“Hidden Fears, Frozen Tears”
A sequel to the “Saved by an Angel” Saga
This is a historical note important to this story: Kryptonian women under normal circumstances appeared to be quite docile, but in ancient times female Kryptonians were strong and ferocious in achieving their goals. Until Kryptonian parents learned that they needed to enforce a strict discipline on their daughters as they grew up, it wasn’t possible for civilization to exist or advance. After generations the culture created a climate which constrained women to become submissive to their fathers and husbands in almost all aspects of their lives. To all outward appearances, the women of Krypton were polite, respectful, cordial and passive -- but just below the surface was a passionate animal waiting to be unleashed if sufficiently provoked. Women who were unable to conform to any rules imposed on them were sent to an isolated island. These women formed tribes that were in a constant state of war with each other.
Clara Luthor was making breakfast in the huge kitchen of the
The kids needed more running room than the penthouse could provide … and fresh air and trees and sunshine. In the city, you needed super vision to see the stars at night. This was a better place for her and her family. She was still a small town farm girl and Smallville was still her home. Her parents were a couple miles away and always willing to baby sit. The mansion was secluded which was important as well. There would be no one to witness the kids lifting the family van whenever a ball rolled under it. Even if someone did see something strange, it might be totally ignored. In Smallville, people have learned to accept things that are … freakish. They have come to expect the unexpected.
Clara was brought back to the present when 5 year old Leah Marie came running into the kitchen and hopped into a seated position on the counter next to the bowl of eggs. She sweetly asked, “Momma, can I go see Grandpa today? Can you take me please?”
Clara answered, “As long as you promise not to chase the bull around anymore … and if Grandma and Grandpa aren’t busy. Maybe we can all go after breakfast. Even when you scare the livestock, Grandpa always enjoys your visits.”
Leah said, “Nuh-uh. I NEVER visited him before but it’s about time I did!”
Clara said, “You’re being silly. You practically live with Grandpa Jon. You’re over there all the time.”
Leah said, “I don’t want to visit the Jon one, I want to visit the Lion one. You said that prison is lonely and I don’t want my Grandpa to be lonely.”
Clara was suddenly on track with what Leah was talking about. She tried to think of something to say but she couldn’t.
Leah waited a while and gently picked up an egg. She asked, “Can we make him lots and lots of cookies? We can leave some here for later.”
Clara carefully said, “We can’t go see him, Leah. He wouldn’t want to see us. He doesn’t like me very much and I think you might remind him of me.”
Leah said, “You shouldn’t use the “can’t” word. We can TRY to see him. You always tell me to TRY when I think I can’t do something.”
Clara was thinking about what a little sponge Leah was. She had to be careful when she said anything because Leah was always listening even if she didn’t appear to be … and Leah was learning to use what she heard to effectively argue her case for getting what she wanted. Leah had learned that in her family, reason worked better than tears and tantrums. Lex would light up anytime she surprised him with how smart and reasonable she was and then couldn’t deny her anything. If Leah wanted something, she had a will of iron. Clara said, “Honey, why do you want to see Grandpa Lionel?”
Leah said, “I told you! I don’t want him to be lonely. And it’s not fair that the Jon one gets visits and the Lion one doesn’t. I want to see him and I want to tell him that I love him.”
Clara said, “You love Lionel Luthor?”
Leah said, “Of course I do! He’s my Grandpa!”
Clara said, “Leah, Dear, I hate to say this, but your Grandpa Lionel isn’t a very nice man. Just because someone is related to you, it doesn’t mean that they are a good person or that you have to love them.”
Leah said, “But I DO love him. I love him a lot and I want to tell him … and take him chocolate chip cookies … and milk … and a picture I drew for him! ‘Sides, Grandpa may have a reason to not be nice. I wouldn’t be nice EITHER if you but me in prison and didn’t visit me.”
Clara said, “Look, Honey, it’s a sad thing but your Grandpa Lionel won’t want to see us.”
Leah said, “Then it will be like bath night!”
Clara asked, “What?”
Leah said, “It doesn’t matter if you want it or not – you get it!”
Clara said, “No, it’s not like bath night. If he doesn’t want to see us, he doesn’t have to … and I don’t want you to get your hopes up and be disappointed.”
Leah said, “If he doesn’t see us, we can leave him a letter. Can you help me write one so my letters aren’t backwards or nothin’?”
Clara said, “What would you say in the letter?”
Leah said, “I want to tell him that I will come back again and again so we can visit because I love him for what he did for me.”
Clara asked, “What did Lionel Luthor EVER do for you?”
Leah’s face broke out into her biggest smile as she said, “He did the BEST thing EVER! He gave me DADDY!”
Clara said, “Oh, Dear. Your Daddy isn’t going to want you anywhere near Grandpa Lionel.”
Leah said, “What’s Grandpa gonna do – bite me? You always say that we have thick skin … so he can bite me if he wants to and I’ll love him anyway!” Leah pushed herself off the counter and started to leave the room … then she turned back. She had a worried look on her face and asked, “Umm. Grandpa can’t bite hard like baby Joel can he? If he can, I take back what I said about him biting me.”
Clara said, “Your Grandpa Lionel is human like your Grandpa Jon. He couldn’t leave a tooth mark on you if he bit you as hard as he could. But I don’t think he’ll try to bite you, Sweetie. I’m more worried that he’ll tell you bad things that will make you scared or sad.”
Leah smiled and said, “Kryptonite stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me!”
Clara said, “Sometimes, Clara, words can hurt more than a room full of kryptonite stones … especially from someone you love … especially if they don’t love you back the way you love them. Your Grandpa Lionel is very skilled at using words as weapons. He has hurt your Daddy with his words many times, so I need to talk to Daddy to get permission before we go see your Grandpa.”
Clara may have believed those words when she said them, but never underestimate the power of a 5 year old when she is determined to have her way.
Clara called the office a dozen times and couldn’t get Lex to answer. Attempts to reach his cell phone only got a message that he was out of range. With Lex’s phone, he would practically have to be on the Moon to be out of reach. In Lex’s case, the Moon was a distinct possibility … but he would have told her if he was going off planet … wouldn’t he? She thought, “I DON’T want to talk with Lex’s temporary .assistant. If I told Lex that his right hand man was all hands whenever I got near him, he would never hire a male .assistant again. And Lex’s female .assistants are always getting pregnant … then he has to work late breaking in a new one and getting her up to speed. Maybe it only seems that everyone is pregnant when …. Who am I to fault someone for getting pregnant? I’ve spent more time pregnant than I spent in high school … wait … that was only 2 years. I’ve spent more time pregnant than I spent in high school and college! I don’t want to think about this! Where is he? Dang! I’ve got to call Edward.” Clara picked up the phone and called Lex’s .assistant. When he picked up the phone she said, “Edward, It’s … Mrs. Luthor.”
Edward said, “Oh, Clara! How can I help you? I’ll do anything you ask. I’m not at all busy today with Lex being gone. OOPS! I wasn’t supposed to tell you that. Us men have to have our little secrets and private times. As I was saying, I could even come over and help you make beds … or unmake them. Did you know that I am a masseuse? I can get rid of all your tensions and limber you up so you can get in positions you haven’t been in for years.”
Clara said, “Just tell me where Lex is.”
Edward said, “I couldn’t say.”
Clara asked, “Couldn’t or wouldn’t? Look Lex and I have no secrets -- NONE. Tell me where he is.”
Edward laughed, “No secrets, huh? So did you tell him about you and me? If so, he doesn’t seem to mind. I guess what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Say the word and I’ll be there. I’m dying to take a gander at what you hide under those frumpy clothes. I can tell by the way you move that ….”
Clara said, “UNLESS you have an urgent desire to be un-employed, you had better shut up and tell me where Lex is.”
Edward said, “I told you I would do anything for you and I wasn’t lying about that. I honestly don’t know where he is. He’s probably the same place he’s been spending his time all this month. I haven’t even seen him this week. I’ve heard something about “Lex Care: Atlantis” or something like that. Atlantis is known for crystals and mermaids. The joke around the office is that the flavor of the month may be named Crystal and that Lex is getting some tail from her. If she looks anything like the woman in the see through dress in that painting he had on display in his office ….”
Clara said, “NOBODY better be saying things like that about Lex … or I’ll come to Lex Care and clean house! Lex wouldn’t do that and I won’t have people saying things like that about him. Those magazines are bad enough with the lies they print and the phony pictures, but Lex is too good to his employees to be talked about like that!”
Edward said, “I wouldn’t know, because he’s mainly good to the female employees. I guess what they say about the wife being the last to know is true. But can you really blame the man? He has all the money in the world, you obviously don’t dress to keep him interested, he’s been married forever and is probably craving a little variety, you are always pregnant so he’s probably not getting any at home ….”
Clara shouted, “You are SO fired!”
Edward said, “I guess I should know that honesty isn’t the best policy if you want to keep your job … but, Honey, I have honest feelings for you and I want you to know the truth.”
Clara hung up the phone so hard that it shattered into small pieces. Leah came into the room and asked, “What was that noise? Did Daddy say I could visit Grandpa?”
Clara said, “I haven’t heard from your Daddy yet. Maybe he’ll call soon.”
Leah said, “Daddy can’t call. The phone is all busted.”
Clara said, “We have other phones. Your Daddy will call. He always calls when I leave him a message.”
Leah asked, “Can we make the cookies while we wait?”
Clara took a few deep breaths and said, “I’ve got to feed Joel and then we can make cookies until your Daddy calls me from wherever he is.”
Leah said, “Oh yuck. I bet he is with that woman again. He always smells funny when he comes home after visiting her.”
Clara asked, “What woman Leah?”
Leah said, “I don’t know all their names. I don’t think it’s the one with the really big chest. She smells good … and she lets me wear her crown. I like her the best but Daddy told her that she couldn’t have his children … at least not now. Oh, I forgot. I’m not supposed to talk about stuff I don’t understand and it’s supposed to be a secret. I forget what is secret and what isn’t sometimes. But don’t worry. I keep our strong secret good. I don’t do special things in front of people unless you tell me I can -- except for Grandpa and Grandma. How about the other Grandpa, can he know our secret.”
Clara said, “No. He can’t know – not ever!”
Leah said, “That’s not fair. Grandpa Jon knows.”
Clara said, “I don’t care if it’s fair or not, you will NOT tell him! Promise me that or I won’t take you to see him.”
Leah said, “So if I promise not to tell him, then you’ll take me to see him?”
Clara said, “I’m not bargaining with you young lady, I will take you if your Daddy says that it’s all right and if you promise not to tell.”
Leah said, “But what if Daddy DOESN’T call! What if he stays away all night again with that smelly woman? What then? I want to see my Grandpa!”
Clara said, “Your Daddy WILL call. He always calls.”
Leah asked, “But what if he doesn’t?”
Clara paused then said, “If he doesn’t call by the time the cookies are baked … then I’ll take you to see your Grandfather.”
Leah asked, “The Lion one?”
Clara said, “Yes, the Lion one … but your Dad will call and he will say no.”
Three hours later, Martha showed up (with Clara's six and a half year old brother Jon Jr., her five year old sister Samantha and her three year old brother Timothy) to watch 4 of Clara's boys. Clara left for the penitentiary with Leah, baby Joel and 4 dozen chocolate chip cookies … with sprinkles.
Clara pulled some strings with friends at the maximum security prison to get them to agree to allow Clara, Leah and Joel to visit with Lionel if he was willing to see them. Lionel agreed to visit with his grand children but not with Clara. Leah wanted to carry Joel in so she could show him to Lionel but Clara refused. Leah didn’t put up much of a protest because she was so happy to be there. The cookies were x-rayed and Leah’s drawing was examined and photocopied. Clara was relieved to see the kind of precautions they took to keep Lionel where he was.
Lionel had donated money for a wing to be added to the prison in return for being allowed to have certain amenities in his cell … which really didn’t look much like a cell at all. Clara had examined the plans before construction and was happy knowing that 2 inches of bullet-proof glass would separate Lionel from his daughter. Leah was bullet proof herself, but Clara didn’t want Lionel to even touch her daughter and the facility’s design wouldn’t allow Lionel to make physical contact with Leah at all. Leah could easily make her way through the wall if she chose to, but Clara had stressed with her just how bad a girl he would be if she even thought about it. Clara was un-nerved that she couldn’t look in on the little get together because Lionel had had his quarters lined with lead per his agreement with the prison authorities. Clara hoped that this didn’t mean that Lionel new about the limits of Super Woman’s vision powers because she kept the nature and range of her powers a secret so that anyone intending her harm would have no idea what they were up against. She had decided that Lionel probably was guarding against un-expected visits from any of the numerous freaks he had spawned in his illegal experimentation on human beings. Still, this meant that Clara would have to rely on her hearing powers to keep tabs on what was going on.
The warden himself came and took Leah’s hand to lead her back to her grand father’s living quarters. Clara tuned her ears to the sound of her daughter’s heartbeat and monitored her as she left the room and followed her all the way to where Lionel was waiting for her. Clara’s nerves were so on edge that one of her legs was vibrating. Losing control of her body was one of Clara’s big phobias. With her power, she had to maintain control at all times – so her inability to hold her leg still was more than a simple annoyance. Then she heard Lionel’s voice and it hit her like a sharp slap in the face. She felt a wave of nausea come over her and she almost lost her lock on her daughter’s heartbeat. Normally, she could do this kind of thing without conscious thought, but it was very hard for Clara to keep her mind where she needed it to be.
She picked up a magazine and pretended to read as she listened:
Lionel said, “Oh my, everyone told me how beautiful you are, but I had no idea! I was so scared that you would look like your mother that I refused to look at any photographs that my people took of you. Now I’ll have to have LOTS of pictures of you all over my wall.”
Leah giggled in delight and said, “I drew you a picture Grandpa! It’s of me and my brothers in front of our house!”
Lionel said, “My! That is incredible! I had heard that you are an artist but I never imagined that someone as young as you could be so good! Can I really have it? To keep?”
Leah answered, “Uh-Huh!”
Lionel said, “Leah, why don’t you sit down and stay a while. Let me look at you. You look just like your great grand mother … my mother. She was simply gorgeous!”
Leah said, “Really?!”
Lionel said, “And I took care of her … until the day she died. I’d like to take care of you the same way.”
Leah asked, “Until the day I die?”
Lionel said sweetly, “Exactly, until the day you die. Actually I had a friend of mine take care of my mother when I couldn’t and he was there when she died. Since I’m here, I can’t take care of you personally right now. But I have friends on the outside that can see to it that you are taken care of … just like I saw that my dear mother got what she deserved. I would gladly do that just to repay your mother for all that she has done for me.”
Clara stood up in a fast blur and motioned for a guard to watch Joel as she ran to the women’s bathroom. She had to hold back her speed to protect her secret and almost didn’t make it to the toilet before she began vomiting. When she was reasonably sure that she could hold down whatever might be left of her breakfast, she got up and rinsed her mouth out. She was splashing cold water on her face when she heard Joel cry out. “Dang!” she cursed as she looked down at her wet blouse. Working at super speed, she quickly removed her blouse, washed and rinsed it in the sink and dried it with a careful application of heat vision. She was dressed again before the guard could knock on the bathroom door.
Clara hurried to Joel and got him ready to nurse. She tried to tune her hearing to Leah’s voice, but whenever she would hear Lionel speak, she would start to get sick again. She knew that Lionel couldn’t get to Leah. The warden was a personal friend and she believed that he wasn’t the type of man to accept a bribe to allow Lionel to actually touch Leah or be alone with her for even a moment. Joel needed her attention right now and she somehow wasn’t able to concentrate on many things at the same time like she normally could. Besides, anyone who tried to mess with Leah would need more protection from her that she would from them.
Clara got Joel started and hummed a song for him to comfort him … and herself. Joel was having his meal and Clara was both starving and nauseous at the same time. The stresses of the day were taking a toll on her. She began to get sleepy and lose touch with the world around her. She was got lost in her thoughts. “Where are you Lex? I don’ like it when I don’t know where you are and don’t know how to get in touch with you. I’m sorry that I’m exposing your little girl to Lionel. I don’t know how it happened or what I was thinking. I wasn’t thinking at all. I am the parent. I should have just said “no” and left it at that. I think I’m losing my mind. Where are you Lex?!! I need you to hold me and tell me that everything is all right. Why does it feel like the whole world is falling apart? I should be listening. What is that man saying to my sweet little princess right now? Surely he wouldn’t say anything to upset a five year old … especially a five year old who is the only grand daughter he has at the moment. His words are poison! Don’t listen to his lies, Leah. PLEASE don’t listen to him! Don’t let him use his charm to influence you. Don’t let him take you to the dark side. Leah, use the force … the force! The WHAT? OWWW!” Clara pulled Joel away from herself and looked down at the crooked little grin on his face. Even at six months old, Joel’s jaw was plenty strong and those tiny little teeth could hurt. Clara had learned long ago that some body parts were less invulnerable than others. She forced herself to stay alert to what Joel was doing until he had had fed all that he had cared to. Then she put him into his carrier seat for a nap and softly sang him a Kryptonian lullaby until he was asleep.
Clara glanced across the room at the magazine rack and read 3 magazines cover to cover while they were still on the rack. That took 12 seconds. It might have taken 30 seconds but she skipped all the stories about Lex and other women; about her making the worst dressed list for a record six years in a row; and about the mysterious Super Woman and the seldom seen Super Man.
The thoughts started plaguing her again, “Lex, where are you?! I’m sorry Lex. I’m so sorry! I am so stupid. I know what a horror of a man Lionel is. Maybe he’ll be like normal grand parents – a nightmare to their own kids and wonderful to their grand children. You’re not with that smelly woman now are you … or the one with the big chest who wears a crown? Sorry! I’m sorry! I trust you Lex. I REALLY do. It’s no excuse but … it’s just … it’s just … I just get like this when … when … you know! But you don’t know … and why haven’t I told you? Why do you put up with me Lex? How much longer … will you put up with me? What is Leah doing in there so long?!”
The guard tapped Clara on the shoulder and handed her some wet paper towels. She blushed and looked down thinking that she must have had another accident … but her blouse was dry. She looked up at the guard with a puzzled expression and he pointed down at her knees. Clara looked down at her legs and saw five trickles of blood running from each of her kneecaps. She had dug her fingernails into her knees without realizing it. The guard saw the look of terror in Clara’s eyes and said, “Don’t worry yourself ma’am. The little lady will be fine. No way is anybody going to hurt that cute little thing.”
Clara took the towels and thanked the guard – but it wasn’t Lionel that was scaring Clara now. She was slowly losing her ability to control herself and her awareness of what she was doing. A person with her powers can never lose control – NEVER! She lived her entire life on Earth keeping her emotions bottled up when they threatened to take over control of her actions. She had even given others the means to stop her if she lost control and became a threat to the world.
She wiped off her legs and crossed the room to throw the towels in the trash can. On her way back, she stopped at he magazine rack and began thumbing through it. She stopped when she saw a picture of a six year old boy with no hair. The caption said, “Like Father, Like Son?” The photo was an obvious fake but the child was well chosen. He was a dead ringer for Lex and looked a lot like her oldest boy Larry. It was all too much for Clara. Before she knew what she was doing, the magazine cover was charred. She went to her purse and pulled out the $300.00 she had with her. She went over and put it into a tray for transfer to a man at the other side of the glass wall on one side of the reception area. The man picked up the money and gave Clara a puzzled look. He asked, “What is this for, lady?”
She answered, “I want to pay for your magazines. They are all trash. Go buy some new ones that aren’t full of lies about decent people.” Clara picked up the trash can and took it over to the magazine rack. She began ripping up the magazines and throwing them out. When the guard gave her a strange look she said, “Go ahead and arrest me for vandalism. The state had me locked up for years for something I didn’t do … so I have a get out of jail free card from the Governor.” The guard turned away and tried to ignore her.
It seemed like hours to her, but a few minutes after Clara finished destroying the magazines, the Warden brought Leah back to the waiting room. Clara quickly wiped any sign of worry from her face and smiled at Leah. Leah looked like a child who had gotten everything she wanted for Christmas from Santa’s own hands. Clara said, “I don’t even have to ask. I can see you had a good visit.”
Leah said, “Oh yes! He is so handsome and funny. I like him a lot! Mommy can you like someone and love them too?”
Clara said, “Yes Dear, it works out best if you do.”
Leah continued, “He said I am a good artist and he hung up my picture. He liked the cookies. I new he’d like those sprinkles, but you should have told me that he likes Chocolate File Cake better?”
Clara said, “Chocolate “filled” cake.”
Leah said, “No, chocolate file cake -- a chocolate cake with a file in it. I’ll bring him one next time!” The thought of future visits made Clara nauseous again and mentally tired. Leah kept talking, “Mommy! He knows ALL about me! He told me that he has people watch over me for him.” Clara stiffened when she heard this and could no longer manage a smile fro her daughter’s sake. Leah continued, “Now I have Grandpa and God watching out for me … and you and Daddy too! And Grandpa says that he’ll be getting out real soon and will come over and have a private little tea party with me. That will be FUN! Are you OK Mommy? You don’t look happy. It’s OK. Grandpa says the party’s strychnine for me but that he will have a private party with you too and take his time with you. Mommy, is there time enough this afternoon for us to go see my brothers and sisters?”
Clara answered, “Your brothers are at home with your uncles and Aunt Samantha. They will have a late lunch with us and then you guys can play a while. But Honey, you don’t have any sisters, just brothers … at least for the time being.”
Leah said, “Yes I do! I have plenty of sisters and brothers! Grandpa told me. I have brothers and sisters everywhere all over the whole world! He said that Daddy got busy with a lot of different Mommies and made me lots and lots of brothers and sisters to play with. And Grandpa is watching them all for Daddy. Can I go visit them? Pretty PLEASE! I want to see if they look like me!”
Clara’s eyes had widened as Leah spoke. She had a hand clamped over her mouth as she tried to fight back the nausea but it was a losing battle. Lionel Luthor had gotten to her again … through her daughter this time … and she had delivered her to him. Lex would be furious. For an instant she regretted coming up with the medicine that had saved his life. She tasted the bile in her mouth and motioned for the guard. Then she ran quickly to the women’s bathroom.
Martha greeted Clara at the door. She gave Leah a big hug and a kiss. Leah began to chatter about her visit with her Grandfather. Martha said, “Sweetie, I can’t wait to hear ALL about it, but I want to give you my undivided attention and I have to talk with your mother for a while. Samantha is up in your bedroom. She’s been waiting to play dolls with you. I’ll still be here for quite a while. Why don’t you go play with her for a bit?” Leah smiled and ran out of the room and up the stairs.
William saw Clara and abandoned his pile of toys. He quickly crawled over to her, pulled himself up on her leg and stood smiling up at her. Clara lifted him up onto her hip and he began to play with her hair. Clara looked at him and said, “Did you miss your Mommy? You were there playing with your toys and ignoring me weren’t you? Are you done with all your other play things? … I wish your Daddy was. Yes I do!” Clara looked back at her mother and said, “People tell me that their kids drive them crazy. Mine keep me grounded and sane and even more determined to make the world a better place.” Clara sniffled a little and said, “Mom, I’m so sorry to keep bothering you. You have enough to handle with my brothers and sister and the farm and all. Could you stay around long enough for me to take a little nap? Maybe William here could take a nap with his Mommy and keep her company. Would you like that Billy Boy?”
Martha said, “It’s kind of unusual for you to be tired. I’ve known you to go days without sleeping without showing any sign of fatigue. I hope everything is OK. It’s not like we have a doctor who can answer health questions about you.”
Clara said, “I’m OK. I think that the little visit to Lionel was just a bit too stressful for me. I just want to be somewhere else mentally for a while. Maybe I’ll dream about Lex. If I can’t have him near in my real life … sometimes you have to settle for what you can get. Can you stay for a while?”
Martha said, “No problem, but before you take your nap, I need to talk to you about some phone calls you got while you were out.”
Clara perked up. She smiled and said, “Lex called back? Where is he?”
Martha said, “No, sorry Honey, he didn’t call. He did have some flowers delivered for you and there is a card with them. I put them by the kitchen sink. Oh, and I left some lunch on the stove for you … and there’s some fried chicken in the fridge. The boys were hungry so I went ahead and fed them. Samantha decided to wait to eat with Leah. I hope that’s OK.”
Clara said, “Of course it’s OK Mom. You don’t know how much it means to me to have you near by. We can’t have outside help and keep our secret safe … and you and Dad are the only people I know of who have had experience raising a child with super powers.”
Martha said, “Well it’s really a totally different experience. You were strong as a child but nothing like your kids!”
Clara said, “That’s because I started out without a full dose of solar energy. My kids got a full dose of solar energy from me before they were even born. But considering everything, you do exceptionally well with them.”
Martha said, “Well, I’ve been lucky. Larry is great helping out with the little ones. I’ve only had one time when I was unable to get one of your kids to settle down … and if I had the vision powers that she did and saw what she was seeing, I wouldn’t have been very consolable either!”
Clara said, “Mom, you’re wonderful. I can’t say it enough. But right now, I want to see what Lex wrote in that card.”
