark, with mud on his coat and pants.
"What happened to you?" she asked.
"I slipped," he said, brushing some of the dirt off.
"You should have a change of clothes in your locker," she told him. "I always do in case something happens."
"Sounds like a great idea," Clark said, an inspiration coming to him.
Saturday evening brought with it a drenching rain. The lightning and thunder, however, did not put a damper on the partygoers. Being farm country, most were glad to see the rain because of the crops and because it would help to cool down the recent humid conditions.
Jaxon entered his father's office on the third floor of the bank building. "What is it?" barked Lex. "The party starts in less than fifteen minutes. I can't be bothered with anything right now."
"Please, please, I need to talk to you," his son implored.
"Don't whine! A Luthor cow tows to no one. Get out of here; I can't stand the sight of you!" he shouted.
"You have to get rid of the new English teacher," Jaxon went on, not leaving. "She's a witch; you need to fire her."
"Handle this yourself!" he yelled. "Leave me out of it."
Downstairs Clark looked anxiously around the large meeting room that had been converted to a dance floor for tonight's festivities. He wanted desperately to see Lois and get close to her. He was standing next to Jimmy when the president of the school board, owner of the bank, and most influential member of the community made his dramatic entrance down a flight of stairs.
Lex Luthor strode down from his third floor office to the party room below with his eyes on one incredibly attractive woman. At the foot of the stairs was Lois Lane, standing next to Barb Friskin. Lex moved directly toward Lois and took her hand. "You must be our new English teacher," he said.
"Why have you been ignoring my phone calls?" she asked him.
"Well, I can assure you that I won't make *that* mistake again," he said as he led her out on the dance floor.
Clark stared at Lois. She was wearing a black sheath and she was stunning. He couldn't take his eyes off her and, as he stretched to see her, he began inadvertently floating about five inches off the floor.
"She's really something," Jimmy said to Clark, not aware of Clark's levitation as Jimmy's eyes also remained on Lois. "Isn't she? Clark? Clark?"
Quickly, before anyone noticed, Clark got his feet back on the ground, but only physically. Metaphorically, he remained floating on air as he continued to stare at the vision dancing with Luthor.
"Yeah," Clark gulped. "She is something!"
Clark wasn't the only person who was watching the pair on the dance floor. Barb Friskin was also taking a keen interest in the two. She stared angrily at Lex and Lois as they glided by and realized that Lex was up to his old tricks. She had been there before and knew every move that he was going to make. Barb promised herself that she was going to have to do something about it.
Clark continued to watch the two dancing and resisted using his hearing ability to tune in on what they were saying as they danced by.
"You'll excuse me for being so bold," Lois began, addressing Luthor.
"Boldness is a trait I find very attractive in a woman, Ms. Lane," Lex said, turning her expertly around the floor.
"Well, thank you," she replied, caught somewhat off guard. "Well, Mr. Luthor…" Lois continued.
"Lex," the head of the school board said persuasively.
"Lex," Lois returned. "I need to meet with you on an important issue."
"How about later tonight?" he said, whispering right into her ear.
Clark crossed quickly over to the two. He didn't like the way Lex was moving in on Lois. "May I cut in?" Clark asked, taking her hand and stepping between Lois and Lex.
As Lois watched Lex walk away, she looked at Clark, annoyed. "I was close to setting up an important meeting."
"This close?" Clark asked, holding her a bit more closely.
Lois put some additional space between them. Although she might be a little grateful that Clark had *saved* her again from the obvious pass that Lex had thrown, she believed she could have held her own with the bank president. She was becoming, however, more unsure each day that she couldn't keep her wits about her with Clark. He was beginning to penetrate the shell she had encased herself in. But she just could not and would not start a faculty romance. She had been through that before and it had been a federal disaster, particularly when that faculty member had become the principal.
"I thought square dancing would be more your style," Lois said bitingly. Although she wanted to distance herself from Clark, she was almost sorry she had lashed out at him that strongly.
Clark, becoming at ease with her occasional jibes, ignored her. "Actually, I learned from a Nigerian Princess who studied ballroom dancing in England," Clark explained.
"Oh how fascinating," Lois threw back at him and moved away. She couldn't stay in his arms. It was beginning to feel too good. She had to get away. There was not going to be a repeat of what happened in Metropolis.
"Lois," Clark called out and followed her. She had felt so good in his arms. She had said that she understood him but it was he who was really beginning to understand her. He could sense that at times she rejected him and pushed him away, but there were other times, times when he felt that she would welcome him. Something must have happened in Metropolis. Perhaps that is why she had come to a small town to get away from someone making her scared of starting a new relationship, especially if she had just come off a failed one.
Well, he was scared, too. Past relationships for him had been good, but they had only gone so far. He had never wanted them to go any further unless that woman could share his secret. Clark began to think that he had finally found someone who could do just that, who could share everything with him. Maybe it was the right time for him to make that step. "Lois," he called out again and caught up with her in front of several glass display cases that housed some antiques.
Ralph came by and pulled Lois back onto the dance floor. Clark planned to wait a moment or two before rescuing Lois once more when Lex joined him by the exhibit.
"What do you think of it?" Lex asked, indicating the selection of war artifacts that were on display. Clark looked at a German Luger, a Confederate saber, a crossbow, and a Revolutionary musket.
"Impressive," Clark stated. He had always found Lex a bit hard to take. They had had a few run ins in the past over differences of opinion usually involving Lex's son, but nothing major. However, his making a move on Lois was putting his inappropriate actions into the major column. Clark stared at Lex and realized that he and most people in the town didn't really know that much about him.
Lex had come to Smallville eight years ago while Clark was away at college. He had become a partner of Henry Brady and Matthew Drake, who owned the bank. Brady had died of a heart attack shortly after Lex joined them, and Drake had been arrested for fraud related to activities that occurred before Luthor had come on board. Lex had been cleared, and as sole remaining partner, became president of the bank and eventually the richest man in town.
Clark had always thought that some of this sounded shady. Now that he thought about it again, it was just too neat and tidy.
Lex's son Jaxon had been nine years old when the two moved to Smallville. It was rumored that Mrs. Luthor had committed suicide, but the facts were unclear. Jaxon had been a hellion, having been raised by a series of Nannies who never stayed very long. Lex, apparently, was never really *there* for his son, which angered Clark.
"Do you know what this is?" asked Lex, opening the case with a key from his pocket and indicating a weapon that he removed from the place of honor in the center display case.
"A Macedonian sword," Clark responded.
"It belonged to Alexander the Great," Lex informed him. "A brilliant tactician." He pointed the sword at Clark. "Alexander's strategy was simple. Always seize the high ground," Lex said, trying to intimidate Clark. "It was with this sword that he…"
"…defeated Darius the Third and was proclaimed King of Asia," Clark finished, staring Luthor right in the eye, refusing to *be* intimidated.
"You surprise me, Mr. Kent," Lex remarked. "And I'm not often surprised."
"I do teach history, Mr. Luthor," Clark responded.
Lex continued to look at Clark. Then he placed the sword back in the case. Luthor's surprise was not that Clark knew about the sword but that he had faced Lex squarely and was not awed by him. Lex was used to people backing down. This was something new for him.
Lois returned to the two of them in her attempt to get away from Ralph.
"I have an announcement regarding school policy that you both will be interested in," Lex informed them, then walked toward the center of the room.
Lois looked at Clark. "Does he usually make policy statements at these get togethers?"
"He's only been school board president for a year," Clark explained. "I'm not sure what's up."
"Ladies and Gentlemen, that is…teachers and board members," Lex said, looking around the room. "I hope you are having a good time. I've been on the board for five years, and president for one of those years, and during that time I have been trying to make sure that the school curriculum reflects the goals of this community," he said and smiled.
Lois immediately saw beneath the fa‡ade and knew that she was not going to like what she heard next.
"I'm happy to report that the board has, during its first meeting of the new academic year, written the "Family Values Doctrine." This new policy will require that the high school curriculum be sent to a committee of specially selected and representative citizens who will insure that certain inappropriate material not be presented to our vulnerable children. Among those on the taboo list will be Evolution, Communism, and Homosexuality."
Lois and Clark looked at each other.
Lois tossed and turned, trying to get to sleep. The thunderstorm had stopped and now there was only a soft, gentle rain that normally should have lulled her to sleep. As she turned to look at the clock for the twentieth time, she thought she heard something. There it was again, at the rear of the house. It sounded like the back screen door. Lois got up and slowly went to the Kitchen, grabbing a frying pan off the rack. She looked out the back window and saw a raccoon trying to get into the garbage can. Lois sighed. She still wasn't used to the sounds of the country. She could sleep through sirens, eye in the sky helicopters, loud radios blaring, but this was all new to her.
Lois went into the living room, not noticing the shadow of an intruder who was lurking in the kitchen. She knew it would be useless to try to get to sleep. The evening's events and those of the last few days were playing ping- pong inside her head.
She walked to the desk and took out the hot pink sheet from a folder. She ran down the names on the sheet. Kent, Clark: 555-1018. Well, that would be easy to remember since it was the day after her birthday. Lois looked at the clock again; the dial read 12:42. It was too late to call anyone, but she needed to talk. She picked up the receiver and then put it down again. What was she doing? Hadn't she learned from her past mistakes? But Clark was not Claude. After Claude, she had begun to doubt her capacity to assess a man's goodness. But she felt that she *had* recognized how different Clark was. There was a kindness, a generosity and a gentleness in his eyes. Lois paced around the living room and then moved toward the phone. She picked it up and punched in the numbers. Clark picked it up after the second ring.
"Hello," he said hesitantly.
"Hi, Mr. Mentor, it's your mentee," Lois explained. "Does your mentor job description include taking care of sleepless mentees?"
"How about a pizza and a video?" he asked. Then, "I'll be right over," he said, without even waiting for an answer.
Lois went into the bedroom to change from her pajamas to sweatpants and a gray tank top. As she did so, the intruder took that opportunity to slip out the back door. Dealing with Lois Lane would have to wait until another day.
Fifteen minutes later, Clark arrived at Lois' door. As she let him in, she noticed that Clark was wearing jeans and a tight brown T-shirt and looked incredible. He carried a large pizza box and a video and set it down on the table.
"I figured 'Sleepless in Seattle' would be the ideal film."
Lois smiled and put the video in the VCR and moved a box she had been unpacking aside in order to make room for the pizza. As the movie began, she and Clark settled in on the couch and Clark handed her a slice of pizza.
"Thank you, Clark," Lois said. "I really needed something like this. What with getting settled, starting at a new school, and having to face the two Luthors…it has been quite a week."
Clark smiled at Lois. He was glad to see her in a little more vulnerable state. Not that he needed a woman to be weak and helpless. He just wanted to see all of her facets and discover that she did have another side to her. He looked around at the disarray of half-opened boxes. On top of the box that Lois just moved aside, he noticed some framed quotations, all by Thoreau…
…Friends…they cherish one another's hopes. They are kind to one another's dreams.
…Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other's eyes for an instant?
…There is no remedy for love but to love more.
Clark looked back at Lois. She was, indeed, something special, and that hard shell was beginning to crack.
About halfway through the film, Lois fell asleep on his shoulder. Clark reached out and moved the few locks of hair that had fallen into her eyes and cupped his hand on her cheek, caressing the side of her face. Lois moved slightly under his touch as if in response, but remained asleep. Clark carefully picked her up and carried her to her bed. He pulled the bed covers around her and sat on the edge of the bed. He watched her sleep for a few minutes, reveling in how beautiful she looked, and he listened to her soft breathing, fantasizing how wonderful it would be to be lying next to her and have her sleeping in his arms. He leaned down and gently kissed her forehead, then quietly slipped out the door.
Martha was arranging the chairs in a circle and placing scripts on each one. She was guessing that about twelve people would come to the Sunday auditions. She had a stack of audition sheets ready—one for each person to complete. Even though she knew everyone who usually tried out, she wanted a sheet from each person so she could scribble notes on it, and occasionally there was a new piece of information she could glean from their sheets that would help her in casting the show.
As usual, Donald was the first to arrive. He was a local insurance agent in his late forties. Donald Botts was short, portly, and opinionated but he was great on stage. He always played the doctor or lawyer or businessman who was loud and obnoxious. Martha found him perfect for those parts and every play seemed to have one. Donald and his wife Linda had met in college some twenty-five years ago. Donald was originally from Smallville and had brought Linda back with him after they graduated college. Linda had taught grade school until four years ago when she developed a heart condition. She occasionally helped the Smallville Players by being in charge of props.
Donald completed the form and then sat down on one of the chairs and started reading through the script. Beatrice, the High School secretary, and young Keith Haley soon joined him after submitting their sheets.
Clark came into the auditorium and went up to his mother to give her a kiss on the cheek. While she handed him a sheet to fill out, Martha saw someone new enter and move down the aisle and up the stairs of the stage to where they were all standing. Clark's head jerked up to watch as the attractive woman walked toward them. From his smile, Martha knew that this must be Lois. Then, pausing, Martha grinned when she suddenly realized that *this* was why Clark had changed his mind and was auditioning.
Martha looked at both of them. Being the director had its advantages. If she cast Clark and Lois as the married couple, magic could happen. And above all, Martha believed in magic.
It was magic that brought Clark to her and Jonathan to begin with. A baby had come out of the sky just after they had been told that they couldn't have any children. Clark had proven to be the perfect son. He was kind, conscientious, and loving. When she and Jonathan had discovered that Clark had unique talents, they trusted him implicitly to decide how to handle it. Her only concern about Clark was that, due to his being special, he had been and might always be alone—never finding that one love that could share his life.
"Mom, this is Lois Lane. Lois," Clark said,"this is my mother.
"How do you do, Mrs. Kent," Lois said.
"Call me Martha, Lois. I've heard so much about you already." Martha beamed at her. Lois was lovely, and in that single instant Martha realized that Clark wouldn't have to be alone. Lois was the one.
Lois eyed Clark and then smiled at Martha. "I've heard about you, too, Martha. I'm really looking forward to this audition. Does the town understand the play you've chosen to do?" she asked, picking up a script.
"A committee of the Smallville Players selects the scripts," Martha answered her.
"Obviously, none of them are members of the school board or are impacted by Lex Luthor," she commented.
"I don't understand," Martha said, looking at her son and then back to Lois.
Clark watched Lois as a smile played on her lips and her eyes indicated that something was brewing behind those deep brown pools. He knew that he was going to learn to love the way Lois got ideas and then acted on them.
"Clark, are you familiar with this play?" Lois asked.
"Not really, I trust my mother's judgment."
"Well, this play is absolutely perfect and I do *so* want to be a part of it." Lois looked at both of them as she took a sheet to fill out and sat in a chair.
Cindy came running down the aisle of the auditorium. "Hi, everybody," she called out, grabbing a sheet and a script and plopping herself next to Keith.
Lois thumbed through the play. The presentation of this play would work right into what she planned to do in response to the school board's dictum. Obviously, Martha understood the nature of the play but was not aware of what was going on in regards to school curriculum. On the other hand, Clark knew what was going on at school, but was unfamiliar with the play. She was going to have to get both of their support to make this idea work.
At that point, Cat made a dramatic entrance and picked a chair that was furthest removed from Lois. She patted the chair next to her, encouraging Clark to sit down.
