By Cathy McCaskill <Super_man_cain@yahoo.com>
Submitted: July, 2006
Summary: Superman encounters an opponent he cannot defeat.
Chapter 1 — The King and I
There had been rare occurrences over the decades when Superman had been defeated. His ego preferred to think of each as an individual rare occurrence. The chance of another such occurrence was infinitesimal. His analytical mind calculated the odds and smirked since his answer was that it would be next to impossible for someone to defeat him again without using kryptonite. His buttocks and his jaw told a different story.
He could feel a warm fluid sensation trickle from his mouth. He wiped it away to discover that blood was the crimson culprit. It was undaunted in its hasty return. Stumbling to his feet even the slight weight of the cape was oppressively heavy to him. The heel of his right boot had been torn from its base. The brilliant S insignia had also been ripped from his chest leaving behind a ragged hole, which exposed his battered and bruised muscular chest. His swollen eyes let him barely discern the tall imposing masculine figure silhouetted against the full moon in the night's sky.
The man had literally kicked the Man of Steel up and down Clinton Avenue. He had only been able to offer meager resistance. There was nothing Superman could do at the moment but tuck his shredded cape and fly away from the scene of the defeat with haste. Whoosh.
Chapter 2 — The Music Man
Lois murmured, "Clark, is that you? I can hardly hear you… the docks in River City. I'll be there in fifteen minutes or less… Of course, I'll drive carefully. I love you." She hung up the telephone and rapidly pulled her black jeans over her pajama bottoms, threw on Clark's oversized gray T-shirt and Smallville University gray hooded jacket to cover the matching camisole top. She slipped into her loafers, grabbed her purse and flew down the steps.
She grabbed her small cell phone from its charger. The sound of the slamming door nudged their son Jon's super hearing. The teenager pulled the warm comforter over his shoulders and slipped back into his dream.
Chapter 3 — From Here to Eternity
"Clark, where are you?" Lois whispered as loudly as she dared under the circumstances. She scanned the area with the flashlight's stream of light. She guided the light over the rocks and the debris scattered along the shore. She heard moaning coming from a car parked near a massive sand dune. The high beam of light reflected from the young man's silver watch. The mother in her reacted to the situation. She clicked the flashlight off.
"Run, honey! Your father's brought a shot gun," screamed Lois. "Hurry! He's crazed, I tell you. Save yourself!" Lois hid in the shadows laughing as the car sped away. "One day they'll thank me for that deception," chuckled Lois.
"I bet they will," whispered Clark stepping from the shadows. He smiled his megawatt smile at his wife. She could only see his face silhouetted in the moonlight. She had no idea that his face was battered. Caressing his wife's beautiful face, Clark whispered, "Just give me a minute, sweetheart. I'll take the flashlight. We don't need it spoiling the ambiance. Just ask those two. My strength is slowly returning. Just hold me for a few minutes. If you like I'll promise to be better behaved than that kid, unless you tell me otherwise." He eased his bare feet over to Lois's.
She nuzzled against him and took off her shoes. He enveloped her in a warm embrace and kissed the back of her neck. She felt something liquid and rubbed it off quickly. She rubbed her fingertips together and reasoned that it could only be blood.
Lois stammered tearfully, "Clark, you're bleeding! You are bleeding! What happened? Who did this to you? Why?"
Clark whispered hoarsely, "I'm fine now, honey. You're here and nothing else matters. Please hold me… I need you, sweetheart. It'll be explained later… much later… Please no questions… Just love me right now."
She could hear her husband wipe his mouth with the back of his hand. Clark shivered, wrapping what remained of his cape around them forming a protective cocoon. His trembling hands gently pushed her into the sand. She could feel his brokenness silently pleading. She tearfully acquiesced. The two became one once again.
Chapter 3 — MASH
"Lois, wake up… come on, Editor and Chief… time to go. Can you hear me?" Clark brushed errant strands of her auburn hair from her cheek. The bright morning sun had begun its restorative process in him.
