“Ways to Beat the Heat” (Alternative Title: “Heaven Scent”) Rated PG-13
Clara was absent mindedly stirring her Cream of Wheat cereal. Jon walked into the kitchen, saw what Clara was eating and said, “A hot cereal on a day like this? I’d love to crawl into the freezer for a nap!”
Clara said, “Heat doesn’t bother me, Dad.”
Jon said, “Well something sure does. You’ve been moping around here for a week, Grumpy.”
Clara said, “I just miss talking to … to my friend.”
Jon said, “Well, it’s the first day of school, so you should be able to talk to all of your friends today.”
Clara said, “I don’t know how I could talk to ALL of them … not in a single day … not even if I moved as fast as I am capable of moving.”
Jon said, “Wow! You ARE a real sour puss today. Are you sure that the heat doesn’t affect you?”
Clara said, “Heat is energy Dad. I eat energy. This supposed heat wave is nothing to me. I went skinny dipping in an active volcano last week.”
Jon said, “WHAT?! Why did you do that?”
Clara said, “I was bored. Snow angels aren’t fun anymore. So I took a dip in some molten lava, sucked the heat out of it and made a Clara mold. I thought I might make some Clara decoys if people keep spying on me and I need to be seen one place while I’m some place else. I can see by the look on your face that I shouldn’t have told you.”
Jon said, “You can tell me anything.”
Martha, who had been quietly listening to the entire conversation, said, “Well, Jon, you can tell me again why you don’t believe in air conditioning.”
Jon said, “Two words. Electric bill.”
Clara said, “There are a lot of ways to beat the heat. I just told you what I can do.”
Jon winked at his wife and said, “Martha, we may not have a volcano, but want to join me for a skinny dip in the pond?”
Martha said, “We did that last night and the water was too hot … and so was what we did afterwards.”
Clara said, “Jeeze! I’m trying to eat here!”
Jon said, “Well you suggested skinny dipping.”
Clara said, “No, I told you that I can suck heat out of things like lava. I can suck heat out of the air too. I could also inhale a lot of air and compress it in my lungs until it liquefies. Then I can breathe out the air after heating it just enough to drop the room temperature. OR, I could fetch an iceberg and put it by the barn. That would water the crops and cool things off a bit … but it might look a little suspicious. But. like I said, there are a lot of ways to beat the heat.”
Martha said, “How cold could you make it in here … by the heat absorption method?”
Clara said, “Well, if I eat too much heat between meals, I might get a little chubby. Just kidding. I could probably bring it close to absolute zero in here. I’ll bring the temperature down as slow as I can. Tell me when.”
A few seconds later Martha shouted, “STOP! I’m not ready to dig out my winter coat just yet! I can see my breath!”
Clara said, “Sorry. I need to refine my technique if I wasn’t to work as a heating and cooling contractor. The room temperature should even out a bit soon as air circulates through the house. Do you want me to try to heat things up a bit?”
Martha said, “Like when you get angry? No thanks. Like you said, this will all even out soon enough. I may want you to walk around the house and chill the rest of the house a bit before you leave for school.”
Clara said, “It looks like I’ll need to reheat my Cream of Wheat a bit.” Clara’s eyes glowed and the Cream of Wheat began to steam. Clara took her spoon and drew a heart in her food and wrote an “LL” inside of it.
In biology class, the annual tradition of showing an ancient sex education film was continued by the new biology teacher Desiree Atkins. Like all the teachers and students at Smallville High except for Clara Kent, Miss Atkins was dressed lightly to compensate for the broken air conditioning in the record heat wave that part of Kansas was experiencing. Clara was dressed in layers of baggy clothes and sat in a back corner as the film played. The boys in the room were focusing their full attention on Miss Atkins instead of the film. They were thinking about a different way that Miss Atkins could teach them about sex.
Clara worked to fight the boredom. Then the film projector died. Miss Atkins asked, “Do any of you know how to fix one of these things?”
The boys tripped over themselves trying to fix it. Then Clara stood up and walked up to Miss Atkins and said, “I worked on the audio visual crew last year and I know all about this equipment.”
Miss Atkins said, “Boys, step aside and give her a try at it.”
Clara worked on the projector for a few seconds then said, “Those guys broke the audio connection. It needs a new audio cable but I can play the picture.”
Miss Atkins said, “It’s not much good without the narration.”
Clara said, “I had to suffer through it … I had to see it three times last year when I ran the projector for Mrs. Kowalski. I remember enough to do the narration if you want me to.”
Miss Atkins said, “That would be great … Clara right.”
The guys in the class shouted, “Brown noser,” “Teacher’s pet,” “Suck up” and “Gee thanks Kent!”
Clara said, “You guys can continue watching what you were watching before the projector broke … just ignore the movie … and me … as usual!”
Miss Atkins said, “Clara, run the film.”
Clara started the film and began narrating:
“All members of the animal kingdom, from the simplest one-celled organism to the most complex of mammals, engage in reproduction. This insures that each individual creature can pass on its genetic information to future generations. Animals rely on a variety of courtship methods. This remarkable reproductive process is set into motion by the act of copulation, also known as intercourse or coitus. In many species, the females attract their mates with chemical scents called pheromones. Pheromones are used to elicit specific behaviors from members of the opposite sex and are secreted by glands, or incorporated into other fluids such as perspiration. The desired goal of all courtship in mammals is to ….”
One of the boys in the class shouted, “… is to find someone fine like Miss Atkins so they won’t have to do it with a skank like Clara Kent.”
Clara didn’t say another word. She stood there silently in the dark as the film flickered on. The room started getting noticeably hotter. Miss Atkins clicked on the room lights and said, “Something is wrong in here. Grab your books and file out. Just go. Now!” After the students left, Miss Atkins grabbed the door and began fanning it open and closed to air out the room a bit. She walked back into the room to find Clara seated in a corner with her head down. Desiree asked, “Clara, are you sick? It’s too hot to stay in here!”
Clara said, “Movies give me headaches. I tried to overcome it by being on the AV squad last year but I never got used to it. The heat doesn’t bother me at all. I didn’t think what my classmates would bother me either … but I’ve had a summer away from it … and I wasn’t prepared for it. I got a little hot under the collar … a little mad. It’s been a bad week. But I’m cooling off now … and so is the room.”
Miss Atkins said, “The room IS cooler … almost chilly. That is so bizarre. … Clara, I’m sorry about what that boy said. If I knew who made that remark, I’d give him detention.”
Clara said, “I bet he’d prefer a spanking.”
Miss Atkins said, “I know someone who thinks you are good looking. I’d like to take a better look at you myself.”
Clara said, “It doesn’t matter how I look. What matters is who I am inside.”
Miss Atkins chuckled and said, “What world do you come from? On this planet, a woman can have anything she wants if she is willing to use what she’s got to get it.” Miss Atkins put a couple fingers under Clara’s chin and lifted her head. Clara turned away. Miss Atkins said, “Please Clara, let me see you.” Clara turned her head back. Miss Atkins separated Clara’s hair, pushed it back and gasped. She said, “My Dear, you are stunning! Why do you wear your hair over your face like that!”
Clara said, “Because that’s how I like it.”
Miss Atkins said, “Most women have learned that it’s best to wear their hair and to dress for how someone else will like it. Speaking of dresses, what size do you wear?”
Clara asked, “What does that have to do with anything?”
Miss Atkins said, “I have a very special favor to ask of you. I’m new in town and don’t know anyone here … at least no one female. I am getting married and would like you to be my maid of honor. I’ll have to get you a dress.”
Clara said, “You have got to be kidding.”
Miss Atkins said, “No, I’m not. I want you and I generally get what I want. And your voice … by the way you narrated, what I’ve heard must be true. Our mutual friend says that you sing beautifully. I’d like you to sing something at my wedding too.”
Clara said, “I can’t sing … NOT in PUBLIC!”
Miss Atkins said, “Please, Clara! My wedding is tonight and I don’t have time to find anyone else!”
Clara said, “Tonight!”
Miss Atkins said, “And it would mean so much to my fiancé. He thinks the world of you. I do too. If not for you, he never would have lived long enough to meet me. We owe everything to you.”
Clara asked, “Who is your fiancé?”
Miss Atkins said, “Lex Luthor.”
Clara’s jaw dropped and she stared blankly at Miss Atkins for a few seconds. Then she forced a smile and said, “Oh! That was funny. I’m an easy mark. Who told you to tell me that?!”
Miss Atkins held out her hand. There was an engagement ring with a huge diamond in the center with many other diamonds clustered around it. She said, “It’s a little pretentious … but Lex insisted.”
Clara said, “I … I … I’m sorry … Miss Atkins. I can’t be your maid of honor. Uh … Um … You are a lucky woman. Lex … Mr. Luthor … is a great guy. I wish you every happiness. … I’d better get to my next class. It’s starting to get a little warm in here again.” Clara picked up her books and quickly ran from the room. Desiree smiled as she watched Clara leave.
Somehow Clara made it through the day. She felt like she couldn’t breathe and barely heard anything her new teachers said. She blamed herself for what had happened. She told Lex that they were just friends. She refused to tell her Father about him and didn’t let her Mother have any clue that she was in any way serious about him. By denying her love, she decided that she must not deserve it. His love for her scared her because she was always afraid that he would find out the truth about her and that his love would turn to fear or revulsion. Lex had told her that since knowing her, he wanted a large family someday. She didn’t know that she could have children … and never wanted Lex to have to settle for her if she couldn’t give him everything he wanted from her. Throughout the entire day, she told herself again and again that it was all for the best … but she was somehow unable to convince herself.
But finally the first day of school was over. Head down, Clara shot out of the school building at a fast march … looking for her first opportunity to speed up and disappear from sight. Before that could happen, she saw a car pull up near her and stop. She knew the license plate and the car. As Lex walked towards her, she stopped and stood like a statue. She braced herself for whatever he was about to tell her, but walked by her as if she wasn’t there. She turned to watch him run into Miss Atkins’ open arms. The pain of watching them kissing was intense, but she found herself unable to turn away. When the kissing finally stopped, Miss Atkins noticed Clara and yelled, “Miss Kent! Clara! Please wait!”