Clark ignored Cat and sat down in a chair beside Lois after picking up his copy of the script and began to read it.
Coming in behind Cat was Bill Saxton. Martha smiled at Bill. He was the best actor the group had and he had been with the Smallville players since its inception. Having been the high school drama teacher until his retirement two years ago, he was an asset to them all. Bill lived alone and there had always been rumors that before he had relocated to Smallville from Kansas City some thirty-five years ago he had once been married and that his wife had left him, taking their two children with her. Since he had no other family, the Smallville Players had become his family and everyone loved him.
Lois looked around at all the people busily reading the scripts in their hands. She wasn't sure if they knew what was in store for them. But, if they were a good theatre group, they would all soon become very vested in the process and supportive of each other.
"Clark," Lois said, leaning toward him, her eyes shining. "Your mother is incredibly foresighted and has chosen a play that will give us a pulpit from which to preach academic freedom."
Jaxon Luthor entered his father's study for the second time in so many days, which was highly unusual for him. For the most part the two barely crossed paths in their large apartment. "Dad, have you met the new English teacher yet?" he asked. "I need to ask you again to *do* something about her."
"I just may, Jaxon," his father responded. "I just may."
Martha looked around at the potential cast members. The play called for eleven people and only eight hopefuls were sitting there. She mentally ticked off who could possibly play what parts and found that all of it worked if she altered one part. She realized she had to go out and drum up the additional people she would require, but she was used to it. She needed four more men, which was always the case. She would change one of men's role to a woman's as she did have an extra woman sitting there so she only had to get three more men—well, one because Jonathan could handle the small, walk-on role, and hopefully Dan Scardino would show up. But she would have to deal with that later; it was now three o'clock.
"Welcome to auditions, everybody. I'm so glad to see all of you here and to especially welcome a newcomer, Lois Lane," Martha said, and then waited for the smattering of applause to die down. "This play takes place at a Midwestern college in 1940 and is about freedom and choices."
"We'll start on page thirteen. Donald, will you read Dr. Damon, who's head of the English Department? Keith, will you read Michael, a college student? Lois, will you try Ellen, wife of the English Professor? Clark you'll do Tommy, the English Professor. Cindy would you take a shot at Patricia, Ellen's younger sister, who is also Michael's girlfriend? That should do it for now."
Donald, Keith, Lois, Clark, and Cindy stood up and faced Martha, who had a large legal pad in front of her, as well as the sheets the auditioners had submitted to her in order to take notes.
"Before you start," she said, looking at the actors in front of her. "Let me set the scene. Dr. Damon and Michael have just come to the home of Ellen and Tommy," Martha explained. "Patricia lives with them while going to college. Dr. Damon is there to tell them that Michael has written a very interesting article in the school paper that is coming out the next day. Dr. Damon is a nice, wise man. Might be a stretch for you, Donald," Martha quipped as the actors responded with laughter, Donald laughing the loudest.
Clark looked at Lois standing next to him. Her face showed an eagerness, and the light in her eyes was almost hypnotic. He had to force himself to focus back on what his mother was saying.
"Dr. Damon," Martha was continuing, "is concerned with what the higher administrators will think of what he or his faculty does. Michael is an intensely serious student and perhaps a bit of an agitator."
Keith flashed everyone a smile. "Sounds great," he said.
"Ellen," Martha said, looking at Lois, "acts from an emotional, not intellectual, basis. She is also very concerned about how everything looks and is not as supportive of Tommy as she might be. Not because she doesn't love him; she loves him intensely. She just doesn't know how to provide that support. But she eventually learns, and as she learns, so does the audience."
Martha looked at her son. "Tommy is a mild-mannered teacher who doesn't really want to rock the boat, but will stand up for his principles. He loves his wife fiercely but at most times doesn't know how to show it. He, too, eventually learns."
Lois and Clark looked at each other. They smiled and then quickly dropped their eyes to the pages in front of them.
Martha realized this was an opportunity to gain Lois' respect and couldn't let it pass, especially when this woman meant so much to her son. "This play, then, revolves around education," she told the group. "First of all, it is set in a large educational institution. Secondly, the plot centers on the community learning about academic freedom and about the message that Tommy Turner wants to convey. His message is simple and straightforward. Learning and understanding comes from a variety of sources and we can't shut down the opportunities to learn," she continued, looking at Lois, whose head was nodding in agreement and whose eyes were sparkling with anticipation. Martha noticed that she wasn't the only one who saw Lois' reaction. Clark apparently was caught up in watching Lois whenever he had the opportunity.
Lois stole a glance at Clark. Before he quickly retreated to looking at the script, Lois noticed that he had been staring at her. She now took her turn to stare at Clark while he turned a page or two reading ahead.
He was incredibly handsome but it was what she was learning about him day after day as they worked together that was feeding her desire. Yes, desire. That was what she was feeling. The warmth of his body standing next to hers was beginning to invade her thoughts. She tried to refocus on the script but her mind kept wandering back to their moments together—sharing a Chinese dinner, to his support of her ideas, to being in his arms when they danced, to the way he looked on her front porch last night, ready to be there for her, and to his smile when she entered the auditorium for today's auditions.
Maybe *he* was the friend who would cherish her hopes and be kind to her dreams. Maybe he was…was what?
He was definitely a strange man. He was knowledgeable about so many things. He had a commitment to his students, to his parents, and she was beginning to feel that that commitment could eventually include her. Hmmm, knowledge and commitment, two of her requisites. She looked over at him again. Would he have the courage she was going to require of him to help her?
Martha was still discussing the underlying themes of the play. "The subplot revolves around the marriage of Tommy and Ellen," she explained. "They have some learning to do. Ellen is the emotional one, Tommy the intellectual one. Ellen has to learn how to be of help to her husband by becoming more knowledgeable. Tommy has to learn how to express his emotions."
Clark was doing just that. He was dealing with his emotions, emotions that were new to him. He was falling helplessly in love. Standing there with Lois so close to him, he thought back to the first time he saw her in Dr. White's office. He relived holding her to prevent a collision in the hallway, their laughing over Chinese dinner, and seeing her storm out with her eyes flashing when she was so upset about what happened in her classroom. The warmth of her body next to his also reminded him of how it felt when she was dancing in his arms and the closeness they had shared when she fell asleep on his shoulder.
He remembered the quotations from Thoreau that were apparently very special to her. He knew he could cherish her hopes and be kind to her dreams, and most of all, love her more and more and more.
He looked up from the script to catch her looking at him and noted the continued excitement in her eyes. Was that there because she was looking forward to the play? Or had she, hopefully, some of the same feelings for him?
"Patricia…" Martha was explaining to Cindy, "…is in love with Michael but is unsure of that love, especially since Michael is different. And as a very young woman," Martha explained, "she gets worried easily.
"Okay," Martha said. "As a reminder, in this scene, Dr. Damon and Michael are entering the Turner house and are the bearers of interesting news. Is everyone ready? Good," Martha said, encouraging the group in front of her. "Then let's try it."
The group of actors looked at their scripts, and Lois began.
Ellen/Lois: Oh, come in, Doctor Damon, Michael.
Michael/Keith: Hi, Professor Turner, Mrs. Turner.
Damon/Donald: Hello, Thomas! How are you Ellen, dear?
Ellen/Lois: Where's Mrs. Damon?
Damon/Donald: I shall pick her up and bring her along shortly for the festivities. This is in the nature of an unofficial call.
Tommy/Clark: Hello! You both look a little grim. Has anything happened?
Damon/Donald: Michael has written another of his fiery editorials.
Patricia/Cindy: (Entering, unaware that they had company) Ellen, did you see my—oh! How do you do, Doctor Damon? Hi, Michael!
Damon/Donald: (to Patricia) Sit down, my dear. I have here an editorial written by Michael for 'The Lit,' which comes out tomorrow. Perhaps, to save time, one of us should read it aloud. (Reading) "When this so-called university forces such men out of its faculty as Professor Kennedy, Professor Sykes, and Professor Chapman, because they have been ignorantly called Reds, it surrenders its right to be called a seat of learning. It admits that it is nothing more nor less than a training school—a training school for bond salesmen, real-estate dealers, and ambulance chasers. It announces to the world that its faculty is subservient…"
Michael/Keith: Oh. I didn't mean you, of course, Doctor Damon.
Damon/Donald: "…that its faculty is subservient to its trustees, and that its trustees represent its proper name, which is—Fascism."
Clark quickly stole a glance at Lois and she looked back, catching his eye. He nodded slowly, beginning to understand why Lois was so excited about this play and how, no pun intended, it would play right into her hands as she responded to the school board's Family Values Policy. He grinned at her.
Lois watched Clark carefully. He got it! More than that, he was in his way agreeing and would be there for her. She could see it in his eyes and in his smile, his wonderful smile. He was courageous as well as knowledgeable and committed; and she, Lois Lane, was falling in love with a farmboy from Nowheresville.
Patricia/Cindy: Oh, Michael! There you go again.
Damon/Donald: Wait till you hear what he has actually done.
Patricia/Cindy: Isn't that all?
Damon/Donald: Unhappily, there is more.
Patricia/Cindy: Oh, Lord!
Damon/Donald: These professors were not Reds. They were distinguished liberals. Let us thank God that we still have one man left who is going ahead, teaching what he believes should be taught.
Tommy/Clark: Who's that?
Damon/Donald: "He is not afraid to bring up even the Sacco- Vanzetti case. He has read to his classes on the same day Vanzetti's last statement and Lincoln's letter to Mrs. Bixby. The hounds of bigotry and reaction will, of course, be set upon the trail of this courageous teacher, but, if they think they can stop him, they are in for a disappointment. Our hats are off to Professor Thomas Turner of the English Department. That's all.
"Martha," Donald said, looking up from the script. "This is pretty heady stuff. Are you sure the audience will…"
"It is our job," Martha explained, "to shake up an audience and make it think. I don't ever believe we have to play down to an audience by giving them only fluff."
During Donald's reading and his discourse with Clark's mother, Clark began to realize the power that this play had and he understood how Lois needed him to support her at school. He felt that he not only wanted to be there for her but *had* to be there for her because she was right.
"Continue, please, Lois," Martha encouraged.
Clark was deep in thought. "Oh, I'm sorry, Mom. Sorry, Lois. My mind was somewhere else."
"A good place, I hope," Lois said.
"An important place," Clark responded.
"Let me cue you again, Clark," she said, helping.
Tommy/Clark: Michael, I think you might have consulted me about this.
"Let me stop you for a moment," Martha said. "Cat, will you start reading Patricia even though she's a bit too young for you. I just want to listen to your voice quality. Thank you, Cindy, you can sit back down. And Bill, would you read Dr. Damon. Thank you, too, Donald."
Cindy and Bill sat down and Cat strolled up to the front and stood beside Clark. Bill took his place in front of Martha.
Patricia/Cat: Michael, you fool! They'll kick you out of school for this— and Tommy too!
Ellen/Lois: You never told me you had brought up the Sacco- Vanzetti case in your classes, Tommy.
Damon/Bill: Yes, just what is this Vanzetti letter you have read?
Tommy/Clark: I haven't read it yet.
Michael/Keith: When you told me the other day you were going to read it, I thought you meant *that* day.
Tommy/Clark: No, Michael. I just meant some day. But I was talking to you as a friend; I was not giving an interview to an editor.
Ellen/Lois: But why were you going to read this letter, Tommy?
Tommy/Clark: Because it's a fine piece of English composition, and I'm teaching a *class* in English composition. An obscure little class. I don't want any publicity, Michael. I just want to be left alone.
Ellen/Lois: But nobody thinks of Vanzetti as a writer, Tommy.
Tommy/Clark: It happens that he developed into an extraordinary writer. I don't think you could help being interested in the letter yourself, Doctor Damon.
Damon/Bill: You would be surprised at my strength of will in these matters, Thomas. What I am interested in is preserving some air of academic calm here at Midwestern…
Patricia/Cat: You don't want to get Tommy kicked out of school, do you, Michael?
Michael/Keith: No. I didn't think of that. I thought Professor Turner was about the only man we had left who would read whatever he wanted to, to his classes. I thought he was the one who could stand up to these stadium builders.
Tommy/Clark: I'm not standing up to anyone, Michael. I'm not challenging anyone. This is just an innocent little piece I wanted to read.
"Okay," Martha said. "Good job. I've heard enough in this scene. I know you all pretty well so I know what you can do. I just need to hear Lois a little more."
Just at that moment Dan Scardino arrived. "Sorry I'm late, guys," he said, plopping himself down on a chair after he had picked up a script. "What would you like me to read, Herr Director?"
"You've got perfect timing, Dan," Martha smiled. "Would you turn to page 142? Clark, would you read Tommy again? Lois, you're still on Ellen. And, Dan, would you read Joe?"
"Sure," said Dan. "What's the play about?"
"I hope the others will bear with me, and I'll try to make this brief. Dan, this is a play about a college professor who may be branded a Red because he is choosing to read a letter by Vanzetti in his classroom. Clark is reading the part of the teacher," she explained and then looked at Lois.
"Lois is reading the part of his wife, a woman who is having a difficult time understanding her husband's principles and backing him. At the same time her previous boyfriend, you, that is, Joe, has come back to campus for the Homecoming game. He was the star football player when all three of them— Tommy, Ellen, and Joe were in college together."
Dan looked at Lois. "I think I can handle it," he said.
"I guess," Martha said, "you must all be wondering what the title of the play means. Since it's a play about academic freedom, why this title?" She looked at all of them. "Thurber was trying to have us question who the real man is, who the strong man is. Is he the one who can muscle his way down a football field or is he the one who lives a quiet life of desperation and then stands up for what he believes in?"
Martha smiled at Lois. Lois returned the smile, appreciating the quotation from Thoreau. Martha continued, "The part of Ellen is one of choices as well. Not only does Tommy have to choose to fight for academic freedom, Ellen must choose between the teacher and the football player."
"If I decide to put you in this part, Dan, I may be typecasting you as the ex-football player," Martha went on. "But I'm sure you will enjoy the part because there are times when he reenacts football plays, the statue of liberty play, for one."
"Hey!" Dan said. "No problemo, you probably would have needed me as a technical advisor anyway. I know Clark played football in college. But I am, after all the football coach."
"Are we ready?" Martha asked, looking at the three of them standing in front of her. Dan had placed himself between Lois and Clark. "Dan," Martha instructed. "Would you move over to the other side of Lois? I want her in the middle of the two of you."
Clark and Dan exchanged glances. Dan looked at Lois. "Are those your real eyelashes? You have the most beautiful eyes," he whispered to her.
Clark heard Dan's come on and, although upset, kept his feelings in check.
Lois, not sure how to respond, quickly looked back to Martha, who was explaining the scene they were about to tackle.
"At this point in the play, which is at the very end, actually," Martha explained, "Tommy has already read the infamous letter, and everyone believes he will probably be fired. Tommy thinks that Ellen is ready to run off with Joe. Joe has kissed Ellen and tried to rekindle their feelings, but Joe is married and he is only interested in a fling. Ellen is angry at Tommy for wanting to pass her back to Joe. Okay, everybody got that? Let's try it."
Dan looked over at Lois and winked.
Ellen/Lois: (to Tommy) Oh, go on! Put on your coat and comb your hair! If you're going to be kicked out of school, you can't go over there looking like a tramp.
