Ordinary People: A Jimmy Olsen Adventure

By Mary Wallace MKWallace@aol.com or mwallace@iquest.com

Summary: Jimmy Olsen feels nobody gives him any respect at the Daily Planet, so he's going to try for a job at the Star as a cub reporter. Pursuing an idea for a Superman interview, Jimmy finds himself in a scrape with gangsters.

Here's my Jimmy Olsen fanfic that I've been threatening to write. It turned out different than I had imagined; in fact, it's kind of weird. But, it pleases me here and there. Enjoy.

inspiration credits go to Tad Takara and Zoomway


"Olsen. James Olsen." Jimmy extends his hand confidently. His expression is charming, his handshake is firm, but his mind grows as blank as an elementary school chalkboard in summertime. His jaw, locked in an open position, anticipates words that his brain has yet to compose.

Jimmy relaxes from his confident-mode stance and flops onto his bed in exasperation. "Who's gonna hire a deer trapped in headlights?" Jimmy whimpers.

"I don't understand what this interview is for anyway. You've got a job," Jack asks. Jack still stands where he had been playing the part of a nameless editor.

"I told you. I need a better job. I don't want to live in this dump forever," Jimmy answers, while flicking his bedside lamp on and off nervously.

"Didn't you get a raise not too long ago?"

"Yeah, but it wasn't that much, and I still don't feel respected at the Planet. The position at the Star is for a cub reporter. I'd have a better chance at advancement there," Jimmy responds.

Jack walks to Jimmy's window and peers out.

"This place *is* a dump, Jimmy," Jack comments.

"Tell me how you really feel," Jimmy says without ceasing the nervous flicking.

"Cut that out and listen to me, man."

Jimmy stops the flicking, but doesn't move from his prone position on the bed.

"You don't really want to leave the Planet, do you?"


"So, why aren't you sticking it out?"

"I started there as a gopher. But, even though I'm a photographer now, everyone still sees me as a gopher. I don't think they'll ever see me as capable of reporting." Jimmy sits up and leans his back against a pillow.

"The reporters rely on you for background and other important things. They know you can spot news."

"I don't think they know how hard it is to find some of the stuff I dig up for them. Whatever I do, people just seem to see right through me. I've even had some page one art, and I'm still getting people's coffee." Jimmy tosses a paper ball towards his trash can and misses.

Jack retrieves the paper wad and starts to unfold it.

"Hey! Toss that!" Jimmy commands.

"These some story ideas?"

"Yeah," Jimmy unwillingly admits. "I figure I need some writing samples to take to my interview, but none of those ideas are worth ink."

Jack proceeds to read the list aloud, "The daily life of a photojournalist .

Jimmy shoots him a look.

"The daily life of a staff reporter … I'm sensing a trend. The daily life of a superhero … What did you have in mind with that one?" Jack asks.

"I figure Superman's schedule is pretty hectic — saving humanity and all.

But, then I thought, he has to relax sometime. What does he like to do during that time, ya know?"

Jack snickers, "Olsen, I think we would've heard by now if Ole Primary Colors, himself, were playing pick-up games at Kirby Park."

"I know! I told you those ideas were worthless. Trouble is, I haven't come up with anything better."

Jack tries half-heartedly to encourage Jimmy, "An interview with Superman *would* be a good piece to take to a job interview. Or, even to take to Mr. White, if it's respect at the Planet that you really want."

"My mind's made up, Jack! I'm gonna do the interview with the Star!" Jimmy pauses, then relaxes. "Sorry, man."

Jack shrugs it off.

"I don't want to leave the Planet. I just feel pigeon-holed."

"Maybe you should just concentrate on how to get that interview with Superman, and worry about what to use it for later," Jack suggests.

"Yeah. I guess I gotta figure out how to find him."

"Ask Clark to contact him for you."

"Can't. I don't want to have to explain to Clark why I want to see Superman. Besides, I want to do this on my own."

"Okay. Well, good luck, man. I gotta get to class."

"See ya, Jack. Thanks."

"No sweat, Jimmy." Jack throws his backpack over his shoulder and leaves.