Clara looked around with thoughts of running as Lex and Desiree walked towards her hand in hand. Desiree said, “Lex, please convince Clara to be my maid of honor … or at the very least, to sing a song for us at our wedding. You said that I could have anything and everything that I want … and I want this very much.”
Lex said, “I’ll try, but Clara has a mind of her own. Could I talk to Clara alone for a few minutes, Dear.”
Desiree said, “Okay, I’m counting on you to charm her into performing for us tonight. Clara, I know it will be hard, but try to keep your hands off. Remember, he’s all mine!” Desiree laughed and gave Lex another passionate kiss before slowly and sensuously walking to the passenger side of Lex’s car and sliding into her seat. Clara watched Lex’s eyes as he followed Desiree’s every move. The look on his face convinced her more than any words could that what was happening was real.
After a few moments of watching Lex stare towards his car, Clara said, “I do have homework, so I don’t have all day to stand here waiting for you to have a talk with me.”
Lex said, “Oh, Clara. Yes. I did want to talk to you. But putting a wedding together in 48 hours was no easy task. Your Mother is probably icing our wedding cake now.”
Clara said, “MY Mother?! Dear God, Lex! That was some business trip. Congratulations on your latest acquisition. It was nice knowing you while it lasted.”
Lex said, “Clara, you said it yourself, we are just friends. And I would very much like to remain friends with you. Of course, we can’t keep meeting like we did. It wouldn’t be right. You are one special girl. I really thought that there was something magical about us. But after many long talks with Desiree, I have come to understand that it was just gratitude to you for saving my life that I misinterpreted. On top of that, my Dad objected to you so much that I became more entrenched in my belief that we could be more than friends. I have gotten over caring what my Father wants. I want Desiree. My Dad IS thrilled with Desiree, … but he won’t be so thrilled when he discovers that I tore up the pre-nuptial agreement. Let’s face it Clara, despite your size and maturity for your age, you are still very young … and we are from different worlds. It would have never worked and ….”
Clara said, “Don’t you think you’ve said enough?”
Lex said, “I guess so. I just want to you to know that someday the right person will come along … like Desiree came along for me … and you will be glad that we didn’t go further than we did.”
Clara said, “What? Are you going to fix me up with someone? Maybe your friend Bruce Wayne will want your hand me downs.”
Something flashed in Lex’s eyes. He snapped, “Don’t EVER let that man touch you! He’ll … he’ll ….”
Clara said, “He’ll what, Lex? Love me? Do you want me to date only mediocre men in case you want to come re-claim me someday?”
Lex shook his head as if coming out of a trance. He said, “Of course not. I want you to be happy. I don’t know what I was saying just then. Bruce is a fine man. I can give you his phone number. I’m sure he’d ….”
Clara said, “I DON’T WANT IT, LEX! I don’t want anything from you! Am I dismissed yet?”
Lex said, “Desiree REALLY wants you to sing for us tonight. I’m sure we’ll patch up our friendship soon. Please don’t make a decision now that will make that impossible.”
Clara said, “You want me to sing something about soul mates or destiny or perfect love? How about something to get you in the mood for your wedding night? Maybe I could stand outside your window and serenade you while you practice what she teaches. Sorry Lex, I thought you understood that I only sing for people who I can trust with my feelings. So I’m not going to be singing where anyone can hear me anytime soon. It only took you a week or two to find someone to share your life and bed with … how hard can finding a wedding singer or a maid of honor be? Just hire someone. Fly in a celebrity. If you want a friend, just buy one, but I’m not for sale. And next time you decide to drive your car off a bridge, just … just … just … don’t do it, Lex. Please Lex, just don’t do it!” Clara covered her face and ran off.
Lex got into his car and slammed the door. He said, “I hurt her. I REALLY hurt her. I didn’t want to do that!”
Desiree said, “Well, you’re making me very happy by breaking it off with her. That’s more important isn’t it?”
Lex said, “Our happiness shouldn’t be bought on Clara’s misery … or anyone else’s.”
Desiree said, “Wow! That’s very philosophical. Did you make sure your shoes weren’t made in a sweat shop by a starving employee before you bought them? People suffer all the time for our happiness … just to take a little bit of our money. That’s life. It’s just that normally we don’t have to face the person making the sacrifice.” Lex shook his head indicating he didn’t like what he was hearing. Desiree said, “Did you lie to me when you said that you would do anything for me? Lean over and give me a kiss!” Lex leaned closer and Desiree exhaled a pink mist into his face. Lex inhaled and they kissed. Desiree said, “You would do anything for me, wouldn’t you, Lex?”
Lex said, “Yes, but Clara ….”
Desiree exhaled heavily into Lex’s face. Lex inhaled and mumbled, “Clara.” Desiree exhaled again and kissed Lex. Lex said, “I love you, Desiree.”
Desiree said, “I know. I heard you get a little loud with Clara. Was that when you were asking her to sing for us? No. Clara made a comment about hooking up with Bruce Wayne. I pictured them together and just lost it for a second. I don’t know why. I guess I feel a little protective of her and Bruce can be a real jerk.”
Desiree’s eyes opened wider and she asked, “You know Bruce Wayne? Is he coming to the wedding?”
Lex said, “Yes, I know him and no, I didn’t ask him to the wedding. We have a little competition thing going. If he sees you with me, he might be tempted to make a pass at you.”
Desiree said, “Could you invite him? I would love to meet him.”
Lex asked, “Why?”
Desiree smiled and said, “Husbands wear out so quickly. I always like to have a young multi-millionaire in the wings just in case.”
Lex said, “Oooo! You have such a wicked sense of humor!”
Desiree said, “That’s why we are so perfect for each other.” Desiree kissed him again and said, “Call Bruce Wayne and invite him. Okay?”
Desiree kissed him again and he said, “Okay.”
Martha began climbing the stairs to Clara’s loft. She heard a cabinet door slide shut. She reached the top of the stairs just in time to see Clara roll over on her bed and turn to face her. Clara’s eyes were wide open but glazed over. She looked surprised to see her Mother standing there. Martha looked at Clara’s wet face and sand said, “I’ve been waiting to hear about your first day back at school. I thought you’d at least come in for supper.”
Clara said, “I wasn’t hungry. It was just a normal day at school. A hot guy called me a skank and said that I’m the last girl a guy would want to do it with. Nothing new.”
Martha pointed at her own cheeks and said, “Is that what all this is about?”
Clara said, “No. I’m just feeling sorry for myself … that I am going to end up alone.”
Martha said, “I didn’t know that this was bothering you. I have been tempted to play match maker many times, but you seemed so content and happy that I didn’t think you needed my help. I know you had feelings for Lex Luthor last year and have undoubtedly had other flirtations since then. It’s all part of growing up. But if you are having boy trouble, I will be more than happy to help. From now on, I will keep my eyes out for someone that would be good for you. I’ll warn you now that the boys I pick might not seem right to you at first, but you’ll just have to trust my experience and judgment. I have no doubt whatsoever that there are many, many guys out there that would be thrilled to spend the rest of their life with you.”
Clara said, “I’m sure you’ll have a lot of them to pick from … the next time a bus arrives from Alpha Centauri.”
Martha said, “Are you biased against Earth men now?”
Clara said, “I think they are biased against me. But yeah, I’m not too thrilled with what you told me about what Earth guys want from a woman … and I thought I could trust them … at least one of them. But I can’t. I can’t trust even one of them!”
Martha said, “Do I have to remind you that your Father is an Earth man?”
Clara said, “That’s different. Well, maybe not. Well, okay. There is one Earth man who can be trusted … but just one … and he’s taken.”
Martha said, “What are the statistics that there would be only one trustworthy man out of an entire species.”
Clara said, “What are the odds that one little girl would be the only survivor of an entire planet and that she would find a place of safety several light years away from the planet where she was born.”
Martha said, “Well, if there was only one trustworthy man, I was the one that was able to find him. If there are only two, I’ll find the other one for you.”
Clara said, “Well, when I was sewing my last quilt, I dropped my needle in the haystack under the loft. While you’re looking for a man for me, might as well go looking for that needle too.”
Martha said, “That’s easy, you just keep sitting on the hay stack until you get a sharp pain in the ass. Sometimes, the first time you find the right guy, you think he’s a pain in the ass too.”
Clara said, “Another reason for me to end up alone … with my buns of steel, I’d never feel any pain.”
Martha said, “A needle is no comparison to a man when you are taking about how much pain they can inflict. I doubt that even you are immune.”
Clara said, “All the more reason to avoid them. I’m feeling better about everything now that I’ve talked to you. I’m never going to shed another tear over a man again. They’re not worth it.”
Martha said, “Men can also “inflict” a lot of pleasure, Dear. The right one is worth everything you have to put up with to land him.”
Clara said, “I’m not very hungry yet, but I’ll come down in a few minutes to do the dishes for you.”
Martha said, “Great, I appreciate it. The kitchen is full of pots and pans from that huge cake I made for the Luthor wedding. It’s almost too bad that your Father didn’t know that you had a thing for him for a while, because right now he would be so happy knowing that Lex is tying the knot with someone else … in about ten minutes. I’ll see you inside in a few minutes, Honey.” Martha got up and headed back down the stairs. She was halfway down when she heard a cabinet door slide open and then some muffled sobs from Clara. She mentally kicked herself. Clara hadn’t mentioned Lex in months. Surely she was over her infatuation with him by now. He certainly was over her. She considered turning around and going back upstairs to talk to her daughter some more. She decided that Clara needed a chance to work this out for herself. If she didn’t seem okay when she came down to do the dishes, they would have another talk.