"Clark, I love you. Last night was incredible," said Lois slyly. "Apparently not everything was damaged in that brawl." Looking at his damaged suit, Lois commented, "Just wear your red uniform briefs." Continuing her thought she said, "They look a lot like skimpy retro-swimming trunks, and since you can't fly yet we can just walk away from here as Mr. and Mrs. Kent." She slipped the hooded jacket over her head, casually raked her fingers through her hair, and then slipped on her shoes.
Clark turned his back to her before his cape dropped to the sand. Lois instinctively knew that he was hiding something. She turned him towards her to view her husband's barrel chest. Purplish welts slowly faded from view.
"They just took a little longer than the rest," murmured Clark. "Maybe we can come back here to revisit one evening? Maybe I should just wear the skimpy swimming trunks?" Clark cooed tracing his index finger along the unzipped jacket opening. He hoped to get his wife's mind off his injuries.
"I plan to help you figure out the identity of the man who kicked your well endowed assets," suggested Lois kissing her husband on the nose.
He drove home considering the possibility of their being able to figure out the identity of the man who had defeated him on his own turf.
Chapter 4 — The Fiddler on the Roof
Clark silently stepped onto the roof of the Daily Planet. He waited impatiently for his son, Paul, to arrive. Paul had lost their ongoing bet concerning who was the fastest and now Paul owed his dad the wallpapering of the Kents' bathrooms.
"What pattern is the wallpaper or hasn't Lois picked it out yet?" Paul grinned levitating in front of his dad. "Double or nothing on my completing the master bathroom before you can complete the guest bathroom. I'll give you a good three seconds advantage. Are you up for it or what?"
Clark insisted, "Son, that trick is as old as the 'I left my wallet in my other pants' excuse. You're getting good at throwing out red herrings, but I learned from Lois Lane, the master dodger of any topic she doesn't want to discuss. Just spill it so we can both feel better. What's up?"
Paul heard both his Dad's question and request, yet at first he could only manage a sigh in reply. "Dad, I love you. I would never willingly hurt you or Mom… It's actually humorous… You'll thank me years from now," stammered Paul.
"You've used every conversational cliché in the book. Just say it, son," pleaded Clark. He was getting to know his son by his first wife, Mariah, a Nigerian princess. Mariah's grandfather had deviously convinced her family that Clark had been murdered by poachers. The wicked man had drugged Clark. In Clark's intensely drugged state the man had convinced the naïve young man to believe two lies. The first lie was that Mariah's family had annulled their three month marriage because of Clark's humble social status coupled with his race. The second lie was that the annulment was for the best for all concerned. None of them had suspected that a baby had been conceived within those idyllic three months.
Equally as quickly was the marriage to the neighboring prince, Odafu Roho. Their instant alliance through the hastily arranged marriage was mutually profitable for both tribes. It quickly followed the legal end of her marriage to Clark. Mariah and Odafu's love for each other grew slowly over time. Both believed that the child was her husband's until she discovered the baby levitating in his crib one morning. She could not bring herself to tell her husband with their love so fragile and new.
Mariah felt obligated to tell Clark's parents of the child. She thought it would bring them some comfort since their son's murder. Mariah discreetly hired a detective to locate Clark's parents. She knew that her husband was jealous of her memories of Clark. Innocently sharing her recurring dreams of her first husband with him did not aid her cause. She merely stopped discussing them with her husband although the dreams persisted.
The detective promptly began his investigation in Smallville. He soon discovered from Clark's shocked parents that their son was working in Metropolis at the Daily Planet. Legally, there was no contractual bond between Clark and Mariah. Prince Paul Clark Roho was a living connection that neither Clark nor Mariah opted to deny.
The bitterness of their deception still bothered Clark. He understood the expediency of the deception. The resentment of being controlled by the immoral man held on tightly letting its poisonous roots grow deep into Clark's subconscious. Not even the death of Mariah's grandfather totally eradicated the menace. Forgiveness of the wretched old man had not yet reached Clark's heart, but he had prayed that it might before he too stood before his Savior.
The years of being willfully denied his family left an empty void in Clark's heart. Neither Lois nor their two children knew of his feelings, yet Clark felt they were suffering from it in some way. Mariah would always have his love as would their son. There was no option.