Jimmy dresses quickly and heavily. He is determined to find the Man of Steel before the night is over. He figures Superman will eventually show up where he is most needed — the most crime-infested part of Metropolis. Jimmy arms himself with his supersonic watch, his camera bag, a reporter's notebook, and a micro-recorder. If Superman is in the mood to talk tonight, he'll be ready to listen. Jimmy deadbolts his apartment door, prays silently that he will see his dingy home again, and heads towards Suicide Slum. His pager lays forgotten on his bed.


"Where in tarnation is that Olsen kid?!" Perry White blasts from his office.

Clark stammers, "It's after six, Chief. I believe he's gone home."

"I know that Kent! He's not answering his pager. I need to give him a 7 a.m. photo assignment," Perry barks back.

"Oh," is Clark's meager response.

Perry eyes Clark suspiciously. "What are you still doing here, Clark? Lois is even gone."

"I had some, uh, personal errands earlier that took longer than I thought they would. I'm just making up some time, and trying to get ahead too."

"Well stop what you're doing and find me Olsen. Give him this assignment when you do," Perry hands Clark an envelope.

Perry turns and walks back to his office mumbling as he goes, "Crimony!

Does that kid think I got him that pager to accessorize …"

Clark logs off, turns out his desk light, and grabs his coat. His destination is Olsen's apartment complex.


Clark knocks on Jimmy's door assuming he is indeed home. He figures Jimmy has his headphones on and cannot hear his beeper. When Jimmy doesn't answer the door, Clark assumes he must not hear the knocking either. Clark lowers his glasses and scans Jimmy's apartment with his x-ray vision.

No Jimmy.

Mildly surprised, Clark shrugs and bends down to slide Jimmy's photo assignment under the door. Walking away, Clark stops when a thought arrests him.

What if Jimmy doesn't come home tonight? Clark didn't like about Jimmy's social life in that much detail; but, it was possible. And Clark didn't want to jeopardize Jimmy's job. Clark backtracks, kneels down, and sucks the envelope back under the door. He tucks the envelope into his breast pocket and heads down the hall to the pay phone.






"Sorry, man, let me shade down the box. Whaddya say?"

"This is Clark Kent. I would like to speak to Jack. Do I have the right extension?"

"Yeah, this is his room. But he's got night classes on Tuesday. He'll be back by nine. You want me to tell him that Arthur Dent called?"

"Who?" Clark asks, perplexed.

"Arthur Dent. That's what you said your name was, right?"

Clark rolls his eyes. "No, CLARK KENT. Have him page me. My number is 555-4865."

"Right-O. Gotcha." Click.

"That did not sound promising," Clark says to no one in particular.

He returns the phone to its cradle and walks back to Jimmy's door. Again, he lowers his glasses; this time, he scans more thoroughly. Although he notes that Jimmy's camera bag is gone, and his beeper is lying on his bed, Clark fails to notice Ms. Crutcher coming toward him with a bag of groceries.

"If knocking hasn't brought Jimmy to the door by now, young man, I doubt that staring a hole through it will help much either," Ms. Crutcher says to Clark.

Clark jerks back, surprised by being addressed. His behavior further alarms Ms. Crutcher.

"Oh, yes, um, thanks. Do you, happen to know where Jimmy is? I assume you're a neighbor." Clark sees her alarm and adds, "I'm a co-worker, and friend. Clark Kent." He offers his hand.

"I don't have a free hand just now, and I haven't seen Jimmy today. So, if you'll excuse me," Ms. Crutcher slips past the reporter and continues down the hall.

"Why don't I help you —"

"No need," she calls from down the hall.

Clark whispers to himself, "To borrow a phrase: 'Smooth, Kent, very smooth.'"


"WHAT am I doing here?" Jimmy grumbles. "And why didn't I change out of my best pair of shoes?"

On the other side of the street a group of homeless men with tattered shoes and clothes crowd around canned fire. Others lay in doorways and over grates.

"Like Superman is going to swoop down, just because a couple of guys don't have decent footwear," Jimmy thinks aloud.