Martha said, “Uh, before you do that ….”
Martha said, “Uh, before you do that, could we talk about the phone calls? They agreed to stop calling if I would talk to you about it.”
Clara asked, “Another paternity suit Mom? We have a couple lawyers handling that kind of call for us now. I should have left you their phone numbers.”
Martha said, “No Dear, it was Oprah’s people … then Oprah herself called! I was a bit tongue tied. She really wants to help you Honey.”
Clara said, “Not again! I wish they would all cut me some slack. I’m a scientist. I’m supposed to look nerdy. It’s in the scientist rule book. AND as a mother of eight children under the age of 7, I deserve to look a little frumpy!”
Martha said, “Six Dear.”
Clara asked, “What?”
Martha said, “You have six children, not eight.”
Clara said, “Oh right. But even six kids is reason enough to be frumpy. They should leave me alone for heaven’s sake! I’m not an actress or model or something. Why should anyone care about how I dress or wear my hair or my posture or why I wear horn rimmed glasses in public rather than contact lenses?
Martha said, “Well you are in the public eye. You are this century’s Jonas Salk. You’re married to one of the richest men on Earth … or is he THE richest now? And you are one of the richest women in your own right. Those people with cameras follow you around … but you buy your clothes at Kmart!”
Clara said, “They have GREAT clothes Mom … and they are comfortable and they look OK and there is no point paying what they charge in clothing stores.”
Martha said, “But you don’t even buy at Kmart unless they are having a clearance sale so your clothes are never in fashion.”
Clara said, “Fashion is arbitrary. It changes ALL the time. Who’s to say that I’m not ahead of the next trend rather than being behind?”
Martha said, “But the photos show that you wear the same clothes for a week or two without changing!”
Clara said, “I don’t sweat Mom. And I’m a very neat person. And I’ve got everything and everybody in the world to think about ALL the time. Why should I bother thinking about silly things like that?”
Martha said, “It makes a bad impression, that’s all. And you deserve to have nice things. It’s not like you have to be ashamed of your body … any woman would kill to have a body like yours … and men would love to … well. Maybe you should just take a day off from everything and agree to let Oprah’s people do a make-over for you on her show. It might be fun for you … and it seems like your self-esteem could use a little boost.”
Clara said, “Do you think that they could work a miracle Mom? Maybe they could put me in some form hugging clothes … maybe with a short skirt to show off my legs. Then they could pull my hair back out of my face, replace my glasses with contact lenses and teach me to have better posture. By the time they’re through with me, they could have me looking like … like … Super Woman! Wouldn’t that be great?”
Martha said, “I know, I know. But maybe you could steer them in a different dirction. Maybe have them put you in a blonde wig or something.”
Clara asked, “But what if they decide to just color my hair or dye it? What if they try eye shadow or lip stick? Lip stick won’t stick. Neither will eye shadow or hair dye. Industrial acid wouldn’t even bleach my hair. They couldn’t even cut my hair with a blow torch. Every day I am thankful that my body hair doesn’t grow like human women or I’d have quite a job burning the hair off with my heat vision.”
Martha said, “I wish that you could do something! Half the reason all those women think that they have a chance with Lex is due to the way that you make yourself look in public.”
Clara stared at her mother for a few seconds and then said, “And the other reason they think that they have a chance with Lex is because they do … because I am a public embarrassment to him and because he sees me like they do?”
Martha said, “What? NO! I didn’t say that! The other reason is that they believe what the tabloids print … or they are gold diggers with dreams of an easy life in the lap of luxury married to a man who is young, charming, intelligent, fit and very attractive.”
Clara’s eyes were brimming with tears but she was able to hold them back. She said, “if you want a job as Lex’s PR person, you’ve got it. Forget that I said anything. I really don’t mean any of it. I’m just tired Mom – very, VERY tired. I just wish the world would just leave Lex and me alone for a while. At least Jerry Springer stopped calling. He wanted me to confront six women who claim to have children with Lex.”
Martha said, “He called too.” Martha saw how defeated and tired Clara was looking so she said, “Go look at the beautiful flowers Lex sent you. Maybe that will make you feel better. I’ll take Joel up to the nursery and get him settled. I’ve got two arms so I might as well take William up too and get him ready for his nap … unless you are going to bed now and want to take him with you.”
Clara handed William to Martha and said, “Go ahead and take William. I’m curious to see what Lex has to say for himself. Depending on what he says, I may not be sleeping at all … or I may go to bed for a month.”
Clara found the potted orchids where Martha had left them. Lex knew that Clara didn’t like cut flowers and that unusual plants piqued her interest more than common varieties. The orchids was a little more common variety of flower than Lex usually came up with, but Clara figured that Lex must have not been able to find anything more unusual for an impromptu apology for being unavailable to her. At the moment, Clara was more interested in the card. She opened the envelope and read the typed message “You’ve got mail.”
Clara hurried to Lex’s study. As she got near the door, she heard her son Larry signing,
“Milk and cookie,
Milk and cookie
Go together like
Silk sheets and nookie.
Unless you are a mother,
You can’t get milk
Without an udder.”
She opened the door and found her oldest son sitting at Lex’s computer. She said, “Lawrence Edward Luthor! You know that you aren’t supposed to use your father’s computer.”
Larry answered, “But Mom, Uncle Jon wanted to play on the computer in my room so I came down here to play.”
Clara said, “Well ask first next time if this situation ever comes up again so I can check some things out before you get on.”
Larry said, “I would da asked Mom, but you weren’t here. And I’m not supposed to ask Grandma to get her to counter dict you. I decided to take my chances that it would be OK. How much trouble am I in this time?”
Clara said, “Hmmm. Let me consider this. I know!” Clara put her arms around Larry and the desk chair from behind and hugged him. The she kissed him, first on the top of the head and then on each cheek.
Larry said, “Yuck! I think I’d rather be spanked!”
Clara smiled at him but a thought crossed her mind and her expression slowly changed to one of deep sadness. She bit down on her lip then said, “I’m sorry, Larry. I should know better than to touch someone without getting their permission first. I’ll never touch you again unless you say that it’s OK first.” Clara looked like she was going to cry.
Larry jumped up and put his arms around his mother’s waste and gave her a hug that could have crushed granite. He said, “It’s OK, Mom. I give you permission to touch me or kiss me anytime you want to … just not in front of anybody because they’ll tease me about it.”
Clara’s voice cracked a bit as she said, “Is it OK to kiss you now?”
Larry said, “Already? You just did it a second ago. I told you it was OK. You don’t have ta ask me. It’s better if you don’t or it’ll make it seem like I want you to. Go ahead, but try not to make it wet.”
Clara bent down and kissed Larry on the top of his head. She asked, “What was that song you were singing before I came in?”
Larry said, “Oh, some strange old guy writes them for a web site I like to visit. I don’t leave messages there because you are supposed to be 13 years old to do that. I could probably get away with it. I spell better than most of them. I’ve almost memorized the dictionary.”
Clara said, “You’re a good kid, you know that. I love you. And I promise I’ll try not to tell you I love you or kiss you in front of your friends … but maybe we can still hold hands once in a while. You’re my little man and I depend on you a lot – maybe too much. I don’t want you growing up too fast. There’s still a lot of fun things for you to do before the responsibilities pile up. But I know that, in this world, there will never be anything that you can’t handle … except maybe a sloppy kiss from your mother.”
Larry asked, “Can you tell me what “nookie” is Mom? It has something to do with silk sheets.”
Clara said, “Nookie is a slang term for something married people do in private to express their love for each other.”
Larry said, “YUCK! I hate that stuff! When do you get old enough so that you don’t have to do that junk anymore? There is NO privacy in THIS house. I try not to listen. YUCK!”
Clara said, “I know, I know. I had to learn not to listen, too. But when you are older and the time is right, it feels good and you don’t want it to be over with. I don’t want it to be over with, but it seems like your Dad and I won’t be making those noises very often any more.”
Larry said, “GOOD! I don’t know why that guy mixed up nookie and cookie. I’d rather have a cookie any day. I only looked at that song in the first place because I was thinking about cookies. Hey Mom, could you show me on the computer which slot the cookies come out?”
Clara said, “Cookies don’t come out of the computer. The term “cookie” refers to a message sent between a server you visit on the internet and your computer. The idea is that the next time you visit the same sight, that server will recognize you and get to know what you like in order to better customize the type of information it provides to you. That’s the theory anyway.”
Larry said, “Shoot! I wanted a cookie.”
Clara said, “Well, you’re in luck, there are chocolate chip cookies in the kitchen.”
Larry said, “I saw them. They all have sprinkles on them and sprinkles don’t go with chocolate chips!”
Clara said, “Well, you could scrape the off or you could ask your grandmother to take some of the cookie dough in the fridge and bake you up some cookies without sprinkles.”
Larry said, “Oh, Mom, I want to show you something stupid so you can explain it to me. Look at this. Someone sent it to Dad. Why would Dad want his pens bigger? If they are too big, they wouldn’t fit in his hand right. It doesn’t make sense!”
Clara looked over Larry’s shoulder to read the e-mail that he was talking about. She made a mental note to tell Lex to upgrade his spam filters. She said, “No honey, your Dad doesn’t need his … pens enlarged … and you’re right, any bigger and it wouldn’t fit … very well. Why don’t you run outside and play for a while?”
Larry said, “But Mom, Uncle Jon doesn’t want to and the rest of them are just babies!”
Clara said, “Here’s an idea. Why don’t you get some of the cookie dough and a cookie sheet and go outside and practice baking cookies with your heat vision. I always liked doing that.”
Larry said, “Aw Mom, that’s a girl thing. I’d rather give a frog a hot foot!”
Clara said, “Don’t you ever let me catch you using your powers like that. Cancel that. Whether I catch you doing it or not isn’t the point. It’s not right so don’t do it! And don’t go visiting that web site any more where that guy writes those strange songs. I can teach you plenty of nice songs if you want to have something fun to sing. Now scoot. I’ve got to read the mail. Close the door on your way out.”
Larry said, “Aw nuts!” and stomped out of the room.
Clara scrolled down the list in the in box. She mumbled, “Lori, Diana, Sylvia, Marianne, Karen, Amy, Robyn, Ann, Josephine, Amy again … and again … and again, Miranda, … who are all these women? Mike Williams … one man … maybe he’s gay. Three e-mails from Lois Lane. I doubt that she remembers that she is a female when it comes to Lex – he’s just a story to her. But she does speculate about Super Man a lot … maybe she has a thing for him. OK! Here. From Lex’s office to Lex … “Subject: Clara This Is For You!” Lex, let’s see what you have to say. I hope it’s good.”
The e-mail read:
I’m sorry that I wasn’t in when you called. I’ve missed being near you these last few weeks. I’ve missed having you around the office … and I’ve missed “having you” in my office. I feel empty when we are apart. I’ve cleared time in my schedule this afternoon … and cleared off the top of my desk for us. Could you come visit me? PLEASE! And please put on something special for me to take off … something small and silky … something I bought for our special times together? I think we both need some private time with each other. I will be back in my office at 3:30pm and hope to find you waiting on my desk. Don’t worry about privacy. Edward has cleaned out his desk and left. I gave the rest of the staff on my floor a vacation day. You can let your inhibitions go because there will be no one to see or hear us.
Use the private elevator and lock yourself in my office. When you hear me coming, lie down, shut your eyes and don’t open them up until I give you permission to. I promise to make this an afternoon that you will never forget.
I Love You,
Clara ran to find Martha. Martha saw her and said, “My you look like a new woman. That must have been some note with the flowers!”
Clara said, “Mom, how late can you stay? I hate to ask you, but I need to leave for a while … and don’t know what time I’ll be back.”
Martha said, “Don’t worry about me Dear, I guess I could tolerate spending an evening in this lap of luxury with my beautiful grand children. Is it an urgent job for Super Woman?”
Clara said, “Lex wants me at the office. As jittery as I’ve been today, it feels kind of urgent … but it’s nothing earth shaking … but if I’m lucky, it may be … and I think I can handle this one without calling on Super Woman. I just need some Lex time right now.”
Martha said, “Well, have fun. I hope you feel better soon.”
Clara said, “Lex always makes me feel better.”
Martha said, “Well, don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”
Clara said, “My biggest hope right now is that I’m the ONLY one doing what I hope to do. Baby Joel should be fine for another hour or so. His milk is in the fridge. William may want some too but I’d rather he eat the cereal I left for him. It’s in the serving savor with his name on it … next to Joel’s milk. Larry can heat it for you. He likes practicing his powers.”
Martha said, “I know the routine.”
Clara said, “I’ve got to go change for Lex. It will only take a couple seconds.”
Martha looked her over and said, “Good idea.”
Clara disappeared and reappeared 10 seconds later. She said, “Sorry that took so long. I had a hard time deciding what to wear.”
Martha looked puzzled. She said, “Honey, those are the same clothes you had on a moment ago. I can tell because there are some red stains on your dress near your knees.”
Clara said, “No, Mom, I put on …” Clara blushed then continued, “You’re right Mom, I changed clothes a couple times but ended up putting the same clothes back on. I guess I didn’t need to change after all.”
Martha said, “Are you OK, Dear? You weren’t even this nervous on your first formal date with Lex.”
Clara said, “I told you that I’m a little on edge. Hearing Lionel’s voice again really threw me. I NEED Lex now. Thank you for being here Mom. Thank you for ALWAYS being here for me. I don’t know what I’d do without you.” Clara hugged her mother and held her tight.
Martha could feel the nervous energy pulsing through her daughter as they held each other. She kissed her daughter’s cheek, stroked her hair and said, “Well, Honey, I not planning to go anytime soon. Stay out as late as you like. I’ll be here when you get back.”
In the LexCare lobby, Clara put her hand on a portion of the wall. A hand scan verified her identity and a wall panel slid back to reveal the opening to the private elevator. Out of habit she almost pushed the button that would take her to the penthouse that had been her home for some of the happiest … and saddest days of her life. Clara pushed the button to Lex’s office and lifted her glasses to submit to a retinal scan before the elevator would begin to ascend. She was impatient and the elevator seemed to be taking a long time. She wished she had flown directly to the terrace outside Lex’s office where she had often had lunch with Lex. Finally the elevator door opened into Lex’s office. She was immediately glad that she had followed Lex’s instructions. The security shields were down over the terrace windows and they couldn’t be opened from outside … at least not without demolishing them. The room was dark except for some mild indirect lighting and candlelight from dozens of candles all over the office. Clara stood at the elevator door for a few moments and took in the view. As it sunk in that she was out of the public eye and that she was alone and somewhere safe, she began to relax and become her “at home self.” As she walked to the office door to check that the door was locked, she lost some of her public, nervous, stiff mannerisms. As she crossed the office to the private bathroom, her eyes were drawn to the desk. Her mind drifted back to the many afternoons that she had spent in that office with Lex. That wasn’t the first desk that Lex and her had shared. It was hard to find one sturdy enough to stand up to …. It was good to be a major shareholder in LexCare and married to the boss. Clara spun gracefully to keep her eyes on the desk as she walked backwards to the bathroom door and unbuttoned her blouse.
In the bathroom, Clara removed her horn rimmed glasses and put them next to the sink. She looked in the mirror and pulled her hair back out of her face. She wet her lips and suddenly smiled thinking about being with Lex for the rest of the afternoon. She wiggled to shed the billowing loose outer clothes and revealed the tight black silk and lace lingerie that Lex had had designed for her to wear … but, as he explained, as a gift for himself. She adjusted her top and looked at herself from various angles. She got an all over blush in embarrassment from the sight of herself. She would have felt much less exposed had she been naked. But if this outfit made Lex happy and passionate, she would ultimately benefit. She wondered if she had made the right choice in not wearing the white version of the same outfit. She had decided not to wear it because, even without special vision powers, she could see through the fabric. That would have made her very self-conscious … but, she reminded herself that she was dressing for Lex, not for herself … and regretted her choice. She briefly thought about flying home and changing, but she felt too on edge to risk getting delayed and not getting back in time. She briefly considered whether or not she had anything sexier to wear in the penthouse … then forced herself to stop thinking about it.
She walked back into the office then covered herself on an impulse. She felt like she was being watched. Then she realized that Lex could be on his way and watching her as he approached. That idea changed her attitude and resulted in a major change in her body language. She had learned a certain walk that drove Lex crazy with desire. She took a deep breath then sauntered across the office with an inhuman grace. She wandered over to the desk and looked at her reflection in its highly polished surface. She ran a finger around the edge of the desk as she walked around it and decided how to position herself. She licked her lips in anticipation and looked at the clock. It was 3:20pm. This horrible day had crawled by very slowly for her. She didn’t know how she could wait ten minutes. Lex was usually punctual, but the last two months, he was always running late … sometimes hours late. She said a silent prayer that he would be a little early today … and at the worst, on time. The seconds were passing so slowly that the thought of … nine minutes now …was driving her crazy. She felt like she couldn’t survive that long without Lex … and she had no desire to start without him.
She sat on the edge of the desk and slowly lay back onto the smooth, cold surface. She pushed herself back and gripped the edges of the desk with her fingers and toes as she stared at the ceiling. She closed her eyes and began to wait. Her breathing deepened. Her chest rose and fell. Her pulse quickened and the sound of her own heartbeat became deafening to her. She thought, “Soon there will be another heartbeat to keep mine company. Soon we will be one again. Soon all my silly fears and suspicions will be washed away.” But for now she waited … feeling so empty even though she was never truly alone … aching for her husband’s touch.
After what seemed like forever, Clara just barely made out the sound of the door latch. Her body jumped and there was a sharp pain in her chest as her heart jumped in excitement. She had to concentrate to keep her eyes forced shut. Everything inside her cried out for her to open her eyes and watch Lex walk towards her in that smooth cat-like saunter that she loved. But she managed to obey his wishes. She kept her eyes shut. She was, as always, his willing and devoted slave.
Her nostrils flared when she caught a whiff of Lex’s cologne. He was wearing a lot more than he usually did. She was drowning in the aroma and loving it.
Lex was doing something. He was moving around her so fast that he sounded like two men at work. She couldn’t make out what he was doing despite her keen senses for three reasons: Her heart was pounding too loudly for her to hear much. She was so wild with anticipation that she couldn’t concentrate. And, she didn’t want to spoil whatever Lex was cooking up for them. She let out an involuntary moan and adjusted herself on the desk. When she did that, the room suddenly went silent.
She was startled by the unexpected but welcome feeling of his hands upon her thighs … gently stroking her until she thought she would totally lose control. His hands moved to her kneecaps and she felt herself being gently kissed where his hands had worked their magic just a moment before. Then the hands ran down one leg and she felt cold steel against her ankle as a restraint was clicked shut. She felt the weight of a heavy chain pull against her leg once the restraint was in place. She was intrigued that Lex was being so adventurous, but she didn’t mind. Then the hands stroked down her other leg to her ankle and a restraint secured her tightly down to the wide desk. She felt his weight upon her and was surrounded by the intense smell of his cologne. She licked her lips as she felt his hands stroke both her arms from armpits to wrists. When the restraints closed on her wrists, she was amazed that Lex was able to secure her in that fashion without shifting his weight on top of her. She felt his breath on her face as he pulled her hair away from her neck. She felt herself being kissed on one side of her neck and then the other. Then the weight upon her lifted as the pair of hands traced their way down her body as he kissed his way down from her neck to her belly button.
Clara never would have expected what happened next. The room was silent. She wondered why Lex had just stopped. As the seconds ticked by, she began feeling empty and alone and desperate. She was ready to experience what Lex had planned for her … but this was pure torture. It was a good trick if it was supposed to heighten her desire, because it did exactly that. But she had already been in misery and this had gotten to the point of cruelty.
So Clara cried out, “Lex, please don’t make me wait anymore. PLEASE!” But there was nothing but some clicking noises and the creaking of a chair. The fact that she could hear now meant that her heartbeat had slowed. The moment was passing. She felt like crying again. She hated that feeling. It was taking all her control to not burst into tears. She wondered if she would be feeling this way if her body wasn’t undergoing the changes it did at times like these. She mumbled, “Lex, what’s wrong? Please … Honey … HONEY!”
Finally, she couldn’t stand it anymore. She opened her eyes. She looked over and saw ….
Finally, she couldn’t stand it anymore. She opened her eyes. She looked over and saw Edward sitting in Lex’s desk chair, wearing Lex’s robe and smiling at her. Her first impulse was to break her restraints but she remembered that she had a secret to keep … and a family whose safety depended on her keeping it. She also wanted to know where Lex was and what was going on … and Edward might be the only one who could answer her questions. She turned in the direction of the clicking sounds and saw a burly man taking photographs. He stopped for a second to smile at her and nod his head in a friendly greeting before getting back to photographing her from all angles. She noticed that they had been busy setting up video cameras on tripods all around the room.
Edward said, I’m glad my friend here brought some of his video equipment with him. The security cameras I had installed in the office and bathroom did a remarkable job, but I think you might come off a little sexier … if that’s possible … from a slightly lower angle. Maybe you would be willing to repeat your earlier performance now that we have a better camera arrangement. We also have audio now. If you could repeat that moan you made a few moments ago, that would be marvelous. It was the most exquisite sound I have ever heard. On second thought, I’d hate for you to try to fake it. I expect I’ll be hearing a lot more of the real thing from you as soon as I get to work on you.”
Clara shouted, “EDWARD, GET OUT OF HERE! YOU’RE FIRED!!!!”
Edward said, “What kind of gentleman would I be if I left you in that position? I guess I could leave you with my friend Jim. I’m sure that he would enjoy it. But he’s better at what he does … and I’m the BEST at what I do.”
Clara said, “Well, since you are such a great administrative .assistant, why don’t you .assist your friend right out the door. Lex will be back any second. I have no idea what he would do if he walked in right now, but it wouldn’t be pretty.”
Edward said, “Relax, relax! You can have all the fun you want this lovely afternoon. Lex won’t be back so we can party all we care to. I sent those flowers to you and the e-mail. Lex gave me access to all his personal e-mail and I read enough of his communications with you to know how to put together a convincing enough fabrication. Just so you have a better understanding of my credentials before the games begin, I am NO administrative .assistant. I’m a gigolo – the BEST there is. I am here to give you pleasures that you have never imagined. It’s only fair. Lex is with his .whore and you are with yours.”
Clara said, “Get out! Lex will kill you when he finds out what you’re doing!”
Edward said, “Why would he kill me? I’m just doing what he hired me to do.”
Clara shouted, “LIAR!” She turned her head away from the two men and screamed for Lex in a frequency beyond the range of human hearing. If Lex was within 700 miles, he would hear her and come to her rescue as Super Man within a couple minutes. Her secret would be safe. As for what Lex would do to Edward, Clara no longer cared.
Edward said, “I AM a good liar … almost as good as Lex is. But I don’t lie when I have no reason to … and I haven’t been specifically paid to lie to you … and in our current situation, I have no need to do so. I don’t lie just for the heck of it because it gets too hard to remember what lie you told to whom and you get all tripped up. I’ve lost many a client that way. Lex doesn’t even bother covering his tracks very well – paying off female employees when he gets them pregnant. You MUST have noticed all the pregnancies and the big pay-offs that come out of the corporate accounts. Or do you choose to ignore it? That Lex sure is one potent S.O.B. He needs to invest some of his development budget in developing a sturdier condom!”
“Of course, Lex seems to be focusing his efforts on a chosen few … dozen these days. You should have seen the stream of men coming in here to look at that intimate painting of his girlfriend that he put on display. He’s so .cocky that he proudly shows off what he’s getting on the side! That was some painting! There was no point in that woman having a dress on because it was soaked through and left nothing at all to the imagination. In the painting Lex was laying with his head in her lap, staring up at her. I hear the woman had an angelic face, … but I didn’t spend much time looking at her face! He sure does like the dark haired ones, that’s for sure.”
“It’s almost as if Lex is begging to get caught so he won’t have to tell you … and you seem to be working hard to NOT see the obvious truth. I should call you “Cleopatra” because you are definitely in De-Nile. Get it? Edward laughed at his own joke. Clara just stared at the ceiling, counting the seconds until Lex would burst in and make Edward eat his slanderous words. Edward got up from the chair and came over to look down at her. He continued, “Cleo, I must say that you certainly have a beautiful “asp” … and you certainly know how to hide your “.assets.” I NEVER could have imagined how hot you look under those ugly, baggy clothes.”
“I don’t understand why rich, powerful people feel the need to have affairs when they have something as sweet and gorgeous as you are to come home to. I can’t complain, because that’s how I make my living. But the rich housewives are mainly bored or left alone too much … or feel unappreciated. But in Lex’s case, I don’t understand it. You certainly aren’t denying him anything. You rushed over here and followed his orders … excuse me, MY orders … to the letter. Maybe he has to find someone to spend intimate time with while you’re pregnant, but that doesn’t explain why he’s screwing around on you now. Maybe he’s a sex addict. That’s the only way I can understand him being with the others while you’re available to him.”