Paul saw the better forgotten memories spill over his dad. He mentally felt his dad's melancholy. Clark had erected strong walls to prevent Paul from penetrating his thoughts. Paul intuitively knew that the walls had always been there, isolating a loving man from the world in which he had made a home. Paul, like Clark, knew that fear birthed separation. A man was not truly himself when isolated from those who valued righteousness. An isolated man was prey for evil temptations.
Paul had initially let the fear of being able to successfully rule his country unsettle him. The birth of his younger brother had helped to defuse that situation. Mariah had prayed fervently before Nathan reluctantly agreed to let Paul relinquish his royal birthright. Living in Metropolis as a foreigner of mixed race was not easy. Paul had chosen law as his life's work so that he could carve out his own niche. He did not want to follow in his biological father's footsteps.
His parents had helped him carry the weight of the secret, but the necessity of bearing the load was his own. Others could come along side, but ultimately each man carried his own cross. The secret of his paternity was child's play in comparison to what he now was compelled to tell his dad. "Dad, last night on Clinton… I beat you to a pulp. Tomorrow… they want… me to defeat Superman again," gulped Paul staring calmly at his dad.
"You did what?" Clark's scream reverberated down the empty streets. Both heard several windows shatter and the bits of broken glass shards fall to the hard cracked streets. Dogs yelped in distress. Cats ran for cover and even the very ground trembled for a few seconds, then eventually grew still. "You did what?" Clark had regained control of his emotions. "Why?" Clark stared into the distance. He could see that it was sunrise in London. He closed his eyes to concentrate.
"I had no options," sighed Paul unable to refer to the disappointed man who levitated before him by any title of affection. "Two weeks ago, I heard their ultra frequency demands in Nigeria. 'Control Superman or Metropolis will be destroyed.'" Paul flew to the next roof. "I calculated the possibilities as infinitesimal," remarked Paul pacing until he noticed a ditch forming on the roof. He continued, "I detected another ultra frequency message the next day. It commanded me to check the infrastructure under the Daily Planet offices for proof. I found fissures along each support beam. I had no option. I had to demonstrate that the Jet could control Superman." Paul looked over the rooftop to Clark.
"Obviously, they can back up their demands," murmured Clark. "We'll figure something out." Clark flashed a weak smile and flew silently to his son's side.
"Who the hell is Jet?" Clark laughed grabbing his son by the shoulders.
"My alter ego. I dress in jet black lycra. Spandex is too confining. I've been told that I'm as fast as a…" Whoosh.
"…jet," smiled Clark proudly. Standing before Clark was the imposingly tall and muscular jet black figure who had beaten him into the ground like a chump.
Relieved Paul flashed his megawatt smile, "Grandma Martha created it for me. She and grandpa said it was their duty to retain the family tradition. She's even invited me to meet a friend of the family tomorrow evening. For some reason, she instructed me not to share the invitation with you or Lois."
"No spandex. No cape. No briefs. No S. Are you sure your grandmother hadn't been sipping the cooking sherry that day?" Clark questioned only half joking. Clark knew precisely why his mom and dad didn't want either of them to know about the blind date. His naive son was about to meet the single daughter of one of their allies.
"I don't assume so. She typically sips a red wine from Napa Valley's Elite cellars, as I remember," replied Paul seriously. The two sat down to craft an option where there was none.
Chapter 5 — Front Page
Jammed in the crowded elevator, Clark looked over his horned rimmed glasses at his son who had become the Daily Planet's Chief Legal Counsel. "Predawn Earthquake Rocks Metropolis" heralded the front page. Several colored photographs of cracked windows in the downtown area accompanied the article. One of the photographs was of a smiling florist holding her insurance check. The elevator dinged. Clark glanced back at Paul who was laughing. Ralph laughed having mistaken Paul's laughter for Clark's.
"Have I told you how much I admire that tie?" Ralph oozed. With his super hearing Clark could hear his son belly laugh as the elevator ascended to the top floor. Paul was still laughing as he entered his corner office.
