Introducing . . . . Superman!
by Gary Wilbur
"Good morning, Lois," he called to her as she walked in.
She just gave him a withering look and marched on. Clark looked back at his desk, then noticed a couple people watching him. Lois was beginning to sort through some clutter on her desk.
"Nothing ventured . . . " he began as he got to his feet and walked over to her desk. "Um, Lois? I was wondering if you weren't already busy if you might like to have dinner with me this evening? Or any evening convenient for you."
Lois looked up, hesitated, and then gave him a sticky smile. "Why, no, Kent, I'm not busy at all."
"Well, then . . . "
"And," she continued sweetly, "I'll be happy to remain that way. Or, to put it in terms a swine from the farm can understand . . . " She stood up, with only a couple feet between their faces. "No!!"
She sat back down and became very busy on some project. Clark looked around to see several faces quickly turn back to something intensely interesting at their desks. So he just walked back to his.
"Kent." Perry White came out of his office at a solid pace, cigar first. "I have an assignment for you."
"Chief!" Lois called out.
"Don't get excited, Lois. I have a good reason for this. Kent, can you get in touch with Superman?"
"Well, I . . . "
"Because there's an inmate at the city jail who wants to talk to him. He claims he's innocent, he's read your story, and he thinks Superman is the only person who can clear him. There's got to be a story there."
"Chief," Lois called out again. "Why Kent? Don't you think I could . . . "
"Look, Lois, I don't really care. Whichever one of you can find Superman and get him on this case, and get the story is the one I want to do it. Just make it happen."
"Have you heard of Evelyn Curry?"
"Curry . . . Curry. Wasn't she convicted of murder?"
"Yeah. And I'm accused of being her accomplice. But we're both innocent. I know Evelyn. She could never have done this."
"Tell me everything."
"Okay. Evelyn was convicted of murdering Jack Kennedy."
"You've got to be kidding."
"No, that's really his name. He took a lot of kidding about it. He was a Republican."
"Go on, then."
"Evelyn only barely knew him, but he was in love with her. He was very shy, and he was trying to work up the courage to tell her. He lived only a block from the Hilow Club, a place we all liked to go from time to time. The thing is, Evelyn was getting all these threatening notes, someone saying they wanted to kill her. They were a lot of pasted-together letters cut out from magazines, you know what I mean? Well, they really had her spooked. She and I were at the Hilow and she showed me and Bea the latest note."
"Bea Carroll, she's a singer there at the club. Anyway, this last note was the worst. The writer said he was able to get into her apartment, so she was really scared to even go home. Bea asked her if she had a gun to protect herself. Evelyn said no, she'd never thought of that. Superman, I carry a gun. It's registered, it's legal, and I've had some experiences that make me a little nervous not to have one, you know? So I offered her mine to take home that night just in case she needed it, just so she'd be able to sleep."
"Had she told the police?"
"Yeah, Evelyn told the police when she got the first note. Anyway, I gave her my gun, and she put it in her coat pocket. Bea said that was probably a good idea. We talked some more, and calmed Evelyn down. We decided to stay until the place closed. Bea was scheduled to sing the last set just before the place closed, so she offered to drive me and Evelyn back to our places, and that way Evelyn wouldn't be alone at any point. Then she went out to get some cigarettes while I reassured Evelyn that nothing was likely to happen. After Bea got back and sang her final set, she came up to see if we still wanted a ride home. Evelyn said yes, Bea asked her if she had the gun, and Evelyn pulled it out of her pocket and showed it to her. And she had it just before she went into her apartment, too.
"Next morning, Jack was found dead in his apartment, and there were the beginnings of a pasted-together note just like the ones Evelyn had been receiving. The police went right to her place, woke her up, and found the gun with her fingerprints all over it. Superman, it had been fired the night before, and the bullet from that gun killed Jack. So that evidence convicted her of murder, and I'm named as an accomplice because I gave her my gun. You know, don't you, that she's going to be executed tomorrow?"
Superman asked, "Was there any evidence in her favor at all?"
"Yeah. A little. The lab people who showed that my gun was the one that killed him also thought that he died a little earlier than the prosecution liked. More like the time we were all at the club. That actually gave her some hope, but it wasn't enough for the jury, with all the other evidence against her. Is there anything you can do, Superman?"
He gave a grim superhero smile. "I'll do what I can."
"Okay, Kent, you said it was business, so what's the business?"
"Er, well, I was wondering if you, with all your experience as a reporter, would help me make sense of some facts in a story I'm working on."
"Help you? Help you? Why you complete swine. You beat me to the story of the century and then expect me to help you?"