“You know, I was dreading this job. I research any person before I take an .assignment. I didn’t see a single flattering photo of you. Not one. Of course, when I saw pictures of Lex on the beach with some dark haired hottie, I never dreamed it was you. Some things make a little more sense now. But what scared me about this job the most is that I’m not a big fan of getting intimate with burn victims or women with a lot of scarring. A little extra meat on their bones is OK, but severe burns … NO. I read about a lab explosion that took place directly in front of you. Then I read an article that explained you being in seclusion three years ago as a result of getting buried in the rumble in that Doomsday attack. I looked but there were no records of any plastic surgery done on you. I thought the reason for the way you dress was to conceal the scars from your injuries. I was expecting the Frankenstein monster. Then there’s the fact that you have given birth six times … at home with only your mother to .assist you. I expected stretch marks. I read the birth certificate on your daughter. You’re a tall woman but having a baby weighing more than 24 pounds without having an incision or a stretch mark …! I looked up “The Guinness Book of World Records” highest weight on record and it was only slightly over 22 pounds if I remember correctly. The only thing that I can figure out is that you have plastic surgery done in your clinic here on the first floor then recover in your penthouse. But word about that kind of thing leaks out. What surgeon wouldn’t brag about you – no matter WHAT you paid them to keep silent? Men like that are too proud not to tell their success stories. OH! I get it. They don’t brag because you make yourself look like a dog in public. Your surgeon doesn’t want to be thought responsible for the way people IMAGINE that you look. Still, none of that makes sense. I just gave you a pretty good going over and there is no evidence of an incision. I have a pretty sensitive tongue and my little exploration of your belly button gave no hint that you had an incision their either. In fact, you have the smoothest belly button I’ve ever seen or felt. It looks like your umbilical cord was sealed off somehow rather that being cut and tied. You are one big mystery. I really thought you would have a gut, droopy boobs, thunder thighs and a flabby butt. I’ve seen your legs on occasion, so I knew that they are nice … and that you keep them clean shaven. You’re as clean shaven as your husband. Do you even grow hair below the neck? There is no sign of stubble at all – anywhere.”
“You’re 29 years old and there’s no sign of cellulite on you. You have exceptional muscle tone but you don’t belong to a gym, jog or have a personal trainer. The work out room at your mansion was gutted and converted into a play room for your kids.”
“Look, I know that this has to be hard for you to believe but …. Jim. Hey Jim, go outside for a minute. Don’t come back until I call you, OK?”
Jim said, “OK, OK, but you better stop the gab fest soon and get busy with her. I get paid by the job, not by the hour!” Jim left the room and closed the door behind him.
While Edward was distracted, Clara turned her head again to scream for Lex and beg for him to hurry. Like before, it was beyond a human’s range of hearing, … but it also seemed to be beyond Lex’s range as well because there was no response from him or any other indication that he was on his way.
Edward turned back to her. He began to stroke her hair as he spoke to her, “You may not believe this, but I have a code of ethics. I am committed to do a job here. Normally I would never consider an offer to not to a task that I have already accepted payment for doing.”
Clara said, “OK. How much do you want to leave right now? Name your price.”
Edward said, “That’s what I’m talking about. I would NEVER accept a deal like that. THIS is what I am offering. I have never seen a woman put together the way that you are. I have always promised myself that one day, I would retire and use my considerable talents to keep a woman happy for the rest of her life – ONE woman – an EXCLUSIVE arrangement. I have had offers before … many, many offers, but there has never been a woman special enough for me to make that deal with. Lex is an idiot to want more than you have to offer. I would be with you twenty-four seven and always available. I would keep myself in top notch shape just for you. I would never touch another woman unless you asked me to. If you wanted to be with other partners, I wouldn’t mind or expect the same as long as our arrangement continued. Of course I would need a demonstration of your sincerity to keep such a bargain with me before I release you from the desk. How does Brazil sound? We could leave right now … well, not now … but right after we seal the deal.”
Clara answered coldly, “How sweet of you to offer but NO THANKS!!!”
Edward said, “I wouldn’t expect you to answer without a test ride. Plus you haven’t seen what I have to offer.” Edward flexed his shoulders and Lex’s robe feel to the floor.
Clara jerked her head to look away. In her ultra sonic voice she cried, “Please Lex, please. Get here soon or I’ll kill him. I swear!”
Edward put the robe back on and said, “Maybe you’ll change your mind a little later … after what you just saw sinks in a little bit. You and Lex are a real pair of idiots – Lex for playing around hen he has you and you for staying with the bum when you have all the money in the world to hire someone like me. JIM! Get back in here. We have a job to do.” Jim came back into the room and began adjusting the cameras. Edward continued to talk to Clara, “I can’t understand why Lex would pay my rate to do you. A lot of men would pay handsomely for the privilege. Even I might have given him a discount had I known that the job would be so pleasant. But Lex did want me to seduce you … or let you think that sleeping with me was your own idea. He wanted the job done relatively quickly so he needed some good bait for the trap. Maybe that’s why he chose me … or maybe, just maybe, Lex still loves you just a little bit and wants you to know what it feels like to be made love to by an expert. Rich men don’t have to worry about satisfying a woman – money is the best aphrodisiac. You can’t tell me that Lex is the best that you’ve ever had.”
Clara said, “That’s none of your business but I’ll tell you anyway. YES, Lex is the best I’ve had. No one could be any better than he is … at least not for me. He was made for me and he’s everything I ever needed or wanted.”
Edward said, “You can ONLY say that because you haven’t been with me … YET. Ever been with a professional before Honey?” Clara didn’t answer. Edward continued, “OH! That’s right! I’m forgetting my research. Lex had you when you were 15, right? Don’t tell me that he was your first.” Clara remained silent. Edward said, “NO! Don’t tell me that he was your ONLY!” Clara blushed from head to foot. Edward laughed and continued, “OH … MY … GOD! You POOR Dear! You have no point of comparison. To my way of thinking, you’re still a virgin. You should have had other lovers even if you, for some reason, still love Lex. Then you could have told him how much better he is in bed … whether you ad to lie to do it or not. Maybe THAT’s why he fools around – to have women who know what other men are like tell him how good he is.”
“You should look at me as your golden opportunity to learn the sad truth. No? Well how about looking at it as revenge? Lex is sowing his seed all over town … knocking up women all over the place. Maybe your brothers and sister are actually blood relatives of your kids after all. You poor naïve little thing! Doesn’t it seem at all strange to you that your Mother could never have children with your father … but got pregnant as soon as Lex came into the picture?”
Clara said, “You’re going too far now! I KNOW that part isn’t true! I am a doctor. I know that my mother was sterile … and I know the treatment that cured her!”
Edward said, “Interesting. You said that you know that “that part” of what I said isn’t true. So then you DO realize on some level at that PART or MOST of what I’m telling you IS true!”
Clara shouted, “NO!!!”
Edward said, “I think you protest too much. Back to what I was saying about revenge ….”
Jim said, “For God’s sake get on top of her so we can get this done. If we finish quick enough, I can make some quick AND substantial cash on the side from a friend in the media! Will you do it already or do I have to do it myself?”
Edward said, “Shut up! This is my job and we’re getting paid plenty without double crossing our employer by marketing these images elsewhere. I’m having a little talk with the lady. If I can convince her the benefits of actively participating in the proceedings, the results will be infinitely more satisfying … on many levels.”
Clara said, “You’re wasting your breathe!”
Edward said, “It’s mine to waste. As I was saying, REVENGE! Lex is expecting pictures of us in the act. BUT I doubt that Lex would be thrilled if you look like you are REALLY having the best time you’ve ever had. I can assure you that I will make it totally un-necessary for you to act. Later, when Lex gets his pictures and confronts you, you can tell him how inadequate he is by comparison … and you won’t be lying. But that probably won’t happen, because once you’ve been with me, you’ll beg me to take you to Brazil and you’ll never want to see Lex again for any reason.”
Clara said, “I’m warning you. I’m not going to let you or your friend violate me … not in that way.”
Edward said, “Do what? It’s not what you think at all. I asked didn’t I? I’ve already been paid. I’ll admit that it would be fun to explore you, but if you refuse, I’ll make this as unobtrusive as I can and still fulfill my contract. I know what I’m doing here is not exactly legal … but I’m used to working on this side of the law. And you’re partly to blame because I DID give you the opportunity to make an honest man of me. Let me make this plain for you. I’m no rapist. Women ask me for it and pay me for it. I don’t take it and I don’t give it away for free. If you want to make accusations, remember this: Lex is the rapist. It was illegal for him to be with you when you were 15 ….”
Clara shouted, “YOU DON’T KNOW ANYTHING!”
Edward said, “AND … to finish my sentence, not all the Honeys he’s bedding these days are exactly legal age either. He must like them green and young and inexperienced. You know that first hand. AND, to continue, I know PLENTY. Lex gave me plenty of background information to help me find ways to get into your panties. He loved telling me how he pinned you between a rock and his hard place.”
Clara shouted, “THAT’S NOT TRUE! He NEVER did that to me … before we were married! PLEASE LEX! Get here or I swear I’m going to kill him! Get here quick! Get here NOW! I don’t want more blood on my hands!!”
Edward said, “I told you, Lex is busy elsewhere doing what we should be doing. And don’t worry your pretty little head about it. There’s no way you can hurt me chained up like that. Where were we? Oh yes. You were claiming that you were a virgin until you were married. I think you really believe that. That happens sometimes when a woman has a little girl. She reinvents herself in her own mind so she can tell her daughter not to do what she claims never to have done. But Lex has mementos that you don’t know about. He showed me pictures of you squirming on his lap while he was on this big rock. You weren’t wearing much in the way of clothes and, I must say, you haven’t changed a bit since then. There was a date stamp on the photo. You couldn’t have been more than 16 at the time. A man like Lex would never marry a woman without knowing exactly what he was getting.”
Clara said, “That shows how little you know about my husband. Photos can be faked. You should know that. You just told me that you were going to provide Lex with picture of me enjoying being with you – and pictures liken that would have to be fakes. Now I know that EVERYTHING you told me is just a bunch of BS.”
Edward said, “Fine, jump back into De-Nile, Cleo. All I know is that my paychecks say “Clara Josephine Kent Luthor” on them and the pictures we take will show what you were paying me for.”
Clara said, “That shows what a liar you are. You know that I didn’t hire you … for that!”
Edward said, “Like I told you earlier, I CAN lie when I get paid to … and I can make something fake look believable. It’s one of my many talents. But one thing I am not, it’s a rapist. As long as you continue to say “No,” I won’t show you how wonderful love making can be.”
Clara said, “Then GET OUT!!!”
Edward said, “Sorry, I can’t just yet. My job isn’t finished. I have to make it look real on film. I’m going to have to get very close to you and I may have to show a little bit more of your skin. And you’ll have to be careful not to make any moves that will cause what you don’t want to happen to happen. If at any time during the filming, you get caught up in it all and decide to make it real, just say “Yes.” And if you are feeling freakish, just call out for Jim and he can join in.”
Clara glared at him and said, “I’m from Smallville. I’m more freakish than you can imagine. There is more of me than meets the eye and if you don’t get out of here now, you will find out exactly the kind of freak I am!”
Edward said, “That sounds fun! And it gives me even more reason to explore. Do you have any extra body parts? How about a little tail?” Edward reached his hand behind her and slid his hand down her backbone and beyond the waist band of her panties. He said, “I guess not. You know, all this “fake and real” talk has made me very curious about whether or not you have had plastic surgery after all. They say that feeling is believing. Those look way too perfect to be real. Oopsie! Jim, zoom in on this.” Edward had slid Clara’s top up and began massaging her chest. Jim frantically took pictures. Clara fought back the urge to wrap the chain around Edwards neck. Edward said, “Nice. Very nice. Still nursing, huh? They don’t feel like implants but they are as firm as any breasts I’ve ever felt. Maybe I should get Jim to give me a second opinion. They are not quite natural but I like them a lot. Are they a new LexCare product you are developing? They certainly are well developed. OOPS! I caused a little leak. Actually something of a river. You know all this talking has me quite thirsty.” Edward smiled and licked his lips and looked into Clara’s eyes to enjoy her discomfort, but what he saw frightened him. It looked like fire dancing in her eye sockets. Maybe she was a Smallville mutant after all. He quickly said, “Jim, get a warm wash cloth from the bathroom. Clara, I always clean up after myself.”
Clara said, “Do it and Jim will be sweeping your ashes off the carpet. Now let go of me!”
Edward said, “Listen, I was just being considerate. I could have cleaned you up in a way you would have really enjoyed if you would just give me a chance. But now I’ll warn you. I don’t like being threatened. I’ve handled all your remarks very well until now, but if you don’t knock off all the threats, I might not be as gentle or considerate or as careful as I intended to be. I never considered you a stupid woman, but making threats when you are in no position to carry them out is stupid … and it will only make things go worse for you. Understand? Any other man would have been hitting you by now. Now I see why Lex cheats. Jim, forget the wash cloth. Mrs. Luthor will take care of her own hygiene when we are through with her.” Edward tucked Clara’s breasts back into her top and adjusted it.”
Clara said, “That’s the last time you’ll touch me and get away with it. Leave NOW! I no longer care about ANYTHING but keeping your filthy hands of me … and making sure you never do this to anyone EVER again!”
Edward said, “You just don’t listen, do you. You are making threats that you can’t back up! I told you that I need convincing pictures of us together, so there will be a lot of touching and close contact for a while. If the photos aren’t good enough, I won’t stand a chance of getting any bonus money or referrals.”
Clara said, “Why would Lex want photos like that? It doesn’t make any sense.”
Edward asked, “Are you really that naïve? He wants custody of your children. I don’t know why your kids are so special to him. He must have a hundred kids by other women by now. Maybe you and him really are mutant freaks and your kids are valuable genetic experiments. Maybe he simply wants a better cut of the fortune when you split up. It usually does come down to money at the end of the day. He just has to prove that you are an unfit mother and he’ll do that by showing that you hire men for sex. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!”
Clara shouted, “LIAR! I don’t believe a word of it. NOT A SINGLE WORD!”
Edward said, “In all honesty, Lex has no idea that I’m doing you this way. He wanted me to seduce you as fast as possible but warned me that you were a hard woman to rush in matters of the heart. He was going to help steer you my way by neglecting you a bit more, staying out a little later with his women, leave evidence of his activities around where you could find it … mine wasn’t the only e-mail on his computer was it? Any good pictures this time? Anyway, Lex was hoping that you would want a shoulder to cry on. He would let you know what he does with your Mom in her cozy country kitchen so that you would know better than to confide in her. He hoped you would come running to me and in a moment of weakness, let me show you what I do best. One time with me would lead to other times when Jim here would document everything on high resolution film. That was how it was supposed to be, but you fired me today and I lost my chance to do this subtly and gently. I had to get the job done quickly. I had no time to clear it with him or get his input on how to best get you into a position that you couldn’t get yourself out of. I did OK without his input. I just went a little overboard with the chains … but better safe than sorry … and they’ll look kinky on the film and add to the impression of you as an unfit mother. I really would have liked to have cleared it with Lex so he could have cut me a check today, but he’s out of touch … with someone else … probably spending quality time with one of his other families.”
Clara said, “Shut UP!”
Edward continued, “I think that this was a good plan. You came here under-dressed but not under duress. You certainly look like someone who came to fool around and I told you over the phone while others listened that Lex was out of the office. I gave them the afternoon off on orders from you because you wanted a private conference with me. The guard in the lobby saw you come up. You can’t prove that I used force on you, because you lay down on that desk totally on your own and allowed me to restrain you – and smiled and moaned while we did it. It’s all on the security tapes.”
I would have preferred it if you had fallen for me … thought that I was legit and that it was your idea to have a fling with me. Brazil with you by my side would have been heaven. Oh well, brace yourself darling, It’s time for me to earn my paycheck.” Edward dropped the robe again and lay down on top of Clara. He began kissing her neck as Jim snapped pictures.
Clara said, “You have no idea how strong I am or what I could do to you!”
Edward pushed himself up and said, “I would love to see what you could do to me. I would love to show you what I can do for you. Just say “yes” and I’ll make your every fantasy come true.”
Clara said, “Every fantasy I have at the moment would involve causing you massive amounts of pain.”
Edward said, “Sorry, I’m not into that. Want me to show you what I do get into? No? Then let’s continue where I left off.” Edward grabbed Clara’s thighs and said, “Such great muscle tone, so little body fat … and where you do have fat … I like where it’s at. Do us both a favor and say “Yes” now. Lex isn’t worth being faithful to and I’m well worth every dollar he paid me. I hear that you’re a very frugal woman. You wouldn’t want to waste Lex’s money would you? I’m more than willing to give you every penny’s worth of what I was paid for.”
Clara said, “I’m warning you one last time. You had better pray that Lex shows up because you don’t want me dealing with you.”
Edward said, “I wouldn’t mind him joining in, but he’s busy doing what I’m pretending to do. Aww, please try to smile for the camera, Baby. I want Jim to get some facial shots too or no one will believe that the pictures are really of you.”
Clara said, “I’m in no mood to tolerate either your imposition on me or your slanderous lies about my husband. I’m angry and I’m more than a little crazy. I can be dangerous if I lose control and I’m just about there right now. I’m strong enough to break free and strangle the life out of you. This desk is not nearly as sturdy as it looks.”
Edward took a hand off of Clara’s right thigh, pounded on the desk and said “It’s sturdy enough for what we need to do. But if you want to, Jim can help carry you up to the penthouse. You still have a bed up there, don’t you … and a large bath tub or hot tub?”
Clara said, “You’ve been warned!” Clara screamed so loud that Edward had to cover his ears, “LEX, PLEASE … PLEASE … PLEASE … PLEASE … PLEASE! I DON’T WANT TO KILL HIM BUT I WON’T BE ABLE TO STOP MYSELF!” She gave Edward a pleading look and said, “Please leave now. I DON’T want to do this … I DON’T want to hurt you. Please! Please leave!”
Edward said, “Sorry. I’m very conscientious about my work … and very thorough. I have areas that I need to explore yet.” He put his hands on her kneecaps and his thumbs on the inside of her legs. He said, “You don’t seem to have any body hair at all. That has me very curious … VERY curious!” Edward stroked Clara’s thighs with his thumbs and he moved his hand up her legs.”
Clara shouted, “DON’T YOU DARE!”
Edward said, “You have to learn to be more comfortable with your body. AND you have to get a little quieter … or I’ll have to gag you. I don’t want to get a head ache. Wow! I am REALLY turned on being this close to you. You aren’t the only one losing control. I’m a professional. I never get this personally involved in what I am doing. But, oh my God! You are so hot. I can’t believe how good it feels being this close to you. It’s almost like you have this irresistible aura of energy around you. I want you so badly. Be honest with yourself, do you really want me to stop?”
Clara shouted, “STOP, STOP, STOP, STOP, STOP, STOP, STOP, STOP, STOP, STOP!!!
Edward said, “I haven’t had to take a cold shower in as long as I can remember, but I’m going to need one when I’m done with you!”
Clara sniffed back a tear and said, “I’ll hurt you. I really will!”
Edward glared at her and said, “I’ve really had enough of you threats. You are in no position to make threats … but you are in the position I want you in. I have a job to do and I will touch you anywhere and any way I choose to!”
Edward moved his thumbs up Clara’s inner thigh and started to go under the lace trim of her panties. Clara’s hands gripped the chains attached to her restrains and shouted, “WHY WOULDN’T YOU LISTEN TO ME, YOU JERK?”
Clara moved her hands towards Edward and the desk exploded as the chains cut through the hard wood. Before he could blink, Edward was suspended by his neck against the far wall of the office. Clara’s trembling hands held him despite him pulling her forearms as hard as he could to free himself. Blood trickled down his throat from where her diamond hard nails were cutting into his flesh. Jim ran for the door and Clara looked his way. A short burst of heat vision cut his camera strap and his camera fell to the floor. A second burst of heat vision and the camera disappeared in a flash of flame and smoke.
Clara turned back to Edward at looked at him with the face of a mournful child. On the verge of tears, Clara sniffled and softly said, “I told you not to … didn’t I tell you not to?” After taking several deep breaths to try to calm herself, Clara said, “Tell me that Lex didn’t hire you to do that to me! TELL ME!”
Edward gasped for air but couldn’t speak. Clara released him and he fell to the floor in a heap. He looked up at Clara as she effortlessly tore the manacles from her wrists and ankles. In a blur and none too gently, she wrapped his naked body in the chains and fused the ends together with her crushing grip. Edward managed to say, “What the hell are you? No wonder he was willing to pay so much to get you out of his way!”
Clara grabbed a chain with one hand and lifted Edward with one hand so that she could stare him in the eye. She said, “I’m so angry right now that I could snap neck and drop kick your head to Pluto! But that wouldn’t be POLITE now would it? Especially since you were kind enough to send me flowers. But if you ever … if you EVER … OH HELL! You’re not worth talking to!” Clara applied force strategically to cut off Edward’s blood supply and he fainted. She tossed him back on the floor.
Clara staggered over to a corner of the room and leaned up against the wall. She allowed herself to slide down the wall and curled up on the floor. She said to herself, “I won’t cry … I WON’T! If I start now, I won’t be able to stop. Lex I needed you. I still need you now. Where are you and why won’t you come to me when I’m calling you?” She swallowed her feelings and pulled her knees up against her in a tight ball. She was trembling uncontrollably. She kept breathing hard and kept telling herself “Must be strong – MUST be in control” until the shaking slowed to an occasional spasm. Eventually, she got up and made sure that Edward was secure and that his bleeding had stopped. She scanned the room and destroyed every hidden camera. Then she went into the private bathroom and did the same before filling the tub with hot water. She used her heat vision to make the water boil then disrobed and got in. She scrubbed herself as hard as was super-humanly possible but she still felt dirty. She got out of the tub and then released heat from her skin to vaporize the water so that she would be dry before she got dressed again. She hated putting the lingerie back on but there was nothing else available and she wasn’t going out without undergarments.
She went out into the office and stared at Edward’s unconscious body considering what to do with him. She couldn’t decide, so she left him there … dressed only in chains. She walked around the room blowing out all the candles. She took the videotapes out of all the video cameras and destroyed the tapes. Then she traced the wires leading from the spy cameras back to the empty guard station guard station and removed and destroyed the tapes. When she returned to the office, she dismounted the cameras and folded up the tripods. Walking around like she was a zombie, she put the camera equipment in a closet and got out a vacuum cleaner and began cleaning the office. Doing this routine kind of activity in a half conscious state seemed to have a calming influence on her. She moved Edward to a corner and vacuumed the spot where he had been then put the vacuum sweeper away. But she never ventured near the splintered pile of wood that had been Lex’s desk. Soon, she walked to the private elevator and put her hand on the palm scanner. But when the door opened, she just stood and watched it close again. She turned and walked to the windows, raised the security shield and walked out onto the terrace. She watched the skyline as she removed her shoes. She nested her shoes together and stuck her folded eyeglasses into them. The winds blew through her long hair as she looked everywhere hoping for some sign of Lex. Finally, she gave up any hope of seeing him, hopped onto the railing and leapt off.
Martha was playing with wooden blocks on the floor with her son Timmy and Clara’s son Alan. Alan turned his head towards the door and said, “Mommy fwy home now. Me fwy soon too!”
Martha said, “No Honey, I told you that your Mommy won’t be home until late, but I’ll stay here and play with you … and Grandpa Jon will come over soon and we’ll all have a lot of fun.”
Then Martha heard the front door open and shouted, “Jon, I’m in here. I wasn’t expecting you for another two or three hours.” Martha got up and headed to the front foyer. She found Clara standing there in tattered clothes with some black lingerie showing through. Martha said, “Clara! I guess I shouldn’t have doubted Alan, but I wasn’t expecting to see you until much later. Were you flying in your street clothes again?”
Clara said, “I’m really losing it. I can normally make my aura protect my clothes better than this if I concentrate. I didn’t rip them at all on the way to the jail carrying the kids and all those cookies … or on the way to Metropolis. At least I have one excuse for not spending a lot of money on street clothes. I needed to blow off some steam so I circled the planet a dozen times on my way home … but I couldn’t find … never mind.”
Martha said, “You’re trembling, Dear. And you were trembling before you left for the office. I don’t ever recall seeing you tremble -- not even when you went out to do farm chores in shorts and a t-shirt in mid winter in the first few years we had you. I wish there was a doctor you could see. This isn’t normal for you at all.”
Clara said, “Don’t worry about me. Is Lex here? Did he call?”
Martha answered, “I thought you he was with you.”
Clara said, “I thought he was with me too … I really hope he’s not against me. Maybe he’s with other … other people now.”
Martha said, “I think that the nap you talked about earlier is over due. You’re not making much sense and your eyes are looking a little strange. Just go sleep for a while and let Lex do whatever he’s up to. I’ll have him wake you when he shows up.”
Clara said, “He won’t have any reason to wake me. He’ll have already gotten anything he might want from me before he gets home. I AM tired but I’m TOO tired. I don’t think I could sleep now if I tried. I’ve got too much on my mind and I can’t shut out my thoughts. I feel kind of “cranky” and uncomfortable like I want to get out of my skin or have a tantrum or cry … but I can’t do anything. Do you feel like that sometimes Mom?”