Tommy/Clark: All right. (The directions indicate that he goes upstairs)
Clark moves away from Dan and Lois.
Joe/Dan: Look, Ellen, everything's gonna be all right.
Ellen/Lois: Is it?
Joe/Dan: I wouldn't worry about that guy.
Ellen/Lois: I don't.
Joe/Dan: I mean, he's sure to get another job. He's had more publicity than Wallace Simpson.
"Hold it," Dan said, interrupting the reading. "Who is he?"
"Who?" Martha asked.
"Wallace Simpson," replied Dan.
Clark looked at his mother and then Lois and the three of them chuckled.
"Wallace Simpson is a woman," Martha responded.
"Sure," said Lois. "She was a divorcee who was loved by King Edward VIII of England."
"And he gave up the throne because he loved her so much," finished Clark as he looked over at Lois, who was returning his gaze.
"Okay, okay," Dan said. "Thanks."
"Go on," Martha directed.
Joe/Dan: I mean, he's sure to get another job. He's had more publicity than Wallace Simpson.
Ellen/Lois: I don't care what becomes of him.
Joe/Dan: Come here.
Lois turns to Dan and takes a few steps toward him.
Joe/Dan: You're still crazy about that guy, aren't you?
Ellen/Lois: I'm kind of scared of him. He used to be just— nice, but now he's wonderful!
Clark looked at the script, which directs that Tommy appears on the stairs in time to catch the end of this. The script explains that very slowly a light begins to dawn upon Tommy. Joe sees Tommy return but Ellen doesn't. Clark and Dan follow the directions.
Joe/Dan: I don't think he's so wonderful!
Ellen/Lois: Yes, he is! That letter's wonderful. What he's trying to do is wonderful. He wouldn't let me or you or anyone stop him.
Joe/Dan: He's a scrapper all right, but he can't dance.
Ellen/Lois: Oh, who wants to dance now?
Dan follows the script directions and takes Lois into his arms, smiles at her, and starts to dance while reading his script over her shoulder.
Joe/Dan: This is important. It's all in the light you give off.
Ellen/Lois: Light? What are you talking about?
Joe/Dan: The important thing about dancing is that the man has got to lead.
Lois stopped abruptly. "I know that this is 1940, Martha, but that line is so…so…"
"Yes, I know," said Martha. "But it fits in with what comes next. Let's go on for now."
Dan gathered Lois back in his arms and, as the script called for, signaled to Tommy, who comes into the room.
Tommy/Clark: May I cut in? (he takes Ellen/Lois into his arms)
Ellen/Lois: Tommy! Let me go!
Tommy/Clark: No, I think you're wonderful too!
Ellen/Lois You think I'm dumb! Were you listening?
Joe/Dan: (making his way toward the door) Hey—don't start that again!
Tommy/Clark: Joe—why don't you go back to your wife? We can send her a wire.
Joe/Dan: Don't worry about me, brother. I sent her a wire this morning. (exits)
Dan sat back down on the chair, leaving Lois and Clark dancing.
Tommy/Clark: Quit leading!
Ellen/Lois: I'm not leading. You *were* listening!
Tommy/Clark: You were yelling. Well, turn!
Ellen/Lois: Make me turn. (Clark does) Don't be so rough— and take the hair off your forehead. (Lois takes the hand she is not holding her script with and moves a lock of Clark's hair which *had* fallen out of place and, slowly, while looking into Clark's eyes, moves the lock back in place).
"There's one more line and some stage action," Martha said. "Let's finish it," she indicated, smiling.
Ellen/Lois: You look terrible. (she lifts her face up to Clark's and they kiss)
The auditorium and the onlookers disappeared as Clark felt his lips on Lois'. He had fantasized about this for days, and there she was, responding to him. He could hear the soft sounds she was emitting, and he deepened the kiss.
Lois forgot where she was. She forgot anyone else was there as she melted into Clark's arms. Her body nestled up against his and there was no doubt now that she was falling head over heels in love.
"You're in that stupid play with *him*?" Jaxon was yelling at her later that night.
"Yes," Cindy said haltingly. "Keith's okay. He's really great to work with."
"Keith's a flaming fruit," Jaxon Luthor told her. "I'll do what I want," Cindy insisted.
Jaxon raised his arm and slapped her across the face. "You're my girl!" he Shouted. "And I don't want anyone thinking that you are friends with a damn Homo, and that you would take his side against me."
Lois was sitting in the teacher's lounge during lunchtime on Monday, looking at the rehearsal schedule that Martha had passed out at the end of auditions. Lois had gotten the part of Ellen, which required her to be at rehearsals Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, starting the following week. She was to be at a read through this Tuesday during which time she would be measured for costumes. Cat, the other possible Ellen, wound up with the part of a man— now woman reporter—a part that only had three or four lines. The schedule fell to the floor and Lois got down on all fours to retrieve it just as Cat entered.
"On your hands and knees, Lois?" Cat hissed. "Is that how you got the leading part in the play?"
Lois returned to her seat as she glared at Cat.
Cat moved to the door after getting something she needed from her locker. As she left the room, Clark came through the door. Cat smiled up at him, but Clark wasn't noticing her at all. He only had eyes for Lois.
"Lois," he said, "about yesterday at auditions…"
"Yes, Clark," Lois responded. "I want to talk about that as well. I'm just so glad we got the parts!" She hugged him excitedly.
"So am I, Lois. I think we ought to…" he started, but suddenly stopped, and Lois saw a look come into his eyes. "Uh…Lois…er, I have to go."
"But Clark," Lois implored. "I think we have to talk. It seems that we are getting to a place…a wonderful place, and I feel that…"
"Excuse me, Lois, but I've got to…return that video to the store," he said, fleeing the room.
Lois shook her head, her eyes welling up with tears. Had she done it again? Had she fallen for someone who couldn't make a commitment—who was afraid of intimacy? Boy, she could really pick them. But yet, Clark had seemed so different. The time she had spent with him had given her the opportunity to maybe see into his soul. She had thought she had seen someone who openly cared, who was capable of sharing, and most importantly, someone who could really love her. After all of her disasters during college and after, she had almost begun believing that no one could *really* love her. At least not the *way* she wanted—and needed—to be loved. She craved someone who would be able to support her ideas, her values, and her need to stand up and be counted.
Lois thought of Thoreau's quotation she now had hanging on her wall: "The only remedy for love was to love more." She wanted to be loved more each and every day, even when she followed her impulses, even when she did the unexpected, even when she was consumed by her passion for social justice and truth. Lois couldn't sit blindly by and not fight for lost causes, and she needed someone to fight along side of her. She had begun to believe that Clark could be that person but his disappearing acts belied that capability. Maybe he was *not* the man she had come to believe he was, and maybe there was somebody else out there that was.
Clark sped to a nearby farm where Fred Haley was caught under a thresher. Staying out of Fred's line of vision, he moved to the rear of the thresher and lifted it just enough so the farmer was able to pull free. Fred looked around but Clark had become a blur.
Entering his mother's bookstore, Clark found her curled up in an oversized Chair, reading. "Mom," he said.
"Hi, Clark," she smiled at him. "Did you enjoy yesterday's audition?"
"Yeah, Mom, it was great," he said. "But, look, I have another problem, and after rereading one of my favorite books, I have an idea of how to solve it. You know that I wrestled all my life with why…why I was sent her, and why I had these powers. I believe I was given my powers to help people, and that I'm here to make a difference. But I also know that you and Dad are scared for me because you believe that someday I could be found out. Today I helped Keith's Dad when he got caught under his thresher. And…" He paused.
"And, what?" Martha looked anxiously at her son.
"There was an instant there when I thought he saw me."
"Oh, Clark!" his mother exclaimed, rising to go to him. "You can't keep doing this."
"I have to, Mom. You know I have to. But I have an idea. I got it from that book and from something Lois said. It may be crazy but I think it will work." He paused. "I need an outfit."
"Yeah, you make the costumes for the Players. How about a costume that could disguise me when I'm off helping people? Look, Mom, I really have to get back to school. You think about it and we'll talk more when I come over later."
Clark returned to the teacher's lounge as the faculty who were eating there, were beginning to leave to return to classes. Lois was on the phone.
Lois looked up as Clark returned to the teacher's lounge. Maybe her idea to have Clark help her to persuade the school board to vote down the new policy was far fetched. He seemed to be preoccupied with things. He always had something to do, some place to go, when they began talking about something serious. It had become obvious that he was not the man she thought he was. Perhaps she should try a different approach to resolving her academic problems, something she could do on her own without his help.
"Yes, of course, Lex," she said into the phone. "I guess I can make it. I'll see you then." She hung up the phone.
Clark crossed over to her. "About yesterday," he began. "I think we should have dinner and…you know, to celebrate. We should do it now before intensive rehearsals start tomorrow evening."
"I'm sorry," Lois informed him sharply. "I have a dinner engagement with—"
"Luthor," Clark finished.
"Yes," she said and continued to walk down the hallway.
"Tell me something," Clark looked at her angrily. "How far would you be willing to go to get what you want?"
"As far as I need to, and, not that it's any of your concern," she returned, getting just as angry. "I have three rules. I don't get involved with the parents of my students, I don't let anyone interfere in my teaching, and I don't sleep with anyone I work with. Luthor is the father of a student, he is my boss, and this is business," she stressed and stormed away.
Later that evening Lois and Lex were eating dinner at a small table on the balcony of an apartment that Lex had constructed on the fifth floor of the bank building.
"This is rather extravagant digs for Smallville," Lois said, looking around.
"You don't have to be in a large city to enjoy some of the finer things of life." Lex eyed her. "You're here."
"Thank you, Mr. Luthor," Lois replied, taking a bite of her Lobster Florentine.
"Lex, please," Luthor implored.
"I'm not sure that's appropriate since you are president of the school board and I'm just a lowly teacher."
"There's nothing lowly about you, Lois," Lex responded. "And since you have graciously accepted my invitation to dinner at my apartment, keeping the employer/employee relationship seems unnecessary," Luthor said, taking a sip of his champagne.
"I don't think we should," Lois responded.
"All work and no play. Is that your credo, Lois Lane? Why don't we just enjoy the evening, enjoy each other…"
'I don't know about this costume thing, Clark," Jonathan informed his son, bringing two cups of coffee to the table.
"It will work," Clark said. "It has to. If I have an effective disguise, I won't have to worry about people finding out about me."
"Come on," his mother said. "Let's get started."
Martha led Clark to her spare bedroom where she had closets and boxes filled with costumes from past theatrical productions and unused bolts of material. Her sewing machine had a prominent position right in the center of the room near the foot of the bed.
For the next two hours, Clark and his mother tried various combinations of spandex tights, boots, shirts, and hats.
"Well?" Martha asked, throwing herself on the bed. "What about that one?"
"I don't know," Clark said as he emerged, dressed in a blue and red spandex suit with a yellow belt and red cape.
Clark went over to the mirror and moved around, testing its flexibility. "Hmm, what do you think?"
Martha got up from the bed and joined him over at the mirror. "Well, one thing's for sure. Nobody's going to be looking at your face." His mom grinned at him.
"Mom!" Clark said, shocked.
Chuckling, his mom said, "They don't call them tights for nothing."
Clark put his arm around his mother and she hugged him.
"I don't know…there's something missing…something…" she said, and then her face lit up. Martha dropped to her knees and went digging under the bed. She pulled out an old suitcase from its secreted place.
"What's that?" asked Clark as his mother was opening the suitcase.
She picked up a blue blanket, stroking it gently. "The baby blanket we found you in so long ago. And this…" she said, holding up a large emblem of a red 'S' on a golden background.
"This is business," Lois said, putting down her fork. "I need to talk to you about two related problems. One concerns the Family Values Policy, and the other, your son."
"Let's not talk about this until after dessert."
"I don't eat dessert," Lois informed him.
Clark modeled the entire outfit.
"Your folks would be proud of you," his mother said. "We sure are."
"Thanks, Mom," he said, smiling at her. "I'm not so sure about the cape, though." He turned from side to side to get the entire affect in the mirror.
"Oh really?" his Mom asked. "I love it. It'll be great when you're flying."
Clark took another look in the mirror and then removed his glasses. Would this be enough of a disguise? He remembered his mother's pep talks during one of the plays he had been in. She spoke about the suspension of disbelief. An audience wants to believe what they are seeing. They want to accept that there is not an actor up there but a real person telling their story.
They walked into the living room. His Dad looked at Clark. "That's my boy," he said.
"Yes, that's right," Martha said. "What if someone recognizes you?" his mom asked.
"They won't because it won't *be* me. Remember when you taught all of us about the suspension of disbelief?" he said to his Mom. "They will want to believe that there is someone out there who is faster than a speeding bullet, who can leap tall buildings, and who can bend steel in his bare hands. They will see someone separate. They will not see Clark. It worked for Percy in the Scarlet Pimpernel. It will work for me."
"Let's spend the rest of the evening getting to know each other better," Lex said, fingering the lace on the front of Lois' dress.
"I'm here on business," Lois said, standing up and walking away from the table. She turned back to Lex. "Are you aware that I threw your son out of class and I will *not* let him return until he apologizes for what he did?"
"Well, Lois," Luthor said. "Boys will be boys. And since I'm a boy and you're a girl, why don't we do what boys and girls do best together," he said, walking toward her, grabbing her and kissing her harshly. She pulled away from him, her dress getting ripped in the process.
Luthor grabbed her again, forcing her down on the couch. "Get your hands off Me!" she spat out and kneed him in the groin.
Lex hunched over and groaned. Lois jumped up from the couch and started moving toward the door. But Lex recovered enough to bar her exit. "What did you think this dinner was all about, Lois? You honestly didn't think it was to talk."
"You obviously have no intention of discussing your son…" Lois said, trying to get by him, "…or the stupid policy the school board is about to pass that would destroy academic freedom."
"I will have a talk with Dr. White about getting Jaxon back into your class. My son does *not* need your permission to be there. And the board, Ms. Lane," Luthor continued, obviously angry about a wasted dinner, "will take up this matter at our October meeting. According to the parliamentary rules, this doctrine was presented at the September meeting and then will be voted upon during the October meeting. If you want to discuss it, the place is on the second floor at the October 22nd meeting. Now get out!"
Lois ran out the door, took the elevator down to the lobby, got in her car, and started to drive toward the other side of town where her small house was located, tears of anger in her eyes. She could call the sheriff's station, but Luthor was right. She had come to *his* apartment. They would never take her word about what the most influential man in town had attempted to do. It was his word against hers. And his word carried a great deal more weight.
Lois should have seen this coming as she had been there before. She thought back to Claude and John Adams High School. Lois had been a fool, an absolute fool to fall in love with him, the handsome French teacher. What was it with French teachers, anyway? Did 'oversexed' come with the job description? She had broken one of her cardinal rules for him and had slept with someone she had worked with.
Lois had thought she was in love with Claude, and when he got promoted to principal, he had accused her of coming on to him in order that she could become head of the English Department. They had only had that one night together and it was the very next day that Claude had received word that he was to replace the ailing Principal. Concerned about what others might think, and terrified that he might be named in some kind of sexual harassment suit, he had fired the first shot.