"I suppose you're right, Lois, but . . . "
"So what have you got?"
"Er, I've got three people sitting in this club. One of them works here, one's convicted of murder now, and one's accused of being her accomplice."
Clark recounted the entire set of events that Superman had heard that morning at the jail, and then said, "What do you think?"
"I think you're sunk, Kent. Unless someone swiped the gun from her coat pocket, went and shot the guy and then came back and put the gun back in her pocket, you're pretty much sunk."
Clark looked at her in amazement. He started to say something, but she beat him to it.
"That guy coming over here. He's a creep, a local thug. I knew him in high school, and he was a creep even then. Quick. Dance with me."
"Dance with me, you swine, and be quick about it."
Clark and Lois swiftly made their way to the dance floor, but the hulking figure was right behind them.
"Mind if I cut in?" It was plain that he only expected one answer.
"Butch. Hi. Sorry. Not now."
"I said," he pushed Clark aside, "that I want to dance with you, Lois."
"Clark?" Lois gave him the look.
Clark knew it would be an easy matter to toss this Butch character aside, but he was still very aware of keeping a distinct difference between Clark and Superman. He didn't want to raise any suspicions at all, so he hesitated. "Be reasonable, Lois," he said. "Just dance with him and then we'll go."
Lois glared at him. "You can stay and dance with him if you wish, but I'm leaving now."
"No you're not." Butch grabbed at her, and she whirled and slapped him and headed toward the door. Clark could hear a couple of people at Butch's table chuckle, and he smiled, himself.
Butch turned to him. "What are you smiling about?" He pushed his palm into Clark's face, knocking him to the floor. The laughter at his table increased. Butch glared at the laughing men, signaled them to follow him, and headed for the door.
Butch and his cronies came outside only a little behind Lois. And while she was trying to hail a cab, they quickly got his car, pulled up and forced her, struggling, into the back seat. They took off just as Clark arrived.
Lois was not too proud to admit she was scared. She knew one of these guys was completely unprincipled, and the other two didn't appear to be any better. Her mind was racing trying to figure how to get out of this as the car turned onto a lonely back road.
"What burns me up is that I let her yellow boyfriend off so easy," Butch was saying, just as the headlights revealed a blue-costumed man in a red cape standing in the middle of the road ahead of them.
"Look at this," he said. "Watch me scare this guy." He gunned it, not really caring if he hit the strange figure or not. But the caped man actually leaped the car, landed behind it, spun, caught it by the rear bumper and lifted it into the air. Then he proceeded to shake the car, watching the occupants fall out the open doors.
Lois landed in a patch of grass and scrambled to her feet. She watched in fascination as Superman raised the green vehicle over his head ready to smash it against a cliff face. He hesitated, thinking better of it, and in that instant Lois couldn't help wishing she had a camera. What a magazine cover that would make, she thought.
Superman set the car down and turned to the thugs. Two were running through the brush as if the devil himself were after them. But Butch was sitting somewhat dazed in the road. Superman didn't hesitate. He grabbed the two-bit hoodlum, flew him to the top of a telephone pole, and hung him there by his jacket. Then, descending to the ground and ignoring Butch's cries, he turned to Lois Lane and smiled.
"Well, Lois, it appears we meet again. But I don't think you planned this one, did you?"
Lois brushed some grass and gravel off her dress and hoped she looked good. "No, Superman, I guarantee you this was real. Thank you so much!"
"No need. Here. Let me give you a lift back to the city."
It seemed to Lois, as they flew back, that her heart beat more rapidly every time she looked up at Superman's face.
"What are you doing here?"
"Ms. Carroll, I'm Superman and I'm investigating a case, the Evelyn Curry case."
"Yes. I've read about you in the papers. But that case has already been to court."
"I know. But I still want to know what you can tell me about it."
"Not very much. Nothing that wasn't already brought out in the trial. Excuse me, Superman, but I really don't understand why you're here, and I'm going on stage in a few minutes."
"That's okay. I just wanted to see if you had any information I didn't already know about. Sorry to take up your time."
"Superman. How can we help you?"
"Hello, Captain. I need to find out as much as I can about the person with this driver's license number. She's a murder suspect, and I really haven't much time. An innocent person will die this afternoon if I can't prove my case."
"We'll be glad to help, Superman. Men," he said, looking around at the cops working there, "We all know how much help Superman has been to us for the last few weeks. It's time to return the favor."
It took some time, but with Henderson's help that day, they were able to find that Bea Carroll had quite a past. She had once had a restraining order against her after assaulting an ex-boyfriend, and some jail time after threatening another. What was interesting was that the threats were made in the same manner as in this case.