Clara managed to wash the dishes without shedding a tear or changing her blank expression. She almost got upset again when she saw her high school yearbook on the kitchen table with a number of bookmarks in it. She decided that if she couldn’t find any other way to keep her Mother from trying to fix her up, she would just tell her Mom that she was a lesbian. She knew that would stop her Mother in her tracks. When the dishes were all done, Clara did a little house cleaning to keep her mind off of what was happening a few miles away. Finally, she went back to her loft and got ready for bed. She was emotionally exhausted and thought that she would fall right off to sleep. She laid on her back and stared at the ceiling. She looked through the ceiling and counted stars. It didn’t help. She was wide awake. In the background, she could hear the music and laughter from the mansion … and Lex’s heartbeat. She said, “No, no … NO! Don’t do it Clara! Don’t listen! Please … please don’t listen!” But she couldn’t help it. Soon she was hearing every word and sound that Lex and Desiree made.
Lex said, “I may be a little rusty. It’s been a while.”
Desiree said, “I had a hard time believing that you didn’t want a test drive -- especially when we were fooling around in the wine cellar. I didn’t think that such restraint was possible. I have never slept with a man before and JUST slept with him.”
Lex said, “I was intent on … saving myself.”
Desiree said, “Well, my only mission in life at this moment is to totally drain your savings account. Tell me that I’m the only woman for you.”
Lex said, “You’re the only woman for me.”
Desiree said, “Tell me that I’m the only woman you want.”
Lex said, “You’re the only woman I want.”
Desiree said, “Tell me that you’ve never loved anyone like you love me.”
Lex said, “I’ve never loved anyone like I love you.”
Desiree said, “Tell me that you will never love anyone but me for the rest of your life.”
Lex said, “It’s you and me for life, Angel!”
Desiree said, “Then shut up and make love to me. Don’t hold anything back. I want it all.”
Clara heard the hungry moans and heavy breathing. She heard Lex’s heart racing and Desiree’s steady heartbeat. She clamped her hands over her ears and still heard it all clearly. She screamed and shouted, “No, NO, NO!” She ran outside wearing only her long cotton nightgown. With her hands still clamped over her ears, she shot into the night sky. Soon she was approaching the moon. She decided that she was still too close to Luthor mansion and headed deeper into space. Soon she approached Mars and picked a place to spend the night. She landed and looked at the beautiful hills and mountains. Before being able to guard her thoughts, she said, “Oh, Lex would love to see this!” She felt herself choking up. She said, “Krypto … I wish I had brought Krypto.” She sat down on the ground and started to cry.
She tried to think of a way to focus on something that would allow her to stop crying. Although she didn’t need one, she decided to build a shelter for herself. In her mind she pictured the illustrations of designs by Frank Lloyd Wright that Lex had shown her. She flew to a nearby mountain and carved blocks of stone with her bare hands. She returned to the valley where she had first landed and laid the foundation. As she pieced together stones to form the main walls, she began to calculate how many trips to Earth it would take to transport the wood for the framing the roof and trimming the interior. She decided to make the glass from materials available in the area that surrounded her. She got to the point where she needed to get wood to continue. She sat on the floor and looked at what she had done so far and tried to think of something else to do to occupy her mind so it wouldn’t wander to places she didn’t want it to go. She held herself and began to rock. She hummed to comfort herself. She looked at the house and thought of a song called “Your Song” by Elton John. She began to sing and altered the words as they came to her:
“It’s not a bit funny this feeling inside.
It’s not one of those I can easily hide.
I don’t have much money, but here’s what I did.
I built a big house where we both could live.
If I was a human, like others you’ve known,
Or a woman who is care free and let’s feelings show.
I know it’s my fault, but what else can I do?
My gifts are a curse that keep me from you.
And I can’t tell anybody that I am so strong.
To tell you seems simple, but that would be wrong.
I hope you don’t mind,
I hope you don’t mind that I don’t say in words,
How wonderful life is when I share your world.
I flew off to Mars because I am mad.
I just lost the best hope for love that I had.
The sun’s been quite bright and it’s made me strong.
But not strong enough to face love that’s gone wrong.
So excuse me for feeling these things that I do.
But losing your love, well it’s got me quite blue.
Anyway, the thing is, what I’ll really miss …
Yours are the sweetest lips that I’ve ever kissed.
And I hope you don’t mind,
I hope you don’t mind that I don’t say in words,
How wonderful life is when I share your world.”
Clara said, “Wow. That was really stupid. I feel SO much better now. Maybe I should just stay here by myself forever!” Clara burst out crying.
In the thin air, she barely heard the footsteps approaching her. She looked up in surprise at the tall, muscular green man that loomed above her. She tried to stop crying, but she couldn’t. In her embarrassment, she cried even harder. She didn’t know if this creature was a threat to her or if she would have to fight to defend herself. She wouldn’t do anything unless her visitor forced her to. Even if he did attack her, she didn’t think she had the will power left in her to fight back.
The green man placed a large hand on her head. His palm covered her head like a cap. Inside her mind, she heard a soft voice say, “Sweet sad child, welcome to my home. Thank you for the song.”
Clara said, “This is your home? Did I do wrong to disturb the soil to build this?”
The voice in her head answered, “It is my home but now it is yours as well. You have a strong spirit and the feelings that trouble you will fade in time. I can feel the purity of your soul and the amazing energies you control. You can be a tremendous source for good in the universe if you but decide to follow that path. I claim you Kayla Jor-El Clara Josephine Kent as a friend and ally.”
Clara quickly regained her composure and said, “I am sorry to trouble you with my grief, friend. You will be welcome in my home any day. Just knock on my door before coming in … when I get a door that is. You know my name. May I know yours?”
The voice answered, “My name is J’onn J’onz.”
Clara said, “You have the same name as my Father!”
J’onn said, “I can have his appearance as well if that would please you.” Suddenly, J’onn’s appearance changed so that he looked like Jon Kent. He smiled at Clara with Jon’s smile.
Clara said, “Don’t … I don’t like my Father to see me crying … and if I see him now, I’m going to cry some more.”
He used Jon’s voice to speak. He said, “You are already crying inside. I can hear it. You may cry on the outside as well if it will help you heal. For I am not your Father -- I am only a friend: A friend who already knows what you are feeling; A friend who cares; A friend who you can trust to never betray you. Betrayal is not in my nature. I am even less like the humans you live with than you are. Friend, you need not hide any longer. Give up your pain. Let the healing begin.”
Clara reached up to him and he lifted her to her feet and held her gently in his strong arms as she cried.
Clara returned home at 4:00pm the next day. She almost turned around and left when she saw the car in the driveway. Only a couple people she knew could afford a Rolls Royce and both of their names were Luthor. Clara quickly revised her list to include a 3rd person who had just become a Luthor – Desiree. It felt strange, but for once Clara hoped that this time, the Luthor paying a visit would be Lionel. She took a peek through the wall and saw an older gentleman sitting at the table with her Mother and sipping tea. Her Mother was smiling so she tuned in to hear what she was saying. Martha said, “As lonely as my daughter has been lately, I’m sure she would be happy to accept your proposal.”
Clara said, “Oh my God! Mom intends to marry me off to some old man! I’d better make sure he knows that I’m not interested!” Clara quickly changed from her night gown into a modest dress. She marched up to the front porch and found Martha waiting for her at the front door.
Martha said, “Clara we’ll discuss where you were today and this business of skipping school later. I don’t want to embarrass you in front of our guest. You don’t want to blow your first impression with our visitor. You’ll never believe what just fell into your lap.”
Clara said, “I took a peek at him already and I don’t want him any where near my lap! Just because I liked one older man who happened to have money doesn’t mean that you should go digging up some antique for me!”
Martha said, “I think we have even more to talk about now young lady. This is a very sweet, well mannered gentleman who was proper enough to approach me before talking to you. And the prospects here are more than I could have ever imagined! If you were 2 years older, I’d have you married off this weekend. This is too good to pass up!”
Clara said, “If he isn’t already dead in 2 years, he would never survive the wedding night!”
Martha said, “Shhhh! Honey! Mind your manners. You weren’t able to handle this, so I’m taking over. If you’ll just keep quiet and let me work this deal, you’ll be the envy of every woman in America … maybe the world.”
Clara said, “You have GOT to be joking … and the last thing I’m in the mood for right now is a joke … especially one at my expense.”
Martha said, “Just hush up and be on your best behavior for a few minutes. I’m so excited.”
Clara said, “Are you turning into Grandpa Clark -- trying to marry me off to a rich man?”
Martha said, “Oh! That was plain cruel! This man would be a catch if he was penniless!”
Clara said, “It doesn’t look like he would be hard to catch … even if you didn’t want to.”
Martha whispered, “Clara, cut it out. It’s not him. The man in the kitchen was sent as a go between to ask my permission to court you.”
Clara said, “Oh. I’m sorry. But I’m still not interested. Mom, you have to stop trying to hook me up. I’ve got something I need to tell you. Once you know, you won’t try to play match maker for me anymore.”
Martha said, “Tell me later. Let me finish with the current prospect before we have our little talk.” Martha took Clara’s hand and led her into the kitchen. The man stood up and tipped his head in respect as the women entered. Martha said, “Clara, this is Alfred Pennyworth. Mr. Pennyworth, this is my daughter Clara.”
Mr. Pennyworth said, “I am charmed to meet you at last. You are lovelier than I could have imagined. But, please call me Alfred. I am so used to my first name after all these years that I hardly realize anyone is talking to me if they address me as Mr. Pennyworth.”
Clara said, “It’s nice meeting you Mr. … Alfred.”
Alfred chucked and said, “Especially nicer since you discovered that I am not your suitor, no doubt. I never have had any problem with my hearing.”
Clara turned beet red and said, “Oh! I am SO sorry! It’s been a rough couple days. I’m so embarrassed. I think you are quite handsome.” Clara leaned over and kissed Alfred on the cheek.
Alfred blushed and said, “I can only hope that you are in the habit of embarrassing yourself if this is what I can expect afterwards. Of course, I wouldn’t want to risk Master Bruce’s jealousy.”
Clara said, “Bruce?”
Alfred said, “My master, Bruce Wayne.”
Clara’s mouth dropped open. She said, “How dare Lex do that! Oh my God. Now I’m REALLY embarrassed. I feel like I’m a piece of meat! I told your boss when we met that I’m no time share. I’m not a boy toy. It’s not Mr. Wayne’s turn. Just because Lex threw me out like yesterday’s garbage doesn’t mean that your boss can come along and fish me out. But he didn’t, did he? He sent a servant to get me. Were you instructed to wash me off before delivering me to him?”