Martha said, “No, not really. I’m perfect, remember? If you can’t sleep, just go lie down. Maybe you’ll surprise yourself and drift off. It can’t hurt to try.”
Clara asked, “Mom, did anyone ever try to … to steal Dad away from you?”
Martha said, “Are you kidding?”
Clara mumbled, “I didn’t think so.”
Martha continued, “A hottie like your Father … women were making moves on him all the time! I just let all the women in town know how handy I was with a pitch fork. Plus I KNOW how to use what the Good Lord gave me to keep your Father interested, happy and at home!”
Clara’s face took on a sad expression. She held back her tears and hung her head as she quietly said, “I wish I did. I guess cooking isn’t the only thing you’re better at than I am.”
Martha said, “What’s going on?! Now you’re getting me really worried.”
Clara said, “Don’t worry Mom. I’m sorry. Everything’s OK. I’m just having a really bad day. Look at my clothes. They’re ruined!”
Martha said, “I’d call that a blessing. They look better that way than when you brought them home from K-Mart. But if you’re upset, I’d better not tell you ….”
Clara said, “Go ahead. It couldn’t get much worse. I may as well deal with all the nasty stuff in one day so I don’t have another day like this tomorrow.”
Martha said, “Well, some rude, pushy man called … Matt …NO, MIKE Williams. He said he wanted to come over and show you pictures of a woman that Lex commissioned him to paint. He said he had done several paintings of her … some of them somewhat intimate. He said that Lex also paid him to paint pictures of several children that look too much like Lex … and like the woman … for it to be a co-incidence. He said that he told Lex that he would ask you if you know the woman and Lex had said to go ahead … that Lex said that he was planning to come clean with you about it soon anyway. He said that the woman was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen and that he has a business proposition for her if he can locate her. It all sounded pretty fishy to me … like one of those tabloid photographers making up a story to worm their way in the door. I can see by the look on your face that I shouldn’t have told you … I just wanted you to be prepared in case he shows up here tonight. Look, this can’t be any different than any of the other bogus calls you get all the time.”
Clara said, “There’s a lot of smoke for there to be no fire, Mom. I’m glad you told me. Never be afraid to tell me anything. I always want you to be brutally honest with me. I don’t want you to ever get in the habit of hiding things from me. You don’t hide things from me Mom … do you?”
Martha said, “No, of course I ….” Then Martha stopped as if she had just remembered something and her face turned a shade of red that matched her hair.
Clara asked, “What, Mom? What is it?”
Martha said, “It’s not my place to tell you … and Lex said he would tell you soon. ….”
Martha said, “It’s not my place to tell you … and Lex said he would tell you soon. I just wish he hadn’t involved me. There is no reason for him not to just come out and tell you. You’ve always been very understanding and tolerant … and quick to forgive. Just like I don’t think Lex will get as mad or stay mad as long as you think he will when you tell him about Leah’s visit with Lionel. You know that Lex has always been generous with the people he cares about. Can he help it that young girls know ways to get him to do things -- things that he KNOWS he shouldn’t do?
Clara said, “What?!”
Martha said, “Just let him tell you, Honey. He said it would be better coming from him so I promised that you wouldn’t hear it from me – not a word. Look, I’ll talk to him the next time I manage to get him alone. I’ll tell him that he has to tell you right away or I will.”
Clara said, “Good luck getting private time with him!”
Martha said, “Don’t tell me that I know your husband better than you do. If he doesn’t give me his undivided attention, I’ll lure him into the kitchen and show him a little leg. If that doesn’t do the trick I’ll let him see some thigh. If even that doesn’t do it, I get out the big guns! I show him a breast and tell him he has to keep his hands off until we get something straight between us.”
Clara said, “You’re joking right. I’m a little dense right now and not too quick on the uptake. You would never show Lex a breast to get his attention, right? Any other day I’d be laughing but not today.”
Martha said, “I’m deadly serious. When a man comes home at night there are very few ways to get a man to focus so you can discuss something. The day that one of MY breasts won’t do the job is the day you’ll have to send me to a nursing home! But that won’t be any day soon. You know that you still have what it takes when they lick their fingers afterwards.”
Clara said, “I wouldn’t recommend you try that with Lex, it would just embarrass him.”
Martha said, “It never has before.”
Clara said, “You’ve tried that with Lex before?
Martha said, “Ohhh, yeah. I don’t always use the same bait, but once he’s in the kitchen he’s mine. We’ve been having our little times together since the first time he came over to the house. I fill some of his needs … and until recently, he has filled a hole for me too. He gave me something I was missing in my life. Of course once I was pregnant it was only natural that I didn’t need him in the same way anymore. I think I provide a positive role in your marriage without you even realizing how much better it makes your relationship with Lex. I have seen a lot of marriages fall apart because a man forces his wife to be something she isn’t and that makes the relationship change in ways it shouldn’t. I’m more than happy to fill that role for Lex so that you don’t have to. Lex was fortunate that I didn’t have to learn on him. When I was a teenager, I used to baby sit young boys so I got some time to practice. But if Ryan hadn’t lived with us for a few months, I wouldn’t have been as ready to meet Lex’s needs when he finally came home with you that night.”
Clara said, “Ryan?”
Martha said, “Yeah, Ryan hadn’t really had anyone before me – at least not anyone that wanted and loved him like I did. I learned more from him than you might imagine. With Ryan, I developed a new confidence. I learned that, once you get beyond the physical differences between men and women, we all basically have the same needs and those needs can be handled in the same way. I think one reason that I latched onto Lex from his very first visit that I was missing my times with Ryan so much.”
Clara said, “I thought Ryan was always so agitated because he was aroused by me!”
Martha said, “Yes, that’s true. He was. He’d get all worked up and upset over you and then come to me to make him feel better.”
Clara said, “Dear God, Mom! Why didn’t you tell me all this?!”
Martha said, “I’m really shocked that, even with your super-senses you couldn’t tell how it was with us just by seeing how we acted with each other whenever we get together.”
Clara said, “So, the secret Lex is supposed to tell me is that you two have these … these … private little rendezvous in the kitchen?”
Martha said, “Of course not. If it was something as little as me and Lex … that’s harmless … actually, I thing that’s healthy! That’s nothing. I just told you all about it right now. No big deal, right? I don’t thing that the other secret will bother you much more than what I told you about Lex and me and Ryan. Hmmm. Lex and me and Ryan. That’s kind of sad that I never had Lex and Ryan together at the same time. That would have been so wonderful!”
Clara said, “Mom, I am SO sick. I hate knowing that you are keeping secrets about my husband secret from me. I never would think you would agree to that, but there is a lot of things I never would have imagined before today.”
Martha said, “I’m sorry. Let’s go sit down in the front room for a while. Maybe open the blinds and get you some sunlight to help perk you up a bit.” Martha walked her daughter to the front room. Clara plopped down in a big easy chair and Martha gracefully seated herself across from Clara. She said, “I am sorry this is upsetting you so much. Normally I wouldn’t keep any secrets from you, but you know Lex. He could probably convince any woman to do anything he wanted them to do – and I’m no exception. But he really should just tell you everything. The way Lex is, it’s in his nature to be the way he is. You could never get him to stop, but you could at least set reasonable limits and guidelines. Decide on the few things that you must insist on and hold your ground with him. But don’t try to make him behave exactly the way you want him to. Make as few demands on him as possible. Take away a man’s freedom to choose his own path and you’ll either kill his spirit or you’ll ruin your relationship.”
Clara said, “I can’t really grasp what you are telling me here, but from what you’ve told me, Dad had better NEVER find out this secret that you and Lex are sharing!”
Martha said, “I don’t keep secrets from your father. He’s known about this from the very beginning! When Jon couldn’t talk Lex out of it, he had Lex describe to him exactly what he was looking for … and then your Dad pointed him in the right direction. Lex may have spent a lot of time on top of them, but it was obvious that Lex had no eye for breeding or temperament when it comes to fillies. As far as Lex was concerned, he just thought he would look at what was available, decide which one he would like to take for a ride, pull out his wallet and the transaction would be over. Lex was looking for something long term … not a few short years. Jon knew that the kids – mine and yours, would be spending a lot of time with her, so he helped Lex pick her out. She is a real beauty too! I’ve never seen one with her style and grace in as long as I can remember! All Lex was looking for was a calm and gentle ride, but your father made sure that she had many other fine qualities. Lex knew she was healthy and good-looking, but he wasn’t convinced that she was the one until that first time he mounted her in the stable. After that, he took her out to the fields for a real work out. Lex has been good about coming over and taking care of her. I never want your father to get the idea that that is his job! The sooner Lex tells you about her and the sooner she moves over here the better. Your brothers and sister are going to get too attached to her if she stays with us much longer.”
Clara was listening in total disbelief, but she managed to ask, “She’s staying at the farm?”
Martha asked, “Where else could he hide her? He wants her nearby and available. Lex keeps bringing Leah over on the pretense of having her visit her Grandfather. All this deception is pointless. There is no turning back. What is done is done. She’s part of your lives now, so Lex should just tell you so you can get used to the idea and accept it. I really hate being in the middle of all of this … and I don’t want to have to clean up the mess every time that a young girl uses her charms to get her way with Lex. I hate to know that it’s happening but what is worse is that it’s happening in my own back yard! And what makes it worse is that it was all so un-necessary! I don’t know why Lex wanted one that would need broken in and trained. Jonathan would be willing to share. It’s good enough for Jon and he isn’t that skilled of a mount … and it’s not like he rides that much lately anyway. But my biggest concern is Samantha. Sam sees what a girl gets by manipulating Lex and she wants the same thing for herself.”
Clara sat up in her chair and said, “Mom, not Samantha! She’s only five years old! And what do you mean by saying that she “sees” it. She’s not like my kids, she can’t see through walls.”
Martha said, “Even a normal girl can see through the gate of a barn stall.”
Clara said, “In the barn? Where I used to have my bedroom?”
Martha said, “Well, I certainly wouldn’t allow it in my house – under the roof I sleep under!”
Clara said, “How could you even consider letting a five year old ….”
Martha said, “That’s why it bothers me so much. I never had to deal with this problem with you. You waited forever because it never seemed to interest you at all.”
Clara said, “I was interested, but I listened to what you told me … and I was scared about getting too excited and causing an injury.”
Martha said, “Like with the bull’s horn.”
Clara said, “Mom, that’s not a good example and you know it. I was just wrestling to bull to the ground like I saw the rodeo cowboys do.”
Martha said, “I thought it was a pretty good analogy. Anyway, unlike you, Samantha would be more likely to get hurt if she starts too young. She is totally fascinated with the whole thing and is impatient to start. I was hoping that she would wait until she is at least 10 or 12, but now I would be surprised if she waits until she is six! But she loves Lex and, since she’s your sister, Lex doesn’t want to deny her what she sees the others get. It’s going to be hard enough to explain to her why you can fly ad bend steel in your bare hands and she can’t. At least I can could on Lex to be a kind and gentle teacher when Sam does start. He will show her all the safe and proper techniques so she can avoid unpleasant surprises in her later experiences.”
Clara said, “Mom, you CAN’T be talking about what I think you are! Tell me exactly what you are talking about!”
Martha said, “I’m kind of glad that you don’t understand. I’ve told you way too much already. If you guessed what is going on from what I just said, that would mean that I had broken my promise to Lex. I don’t want to keep this from you, but I don’t want to do anything to mess up my special relationship with Lex either. I’d hate for there to be any friction between us.”
Clara said, “Then you should use a lubricant. It sounds like you always have Crisco handy when you’re with Lex. But don’t be surprised if he doesn’t want to lick his fingers afterwards.”
Martha said, “You aren’t making any sense, Honey.” Martha leaned over and felt Clara’s forehead. She said, “You feel very warm, but it’s so hard to tell if that’s OK or not. Look, Clara. Trust me. Don’t let all of this bother you. Maybe someday soon we’ll all be laughing about it.”
Clara said, “I very much doubt that.”
Martha kissed Clara on the forehead and said, “I will talk to Lex next time I lure him into the kitchen and tell him to come clean with you about everything. If he still doesn’t tell you, I will.”
Clara said, “Please tell me now!”
Martha said, “You’re old enough to be patient. Lex will tell you … and when he does, go easy on him. You’re the one who made him the way he is, so don’t blame him for his willingness to spread around what he has been blessed with. You are the one who always wanted to share what you have with others – and Lex has plenty to spread around. I for one like the man that Lex has become. I have finally learned to accept what he does for me without feeling guilty about it like I did the first several times. Once you learn to accept what you are given without guilt, everything in life gets easier for you.”
Ever since she sat down in the living room with Martha, Clara felt like she was in some kind of a trance. It was like this was a dream … but more like some nauseating nightmare. Clara was thankful that she hadn’t eaten since breakfast (a breakfast that she lost in the prison reception area bathroom) because she knew that she wouldn’t be able to hold anything down. She was still trembling slightly and began rocking herself in an attempt to find some form or comfort. It felt as if her entire world was turning upside down. Without energy, without emotion, Clara said, “I must be going crazy. I must be suffering from paranoia again. The way I am seeing the entire world is totally off from the way things looked last night when I fell asleep with Lex’s arms wrapped around me. It feels like I’ve somehow crossed over into an alternate universe where Lex is an evil man and my arch enemy. I can’t trust myself or what I am feeling. You KNOW I can’t afford to lose control, Mom. I CAN’T! Do you still keep that kryptonite in the basement?”
Martha said, “Just go take that nap you talked about, Dear -- just dream about Lex and your home and your beautiful family. Like you said, you’re having a bad day. Everyone has them. You’ve had worse. There was that lab explosion that almost took you away from us … and that day when that giant alien almost beat you to death. I thought you were gone for sure that time.”
Clara asked again, “You DO still have that kryptonite, right?”
Martha said, “Yes, Dear, you made me promise to keep some.”
Clara said, “If I go crazy, just weaken me enough so that you can control me, but if I’m not better in six or seven months from today, don’t take any chances. Finish me.”
Martha said, “PLEASE, Clara! Get some sleep! We’ll talk about everything when Lex gets home.”
Clara said, “Before or after he nibbles on one of your breasts?”
Martha said, “He’d be in a better mood to talk afterwards.”
Clara said, “If you don’t get the kryptonite, I’ll have to call the President. He’s got some people who can take me out if they have to. I’d call him now, but he wouldn’t wait … he’d do it tomorrow … and I need my seven months.”
On the edge of getting hysterical, Martha said, “DON’T … YOU … DARE! Just go … and lie down … like I told you to. Don’t do anything stupid before Lex gets home. I know you Clara. I couldn’t know you any better if you had grown inside of me. I know that something is troubling you and we’ll get it taken care of … together … as a family. But I know that you are a gentle woman and that you would NEVER hurt anyone! NEVER!”
Clara said, “I could kill someone if I sneezed on them. Humans are as fragile as tissue paper to me. It is a conscious effort every single day not to destroy everything I touch. I’ve never really hugged you or Dad – only Lex and my older kids. You yourself reminded me of what I am capable of just a minute ago. How can you think that I would never hurt someone when I have already killed someone?”
Martha said, “What are you talking about, you have never … Oh … I should never mention that thing again. You had no choice.”
Clara said, “There’s ALWAYS a choice … just not always a GOOD choice.”
Martha said, “I would have killed that thing and never thought twice about it had it been in my power to do so. That thing was pure evil. Do they even know how many people it killed that day? And it almost took you ….” Martha was caught off guard and the tears ran down her face. She took a breath to regain control and put her hand on her daughter’s shoulder before continuing, “and it robbed my family … of something special … I don’t think I could have survived that kind of loss if it happened to me. That horrible thing! For whatever twisted reason it may have had, it was intent on destroying everything and everyone in Metropolis … and I seriously doubt that it would have stopped there. It deserved to die. You have to stop grieving for it. It wasn’t worth grieving over. The thing wasn’t even human.”
Clara said, “Neither am I, Mom.”
Martha said, “In the way we use the word “human,” you’re the most human person I’ve even known. And that thing almost killed you … and you almost let it. If you hadn’t done what you did, you would be dead.”
Clara said, “You know how I feel about that. If I’m not intelligent, creative or powerful enough to keep myself alive by any other means that by taking the life of a sentient being, then my choice is to die without blood on my hands.”
Martha said, “And you nearly had it your way. That thing killed the baby you were carrying. She would have been your 5th child. You were laid up for a long time. The world thought that Super Woman was dead … and I often wish that you would have hung up your belt for good and let them keep thinking that.”
Clara said, “I still have nightmares about it. He was over 18 feet tall. He couldn’t be reasoned with and he was intent on destroying everyone and anything in his path. I have never felt so powerless since my arrival on this planet. He threw me around like a rag doll even after I stopped holding back. His fists were twice the size of my head. He kept hitting me even after I stopped fighting back … and I stopped fighting back when I felt my baby die inside of me. My body was trying to repair itself, but there was hardly an organ that wasn’t damaged and I had a lot of cracked and broken bones. I was no longer able to absorb or channel energy. I couldn’t concentrate enough to fight anymore or get away. He was holding me down with one hand and punching me with the other. I knew that I was about to die, so I looked towards the penthouse apartment at LexCare to see my family one last time … and I saw little Leah staring back at me … and crying hysterically. I realized that she was less than a mile away and that the thing on top of me could kill her and you and the boys … and WOULD if he couldn’t be stopped. If I couldn’t stop him, I didn’t know who could … other than Lex and it felt like he had dropped off the face of the Earth. That thing, that creature out of my worst fears, was smiling at me as he pulled his fist way back to make his final blow. I somehow feed my arm, flattened my hand and, when his head got closer to me, drove my fingers through his eye socket and deep into his brain. I didn’t think about it. I just did it. I took a life. That creature fell dead on top of me, then I passed out. The next thing I knew, you were wiping my forehead with wash wet washcloths. My face didn’t hurt anymore and the warm water felt so good, but the rest of my body felt like it was in pieces and I didn’t know if I could survive the pain of it. You told me that Lex had brought me home and that he would be back as soon as he could. He must have pulled that thing off of me and pulled my arm out from inside of its skull. I don’t know. It’s something we could never talk about. I didn’t know where he had gone off to that day. At the time, I hadn’t really cared. When I thought that I was going to die, I was glad that he was safe somewhere and would survive to protect our family. All Lex ever said about it was that he would never forgive himself for not being there when I needed him most. He must have been feeling too guilty to even look at me, because I didn’t see him for 3 or 4 days – time passed strangely for me then so I’m not sure. That’s the longest we had ever been separated in our married life. By the time Lex came back, my bruising had healed and I looked somewhat normal but I was still broken up inside and couldn’t deal with … her death … or with the fact that I had taken a life. I don’t think I have resolved those issues yet … I’ve just hidden them away with all my other emotional pain, fears and dark thoughts. Lex held my hand and stayed with me after that … leaving only to spend time with the children. He wouldn’t eat unless I did and I don’t think he ever slept. It took a while for my body to heal … but I don’t think I’ll ever again be the person I was before that day … that day when I killed a sentient being while my daughter watched. So don’t EVER consider getting rid of that kryptonite. I CAN lose control and act violently without stopping a second to consider my actions. Not only am I capable of killing, I HAVE killed. And less than one hour ago … less than one hour ago …. I didn’t turn the other cheek. I didn’t even want to settle for an eye for an eye. HE touched me. HE embarrassed me. HE made me feel dirty and worthless. I didn’t want to forgive him. I didn’t want to simple make him stop. I didn’t even want to humiliate him for the humiliation he caused me. I WANTED to KILL that .bastard! I WANTED to squeeze the life out of him and have him beg for mercy while I snapped his arrogant head off! I WANTED it so much. I WANTED his pain … his BLOOD! I’m a monster. Someone with the powers I have can’t be on the loose if I can’t control myself!”
Martha said, “Well you just shown that you are WRONG. You were in control. You didn’t kill.”
Clara cried, “But I WANTED to!”
Martha said, “BUT you … DIDN’T! How else do you define control except as being able to stop yourself from doing what you want to do and are easily capable of doing? Because God knows … GOD CERTAINLY knows … that had you truly wanted to kill that man, no power on Earth could have stopped you! Only one person had that power and only one person used it … and that was YOU! You CONTROLLED yourself like you have ever since I’ve known you. The instant we first saw each other, you walked into my arms because you desperately needed to be held. You had just lost your parents and your world and felt totally alone in the universe. In your grief, you could have crushed the life out of me before realizing it … but you held me gently and lovingly. You are in control Clara. Even on those few occasions when you are an emotional wreck, you always keep a measure of control. You are certainly more in control than I ever have been … and I’m the Rock of Gibraltar. But if looks could kill, I would be a mass murderer by now! You have more physical and mental control than anyone who ever walked the planet … and I doubt that that will ever change.”
Clara said, “Mom, I barely kept myself from killing Edward … and I can feel it … I can feel my control slipping away by the minute. Something inside me is screaming to get out and break things and hurt anyone that hurts me. Whatever it is, it woke up and it scares the hell out of me … and it should scare you too. You saw that movie “Species” with me Mom. Maybe that’s what’s happening to me.”
Martha said, “Rubbish! I thought you were old enough to watch that kind of movie. You’re not some genetic weapon and you’re not the boogie man or Freddy Kruger either. You’re my sweet daughter Clara who is cranky and upset because she’s had a bad day and needs a nap.”
Clara said, “Please, Mom! Don’t let me kill again! Promise me that you’ll stop me if I get any worse. I would rather put my life in your hands than call the President.”
Martha said, “STOP talking about that! Just go to bed! We’ll talk to Lex -- just don’t do anything stupid before he gets home.”
Clara said, “Mom! You KNOW that I am NOT known for being stupid!”
Martha said, “Well you are being pretty stupid today. Everybody is stupid at times, Dear – EVERYBODY! And today is your day for it with all this kryptonite talk. For the sake of your children, go get some sleep. I haven’t seen you act this way since the couple weeks leading up to your fight with that “Doomsday” monster … ad the time before that when you gat all nutty and weepy about how big you were getting when you were carrying Leah. If you start bawling your eyes out anytime soon, I will know EXACTLY what this is all about! Oh, my God! I guess this is one of my stupid days too – I have them a lot more often than you do, that’s for sure. Are you keeping a secret from us Clara? You are, aren’t you! I should have known it!” Clara didn’t answer her, so Martha said, “Why would you keep something like that a secret? What’s the point? And how can you blame Lex from keeping secrets when you do the exact same thing?”
Clara said, “It is NOT the same thing Mom! There’s a HUGE difference! And if you are intent on helping him keep his nasty secret from me, you damn well better not tell him about mine! I was waiting for a good time to tell him, but he’s practically never home anymore … but maybe I CAN’T tell him … because maybe I can’t trust him … and I don’t want him to stay for the wrong reasons.”
Martha said, “What are you talking about? What is going on at the farm is such a small affair for you to make such a big deal about it. There is no way Lex would leave you just because you don’t approve of what he’s doing.”
Clara asked, “Do you think he would tell me to leave?”
Martha said, “There is no use talking to you when you are like this! Thank God it happens so rarely and never lasts long!”
Clara said, “Now you know why I didn’t tell you this time. You don’t take me seriously. You blow it all out of proportion. So, I’m a little bit more emotional. So what?”
Martha said, “You can’t see it when you’re in the middle of it. It gets bad, believe me.”
Clara said, “You think I’m behaving strangely yet you are saying things like “small affair.” There is no such thing as a small affair, Mom! Maybe if it were just one time, maybe I could accept it -- MAYBE, but maybe not. But he isn’t limiting himself to one impulsive act; he is making it a way of life. We made promises to each other. I never ASKED him to make those promises but he DID! And now he’s breaking his promise … and my heart … and obviously doesn’t care!”
Martha said, “When people say, “I do,” they think they know what they are committing to, but they usually don’t have a clue. People promise each other how they are going to treat each other and how they are going to keep the romance alive and how they are going to raise their children and hundreds of other promises that they naively think that they will be able to keep. But nobody has a crystal ball and nobody knows how things will work out over the long haul. You can’t rigidly stick to plans and promises made due to naivety and lack of experience and unrealistic ideals of youth. You have to let go of ideas that don’t work and move on. Things that won’t bend, break. Do you want your marriage to break, Clara? Is that what you REALLY want? You have to make a decision about what is truly the most important thing to you at times like this. Do you want to keep your marriage or do you want to keep control of Lex? Turn your head away from the little annoyances that will inevitably come along and keep your eye on the big picture and on what you ultimately want. You have a family to keep together. And forgive me for saying this, but if you knew that you weren’t willing to make any compromises going into a marriage, you shouldn’t have had so many kids with the man. I think YOU are the one being unfair to him. He certainly compromised. He became a totally different man just so that you would make him a part of his life, and you are being petty about him behaving slightly different than you want him to. Really Clara, it’s not like you to make such a fuss about some, some ….”
Clara said, “Little affair?”
Martha said, “Exactly! Get over it! Be reasonable!”
Clara said, “You are the one with the pitchfork! Why do I have to accept this kind of thing when YOU don’t?!”