Claude was believed, she was not. Lois had quit abruptly which, of course, solidified the rumors running rampant. She could not get a job anywhere in the city's large number of schools. Thank god she had a connection that had gotten her the interview with Smallville High's Dr. White.
So here she was in Smallville, USA. She was teaching English to and with a bunch of red necked, corn husking simpletons. The tears were now flowing a little more readily. But wait, there *were* some special people here. There was Dr. White, Barb, and Keith. There was Martha; and, most of all, there was Clark. She wiped away the tears with her hand.
As she thought of Clark, she now knew that he had been right and she had been wrong to try to reason with Lex Luthor. She would have to forget about this evening and concentrate on October 22nd. Plan A was down the tubes. On to Plan B. Even though Lex was the president of the school board, he wasn't the entire board. If she could just influence the other members, she might have a shot at defeating the new policy and having her teaching methods supported.
The board's meeting date would be perfect. The play was scheduled for October 21st, 22nd, 23rd, and 24th. If Martha was as good a director as she seemed, if Clark could carry off the role of a lifetime, it could work. But she had a lot to do to get ready. She had to get a grip on herself. It would now be her job, besides learning her lines, to get the various board members to the opening night of the play.
Lois was going to have to enlist Clark's help. Maybe she had been jumping to conclusions to think that he was not the man she believed him to be. Maybe there was a reason that he shied away whenever they got too close. Maybe…but it really didn't matter what she thought because after what she had said to him, she wasn't sure if he would still be there for her. She had to call him and apologize and tell him that she needed his help.
Lois arrived at her house and practically ran up the path. She took out her keys and put the door key into the lock, but then stopped when she noticed something white pinned to the front door. It was an envelope. Puzzled, she opened the note. 'If you want to prevent Keith from getting hurt,' it said, 'come to the high school. We'll be waiting.'
Lois ran back to her car, turned on the ignition, and floored the gas pedal. Her car squealed as she turned corners sharply and braked hurriedly in front of the school. Using her school key, she opened the side door and rushed inside. Red spray paint was used to put the following message on the wall. "Follow the arrows to find the queer."
Lois ran along the hallway and up the stairs in the direction that the arrows pointed. <Oh, let me be on time,> she thought to herself. Arriving at last at the library door, she slowly entered. There, beneath a spray painted sign reading, "Death to Queers—we're taking the high ground," she saw Keith tied to a chair. He had been pummeled many times and his face was covered in blood. Two hooded individuals, obviously teen-agers by their body size, were continuing to hit him.
"Stop!" Lois cried out as a third boy grabbed her from where he was hiding behind the door and forced her down to the floor. Lois tried to resituate herself so she could kick her attacker somehow, but she was unable to shift her position. "Help!" she screamed. "Help, someone!"
Lois watched in horror as the two boys continued to hit Keith. She struggled to rid herself of her attacker's hold, but from her position on the floor, she was unable to get the leverage she needed. "Help!" she screamed again.
All of a sudden she heard a whoosh, and a red and blue blur flew in the window. Yes, flew. It slowed down enough so that Lois could make out a man in a cape grabbing the two boys and bending a metal chair, pinning them to the radiator. Her attacker had released his grip and Lois pulled herself to her feet and made her way to Keith. As soon as she got there, the man—or whatever or whoever it was—helped her untie the unconscious and bleeding Keith. He stopped for only a second to note the sign on the wall above Keith before ripping the ropes off the young man.
"Who are you?" Lois asked.
"A friend," he answered. "I'll take him to the hospital. You call the sheriff and I'll come back to help you."
Lois sunk down to the floor and leaned against the librarian's desk. She didn't even want to think about what had and could have happened. Then, gathering herself together, she got up and telephoned the sheriff's station.
As she described the incident to Rachel Harris, Lois remembered that there had been a third attacker, an attacker who no longer was anywhere to be seen.
Lois hung up the phone and walked over to the two boys, who were struggling unsuccessfully to extricate themselves from the make shift straitjacket. She pulled off the hoods they were wearing. Two of her students faced her. John Greene and Craig Daniels lowered their eyes. There was no doubt in Lois' mind as to who the third attacker had been because John and Craig were always hanging around one other student—Jaxon. The missing attacker was Jaxon Luthor.
In the darkness outside of the school, the third perpetrator sat in his car, watching the man in blue and red return in through the library window. The sound of a siren alerted the watcher to leave the scene but unbeknownst to him, another figure had also been watching.
The friend, true to his word, returned and, picking Lois up in his arms, flew her to the hospital just as the sheriff was pulling up to the school. "You'll probably want to be checked out and I'm sure you would like to know how the young man is doing," he explained as he gently set her down.
"Thank you," Lois said. "I don't know what would have happened next if you hadn't stopped it."
"I only wish I could have been there sooner to have prevented any of it from happening," he said and looked at her sadly.
Lois stared at him. He was incredible. "What you did was wonderful," Lois told him as he smiled at her and then flew toward the open window of the hospital.
A crowd of people had gathered in the corridor of the hospital as word got out that a flying man had brought in an injured Keith and, among those in the crowd, was a reporter from the Smallville Press.
"How will I find you again?" Lois yelled up at him admiringly.
"I'll be around," he said, flying up into the sky.
The reporter came up to Lois with a pad and pencil in his hand. "Excuse me," he said. "Can I ask you a few questions?"
Lois ignored him and continued to watch the night sky, even though she could no longer see the friend. Maybe here was the one who…
"Wow," said the reporter. "What does the 'S' stand for?"
"Super," sighed Lois. "Super…man."
Lois stood in the hallway of the hospital outside of Keith's room. Her impetuousness had led to this. If she hadn't thrown Jaxon out of her classroom, this might not have happened. Here she was in the middle of another controversy. She thought of the Luthors, the school board, her students, and her ideals. How could she balance all of these? She knew she had to keep fighting, but maybe it was time to admit that she couldn't do it alone.
Lois sank into a chair and put her head in her hands. Clark rushed into the hospital and up to where Lois was sitting. He squatted beside her. "How is he?" Clark asked. "And are *you* all right?"
Lois looked at Clark as he took her hands in his. Lois noticed that his face showed worry and concern and she felt him almost tremble. How could she ever doubt his compassion and his friendship? And maybe there was something more…
"He'll be fine," the doctor informed them as he came up to them in the hallway. "If he had been slapped around any longer, he might have sustained more internal injuries and it would have been a completely different story," he said and walked back into Keith's room.
"Superman saved him," Lois explained to Clark as she stood up and walked toward the window and looked up into the sky.
"Super who?" Clark asked, crossing behind her.
"There was this flying man in a cape and an 'S' on his chest who rescued both Keith and me," Lois responded, obviously very taken with the hero.
"Are you sure you're okay?" Clark asked again, putting his hands on her shoulders.
"I know what I said is hard to believe, but just trust me," she said, turning around. "It did happen."
"What exactly happened?" Clark asked, wanting to know the events leading up to the assault. "Rachel Harris called me to explain that you and Keith had been attacked. But I'm a little shaky on the details."
"There was a note on my door when I arrived home, telling me that Keith was in danger and I should go to the school. When I got there two boys were beating him up, and a third got a hold of me."
"Three boys?" Clark asked. "Uh…Rachel told me she had arrested two."
"Yeah, I'm sure the third one, the one that got away, was Jaxon Luthor," Lois explained. "But there's no proof."
"Jaxon attacked you and tore your dress?" Clark asked, noticing for the first time that Lois' dress had been ripped.
"No, that happened earli…never mind." She stopped herself and turned away from him.
"Lex," Clark spat out, turning her back to face him.
"Clark," Lois implored. "Leave it alone, we have to help Keith right now. Did Rachel contact Keith's father?"
"Yes, he's on his way into town."
Just at that moment a harried Fred Haley arrived at the hospital. "Where is Keith?" he asked Clark.
"He's in there," Lois informed him, pointing to the room. "The doctor's in there with him."
Fred looked at both of them, took a deep breath, and entered his son's room.
"Lois." Clark looked at her intently. "Why didn't you call the sheriff when you got that note? Why did you think you could just handle this yourself?"
"Keith was in trouble and maybe it was my fault. I just had to do something about it. Oh, Clark," she whispered. The fear she had quashed up to now suddenly erupted, and she put her head on his chest and started to cry.
Clark gathered her in his arms, holding her while her sobs subsided. She felt so small as he held her. He had to convince her that everything was going to be okay. He had to let her know that he, Clark, was always going to be there for her.
"Lois," he said, putting his hand under her chin and raising her head to look into her eyes. "It is *not* your fault. You're not to blame. That family is evil."
Lois shook her head.
"I know," Clark continued as he wiped a tear from her cheek, "that as teachers we want to believe that someone like Jaxon could turn out all right and that it's our fault when they don't. Maybe we can still do something for him. I don't know. Just remember you are not responsible for what he did to Keith." He cupped his hand along the side of her face. "Lois, you are a brilliant teacher and an incredible woman, and I lo—"
Jonathan and Martha Kent entered the hospital corridor, rushing over to Lois and Clark. "Is there anything we can do?" Jonathan asked.
"He's going to be fine," Clark explained to both of them. "Lois and…"
"Superman," Lois finished.
"Yes…Superman," Clark said, looking at his parents and signaling with his hand out of Lois' sight. "I'll explain about him later. Anyway, they were able to stop the attack before any real and lasting damage was done."
"Oh, that's wonderful news," Martha said. "Can he have visitors?"
"Fred's in with him now. I think we should let them be alone for a while," Clark suggested. "Why don't we all go home and come back in the morning after Keith's had a chance to rest." He escorted Lois and his parents to the elevator.
The four of them exited the hospital, and Jonathan and Martha got into their car.
Clark turned to Lois. "Lois, I'll walk you home, get your car, and then pick you up in the morning to bring you back to the hospital," Clark listed off. "Thank goodness there is no school tomorrow because of the launch of the Messenger Shuttle to the Promethius Space Station. That should give you some time off to rest as well."
Clark and Lois slowly walked toward Lois' small house, which was only three blocks away from the hospital. Clark had his arm around Lois and she snuggled into his chest.
Jaxon watched the two of them from his vantage point across the street in a darkened doorway. Lois Lane was still out there, his nemesis. He had been prevented from scaring her off the other night when he hid in her home due to Mr. Kent's unplanned arrival, and then at the school by whatever that flying man was, and now Mr. Kent was again watching out for her. But one day she would be alone.
Having Clark's arm around her, Lois felt safe for the first time all evening. Her dinner with Lex, the events at the school, and her fear over Keith at the hospital had left her pretty shaken up. Clark's arm felt so warm, so strong, so reassuring.
But, then there *were* those few moments with the costumed individual she had labeled Superman. What was he? Who was he? Why was he? All she knew was that he was the most remarkable man she had ever met, and when he had carried her in his arms, he was…
Clark was telling her something but her mind was still on Superman. She looked up at Clark and something tugged at the back of her mind. She had only seen Superman that one time but looking at Clark… "Lois," Clark was saying. "We're here."
"Do you want to come in, Superman?" she asked.
"What?" Clark exclaimed.
Lois shook her head. "Oh, Clark, sorry. My mind was somewhere else."
"Up in the clouds, it seems," Clark remarked.
"Hmmm, yeah, right, sure. Bye, Clark," Lois said in a daze and closed the door.
Clark looked at the closed door. He had planned to ask Lois out for dinner again, this time as a real date; but it looked like she had someone else on her mind. He spun into his new suit—a method of changing he was beginning to get accustomed to—and flew high over Smallville. He had to think.
Separating himself into two pieces of a greater whole was going to impact him more than he had intended. Using the costume, being Superman, as Lois had called him, would enable Clark to maintain his anonymity and lead an ordinary life. That part seemed to be working, but Clark never thought of Superman as another entity; he was simply the personification of what he could do, not who he was.
He was Clark Kent, and he wanted desperately for Lois to love Clark. He was sure they had been headed that way. The night she had fallen asleep on his shoulder, and then the kiss at the audition, which had felt more than just two actors doing a scene, and tonight…her reaching out to him were indications that they had a future. But now another man had come between them. He had half-expected Dan to try his hand with Lois, and even though Dan had hinted at his interest in her, it was he, himself, in his alter ego form that Clark was jealous of.
Lois collapsed on her bed, not even taking the time to change her clothing. She lay on her back with her arm folded across her eyes. She had so much to think about. Had her incorrigible stubbornness led to all of this? Had her need to fight to the last ounce caused someone else to get hurt? Lois picked up her dog-eared copy of Thoreau's "Civil Disobedience" from its usual place on her bedside table. She flipped through the pages, seeking some words of solace.
…All endeavor calls for the ability to tramp the last mile, shape the last plan, endure the last hour's toil. The fight to the finish spirit is the one…characteristic we must posses if we are to face the future as finishers.
…If a person is truly in the right, he has God on his side and constitutes a majority of one.
…We must walk consciously only part way toward our goal, and then leap in the dark to our success.
Lois closed the book and put it back on the table. She got up and crossed to the window, looking up at the star filled sky. Leap to what? Leap headlong into a fight with Lex Luthor? Leap into a relationship with Clark? Leap into the arms of Superman?
Jaxon knocked at his father's study.
"Come in," his father responded.
Jaxon entered the study fearfully.
Lex Luthor noticed that his son had blood on his shirt. "What's happened?"
"I did what you told me to do. I handled the problem myself," Jaxon explained.
Clark knocked at Lois' door early the following morning. "How are you feeling?" he asked her as she ushered him in.
"Fine," she answered. "Although much of yesterday is beginning to seem like a blur."
"Mom talked to the doctor first thing this morning and then called me," Clark explained. "It seems that Keith is awake, and other than some major bruises, required stitches, an eye swollen shut, and two broken ribs, he is doing exceptionally well. The doctor said that he is in great spirits, but that's Keith," Clark informed her. "He'll probably be really glad to see us."
"Let's go, then," Lois responded.
"I'll drive," Clark said. "You still look a little wobbly."
"Clark," Lois said hesitantly. "I didn't thank you for coming to the hospital, for walking me home, and getting my car. I'm sorry, but I guess I just wasn't quite myself. If Jaxon is behind all of this, it's my fault. I'm the one who got him angry."
"Lois, none of this is your fault. You didn't make Jaxon the way he is. You tried to show him the way by setting an example. Remember, things don't change, people do," he said quoting Thoreau. "You tried to get him to change and maybe some of it will sink in eventually."
Lois smiled at Clark noting the Thoreau reference. "Thanks for the words of encouragement. It's fine when it's just you that can get hurt," she said. "But I ignited Jaxon's hostility. I set him off," she insisted. "I caused him to go after Keith. Thank heavens Superman came when he did. It might have been much worse. Or did I dream that an absolutely incredible flying man came to our rescue?" she asked as she walked out the door.
Clark sighed and followed her.
Clark and Lois got to Keith's hospital room just as Rachel Harris was leaving.
"Rache," Clark said. "I don't think you've had a chance to meet Lois Lane yet."
"No," the sheriff said. "We've talked on the phone. But I'm sure we will get to see a lot of each other before this is over."
"How's the investigation going?" Clark asked.
"Well, we got John and Craig locked up. Their parents are talking to lawyers and trying to post bail but I don't think the judge will go for that, especially since the two boys are not implicating the third person. They refuse to name him. They appear to be more scared of him then of us."