Martha said, “Clara, PLEASE!”
Clara said, “I’m sorry Mom, but you don’t know what this means. Lex gave me away as if he owned me. He’s treating me like a hand-me-down. He’s gotten the latest model so he traded me in. So, Mr. Wayne sent his lackey to kick the tires and see if I need any body work. Do you want to check my teeth Mr. Pennyworth?”
Martha said, “CLARA! Mr. Pennyworth … Alfred, I’m sorry. Clara is normally the most polite young woman that you would ever want to meet.”
Clara said, “Bruce Wayne only wanted me because he saw me with Lex! Didn’t Lex tell him that he had someone new? Of course he didn’t or Mr. Wayne would be trying to get his hands on her like he got his hands on me! Go back and tell him that Lex has a new plaything. Then he won’t want me anymore either. He’ll want her.”
Alfred said, “Miss Kent, Master Bruce is well aware of Alexander’s marriage. He has no interest in the new Mrs. Luthor – only you. Alexander had nothing to do with Master Bruce’s infatuation with you. It may however explain his behavior when you met – boys will be boys. But under the surface, Master Bruce is once of the most intensely serious men I have ever known. And when it comes to his feelings for you, he is as serious as he gets. Mrs. Kent, don’t be so hard on your daughter. I completely understand how she is feeling right now. She has every right to be upset. If Master Bruce treated her even half as badly as he let on, I am amazed you didn’t walk out the moment you heard his name. He sent me here on his behalf hoping that Miss Clara would be more likely to listen to me. When Masters Bruce and Alexander get together, they revert to being quite juvenile. I myself have been the butt of their practical jokes more times than I could count.”
Clara said with a hint of optimism in her voice, “Was that what this is? A practical joke. Lex didn’t really marry her, did he?” She saw the look on Alfred’s face and remembered what she had heard the night before and her hopeful expression faded and she lowered her head.
Alfred continued, “That kind of thing is in line with the elaborate stunts they have pulled, but, no, this is no practical joke. Master Bruce takes no happiness in your misery, but he can’t help being hopeful that your affections might turn his way. He realized how rude he was to you and that you weren’t a willing participant in the “fun” between those two that day. Normally, Master Bruce would sent flowers or a gift of apology … but he realized that Miss Clara is quite special in many, many ways and was at a loss about how to approach her. He was also reticent to make his feelings known and create an awkward situation while you and Alexander were still involved. When Alexander called yesterday to announce his wedding plans, Master Bruce knew he had to express his interest in Miss Clara before someone else showed up. He appreciates Miss Clara’s intense loyalty to the person she is involved with and didn’t dare wait until she had formed a new attachment to someone else … as often happens at a time like this. All he asks is that Miss Clara agree to spend some time with him to get to know the real him.”
Martha said, “Sir, I hope that you and your employer realize that my daughter is only 16 years old.”
Alfred said, “Master Bruce realizes this but feels that Miss Clara is also quite mature for her age.”
Martha said, “Usually, I would agree with you.”
Alfred continued, “And, if you are not willing to consent to a union before her 18th birthday, Master Bruce would be willing to wait until she is ready to return his affection. If he is to wait, he would like you to consider allowing him to become her guardian so that he can begin to help train her to refine her skills. Master Bruce has high standards and will push Miss Clara to all her limits but, at the end of the process, she will be a much more resourceful and confident person.”
Martha said, “Whoa! I think that is pushing things a bit. Clara has no desire to leave the farm anytime soon. Even if you are there as a chaperone for whatever kind of training you are talking about … and no disrespect intended, but I’ve only just met you. Consider yourself lucky that you said what you did to me and not to my husband Jon. He would have tossed you off our front porch. He might not even have let you on our front orch in the first place. He is not keen on losing his baby girl and certainly not to a man with a reputation. I thumb through an occasional copy of “People” magazine and I have heard the stories about your employer. I don’t believe everything I hear. I know about Wayne Enterprises and the charitable works it performs. But when we are talking about my Clara, I will err on the side of caution every time. It will take many visits with both me and my husband present before we even consider leaving them alone together … let alone letting them leave the farm. She certainly will not be living under the same roof with him before a certain ceremony takes place.”
Alfred said, “One of the reasons that it is vital for you and your family to get to know the real Bruce Wayne is because of his reputation. He has encouraged people to think he is nothing but a frivolous playboy, but he is nothing of the sort. If you are familiar with “The Scarlet Pimpernel” or the story of Zorro, you will get my meaning. I am not at liberty to say more than that. In fact, I said too much. Suffice it to say, Master Bruce uses his reputation as a false front – a shield to protect his private, personal life. Surely, you understand these things.”
Martha said, “Why would we understand that?”
Alfred said, “You have to do much the same thing to protect your family do to Miss Clara’s special nature.”
Martha said, “Of course we think our daughter is special, just like every parent thinks their daughter is special.”
Alfred said, “But I doubt that there are any daughters on the planet quite as special as Clara. Her nature is another reason that Master Bruce felt that he should act quickly. He felt that despite being only 16 years old, a female of her kind may be fully mature at this age and ready to pair bond. He didn’t want to rush her, but not knowing anything about, pardon me, the sex drive of her species, he didn’t want to wait until any opportunity for him had passed. From the way she seems to have bonded to Alexander, Master Bruce’s theories may be right on the money … as usually is the case. He has remarkable instincts.”
Clara said, “My KIND? My SPECIES?! What does he think I am?”
Alfred said, “An extra-terrestrial.”
Martha said, “That’s preposterous!”
Alfred said, “It is to your credit, madam, that you are an unskilled liar. Master Bruce is unequalled in his abilities to observe the tiniest detail and discern its meaning. He has quite possibly the greatest detective mind in history. Based on the facts Master Bruce knows about you, anyone else would have concluded that Miss Clara is simply one of the mutants known to be spawned in this region. Master Bruce, however, is convinced that you are a member of an unknown race from a civilization from another world.”
Martha said, “He’s delusional! Do you think that I would let anyone like that near my daughter?”
Clara said, “And your master, did he come up with this asinine theory as a way to blackmail me? Does he plan to tell the authorities that I am an alien threat if I don’t agree to be his slave … his property?”
Alfred said, “My Dear, he merely wishes you to know that he knows and that he still cares for you.”
Clara said, “Well, he’s wrong about me.”
Alfred said, “Is he? We must be able to talk honestly. You must know that I know.” Alfred raised an arm and pointed it at Martha. A small gun jumped to his hand and he fired. Clara was instantly in front of her Mother and the projectile bounced harmlessly off her.”
Clara said, “Damn you! How could you do that?! What kind of man are you? What if you were wrong?”
Alfred said, “If Master Bruce said that it wouldn’t hurt you, I believed him. Especially since I already tried it earlier and knew it wouldn’t.” Alfred aimed the gun at his own head and fired. The projectile bounced off his head. Alfred said, “Master Bruce first shot me with this thing when he was nine. He has an aversion to guns these days. I am sorry, but he needed you to know that he knows and that he has fallen in love with you despite what side of the … tracks you were born on.”
Clara said, “Love?”
Alfred said, “Forgive me. That was wrong of me to use that word. Master Bruce asked only for a chance to get better acquainted. He did not speak of love. It is only that I have known him since he was a small boy and have never seen him so affected by a woman this way. It has been a great concern to me because his feelings for you are a dangerous distraction for him.”
Clara said, “Dangerous? You mean he might pick up the wrong fork at a dinner party?”
Alfred said, “You know so little about him.”
Clara said, “And he knows so little about me for him to even think that he likes me.”
Alfred said, “He knows that you are alone … like he’s alone. He knows that you want the man you are involved with to fight for a better, safer world for people to live in … and he IS that man. He believes that you are the force that watches and protects the Smallville/Metropolis area and beyond. He believes in your future and what your presence here will mean to mankind.”
Clara said, “How many people has he told about me?”
Alfred said, “Miss Clara, I am Master Bruce’s only confidant. He is like a son to me.”
Clara said, “Really? Yet he treats you like a servant. Sends you to face people he is too embarrassed to face himself. He probably makes you do his laundry and make his meals for him too. Is that how someone treats someone who is like a parent to them?”
Alfred turned to Martha and smiled. He said, “Until a person decides to be a parent, they often don’t realize the honor of caring for someone that they love and have adopted as their own.”
Clara turned to her Mother and said, “I’m sorry Mom, I didn’t mean ….”
Martha said, “It’s okay, Honey.” She turned to Alfred and said, “Tell Mr. Wayne that he would be welcomed in our home anytime. You’re welcome back too. Just leave the toy gun home next time. Clara could have decided to break your arm off instead of acting like a shield. She can be somewhat over-protective at times.”
Clara said, “Mom! NO! I don’t want that beast of a man around me! I don’t trust men anymore. Not this man who comes here with tricks up his sleeve or his employer who would come here with a loaded weapon in his pants. You told me yourself what men want from women. No way in hell am I giving him a chance to do that to me!”
Martha said, “He just wants to talk to you.”
Clara said, “No he doesn’t! He’s already done more than that to me and he’s just out to get more of the same. Any man that can put me on my back that easily and figure out where I come from scares the hell out of me!”
Martha said, “Watch it with the ‘hell this’ and ‘hell that’ in front of company. As to what Mr. Wayne has done to you, I guess our next scheduled talk won’t be as little as I thought. But my invitation stands … I only ask that Alfred come with Mr. Wayne the first time in case he needs to be kept in line. If Clara won’t talk to Mr. Wayne when he visits, he can sit down with me and Mr. Kent and we will find out what his intentions really are and set up some ground rules. Clara, I told you I would help you find someone and I will.”
Clara said, “But Mom, a lot has happened since yesterday. Everything is different now. I met an honest man last night who is kind and gentle and always knows what I want because he can read my mind. Mr. Pennyworth, you can tell your boss that I met one of my own kind – an alien who lives on Mars. We are engaged and we are building a house together. Tell Mr. Wayne that he waited too long. He’s seven and a half feet tall and as strong as me and he is a lovely shade of green. He can make himself look like any one I want him too. I’d much rather spend my life with him than Bruce Wayne and I will!”