Martha said, “We are talking about different things here ….”
Clara said, “No, Mom, we are NOT. It’s EXACTLY the same!”
Martha took a deep breath and said, “OK. Let’s look at it this way. I married a very different man than you did. Jon wanted a simple, uncomplicated life. I gave up a lot of what I wanted because I wanted to share a life with Jon more than anything else. I made a choice and I live with it. I’m also very lucky because I chose well and have no regrets. Lex wants to spoil his women without much consideration of the possible consequences. You don’t like monetary gifts or things, but you did let Lex what you wanted and he gave it to you. It would have been much easier for him to spend money on you than to tailor his life and philosophy to match your rather rigid sense of morality. Yet, he did it and you benefited from it whether you want to admit it or not. You got what you wanted from Lex, so you shouldn’t mind him giving the other women in his life what they want. I might not AGREE with Lex’s choices, but at least I understand them … and you should too!”
Clara said, “I don’t CARE whether I should or shouldn’t mind what Lex give those other so called ladies – I DO mind it – VERY, VERY MUCH. Lex is MINE. He’s MINE! I don’t want Lex spreading it around. I married him and I deserve all he’s got! Those “ladies” can all go to hell!”
Martha said, “You’ve never been one to be selfish or petty or jealous.”
Clara said, “You’d better believe I am jealous! Maybe I didn’t know it before, but I know it now. He is mine and I don’t want to share!”
Martha said, “You realize that you are talking about me, don’t you? I am one of Lex’s girls. What do you feel about that? Are you jealous because of my time with Lex and because of the things he does for me.”
Clara said, “Since you brought it up, I’m very, VERY angry with you! Lex is off limits! If you love me, you’ll do nothing more to encourage him – you’ll refuse him!”
Martha said, “It’s OK for you to be angry with me, Clara. I can take it. But NEVER doubt my love for you. If you insist, I’ll never have anything to do with the man. I’ll never spend time alone with him again. It will be hard because I still would like to see my grandchildren once in a while … and I hope you’ll visit me occasionally.”
Clara said, “I don’t want you to go away and I know it will be awkward, but just don’t be intimate with him anymore. I know he is very charming and will probably want what he’s used to getting from you but … but … just don’t.”
Martha asked, “Does this apply to Samantha too? He considers her one of his girls too.”
Clara said, “YES, it applies to her! You shouldn’t even need to ask.”
Martha said, “Can I at least feed him if you are sleeping when he gets home?”
Clara said, “Of course you can -- just no breasts this time -- no thighs!”
Martha said, “Clara … this is as bad as it has ever been. If you weren’t so upset, you’d see it too. Sleep on it. Give your hormones a little rest and let that analytical brain of yours kick in. It will all be so clear when you wake up. You’ll understand what you REALLY want and need and won’t worry about something that is essentially meaningless. Now take your Mother’s advise and go lay down.”
Clara and Martha just looked at east other for a few moments then Clara said, “I think I have put a lid on it a little bit now. I’ll be Clara the dispassionate scientist for a while. I never really need sleep and I don’t think I could sleep anyway. I think I can also manage being a mother to my own children until Lex gets home, so you don’t need to stay. Despite what I said a moment ago, I really do appreciate all your help today and I love you more than I could ever say … but you can head on home if you want to and I’ll take over.”
Martha said, “Like heck I will!”
Clara said, “You don’t have to stay on my account -- you really don’t.”
Martha answered, “I won’t. You told me that you would be out late, so your Father and I made plans. I promised the kids that we would have a Candy Land tournament after supper. Plus, by the looks of things … despite what you said a moment ago, you might not be willing or able to see that Lex gets what he needs and deserves after a day hard at it. Go get your nap whether you think you need it or not. I’ll trust that you’ll let me take care of Lex one last time before my banishment starts. Whether you think so or not, it would be better for me to spend some time with Lex to keep him from disturbing your sleep. We’ll be quiet as church mice.”
Clara said, “I learned to tune you and Dad out years ago so that I could sleep. I will try to tune you and Lex out too. I’m sorry I said what I did to you. It obviously won’t help things any … just make things tenser between us. If you really want to spend time with Lex … I guess this is where I learn to accept things the way they are.”
Martha said, “I’m glad to here you say that, because my times with Lex make Lex and me closer and that can only make us a tighter family and prevent un-necessary friction between you two. What Lex and I have has GOT to be better than all the fighting you hear that happens between some men and their mother-in-law.”
Clara said, “You should write a book about it, but I don’t think it will work as well for most people because most mother-in-laws probably aren’t as good-looking and fit as you are.”
Martha said, “That shouldn’t make any difference, but it was nice of you to say that.”
Clara said, “Make yourself at home. I’ll go sleep on the day bed in the nursery so I won’t disturb Lex in the master bedroom if he wants to stay up all night like we used to do. Before I go to bed, I’m going to check the e-mail to see if Lex sent me another e-mail. … Oh. That’s right. Lex didn’t send me an e-mail. That was Edward. Oh, Mom. Please take those orchids in the kitchen home with you when you go. I don’t want to see them again. I’d better erase the e-mail Edward sent to me … I don’t know how Lex would handle it … but maybe I don’t care. I think I’ll check Lex’s e-mail to see if there is a clue to where he is today.”
Martha said, “I wouldn’t recommend looking for something that you don’t want to find.”
Clara said, “Thanks for the advice, Mom. I’ll take it under advisement. Baby Joel is probably hungry. I’ll take him into Lex’s study with me.”
Clara got Joel and went to Lex’s study and looked for incoming e-mail on Lex’s computer. One look and Clara saw that there were now over 10,000 new e-mails since she had read Edward’s email 90 minutes before. Clara shouted, “OH, NO! Not again! I bet Edward is the one who has been giving out Lex’s e-mail address! I hope Lex didn’t do this on purpose.” Certain online services would sell e-mail addresses of celebrities. Some of these sites had a notification service if a current e-mail address was discovered for anyone on a client’s wish list. Every time Lex’s e-mail was discovered, their computer was flooded with e-mails from women attempting to get Lex’s attention. This was the main reason that Clara’s kids weren’t allowed to play on their father’s computer. Fortunately and out of necessity, Lex’s computer was a Lex Care prototype that could download information and accept input at close to super-human speed.
Joel was already fussing a bit so Clara got comfortable in Lex’s desk chair then got Joel started before opening the first e-mail. Clara opened e-mail after e-mail to screen them for clues to where Lex might be. Just like the way that the momentum of a speeding object makes its impact harder, the speed at which Clara was assaulted with messages and images was emotionally devastating. The computer was programmed to display all the pages and attachments contained in any e-mail at once. The messages and images from thousands of women and hundreds of men very explicitly showed what they were willing to do for Lex. Even with Clara’s clinical training in human sexuality, she didn’t have a clue about half of what these people were offering Lex. That made her feel shocked, ignorant and inadequate when it came to finding ways to please Lex. She had never worked up the nerve to rent erotic or pornographic movies to learn what to do. She let Lex tell her how to please him.
Seeing what was available to Lex at any moment made Clara wonder if her submissive behavior with Lex had removed any element of surprise from their love making … and opened the door to other women. She thought, “I know our love life was cooling off, but I don’t know what to do about it. In the last couple years, we’ve tapered off to making love only about 24 times a week. Since neither Lex nor I need to sleep, is that enough to keep a man like him satisfied? … And in the last two months, it’s been down to only 6 or 8 times a week. He leaves early for work, never comes home for lunch even though it’s only a 2 minute flight, … then he comes home late and sleeps all night. I knew something was wrong but I ignored it and hoped whatever it was would go away. … I hope that whoever SHE is that she’ll go away … that they’ll ALL go away and let me have my Lex back.” Clara took some deep breaths and went back to her task. This time she started by resetting the computer so that I would no longer display the attachments when she opened the e-mails. That would be less distracting and less upsetting.
The more than 12,000 emails (they poured in even as she reviewed them) didn’t give Clara a clue as to where Lex might be, but it re-opened her eyes to the temptations and opportunities for a man like Lex. It seemed impossible for her to even compete. The one who called herself Amy Luthor2B had even discovered Lex’s previous e-mail address when no one else had. She was as persistent as she was beautiful … and flexible … and, apparently, double jointed. She also was clever enough to program her computer to automatically send image after image once it received notification of a new e-mail address for Lex. She was so determined to be the next Mrs. Luthor that she had Lex’s name tattooed on her lower back.
Clara had known that the newest e-mails were the least likely to show where Lex might be. The ones that had come in before Lex had left that morning, especially the ones that he had replied to, were most likely to indicate his plans for the day. Clara was logical enough to realize that but she was also nervous about what she might discover. Most of the e-mails were letters from employees on maternity leave thanking Lex for Lex Care’s generosity. She chose 3 e-mails to set aside to read last. These 3 were responded to by Lex just before he left home for the day. Clara choked down her fears and was about to begin to read them when William pushed the door open and walked slowly over to Clara. Clara said, “Hi, Sweetie, I hope you don’t want what I think you want.” William started tugging at Clara’s top on the side opposite of the one that Joel was nursing on. William was competitive when it came to feeding. He couldn’t see Joel nursing without wanting some himself. He was getting to be a pretty chubby boy. Clara said, “Why don’t you have some cereal? Grandma will make you some cereal.” William started grunting and getting upset so Clara said, “OK, OK. I hope you can do this standing up because I can’t have you both in my lap right now. Billy Boy, this is an awkward position for Mommy, … but she’s been in a more awkward position today already. I guess this is my day for it.” William began to nurse. Clara reached her arm around him to click the mouse to open an e-mail from someone named Lori.
Thank you again for your gift of this fine computer … which I am slowly learning to use to facilitate our communication with each other during the hours when we are apart.
I know that it isn’t wise for me to put in e-mails what we have been doing together for these past couple months. Please forgive my poor skills with your language but I am better with your language that you are with mine … at least for the moment. Fortunately, when we are together, we never need clumsy words to let each other know what we want. And we are certainly getting everything we both want out of this arrangement. Writing is slow and awkward about matters of the heart … and I do home that what we are building together is more than something physical and that it will stand the test of time. It is difficult to describe what I need here. I cannot be obvious because I know there is someone that you don’t want to catch on before our plans are complete -- someone who has access here that doesn’t like getting the surprise you are determined to give her. I know that there is a specific way that you want things to happen when she learns of our activities. I cannot understand a woman who would not accept what you have to offer her and refuse you again and again. If what we have made together is an indication of what you have offered her before, only to have it refused, … I simply cannot believe it. I must instead believe that what we do here together is far superior to whatever has come before. What you have done with me has been amazing and given me more pleasure than any similar activity I have ever participated in. To me, this thing is something that I would desperately want if it were offered to me, but I am more than happy just having a share of it. Thanks to you I look forward to each new turning of the tide.
To get to the heart of it, I need you desperately today of all days. I have tried with the men available to me. They are skilled and strong but hopelessly inadequate for achieving what I do when you are here to do my bidding. No man on the planet is as strong as you. When I require an erection, I know that no other man on the planet has the skill to get it to stand up like you do or in such an enduring manner. Is my language understandable as to what I require of you five or six times during the course of the day? I know that your many talents are in much demand all over the world and normally I am willing to wait my turn, but I feel that this had to happen before the tide turns or we won’t be able to give birth to something we can call our own. I want our work to bear fruit before the year has past, just like your work with my kindred has increased the fertility in their fair city. This is something that you want to happen before the next cycle – probably more than I do … if that is possible.
Reply if you can meet me at our usual place so we can go down together and I can give you guidance … not that you need any after going there so many times. I’m sure that today of all days, you will like what you see, but physical beauty isn’t what’s most important – not that we don’t both take pleasure in it. But what I really want is for it to last forever and I think that is what you want to. The people of my land once built on shaky ground and watched everything fall apart. We escaped with only our lives. Since then we have learned to build things to last … as I have helped show you how to build something that will last with me … not like the fragile thing you built on your last attempt. What we are building will be, as you say, “the stuff of legends.” The only way our dreams can come true is if you spend today making final arrangements and putting things firmly in place as only you can do … if you understand my meaning. I can’t wait for you to see the place I have had built where our children can stay during the times we all spend together here.
I am anxiously awaiting your reply.
PS. Remember this time, when we meet at the same rock where we always meet, to not to try to .assist me in keeping my balance. After years of doing it, I am very good at keeping my perch on top and will only fall off if you try to grab me in the manner you did last time. It was not in jest when I told you that I am very slippery when wet.”
Clara covered her mouth at the thought of there being another rock with another woman on it. See opened Lex’s reply to make sure that nothing she was imagining was true. See was disappointed in what she read:
I am very excited about what we are going to be doing today. Our actions today will almost certainly ensure the future of our little endeavor. When Clara gets over her embarrassment, I am sure she will accept it. She is too logical to not see that it will be better for everyone if she lets me do what I have always wanted to do … but what she has always refused to let me do. I must admit that the one time she accepted what I was offering, I made a bad choice and she physically jumped me. Knowing what I know now, but didn’t have a clue about at the time, she probably would have killed me if I hadn’t tricked her and taken it back. It would have been a hell of a way to die.
In the event that Clara is unreasonable and refuses, I will let you have what she doesn’t want. I will be glad that you want it, but I would prefer for you two to share it side by side. It was always my hope that the three of us would be in bed together and that we could forge an alliance that would benefit from the diversity of our backgrounds and experiences.
As to your experience, I am amazed by all the skills and techniques that you have taken pains to teach me. I’m sorry that I didn’t get the knack of it quicker and that we had to try things so many time before I could get it right. Clara is a quick learner – quicker than me. With what you know about the biology down below and with all your experience, I am sure that Clara will be excited to learn everything you can teach her. You will find that she is more than anxious to reciprocate in situations like this and you will no doubt experience things with her that you have never experienced with any other person. I have found that, once Clara breaks through her fears, there is nothing she can’t do … and there is nothing that she won’t do for anyone she loves.
I have done what I hoped to do in our first two months as partners. I’m not used to the kind of physical workout you put me through every time we get together, but I’ve come to enjoy it more than I can say. I have a new pride in abilities that I was sure I lacked – and that I’m sure Clara thought I lacked to … with good reason. But now that I have done it all made possible by my partnership with you, what I want most now is to step back and watch what you and Clara do together. Clara has never had the kind of female friend that you could be for her. I think you two might end up being together a lot while I do other things that have been asked of me.
Speaking of things being asked of me -- I will meet you for our rendezvous at the rock, but I will be about an hour later than normal. I received an e-mail from another friend and have agreed to talk to her about meeting the biological needs of 800 women! I knew from the moment that I met Clara that I wanted a large family, but imagine having 800 Luthors running around. That will be some Paradise! I can’t even how to imagine discussing that with Clara. The concept is a little far out for me. Polygamy is one thing, but the idea of that many women wanting children! Unless they change their minds, they want only girl children … so I have to have all boy children with Clara to make the idea even make sense. I can tell you more when we get together. Maybe you have some idea (from a mother’s perspective) how I could talk to Clara about it. She has been on edge lately and I don’t want to upset her, but I have to tell her sometime. Maybe after I spring our surprise on her.
Anyway, I will see you at the usual place after my meeting with my friend Diana Prince. After that, I will give my undivided attention to our little project. I look forward to sowing seeds with you and Clara in a few weeks.
See You Soon,
PS. Sorry about making you fall off. You are indeed slippery. And I do admire how you balance yourself no matter how turbulent it gets. I guess it’s all in the way you move your tail.”
Clara sniffled and mumbled, “Oh Lex, I don’t want to. I know I said I’d do anything to make you happy … and as much as I don’t want you to exclude me … I DON’T want to! And Lex, what are you doing with Diana Prince! She’s a friend of mine. Please don’t let it be what it sounds like!”
Larry marched into the room and said, “Mom …. OH YUCK!”
Clara said, “It’s OK Larry, you didn’t stop doing this that long ago yourself. Help me out here. Joel is all done and ready to go upstairs. He fusses for everyone else but her really likes it when you take care of him.”
Larry said, “Sure, Mom. Just cover up some.”
Clara handed Joel to Larry who took his brother gently. She said, “Oh Larry, one other thing.”
Larry said, “Yes, Mom.”
Clara said, “I just see up your own account on this computer. You can come in here if your Dad or I are not using it and use the computer. Your log on is Superboy and your password is your dog’s name.”
Larry said, “Krypto?”
Clara said, “Yep.”
Larry said, “COOL! Thanks Mom!”
Clara said, “Well thank you for being such a big help to me around here.” Clara lifted William to her lap and repositioned him. Then she braced herself for the worst and read on:
Time passes quickly and we cannot come upon that time without being prepared. In eons past, our women failed to plan ahead, went crazy when the need came upon them and raided lands far and near to satisfy their uncontrollable desires … only to suffer from the guilt and shame in the years that followed.
The women of Paradise Island can suppress their urges for decades, but their comes a time when our basic needs must be met – our biology demands it of us as much as it demands us to eat and to breathe. We also have the next generation of Amazons to consider. Living together as we do, we women of Paradise Island have fallen into the same “cycle.” When the time comes for one, the time comes for us all. We must begin before we lose reason. Artificial insemination would meet the need to perpetuate our society, but it would not stop the lust that comes upon us … and such a practice would be contrary to our beliefs.
A normal man could not handle the demands that the Amazon women would make of him. That is one reason I approached you about this. The other reason is genetics. The children of these unions would be remarkable – a credit to the Amazon race and the Luthor name. Imagine 800 little Leahs running around Paradise Island!
I would talk to my dear friend Clara about this, but her value system is different than ours I don’t want to offend or upset her. Let me and a dozen of our finest women try to convince you of the benefits of such an arrangement. It is still too early to do anything but talk about it, but we would like to have a closeness develop before the mating time comes so that it will all happen in a way that is casual and natural and beautiful. Let us make our appeal so that you can let Clara be part of the process. She will need time to view things from a different perspective and without cultural bias. As a businessman, you may be able to use your skills to sell her on it. With the blessings of the gods, may she enjoy continued fertility in the present and be prepared to allow others to have what she has enjoyed when our time comes.
Yours Very Truly,
Clara mumbled, “For God’s sake, just tell her “No,” Lex. Tell her no. Not with my girl friend. How could I compete with 800 Amazons! Aren’t even my friends off limits? What about Chloe … NO! Don’t even think it!” Clara read the reply:
You are right about one thing: Clara will have a hard time getting her mind around this one. I know she believes in letting people make there own way in the world and talks a lot about letting people make their own decisions, but she has a hard time letting someone make a decision that goes counter to her beliefs. I know that she wants her children to have traditional marriages if they are lucky enough to find the right person. What you are talking about means that my children would grow up seeing polygamy as a normal part of their lives. I doubt that Clara will want that or want her children to grow up with the idea of having more than one partner. I can see where Clara would object to this and my first impulse is to not even come by and discuss it with you. But then I thought about when I was young and before Clara entered into my life. There were other women before her and I had a chance to play the field. As much as I wouldn’t want my children to become involved with multiple partners when they are older, I think that that is a decision that they will have to make on their own. I don’t think that I have the right to deny someone an experience that they have decided that they can handle. I also think that the women of Paradise Island shouldn’t be denied what they need. Who am I to say that you and the other Amazons can’t have what I have been blessed with? Who am I to say “No” to adults who have been raised to think independently? It would be a very stressful time for me to endure and I know that Clara would never warm up to the idea, but, as close of a friend as you have been to my family; you deserve the chance to try to convince me. Throw everything you’ve got at me and see if I can still say, “No.” I warn you right now that you will have to show me that my children will be well treated before I agree to even talk to Clara about it. And you are right, if the children are anything like the ones I’ve had with Clara, they will be amazing. Maybe on that basis alone-- this world’s need for more children like ours, Clara will agree to consider it.
I know I am not allowed to set foot on Paradise Island. Please set up a signal for me on a nearby atoll where we can meet. I have other business to attend to near you so I will be flying over at 9:00am your time – that’s about 5:00am my time. It looks like it’s going to be another L O N G day!
See you soon,
Clara thought the worst of it was over, most of the other e-mails from women were definitely business-related and Lois Lane was hounding Lex for another interview. The only other e-mail that Lex had answered before coming to bed the previous night was from a man named Mike Williams – the man who had talked to Martha on the phone while Clara was ‘occupied’ by Edward at LexCare. The subject of Mr. William’s e-mail was “Figure Model.” William was losing interest in Clara now that he wasn’t competing with Joel. He let Clara know that he was done and she lowered him to the floor. As he scampered out of the room, Clara adjusted her top and began to read Mr. William’s e-mail.
“Dear Mr. Luthor
A friend of mine was at my studio shortly before I delivered the latest oil painting that you commissioned. I hadn’t intended for him see the portrait of you with your favorite subject – the raven haired beauty in the wet dress … the one with you both by the river. Anyway, he couldn’t take his eyes off her and told me that no one that beautiful could actually exist. He didn’t believe me when I said that my portrait was accurate so I showed him the photos you provided and he went nuts. He wanted to buy the portrait and every photo I had of her. I told him that the painting was sold but that I would ask you about selling the photos which, by our agreement I am not allowed to copy and am obligated to return to you.
My friend wanted to commission me to do paintings of her for him and I told him that I didn’t even know her name or phone number so I couldn’t get in touch with her to have her model for me. I could paint her face from memory in my sleep due to the number of times you have had me do portraits of her, but my friend was interested in more that her face … and the transparent dress wasn’t revealing enough for his tastes. Like many men with no talent at visualization, he prefers images that leave nothing to the imagination. I could hire a nude model for the body and substitute the face I know so well, but from what I can tell, I couldn’t find a model with a body comparable to the one your woman friend has. Furthermore, my friend wants her in particular and wants to be present while she poses for me so that he can get just the poses he desires. I think there’s more to it than that. He is more interested in having the original … and I’m not referring to a painting if you get my drift.
My friend has powerful connections and could possibly sell any art prints I create to a world wide market. You have paid me well but the fortune I could get from marketing paintings and photos of your mistress (?) could make me rich. I know you want excusive ownership of this woman, but I think she has the right to decide for herself. She could have quite a future as a model and, unless you plan to divorce that haggard wife of yours and marry the model instead, what does she have to look forward to? Her looks won’t last forever and, if you don’t marry her, what will become of her when you move on to the next one? Maybe you can afford to pass up an opportunity like this one, but I can’t. And maybe your sexy friend can’t either … although I have no idea what you pay her for the services she undoubtedly performs for you.
If you can’t give me her home phone number or address, remember I have yours. I could call your wife and see if she knows who the woman is and how to contact her. Please reply soon or I WILL call your wife … or pay her a little social visit with the photos still in my possession.
Michael E. Williams”
Clara looked at Lex’s reply. It read:
You are an exceptional artist with a talent the likes of which I have rarely encountered. Your hyper-realistic style was well suited to the work I commissioned you to paint for me. You can not imagine how disappointed and disgusted I am to find out that someone with such a remarkable gift totally lacks any human decency or moral backbone. You are obviously also incredibly stupid to think that you have any basis for threatening me and can violate our binding contract and survive the experience. You even furnished me with a threatening e-mail which my lawyers will use to tear you to shreds.
My contract clearly gives me exclusive rights to the images you paint for me. You were very well paid with the understanding that the paintings you were doing represented very personal and private moments in my life and are not to be shared with anyone. Leaving he last painting on an easel in my office when I was not there to receive it was a violation of that agreement. Half of my staff saw the painting and the gossip has been non-stop since then.
I always paid you well to respect my privacy, but if money was an issue I have made it plain to you that I could give you as much work as you can handle. Now you can be sure that you will never receive another commission from me or any of my .associates.
When I started to read your e-mail, I thought you were making a simple business inquiry that I would simply refuse. I could accept that your “friend” accidentally saw the painting. I can also empathize with the passions that a woman with such grace and beauty can evoke in a man. One look at her began a change in me that transformed my life and has made it possible for me to walk away from my family and my life before her without giving it a second thought. So, man to man, I could understand your attempt to become involved with the so-called “figure model.” And you are correct. I do reserve exclusive right to the intimacy you and your friend seek to share. She has given herself totally to me and I am the luckiest man on the face of the Earth because of it.
So I accepted the way you displayed the painting and Lex Care and I was willing to accept your business offer at face value when you threatened to tell my wife about the paintings. Call her about it if you want to, but by doing so you will only make me put my considerable resources to work digging up your every little dirty secret. And when you talk to her, you will be doing me a great favor because the existence of he painting was bound to come out sooner or later. I will be relieved when the truth is known. I shouldn’t have to hide what I was doing from her. A man in love has certain rights and I don’t want to keep the paintings and what they mean to me a secret any longer.
If I find out that you have made any duplicate paintings, photographed the paintings or copied the photos that I provided to you, you will regret the day you first picked up a paint brush. God help me, I will do everything in my power … and you have NO idea how much power I have, to keep you from ever drawing or painting the likeness of the woman who IS my mistress and so much more. Don’t even think about drawing or painting the other six again either!
My attorneys will be in contact with you very soon.