The night is even colder than Jimmy had prepared for. He can feel the tips of his ears stinging; his teeth chatter relentlessly. "It's funny how a cold wind and a dark street can make things seem so spooky," Jimmy starts to rationalize. "A reporter doesn't give up just because things get a little uncomfortable. I'm tough. I can do this."

Just then, a loud crash startles Jimmy. He dives into a recessed doorway and hides in the shadow. After a few moments, he peers around the door sill in time to see a cat picking through a garbage can.

"That's it. I'm going home," he mutters. Jimmy takes a deep breath and emerges from the doorway, heading back the way he came. "My nerves are about as solid as Swiss cheese."

Suddenly, he feels a gigantic hand on his shoulder, and hears, "Where ya goin', kid? And whatcha got in the bag?"

Jimmy turns to see two men in trench coats and shiny shoes. One greatly outsizes the other, but both men tower above him.

"I — I, uh …" Jimmy stammers.

A smile spreads across the smaller thug's face. He wears a Fedora and a kindly expression. "You're comin' wid us, right, kid?"

"Of course, sir. That's exactly what I had in mind to say."

"Me and Francis here, call 'im Frankie, we wuz headin' over to d' Deathtrap.

Thought you might wanna tag along?"

"Yes sir, Mister, uh"

"Thomas Kline. Call me, Tommy."

"Okay, Mr. Kline. Um, what is the Deathtrap?"

"It's a private club, a hangout of mine. It's a good place to unwind."

Tommy narrows his eyes at Jimmy. "You old enough, kid?"

"Yes sir, 21, sir. Got ID with me."

"You won't need it. Anyone wid me walks right in — whatcha say your name is?"

"James, sir, Olsen. Everybody calls me Jimmy."

"Okay kid. Sorry, but I had to ask. Don't wanna get accused of contributin' to the 'linquency ova minor."

"No minor here, sir."

"Peachy kid. Let's move," Tommy responds sharply. Frankie nudges Jimmy forward.


Superman casually flies through Metropolis, scanning Jimmy's frequent hangouts one by one. It was the only thing he could think to do until Jack got home from class. He had already tried S.T.A.R. labs and Jimmy's favorite comics store; Superman pauses and scans the interior of the diner where Lucy Lane now works.

"Could he be with Lois?" Clark thinks, then shakes off the thought. He knows it is simply an excuse to go to Lois' apartment. He wants to spend every spare minute with her, but he doesn't want to be the puppy dog who followed her home either.

"I am going to let her come to me. It's the only way I can be sure of her feelings for Clark."

"Yet," he muses, "It doesn't hurt to remind her I'm alive."

With this thought, Superman dives into an alley and emerges bespectacled and professionally attired. He tosses a quarter into a pay phone and dials the number he committed to memory the first time he dialed it.

"Lois Lane."

"Hey Lois, it's me Clark."

"What's up?"

"I'm looking for Jimmy. Have you talked to him tonight?"

"Why don't you just page him?" Lois suggests, confused that he hadn't thought of it already.

"He's not answering it."

"Oh. Nope, haven't seen him or talked to him tonight."

"Oh, sorry to bother you."

"Clark, try the Four Leaf Clover on 82nd. He said he's been playing pool there lately."

Clark looks up at the street sign by the phone. 82nd and 3rd.

"Thanks, Lois. Will do. Night."

"See you tomorrow, Clark."

Clark hangs up and strolls the three blocks to the Clover.


"Password." Two eyes leer through a rectangle near the top of a steel door.

"It's me, Tommy, ya moron."

"Sorry, Mr. Kline." The door slides open abruptly, to reveal a dark and smoke congested room.

"No way," Jimmy utters in disbelief as he surveys the room. "This is right out of the movies."

"Whaddya say, kid?" Tommy barks.

"I said, 'This place is really smooth."

Groups of men sit in fours at round tables playing poker; a couple of roughnecks clean their pistols in the far back; and three hefty thugs lean against the wall near a pool table, as the fourth scrutinizes the table, planning his shot.