Martha said, “Pul-leese, Clara. Give me a break. What is this Martian’s name? Krypto Three?”
Clara said, “No, Mom! His name is J’onn J’onz!”
Martha said, “No very creative. I’m sure Mr. Wayne can keep up with whatever Mr. Jones would offer you. Give Bruce a chance. What harm would it do talking to him? You must not trust your feelings for Jon very much I you’re scared to talk to Mr. Wayne. Besides, I wouldn’t mind seeing Mr. Wayne close up. He is an extreme hottie. I can’t even imagine how beautiful the grand children you could give me by mixing your gene pools.”
Clara shouted “MOM! NO! I won’t talk to him. I won’t! I … I … Mom … Mom. Forget what I told you about the Martian. We’re just friends. Remember I wanted to talk to you earlier. I wanted to tell you something in private … but you’re giving me no choice here. Mom … Mom … I’m gay … I’m a lesbian … and I’m hopelessly in love with the girl next door!”
Alfred said, “Oh, Master Bruce will be sorely disappointed, but that does explain why Miss Clara had a preference for Alexander over Master Bruce.”
Clara said, “What?! Lex is all man!”
Martha said, “Since my daughter has come out of the closet and I don’t want her to be alone … and since the girl next door is spoken for and far too annoying to be good daughter-in-law material, does Mr. Wayne by any chance have any sisters?”
Clara shouted, “MOTHER, NO! STOP THIS! STOP THIS NOW!” Clara put her hand over her face and ran out of the house.
Alfred said, “Sadly, no, madam. Master Bruce is an only child. Something else he had in common with Miss Clara. What a shame that Miss Clara and Master Bruce also have the same taste in life partners.”
Martha said, “My daughter isn’t a lesbian, Alfred. She just doesn’t know what is good for her. She’ll need to be convinced and Mr. Wayne may have what it takes to tame her. My husband and I have been very lenient with her, but where she came from, she was used to being told what to do. Maybe she would be happier with a man who could keep her in line rather that let her wrap him around her finger. Tell Mr. Wayne that I can’t make any promises, but that he is welcome to visit whenever he is in town. Would you care for more tea?”
Alfred said, “Only if it’s no trouble. And, if I may be so bold to ask, could I have your recipe for those muffins? Master Bruce would love them.”
Martha said, “Certainly. And I’ll give you some for you to take home with you. I insist.”
Biology class was ending. Clara kept reading the front page of “The Torch” over and over again. The headline was “Lex Luthor Turns Back on Smallville.” The sub-heading was “DL Enterprises, formerly LexCare, Closes Local Plant.” The teaser under “Upcoming” was “Just who is Alison Sanders of Smallville and what strange power does she have over men? All the answers in our next issue.”
As the students filed out of the classroom, Mrs. Luthor asked Clara and Pete Ross to stay after class. She said, “Pete, could you wait in the hallway until Clara leaves? That’s a Dear!” When Pete was gone, Desiree walked up to Clara and pushed back Clara’s hair with her left hand. She startled Clara by moving her free hand under Clara’s layers of shirts and rubbing her stomach.
Clara jumped back and said, “What are you doing?”
Desiree said, “Sizing up the competition. Your abdomen is much smaller and firmer than you let on. If you are trying to keep people from noticing you, it’s pretty stupid to wear so much clothing when it is so hot.”
Clara said, “Why do you call me your competitor? I wouldn’t do anything to break up a marriage – any marriage.”
Desiree said, “Whether or not you try anything, you ARE competing with me. You must really be good. I’ve never had to work this hard to keep a man’s attention before. I’ve had to make him give up anything and everything that reminds him of you. You would have thought that it was “LexClara” instead of “LexCare.” Even when I got him to change the name, his local plant still reminded him of you somehow. Not that flattering really, to have a man think of you every time he thinks of a fertilizer processing plant. Still, I couldn’t have him thinking of you, so I had to convince him to close the plant. Still, every few hours when Lex and I make love, it’s like you were lying between us.” Desiree smiled and licked her lips. She said, “Not that I would mind if that were literally true. I have limited use for men … even men who are as fantastic in bed as Lex is. I like women too, but men are so much easier to control.”
Clara said, “That’s disgusting. Lex should be more than enough for any woman, yet he doesn’t even get your pulse racing. The only time I see you get excited is when you touch one of his cars. You don’t fool me, but as long as you can fool Lex enough that he is happy, that’s all that matters.”
Desiree said, “Some day you’ll be tired of self-sacrifice – tired of endlessly putting out and ending up with nothing. I decided to focus on what I want and I’m so much happier now. Look at all it’s gotten for me. I’m rich and I have a sexy man to share my bed. But I am fickle … and I’m home sick … sick of home that is.” I couldn’t wait to leave Smallville when I lived here the first time and I can’t wait to leave this time. Maybe you could come with me. I’ve been imagining you in a tiny bikini with your hair in a braid down your back. How does an island cruise sound.”
Clara said, “You, me and Lex?”
Desiree smiled and said, “Lex is un-necessary baggage.”
Clara said, “You are planning to divorce Lex? But he loves you so much. You’ll break his heart. No one should have to suffer like that. And how could you value his feelings so little? How could you throw a love like that away?”
Desiree said, “Maybe love is a rare and special thing to you, but it is a cheap commodity for me. Men fall in love with me all the time. But no, I’m not going to get a divorce … I’m not the divorcing kind. In my family, you bury what you marry.”
Clara said, “If you mean that you’ll love him until you are old and grey … and until death do you part, that is the way it should be. But if you have any ideas about speeding up the process, I’ll stick closer to you than your shadow.”
Desiree said, “Come as close as you want, but try to interfere with me getting anything I want and you’ll get an eyeful of me having sex with the man you love the most in this world.”
Clara said, “Lex?”
Desiree said, “Really? That’s interesting. I was thinking of Jon Boy – your Father. I think I need a little one on one parent teacher conference with him about how his under aged daughter has a fatal attraction to my husband.”
Clara said, “He would NEVER ….”
Desiree interrupted, “No man is immune to me. I took a little trip to the Vatican to test my skills. Need I say more? I committed a cardinal sin with several Cardinals before facing my biggest challenge. If “hop on Pope” was no trouble for me, don’t think that hopping on your Pop will be any harder … well I hope it’s at least a little harder.”
Clara said, “Try anything like that and you’ll find yourself welded into a full body chastity suit before you can blink your eyes!” Clara stormed out of the classroom. Seeing her leave, Pete Ross re-entered the room.
Desiree said, “Pete, come over here handsome. Remember when you said that you’d do anything for me? Did you really mean it?”
Pete answered, “Yes, Mrs. Luthor.”
Desire said, “Good! But it’s Desiree … okay?” Pete inhaled deeply and smiled his biggest and brightest smile. Desiree continued, “I’ll leave in all up to you. Wait until after school so I can be seen elsewhere. I’ve got a parent teacher conference to go to. I never back down from a challenge or a threat.
Martha watched the sleek sports car pull into her driveway and the young woman walk up to the front porch. Martha said, “Hello. How did that cake work out for you?”
Desiree said, “It was wonderful! Thanks so much for making it for us on such short notice. But, sadly, I am here to see Mr. Kent on a more serious matter.”
Martha said, “Really? What’s up?”
Desiree said, “Clara is a darling girl, but I she has a terrible crush on my husband. First she skipped school, but now that she’s back, she’s acting up in class and undermining my authority. I need to discuss this with Mr. Kent.”
Martha said, “You can discuss it with me.”
Desiree said, “She needs to be brought into line and that will require a strong authority figure.”
Martha said, “That would be me. Clara might behave sometimes out of concern about what her Father thinks about her, but she can get him to agree to anything if she wants it badly enough. On the other hand, her will power is no match for mine. In the ways of using her feminine charms to get her way, my daughter is a novice and I am a master. She can’t get anything past me. I can convince my husband to stand by my decisions and she is powerless to do anything about it.”
Desiree said, “I really can’t say some of the things I need to say in front of you Mrs. Kent. I really can’t.”
Martha said, “Then I guess you are through here. I will have a talk with Clara when she gets home and see what is going on.”
Desiree said, “Just as I thought. This just proves that Mr. Kent is the one I need to talk to.”
Jon Kent walked in and said, “Martha, if the lady feels the need to talk to me, she can talk to me. But I won’t lie to you Mrs. Luthor. Two minutes after you leave, Martha will know everything we have talked about.”
Desiree said, “Oh my. I certainly hoped that our little … talk would take more than two minutes.”
Martha said, “This is all a bunch of nonsense.”
Jon said, “It will be okay Martha. Why don’t you go and put the coffee on. This won’t take long.” Martha turned on her heel and went into the kitchen. Desiree wasted no time pretending to lose her balance. Jon caught her and before he knew what was happening, there was a spray of pink mist in his face.
Desiree whispered to Jon, “I need to do something for me. Don’t worry, you’ll like it … a lot!”
Martha came back into the room and saw Jon and Desiree huddled together smiling at each other. She rushed up and put an arm between them to try to separate them. Jon pushed her aside. Martha sniffed the air and said, “What is that smell? It smells almost like Clara when ….” Martha looked at Jon’s face and his eyes. She shouted, “OH MY GOD!” She rushed back into the kitchen. She reached under the sink and moved some containers of cleaning solutions out of the way. She pulled out a mason jar with a label on it with the writing “Heaven’s Scent” on it. It contained some of the wash water that she had used to bathe Clara when she was unconscious during a rapid growth spurt. [See the story “Growth Spurt.”] Martha fumbled with the lid and the contents of the jar splashed all over her. She quickly put the jar back on the counter and returned to the living room. Jon and Desiree were kissing. Martha cleared her throat loudly.
Desiree whispered, “Jon, I’m sorry. We can never be together as long as she is alive.”
Jon approached Martha and reached his hands towards her throat. Martha ducked under his hands and put her arms around her husband. She said, “I love you Jon.”