Clara was almost too tired to stand. She wanted to be reassured that none of her fears were true. She felt silly doing it but she hummed herself a lullaby her birth mother Alura had sung to sooth and to comfort her in the rough days before Krypton died. Martha herself confessed that there were secrets being kept from her – secrets that would upset her. Lex’s replies to e-mails confirmed that he was having secret meetings with women concerning his future … a future that may or may not include her. The emails also indicated that if she was included in Lex’s plans, it might be in a capacity that she would have never chosen for herself. She didn’t know what she would do if Lex showed up without a good explanation of where he had been and what he had been doing with other women in the last couple months.
At last, Clara found the energy to get up. She made her way to a full length mirror by the door to the study. She pulled off what remained of her street clothes and stood in the designer lingerie that Lex had had made for her. The sight of it reminded her of what had happened in Lex’s office and she knew that this would be the last time she would be able to bring herself to wear those clothes again. Then she thought of the other woman – the woman that Lex now loved and planned to walk out on his family to be with. Maybe these clothes were designed for her and she hadn’t wanted them. Maybe they were discarded clothes for a soon to be discarded wife.
Clara swallowed hard and stared hard at herself in the mirror. She held her breath and stood without moving as she watched herself intently. She began to see herself as a big plastic doll molded by someone with bizarre concept of what a woman was supposed to look like. She saw herself as something un-natural and grotesque – unreal, untouchable … unlovable. Except for the changes during her pregnancies, her body didn’t change as the years passed. She looked exactly like she did on her wedding day … except that she was nursing now like she had been for over six years. Even her pregnancies entailed an identical series of changes on a schedule that you could set a clock by – except for Leah.
She gotten very large with Leah and nothing seemed to follow any logical progression … but maybe that was just in her imagination. Those were tough days for her even though her life was like some fantasy – a new family, the accelerated trials of her cancer cure, her times on Mars with Lex and little Larry …. It was absolutely perfect. That was what was wrong. It was too perfect, too wonderful … it was addictive and she was scared. She was even more scared than her claustrophobia had ever made her … scared that something so wonderful could someday come to an end. And somehow she knew with ever fiber of her being that it had to end and would end soon. Her attitude had almost made it happen. Every hour she had shed more tears than she had in a lifetime, crying uncontrollably and never being able to say why. To save herself the embarrassment of being seen that way, she often flew off to some isolated, desolate place so that no one could hear her. But Lex always heard and came and comforted her … and convinced her that everything would be wonderful again.
Then Leah was born and Lex had been right -- the world seemed so beautiful again. I felt like nothing could go wrong. Then Allan and Stephen were born 8 and one half months apart – each pregnancy being exactly 226 days long, an absolutely normal gestation period for a Kryptonian male. Martha was having more babies as well and everyone in the immediate family was so happy.
Lionel came back to Metropolis and was locked up. As the new wing of the penitentiary neared completion, Clara began to get a premonition that her children were in danger. The feeling grew until it was almost unbearable. She began crying again, only this time she knew why. When Lex asked, she told him, “Lionel is designing a building that he can escape from. He has a plan. He wants to escape to get his revenge … and he’ll get his revenge by killing my babies!” Clara was often inconsolable and didn’t even get out of bed for days on end. She knew without a doubt that something terrible was going to happen and she knew that Lionel would be behind it. The people of Metropolis began to wonder what had happened to Super Woman. She always had been mysterious and was seldom seen, but her presence was always felt. Now the city could sense that she was gone and they somehow didn’t feel as safe.
Then Clara’s doomsday prediction came true but not the way that she imagined it. She was lying in bed, crying. She couldn’t find the will to get out of bed. She remembered that Lex had said something about Martha watching the babies while he went out … but she hadn’t really paid much attention to what he was saying. Suddenly she bounced in the bed. She thought Leah was playing some game. Clara said, “Leah, let Mommy sleep. Go play with Larry or Grandma.” Then the bed jumped again. “Leah!” she said as she sat up. She looked over and saw Leah on the far side of the room staring at a blank wall with her eyes open wide. She obviously wasn’t the cause of the tremor. Metropolis was built on solid bedrock and was not likely to ever experience an earthquake.
Without turning her head from whatever she was watching so intently, Leah broke the silence by saying, “Big ugwee man fwy like mommy!” Clara turned in the direction that Leah was looking and saw a skyscraper tumbling to the ground … and the creature that causing it.
She was on her feet instantly. She yelled, “Mother! Watch the kids. Keep them here and safe. Call Lex. It’s happening! It’s the end of my world. The doomsday I knew was coming is here!” She changed her clothes in an instant but in her hurry tore the back out of her body suit. “DANG!” she yelled as she looked for something else she could wear. She grabbed Leah’s blanket and quickly pinned it to her shoulders to cover her back. The “blanket” was a novelty item that Lex had purchased as a joke for Clara – a red flag with a yellow Super Woman logo on it. In an instant, Clara leapt off the balcony.
Leah screamed, “No, Mommy No!”
Clara hovered in the air eye to eye with the creature. It looked like he was carved out of grey rock. People on the ground and in the surrounding buildings pointed up and said, “What’s that in the sky? What’s holding it up? Until that day, few people outside of her immediate family knew that Super Woman could fly. Photographers with telephoto lenses were snapping pictures of Super Woman that would soon be on the covers of magazines around the world.
Super Woman wanted to deal with the being quickly and begin rescue operations. Thousands were dead and many were buried alive and in desperate need of help. She was a doctor and a one woman excavating crew. Few people on Earth were as capable of helping those injured and buried in the rubble as she was. But she had to first understand the intentions of the creature in front of her and prevent it from harming anyone else.
Super Woman tried to gently talk to the alien in every Earth language so she could explain that his actions were a threat to the people that lived there. Nothing got a reaction from the creature until she said a few words of peaceful greeting in Kryptonian; then the creature’s face seemed to crack open in a broad smile. She smiled back, relieved to have gotten a response of some sort. Before she could blink, she was hit by a blow harder than anything she had ever experienced. Her jaw was shattered and she was tumbling backwards through the air and beyond the city limits. For the first time in a month, she felt no impulse to cry. All she felt was determination to put an end to the danger that Metropolis was facing.
She saw another building going down and in an instant she was there. She willed her aura to extend out over the building’s surface. This gave the building enough structural integrity so she wouldn’t push through the building instead of returning the building upright and back onto its foundations. People below saw debris falling down towards them only to see it change course to miss them or vaporize. Camera men from nearby buildings took photos that showed that Superwoman was looking in the direction of the debris when it was vaporized or blown away. Every time the thing hit her she flew back at it -- stopping along the way to clear a few hundred more people out of the battle zone. She managed to yell to the crowds even though her jaw was broken, “Get away from here! It’s Doomsday!” Her attention was divided between stopping the creature and preventing anyone else from dying or getting seriously injured.
The fight continued for some time at speeds not visible to the human eye -- but recorded for history by high speed photography. The creature was annoyed with her enough to forget about pushing down any more of the buildings. Soon he found that it was more fun toying with her than destroying property. He threw her about and broke another bone every time he got hold of her. At some point, it wasn’t as fun anymore. She had landed some serious blows and he was hurting and angry and ready to pay her back for the pain she had caused him. She passed close to him and he caught her by her left leg. He pulled her to the street and held her down. With a mighty swing of his bent arm, he hit her mid-section with his elbow and drove her into the ground. She screamed “SHARON” so loud that glass shattered in the surrounding buildings as her baby girl died within her.”
Clara was jolted by the memory of that blow and suddenly she was again conscious of being home and in front of the mirror in the study. She opened her mouth but she couldn’t breathe. She looked down at her bare midriff and stroked her abdomen. She finally caught her breath and said, “Are you OK? Please be OK. Mommy will take care of you … somehow. I promise.” Clara fought to get her self control back – to be in the present dealing with the issues that faced her now. She didn’t like being his way. Lex didn’t marry a hysterical woman and might not be as tolerant with the way she was acting … as he had been the last couple times.
She blinked a few times at the image in the mirror and wiped away the single tear that she had let escape. She reminded herself that the last time she had thought that her world was coming to an end, she was wrong. Something terrible had happened, but her fears that came before the tragedy were just a coincidence and not some psychic premonition. She suffered terribly and had paid a heavy price but had she eventually moved beyond it and life had gotten better again. She decided that if she could keep her wits about her and evaluate the situation logically, that she could find a way to hang on to Lex and keep her family together. She was willing to do whatever it took, but she had no clue to what that was.
She began talking to herself, “The problem is obviously me. If I was enough of a woman for Lex, he wouldn’t need the others. What is wrong with me that I can fix? If I used red kryptonite, I could become a wild woman, but I couldn’t trust myself around he kids … or Lex … and I might even become the one that is unfaithful. Whatever I do, I need to be able to control myself whenever I need to. My appearance: I can wear my hair up or down. It’s basically straight and I can’t do much … I can’t do anything about that. Lex always tells me not to cut it. I can’t dye it. That doesn’t work. I could get a blonde wig … but the other women I know about … Diana … the woman in the painting … all have black hair. I wonder what hair color Lori has. I wonder if Lori is the one that Leah says smells funny. I can’t do anything about my smell. Perfume doesn’t stick … oh, I can do what Lex does – put it on my clothes. I have slightly tan skin but I can’t get a dark tan. Are tan lines sexy to men? Do men like to see tan lines from where women’s swimsuits end when the women undress for them? It doesn’t matter. I can’t make myself that way anyway. I can’t get a tattoo with his name on it … I can’t get pierced … I can’t eat enough to get rounder or fuller or softer. I can’t jiggle as much as some women do … at least I don’t think I do. That always seems to catch a man’s eye. My breasts are too big already … at least I think they are. But I can’t get them made bigger or smaller for Lex. I can’t get a nose job or be altered surgically in any way. Even if I could, my body would “heal” itself back to the way I am now. I can’t … can’t … CAN’T! I hate this! Lex was once human and he still thinks of himself as a human. He was raised with a desire for human females and I’m NOT one of them. Maybe he wants someone fragile who needs him to defend and protect her. I could pretend to be weak and helpless … but that would be a deception and he would know. I want to actually change into what he wants, not just fake it! He’d never believe that I need him … but I DO need him … I need him DESPARATELY!” Clara sniffled some more then breathed a few more deep breaths to regain control. She continued, “I can’t wear make-up … or leave lip prints on his cheek. Oh, I would LOVE to do that. But it wouldn’t stick to him either. Maybe I can invent some in the lab that would stick. I was going to work on a birth control method that would work for us … other than abstinence … in another five or six years, but that can wait until I get the lipstick problem worked out. This is hopeless. I’m just an alien freak. I AM smart. I know all kinds of things … like a cold, impersonal computer … and who wants to curl up with a computer at night? I’m not sophisticated or worldly. I’m just a small town farm girl married to a man of the world … a man of culture.”
Clara let a few more tears fall before she reeled steadied herself again. She said, “I’m such an idiot! Lex used to have a room upstairs full of photos and paintings of me. They made me self-conscious and reminded me of the pictures Lionel took of me … so I made Lex get rid of them. Now I wish than he was still infatuated with me … rather than … than him having paintings done of some bimbo in a see through dress … and … and telling people he loves her … enough to leave his family.” Clara slapped both hands over her mouth and closed her eyes tightly. She breathed deeply but this time it was almost impossible to swallow back the pain and sadness she was feeling.
Clara finally told herself, “I have got to snap out of this NOW! I should go patrol for a while … think of someone other than me … and Lex … and his other …. Mom will watch the kids. She said she’d stay – insisted on it. Maybe an hour or two out there will help be face what’s coming soon. Clara made a quick change and returned to the mirror. She looked at herself and thought, “I can’t mentally become Super Woman tonight but I can at least dress the part. I REALLY need a new costume. What business does a mother of eight have wearing a shirt this short? My clothes have to be tight or they get destroyed … and these will be getting way too tight soon enough … but it doesn’t have to show so much skin.”
Lex casually strolled into the room and Clara turned startled by his sudden appearance. Part of her thought he would never come home … and another part thought he would come busting in to tell her how unsatisfied he was and that he was leaving forever. Then the smell hit her. Lex reeked of something strong and unusual. He smelled of the ocean. Leah would have interpreted this as a smell different from Daddy and therefore “bad” or “stinky.” Clara shot a quick look through his clothes and saw that he was wearing tight trunks under his pants. Then she remembered that he had been wearing different clothes when he had left for work that day.
Lex casually looked through his mail and barely looked at Clara as he said, “Super Woman! What brings you here? I was hoping to find my wife Clara and get my welcome home kiss.”
Clara answered coldly, “She just left. I think she got tired of waiting. Maybe she went out on a date with Edward.”
Lex said, “Nah! Edward is too flashy for Clara. He is a steroid freak who can never get to work on time because he can’t tear himself away from the mirror.”
Clara said, “Well, where were you all day?”
Lex just smiled as he opened a bill and answered, “The usual -- another busy day at the office.” Lex looked up suddenly and with a lecherous grin on his face said, “Say, Super Woman, since my wife isn’t here, maybe I could get a kiss from you. Maybe we could tangle up together and make out a bit? Which would you prefer – the couch over there … or should I clean off the desk.”
Clara’s eyes got big and flashed in anger. She said, “Mr. Luthor, I DON’T take adultery lightly … and I wouldn’t want to scratch your desk top. I understand that your desk at Lex Care got a nasty scratch today … but you should know ALL about that since you were there all day. I guess your .assistant was busy too. He didn’t even have time to put on any clothes this morning. I bet he’s still tied up in the office as we speak. I guess you have to work late if you take time off during the afternoon to seduce your boss’s wife.”
Lex said, “Game over Clara. What’s going on? Are you OK?”
Clara said, “Oh, yeah. Everything’s perfect. It’s your turn to watch the kids now. Mom volunteered to stay and help out however she can. Maybe she’d like to help you polish your desk. By all means let’s keep this in the family. Sharing is what family is all about … and Kansas isn’t that much different from Ark-Kansas these days, IS IT? I’m going out. I’ll be back … LATE. I guess I have to come home whether I want to or not. My kids are here … my bed is here … and I have to sleep in my own bed because I for one am not in the … in the habit of sleeping around. Maybe I could go curl up with Edward but he’s staying at work late tonight … I guess I just have that effect on men”.
Lex managed to get his dropped jaw to function just enough to say, “Clara .…”
But Clara interrupted him, saying, “There is still breast milk in the fridge for Joel. If he runs out and needs more, see if one of your Amazon friends has any. I understand that their milk comes in those large economy size jugs just like it probably does for any other cheap women you like hanging around with these days. Oh, and get a shower, your daughter doesn’t like you coming home reeking of other women and NEITHER DO I! And IF you decide to give me the pleasure of your company tonight in bed, DON’T put on any of your usual cologne on your clothes when you get out of the shower because I NEVER want to get a whiff of that smell again either!”
Lex shouted, “CLARA!” but she had disappeared.
Clara sat on an iceberg in the northern part of the Atlantic Ocean. Her body heat and aura were eating away at the ice leaving her sitting in a depression filled with ice water. She was oblivious to the water and to the frost forming on her face as her warm breath crystallized in the air in front of her. She was dizzy and nauseous and a more than a little disoriented. She had no idea how much time had passed. She thought, “Maybe this is a nightmare … some horrible, horrible nightmare! God let me wake up soon and find Lex’s arms around me!”
It was hard for her to think at times, but more often it was hard for her not to. She didn’t want to think and was grateful for the times she zoned out and lost track of everything. But again and again, she was haunted by the image of Lex’s smiling face as he casually lied to her about being at the office all day. She wished that he had a clever cover story. She wished that he had made her feel silly to ever have doubted him … but he stood there and lied to her.
Then she got extremely jealous of Super Woman because Lex was hitting on her while she watched. It didn’t make any sense but the anger came to the surface and boiled over. She gripped the ice and it fractured. She surprised herself when she shouted, “I SHOULD THROW THE BUM OUT!” Immediately, she threw her hands over her mouth and swallowed hard to keep any more words like that deep inside of her. But it was too late. Her words were echoing and re-echoing through the ice field and came back to her again and again.
The tears welled up in her eyes. She thought, “Oh no! Dear God, NO! Not again! I can’t start crying now. I HATE crying. Once it starts … once it starts …! Super Woman can’t lose control. Super Woman can NEVER lose control! … Why did I say that I would throw Lex out? I could never ask him to leave. I could never let him leave without begging him to stay. I don’t care if he humiliates me. I don’t care if … if he … if he doesn’t love me anymore. I LOVE HIM! That’s enough! That HAS to be enough!”
Now the tears were flooding down Clara’s face and freezing on contact with her cold cheeks and the arctic air. She continued to try to cope with what was happening. She thought, “I’ll make a deal with him … like Mom said … set guidelines. How many women will I tell him he can have? Now she began to gasp and choke as she cried. The ice began to shake loose as she trembled and convulsed. She tries to pull herself back by applying reason to her situation. She continued her internal dialog, “I can’t! I can’t make a deal with him. He’s the businessman … and he holds all the cards. I can’t live without him … but he’s already decided to walk out on all of us … for HER! He doesn’t need me … for ANYTHING !!! … Except maybe … to put on a show for him … with one of the sluts he’s sleeping with!” Now there was no more room for thoughts. The iceberg began to shake from her convulsive sobbing. Her gasps and cries echoed through the fields of ice.
She was so lost in her grief that she didn’t notice the warmth spreading across her back and shoulders. Warm water dripped from her hair and her tears began to fall as drops rather than continue to freeze.
A quiet voice from behind her said, “Honey, what’s wrong?”
Clara didn’t turn to face Lex. Between her gasps for air as she continued to cry, she just managed to say, “You should have stayed HOME … with the children … with your family.”
Lex answered, “Martha and Jon are handling everything at home just fine. I think I’m right where I’m needed”
Clara said, “Mom’s been with them ALL DAY! She shouldn’t have to. They’re MY babies! She has her own kids to take care of.”
Lex said, “Martha and Jon are fine, everyone’s fine. It’s you I’m worried about.” Clara continued to cry but slightly quieter than she did before Lex spoke to her. Lex waited for her to turn around or say something, but she just sat there, wept and did her best to ignore him. So he continued, “So, I take it that you’re done talking for the moment. You managed to say a few things to me before you left that confused the hell out of me.” Lex paused for a while, then continued, “Well, personally, I live for our little talks and I haven’t met my quota for the day so, if you don’t mind, I’ll just keep talking until you’re ready to talk back … or come home for supper with the family. …. You know it’s Wednesday, don’t you? You know how I enjoy our Wednesdays. I worked really hard today and made an extra effort to get home so that I wouldn’t miss our time together. I barely stopped to eat anything, just had a little something as I could take a break and there wasn’t much variety to choose from. I’m hungry, aren’t you?” Lex paused a while for a response but, getting none, he continued, “It’s your turn to cook tonight but your Mother has generously offered to take your place in the kitchen this evening. Whatever it is, I’m sure it will be wonderful. Don’t you want to go home and eat with your family?”
Clara said, “No.”
Lex said, “She speaks! Well, I am VERY hungry … but I guess we will just keep having this one sided conversation until you are ready to do something else. Hmmm. What to talk about? Your Mom and I talked a bit in the kitchen before I came looking for you. I remember the first time Martha and I were alone in the kitchen at your farm. You had just started college and we had just started to date … officially that is. And your mother invited me over for a little talk. Jon was conspicuously absent so it was our first time alone together. I was expecting an awkward conversation … being grilled about what my intentions were and being told all about you and how to best take care of your needs … and about not pressuring you into anything. What I wasn’t prepared for was her telling me that she just wanted some private one on one time with me so we could get to know each other better – so she could see the qualities I had that attracted you to me. I expected her to be kind of shy but she was very open and straight forward with me about who she was and what she wanted out of life … and what experiences she had missed and hoped to someday enjoy.”
Clara blurted out, “I’ve seen this movie, Lex! It was called “The Graduate” and I DON’T want to hear about this!”
Lex said, “Well, are we going home? …. Lost your voice again? …. What should we talk about then? …. I’m not familiar with the movie you mentioned Clara, but I’m sure there haven’t been any movies made about something as basic and natural and wonderful as what happened between me and Martha in that kitchen that day, so I’d like to continue with that story … unless you have another topic you would rather discuss. … No? OK then, where was I? Oh, yes. I had no idea how your mother must have planned for my visit. I think she just set up the situation to show off what she could do. She hides it well, but I think your mother is very proud of her abilities. It’s pretty magical what someone with a natural talent can do after years of practice honing her skills. I’ll tell you, I’ve been around the world and have been served by the best professionals money could buy. Dad insisted on me experiencing it all as soon as I was old enough to travel with him. But after in my years previous to that day and despite all the places around the world that I had been, no one could equal what your mother did for me in that kitchen that afternoon. Your father is indeed a lucky man to look forward to that night after night! I can still visualize what she did in that kitchen for me and it makes my mouth water. What a spread! I’ll never forget that first time and the many, many times since. I only hope for both our sakes that someday you will be that good. Don’t get me wrong, you’re above average in that department and excel in so many other ways, but your mother could make a fortune if she went professional and got a good person to front for her. All those times when you invited me over but lacked the confidence to show me what you could do, Martha was always there to make sure I was taken care of and didn’t go wanting. Just like tonight when you decided to go out on a Wednesday night. Martha was more than willing to step in and take your place when you were to upset to take your turn. The only thing I can say negative about her is that she’s blown any chance of me telling a mother-in-law joke … and there are some great mother-in-law jokes out there. A man couldn’t ask for a better mother-in-law than Martha.”
Clara shouted, “I’M SORRY THAT I’M SO INADEQUATE!” and continued to cry.
Lex said, “You’re not inadequate just because, in one area of expertise, your mother honed her skills a little more and knows a few more tricks than you do.”
Clara said, “If she’s so good, why did you settle for me? Why didn’t you marry her?”
Lex said, “What?! You know why not! You don’t play games like this. What’s going on?”
Clara said, “Answer my question!”
Lex said, “I didn’t marry your mother because she was already married … and your Dad keeps a shotgun on his wall.”
Clara wailed, “Well bullets wouldn’t stop you now so what are waiting for?” Her crying resumed louder than ever.
Lex said, “Come on, Clara, that couldn’t have been a serious question, so I didn’t give you a serious answer. The only reason I was even talking about your mother was that I was really looking forward to tonight … and she was there … and I’ll admit it, I didn’t come looking for you right away. You know how your mother is, she could sense what I wanted and insisted on giving me a little before I came to find you. But I REALLY would like to have you both together for the main course!”
Clara shouted, “YOU’RE MAKING ME ILL!” She began rocking herself as she cried and the iceberg rocked with her.
Lex said, “That’s because you haven’t gotten any and could really use some. You’d feel much better if you did. Come home and I’ll take care of you – in the dining room, in the kitchen or in our bed … wherever you want it and however you want it. I’ll wait on you hand and foot. This will be the first Wednesday night you’ve missed since we moved to the mansion. I know the kids look forward to it.”
Clara said, “I TOLD YOU to paint our bedroom with lead paint!”
Lex said, “I promise I’ll do it, but that stuff is impossible to find anymore except for a supply I found that was a crimson red. I’ll go get that red paint and paint the bedroom tonight if you really want me to, but I think we have more important things to do. We promised to make this a priority in our marriage. I know that you have more to do to get ready and more to coordinate than I do … I just show up and have at it. But I thought you enjoyed our Wednesday nights as much as I do … or have you been faking it all this time?
Clara said, “I NEVER fake it! But I don’t know why you want it so bad when you’ve been getting it all day.”
Lex said, “It’s pretty impersonal if it isn’t with close friends or family … and I really limited myself today.” After a long pause, Lex said, “Clara, Wednesday night is all about us.”
Clara said, “Hump day is hump day. Do you REALLY care who you hump any more? Obviously not, since you got my mother to fill in for me. Oh right, she’s family so it’s not impersonal.”
Lex said, “So what if Martha is cooking, we could have sent out for burgers for all I care. But Martha is NOT the mother of my children and she doesn’t replace you at our dinner table. What is this “hump” crap anyway? Wednesday night is family night no matter what kind of emergencies come up – the Justice League handles things for the night. Speaking of which, they are probably sitting in the Watch Tower right now wondering what all this commotion is about down here … and they’re not the only ones who don’t know what the hell is going on. But, as you well know, we were all supposed to be sitting down for a home cooked meal an hour ago. I’ll settle for take out but I won’t settle for a substitute mother for my kids. You don’t know how much I was looking forward to a home cooked meal. Even macaroni and cheese would have been great. I could have bitten your mother’s fingers off when she handed me that drumstick. I saw that there was some more chicken in the refrigerator and I reached for it, but Martha said I couldn’t have it. She said was that you didn’t want me eating chicken breast meat anymore. This has been a really strange day. So, tell me, why can’t I eat chicken anymore … and why all of a sudden do you resent it when I say that your mother is a better cook than you are? You ALWAYS tell everybody that your Mom is a better cook than you and agree with me when I say it. … And why do you act like I’m out of line for obsessing on all the meals your mother has cooked for me over the years when I’m starving? AND, what the heck did you think I was talking about when I wanted you home for our normal Wednesday night routine?”