Jimmy hears a loud squeak below his feet, then feels Frankie throw him ahead a couple of feet.

"Sorry, kid, the floorboard right there by d' door is rottin'. That's why we call it d' Deathtrap," Tommy apologizes.

Everyone looks up at Jimmy, as he has just been vaulted into the room. He straightens his posture and swallows hard.

"Who's the kid, Tommy?" one of the gun cleaners in the back yells.

"Gentlemen, I'd like ta 'troduce James Olsen. Call 'im Kid. Kid, here's a cub reporter after the big story, right Kid?"

"Um, yes sir."

The right edge of woman's profile moves into the light, and her voice emerges from the shadow, "Are you mad, Tommy?" Her question possesses no alarm. Rather, it sounds mundane, as if she had asked him if he were hungry.

"Brenda, honey. Kid stands by a code of journalistic ethics. He's a professional. He doesn't reveal his sources," Tommy states confidently.

"That's correct, Miss, er, Brenda. You are all anonymous sources, ma'am."

The illuminated corner of Brenda's mouth curls upward, and she asks, "Naturally, James. But, tell me, what is the focus of your story?" She moves into the light to reveal a large scar down the left side of her face.

Jimmy's eyes bulge, but he manages to respond, "The daily life of … of an entrepreneur."

Brenda's face melds into a Cheshire grin. "What a marvelous toy — I mean, *boy* you've brought home, Tommy. Please, James, have a seat." She takes a seat, herself, atop a tall stool.

With this invitation, Jimmy moves toward the bar near Brenda, and the rest of the Deathtrap's denizens go back to their respective activities. Jimmy looks around for a piano player, expecting a ragtime to erupt.

At the bar, Brenda pours Jimmy a whiskey and lights herself a long slender cigarette. Jimmy looks over his shoulder to find that Tommy and Frankie have abandoned him and joined a card game.

"So, James, what would you like to know?" Brenda hisses as a smoke-trail snakes around her face.

Jimmy pulls his recorder from his bag and sets it on the bar.

"How long have you been a in your current profession?"

Brenda's eyes flash with delight.


Thirty blocks away from the Trap, Clark steps into a similarly smoky room.

"Black Hole Sun" by Soundgarden blares from every speaker. Clark switches his beeper to vibrate, then evaluates the clientele. College students and some teenagers (trying to pass for older) huddle in small booths and around asymmetrical tables. There are only two pool tables, but Jimmy is not one of the fifteen or so generation Xers crowding around them. Clark, suddenly feeling out of place in his suit and tie, quickly takes a seat at the far end of the bar. "Why didn't I change into more casual clothes?" he chastises.

Clark orders a beer, hoping to look more natural. He nurses his drink and watches for Jimmy to walk in, hoping he can go home soon.

"I'll wait half an hour. If Jimmy doesn't come in, I'll just scan the whole city so I can go home," Clark decides ruefully. He avoids the dreaded universal city scan whenever possible. He always sees things he feels he has no right to see and other things he would rather not see.

The night he had scanned for Lois, while she was immersed in rising concrete, he had witnessed ten different episodes of domestic violence. He knew he had had to find Lois, and he later went back to check on each case, but the never-ending conflict of who to help first ceaselessly weighs on him.

Just then he feels fingers run through his hair; he looks up from his beer.

A young woman, who looks about 26 (but might be 16 under all that eye shadow), takes the seat next to him. She runs her hand down his neck and arm.

"I'm Tammy," she chirps.

"Of course you are," Clark responds with a smirk.

"What's *your* name, beautiful?" Tammy whispers in his ear.

"Clark. Nice to meet you, Tammy," Clark says evenly while shaking her hand.

At first startled by the gesture, Tammy relaxes then smiles.

"You're not the bimbo type, are you, Clark?"

"Not at all."

"Good, because I'm not one." Tammy's whole aura seems to reflect an augmented IQ, with her new countenance and conversation.

"Why the act?"

"Because bimbos get dates. Simple and sad."

"Simple and cynical, you mean."