"Thanks… I gotta go… meeting with the suits upstairs," said Clark trotting up the steps. Two seconds later Clark knocked on his son's door.
"Mr. Roho, your receptionist was away from her desk. May I come in to discuss last night's earthquake?" Clark barely made it through the door when both erupted into laughter. They each tried to speak, but laughter drowned out the words.
"Please, we… need… to talk about our plan," laughed Clark. Paul's cheeks blushed dark red.
"You know the chances of it working are miniscule at best," confessed Paul suddenly able to hear Ralph complimenting Lois on her shoes eight floors below. He chuckled, tuning out Ralph's flattery.
"I'll leave my wife a note of our whereabouts, son, for your benefit," said Clark dramatically.
"You want us to meet in the back in the corner in the dark of the Planet's roof at midnight. Are you sure you couldn't wrestle any more cloak and dagger cliques into this one Dad?" Paul smirked.
"We need to synchronize our watches and be sure to wear black," chuckled Clark.
"Get out of my office, Mr. Kent. Thanks again. Don't call us. We won't call you," teased Paul ushering his Dad out of his office.
Chapter 6 — The Contender
Clark nervously paced on the roof of the Daily Planet. The constant rain and fog were distractive nuisances. His x-ray vision told him that the syndicate crime bosses sitting in the car were nervous as well. "Timing is everything, Jet," broadcasted Superman's thoughts to his rapidly approaching opponent.
"I love you, Dad. Know that I always will," came back the intense thoughts.
Jet hovered for an instant, then smashed both his fists into Superman's chest. Jet grabbed Superman furiously by the cape violently forcing the man of steel from the rooftop spiraling on to the grimy alley below. The thud resonated for several blocks. Hungry rats squealed, scampering for cover in the squalor. The horde regrouped eagerly waiting for a wet morsel in the shadows.
Superman staggered forward like a drunken man. He extended his massive arm and dug his outstretched bloodied hands into Jet's back. The two tumbled from the alley into the deserted street. Superman tore the metal Daily Planet billboard from its concrete base. He hurled it toward the slumped over black figure. Blood dripped from Jet's mouth and hands. Jet heard the metal splitting the air at supersonic speed and caught it midstream. He rapidly twirled it like an expert shot putter. The massive billboard caught Superman in the thigh buckling his knees. His out cry of agony tore from his lips and echoed through the streets. The impact of Superman's fall shoveled the man of steel twenty feet below the surface of the street causing gray puffs of dust to float to the surface. Jet flew into the abyss determined that he would emerge.
Superman heard his opponent flying at super speed towards him. The two collided according to Superman's plan. He braced himself with his right hand and caught Jet by the neck. The skin near Jet's jugular vein popped as blood squirted from underneath Superman's mud soaked fingernails. Superman gave up counting the number of times he slammed Jet against the wall of the tunnel they had carved. Jet's eyes bulged, then closed. Superman winced.
Clark's eyes filled with tears. His heart throbbed with agonizing regret. With a slow rocking motion he cradled his fallen listless son in his arms. In the dark tunnel cold rain fell like tears from heaven and bounced off their tired bodies forming pools of mud mixed with their blood. Superman's anguished sobs were heard for miles. Jet painfully reached his battered bruised left hand to cup his father's face. They exchanged a faint smile.
Then, Jet brutally flung Superman up onto the concrete alley. Superman cursed obscenely as his body bounced into the wall of the condemned bar and grill demolishing most of it. The brazen herd of rats ran for his bloody eyes. He brushed the rodent swarm away.
Jet stood with his clenched bloody fists defiantly resting on his knees heaving for breath. Superman sensed the weakness and tossed an abandoned car toward Jet's head. The car shredded into two parts upon impact. Jet staggered forward but came up flying with his biceps bulging, as he savagely pounded Superman into the concrete.
Both violently rolled into a bright blue car. Jet glared at Superman. Superman returned the glare. Jet collapsed onto the mud and Superman followed. A cowardly delegate from the syndicate's car looked at them both and scampered back to the car.
