Rated G





1======For The Girl That Has Everything


Clara came through the doors of the Talon and marched up to a table where Lex Luthor and Bruce Wayne were seated.  She sat herself down on a chair and stared at Lex, totally ignoring Bruce.  She said, “Don’t you try to keep secrets from me Lex Luthor!”


Lex said, “Hello Angel.  Aren’t you scared of being seen in public with me?”


Clara said, “It’s a necessary risk in this case.  Stop what you’re planning before you even start!”


Lex asked, “What are you talking about?”


Clara said, “I don’t want a surprise birthday party … or any kind of party.  Understand?!”


Lex said, “We just thought of it a second before you walked in.  How did you know what we were talking about?”


Clara said, “It doesn’t matter whether it was a wild guess, electronic surveillance or ESP.  Whatever!  You just confirmed it, didn’t you?  NO party.  I have a quiet dinner at home with my family.  There’s no party hats, no singing and no surprises!  I HATE surprises!”


Bruce asked, “What about presents?”


Clara pivoted her head to lock gazes with Bruce and she said, “ABSOLUTELY NOT!  Especially not if you two are going to compete with each other to impress me.  I won’t stand for that kind of stupid rivalry.  I WON’T!”


Bruce asked, “How about a casual dinner somewhere nice the day before or after your birthday?”


Clara said, “That’s not a good idea.”


Bruce said, “If we can’t buy you a gift or even sing happy birthday, at least we could take you to someplace fancy to eat.”


Clara said, I guess that’s fair.  If you PROMISE not to tell the restaurant staff that it’s my birthday, you can take me to Ryan’s or the Golden Corral.  I hear they are pretty nice.”


Lex said, “So who gets you the day before your birthday and who gets you the day after?”


Clara said, “Oh, no!  One meal.  You two split the cost of my meal down the middle.  If I need to, I’ll bring a chess timer so you can have equal amounts of talk time.  How’s that for fair.”


Bruce said, “It won’t be fair unless I get my share of time meeting with you at that large rock you like so much.”


Clara said, “Are you trying to get totally excluded here?  I don’t even know you Mr. Wayne.  I wouldn’t include you in this deal at all if Mr. Luthor hadn’t made the mistake by including you with talk of a party.”


Bruce said, “Clara, we know each other.  Not as well as I’d like us to, but that’s the entire point ….”


Clara said, “Stop that now!”


Lex asked, “So what day is your birthday?”


Clara said, “I’ll get back to you once I’m sure that I can trust you.  Good bye gentlemen.”


Clara got up and was halfway to the door when Bruce said, “She comes cheap, doesn’t she?”


Clara stopped abruptly, turned around, marched back to the table and sat back down.  Her eyes had a reddish glow to them.  She said, “You blew it!  I let you two off easy because I took pity on you.  Neither of you can afford a woman like me.”


Bruce held back a smile as he said, “I didn’t mean to insult you Clara.  But you must know that, between me and baldy, there isn’t much you could think of that would be beyond our ability to provide.”


Clara said, “First off, Let me CLARA-fy this!  The LAST thing I want is to be between the two of you in any way shape or form!  Are you prepared to hear what I want for my birthday?  You better get ready to hit the floor running because you have a little less than a month to show me what kind of men you really are.”


Lex said, “Go ahead.”


Clara said, “I want a country.”


Lex and Bruce sat silently for a few moments before Lex said, “A what?”


Clara said, “You know.  A country!  Find a dictatorship where the people are treated badly and impoverished so that they will naturally love me when I take possession and see that they are treated decently.  That’s what I want … at least what I’ll settle for this year.”


Bruce said, “So you want us to finance a coup d'état and then turn power over to you?  I think that I’ve misjudged you.”


Clara said, “You don’t know me well enough to judge me!  I don’t want a war.  I want you to find a greedy dictator.  Offer him enough money to turn power to over to you and retire in exile.  Then set up a board of directors made up of people you trust to go in, get the economy going again and get the people ready to govern themselves.”


Lex said, “Do you want it called Kentland?”


Clara said, “Heck no.  Let it keep the same name or let the people pick a new one if they want to.  I don’t want the people to be angry … and map makers deserve a break.”


Bruce said, “So all you want is a country?”


Clara said, “Well, you can still buy me a dinner, but if you can’t afford to buy me a piddling little country with a few million citizens to worship and adore me, don’t even bother getting me anything else … not even a card … unless it’s a really funny card.”


Clara got up again and left.  Lex and Bruce just stared at each other for a while before they both started grinning.





2======Three Weeks Later


Clara marched into the Talon and threw the latest issue of “The Daily Planet” down in front of Lex.  She said, “What is this?”


The headline read, “Luthorwanyea:  Corporate Ownership of Countries.  The Shape of Things to Come?  By Perry White.”


Lex said, “I’m sorry that word leaked out early.  We wanted to tell you over dinner next week.”


Clara said, “Luthorwaynea?  I think the people prefer the name Cuba!”


Lex said, “We didn’t change the name.  It’s still Cuba.”


Clara said, “Couldn’t you tell that I was joking?”


Lex said, “No, I couldn’t.  Couldn’t you tell that Bruce and I are serious … about you?”


Clara said, “I’m so embarrassed that I could die!”


Lex said, “Why, the people are happy?  When do you want them to start to worship you?  They are ready.  Believe me.”


Clara said, “NEVER!  I never want anyone worshiping me or knowing I had anything to do with any of this!”  Clara looked very upset.


Lex said, “It was a good idea Clara.  Better that we ever imagined.  All our investors will take a modest return on their investment.  The Senators we worked with practically guaranteed us tax-exempt status for any profits we make in rehabilitating Cuba.  The Cuban people will prosper and America will have a new ally.”


Clara said, “Still … it’s embarrassing that you did this, not because it was smart or right but because you wanted to get a reaction out of me.  Don’t you dare tell people that I started all this!”


Lex said, “They will get suspicious when they find out that Havana is now called Claratown.”


Clara said, “NO!”


Lex said, “Relax.  I’m kidding.  Look, would it make you feel better to know that this was purely a monetary decision on our part and that we didn’t do it for you?”


Clara said, “Yes it would, but that’s not true is it?”


Lex said, “Yes it is.  Just taking a modest cut of the emerging economy will pay us back handsomely.”


Clara said, “Really?”


Lex said, “Really.”


Clara asked, “But you aren’t going to take too much are you?”


Lex said, “They’ll hardly notice.  They’ll be the big winners in all of this.”


Clara said, “I am so relieved that you didn’t do it for me!”  Clara leaned over and kissed Lex on the cheek.  She whispered, “Thanks.  That was just a modest portion of what you can expect from me later.”  She smiled brightly, turned and headed for the door.


As she left, Lex said, “Yeah.  It wasn’t you at all.  We mainly did it for the cigars.  They make excellent cigars!”


Clara froze in her tracks.  She turned on her heal and walked back.  She said, “Lex Luthor!  I DON’T want you smoking!”


Lex sat silently for a moment trying hard to think of what to say as she glared at him.  Finally he said, “Okay, okay!  We didn’t say buy it for cigars.  Our investors will do okay but we’ll have a hard time breaking even on the deal.  We didn’t do it for us.  We did it to impress you.  We bought the country for you!  Sheesh!”


Clara said, “Don’t you try to keep secrets from me Lex Luthor!”