"An optimist to boot? You're batting a thousand dream boy. Where you been all my life?"

Clark chuckles. "Kansas. Smallville to be precise."

"How incredibly delicious. A farmboy in the big city," Tammy croons.

Clark blushes nearly imperceptibly. He cannot remember the last time he felt so flattered. Yet, he simultaneously feels pangs of guilt. Is it wrong to sit and enjoy this woman's attention? Nothing will happen, of course.

But, is it cheating to simply flirt? Just for a little while?

"You don't look the farmboy, Clark." Tammy plays with his tie. "Are these eggplants?"

"Um, yeah, I guess. My mother gave it to me. She's into the abstract and the absurd lately."

"What are you into lately, Clark? I mean, what are your interests?"

This woman's eyes might as well have been tractor beams. Clark finds himself completely immobilized by them.

"I — uh, I write."

Tammy smiles with satisfaction. "Hooked" she thinks happily. "He can barely finish a sentence."


"Tommy, what's the story with the Kid? Where'd ya get him?" grumbles a particularly gruff looking poker player.

"Beaut, ain't he? He like to drop in my lap. Frankie and me wuz headin' to the Trap when we seez the Kid. Frankie thought he wuz some greenhorn scout for Intergang, so we decides to rough 'im up.

"Then, I notice the camera bag and gets 'im ta talkin'. Turns out he's green alright — a green hack. Who better to listen to Sis's yap than some would-be reporter?

"Far as I can tell, he's not on assignment. He's just trying to sniff out a story to impress some desk jockey schmoe and get hisself a 9 to 5er.

"Nobody's even gonna miss 'im." Tommy smiles wide and clenches a stogie between his tobacco yellowed teeth.


"But what exactly is your motivation, Miss Brenda? What are your life goals?" Jimmy queries openly. His hesitation and discomfort are no longer evident.

"I suspect my life bears great resemblance to yours, James. I want to succeed and, sometimes, am forced to take grave risks to do so. My goals are to provide adequately for my own needs and those of my employees," Brenda gestures to the men who people the room.

"Perhaps my methods are unorthodox, but so often the successful businessman breaks the mold.

"Sometimes, when I feel my career stagnating, or when I don't feel enough respect from those who surround me, I get depressed. I grow restless and feel the need to go elsewhere, to try something new."

"You do?" Jimmy asks with piqued interest. "So you take off?"



"I have found the most success by adhering to a single course. If I feel stagnant, I press on, using what I have already learned and accomplished, instead of starting anew. I get farther faster that way."

"Are you saying that you stick it out?"

"Yes, child, the cliche always has a kernel of truth."

As Brenda expounds on her "life is a journey" philosophy, Jimmy's gaze wanders over his subject. He ponders the significance of her scar, "Did it mark her departure? Was it the first step she took on her current path?"

He imagines a childhood for her. Jimmy sees an intelligent youth with large eyes and long pigtails skipping to school. He sees her reading, writing, excelling in all her subjects. Yet, it is not enough for some reason.

Jimmy looks at the woman before him and realizes that somewhere within her heart is a fissure. Instead of mending it, she turned the whole vessel to stone. Her act is good, Jimmy thinks. Yet, her appearance betrays her yearning for another path, another life. She looks to be in her early thirties, but Jimmy suspects that she is much older. Her gown is of simple design and fabric; yet, it is so elegant, she could wear it to meet the President. Her skin and hair look soft and well cared for. Her nails are filed neatly and coated with an opaque lacquer.

Brenda is not flashy and ornate, nor is she crude and masculine. She is in complete contrast to the shabbiness of the room existing around her. "What were her dreams — the ones she gave up to come here?" Jimmy asks himself.

Brenda draws Jimmy out of his thoughts by beginning a new thread of conversation, "If I feel that my respect from others has diminished, I prove to them that I am undeniably deserving of it. I do something bold like you have done, by coming here tonight."

"You're right about what you said before. We are alike in some ways. I did want to do something bold. That's why I'm here tonight. I've been feeling trapped in my position at the Planet, so I came here tonight to find a story, to find you in a way."