Jon inhaled deeply then bent down to kiss his wife. Jon saw Desiree standing there and seemed startled. He said, “Excuse me. I didn’t hear you come in!”
Desiree’s eyes nearly popped out of her head. Then she saw the homicidal look in Martha’s eyes and ran out the front door. A few seconds later, her car sped out of the driveway.
Martha said, “Jon, we have to warn Clara about Mrs. Luthor.”
Jon said, “Clara? She can take care of herself. She’s fine. We have more important things to attend to now.”
Martha said, “More important than telling Clara that Mrs. Luthor can make men do anything she wants them to? I’ll bet Lex wouldn’t have married her if she hadn’t put the whammy on him like she tried to do to you.”
Jon said, “Well, you sure put the whammy on me.”
Martha said, “Yes I did! I’m glad I remembered what I had under the sink or you would have killed me.”
Jon said, “Well I’m not going to kill you but you’ll think you died and went to heaven.” Jon Swept Martha up in his arms and headed for the stairs.
Martha said, “What are you doing? We have to stop Mrs. Luthor!”
Jon said, “Who?”
Martha answered, “The woman who was just here.”
Jon said, “I don’t remember seeing anyone but you.”
Martha said, “Stop kidding around, we have to tell Clara.”
Jon said, “Who?”
Martha said, “Our daughter, Cl …. OH my God!” Martha looked into Jon’s eyes. His pupils were fully dilated. Part of the bath water in the Mason jar had evaporated and what was left was a pretty potent mixture of Clara’s pheromones and bath soap. Martha had spilled most of what had been left in the jar on herself. Jon had been overdosed. The odor was having a milder but pronounced affect on Martha too. She could just barely fight the affects but she couldn’t fight off both Jon and what was stirring inside of her. Martha realized that words were lost on Jon at this moment. As they passed through their bedroom door, Martha said, “I guess I can tell Clara when she gets home. It won’t be long now.”
Jon said, “You’re wrong there!” They kissed each other as Jon put her onto the mattress.
Clara waited until after school. She had a feeling that Chloe Sullivan had found out something about Desiree that she should know. Clara was pacing the halls trying to think of a way to approach Chloe that wouldn’t arouse Chloe’s reporter’s instincts. At best, she thought Chloe would just tell her to wait until the next issue of “The Torch.” At worst, she felt that Chloe would begin probing her connection to Lex. Then she heard footsteps running her way. It was Pete Ross. She stepped out in front of him expecting him to slow down but he didn’t. He hit her at full speed, ricocheted off her body and hit a locker before slumping to the floor. The papers he had been carrying flew everywhere. Clara went over to Pete and knelt by him. She said, “Your pulse is a little rapid and you have a nasty bump on your head, but other than that you look okay. I’m sorry I got in your way, Peter. What was the big hurry?”
Pete said, “It’s the only way that Desiree and I could be together. I never cared much for Lex Luthor, so what is going to happen to him won’t bother me much. But I wouldn’t have done that to Chloe if she hadn’t tried to hurt Desiree. I thought I loved Chloe. But Desiree explained that it was just an infatuation. And how could I have loved anyone that would hurt Desiree? I’m sorry that you will be blamed. They’ll find the hate letters you wrote to “The Torch.” Chloe’s cousin will be getting a letter from Chloe saying how terrified she is of you … was of you. They’ll believe it because those men are going to testify that you set the car Lex gave Desiree on fire in a jealous rage … attempted homicide with Desiree … but the cold blooded murder of Chloe Sullivan. I really hate it, but it’s the only way … the only way!”
Clara said, “Don’t worry, Peter. Because you told me all this, I can prevent any of it from happening. Is this the hate mail I supposedly wrote? Clara gathered up the papers that Pete had been carrying. He took half a second to read what turned out to be Chloe’s story notes:
“Desiree Atkins aka Desiree Luthor
Born Alison Sanders of Smallville.
Boy chasing vixen in her teens.
Was “with” her boyfriend in his truck
(parked at their usually meeting spot)
when the meteor shower hit.
Two weeks later, the boyfriend murders
her parents. Alison inherits.
Alison takes the name Desiree and becomes a teacher.
Marries a wealthy shipping executive.
One of Desiree’s love struck students kills him.
Desiree invests in dot coms. Loses her money.
Meets Lex Luthor and weds him in
less than 3 days after they meet.
Clara said, “Peter, why did you take Chloe’s story notes. She will remember all of this without the notes and write it anyway.”
Pete said, “No she won’t. That’s why I had to do what I did – to stop her from writing it. I’m so sorry!”
Clara said, “Peter, you don’t mean that you already … NO!”
Clara was standing at the door to the offices of “The Torch” a second later. The room was full of flames. The fire alarm and sprinkler system were turned off. Chloe was lying in the middle of the floor. There was a small puddle of blood under her head and her clothes were on fire. Clara ran in and carried Chloe back into the hallway. She extinguished Chloe’s clothing and checked her vital signs. Chloe wasn’t breathing. Clara gave Chloe mouth to mouth resuscitation until she began to breathe again. Clara made sure that Chloe was stable then ran into the burning room and closed the door behind her. Clara said, “Well I always wanted to be a fireman. Here’s may chance. How shall I do this?”
Clara touched the wall of the room and extended her aura to lend her strength to the walls and windows. Then Clara inhaled several times in rapid succession. Soon so much of the air was out of the room and liquefied in Clara’s lungs that the flames had no oxygen. They died out. Clara retracted her aura and the outside air pressure caused the windows to implode.
Clara exited the room and ran through the halls releasing air from her lungs. The temperature in the school plummeted and frost formed on the inside surfaces of the windows. Clara noticed that Pete Ross was no longer in the school.
Clara returned to Chloe and examined her. The burns were so severe that she hardly recognized her. Her breathing was shallow. There was also the beginnings of a tumor inside Chloe’s head that would have taken Chloe’s life in her late 30’s if not discovered before then. Clara laid down in the hallway next to Chloe and draped an arm around her head. Clara poured herself into Chloe. Soon she felt Chloe’s pain as if it were her own and had the impulse to pull back … but didn’t. She began to pray to God that their pain would stop and it soon faded. Clara felt almost too drained to move but she felt Chloe pushing against her. Chloe groggily said, “Mom? Who? What? Where am I?”
Clara rolled over and got to her feet. Chloe looked up to see someone running off. Clara found the closest exit and squeezed on the links of the chain that kept the door from being opened after hours. She staggered out into the sunlight and took a few deep breaths. Then she looked into the sun. She reached her arms into the air and jumped into the air. She began a frantic search for any sign of Lex Luthor.
Clara burst into Gabe Sullivan’s office at the Smallville plant of DL Enterprises. Lex was seated at Gabe’s desk, but he stood up and crossed the room towards her. She ran up and wrapped her arms around him. Lex pushed her away saying, “Your attempt to kill my wife has failed, so I am not free to pursue a relationship with you. Do you think that I would be flattered if you killed Desiree to have me? I can’t even believe that I once considered you a friend!”
Clara said, “Lex, you know me. You know I wouldn’t ….”
Lex said, “Aren’t you the one that always told me that I didn’t know the real you? Well maybe I do now. Sheriff Adams was out here questioning me. She has a warrant for your arrest. Three men saw you torch my wife’s car. A student, Pete Ross was present when you threatened Desiree. He had copies of letters in which you threatened to “torch “The Torch”” if Chloe Sullivan didn’t print some slanderous article you had written about Desiree. I’ve heard about school girls and their crushes, but I never imagined you could be like that. But it’s not like I knew you very well … you were just some kid I felt sorry for. Well, I hope you get over your claustrophobia soon, because you’ll probably be living in a small cell starting tomorrow.”
Clara said, “Lex, Desiree killed her parents. She killed her first husband ….”
Lex said, “Stop it Clara! What right do you think you have talking to me like this? We were barely friends … we were barely anything. For some stupid reason, I thought I could trust you … but you NEVER trusted me, did you? Despite that, I still treated you with respect … and in return you tell all kinds of lies about the woman I love and try to kill her due to some childish fantasy you have about us. There is no US! I should have known better than to be nice to a little girl because you never can tell what a girl is thinking. My biggest mistake was spending any time with you at all.”
Clara said, “Lex, don’t say that! I’m not trying to be mean. I want you to be happy even if it means that I’ll … that I’ll never see you again. But Lex … she’ll KILL you! I swear she will! Her name is Alison Sanders. She lived here during the meteor shower. It changed her. The feelings you have for her aren’t real!”
Lex said, “Oh, feelings are VERY real.”
Clara said, “She uses her pheromones to manipulate men. The witnesses against me are all men … all manipulated by her. I didn’t write any threatening letters. I didn’t set her car on fire.”
Lex said, “You smell like smoke to me. Your flannel shirts reek of it. Your clothes are singed. If you wanted to convince me, you should have at least changed your clothes.”
Clara said, “I smell like smoke because the offices of “The Torch” at Smallville High were on fire. I had to pull Chloe Sullivan out or she would have died.”
Lex said, “If you are trying to say that Desiree set a fire, forget it. She’s been here with me since shortly after school ended. But nice story. Especially the part about rushing into a fire. Did you think I would believe that you would do something like that?”
Clara said, “I went into the river to get you, didn’t I?”
Lex said, “You did what?”
Clara shouted, “LEX! Did she take it all? Didn’t she leave anything of what we were?”
Lex said, “You poor deluded child! What kind of fantasy world are you living in? I hate to ever say that my Father is right about anything, but he was right about you! You’re nothing but a demented little slut out to get my money no matter what you have to do to get it. I should have just slept with you and paid you off a year ago rather than play these stupid, tragic games with you!”
Clara let out a gasp as if she had just been stabbed. Then she began to cry. She didn’t make a sound but the tears streamed down her face and her lips trembled as she stared blankly at Lex.