"Do you have the pasted-up letters that were found in Kennedy's apartment?" Superman asked Henderson.
"I can get them."
Within an hour Superman was checking the unfinished letters for fingerprints, and a few minutes after that he was back at the Hilow Club talking to Bea Carroll again.
"Superman. Back again? Do you find me that fascinating?"
"I'm just checking on a few details about this case," Superman answered, staring at her hands.
"What? You like my fingernail polish?"
"You might be interested to learn that I know Curry's innocent, that you are the murderer."
"No. Your fingerprints match those on the threatening note in the murdered man's room. You're guilty, and I want you to sign a confession saying so."
Carroll chuckled to herself. "Didn't I just say you were crazy? Even if I were guilty, do you think I would just sign a confession just like that?"
Superman's eyes appeared to bore right into her. "It seems to me that if I took a human life, the last thing I'd want is to see an innocent person accused of it, another innocent life taken because of me."
Carroll couldn't believe this. "Is that how the boy scouts dress wherever you come from? You cannot possibly be that na´ve."
Superman's expression didn't change. "If that's na´ve, then I guess I am. I guess I just don't have the ability to think like a murderer. I take it you're not signing, then."
"You take it correctly, Mr. Boy Scout."
"Okay, then." Superman stepped toward her and she pulled a gun.
"All right, Superman. Yes, I killed him. You obviously know that. You can't trust men like him. They lead you on and then blithely tell you they're in love with someone else, some mousey little twit like Evelyn. Someone not sharp enough to see me sneak the gun from her coat pocket, or to see me put it back"
"And you sent the threats and planted the unfinished one in Jack's apartment when you killed him."
"Goodbye, Superman. It's too bad. You're an attractive man."
She fired two shots, and Superman watched the bullets ricochet off his chest. Then he grabbed the gun, crushed it in his hand, and lifted the murderer over his shoulder.
"What are you doing? Put me down! This is kidnapping, you know. Abduction! I'll see you behind bars for this!"
"Give it a rest, Lady. I'm in too much of a hurry for this." Curry's execution was going to take place in about twenty minutes.
His reluctant passenger was still yelling as Superman swooped down and grabbed some handcuffs from a policeman's belt.
"Hey, what do you think you're . . . " but Superman and the girl were gone.
At the governor's home, Superman set Carroll down in the walled garden and clapped the handcuffs on her small ankles. "Make yourself comfortable," he said. "I haven't time to attend to it."
It was a scene that Superman would remember forever, as if it were written out for him to read again and again. When he knocked on the door and the butler answered he was told that the governor was unavailable. He was taking a nap. Superman couldn't believe that so simple a thing could thwart him at the last minute like this.
"Look," he said. "This is a matter of life or death. Are you going to take me to see the governor?"
"Then I'll take you to him." Superman lifted the man up over his head and barged into the house and up the stairs. He set the butler down, who ran off while Superman ripped the governor's locked bedroom door off its hinges.
"What's the meaning of this?" the governor demanded, getting to his feet.
Superman glanced at the clock on the nightstand. There were only a few minutes left.
"Governor, Evelyn Curry is about to be executed unless you stop it. She's innocent. I have new evidence that was never considered at her trial, and it's strong enough to warrant a new one. You may recall that the experts believed the shooting took place while Evelyn was still at the club? Well there are fingerprints on the letters found at Kennedy's apartment that match those of a person who we know was not at the club at the time of the shooting, and whose history shows she had motive and opportunity to kill him."
"Superman, I think you have been watching too many movies. It doesn't quite work to just barge in and . . . "
"Governor, I'm a simple man, really. And I haven't a lot of experience with the fine points of the law, as you do, and I've just had it pointed out that I can be na´ve about a lot of things. But I know right from wrong, and I believe in truth and justice. I know there's enough evidence here to warrant at least a delay of execution long enough for you to determine if it warrants a new trial. If you have read about me in the papers, sir, you know I'm on the side of right. Please. Call and delay the execution."
The butler came running in with a pistol aimed at Superman's head. The governor waved him back.
"Put that away," he said. "Superman means us no harm."
"Governor?" Superman was watching the clock. If it was right, there was a minute or less left.
The governor followed Superman's look, raised his eyebrows and reached for the phone.
"You really lucked out on this one, Kent," Lois said. "So where does this put us? About even on Superman stories for the last two weeks?"
"Lois, this isn't a competition."
"Oh, isn't it? You're lucky you can write, Kent, because it's the only thing you've got going for you."
"You may be right, Lois. I have to admit, I'm not exactly Superman."