Brenda's left eyebrow arches at the sound of "Planet."

"Poppet, you work for the Daily Planet?" Brenda feigns a look of awe. Jimmy's stomach lurches as he realizes he has revealed more than he had intended.

"I'm a nobody there. Been there just a few days actually. This story will never see a word processor, let alone ink. I just wanted to, ya know, try—"

"Now, James. What have we just been discussing? Respect. You *must* make them respect you. Without respect, you truly are a nobody."


"That's why I haven't had a lasting relationship. I can never find a man who respects me as his equal," Tammy complains between swallows of light beer.

"With that bimbo act, how do you expect to find a man who will?" Clark responds.

"But a girl gets desperate, Clark. Principles are great on paper, but my bed still gets cold at night."

Clark is taken aback briefly. He realizes that he has grown unaccustomed to women talking about their sexuality. "Lois never talks openly like this with me," he thinks. "Is that a good sign or a bad one?"

Clark looks at Tammy intently, "Hypothetical situation: You have the option of seducing a really charming guy, a guy who has real possibilities. Do you take him home and ruin all chances of a real relationship? Or, do you deny yourself that night of passion in hopes of something more?"

Tammy decides not to mince words, "Are you the guy?"

"I said it was hypothetical."

"Hypothetically, are you the guy?"

"Um, no. I have someone in my life. Sort of."

"You mean you're the one holding out for wonder woman, and you want me to tell you that you haven't thrown away a lot of hot sex for nothing, right?"

Clark spills his beer.

"Clark, look, you seem to me like a one-in-a-million type of guy. If this chick hasn't noticed you, she needs her eyes checked or her head examined.

Apparently, since I have no chance for a relationship with you — you being hung up on this woman — then I'm hypothetically choosing the 'seduce the charming guy' option."

Tammy moves closer to Clark. "I can be pretty charming myself," she mouths.

Suddenly, Clark's beeper vibrates, and he falls off the stool.

"Beeper. My beeper went off. Been expecting the call," Clark explains weakly.

Tammy waxes her best "come-hither" look, but Clark excuses himself, "Gotta .

"Boy, this thing has saved my skin more than once," Clark thinks, while dialing Jack's dorm.

"Hey, man, whaddya need?" Jack asks.

"I'm looking for Jimmy. Any idea where he is tonight?"

"No clue, big guy. Been in class."

"Yeah, I know. I was hoping you had some ideas though."

"Tried the Clover?" Jack suggests.

"I'm here now. I've been here …" Clark checks his watch, "Jeez, I've been here an hour and a half!"

"Whoa, got lucky, Kent?" Jack teases.

"Jack, help me out here. I've got to find him. Perry wants Jimmy at a 7 a.m. shoot tomorrow," Clark pleads.

"OK, OK. I was at his place before class, and he was talking about finding Superman."

"Superman?! Why?"

"He wants to impress Mr. White. Get an interview with the Man of Steel and all."

"Why didn't he come to me for help?"

"That's just it, Clark. He wants to do it on his own," Jack explains.

"I see. I better go look for him. Thanks, Jack."

"Don't tell him I told ya."

"I can keep a secret. See ya later."

Clark winces when he realizes he has to make his excuses to Tammy. For a moment, he is tempted to slip out the back, but thinks better of it, being a one-in-a-million type guy.

Clark takes a deep breath and heads back to the bar. "Tammy's an adult," Clark reasons, "no need to fear the worst."


"No need to fear the worst," Jimmy tries to convince himself, as he watches Brenda Kline load an automatic weapon.

"You see, my dear pupil, respect is earned, not given. You must go above and beyond your expected duties; you must challenge, surprise, and amaze your adversaries and superiors, if you are to rise up the ranks." Brenda snaps a cartridge into place.

"I'm not really interested in a military career, Miss Brenda," Jimmy says meekly.

Tommy joins them in the rear of the room. "Up for a little target practice, Kid?" patting him on the shoulder.

"What?" Jimmy's voice cracks, revealing his disbelief. "I just learned to hold a *camera* steady a year ago."

