By Richard Frantz Jr. <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: March 2008
Summary: There are all sorts of secrets at the Daily Planet, though secrets are rarely what they seem to be. And Clark always seems to be saying something silly, but don't tell him we noticed.
[Disclaimer: Clark Kent, etc, are not my property and are used solely for noncommercial purposes.]
I heard Clark saying something silly again. After six months of working at the Daily Planet I've learned several things: There are all sorts of secrets around here, the secrets are rarely what they seem to be, and Clark always seems to be saying something silly.
That he said something now that was silly wasn't odd. That I noticed was significant. He said, "I have to go pick up my cheese of the month shipment now." He said it to his wife Lois Lane, and in an apparently well practiced way (they have been married for two years after all) she told him "Ok, honey, be careful and go pick up your cheese."
Now what is oddest about this? That he said he had to pick up his cheese of the month shipment? That he said he had to do it now? That Lois took it completely blase? Or that she said to be careful while doing it?
No, the odd thing is that 'all' of these occurred. Consider the cheese of the month club. Is there really such a thing? Even if there is, why does he suddenly need to get it now? Why did Lois say to be careful? Lois has a reputation for being able to be kidnapped while picking up cheese and bring back a front-page story instead, but Clark is the sensible and safe one, so why did she tell him to be careful? That leaves, as the oddest point of this, that Lois took it completely matter of fact.
I considered pointing out to her that this was a bizarre statement on Clark's part. I also considered that it was none of my business. I also considered that mad-dog Lane is actually nicknamed mad-dog Lane and seems to appreciate it. My consideration was interrupted by a whooshing sound that I've been told means a Superman story is coming in. And it dawned on me that it had occurred just as a tall dark and handsome reporter, who was tough enough to survive working with mad-dog Lane, had hustled out (which had happened immediately following the announcement of a 3 alarm fire). And everything became clear.
Everything also became a little lightheaded. My knees felt weak. The world spun slightly, counter-clockwise. It was so obvious: "Clark Kent was S--"
Lois appeared at my shoulder. "Judging by your stricken expression and pale color, you just figured it." She caught my arm to keep me on my feet, which I appreciated, because the world had just reversed its spin and was now going clockwise. "Let's get you to the conference room and explain." I barely managed to nod.
"Jimmy!" she called. "Give me a hand getting her to the conference room so she can sit down. She just revved."
Revved? I'd revved? What did that mean?
Jimmy bustled over and propped up my other shoulder and they started helping me across the bullpen to the conference room. As we passed his office Mr. White popped out, looking concerned and asked, "What's the matter? Low blood sugar?"
Jimmy fielded it like it was an everyday occurrence, "She's just going through revelation shock. She'll be fine once she sits down a few minutes and we can explain things."
Mr. White nodded and said, "I'll get the form and meet you in the conference room."
There's a form? How did he know they were taking me to the conference room? Why does everybody act like this all makes sense?
Next thing I know I'm sitting down in the conference room with my legs propped up, holding a cup of coffee with lots of sugar and with Lois and Jimmy are looking at me. Mr. White walked in with a cardboard box wrapped in dull metal foil and closed the door. He took a sheet of paper out of the box and put it in front of me with a pen.
I started to read the paper. It was headed, "Official Superman's Secret Form." There's an official form for this?
I read the paper: "I [print your name] -- hereby swear never to reveal Superman's secret to those who don't know without appropriate consideration and review; and under no circumstances to those specified to me as restricted. Sign here:"
I looked at Lois. "There's a form?" I asked.
She smiled, "it's just to make explicit the importance of not telling. And while it says 'official', it isn't really. But we'd probably ostracize you and try to get you fired if you told. The important part is that there is someone you must definitely NOT tell. And it isn't obvious who. But we have time, while Superman is at that fire, to tell you."
"Well, yeah, obviously the secret is secret" I said, as it became clear to me. "If some... oh my gosh, like Lex Luther ever found out... I mean Luther's and Superman's mutual hatred is famous--"
"Lex, yeah, don't tell him, but there is someone more important not to be told. You must never, ever, ever tell..." she paused for dramatic effect, "...Clark Kent."
It was so strange I didn't even see the oddity for a few seconds. "Wait...don't tell Clark that he's... But he IS. What's to tell him?"
Jimmy broke in, "He doesn't know. It's called a fugue state."
Lois decided to try to clarify (which was good because it needed a lot of clarifying.) "Clark can't deal with what he is and can do. Clark doesn't know he's Superman and Superman doesn't know he's Clark. They are completely separate personalities. It's a form of multiple personality disorder."
"The psychologist tells us it is a coping method, sealing off parts that are too hard to deal with. So maybe it should be called Multiple Personality Order, it isn't a disorder, it's a good thing. The problem is that the same psychologist says that if confronted with it, Clark's mind could react in one of two ways: It could fuse the two personalities, that would be a good thing. But it could also cause a complete traumatic breakdown, a very bad thing, he could just collapse. The psychologist says it is 50% either way, so we don't dare take the risk of telling him."
Mr. White stepped into the conversation. "Fortunately, he'll try to ignore any evidence that they are not, in fact, separate. You'd have to really try to convince him. Since we don't want to risk it, we just pretend we're still as fooled as he is."
I said, "Oh."
Then I thought for a bit.
Then I printed my name and signed the official Superman's secret form.
Mr. White took the form and put it in the lead lined box, poking at the forms already in there. "It's been a busy month, I'll have to get more copies of the form printed. See to it, Olsen." Then he turned to me and shook my hand. "Welcome to the secret." And he walked out, just like this was an everyday of the month occurrence.
A while later Clark came back. I did NOT say "Hello, Superman, how was the rescue." I did just what I'm supposed to do. I said "Hi, Clark." And I went back to work.