Clara said, “I thought you were talking about what we do Wednesday night – late Wednesday night – ALL Wednesday night … after the kids are all asleep.”
Lex blushed and said, “Whaaa? Why? Why would you think I was talking about that when I was clearly talking about your mother … and food. I’m hungry, Clara. I know I’m repeating myself here, but I … am …hungry! I worked up one hell of an appetite today and was looking forward to the normal Wednesday night chaos and gluttony at the dinner table with my ever growing family. What did I say that was the least bit sexual?”
Clara said, “Everything you said, EVERYTHING you said was said in a way to make me think exactly what I did. If you were REALLY that hungry, you could have eaten the contents of a super market in two minutes flat. You just want to keep hinting to me about what is REALLY going on because you are afraid to tell me. Well, you don’t worry about it. I found out plenty today without even trying to. You didn’t have to come out here to rub it in. Or is that why you are here … to play games with my mind like your daddy taught you? Do you WANT to drive me crazy? If so, it’s working. It’s a dangerous game to make me lose control just so that you can get custody of the kids. Why don’t you just use kryptonite? It’s quicker and it doesn’t affect you … and it would hurt me a lot less than what you’re doing to me!”
Lex said, “I REALLY DON’T understand what you are talking about Clara. I came because I heard you crying. I ALWAYS come when you need me.”
Clara said, “Except once … when WE needed you.”
Lex was quiet a long time and then he said, “OUCH! That REALLY hurts.”
Clara sniffled and continued to cry as she said, “I’m sorry … I’m really sorry. I don’t want to say or do anything to hurt you … no matter how bad I’m feeling now. Please go away. I don’t want to say anything else but I might not be able to stop myself. Please go. I can’t do this now.”
Lex was a little dazed. He ignored what Clara said and continued to talk. He said, “I didn’t know what was going on that day or, believe me, I would have been there at your side. NOTHING could have kept me away had I known. But I was so involved that I didn’t realize. I felt you cry out … not “heard” … FELT. I had never experienced anything like that before and I thought I had imagined it because … of what I was doing at the time. We can discuss that later if you are finally ready to talk about it. You never wanted to talk about it before and I waited for you to decide when we would discuss it … if ever. But, right now, I’m here because something is upsetting you and I want to help you in any way I can, Honey. Martha said that you were considering calling the President … that you are scared of losing control. She said you had found out about the secret that I’m sharing with her and that we needed to talk about it. I’m embarrassed about it, but I’m man enough not to have to have your mother tell you for me. I really think it’s time to tell you everything. I think I’ve let this drag on too long. I may be comfortable keeping secrets from the rest of the world to protect the ones I love, but I never like keeping secrets from you.”
Clara turned for the first time during there conversation. Her eyes flashed with anger as she said sarcastically, “Well, I’m REALLY sorry that you’re uncomfortable and embarrassed … but I TOLD YOU I’m NOT READY to hear about THEM yet!”
She looked up at Lex standing above her. Her jaw dropped in awe and admiration of the physical beauty of the man. He was wearing the suit he used when he had to perform super human feats when he might be seen. He was in a tight black, long sleeved pull over shirt with equally tight black pants and shiny black boots. The tight eyeless hood that he normally covered everything above his collar and his black gloves had been removed and hung from his belt. He looked down at her with a sweet expression full of love and concern, totally ignoring and unaffected by the harsh bitter wind and the sub-zero artic air. He looked unreal – like someone had carved him out of marble and placed him there to watch over her. She looked at the man she loved more than anything … and saw everything that she was about to lose. An involuntary wail rose up in her throat. She buried her face in her hands and turned away to continue her crying. Her embarrassment made it worse. The harder she tried to stop, the more impossible it became and the harder she cried.
A pair of hands grabbed her under the arms, lifted her to her feet and turned her around. Clara felt Lex’s arms surround her, pull her up against him and hold her tighter than any other person on Earth could have. She relaxed into his embrace. Lex softly whispered into her ear, “What could have happened that is so terrible between the time I kissed you goodbye this morning and now? Our kids are home and happy. Your parents are healthy and having a ball with the kids … when they aren’t worrying about what’s going on with you right now. The cats are fine, the dog is OK and the ducks in our pond seem content. Even the gerbils and hamster seem alright. No one is sick. The world is relatively calm today. I hope this isn’t about my desk. I can always get a new desk. Honey! Just tell me what’s wrong and I’ll fix it for you. There isn’t anything on Earth that we can’t talk about. We’ve been together over 14 years now and married almost seven of it.”
Clara pushed her way out of Lex’s arms and said through her tears, “ … and you didn’t bother waiting for seven years to get the itch, did you?”
Lex said, “I haven’t had an itch to scratch since the day we took our vows … literally or any other way.”
Clara said, “Maybe you didn’t wait until you got an itch. Maybe you did some pre-emptive scratching … or found a volunteer to do the scratching for you.”
Lex said, “Look, let’s take a step back here. I want to answer that question now … the one about why I married you. I really thought you knew but I guess sometimes these things just need to be said rather than just felt or expressed through the way I treat you. Your mom is a great homemaker and an extraordinary cook and I love her dearly, but not like I love you. You saved my life and then you saved my soul. First you made me into a man that could treat people with respect and then went beyond that to make me a man that actually DOES respect other people, not just put on an act. I loved you from the first moment saw you, but even then I had no clue to my capacity to love another person … or how shallow my feelings were then to the depths that those feelings have grown to over the years. You’re the only woman for me, Angel. I can hire someone to cook or to clean or to listen to my problems, but I can’t pay someone for what I get from you.”
Clara said, “Sure you can. That’s why they call it the oldest profession.”
Lex paused then said, “Thanks for warning me earlier. You told me to expect this … but damn it Clara, do you honestly think that that is all we have together? If that’s all there was, do you think that I could have waited seven years? I got what I needed from you the first moment we met and ever since then. I remember the emptiness I felt that first day when your father ordered me to stay away from you and walked away with you. I remember the joy when you turned and smiled back at me as if to say that there was something there that wasn’t going to be over anytime soon. That smile is forever etched into my mind. I just have to close my eyes and I can see it. It wasn’t long before we got a chance to talk … and I think it was then that our special friendship and bond began. I’m not that patient of a man, Clara. If all I wanted from you was sex, I wouldn’t have waited 7 years … or I would have found someone else to sleep with until you were old enough.”
Clara said, “So you didn’t want to have sex with me. You wanted me as a friend. That explains a lot.”
Lex threw his head back in frustration. He said, “This isn’t like you at all! What’s with the word games? Is there so kind of kryptonite that I’m not aware of?”
Clara said, “Just like a man. As long as a woman is docile, polite and agreeable … and as long as she ignores his indiscretions, she’s OK. The first time she stands up for herself, she gets accused of having an emotional problem!”
Lex said, “I didn’t say you had an emotional problem, but aren’t you here, crying your eyes out, hiding from your family? There is some kind of problem here.”
Clara said, “I thing my tears are a justified response to what is going on and I’m only losing control now because I’ve held them back too long. It is my problem but you made it. My tears, anger and nasty words are the effect, but YOU are the cause!”
Lex said, “Clara, maybe I’m a little dense today because I am very tired and so worried about you. This isn’t the best day for me to try to solve riddles or decipher the meaning behind the things you are telling me. You are confusing the hell out of me. Can we please you go through this issue by issue so that we can start understanding each other and communicating again? Please!” Clara just stood there. The tears were still streaming down her face and she acted like making eye contact with Lex was more painful than swallowing a hunk of kryptonite the size of a softball. Lex could tell that he would have to be the one to keep talking if the conversation was ever to get to the root of the problem. Lex said, “I’ve never seen that many tears come out of anyone before. Keep it up and you’ll be dehydrated before long. OK. Where to start? All right, you said something about a scratch on my desk at LexCare. I did a fly by when I started looking for you and saw that the desk was in shattered pieces and that Edward was naked and in chains. Maybe we can start our conversation by you telling me what happened in my office today.”
Clara mumbled, “You should know since you were there all day.”
Lex said, “OK. Now I get it. You’re mad because I didn’t tell you that I’d be out of the office today.”
Clara said, “No, I’m mad because you LIED about it when I asked … and because of where you actually spent your day and because of the women you spent the day with.”
Lex said, “Let’s take this one step at a time. First what happened to Edward? Did he grab your butt again?”
Clara’s head shot up and she no longer had an issue looking into Lex’s eyes. Lex saw the anger in Clara’s face as she said, “You know that he’s been putting his filthy hands on me and you didn’t do or say anything about it?”
Lex said, “Well, you didn’t say a word about it either. For all I knew, you were enjoying it – the attention of a handsome man and verification from an independent source that you are one hot little number.”
Clara said, “You just keep digging yourself deeper.”
Lex said, “I’m not kidding in one sense. Edward has total disinterest in the women of LexCorp. The best looking women throw themselves at him and he brushes them off like they’re annoying him. I concluded he was gay … and liked hairier men than me … until you showed up and he acted like a school boy in heat.”
Clara said, “So you think I’m attractive to gay men? Do I have an Adam’s apple or a five o’clock shadow or something? Well don’t worry about it. Edward is straight. And when he’s excited, he’s VERY straight … and very much out there about his sexual orientation … if you know what I mean.”
Lex said, “No, Clara, today I have no idea what you mean. It sounds like you’re saying that you took a peek with your x-ray vision at Edward’s equipment.”
Clara said, “I didn’t need my x-ray vision, my telescopic vision OR certainly not my microscopic vision. I got a first hand look at what Edward has. He’s very proud of it and wanted to show it off.”
Lex said, “Now you’re the one doing what you accused me of – playing mind games. I KNOW you Clara, you wouldn’t put yourself in a position to spend time alone with that man.”
Clara said, “Oh, we were in the position all right … a position only you ever held before today.”
Lex said, “I swear we will get through this one way or another. Just tell me what happened.”
Clara said, “Just ask your boy Edward what happened. I’m sure he’d love to tell you what he did to me in your office … and what I did to him. He sure was eager to earn that bonus you offered him.”
Lex said, “A step at a time please. One: I couldn’t ask Edward anything. He could barely even dress himself when I got the chains off him. I had to call a taxi for him because he was in no shape to talk, let alone drive. Two: Edward is not “my boy.” He works for my father. He gets paid a lot of money to keep his eye on me.”
Clara said, “WHAT?! You know he works for Lionel and you didn’t fire him?”
Lex said, “I practice what I preach – keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer.”
Clara said, “Well, I guess I practice what you preach too because he was a lot closer to me than I ever imagine he has been to you. In fact, he was all over me. I’ve never even had that close of an examination by a doctor before – not that I am in the habit of going to doctors. Other than you … and maybe my mother when I was a baby, no one has ever looked me over the way he did today. That should bring you two closer together since you now have more in common. I’m really surprised you didn’t smell my scent on him. Unlike me, he didn’t get a chance to bathe once we were through with each other. Oh, that’s right. He was swimming in your cologne. That explains it. By the way, since you want to get to the facts of the matter, he wasn’t paid to keep his eye on you -- he was paid to keep his HANDS on me! Sorry that none of the photos turned out. And about being flattered that he liked touching me, I don’t find it very flattering at all that a man has to be paid to be with me now.”
Lex said, “This can’t be true. I never knew you could be this cruel … to make up stories like this! You can’t be telling me that ….”
Clara said, “Don’t pretend that you don’t know! You paid him to do it. That’s right, Mr. “I Cannot Tell a Lie Luthor,” I don’t believe that Lionel paid for it. He might pay to have me killed, but not to have me serviced. I guess I should thank you. You always hire the best at everything – and Edward is an exceptional lover. I know.”
Lex said, “WHAT?!”
Clara said, “I know he is because he told me he is … again and again and again. If someone repeats something enough, it’s GOT to be true. Isn’t that right?”
Lex said, “I’m glad you don’t know about Edward from direct experience … but you really shouldn’t believe things that people tell you.”
Clara said, “I know now. I thought I could believe what I was told by people … by you especially … until today! Now I don’t know if what I hear is a lie and or the truth. I LIKED believing you Lex. I liked believing it when you tell me you love me. But maybe others are hearing that from you too – and believing it every much as I do – DID! Edward didn’t go all the way, but he went way too far. I was VIOLATED Lex! And if you paid him to do that, you violated me too!” Clara let out a scream and began crying again full force like a hysterical three year old having a tantrum. Lex tried to hold her but she pulled away from him and shook her whole body “No.”
Lex said, “I’ll say it again because it needs to be said. I DO love you. Hopefully before the night is over you’ll believe at least that. Lionel does employ Edward. Lionel has tried to kill you a few times and he was never successful at it. He knows more than anyone the power of a well-placed lie … and that, if mixed with enough truth to make it believable, it can be devastating. Lionel is a master of that. Having Edward do whatever he did to you was a way of him trying to drive a wedge between us. If he can’t kill us, he can rob us of what we love and make us weak. It looks like he did a damned good job of it this time. Think about it. Would I send a normal man up against Superwoman? He didn’t have kryptonite, did he? If I was behind this, wouldn’t I have used kryptonite?”
Clara said, “He had information Lex. He knew things and he tricked me. I thought I was going there for YOU … and I laid down on the desk for YOU … and I let him handcuff me because I thought you were playing a game. Then I couldn’t get out of it without revealing my secret. I waited until I couldn’t stand him touching me anymore. But when he got on top of me naked … and he must have been a mutant because … because … yuck!”
Lex said, “So why didn’t you vibrate out of the cuffs and let him think that he didn’t fasten them correctly? Then you could have used some moves Bruce Wayne taught you and taken care of him without revealing your powers.”
Clara got a horrified look on her face then said, “Because I’M STUPID! I didn’t have to … oh God ….” Clara folded her hands across her stomach and doubled over as her crying intensified again.
Lex said, “You see, I would never have set up something like that. That shows that I didn’t set it up. I would have known better.”
Clara said, “You DIDN’T set it up!”
Lex said, “Thank God! We’re making progress!”
Clara said, “You wanted him to work me slowly … to seduce me … to have me sleep with him voluntarily so you could show that I’m an unfit parent in court. But I fired him and it forced his hand … his FILTHY hands! He couldn’t contact you any more than I could to get approval for what he did to me. And just because … just because … I wasn’t thinking clearly doesn’t make what happened MY fault!”
Lex said, “Of course it wasn’t your fault … and somehow I’ll make you believe that it wasn’t my fault either. Damn it! One quick burst of heat vision 3 years ago and my father wouldn’t have been around to do this to us. I wanted to kill him then and I should have.” After a long pause, Lex continued, “I didn’t expect anything this bad when I came out here tonight. I thought that we could resolve what Martha asked me to tell you about in no time. And there’s something else that you need to know about tonight … I needed to get home to meet with my lawyers, but I wanted to see you first. I thought we would have kissed and made up by now and be home with our family. Now it looks like there is a lot to go through. ”
Clara said, “You wanted to file for divorce tonight?”
Lex said, “No, there was some film footage shown on the 5:00 Wolf Network News that belongs to LexCare and I wanted to try to block them from showing it again at 11:00 … but I’m running out of time … and you can’t un-ring a bell anyway … and this is more important.”
Clara said, “Go deal with your important business. Who’s stopping you? Did I ask you to come here tonight? NO!”
Lex said, “Would you be here if I left and came back? I don’t think so.”
Clara asked, ”Why do you REALLY want to go? Did you promise some woman that you’d meet her for dinner or a quickie or something?”
Lex said, “Well, if you want to know, it wasn’t about me at all. I don’t have any secrets from you that I really care about keeping, but you still have things that you prefer to keep private. I wanted to see want I could do to protect your feelings.”
Clara said, “Men always say that that’s why they keep their secrets – to keep the woman they have at home from getting heir feelings hurt.”
Lex said, “OK. Your day is about to get even worse for you ….”
Lex said, “OK. Your day is about to get even worse for you. you keep telling me that my motives are selfish. I only cared what happened because it’s important to you. For me what happened today is actually a good thing, the world will think they understand why I’m married to you and my e-mails will be cut in half because all those women will know who their competing with.”
Clara said, “What are you talking about?”
Lex said, “Let’s see how closely I can remember this. The kids were watching TV, I was eating a drumstick and about to go check out my desk and look for you. Then I heard a promo for the news that made me decide to stay long enough to watch the news. The news report went something like, “Wolf Network TV 8 News has acquired some startling … and REVEALING … film footage tonight that will amaze anyone who watches it. A beloved woman who is well-known in our area and around the world for her breakthroughs in medical science is not quite the person we thought her to be. You will see a shy, quite, reclusive mild-mannered research scientist transform herself before your very eyes. What you will see is unbelievable but we have authenticated that the film is genuine. I won’t have to tell any of you men out there to watch closely. Our film editor has joined together images shot from 6 security cameras to allow you to follow her through her transformation. We will show it 3 times now. Don’t call the station if you want to see it again. Just set your recorders for 11:00 tonight.””
Clara said, “OH, NO! Someone caught me changing into Super Woman on film! I’m always SO careful. What am I going to do now?”
Lex said, “Oh, I don’t think anyone thinks you’re Super Woman. Super Woman has a tense, focused, determined look – someone who looks untouchable but someone any man would want to try to touch anyway. The Clara Kent Luthor they knew was a stoop shouldered, shy, un-kempt woman in inexpensive, out of style clothes who keeps her head low and never brushes the hair out of her face. My Clara, my Guardian Angel, is calm, other-worldly, upright, glowing, cat-like in her graceful movements, fascinated by the world and everything and everyone in it … nothing like the public Clara or Super Woman. Your attitude has a major impact on your looks Clara. You must unconsciously alter your appearance with your exceptional control of your body – including your facial muscles. So I wouldn’t worry too much about what everybody saw tonight. We’ll just have to get another new phone number and build a tall wall around the property to keep the men and the photographers away. So, did Edward’s helper touch you too? You didn’t say.”
Clara said, “No he didn’t. How did you know he had a helper?”
Lex answered, “Well, Edward was still chained up when I got there so someone else must have gotten the security films to the TV station.”
Clara said, “I destroyed the film in the security cameras.”
Lex said, “Did you look at it first? Maybe they changed the tape before Edward entered the office. You were definitely by yourself in the footage they showed. I must say, that lingerie I bought you looks better on you than I ever could have imagined.”
Clara yelled, “DAMN IT!” and stamped her foot on the iceberg so hard that it shattered into eight pieces. Both Clara and Lex effortlessly hopped onto the largest piece that remained and rebalanced themselves. Clara asked, “What did they show?”
Lex said, “Well I’m glad that I didn’t pick out a transparent or light colored fabric. A lot of women show more skin when they go swimming. But what they showed would have been very erotic even if you had worn a lot more. The way you walk is spell-binding.”
Clara said, “I didn’t mean how much of my body showed … oh, God! I meant what happened in the film footage that they aired, Lex?!”
Lex said, “Well, they showed you walking out of the elevator with your shoulders stooped and you hair in your face. Then you walked to the office door and checked the lock. As you walked over there, you started walking a little less stiffly. The camera in the bathroom showed you from behind and your reflection from the front. You took off those dorky horn-rimmed glasses you wear when you’re out and then stripped off your outer clothes slowly. It was a good thing you wore the lingerie below your street clothes. The film clearly shows you watching yourself in the mirror, pulling your hair back and shaking your head to get your hair just right. I could imagine men across America with their jaws open and drool dripping … a lot of them would have had to head for a cold shower after that walk you made to the desk and your casual stroll around it … not to mention the way you positioned yourself on the desk top. You could even see your toes curling on the desk trim. They showed it 3 times then they showed press photos of you as winner of the “worst dressed” awards next to images from the video and discussed whether you had had surgery or not.”
Clara said, “Oh my God, I hope my Mom never … OH MY GOD, what if DAD SEES IT?!”
Lex said, “You don’t have to worry about that.”
Clara asked, “Of course I have to worry about it.”
Lex said, “You don’t have to worry about it because they already saw it. It was really quite beautifully done. There was background music and everything – tasteful music. They could have used the song “Afternoon Delight.” The highlights on your skin from the flickering candles were very nice. Your father was pretty pale through the entire thing, but I wasn’t watching him that much. Your mother was smiling with pride like you were on a beauty contest or something. Of could she stopped smiling and started laughing uncontrollably when the kids started cheering and marching around. They were so happy to see you … especially on TV! Leah was refusing to watch TV for some reason, but when she heard the commotion she came running in. Her face lit up when she saw you and she shouted how beautiful you were on the TV … then all the kids started chanting “Mommy’s pretty, Mommy’s pretty.” I wish that I had recorded their little impromptu parade. It was priceless.” Clara stood there looking totally horrified. Lex said, “Now all those women who thought they had a frumpy woman to compete against will know they are out matched – and people will stop wondering why I married you. It wasn’t just your looks that made me want you so badly … but like always, let them think what they want to think.” Clara stood frozen, looking like she was about to get sick. Lex said, “Really, Honey. Think about that tight blue dress with the short skirt that Super Woman wears in public. How much different is this?”
Clara said, “Super Woman can dress like that if she wants too, but I’m a mother … and even if I weren’t … I don’t put myself on display like that! Super Woman doesn’t have an address or phone number or any way for people to stalk her or get to her. I do! Super Woman is an act … a front. She stands out there so I can be invisible. I don’t want to be seen … and now everybody has seen everything! I want … I want … I want to take another bath … someplace where there aren’t any cameras. Maybe I’ll stay dressed when I shower from now on. I HATE today! I HATE IT!”
Why don’t we go somewhere else to continue our conversation? We always got to the heart of the matter quickly when we sat on out rock and discussed things calmly. You can stop to take a bath after we get there and then we can sit on our rock in the back yard and continue this talk?”
Clara said, “I won’t go to ANY rock with you. Our rock is on Mars and I’m not prepared to go that far with you tonight … or to any other rock where you use your smooth talk women to seduce women. Maybe we should sell that house on Mars. How much do you think that we could get for it? It’s in a quiet neighborhood with a big back yard … with a nice smooth round rock to sit on.”
Lex stood staring at Clara for a while. He said, “You must be hurting really badly to say a thing like that! I never could imagine you being so cruel. Our relationship was built on that rock. And to even talk about selling that house is sacrilege.”
Clara said, “A rock is just a cold, hard thing. Some people may think that a rock is more tangible and important than a vow, but to me the vow is just as real.”
Lex said, “You’ll get no argument from me on that.”
Clara said, “And no single rock could be that important to you when you have other rocks with slippery, well-balanced women on them begging for your services.”
Lex cleared his throat and said, “So we have even MORE to discuss than I thought. OK, we can continue our talk here if you like. I’m willing to stand here all night if you want to. I kind of like the effect this cold is having on you.” Clara looked down then covered her chest with her hands. “I can’t believe it. Now you’re being shy with me.”
Clara said, “You can look at any woman in the world any time that you want to.”
Lex said, “I would never do that without permission!”
Clara said, “Well you wouldn’t have to worry about that. They’d gladly give you permission. Don’t you read your e-mails? Or do you just look at the pictures?”
Lex said, “Who are you and what did you do with my wife? Wherever the real Clara is, she KNOWS that I do whatever I can to block that kind of e-mail. If you want the job, you can screen all my e-mail from now on. I’ve got nothing to hide.”
Clara said, “Are you that confident that I won’t break Lori’s secret code? OH! And by the way, I had a hard enough time coming up with the names for our EIGHT kids, so don’t expect me to come up with eight HUNDRED names for the ones you sire on Paradise Island, Stud Man!”
Lex said, “Boy have you been busy! Everything can be explained – EVERYTHING! If you want to know anything at all, just ask me.”
Clara said, “I DON’T want to ask, because I DON’T want to be lied to … and I DON’T what to hear about your sexual exploits with other women while I was home nursing your babies!” Clara’s crying intensified again.
Lex said, “You know, it REALLY hurts that you don’t trust me. You once told me that your trust in me was unshakable.”
Clara said, “And you told me that once a businessman has someone’s trust, they are free to do whatever they please. I DID trust you. I really did. But this has been a very eventful day. Everywhere I look everything I see tells me that I’m an idiot denying the obvious.”
Lex said, “And who exactly is doing the telling – Lionel’s employee Edward? Or are you reading the tabloids now? How many children that you know for a fact are mine are bald? And, by the way, for someone so good with numbers, you seem to have a problem remembering that we have 6 kids, not eight … unless you can pop them out at super speed and have had a couple that I don’t know about. OH! And remember on that score that you made a verbal contract with me that we would have a dozen children … with an option for a dozen more!”
Clara said, “Lex, Mom told me, Leah told me, even YOU confessed to it in your e-mails. I didn’t need Edward OR the tabloids to tell me anything.”
Lex said, “There must be some misunderstanding and we’ll get to it all one piece at a time. But I need you to talk with me about things, not just play word games and take pot shots at me.”
Clara said, ”Lex … Lex … I’m … I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY I’M SORRY!!!! I don’t like being like this. I don’t want to be cruel. I made a decision before you got here that we could work things out. I am ready to make another contract with you right here and now. I don’t want our marriage to end so I’m ready to compromise if you will. Are you willing to make a contract with me Lex?”