"Don't worry 'bout it, Kid." Tommy looks over at Brenda, "The roof, Sis?"

"No, we are taking a drive, Tommy. Please have Frankie bring the car around."

"A drive? That could be good. Where are we going?" Jimmy inquires.

"That's a surprise, poppet," Brenda coos and strokes Jimmy's chin.

"Challenge, surprise, and amaze. I remember," Jimmy repeats.

Brenda grows wistful, "You have such promise my dearest James."


Superman scours the city, looking for Jimmy. "If I were Jimmy, where would I look for Superman? I'm needed everywhere, around the world. Where would Jimmy concentrate his efforts?" Superman slows momentarily as he pieces together a plan. In a split second he is rocketing towards Suicide Slum. At the same moment, a midnight blue limousine leaves Suicide Slum and travels out of Metropolis into a low rent district across the river.

"They're gonna fill me full of lead and dump me in Hob's Bay," Jimmy thinks, reasonably calmly. "Why did I ever think they would talk to any reporter, let alone me?"

Suddenly, Jimmy remembers his supersonic watch. He hadn't wanted to use it to find Superman, because there was no real emergency. "But, the current situation justifies the use of the watch, right?" he thinks. "No, I got myself into this; I'll get myself out. I wouldn't want to take Superman away from someone who needs him more than I do."

Jimmy clears his throat and addresses Brenda, "Ya know, I forgot my camera bag; maybe we could go back for it?"

"We can capture the moment with our memories, James. An accurate memory is as useful a tool as an iron will."

"Have you ever considered motivational speaking as an alternate career, Miss Brenda?" Jimmy asks.

"You're the only student I'm concerned about, right now, James."

"How flattering."

The limo lurches to a halt.

"We have arrived, poppet."


Far away in Suicide Slum, Superman spies Jimmy's camera bag on a bar in a back room. He crashes through a boarded window and grabs the nearest thug.

"Where is he?" Superman demands simplistically.

The room freezes, knowing that showering the intruder with bullets will only succeed in killing the hostage.

"I don't appreciate having to ask twice."

A voice calls from the back, "They look a ride. The boss never tells us where she's going."

"Describe the car."

"Dark blue stretch. One of a kind."

Superman drops his captive, who has already fainted. He strides over to the bar, grabs Jimmy's bag, and disappears with a red blur.

"Okay, let's break it down. You can bet he'll be back."


Brenda, Tommy, Jimmy, and Frankie emerge from the limo. They are parked near the bay. Metropolis towers in the distance; its lights reflect in the water. Jimmy considers the unique view acutely, aware that it may be his last look at the city. "Challenge, surprise, amaze; challenge, surprise, amaze; challenge, surprise, amaze." Jimmy turns the words in his head like a mantra, clutching the hope that they hold the key to his salvation.

"James." Brenda gains Jimmy's attention. She hands him the automatic weapon. Jimmy's mouth falls open.

"Surprised again, student?" Brenda laughes. "Now, it's time to simultaneously challenge you, and perhaps, amaze you as well." Brenda walks fifty yards closer to the shore.

When she stops, she turns to face Jimmy and her "employees." "Aim and fire, poppet!" Brenda yells against the wind and throws her arms into the air.

Jimmy looks at Tommy in disbelief.

"Provide him adequate motivation, Brother!"

Tommy removes a .357 Magnum from his vest and aims it at Jimmy's head.

Jimmy immediately fires a series of shots.


Superman hears a round of gunfire from across the bay. "It may have nothing to do with Jimmy, but I cannot ignore it either. I can only hope Jimmy will be okay when I finally locate him." He streaks in the direction of the spray.


"Not amazing in the slightest, my pet! You obviously shot well over my head!" Brenda scolds. "Trade firearms with Brother!"

Tommy lowers the handgun from Jimmy's temple and rotates the barrel to face himself.

Instinctively, Jimmy thrusts his weapon into Tommy's gut and knocks Tommy's gun from his hand. Frankie immediately lunges toward Jimmy, but Jimmy has already disappeared behind the limo. Tommy moans, doubled over in pain.