"Sheriff Harris," Lois said. "When will you want to talk to me?"
"Actually, I was just going back to the office to call you," the sheriff explained. "Can you come in later this morning, say around 11:00? I hope you will be able to shed some light on all of this."
"I have my suspicions," she said to the sheriff and then walked into Keith's room, followed closely by Clark.
Keith was sitting up and he smiled at them, though it was obvious that to do so was painful. "Hi, Mr. Kent, Ms. Lane," he said through a swollen lip. "Hey, can you bring me my script so I can spend the next day or two while I'm in here memorizing lines?"
"You don't have to do that, Keith," Clark said. "You may want to take some time off and just rest. Mom can recast the part or postpone the play."
"Hell no!" Keith exclaimed, grimacing with the pain. "The show must go on. I know that I'll be ready to jump back into rehearsals in a week or so. Wow!" Keith said, his attention already distracted by something else. "Would you get a load of that!" He indicated the television screen mounted to the wall. "I forgot that today the Messenger with all the colonists is scheduled for take off."
Clark and Lois' concentration also became diverted to the TV. The station's announcer was talking about some kind of problem that had erupted on the launching pad or within the shuttle itself. Apparently, information was still a little flimsy but concern showed on the commentator's face as he announced to the TV audience that the crew and passengers appeared to be in immediate danger.
"I'll go…uh…talk to the doctor," Clark said hurriedly and rushed out the door.
"Clark!" Lois called after him, annoyed that he had run off again. "Wait!"
"Did they hurt you, Ms. Lane?" Keith asked. "I hope you didn't get hurt on my account."
Lois turned back to Keith. "What?" she asked, forgetting that Keith had the tendency to jump from topic to topic.
"At the school," Keith explained. "It's my fault if they hurt you."
"No, Keith. I'm fine and most of this was my fault, not yours," Lois said to him. "It's obvious that my pushing Jaxon to the wall was the catalyst for all of this. Whether or not he was the third person at the school, he has a hand in this somehow and I'm to blame."
"No, Ms. Lane," Keith eyed her. "This has been brewing for some time. Remember you said we have to stand up and be counted? Well, I came out to my dad last night. I knew that he knew, but I had never told him in so many words. Now I'm going to say it and keep saying it. Tommy Turner isn't the only one who has a message to send to this community."
Lois smiled at Keith, but then her eyes were diverted to the television screen once again. There, for the entire world to see, was Superman rescuing the space station's shuttle. He destroyed some sort of a bomb that had been planted in the shuttle and then helped it to lift off into the skies toward the space station.
The various television commentators were passionately describing the action and were posing a great many questions about the superhero. Lois sighed. Last night she had been the one to discover Superman, but now he belonged to everyone. He belonged to the world.
In his study on the fifth floor of the bank building, Lex Luthor, along with almost everyone else in the world, was watching the unfolding events at our nation's launching pad.
Jaxon entered the study in response to a summons he had received from his father, and waited.
Lex looked around and saw his son lingering there. "Well, don't just stand there," he glared at Jaxon. "Explain!"
"Last night three of us kidnapped the queer and left a note for *that English teacher* to follow," he said, his voice bitter. "My plan was to get them both. But *he*," Jaxon said, pointing to the television screen, "came in and saved them. I was able to get away but my two friends were arrested."
"Are those *friends* of yours trustworthy? Will they give you away?" his father interrogated.
"They're too afraid of me to spill their guts," Jaxon explained, hoping to please his father.
"Well, at least you've learned one thing from me," Lex remarked. "But we've got to make certain," he continued, reaching for the phone.
Later that morning, Keith looked up from his hospital bed to see Cindy entering his room.
"Hi," she said softly.
"Hi," Keith responded, somewhat surprised to see her.
"I just wanted to see how you were," she explained, "and I brought you this." She handed him a copy of the script. "Knowing you, you would want to spend the time working on it."
"Yeah," Keith said, smiling. "That's exactly what I wanted. Uh, would you like to stay and go over our lines?"
Cindy stared at the results of the beating sustained on Keith's face and then touched her hand to her own face where Jaxon had hit her. She clenched her fist. "Sure," Cindy said, perching herself on the corner of his bed. "I'll be glad to stay."
At the sheriff's station, Lois was responding to Rachel Harris' questions. Two deputies were glued to the TV as reports of Superman stopping a terrorist threat on the Eiffel Tower, helping with a devastating earthquake in Chile, and rescuing workers from an explosion at the site of a building being raised in Detroit were being broadcast with blow by blow descriptions.
Lois returned from her interrogation by Sheriff Harris and sat on the couch in her living room, hugging a pillow and rocking back and forth slowly. She should never have come to Smallville. She had wanted, as Thoreau's 'Walden' had suggested, to simplify her cluttered life, and she believed that exchanging that life in Metropolis for one in a Middle-American small town would have granted her just that.
Instead, she had placed herself, as usual, in the eye of a storm. So now it was Thoreau's essay on Civil Disobedience that haunted her. Simplicity was fine, but because she was facing a crisis of social conscience, she had to take a position and do something about it. She couldn't just sit it out. She had to take a leap of faith.
Lois got up and walked to the phone and picked up the receiver. She had to talk to someone, and again it was Clark who came to mind.
Just as she was about to dial his number, she heard a whoosh and there, flying through her open living room window, was Superman.
"Ms. Lane," Superman said.
Lois gawked and had a hard time speaking. "Y…y…you know my name," she said.
"Yes, Ms. Lane," he said, walking toward her, folding his arms across his chest. "I wanted to make sure that you were all right."
"Well, other than realizing I was a fool to start this battle, I'm fine."
"No, Lois," he said. "You're not a fool. We all have to stand up for something."
"Like truth and justice," Lois responded.
"Exactly." Superman smiled at her. "Like truth and justice."
"That's why you're here," she said, looking at him. "To help us be better than we are."
"I can't help everyone," Superman said. "I try, but…"
"You can't be everywhere at once," Lois said, reaching out to touch his arms. "But just do what you can, just be here. The hope of you is enough to make each of us try to be better on our own."
"I…I…have to go," he said.
"A job for Superman?" Lois asked.
"Yes, but as I said before, I'll be around." He smiled at her and flew out the window and up into the sky.
Lois walked over to the window and stared up into the blue Kansas sky. She must be crazy. Here she was, fresh out of a bad relationship in Metropolis, and she had met two men, two wonderful men. Lois had promised herself that she wouldn't fall in love again. It had hurt too much. But how could a woman resist someone like Superman?
And then there was Clark. They were both alike in so many ways, and yet they were different. Right now Superman offered her magic; Clark offered her kindness and trust. Lois definitely wanted someone she could trust and who would respect her. Clark gave her that. But she also needed magic right now. She needed to be carried away. But one more Thoreau quotation tugged at her memory. "Love must be as much a light, as it is a flame." Superman was the flame, but Clark brought light into a world that sometimes seemed to be stuck in darkness.
Lois walked over to the phone and dialed Clark's number. It rang four times and then his kind voice came over the receiver. "I'm not here," it said. "Leave a message and I'll really be sure to get back to you."
Cindy left Keith's hospital room and took the elevator down to the first floor. She walked through the revolving front door and turned south to walk to the trailer park where she and her mother lived. Things had been tough on Cindy and her mother since her father died. Her dad had had a lot of life insurance related to his business but just a small policy naming his wife as beneficiary. Those funds had long been used up and so Cindy and her mother lived a meager existence. Cindy's mom was employed as a waitress in a small diner and trying hard to carve out a life for herself and her daughter. Cindy knew that being Jaxon's girlfriend had its pros and cons. Having a rich boyfriend was great and Cindy believed it might one day take a burden off her mother, but Lex Luthor was opposed to her going out with his son and now so was she.
Cindy turned into the trailer park. Lurking in the shadows was a dark figure who had followed her, making sure he was not seen. Jaxon watched her as she went into her trailer. He'd have to do something about Cindy, too, and this time no one would interfere.
Lois got out of the shower, put on a pair of silk pajamas, and was just about to blow dry her hair when she heard a knock on her door. She looked at the clock and noted that it was almost 10:00 p.m. When Lois opened it, she was very surprised to see Dan Scardino standing there. "I heard about what happened last night," he explained, "and I don't think you should be alone right now."
"I'm okay," she responded. "I don't need any protection."
"Well, you're going to get it anyway," he said, pushing his way into her kitchen. "I brought some Rumaki. I hope you like a lot of curry."
Sheriff Rachel Harris placed the handcuffed John and Craig into the back seat of a squad car, and she and a deputy got into the front seat. They were transporting the two to the county seat's jail to await arraignment scheduled for the next morning.
The sheriff put the car into reverse and pulled out of the parking lot, which was situated next to the sheriff's station. She nudged the gear into drive and turned the corner.
High above Smallville, Superman's hearing caught the minute sounds of a bomb ticking and the digital timer clicking off the seconds. He swooped down, stopped the car, and opened the driver's seat door. "Everyone out!" he commanded. Then he lifted the car onto its side, pulled off the mechanism and threw it high into the sky where it exploded. "Are you okay?" he asked Rachel and the three others.
"Yes," Rachel replied. "We were taking them to the jail at Wichita for a morning arraignment. What's this all about?"
"Someone apparently doesn't want the two young men to talk," Superman explained, righting the car. "You go on. I'll try to get to the bottom of this."
A whoosh sounded and Lex Luthor looked up from the Smallville Press, whose front page had a picture of the two boys pinned to the radiator and the red spray painted sign "Death to Queers — we're taking the high ground," to see Superman landing on his balcony.
"Superman," Lex stated. "I've been reading and hearing about you all day. It is interesting that you should visit me. To what do I owe the *pleasure*?"
"I know you and your son have something to do with the attack on Keith Haley and Lois Lane last night, and also with the attempted murder of John Greene and Craig Daniels tonight," Superman told him. "I know I can't prove anything yet. But I'll be watching you," he said and flew off.
Clark knocked on Lois' door. She opened it but only a crack.
"Clark," Lois said. "What are you doing here?"
"I know it's late, but I wanted to make sure that you were all right. Rachel Harris called me to tell me that there had been an attempt on the lives of John and Craig so I came right over to-"
"That's fascinating," Dan Scardino said to Clark, peering over Lois' shoulder.
"We were just chatting about the play," Lois explained.
"That must be some chat for you to have to take a shower," Clark said sharply. "See you later."
Clark left Lois' house. He was so upset that he didn't notice a solitary figure in black watching her place.
Across the street from Lois' house, Barb Friskin came out of the shadows. She had spent the last two days following Lois Lane. She had watched Lois go to Lex's apartment, had seen her run out of there and had tailed her home. Barb then followed Lois to the high school where the counselor waited outside. After what only seemed like a few minutes, Barb saw Jaxon Luthor running out of the school. She weighed her options and decided to follow Jaxon, who hopped into his Porsche hidden around the corner and, upon hearing the sound of sirens, raced to the Luthor apartment. It wasn't until the following day when she heard about the attack on Keith and Lois that Barb was able to put the pieces together and realize that it was Jaxon who was the third person the sheriff was now searching for.
Barb decided not to come forward at this time. She wanted to keep what she knew as an ace in hole. She would be able to use it against Lex Luthor, but she needed more…much more.
Over the next day and a half, Barb divided her time between Lois' house and Lex's apartment, hoping to find out more that would help her in her plan. She watched as Jaxon sneaked out of his apartment and planted himself outside of the hospital to wait for Cindy. She followed him to Cindy's home and, seeing that he wasn't planning to hurt her at this time, remained in the background and then drove slowly behind Jaxon as he proceeded to Lois' house.
Barb watched as Superman, then Dan, then Clark stopped by. Lois was a popular woman.
Jaxon also watched the parade of concerned men and then returned home. It was obvious that Jaxon would not be able to do anything while the three men hovered around and while the court case was still pending. Both Jaxon and Barb would have to bide their time.
A Washington D.C. lawyer paced up and down in front of a bank of TVs and clicked the remote control several times to rerun the tape of Superman's arrival at the launching pad and subsequent disposition of the bomb. The lawyer channel surfed and listened to a report stating that Superman had first been sited in Smallville. <Hmmm,> the lawyer thought, picking up a sheaf of papers out of a folder. He scanned them, then reached for the phone.
In Smallville, Lex Luthor answered his phone after just one ring. "Yes, I see," he said. "I'll expect the fax."
Five minutes later, a four-page fax was instantly grabbed by Luthor. He read the material and smiled.
The next three weeks seemed like a blur to Lois. There were her classes, rehearsals, and two dates with Dan. Clark had remained distant, making work and rehearsals a little difficult. He also seemed to have so many errands to run, places to be, things to do that kept them apart.
Lois really had no interest in Dan. He could never be the man she needed but she was flattered by his attentions and Clark had not been there for her recently, and Superman was just a fairy tale and out of her reach.
The television and newspapers were full of Superman sightings and interviews as he repaired a dam out west, prevented a plane crash in Atlanta, foiled a bank hold up in Metropolis, and put out a major fire at a nursing home in Chicago. But he had not been sighted in Smallville and Lois was beginning to feel that she would never see him again.
Lois had meanwhile begun work on her plan. She had contacted three of the six board members and had cajoled them into attending opening night of the Smallville Players' production of "The Male Animal" by explaining that, as influential community members, they should support the arts. She waved tickets in their faces and informed them that they had been paid for. Dr. Bernard Klein, general practitioner, and Mr. Stern, publisher of the Smallville Press, were easy to convince. Mr. Nigel St. John, owner of a travel agency and a close friend of Lex Luthor's, was a little more difficult to sway over, but he eventually acquiesced.
Craig Daniels and John Greene had remained silent and had not named their accomplice. Two high priced attorneys from Metropolis had been secured to represent them and the trial was scheduled for the following Monday, October 18th.
Keith had been released from the hospital two weeks ago but was still recuperating at home. He and Cindy continued to rehearse together and Keith was expected to make the rehearsal with the full company on Sunday the 17th.
Lex Luthor had gone out of town on business and Jaxon was lying low. He had been advised by his own attorney to put on a front of the "good student" and non-trouble maker. Jaxon had apologized to Lois Lane and to the class and had returned to second period American Lit. But as Keith had remained home from school, Jaxon did not have to make amends to him.
Lois did not believe for one moment that Jaxon was sincere in his statements, but allowed him to re-enter her class.
On Thursday the 14th Clark, as usual, arrived at school early. His feet echoing along the corridor seemed more of a lonely sound as he tried to focus on today's tasks. His mind, instead, kept drifting to one thought and one thought only. Lois. So much had happened in thirty days. He had met and fallen in love with the most incredible woman and it was she, above all, who had helped him fulfill his destiny. It was she that had pointed the way for him to become Superman and to use his powers to help so many people all over the world. It was not only that she had helped to create Superman, but also she was making Clark a better teacher and a better man.
Now that it was the middle of October, the morning air had begun to feel crisp and clean. A month had gone by since the start of school. Clark arrived at the mailboxes in the administrative offices and, just as thirty days before, Beatrice was distributing flyers. This time the flyer was on goldenrod paper and was reminding everyone of the Corn Festival that would begin on Friday the 22nd.
"Why don't you ask her?" Beatrice inquired.
"Ask who what?" Clark responded, deep down knowing where Beatrice was taking him.