"It's finished, Boss," sneered the sycophant. The car sped back to its lair.
"And you said it wouldn't work," grinned Superman over the rain.
Chapter 6 — The Tell Tale Heart
Dressed in their most expensive black Armani suits and ebony Ray Ban sunglasses, both father and son looked the part. Each leaned against the Kents' black Mercedes SUV. Lois was bedecked similarly in a tight black silk pantsuit. Her obligatory black Ray Bans were securely in place. Looking at his wife, Clark found himself feeling amorous. Lois noticed that her husband had noticed. Paul saw them both.
"This is serious guys," whined Paul kicking the toe of his black boots against the curb. The concrete curb crumbled as a deep fissure cut through the curbs for the next two blocks.
"Later," whispered Lois to Clark.
"I can still hear you," protested Paul. The sleek black limousine eased into the alley. Paul hid behind the open door of the photo shop.
"Here are the answers to all your questions, Ms. Lane. I'm surprised the Co-Editor of the Planet still handles such grunt work," sneered the flunky.
Lois rambled, "I thought I would have a chance to meet the Boss. I wouldn't trust something of such galactic importance to just a member of my staff. This is my ticket to a Pulitzer Prize. I even brought our prize winning photographer, Bud… Bud Lightyear." Lois dramatically pulled Clark to her side. The flunky knocked on the driver's partially opened window. Poured in to a tight fitting fire engine red leather jumpsuit was a tall curvaceous blonde woman. Clark recognized her as the owner of the florist shop who had proudly been photographed with her insurance check after the earthquake.
"I'm the Boss. I'd be happy to speak with you about the immediate epidemic of company executions. All my responses are strictly theoretical," stated the woman bluntly.
"You may want to disguise your radiant beauty with these," remarked Lois wiping the sunglasses with her scarf. She handed them to the Boss.
"Thanks, Lois. We girls have to stick together," purred the buxom blonde boss tossing her hair and unzipping the front of her leather jumpsuit two inches lower. She sat on the hood of the car and crossed her legs. Next, she arched her back pushing the zipper to its limit. Clark coughed, which caused the door to close. Paul was hiding behind that door videotaping. Clark casually slid his Ray bans down his nose, then laser burned a hole in the door. Clark took off his sunglasses to snap several photographs.
"We better take a roll of them as a bust up… back up," stammered Clark.
"You better because you won't see anything like them for a long time," barked Lois. Clark snapped one photograph, replaced his sunglasses and the camera's lens cap. He stood perfectly still hoping Lois would forget the incident. Before long the Boss had boastfully told Lois where the bodies were buried. Lois continued to feed the woman's ego and pride. The buxom blonde returned the sunglasses to Lois. Lois wrapped them in the scarf and placed them into her opened purse. The car roared from the alley.
Chapter 7 — The Sting
"Blonde Boss Blabs" — A large color photograph accompanied the headline and article. Every detail of the confession was cited. The second page of the edition featured a photo spread of the decayed remains beneath the floorboards of the condemned bar and grill. Other victims' body parts were recovered from the boss's photo shop. Lois knew that the syndicate would not be happy with the media's spotlight on them.
Lois quipped, "Either the police will get her or the syndicate surely will. She has enough silicone to start an industry with just the two of them. I wouldn't want to be in that hussy's stilettos right now." Lois glared at her silent husband.
Clark murmured, "Paul told me about meeting the daughter of my parents' friend. He said that the friend's daughter turned out to be Darlyn Rabb, the young woman with whom Paul fell in love in Church Falls, Virginia. He couldn't face her when he found out that I'm … his dad." Dejectedly he turned away from his wife and closed her office door. Lois could hear him sigh.
Lois replied, embracing her troubled handsome husband from behind, "Clark, honey, it's not your fault. The information startled him initially. Paul loves you. Martha told me that the two are finally going to be married in a few months. The two of us have been invited to meet her parents next month. Honey, have a little faith. He hasn't brought us this far to leave us." He turned to face her returning the warm embrace and kissed her deeply. "I love you, Lois. Know that I always will," whispered Clark.