Lex shouted, “STOP THAT! STOP IT! Don’t expect your tears to get any sympathy out of me!” Lex turned and hit a button on the intercom on Gabe Sullivan’s desk. He said, “I need security up here to escort Miss Kent out of the building. Better yet, I want her held for Sheriff Adams. Call the Sheriff now then get some men up here.” Clara continued to cry and stare at Lex. Lex shouted, “I told you to stop that!” Lex moved in a threatening way towards her and took he face roughly in his hands and shouted, “STOP IT! PLEASE, STOP IT!” Lex pulled back suddenly and looked at his hand. He rubbed his thumbs over his fingers to feel the wetness of Clara’s tears. His hands tingled and his head felt like it was going to explode. He took his hands and rubbed at his neck and forehead to try to massage away the pain. He said, “What is happening? Damn this hurts! What are you doing to me?” Then his head jerked around again to return Clara’s stare. She still wasn’t making much more than a gasping noise but her whole body was trembling. Lex said, “Clara?” He stepped up to her again and she moved back a little bit. She had a look of fear on her face wondering what he was going to say or do next. He took his hands and put them on her face again, but this time gently brushing away her tears. He said, “What a nightmare! What a bloody nightmare! Can I wake up now? Please say I can wake up!” He shouted, “Clara!” In a sudden movement, he pulled her face against his and began kissing her. She wrapped her arms around him and began kissing him back. When they stopped to catch a breath, Lex muttered, “Oh Clara, Clara. How could I say those things? What on Earth could make me behave like that? You know that there is only one woman for me.”
A cold voice said, “And what woman might that be, dear husband? Isn’t this a cozy scene?” Lex and Clara turned to see Desiree and Pete standing there. Desiree continued, “Not even one week since our wedding night and you’re in the arms of another woman. We’ve been going at it like rabbits and I walk away from you for less than an hour and here you are. Pete, didn’t I tell you that he is unworthy of me. You know what you have to do. Pete aimed a gun at Lex. Desiree continued, “Clara, the Kent women must be remarkable. No woman has ever broken the spell I have put on a man and now it has happened twice in a single day. Lex was with me less than an hour ago. He should be good for another 5 hours at least.”
Clara said, “What are you talking about – twice in a day?”
Desiree said, “Bad girl, didn’t you pay attention in class? I told you I was going to dance with your Father and I don’t kid about things like that.”
Clara said, “You didn’t! I’ll kill you!”
Desiree said, “No, I didn’t. I got a little tongue action before your Mother interfered. Maybe it’s something in your blood. Maybe I’ll save some of it and study it under a microscope.”
Clara said, “I’m adopted.”
Desiree said, “Oh, I forgot. That makes it even more of a puzzle. I will think on it more when I am lying on a beach somewhere with Pete here. I hope this conversation isn’t a way of delaying me until security arrives. I’ve told them not to come unless they hear gun shots – and to wait ten minutes after they hear them. Of course, they’ll do what I told them to – they’re men – they have no choice. And they will hear shots … when you two have a lovers quarrel and end up killing each other. It’s a pity really. We all could have had some fun together. But it doesn’t really matter. Soon I’ll have all I wanted from Lex anyway – his money. Pete, Honey. You have to shoot them now. First one, then the other. Lex will never give me a divorce. And if you leave Clara alive, she will see to it that I am put in prison. The only way we can be together is if you kill them both now. KILL THEM!”
Clara side stepped in front of Lex. Four shots rang out as Lex shouted, “CLARA, DON’T!”
Clara stepped up to Pete and pinched his neck. He collapsed to the floor. She turned to look at Desiree and said, “Next time you seduce someone to kill for you, pick someone who can aim!” Clara clenched a fist, crushing the bullets in her hand. Then she used the same hand to land a right upper cut on Desiree’s chin. Clara struck her so hard that she was lifted off the floor and thrown into a wall before falling in a pile on the floor. Clara shouted, “OH MY GOD! I didn’t pull my punch enough! I think I broke her jaw. It will have to be wired shut.”
Clara knelt down on the floor next to Pete and started to cry again. Lex said, “I’m sure he’ll be okay.”
Clara said, “I know. I’m just trying to remember some of the mean things you said.”
Lex asked, “Why?”
Clara said, “My tears seemed to free you from Desiree’s spell. Maybe it was a chemical reaction. Hmmm. Yeah, that works. I heard you call her “Angel.” Oh yeah, that will get them flowing.” Clara lifted Pete’s hand and wiped her cheeks with it. She said, “We swapped a little spit too. That might have helped bring you out of it. Maybe I should kiss Pete too.”
Lex said, “I think I was fully out of it before you started kissing me. Your tears will be enough for him. Save your kisses for me.”
Clara said, “Funny how I end up being the only one to save anything in this relationship. But don’t count on me kissing you while you’re a married man.”
Lex said, “You kissed me a minute ago.”
Clara said, “You caught me at a moment of weakness.”
Lex said, “You’re never weak.”
Clara said, “Well, I certainly wasn’t strong enough to face the last few days. If I hadn’t made friends with Mr. J’onz, I probably wouldn’t have gotten through it.”
Lex said, “Payback time, huh? Are you sure it wasn’t Mr. Smith?”
Clara said, “No, it was Mr. J’onz. And me and Mr. J’onz … we have a thing going on. And … and … it might be wrong … but it’s much too strong … now.”
Lex said, “I like that song.”
Clara said, “What song? Hey, don’t you DARE make fun of me after … after all this! J’onn wouldn’t make fun of me. He’s kind and nice and gentle … but you’d better not mess with him because he’s bigger than you … or anyone else. He even makes Mr. Wayne look puny! And when he found out how you hurt me, he put a claim on me … forever and always!”
Lex said, “Clara, you don’t have to do this. I’m back now and I’m not going away again.”
Clara acted like he hadn’t said a word. Her lip trembled but she continued to speak, “So, you had better be very nice to me … VERY nice … invent new ways of being nice … and try to keep up with Mr. J’onz … or you can watch from the sidelines like I did with you and Mrs. Luthor. I’m feeling more fragile than I ever have, so if you aren’t really careful with me, I’ll even put you in line behind that nasty Mr. Wayne. I may even give that nice Mr. Pennyworth a shot. He may be older, but I’m sure he knows how to treat a woman.”
Lex said, “Clara. It wasn’t my fault. I’m sorry. I’ll spend the rest of my life making it up to you.”
Clara said, “And here … here’s a homework assignment for you. Spend some time thinking about THIS and tell me next time you see me: If none of this was your fault … how did you get within sniffing distance of Desiree in the first place?”
Lex said, “Clara, even your Father ….”
Clara shouted, “DON’T!”
Lex said, “Clara, come here. I think you need a hug.”
Clara said, “No, I need to get out of here and into hiding before your men come and give me to Sheriff Adams. You had better get my name cleared pronto! And I don’t want to see you again until I see copies of your divorce or annulment papers. You know where to leave them don’t you … or did you forget about the rock too?”
Lex said, “Of course I remember.”
Clara said, “By the way, you’d better not let your wife get close to your men or breathe on them. Make sure that someone – and you had better not volunteer … make sure that someone gives her a bath too. And don’t wait too long to get those papers to me. Mom gave her blessing to Mr. Pennyworth for Bruce Wayne to call on me and I bet he’ll be coming by before you know it. They do follow orders. They’re coming now so I have to go. Remember what I said. Good-bye Lex.” Clara turned and quickly left the office.
Lex said, “Clara, come back.” Lex followed her into the hallway. He looked both ways but all he could see were security me rushing his way.
Clara often interrupted her chores to look towards the rock on River Road to see if anything had been left for her. Clara had negotiated the purchase of the farm adjacent to her parent’s place. Her neighbor’s children wanted nothing to do with the farm. She imagined that some day she would live on that farm next to her parents – alone except for the hundreds of stray cats she would take in. As part of her deal, she would farm the property for the current owners until they turn 70 and/or retire to Florida. Today, she was out in a pair of cut-off jeans and a sleeveless t-shirt removing large stones and digging irrigation ditches with hand tools and her bare hands. She had put her hair in a single long braid down her back to keep it out of her face. Clara stopped excavating for a while and was completing work on a stone wall along one property line built from the stones she had removed from the field. Then she saw Lex’s car on River Road. A quick glance towards the rock showed a large envelope and a single rose waiting for her.
Clara ran to the river and dived in for a quick swim in the rapid current to get the dirt out of her clothes before running up the road to retrieve the envelope. She released enough heat energy to ensure that her clothes would be dry before she got to the rock. Clara felt like it had been ages since she had her last conversation with Lex at their special meeting place. But he had left for that business conference only a couple weeks before and returned to wed Desiree less than a week ago. It had been awful not having a special friend to talk to and bounce ideas off of. But now that the annulment papers were in her hands, she wasn’t sure that she was ready to begin talking to Lex again. She knew that the way he had acted wasn’t his fault, but the pain she felt was still very real to her. She was scared that if she talked to Lex too soon, all of the venom inside her would start pouring out and she wouldn’t be able to stop it. She was scared of damaging beyond repair a relationship that had been wounded – a relationship that was one of the few things she wanted for herself. But now, Lex had done what she had asked of him. His marriage to Desiree had been annulled. In the eyes of the law, it had never happened. But the sounds of Lex making love to Desiree would be forever etched in Clara’s memory.
Clara heard the hum of a finely tuned motor behind her. Her heart leapt with joy but her body trembled with dread. The car that had pulled up had to be a very expensive model. No motor ever mass produced in Detroit hummed like that. She could feel a pair of eyes staring at her. She hoped that it was Lex, but something didn’t smell right. She turned abruptly. Her jaw dropped. She suddenly felt naked because she wasn’t dressed in multiple layers of clothing like she normally was when she left the farm. She could have cried. She said, “Oh … my … God! It’s you!”
Bruce Wayne smiled and said, “Many women consider me a god, but I had no idea that you were one of them.
Clara said, “A blasphemer too. Why am I not surprised?”
Bruce said, “It’s great to see you again too, Girl Scout. You look incredible!”
Clara said, “Go away. Please, please PLEASE go away!”
Bruce said, “I have an open invitation to visit your parents and I am not going to pass it up. I got a taste of you Mother’s muffins and I’m not going to pass up whatever she might offer me. I’m dying to know if your muffins taste as good.”