"Clark," Beatrice said, taking his hand in both of hers. "I've known you since you were a little boy. I've watched you grow up and become the wonderful man you are. Don't tell me you don't know what I'm talking about," she admonished him. "You're in love, and Lois is perfect for you. I felt it from the very first day you two met. Now go out there and *do* something about it."
"Kent!" Dr. White called out as he stuck his head out from his office. "Come in here."
Clark walked into the principal's office and sunk down on a chair. From the tone of Dr. White's voice, Clark knew that he was in for a speech that included some kind of Elvis analogy.
"Son," Dr. White began. "We go back a long way. We started together. You were a freshman at this high school when I first became principal here thirteen years ago. I knew from the very beginning that you would become something special, just like Colonel Parker knew right off that Elvis was destined for greatness. Look at me as your Colonel Parker and do what I say," he explained, beginning to pace back and forth. "Lois is something special, too. Sure, she likes to make waves, but that's what makes her a great teacher." He paused. "Do you love her, son?" he asked, knowing the answer.
"Dr. White, I'm not sure I'm comfortable talking about this," Clark said, looking up at the Principal.
"Well, I don't want to appear an alarmist, but it seems to me like Scardino has already one paw in the chicken coop."
"There's nothing more for me to do," Clark said. "She knows how I feel and I thought I knew how she felt."
"If you ask me," Dr. White said, leaning down toward him, "you're doing too much thinking and not enough doing."
"Dr. White, I really don't want to start competing for her attention."
"Well, you better do something. Believe me, its no picnic down at Heartbreak Hotel," the principal said softly.
"Dr. White," Lois said, opening the door. "I…oh, sorry, Clark. Am I interrupting?"
"No, go ahead," Clark informed her.
"I just want to tell you that today is the day my students make their presentation on homosexuality. And, since the board has indicated that this subject will be taboo once it votes next week, I want to warn you that we're going ahead with it anyway," Lois said with a fire in her eyes as she turned on her heels to walk out the door.
Clark watched her exit, smiling. "She's amazing, isn't she?" he asked Dr. White rhetorically.
"Yes, she is." Dr. White responded. "Now go out and get her."
"It's not that easy, Dr. White. My situation is a little different than your normal…" Clark began but was interrupted by Jimmy's entrance.
"Just a really quick question, Dr. White," Jimmy said enthusiastically.
Clark got up and left Jimmy and Dr. White discussing something, and started off down the hall slowly.
"CK," Jimmy yelled out, catching up with Clark. "I'm glad that your mother twisted my arm to get me to be in the play. It's been fun at rehearsals. But can I ask you something?"
"Sure, Jimmy. What is it?"
"You and Lois."
"What about us, Jimmy?"
"I'm new to this but it seems that you have a lot in common with Tommy and Ellen," he explained. "This is probably good for the play but not for the both of you."
"What are you trying to say?" Clark asked, stopping to look at the young man in front of him.
"I'm not really good at relationships; can't seem to get one, let alone hold onto one when I get it. But I know a good thing when I see it," he said. "Tommy can't express his emotions and neither can you. Don't let Dan get Lois. You two belong together." And with that, he walked on down the hall, leaving Clark standing there.
Clark looked up and realized that he was standing in front of Barb Friskin's office. He gently knocked on the door.
Lois had reached her classroom. There was a half-hour before her first class and then the first class itself to get through before the infamous presentation was scheduled. For the past few weeks the American Lit class had continued to discuss "In Cold Blood," and the groups presented arguments about gun control, capital punishment, child abuse as it related to adult violence, and today, was the group on homosexuality.
Lois paced the room. She had a lot to think about. There was the presentation, the play, the school board members, Lex, Jaxon, Dan, Superman, and Clark. Her mind was spinning. Lois reached into her purse for a chocolate bar. It was not even 8:00 in the morning, but she needed something. Then Lois remembered Barb's invitation and walked out of her classroom and down the stairs to the first floor.
Clark's talk with Barb gave him some insight into something he was holding back—his anger. Without revealing who he was, he had discussed the frustrations he was feeling about Lois and Dan. In reflecting his emotions, Barb made him see that he had to make his feelings known to Lois.
Lois knocked on Barb's office door five minutes after Clark had left.
"Come in," Barb responded.
Lois sat down and then immediately got up and started pacing.
"I was expecting you," Barb said, swiveling in her chair to face the moving Lois.
Lex Luthor's Leer jet landed at Reagan International Airport. A limousine pulled up and Lex stepped inside. His cell phone rang just as he settled himself into the seat. "Yes, Nigel," Lex said bitterly. "Ms. Lane has been busy, I see."
"So," Barb Friskin reflected. "You have a man who is afraid of commitment, a man who is untrustworthy, and a man who is unattainable. Is that what you're saying?"
"If I want these kinds of men, why aren't I happy?"
"You're not a victim, Lois," Barb said, leaning toward her, "so stop acting like one. You know who you want to be with. You've known all along."
Lois looked down and then back at the counselor.
"The problem is," Barb went on, "that he's just as scared as you are. So, who's going to be the one to step up and say the scary words?"
"How come you don't ask simple questions?" Lois asked softly.
"I would if I knew the easy answers," Barb responded.
Lois' first period class went by quickly and soon her second period students entered. Cindy had chosen to be in the group discussing homosexuality, along with two other students. Keith had selected this group as well but was still home recuperating. Cindy rose to face the class. Jaxon scowled at her. He had been in the group on gun control and had taken a stand against it. During that presentation, Lois had been pleased to see that many of the students now opposed Jaxon and didn't *automatically* side with him on any given issue. It was apparent that Cindy was going to take a stand against Jaxon as well.
Cindy and the other two students spoke briefly about the novel and Truman Capote. Just as they were to start debating the homosexuality issue, the door to the classroom opened and Keith walked in. "I'm here to give my report," he said, smiling at his teacher while some of the students in the class applauded.
"Wait a minute," came a voice from behind Keith as Dr. White entered the classroom.
"Dr. White!" Lois exclaimed. "You are *not* going to cave in under the pressure and prevent this presentation."
"No," Dr. White explained. "I'm moving the class to the auditorium where Mr. Kent and I have gathered the rest of the student body. We think that all of the students should hear this presentation."
The fax had led Lex Luthor to a small office at the Pentagon. He stared at the military official sitting at the desk. Lex knew the type. He had met many men like him. He was a lesser-ranked individual who had been passed over for promotion many times. This man had dedicated himself to a job that he believed in; however, those around him were beginning to regard him as a loose cannon. He still commanded men and generated a fanatical following, but he definitely needed Luthor's support.
The man dressed in camouflage greens had just slipped a small box into his desk when the distinguished man had arrived. The box had come from a lab that had not been able to catalog the specimen as anything of this earth. The sample had come from Smallville, Kansas, and now, standing in his office was a man from that same Smallville, Kansas. The officer was intrigued.
"I can help you," Lex Luthor informed him.
"Can you?" Trask asked.
Keith walked up to the podium and faced the student body. He looked down at his notes and began.
"Franklin Roosevelt said, 'Knowledge—that is, education in its true sense— is our best protection against unreasoning prejudice and panic-making fear, whether engendered by special interest, illiberal minorities, or panic- stricken leaders.'"
Lois looked at Keith and smiled an encouragement from her seat in the front row of the auditorium. She glanced at the seat across the aisle from her own and noticed Clark nodding his support for Keith as well.
"A phobia," Keith went on, "is an irrational fear. It can affect otherwise healthy people in a variety of ways. A person can dread stepping into an elevator, or break into a cold sweat at the thought of boarding an airplane. Any phobia can be debilitating."
The student body was listening intently to the young man whose face still showed the effects of the beating he had suffered.
"Homophobia is an intense, irrational fear of gay people. We all," Keith explained, "need a willingness to examine our fears in order to alleviate them. Fear is born out of myths and ignorance. Homophobia is like any other prejudice. It requires ignorance to fuel fear and hatred. As individuals and as a society, we are all diminished whenever anyone degrades another human being."
Keith looked around at the faces in the auditorium. "When we are afraid, we lash out. Violence comes out of that fear and bigotry. I know I'm getting away from 'In Cold Blood' as the focus of the presentation, but Truman Capote was writing about how differences can isolate and how that isolation brings on fear, hatred, and violence."
"How many of you are left-handed?" he asked.
Thirty to forty students slowly raised their hands while looking at each other.
"It is interesting to note," Keith explained, "that only a few hundred years ago, being left-handed was considered the mark of a witch, a sign of perversity. The phobia of witchcraft was so pervasive that people were tormented, even murdered, simply because they were left-handed. Such a thing may seem unbelievable, but people can do very cruel things when they are afraid. Future generations are likely to look back with equal astonishment that gay and lesbian people were subjected to similar acts of hatred, fear, and violence."
Keith took his notes and walked around in front of the podium to get closer to the audience.
"We are in school to learn," he said. "We learn a great deal from our teachers, from each other, and from the books we read. Besides learning about Math, History, or English, we should learn to care about one another. A very good teacher who has taught me a lot has a favorite author: Henry David Thoreau," Keith said, smiling at Lois, then looking at his notes. "Thoreau said that 'a truly good book teaches me better than to just read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting.' And since you all know how important acting is to me, I will act on what I've learned."
Keith put away his notes and looked carefully at the student body in front of him.
"I'm gay," he said. "And as most people, I feel that sexual orientation is not a choice, it is a natural response. Trying to change one's sexual response to straight or gay is usually unsuccessful. We do, however, have a choice regarding how we treat each other. As with any other group," he went on, "the majority of gay men and lesbians are good people who are concerned about the future of our country and the world. We do not ask special favors, simply the respect and rights that we all should enjoy, without fear of verbal or physical attacks. How we treat one another *is* by choice."
Keith paused and looked out over the audience. Lois and Clark rose to their feet and began to clap. Little by little the vast majority of students and teachers did the same. Jaxon Luthor glared at his classmates and remained in his seat.
Jaxon, upset about how many of the students had responded to the presentation, had once again followed Cindy out to Keith's house after school. And, although he had promised his lawyer to keep a low profile, he couldn't stand it anymore because, as he watched them rehearse through the window, Keith kissed Cindy. How could she let that queer touch her? How could she prefer being with Keith rather than being with him?
Lois walked toward Clark's classroom. It was almost 5:00 but both of them were still at school finishing up. Clark was just coming into the hallway when Lois arrived at his classroom door.
"Clark," Lois began, "I want to thank you for supporting Keith and getting the presentation moved to the auditorium. Dr. White told me that it was your idea."
Clark smiled at Lois. "I thought this was an important presentation, especially when Keith stopped by the administrative office to let Dr. White know he was back in school, and I realized he was going to take part."
"Well, thank you, Clark, for all your help. I also need to tell you that…"
Clark got a strange look on his face. "Lois, I have to go and pick up something for rehearsal tonight. I'll see you there."
Lois watched Clark bolt for the doors.
Cindy left Keith's about 5:00 p.m. and Jaxon got into his car. He waited a few minutes and began to gun the motor. He headed the car right for her.
As Cindy heard the car bearing down on her, she looked back, screamed, and began to run. She had recognized the car and knew that Jaxon meant business. She screamed again. All of a sudden Superman swooped down and lifted her into his arms. Jaxon, not able to stop, plowed into a tree, knocking himself unconscious.
Superman set Cindy down. "Are you all right?" he asked.
"Yes," she said. "But what about Jaxon?"
Superman and Cindy looked back at the Porsche and there, pulling Jaxon out of the wreck, was Keith.
Keith lifted Jaxon up and carried him to the side of the road just as the Porsche erupted in flames. Cindy ran to their side while Superman used his super breath to put out the flames.
Jaxon awoke and slowly looked at the group around him and then at the car. "Th…thanks, Superman," Jaxon said, haltingly looking down.
"I didn't save you," Superman informed him. "This young man did." He gestured to Keith. "Now let me take you to the hospital."
"No," Jaxon told him. "I'm okay." He struggled to his feet but obviously needed some support.
Keith and Cindy held on to him. "We'll take care of him, Superman," Keith said.
"Just get me to a phone," Jaxon said. "I have to call Sheriff Harris, I guess." He paused. "There's a lot I have to tell her."
Clark, Lois, and Dan were the only ones scheduled for rehearsal that evening. They were to work on the last scene. On Sunday, they would finally put the entire show together at long last, working on the stage with the set, the lights, and the props. Monday would be a day of rest for the cast while Jonathan Kent corrected any problems Martha and the actors had discovered with set pieces, light placement, and props. Then Tuesday and Wednesday were scheduled as dress rehearsals.
Martha was sitting in the auditorium watching Jonathan complete the last touches to the set before she would move to the small drama classroom that the Players had been using for rehearsals.
Clark came down the aisle of the auditorium and sat down next to his mother. "Sorry I haven't been able to help Dad with the set, "but things have been really hectic at school. And with Superman," he whispered.
"That's okay," his mom told him. "Look!"
Clark glanced at the stage and saw Wayne Irig with an electric drill in his hands. "Finally dragged Wayne into this," he said, and smiled at his mother.
"Yes," Martha said. "Jonathan and Wayne have been working together for a couple of weeks now and Jonathan really needed the help because I had to drag him in along with Jimmy to pick up those final roles."
Linda Botts entered the auditorium, bringing several things for Martha to look at. "Yes, Linda," Martha told her, "those will be fine. But I need a nice leather bound book for the climatic scene. I want the audience to realize that the letter Tommy is reading has a place in our history."
"I understand," Linda said. "I think I have just the thing at home. I'll bring it in on Sunday." Then she scurried back stage.
"Well, we should get over to the other room. Lois and Dan will be there by now," Martha said and looked at her son. "Clark, I'm not one to interfere but I just can't stay silent," she explained, turning to her son and taking his face in her hands. "You're in love, and believe it or not, it doesn't happen very often, not true love. Don't lose it."
"But I can't begin a real relationship with Lois," he said. "Because I can't keep lying to her."
"Clark," his mother began. "A relationship is built upon communication. You share things together, you make decisions together, you…"
"Mom, do you mean I should tell her I'm…"
"I'm not suggesting what you should do," Martha said, getting up and moving away.
Clark ran his fingers through his hair and then got up and followed his mother into the rehearsal space. Dan and Lois had their heads together, going over a scene. Martha noticed Clark's response to the two of them and decided that even though she had told Clark that she wasn't going to *really* interfere, as a director she could do something to give her son a push in the right direction.
"Let's try it from Ellen's line 'Oh, who wants to dance now?'" Martha said, interrupting Lois and Dan's discussion.
Lois, Dan, and Clark got to their places. Dan and Lois were standing about center stage and Clark was off stage left.
Ellen/Lois: Oh, who wants to dance now?
Dan walked over to the table, which by the next rehearsal would have the record player and props, but this evening, since the props were not in place as yet, he pantomimed putting a record on. Dan moved slowly over to Lois, took her into his arms, smiled at her, and started to dance, dipping her.
Joe/Dan: This is important. It's all in the light you give off.
"Stop here," Martha said. "Dan, what I want you to do is to use this opportunity to show the audience that you and Lois, that is, Joe and Ellen, had a very close relationship at one time and perhaps a spark remains. Most of all you have to convince them that there is some possibility that she will run off with you and leave Clark, that is Tommy," Martha explained, looking at at her son.