Suddenly, Superman appears in front of Frankie. In vain, he breaks for Tommy's gun, lying on the ground. Superman scoops it up with lightening speed and crumples it before Frankie's eyes. Frankie descends to his knees and laces his fingers behind his head. Tommy, in no condition to challenge Superman, follows Frankie's lead.

"Superman!" cheers Jimmy from behind the limo. "I'm so glad to see you.

Actually, I've been looking for you all night."

"You couldn't find me, so you decided to beat up some gangsters?" Superman asks.

Jimmy laughs. "I guess I got myself in above my head, didn't I?"

"I'm not so sure. I saw you take out this guy here," Superman points to Tommy. "It was amazing."

"Naw, I just — Superman! Brenda! I forgot all about her!"

"What does she look like?"

"She's a knockout with a wicked scar down the side of her face."

Superman quickly scans the surroundings. "I'm afraid she's nowhere in range, and we need to act fast if we are going to tip off Inspector Henderson about their base of operations."

"Oh, you mean the Deathtrap."

"The what?" Superman's forehead furrows.

"Never mind. I'll watch these two while you go brief Henderson." Jimmy points his gun toward Tommy and Frankie.

"I think you've been brave enough tonight, Jimmy. Get in the limo. These guys are going in the trunk."

"Okay, Superman," Jimmy responds with a little disappointment.

"And give me that huge gun."

Jimmy hands it over sheepishly.


"If you're done with me, Inspector Henderson, I really need to get back to the Planet. I've got a story to work on," Jimmy pleads gently.

"Yeah, I'm cutting you loose. The bust at the Trap netted zilcho anyway."

Inspector Henderson waves him off.

Clark Kent walks into the 12th precinct and asks the officer at the desk if he can see Jimmy.

"CK!" Jimmy yells from down the hall.

Clark breathes a sigh of relief. "Jimmy, Superman told me you were almost killed tonight!"

"Naw, he's exaggerating," Jimmy brushes off Clark's concern. "Actually, it was kind of ironic that he found me. I had been trying to find him to do a story on his everyday life, when a different story found me. I guess it's just as well since he spends all his spare time rescuing poor slobs like me.

No free time. His life isn't anything like ours."

"Yeah, no story there," Clark mumbles.

"Speaking of stories. I gotta get back to the Planet to write mine. I want to pitch it to Mr. White first thing tomorrow morning." Jimmy makes for the door.

"Jimmy, wait!"

"Yeah, CK?"

"Be sure to check your box. I think Perry said something about an early morning photo assignment. And he complained that you weren't answering his pages."

Jimmy looks down at his belt. "Holy moly, I hadn't even noticed I didn't have it. Thanks, CK, you saved my life!" Jimmy flashes a smile and flies out the door.

Clark shakes his head and laughs. Outside again, he strolls away from the precinct and stares up at the stars. "What does Superman do in his spare time? That could be a decent feature story. What would they call it? A Kryptonian in Paris? Superslack, a Hero's Day Off? No, I got it …

Supergeek: Superman Chats Online in his Off Time."

The boy from Kansas kicks a pebble and thinks glumly, "I'm not so different."


Clark looks up and sees Lois crossing the street towards him.

"Lois. What are you doing here?"

"I heard Jimmy was here. I heard he was some kind of hero tonight."

"You know as much as I do. I guess we'll just have to read about it in the Planet tomorrow."

"Read it in the Planet!" Lois exclaims. "Is our boy, Olsen, becoming something of a rival?"

"Looks that way. From what I understand, it's an amazing story."

"Well, let's get back to the Planet, so we can hear it firsthand." Lois pulls Clark's arm.

"Naw, let's leave him alone so he can write. I, personally, am in the mood for a leisurely walk in this spare moment. May I escort you home, Ms. Lane?" Clark extends his arm.

"It is a beautiful night, isn't it?" Lois smiles.

"Quite extraordinary," he beams back.

Lois accepts, and they disappear into the night arm in arm.

"Something tells me this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

"You're kooky, Clark Kent, but it works for you."