Clara said, “I don’t want to do this!”
Bruce said, “I’m sorry. I’ll behave.”
Clara said, “You’ll behave?! You’ve ALREADY broke the rules. You are supposed to see my parents and get permission before you say a single word to me. And you are supposed to bring Mr. Pennyworth with you so that he can keep you on a leash.”
Bruce said, “I drive separate in case I get an important call and have to leave suddenly. Alfred is meeting me at your house. Can you blame me for taking the scenic route and taking in the view … and I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a lovelier view. I know I would hear about how rude I am if I just passed without saying hello. I’d offer you a ride, but I understand that you don’t accept rides from even your closest friends.”
Clara said, “That’s true, but even if it wasn’t, I wouldn’t get into that thing! Who do you think you are – James Bond? Why do you have ejection seats in your car – in case you get bored with a passenger? I’m surprised there’s room for a motor in that car with all the gadgets in it. And I’ll be sure to tell my folks that you carry handcuffs and ropes and boomerangs. Kinky tastes, huh? And the bat motif … that’s really freaky. But all in all, I’m not surprised one bit at all of this. The car and everything in it … they’re just toys for a bored young man with more time and money on his time than he knows what to do with. Everything’s just another toy, right? Well, I’m nobody’s toy, so just move on down the road!”
Bruce said, “Eventually you’ll understand that not everything is what it appears to be and not everyone is who they appear to be either. I basically a very serious guy and I am especially serious and sincere in my feelings for you. You’re going to be the most fantastic thing that ever hit this planet and I’d love to be by your side as your life unfolds.”
Clara said, “I’ve heard that sincerity is the secret to success … and that once you learn how to fake sincerity, you’ve got it made. You’re a very successful man Mr. Wayne and you have a long history of negotiating deals like the one you want to make with me. I don’t want that kind of history and I don’t want to be one of your successful deals. You know too much about me for me to be comfortable. I don’t trust you and I don’t know how to get to trust you. The best way you can earn my trust is to go away for ten or twenty years. When I see that you’ve kept my secret that long, then I’ll know I can trust you and I’ll send you a thank you card in the mail.”
Bruce said, “Ten or twenty years? You are denying life to our first several children by waiting that long.”
Clara said, “What makes you think I am capable of having children?”
Bruce said, “I would like children, but I would be willing to take in children if you can’t have any … but I sure would like the opportunity to try to have a family with you.”
Clara said, “I wouldn’t let you touch me with a ten foot pole.”
Bruce said, “That’s good, because my pole isn’t quite ten feet long.”
Clara said, “So much for your seriousness and sincerity. Go on. Go talk to my parents if you want to. I’ll be along soon. Just leave me alone.”
Bruce said, “I’ll follow you just to make sure that you get home all right.”
Clara said, “Just another excuse to stare at my back side.”
Bruce said, “If that bothers you then walk backwards or sideways. You look good to me from any angle.”
Clara said, “It wouldn’t matter which way I face, your car couldn’t keep up with me.”
Bruce said, “Want to bet?”
Clara said, “I don’t like gambling … even on a sure thing. Look. You’re wasting your time here. See these papers. Lex isn’t married any more. You don’t stand a chance with me now. Go away!”
Bruce said, “Alfred told me about your Martian boyfriend and your new sexual orientation too. Frankly, I think you protest just a little too much. You don’t have to do that to keep me interested. Despite what you think, I don’t think you are the trophy for some competitive challenge. If no man decided they wanted to hook up with a woman as strong as you are, I would still want you. So, I am not buying your rejections and your warnings that I don’t have any chances. I’ve beaten all the odds before. And I’m not here to buy anyway. Today, I’m here to sell. I’m selling myself. I won’t keep trying to sell myself to you today. It’s obvious that it will take you a lot of time to get used to trusting someone that seems too good to be true. Today, I am selling myself to your parents. Alfred says that they are good people. They will know what is best for you … and I’m it.”
Clara said, “Do you have any idea how embarrassing it is to have someone go to my parents to talk to them about me? Turn around and go home now or I’ll find your parents and tell them a thing or two about you!”
Bruce said, “My parents are dead – they were murdered when I was a child. Alfred is all the family I have now.”
Clara said, “I’m sorry. I didn’t know.”
Bruce said, “It changed my life. You can’t possibly know what it’s like having your parents die right in front of you and not being able to do anything about it but watch.”
Clara said, “YES, I DO KNOW! Why did you have to say that?! DAMN IT! It’s not like I don’t have enough unwanted memories floating around in my head right now. You know I’m adopted, right?”
Bruce said, “Yes, but I didn’t know about your birth parents. I’m sorry.”
Clara said, “My parents may not have been in front of me, but they were pushed up so close on each side of me that I could feel them convulse … feel their pulses stop … feel their skin grow cold. So don’t tell me what I know and don’t know!”
Bruce said, “I really am sorry, but this tells me that we have more in common than I had ever imagined. Maybe that’s why I felt an immediate connection to you.”
Clara said, “I didn’t mean to snap at you, but their death is a wound with a thin scab. Anytime that scab gets ripped off, I am on the verge of loosing control … and someone like me can never afford to lose control. I know it’s hard to get beyond having your parents die like that. I don’t think I ever will, so I try my best to avoid any reminders of that day.”
Bruce said, “I’ve hunted the man who killed my parents for years. I’ve never found him. I’m almost scared of what I’ll do when I finally come face to face with him. Do you know what it’s like to be consumed with so much hate and anger towards someone?”
Clara said, “Yes. I know what that’s like too. But I wish I could be far away from the person who killed my parents so I wouldn’t have to face her. But I can’t escape her. It’s impossible. She’s always there. I have to try my best to not think about it so I can keep my sanity.”
Bruce Wayne said, “Sometimes, we need help. If you can’t get justice for your parents by dealing with their murderer, give me the name of the person who killed them. Maybe I can bring her to justice for you.”
Clara trembled like a leaf. She said, “Her name? You want her name? She goes by the name of Clara … Josephine … Kent. I killed my parents. They died because of me! I try … I really TRY … to make up for it by doing good things … but I can’t … I CAN’T make up for killing them. My Father could have done wonderful things for this planet … and my Mother … my Mother will never smile again. I killed my Mother’s smile! What could I possibly ever do to make up for that?!”
Bruce watched the tears fall from Clara’s cheeks, but she disappeared before they hit the ground. Bruce said, “Poor sweet Clara. I’m sure your Mother is smiling still. I’m sure you still make her smile. I only hope that one day, I can make you smile too.”
Clara ran up to the porch shouting, “Daddy, Daddy! Hurry! Get Grandpa’s shotgun. They’re coming to take me. You promised that you’d never let them take me!”
Martha stepped out onto the porch and said, “Your Father went to town. What’s the matter? Maybe your visitor can help.”
Clara said, “That awful Bruce Wayne is coming here and … my visitor? I didn’t see a car. Is Lex here?”
Martha said, “No, not Lex. This visitor doesn’t have a car … he said he flew in. He came a long way to see you too. I’m glad to see that you weren’t lying about there being a Mr. J’onz. Are you really building a home on Mars? I hoped you would be living close to us.”
Clara peeked through the screen door and into the kitchen. It looked like a tall green man sitting at a children’s play table. J’onn’s knees were visible above the top of the table. He sat contentedly munching on Martha’s cookies and dipping them in milk and coffee and orange juice. Clara shouted, “J’onn! There are people coming and they can’t see you in your normal form! Hey, could you look like my Father again and chase the people who are coming away?”
Martha yelled, “J’onn, don’t look like my husband! Clara was just joking. Earth humor, you know. There is a magazine on the table – a picture book. Pick some man’s picture from the magazine and make yourself look like that person. If anyone shows up, act like you want to marry my daughter. If you’ll do that, I’ll bake you some more cookies and let you try grape juice. Okay?” J’onn waved at Martha and bobbed his head in agreement as he reached for the magazine and continued to chew on a cookie.
Clara said, “Mom, what are you doing?! I can’t handle this!”
Martha said, “I know, Dear. That’s why I’m handling it for you.” Clara saw the expensive cars pulling into the driveway so she ducked inside the house. Martha followed her. Martha said, “Does Mr. Luthor have his annulment yet?”
Clara said, “Yes. And Desiree dropped the assault charges against me.”
Martha said, “So, now we have three men wanting you.”
Clara said, “Mom, right now, I’d rather date someone safer like Mr. Pennyworth then Lex or Mr. Wayne.”
Martha said, “Good. That makes four men. We’re in a strong bargaining position!”
Clara said, “Mom, I’m not one of your organic melons in a season when melons are scarce.”
Martha said, “No you’re not. You’re an even rarer commodity. You’re one of a kind. But the melon analogy is good. I can get more money if I clean and polish a melon. You came inside to freshen up right. Go on upstairs. You can wear my white summer dress that looks so good on you. And speaking of melons, too bad you don’t have a push up bra.”
Clara said, “Mom, I came into the house so I could slip out the kitchen door and disappear!” Clara headed towards the kitchen but someone who looked very much like Val Kilmer was standing in her way and smiling at her.”
Martha said, “Great J’onn. You look great! Make sure she doesn’t leave and there are chocolate chips in it for you!”
Clara turned around to see her Mother open the front door. Clara shouted, “No, Mom! Don’t let them in the house!” Lex Luthor, Alfred Pennyworth and Bruce Wayne filed in.
Martha said, “Alfred, this is your lucky day. My daughter confessed an interest in dating you just a moment ago.” A big smile came to Alfred’s face. The three men took a good look at Clara.
Clara looked at them with horror. She could here their pulse rates rising. She said, “First there was a drought … and now it’s raining men!”
Martha said, “Halleluiah!”
Clara said sadly, “… and I don’t EVEN have an umbrella or a pair of rubbers … GALOSHES!!” Clara’s skin turned a bright red. She picked up a blanket and walked to an easy chair in the farthest corner of the living room. She turned away from her suitors and sat down. She pulled her knees up to her chest, lowered her head and pulled the cover over herself.