"And Clark," Martha went on. "You are obviously jealous but as an intellectual, you are trying to keep it to yourself. You feel that a competition between you and Dan, uh, Tommy and Joe is beneath you."
Martha walked up to Dan and Lois. "You need to touch her more, Dan," she directed.
"Absolutely," Dan agreed, winking.
"Now repeat that line and use some body language," Martha ordered.
Joe/Dan: This is important. It's all in the light you give off.
Dan brought Lois up close to him, stroked her hair, and then touched her nose with his finger tip.
Ellen/Lois: Light? What are you talking about?
Joe/Dan: The important thing about dancing is that the man has got to lead.
Dan carressed Lois' lips with his thumb then moved his hand behind her head, pulling her toward him, and leaned down to kiss her.
Lois immediately stepped back out of Dan's grasp. She turned away from him.
Dan looked carefully at Lois. Was it Ellen who was reacting to Joe or was it Lois reacting to him? He didn't have to think about it. He knew.
Clark watched the interplay carefully. As Dan touched Lois, he felt a tightness in his stomach as he realized how terrible it would be if he lost her. But then Lois rejected Dan. He wondered for just a split second if Lois was reacting as Ellen or as herself. Then he, too, knew. Lois didn't want Dan. Clark crossed to them.
Tommy/Clark: May I cut in? (he takes Ellen/Lois into his arms)
Ellen/Lois: Tommy! Let me go!
Tommy/Clark: No, I think you're wonderful, too!
Ellen/Lois: You think I'm dumb! Were you listening?
Joe/Dan: (making his way toward the door) Hey, don't start that again!
Tommy/Clark: Joe, why don't you go back to your wife? We can send her a wire.
Joe/Dan: Don't worry about me, brother. I sent her a wire this morning.
Dan looked at Lois and Clark dancing, shook his head, smiling, and left the rehearsal room, heading for the parking lot.
Tommy/Clark: Quit leading!
Ellen/Lois: I'm not leading. You *were* listening!
Tommy/Clark: You were yelling. Well, turn!
Ellen/Lois: Make me turn. (Clark does) Don't be so rough— and take the hair off of your forehead (Lois gently moves a lock of Clark's hair while looking into Clark's eyes).
Martha smiled at the two of them and, unbeknownst to Lois and Clark, got up, left the room, and headed home for the night.
Ellen/Lois: You look terrible. (She lifts her face up to Clark's and they kiss.)
Clark and Lois parted and looked around to discover that they were in the room alone. Clark looked down at Lois and, cupping his hand alongside her face, kissed her gently once again.
"Oh, Clark," Lois sighed and moved in, aligning her body with his to passionately join Clark in a quickly deepening kiss.
On Monday morning Lex Luthor landed at the Wichita airport. Nigel St. John had kept in touch and told him that Jaxon had made a confession to Rachel Harris, and against the advice of the Luthors' attorneys, had pled guilty. John and Craig agreed to do the same and all three were to be sentenced that afternoon.
At the Wichita courthouse, Judge Deborah LeVine stared at the three young men facing her. "You disgust me," she said, looking from one to the other. "But you aren't the only ones. In all my years on the bench, I have found that in the majority of these cases—not always, but in the majority of times—such behavior was based upon what was learned in the home," she explained, and looked up at the two sets of parents sitting behind the boys.
Mr. and Mrs. Daniels and Mr. and Mrs. Greene looked down and fidgeted in their seats.
"I don't see your parents, young Mr. Luthor," the judge said, eyeing Jaxon.
"Here, your Honor," Lex said, striding into the courtroom with two attorneys flanking him, and took a seat.
"Good," said the judge. "Now we can proceed with the sentencing. I'm very pleased that the three of you," she said, looking at the boys again, "decided to plead guilty and take your punishment. I'm torn between being lenient because this is your first offence and you have owned up to it, or being harsh because of the heinousness of your acts. But I have been swayed to the lenient side because of one thing, and one thing only—a letter I received this morning."
The judge opened up an envelope and began to read.
"Dear Judge LeVine, I would like to request that you grant leniency to Craig Daniels, John Greene, and Jaxon Luthor. Violence is an abhorrent thing and I definitely do not condone it. But ours is a small community and removing three young men from it will only serve to fan the flames of hatred. I plead with you to consider alternative remedies for their crimes. Indeed, it was a crime, but if you incarcerate them, there will be more than the one victim of the crime. The three of them will suffer too much, as will our entire town," she read, and then looked at those in attendance in the courtroom.
The three boys looked back and forth at each other.
The judge went on. "I simply ask that you remand them back to Smallville and demand that they, their parents, and the community serve in some capacity as an example of rededication to the elimination of hatred, fear, and bigotry," she concluded. "It is signed," she said, pausing for emphasis, "Keith Haley."
There were some whispers among the spectators. Judge LeVine gaveled them to silence.
"Will the defendants rise," the judge intoned. "Will their parents rise, as well."
Craig, John, Jaxon, Mr. and Mrs. Daniels, and Mr. and Mrs. Greene rose. Lex Luthor looked at his two attorneys and, grudgingly, rose as well.
"I sentence the eight of you," Judge LeVine intoned. "To two years probation and to one hundred hours each of community service. The hours of service will be divided between an educational program to be developed for the community of Smallville regarding the celebration of diversity, and volunteering at the Wichita AIDS Hospice," she rendered, and then slammed her gavel as buzzing and applause came from the spectators.
Lex Luthor stormed out of the courtroom, followed hurriedly by his attorneys, while one spectator, Barb Friskin, just smiled.
"This court is adjourned," Judge LeVine said and slammed the gavel once again.
On Monday and Tuesday, Clark and Lois met with the other three members of the school board. Mrs. Platt was quite supportive. Dr. Baines, a young neurosurgeon, agreed as well, once Clark smiled at her and offered her two tickets. Mrs. Cox, another strong supporter of Lex Luthor, was quite insistent that all discussion of the proposed Family Values Policy should wait until the board meeting but she finally indicated that she, too, would attend the opening night after Clark explained the benefits to her position if she attended, showing support for such a community effort.
During those two days Superman had put in an appearance at a children's orphanage in Metropolis and had stopped a runaway oil truck on a Nebraska highway. He was relieved that, as he had not been with Lois preceding these events, he had no need to lie to her yet another two times.
On Tuesday evening Clark took Lois out for dinner to celebrate their success in getting all of the board members to attend the play.
As they shared dessert, they spoke about their early childhoods, their likes and dislikes, and their love of teaching, but had to keep the evening short as dress rehearsal began at 8:00.
After dress rehearsal, Martha asked the cast to sit down on the edge of the stage to receive notes. Martha gave some suggestions to each of the cast members one by one about their characters, movements, or inflections, and then put down her note pad.
"I want to tell all of you how wonderful you are, and to remember that you can help make a difference out there," she said, smiling at them all. Now go home and get some rest, and I'll see you tomorrow evening."
The anticipated opening night arrived for the Smallville Players and you could feel the adrenaline circulating. Martha was pacing up and down the lobby apprehensively as she watched the members of the community entering the auditorium. Many of them came over to Martha to say hello and to wish her well. It was beginning to look like it was going to be a nice sized crowd. Martha had promised Lois that she would be on the lookout for the school board members. So far she had seen four of the six arrive.
Back stage, Wayne Irig was going over the cues in his prompt book. He was assigned as lighting operator and he was making sure he was ready. All this was new to him and he was quite nervous; but as strange as it seemed to him, he was discovering that he was really enjoying it. He made a mental note to get Marion involved in the next show.
Linda Botts returned from the dressing rooms after wishing her husband well, and checked that all the props were in their right places—either on stage or on one of the two tables set up on stage right and stage left, in order to be accessible for the actors to pick up the piece of paper, or the tray of glasses, or the vase when needed.
Jonathan made his rounds on the stage, making sure that the Turner's living room doors opened and closed appropriately and that the various pieces of furniture were all on their marks. He moved back stage and tested the phone to make sure it would ring on cue and then headed back for the dressing room, reminding himself that he had to get on his make-up since he was an actor in this play as well.
The two dressing/make-up rooms were a buzz with thank-yous as the cast members opened up presents they had given each other. Martha had presented each of the actors with a framed replica of "the letter" as a keepsake of the show, and the cast and crew were surreptitiously taking up a collection to get Martha a gift that would be bestowed at the cast party after the final performance on Sunday.
Keith looked in the mirror as he put the finishing touches on his make-up. He had to apply it more heavily than usual to hopefully cover some of the bruises that had gone from that awful bluish purple to an even uglier shade of yellowish green. His broken ribs were healing but he still felt pain when he coughed, breathed deeply, or laughed. He looked up from his make-up pallet and leaned toward the mirror, for the first time noticing that his father was standing behind him.
"Keith," his dad said. "I guess I haven't been too supportive of you these last few years. Uh, I guess I just wasn't sure about all of this," he gestured, indicating the dressing room that Keith shared with the other men, who were concentrating on their own make-up and trying to let the father and son have a private moment.
Keith turned around and looked up at his father. "It's okay, Dad," he said. "A lot of this has been confusing for me, too."
"I'm very proud of you," Fred Haley said. "I've always been proud of you and I always will be proud of you. And I guess I'm supposed to say 'break a Leg.'" He smiled and left the room.
Clark, who was finishing his own make-up, smiled over at Keith. "We're all proud of you, too, Keith," he said, rising and patting him on the back. Clark then walked over to where he had placed his jacket and took something out of a bag that was on a chair near his things. He walked to the other make-up room across the hall.
Martha checked with Wayne, Linda, and Jonathan to see that all was ready and then returned to the lobby where she signaled the ushers to open the house. As the residents of Smallville began filing into the auditorium and taking their various seats, Martha went backstage to give the expected director's pep talk.
Lois was checking out the final look in the mirror. Her mind drifted to her life back in Metropolis. If they could see her now, still stirring up trouble, still being involved, still fighting for what she believed… She didn't hide away in a small town. She put herself out front and took a stand, and she had met some remarkable people who were willing to stand with her. She brushed a little more color on her face. Was she pale because she was scared?
Clark knocked on the door of the women's dressing room and walked in after hearing the all clear.
The other women looked up from their last minute adjusting of their 1940's hair styles and saw him arrive with a yellow rose in his hand. They diplomatically left to meet with Martha for her final words of encouragement. Cat was dawdling in front of the mirror, but Beatrice strongly encouraged her to leave with them.
Clark sat in the chair next to Lois' and gave her the rose. "For you," he said, smiling.
Lois opened the attached card and started to read.
How can I say everything you have meant to me these last six weeks? Your energy, compassion, and resolve have sparked me to be a better teacher and better man. I guess we all know that maybe only second to chocolate, you love Thoreau. His most famous quotation applies here.
"If a man loses pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured, or far away."
Always listen to that music, Lois, as it makes you the incredible woman you are.
- Love, Clark.
Lois leaned over to Clark and kissed him.
"Your make up," he cautioned.
"Shut up and kiss me," she said.
Clark smiled and obliged.
Jimmy walked into the dressing room, interrupting them. "Um, excuse me," he Said, smiling. "But Madame Director wants us all to gather together before we go on."
Martha looked at the cast and crew assembled in front of her. "It has been a very interesting month, to say the least," she said. "This play has come to mean a lot to all of us. It brings us a message about standing up for one's principles and about supporting each other's fight for personal freedom." She paused. "I know the old adage that truth is stranger than fiction, and indeed, this community has been facing some incredibly hard truths that this play can help them to see and deal with," she said, smiling. "All of you have done an extraordinary job getting this far and I love you all. Now go out there and do it up right."
Keith and Donald walked over to stage left, preparing to make their entrances through the "front door" of the Turner house. Cindy climbed up behind the back flats, readying herself to enter from "upstairs."
Lois and Clark walked to their positions on stage right behind the "dining room door." Clark took Lois' hand in his and squeezed it. His touch and reassurance made Lois feel more confident. She took a deep breath and prepared herself to walk on stage.
The house lights dimmed slowly and the murmuring of the audience members ceased. Several late comers scurried to their seats, including the last two school board members.
Martha, standing at the back of the auditorium, looked around at the audience. This was Martha's favorite part of the theatre process. Her heart was pounding and she could feel a lump in her throat as the lights continued to dim. No matter how many plays she had been to or how many plays she had directed, this feeling of anticipation was the most exciting part. She closed her eyes and said a silent prayer to the theatre gods, then opened her tear-filled eyes.
When the house lights were fully down, Wayne moved up the three levers on the light board and the stage lights came up. Jonathan pushed a button and the phone rang.
Ellen/Lois entered the living room of the set and picked up the phone.
"Hello," she said.
Martha came back stage during intermission. "It's going beautifully," she said to the cast. "No one's walked out," she said with a chuckl.
"Are the school board members still out there?" Lois asked.
"Yes, they are," she said to Lois. "And they are primed for this because of the judge's decision on Monday. The town knows it has to be involved in some educational process and therefore the Family Values Policy is already on shaky ground. This next scene should put the clincher on changing their votes, just as you planned it, Lois. Are you all ready?" She hugged Clark, then Lois, and left the back stage area to return to her seat at the rear of the auditorium.
Lois smiled at Clark and walked to her position. Clark walked up behind Lois and put his arms around her waist. "Let's go get 'em," he whispered in her ear and, feeling more confident and courageous himself, moved her hair and kissed her gently on the neck.
Lois held her breath and leaned back against Clark. Her next scene called for her to be depressed. She was anything but depressed. She was exhilarated. The play, the school board, and most of all, Clark. <Get a grip, Lois,> she told herself as she poised for her entrance.
On stage, the scene was getting tense as they were reaching the climax. Ed Keller, head of the Board of Trustees, played by Bill Saxon, was commanding the floor.
Ed/Bill: (Crossing to Tommy) Well, then listen. We just had a board meeting in the President's office. Michael Barnes is out, and you're on your way out. You'll be asked to resign tonight.
Ellen/Lois: Oh, Tommy!
Joe/Dan: Ed's trying to help him while there's still time. After tonight, it will be too late. (Goes to above the settee left)
Tommy/Clark: (Crosses to Joe) What do you care what happens tonight? You won't be here. You'll be in Granville or somewhere with her. (He looks over at Ellen)
Ed/Bill: What're they going to be doing in Granvile?
Tommy/Clark: Please don't ask personal questions.
Ellen/Lois: Do you mind if I stay a little while, Tommy?
Tommy/Clark: (angrily) Why shouldn't you stay? It's your house.
Ed/Bill: Sit down, Ellen. (To Tommy) There's just one thing you can do; come out with a statement to the papers quick. Say you were sick. Say you don't know anything about Barnes' editorial. You think it's an outrage. You're not going to read this Vanzetti thing, and you think Barnes is getting what he deserves. That's the only thing that'll save your neck.
Ellen/Lois: (rising) Tommy wouldn't say that about Michael, Ed, and you shouldn't ask him to.
Tommy/Clark: Thank you. (Crosses down right to settee; sits)
Ed/Bill: All right, then! That's all I had to say (Starts for door up left) Goodbye! This is on your own head.
Ellen/Lois: Ed! Just a minute, please. (Crossing to Tommy) I know that reading this letter must mean something to you, Tommy. Something none of us can quite understand. I wish I could. It might help me to understand a lot of other things.
Tommy/Clark: Such as what?
Ellen/Lois: Such as what is important to you. What you've been fighting for. Whether it's something you really believe in and love, or just your own selfish pride. I think you got into this just because you were mad at me. And that's ridiculous, because now you don't care what I do or say about it.
Ed/Bill: (Coming down center) I don't see what she's talking about.
Tommy/Clark: All right, I'll try to explain what it means to me. Perhaps originally pride had something to do with this. And jealousy.
Ellen/Lois: And stubbornness.
Tommy/Clark: I am not fighting about you and me at all. This is bigger than you and me or any of us.
Ellen/Lois: It is?
Ed/Bill: It must be a masterpiece. That letter must be quite a nice piece of propaganda.
Tommy/Clark: (Crossing to him) Why don't you read it and find out?
Ed/Bill I don't read things like that.
Tommy/Clark: You don't even know what you're objecting to.
Joe/Dan: Well, why don't you read the letter to us, and let us see what it is?
Tommy/Clark: I'll be glad to read it to you, but I'll read it to my class too. (Crosses up right center to bookcase then coming down center) All right, here it is. Now sit down—or stand up—but listen! (Damon enters)
Tommy/Clark: Oh, come in, Doctor Damon. You're just in time.
Damon/Donald: In time for what? (Sees everyone) Has the Inquisition moved its headquarters?
Tommy (Clark): I'm just going to read the Inquisition a letter from one of its victims.
Ed/Bill: That's about enough of that.
Damon/Donald: (Crossing down left) Gentlemen, gentlemen… This may not be wise, Thomas.
Tommy/Clark: It may not be wise, but it's necessary. I think you'll have to take a stand, too, Doctor Damon.
Damon/Donald: I hope not. (Sits down on chair at left of settee)
(Ellen sits down on settee.)
Tommy/Clark: I hoped not, too. I didn't start out to lead a crusade. I simply mentioned one day that I meant to read to my class three letters by men whose profession was not literature, but who had something sincere to say. (Crossing right) Once I had declared that very harmless intention, the world began to shake, great institutions trembled, and football players descended upon me and my wife. I realized that I was doing something important.
Ed/Bill: You make it sound mighty innocent. Reading Lincoln and General Sherman—and Vanzetti. What was the reason you gave for picking out Vanzetti?
Tommy/Clark: (Crosses to Ed) Originally I chose him to show that broken English can sometimes be very moving and eloquent, but now…
Ed/Bill: We wouldn't object if this was just a case of broken English—it's more than that.
Tommy/Clark: Yes, you've *made* it more than that.
Ed/Bill: Vanzetti was an anarchist! He was executed for murder.
Tommy/Clark: He was *accused* of murder, but thousands of people believe he was executed simply because of the ideas he believed in.
Ed/Bill: That's a dangerous thing to bring up.
Tommy/Clark: (Getting really mad) No, it's a dangerous thing to keep down. I'm fighting for a teacher's rights…
Clark looked across at Lois. Her character required her not to be supportive but to be very confused at this point, but Clark could tell from her sparkling eyes that Ellen might be confused but Lois was right there with him, supporting him, maybe loving him.
Tommy/Clark …but if you want to make it political, all right! (Clark continued as Tommy) You can't suppress ideas because you don't like them; not in this country—not yet. (Crossing to Damon) This is a university! It is our business to bring what light we can into this muddled world…to try to follow truth!
Damon/Donald: You may be right, Thomas, but I wish you would make an effort not to—uh—uh—intone.
Tommy/Clark: I'm not intoning—I'm *yelling*! Don't you see…this isn't about Vanzetti. This is about us! If I can't read this letter today, tomorrow none of us will be able to teach anything except what Mr. Ed Keller here and the Legislature permit us to teach. Can't you see what that leads to—what it has led to in other places? We're holding the last fortress of free thought, and if we surrender to prejudice and dictation, we're cowards. (Crossing right)
Lois watched Clark during his small monologue. He was absolutely incredible. It was obvious that the audience was hanging on his every word, and that he was passionate about what he was saying, and maybe passionate about her. She didn't need to be carried away by a superhero. Clark was hero enough for her. Clark was the one—the one she wanted to be with.
Ellen/Lois: (from her place on the settee) Tommy, no matter how deeply you feel about this, what can you do? What can any one man do? Except to lose everything—
Tommy/Clark: I have very little more to lose. And I can't tell you what I hope to gain. I can't answer that. I only know I have to do it.
Damon/Donald: May we hear the letter—in a slightly calmer mood, perhaps?
Tommy/Clark: Yes sir. (Crossing up to Ed) This may disappoint you a little, Mr. Keller. It isn't inflammatory, so it may make you feel a little silly. At least, I hope so. (He holds up the book) Vanzetti wrote this in April, 1927, after he was sentenced to die. It has been printed in many newspapers. It appears in this book. You could destroy every printed copy of it, but it would not die out of the language, because a great many people know it by heart. (Tommy reads, hardly referring to the book, watching them) "If it had not been for these thing, I might have live out my life talking at street corners to scorning men. I might have die, unmarked, unknown, a failure. Now we are not a failure. Never in our full life could we hope to do so much work for tolerance, for Justice, for man's understanding of man, as now we do by accident. Our words—our lives—our pain—nothing! The taking of our lives—the lives of a good shoemaker and a poor fish-peddler—all! That last moment belongs to us—that agony is our triumph!" (Tommy closes the book).
The audience erupted in applause although the scene was not completed. Lois looked over at Clark. They had done it. She knew it, and she knew just how much she was in love with Clark Kent.
Lois and Clark were alone on stage.
Ellen/Lois: Make me turn. (Tommy/Clark does) Don't be so rough—and take the hair off your forehead (Ellen/Lois gently moves a lock of his hair while looking into his eyes). You look terrible. (She lifts her face up to Tommy's/Clark's and they kiss).
The curtain closed to applause and opened again to find Lois and Clark still in an embrace passionately kissing. The applause continued as the curtains closed and reopened.
Then as the cast members came out to take their curtain call, the audience rose to its feet. Jonathan, Beatrice, Bill, Cat, Jimmy, Keith, Cindy, Donald, Dan, with Lois and Clark standing in the middle of the cast line, holding hands, smiled at each other as they all took another bow and the lights went out, but the audience continued applauding. Wayne Irig now imbedded into his role as light board operator, turned the lights on again. The cast came out for another bow and to receive their well deserved applause again. Then blackout.
Across town in his fifth floor apartment study, Lex was talking on the phone. "I don't care what you have to do, get me out of this. Hire someone to take my place!" he yelled as he slammed down the receiver and his son entered the study. "It's your fault we're in this mess. I'm sending you away—as far away as I can get you—and I never want to see your face again!"
Jaxon walked out of the study and into his room to pack his bags.
"Now for my next step…" Luthor said aloud and picked up the phone again.
In the car outside the Luthor apartment, Barb Friskin watched as Jaxon Luthor was put into a car and driven off. Then she took out a picture from her wallet. There were two girls about age ten and twelve smiling up at the camera. "Ann," Barb said out loud to her sister's face. "We both know that you didn't commit suicide. Lex murdered you.
"Jaxon is being sent away to school," she continued, talking to the sister she loved. "And I'll work to make sure that he's okay. I've tried to watch over him since I arrived in Smallville but Lex has influenced him too much. He has made strides recently and perhaps he will turn out to be the son you would have been proud of."
Barb looked back up at the apartment that Lex had carved out above his small empire. I've waited long enough to exact my revenge on Lex, and now that Jaxon is away, I can. So, on to the next step…"
The helicopter landed at a remote deserted farm outside of Smallville. Several men in camouflage gear jumped out. The leader spread out a map on a large boulder near by. He took out a military telephone. "Yeah, will do," he said into the phone. "Okay," Trask said to the men gathered around him. "Here's our next step…"
In her office in Washington D. C., the lawyer was packing items from her desk into a cardboard box. She picked up the picture of her father that had been on her desk for the two years she had worked for the Aeronautical Space Museum and looked at it. Her father, a man that radiated warmth and Compassion, was standing along with his partner, Henry Brady, in front of the Bank of Smallville. She gently placed the framed photograph in the box. She added several folders without looking at them and then opened a fairly thin folder to glance at the material attached. The first sheet she reviewed was stapled to the inside cover of the folder. It was a computer print out of an inventory and was labeled Bureau 39 storage. She closed the folder and placed it carefully along with the original of a fax she had sent to Lex Luthor into the box that she was readying to carry out with her when her telephone rang.
"Yes, Mom," she answered. "I will be there by Sunday. Yes, I'm ready for the next step." She hung up the phone and started for the door. She walked out into the hall, then, realizing that she had forgotten something, she went back into her office. She slowly walked behind her desk and picked up the brass nameplate still sitting on her desk and added it to the material in her box. The nameplate read 'Mayson Drake.'
In the dressing room, Beatrice was talking on the phone. "Yes, honey, the show went well. I'm sorry you couldn't get here for opening night but you should be in town in time to see Sunday's performance."
She paused, listening to her daughter on the other end of the phone. "That's right, just like we spoke about before," she said, pausing again. "Good," the mother responded. "See you soon." And with that, Beatrice Drake hung up the phone.
Jaxon Luthor was awaiting the take off of his father's Leer jet. He had no idea where the plane was destined for, nor what his new life would be like. He only knew that if he could somehow manage it, his next step would involve getting back at his father.
In the lobby of the high school auditorium, the cast was getting congratulations and flowers from friends and relatives.
Mrs. Platt, Dr, Klein, and Mr. Stern came up to Lois. "Ms. Lane," Mrs. Platt began. "I believe we all know why you have brought us here tonight. The three of us have been talking for the last few minutes, and you definitely have our support. We will vote down the new Family Values Policy at the board meeting scheduled for tomorrow."
"Yes, Ms. Lane," Dr. Klein agreed. "We just need one more vote to insure its defeat."
"And," Mr. Stern interjected. "I am certain that we can get that one vote for you. Can't we, Dr. Baines?" he said, looking at the woman who had, along with Mr. St. John, just joined the group.
"We don't have to ask you, Nigel." Mr. Stern said. "We know where your loyalties lie, but maybe Dr. Baines here will…"
Dr. Baines thought about Lex Luthor and their previous relationship. A woman Scorned, she thought. She could vote him down, but that was not enough. She had more in mind for Lex Luthor. There were some steps she was planning to take that had nothing to do with a tiny little vote on school policy.
"If she won't give it to you, I will," Mrs. Cox interrupted Mr. Stern's question as she, too, came up to stand beside Lois.
"That surprises me," Mr. Stern said. "I believed you were one of Lex's most ardent followers."
"I'm pragmatic, Mr. Stern," Mrs. Cox informed him. "What with Judge LeVine's decision and the community's support of Keith Haley, I know where the chips will fall. I'm not adverse to coming out against Lex Luthor when I believe the other side is holding all the aces."
"Thank you all," Lois said, smiling.
"We want to congratulate you and Mr. Kent on a remarkable performance," Dr. Klein said, looking around. "By the way, where is Mr. Kent?"
"I'm not sure," Lois responded. "He was here a few minutes ago." She scanned the people in the auditorium lobby.
Keith and Cindy came running up excitedly to Lois, their faces shining in the afterglow of a good performance.
"This is Keith Haley and Cindy Brady," Lois said, introducing them to the gathering of the school board members.
"Cindy Brady? You mean like…?" Mrs. Platt asked.
"Yeah," Cindy shrugged. "My mom was a fan."
"Your father was Henry Brady?" Mr. Stern asked.
"Yeah," Cindy replied, looking at Mr. Stern questioningly.
"I knew him," he said. "A fine man."
Cindy smiled. "That's nice of you to say, Mr. Stern. My mom and I always thought so."
"Well, congratulations to both of you on a wonderful production," Mr. Stern said, shaking their hands. "And Keith, I've heard some wonderful things about you, as well, young man," he indicated.
"Thank you, sir," Keith said, pulling Cindy away from the board members toward a younger group of people who were waiting to greet them with flowers and congratulations.
"I'm really sorry that Clark isn't here," Mrs. Platt told Lois. "He really made me think. Well, congratulate him for us." She smiled and ushered out the rest of the group. "Come on, all, we have a very early morning meeting with a very interesting agenda."
Lois looked around the lobby for Clark once more and, not seeing him, wistfully went backstage to remove her costume and make-up. The other cast members had already departed, the young people going out with their crowd. Cat and Dan had plans to celebrate on their own, and several of the others were going out with relatives who had come to see the show from out of town. Lois was alone except for Martha, who had the responsibility of checking to make sure everything was locked up.
"Jonathan is waiting for me," Martha explained. "And Clark is…uh…uh…"
"Right here, Mom," Clark said, entering the make-up room and adjusting his tie. "I'll see to it that everything is locked up," he told his mother. "Go on home and get some rest. It was a wonderful night."
Martha hugged her son, gave him an encouraging look, then left.
Clark turned to Lois. "Lois, I…I just had to go make a phone call to one of my student's parents. It was important."
"I'm sure it was, Clark," Lois said, using the cold cream to remove the last of her stage make-up.
Clark looked at her reflection in the mirror. Even without the slightest trace of make-up at all, she was so lovely.
"The members of the school board want me to congratulate you on your performance and let you know that the majority is going to support us at tomorrow's meeting," Lois informed him.
"That's absolutely wonderful," he said.
"It wouldn't have happened without your help," she said, biting her lip.
Lois looked at Clark's reflection in the mirror above her own. She thought that she and Clark were ready to make their relationship more serious, but after his disappearance yet another time, she wasn't sure. But perhaps now was the opportunity to take that leap into the darkness.
Lois got up. "Clark," she said, picking up her flowers and the card. She looked at the card and then at Clark.
"This has been the most incredible six weeks for me, too," she said, walking out to the stage that was lit with the theatre's ghost light, a light at the top of a rolling stand that provided just enough of a glow for actors to leave a darkened theatre.
Clark followed her slowly, realizing that Lois needed to talk.
"I left Metropolis because of a bad relationship. I thought I was in love and broke one of my rules."
"You slept with someone you worked with?" he asked quietly.
"Yes," she admitted. "And he accused me of setting him up so that I could get promoted. I didn't even know he had become the principal until the next day. I wouldn't have slept with him except that I thought I loved him."
Clark came up behind her.
"But now I know I wasn't in love because…because I have found love here in Smallville, Kansas," she explained, turning to look at him.
Clark held his breath. The ghost light gave the stage an interesting aura. Lois' face was highlighted beautifully. Her hair glowed, and he could just make out the sparkle in her eyes that first attracted him to her. Was she going to say what he hoped she would say? They had been very close the last few days, working on the play and coercing the school board. And, there had been those kisses…
"I think we're both scared."
"Of what?" Clark asked.
"Of the fact that we work together, that we're friends, and that we have fallen in love so quickly…"
She moved into his arms and kissed him.
"If you're going to run away from this, tell me now," she whispered, looking into his eyes.
"I'm not running, Lois," he said, pausing. "I love you and I'm ready for the next step, if you are."
He gathered her in his arms and gently kissed her. When he heard Lois sigh, and she parted her lips, he slowly, ever so slowly, deepened their kiss to become more and more passionate.
Sequel "The Next Steps" coming later this year