Lex said, “Nothing is going to end our marriage – NOTHING. I certainly have no problem if you want to renew our vows or make another contract ….”
Clara said, “Listen to me Lex. I know I’m not in any bargaining position, but for the sake of our kids, I hope you will agree. This is what I’m willing to do: I will be OK with you having other women … but I don’t want to hear about them or have any reminders that I’m not enough of a woman for you. Don’t bring them home or stash them at my parents house … or come home smelling like them … and please don’t do it with my friends because I don’t have that many and my sister is off limits ….”
Lex said, “Your SISTER!”
Clara cried and said, “Please, Lex, PLEASE! Don’t do it with Samantha no matter how much she begs you too … and my Mom … PLEASE DON’T DO THAT ANY MORE!”
Lex said, “What the HELL are you talking about?!”
Clara begged, “Please Lex, don’t leave me alone to raise our eight children!”
Lex said, “Calm down Clara, that’s not going to happen … none of it … and we have six children, six.”
Clara said, “You’re not going to take them away by convincing people that I pay for gigolos, are you? You didn’t take that surveillance tape to the TV Station yourself to show the world that I’m a slut, did you? You’re not going to let my kids grow up thinking that I’m that way, are you? We can have joint custody … at least give me visiting rights! I’ll move out of the mansion and live at the farm … unless your girlfriend living there doesn’t want me around. But please don’t make me leave. I’ll move into the servants’ quarters and take care of the kids as if I were their nanny. Your girlfriends won’t ever see me when they stay over – or you can tell me I’m the hired help. I won’t interfere with whatever you do with them. When I was little, I learned how to tune out the noises my parents made at night and I’ll learn to tune you out too. I’ll learn to live with it some how. I don’t want to but I want to stay near the kids.”
Lex said, “I think I liked it better when you were giving me the silent treatment. Let me understand this, you are giving me permission to have affairs with other women?”
Clara said, “Yes.”
Lex said, “And in return, you get to live like a servant in your own house and wait on me and the kids hand and foot?”
Clara said, “Yes.”
Lex said, “Remind me to NEVER let you negotiate any deals for LexCare, EVER. Did you ever think that I might not WANT your permission to be a louse and an adulterer?”
Clara said,”I’m just giving you a chance to do what you’ve been doing without having to lie about it. Are you afraid that it won’t be as exciting if I know and tolerate what you are doing?”
Lex said, “I can’t believe this stuff you are saying! I feel like I’m still in the nut house hopped up on whatever drugs my dad was feeding me. Thank God in heaven that you aren’t like this very often. If I’m not already over the edge, you’re going to drive me out of my mind if you keep this up much longer!”
Clara said, “I know it’s me. I know that I’m driving you away. I’m not like the human females you lusted after when you were a teenager.”
Lex said, “No you’re not, … you’re much more interesting and exciting.”
Clara said, “I’m an alien freak that doesn’t fit in here.”
Lex said, “Believe it or not, I don’t know many people who think they “fit in” and many who are ashamed because they think that they do.”
Clara said, “I still talk with a funny accent!”
Lex said, “I LOVE your accent. It drives me wild. I have a drawer full of recordings of you speaking and singing and praying in Kryptonese to listen to when we’re not together. I keep in them in my desk drawer at work and … DAMN!”
Clara said, “And I dress bad …”
Lex said, “But you clean up well … you prove that the clothes don’t make the woman … You dress badly for the world … to protect our family … and you don’t have to do that anymore. You never have dressed badly for ME during our private times alone or with the family … and if I’m very good and very lucky, you hardly dress for me at all.”
Clara said, “You’re the richest man on the planet ….”
Lex said, “And you’re the richest woman.”
Clara said, “And you’re the strongest, sexiest, most charming man ….”
Lex said, “True.”
Clara said, “And every woman wants you ….”
Lex said, “Well you can’t always get what you want.”
Clara said, “And … and … and … and I can’t blame those sluts for wanting you … because … I want you too.” Clara sobbed and said, “And I can’t blame you either because no man could be as tempted as you are.”
Lex said, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, now! Wait a minute! Do you know ANY man on Earth that wouldn’t give up everything he had to be with Super Woman? And after tonight, every man will be wanting Clara Kent too.”
Clara said, “You’re exaggerating. That’s not true at all! Even if it WAS true, that would be a totally different situation!”
Lex said, “Why would that be the slightest bit different?”
Clara said, “Because I’m not interested in being with anyone else.”
Lex said, “Neither am I.”
Clara said, “That’s bull! You’re a man. You can’t help it!”
Lex said, “Clara Josephine Kent Luthor! I can’t believe it. I never for a moment dreamed that you are a sexist! Do you think that there are women out there who can’t resist temptation?”
Clara said, “Yes, I know there are. I just read 12,000 e-mails from women like that today.”
Lex said, “So it’s not JUST men.”
Clara said, “It’s MOSTLY men.”
Lex said, “Will you concede that, if there are thousands, perhaps millions of females who find it impossible to be faithful, that it is possible for one man somewhere to be faithful despite temptation and opportunity.”
Clara said, “No, I don’t think so. I did, but not anymore. And I don’t care if I’m being sexist. I DON’T CARE! If I can’t trust you, then I can’t trust anybody. So I won’t. I won’t trust anyone again – EVER!”
Lex shook his head, “Yet a few minutes ago, you wanted to make a verbal contract with me. Why make a contract with me if you don’t trust me to keep it? You can’t just throw it away, Clara. You can’t throw US away! US is too important. It’s THE most important thing in my life. I would give up everything I have to hang onto you. I already gave up everything I was or might have become to be able to be with you, thank God, but mostly, thank you, Angel. You know, All my life, I just wanted someone to love me. That’s it. Sex is no substitute for love. Power and money … they are meaningless when you’re alone and empty inside. I thought you of all people would understand that – because you were my teacher. How ironic that I couldn’t trust anyone until I met you, and now, you say that you can’t trust anyone BECAUSE of me. Shortly after we met, there was this moment that I got very scared and almost ran away. When I realized that you would be more than just a good girl friend or lover or wife … that you were not “the one for me,” but “the ONLY one for me,” I panicked. I had only known you such a short time and I realized that if I spent just one more afternoon with you, there would be no going back. I would be handing over to you the power to totally destroy me. My freedom to be any kind of person I chose to be AND to be with any woman I chose to be with AND to live without consideration for anything other than what was best for me at the moment – all that would be gone. If I didn’t turn away then, I would forever be a slave to my love and desire for you. I panicked that I would lose everything that most men dream about if I stayed near you another few hours. That was a very intense 6 seconds of my life, then I thought about what I’d gain and I happily gave up everything and everyone else to be with you. I knew that you were the only one that I could live for and love forever – and I selfishly wanted you to love me too … just enough … just enough to tolerate me and stick around till death do us part. I decided that if I wasn’t the kind of man that I had to be for you to love me, I would eliminate every trait in myself that made me the Lex Luthor I was born to be and make myself someone new … someone better … someone that you could love. I know that people rarely change, but there was a profound change in me … and I did it for you. And I like myself for the man I am now. I molded myself into someone that you could love and found that I could love myself too.”
Clara said, “Well it worked Lex. You made yourself someone that I could love … desperately … hopelessly …. And you made yourself someone that other women want too. They might have preferred the bad boy that you were, but they want you just the same … probably as much as I do and possibly for different reasons … but I HAVE to hold myself back because of who I am and THEY don’t. They will do ANYTHING! And since you love yourself now, why not be nice to yourself? Why not treat yourself that makes you feel good? WHY NOT? What’s the harm in it? Your wife is too in love with you to ever do anything about it. She’ll just have to learn to either share or step aside. ADMIT it Lex. There’s too much smoke to not be a fire here somewhere. You wanted to get this resolved, so let’s get down to business. Maybe I’ll be able to swallow it in small pieces. Let’s just pick a place to start and get back to the truth so we can at least be honest with one another. You said we could talk about this later … and it’s later now, so let’s talk about it. I never asked before, because I never felt I had reason to question what you do when you aren’t with me. But now I want to know. Where were you while I was fighting the alien that destroyed Metropolis’s financial district? Where were you when that thing they called Doomsday killed our unborn baby girl?”
Now Lex was silent for a while. Now his eyes were brimming with tears, but unlike Clara, he still had the strength to hold them back. He said, “We had a few days there where we didn’t talk at all. You had shut yourself down and your body was healing. After that, you still had a lot of healing to do … not all of it from the physical injuries. I was trying my best to deal with it too. I was worried how silent you were on the subject. I told myself that I was waiting until you were ready to talk about that day, but I finally realized how relieved I was that we didn’t discuss it. I know I have to go somewhere and shed tears about it if it crosses my mind. I can’t imagine what its like for you.
I think that was the first time in our marriage that we stopped talking about anything and everything … and started being careful how we talked to each other and what we said. That is probably a large part of what led us to where we are right now. I don’t want it to EVER go this far again. If you are ever concerned about anything – have fears or doubts or issues, don’t be afraid to talk to me about it. Please, never hold back anything that is on your mind. By the time this day is over, I hope you truly believe like you once did that I am a safe person to talk to about anything.
That day. That HORRIBLE day! You said you hate today and I’ll admit that it hasn’t been pleasant, but compared to the day the lab exploded or the day you were sentenced to prison … or the day that Doomsday came to Metropolis, this day has been a walk in the park. It was the single worst day in our married life. I was so angry and agitated. I had a pain that felt physical but that I knew couldn’t be. I thought it was from stress. I was totally lost in my own world and I heard someone say that you were dead. I rushed to get to you, terrified of what I might find. As I flew towards Metropolis, I saw the creature stand up. He threw you to the ground and was kicking you. I could feel that you were alive but I somehow knew that you wouldn’t last much longer. Then I heard your Mother’s signal watch and turned for an instant to look at LexCare. Things looked OK at home – I figured that she was calling to alert me to what was happening to you. I was tuned into your Mom’s signal and almost feel out of the sky when I heard this high-pitched scream that hurt my ears so badly that I almost fell out of the sky. That scream must have lasted less than a nanosecond, but when I’m operating at the speed I was going, my time sense shifts and the world seems to slow down. I stopped mid-air, covered my ears and looked your way just as the scream stopped and I saw the alien’s back explode as if some unseen projectile had blown through his chest. Immediately the building behind him collapsed the alien fell on top of you. Both of you were cover in rubble. The instant before I looked towards LexCare, you looked unconscious and helpless. You must have come to just in time. I didn’t know at the time how you had managed to save yourself but I didn’t care. I think I figured it out later but we weren’t talking about it at all. I know that it was extremely hard for you to make the decision to take a life and so much remorse that I thought it would be wrong to discuss details with you.”
Clara said, “You know exactly how I killed the alien. You had to have been the one to pull my arm out of his eye socket. I shoved my hand into his eye and drove it into his brain until I was in him almost up to my elbow and he dropped dead on top of me with my hand still inside him.”
Lex said, “No. I didn’t pull your arm out. The alien pulled your arm out when he got back up. The injury you did to his brain might have killed him in time, but the autopsy showed that the brain injury was already starting to heal at the moment the alien died. It was what you did to his chest that killed him.
Clara said, “I landed a few blows to his chest, but all that did was hurt my hands. There was no indication that I did more that annoy him. He swatted me away so fast that I really couldn’t land a good blow. I couldn’t focus on putting him down. I was drowning in the sound of all those people screaming and dying. If I could have pulled it all together like Bruce Wayne taught me to do, maybe I could have knocked him down and restrained him or carried him off world. But I was ineffective and weak and because of my shortcomings, I had to resolve the situation by killing a sentient creature. But, nothing I did to his chest could have killed him.”
Lex said, “What I finally figured out was that you thought of Black Canary and how she uses he voice as a sonic weapon. I decided that you must have screamed at him and that that was the sound that I heard on my way there. That fits the evidence. Maybe by that time you were just so out of it that you don’t remember it now.”
Clara shouted, “DON’T REMEMBER! I’ve spent three years trying to forget it. I don’t wake up at night screaming because I remembered I needed milk from the grocery store! I scream because the giant Boogey Man comes to kill me and I but my hand through his eye. Go watch “CSI: Metropolis” and play forensic expert if you want. I am a scientist and I know that evidence can be manipulated. I was there. I saw it. I DID it! I killed him with my right arm.”
Lex said, “I was there too. I wasn’t as close, but these eyes of mine got to see it in horrifying detail. He was on top of you when I first heard that you were dead. It took me two minutes to get air born. At that point, I saw him get up with you hanging from his eye. He grabbed you by the waist and was crushing you as he carefully pulled you away from himself … like he was removing a splinter. Then he threw you down and kicked you and became stomping you into the ground. Then there was the signal watch noise and the scream. Then, like I told you, his chest exploded out through his back, he fell and the building collapsed. When I dug you out a second later, he was on top of the hole he made by stomping your body into the ground, and I could see your body through the gaping hole through the alien’s back. Both your arms were at your sides – pushed up slightly by the upward resistance of the ground as you were driven into it. The autopsy showed that the impact had broken through his exoskeleton, front and back. It had totally shattered what served as his breastbone, ribcage and spine. If he ever had a heart or lungs or any other internal organs, they were totally obliterated. I don’t know how you have any remorse for killing that vicious thing. The only reason I wish that you hadn’t killed him is pretty selfish. I would have liked to do it myself! Not for the thousands he killed that day … but because of what he almost took away from me … and because of one life that he did take … baby Sharon.”
Lex stood silently for a while. Clara whispered, “Don’t. Please don’t say her name. I still can’t bear it. We talked, you know. Maybe you think I imagine it, but I talk to them all before they are born. Shar … she was going to be SO special. They all are, but she ….”
After a long silence and with the tears still flowing, Clara said, “I thought we weren’t going to start over by telling new lies. I don’t want lies anymore, even if they are supposed to make me feel better. I killed Doomsday by causing a fatal injury to his brain. Don’t invent some story to make me think that ….”
Lex said, “You can read the autopsy report any time you want to – and NO I didn’t pay to have someone file a false report. If I wanted to make up something, I would have done it years ago. I would have told you that I killed that thing. I thought you did kill him, just not the way you think you did. Maybe you didn’t kill him, but I don’t know anyone else who could have. Maybe he was an escaped criminal from wherever he came from. Maybe one of his own kind wanted to stop the destruction he was causing and took him out with some kind of sonic weapon. I couldn’t see anything, but at the time I was too worried about you … and Leah … to investigate what had happened.”
Clara said, “Why were you worried about Leah?”
Lex said, “I had just throw Doomsday’s body aside when I heard a tiny voice behind me say, “Mommy nap now?” Leah was standing on a pile of broken concrete in her birthday suit holding her Super Woman blanket.”
Clara said, “What? How did she get there? Why was she naked?”
Lex answered, “I asked her where her clothes were. She said, “Don’t know. Went bye-bye!” I didn’t think much about that. You know how kids the age she was then sometimes undress themselves and run around. That was the least of my worries right then. I think she wanted to see what was going on. Maybe she came to get her blanket back. I was kind of surprised that she was in town. I thought your Dad had taken her when he got Larry. When I looked back to LexCare when Martha sounded her signal watch, I didn’t see her there. Maybe she had headed down the stairs at that point on her way to where you were. She could run pretty fast at that age, so getting to where you were wouldn’t have been much of a challenge. I really don’t know how or why she was there. All I knew was that there was still a cloud of dust from the collapsed building and from my excavation efforts. I wanted to get you and Leah home before the dust settled enough for anyone to see Leah there. I told her that I would give her a piggyback ride home. She jumped onto my back and put her arms around my neck. Then I picked you up and carried you home.”
Clara said, “Why didn’t you tell me about this sooner?”
Lex said, “Like I said, you didn’t want talk about hat day and I really didn’t want to either … so we just never did. But now that we are talking about it, I’ll tell you anything else you want to know. What do you remember about me bringing you home that day?”
Clara said, “I remember pain, terrible pain … and emptiness. I know when that first moment of life takes hold inside of me – when one of your little soldiers score a touchdown. I talk to my babies in a sense soon after they are conceived. They have so much personality from the first instant. Doomsday hit me and Sharon ….” Clara stopped talking and gasped for air. “She … she was silent. I couldn’t hear her anymore. I just felt this small dead mass inside of me where she had been. It was my fault. I should never have confronted Doomsday. But I never imagined that he could hurt me … or her. My babies could probably survive without me two months after they’re conceived. I’ve never had to take special care of myself while I was pregnant or give it a second thought. I’m not fragile and neither are they. … So … I remember Doomsday falling on top of me. Then I remember waking up late at night and Mom being there with her warm washcloths. I remember looking around for you and seeing Dad in the living room with Larry and Leah. I remember wondering where you had gone.”
Lex said, “Oh, no. DON’T tell me that! You knew where I was. You MADE me leave. No one else on Earth could have made me leave your side that night … but you did. Tell me that you remember that. Tell me! That was the hardest thing I ever did.”
Clara said, “I don’t remember telling you to go.”
Lex said, “You could barely open your jaw but you managed to mumble and made sure that I knew what you insisted that I do that day. You told me that you could hear people crying and dying – buried out in the ruble that had been the business district. You placed your hand over the tattoo on my heart and ordered me to go and help them. I refused. I told you that I would call in the Justice League. You said to go ahead and call them but if I wouldn’t help, you would. You tried to get up. I had to hold you down. When I saw that your struggle with me was upsetting you, I agreed. You said something about it being better that I go because they needed my help and that you were beyond help. You asked me to kiss you good-bye and kiss the kids for you. My blood ran cold because I knew what you meant – that you had given up. I told you that if it was your intention to die, that I wouldn’t leave or help anyone … ever again. I told you that I would become the man that I would have been if I had never had you in my life – that I would become my father’s son. You started crying and said that you had to go … that it hurt too much. You begged me to remain the man I had become … for the sake of your memory and for the children. I told you that our children and our future children needed their mother. I refused to leave unless you promised that you would live. You didn’t want to and you kept telling me that people out there needed me right then. I held my ground and then you promised that you wouldn’t die while I was out helping people. I told you that if it meant keeping you alive, I would stay out and help people until you were an old woman. You asked for your kiss good-bye again and I said that I had no intention of leaving before you showed me that you intended to keep your promise. When I said that, I saw the tears stop and a flash of anger in your eyes – anger and determination. I went to the windows and opened all the curtains to let as much sunlight into the room as I could. I walked back to you, touched your cheek and said, “Show me there.” You concentrated and the cuts and bruises on your cheek began to heal. I kissed you on that cheek and turned to leave. Before I got to the door, I heard your voice and stopped. Your words were distinct … not mumbled. You said, “Is that anyway to kiss your wife good-bye?” I turned and looked at you. Your face had completely healed. I looked deeper and saw that your jaw was no longer broken. I returned and we kissed like we normally do when we are alone together. You said, “I love you” and passed out in my arms. Then I kept my promise. I spent the next 2 hours digging out the injured and dead. I spent the next three days cleaning up the rubble and making it safe for people to return to that area again. But I never let a minute pass – not ONE minute, without looking back your way and seeing how you were doing. I guess your memory isn’t as infallible as we thought. Unless you don’t believe what I just told you.”
Clara said, “I believe that I wouldn’t have you sit at my bedside while people were dying. That makes perfect sense to me.” Both of them were silent for a long time. Finally Clara said, “I just realized that, intentionally or not, you didn’t answer my question. Where were you while I was battling Doomsday?”
Lex said, “I was visiting my father. That was the last time I saw him … probably the last time that I ever will … if I’m lucky.”
Clara asked, “Why did you go to see him? Did he request a visit?”
Lex said, “No, I went on my own. There were two reasons. One: I had become a father since Dad had gone into hiding. I hadn’t seen him in person since he was captured – just on the TV news reports. I think your influence on me had really taken hold. I was so happy with my life that I felt like a new man. I thought that I could at last make peace with Dad. I thought that we could both move on. He had been near death and cured by your cancer medication so I thought that he would have had reason to reconsider his feelings about you and us. The second reason was your fear of him. You were so paranoid about him being back and about his new holding facility. I wanted to check out the security. I also hoped that Dad would agree to do or say something that would put your mind at ease – that he no longer wished you harm … and that he wouldn’t do anything to hurt our kids. At least I tried. Look, considering how afraid you were then, I don’t know if I should tell you what he told me. I don’t want to get you worked up about him anymore.”
Clara said, “I’ve seen his facility, I know that he’s not getting out and I’m strong enough to deal with him if he does. My days of fearing Lionel are over. If you want to get back to the “us” that could discuss anything, tell me what happened.”
Lex continued, “He was shockingly straight forward with me for a change. I took in all our photo albums to show him pictures of his grandchildren. He wouldn’t even look at them. He called them “mongrel mutts” and said he didn’t want to see any resemblance to you in his grandchildren. I told him that you were scared and asked for his re-assurance that he wouldn’t harm his own grand children. He told me that you were always pretty smart and that it was very astute of you to realize that you had reason to be afraid for your life and for the life of your children. He .assured me that any child of our union would have a target on them, but that your total destruction was his primary goal. He also went on about hoping to have an opportunity to make you suffer before he killed you. After he said that, we started shouting at each other. I reminded him of what I told him years ago – that if he ever got anywhere near you for any reason, that I wouldn’t hesitate to kill him. I wanted to bust through that glass wall and wring his neck. Instead I doubled over in pain. I thought that it was from the stress of the argument … from my dashed hopes of things finally being different. The guard came over and asked me to leave … only he really wasn’t “asking.” I got to the waiting room and heard a guard say, “Super Woman and that monster just killed each other.” I turned and looked through the glass wall surrounding the guard station and saw the television that the guards were watching. All I could see was one of your legs sticking out from under that thing and Leah’s blanket lying there. Then they showed footage of you during the fight. I could hardly recognize your face because of the bruises and blood. I almost made a hole through the wall but forced myself to remember that I had to keep our secret for the sake of our kids. It took $300.00 to get through the security checkpoints quickly. I put the photo albums in my car and changed into my flight suit and face mask out of habit as I took flight. I took all of two minutes to get from the reception area to my car, but that was two of the longest minutes of my life. Fortunately, the rumors of you death had been greatly … SLIGHTLY … exaggerated. Had I known that you weren’t dead and the delay could have given Doomsday the time needed to kill you, I never would have taken the time to keep our secret. I’ve told you what happened after that.”
Clara said, “Your life would have been much less complicated today if those rumors had been true.”
Lex just stared at her for a while. He finally said, “I just told you how I begged and coerced you to stay alive … and you say something like that … that my life would be better without you. Are you saying that you would you have rather died that day?”
Clara said, “Maybe.”
Lex said, “You would have rather died and denied life to our two youngest children … and NOT spent the last three years with your kids … and with me?”
Clara cried and said, “No!”
Lex said, “Then why, Clara? Why would you say “Maybe” when I asked if you would rather be dead?” Clara was silent. Lex shouted, “WHY? Answer me, damn it!”
Clara shouted back, “Because I’m scared! I’m SCARED! I’m SO DAMNED scared!”
Lex asked, “You? Scared? Of what? Other than the claustrophobia which is basically cured … and a couple terrible bouts of pre-partum depression, which isn’t the case now … I have NEVER known you to be scared of anything. Not ONE thing. What on Earth could threaten you? What could you possibly be scared of?”
Clara said, “I’m scared of TOMORROW … of a tomorrow WITHOUT YOU!”
Lex said, “I have no intention of going anywhere. There’s no force on Earth other than you that could move me if I don’t want to go.”
Clara said, “Big IF! COME ON, LEX! I KNOW! I KNOW that you’re cheating! Just admit it, Lex. I didn’t want to hear it before, but I’m tired of all of the lies. It will be a relief to hear the truth from your own lips. Tell me about them. Tell me about ALL the women you make love to.”
Lex paused and said, “Whew! If you really insist on me telling you about what you already know, I’ll admit to it….”
Lex paused and said, “Whew! If you really insist on me telling you about what you already know, I’ll admit to it. Most men only sleep with a couple women but I’ve got a diverse group of women that keep me busy. I almost never know in advance who I’m going to hop into bed with. There are at least 20 regulars but a new one pops in there every once in a while.” Clara buried her face in her hands and started crying louder. Lex said, “There’s the research scientist. She’s always interested in finding better methods that will yield better results. There’s that Kryptonian dancer and singer who always has a new move or two and has a rhythm that no one else can compare to. There’s the doctor that knows how everything works who I like to play doctor with whenever I can. here’s the engineer that understands torque, action and reaction, resistance, friction and dynamic motion. There’s the architect who always has interesting plans for me and designed a home for me on Mars. There’s the carpenter that build that house and knows how to handle a tool. There’s the philosopher, the activist, the diplomat, the educator who enlightens both me and my children, the super heroine, the housewife, my business partner, my spiritual advisor, the inventor who always comes up with ways to drive me wild, the vixen who could be a super model but who dresses up just for my pleasure, the mother of Larry Luthor, the mother of Larry Luthor, the mother of Leah Luthor, the mother of Alan and Stephen and William and baby Joel, the daughter of Jon and … OOPS! … the OLDEST daughter of Jon and Martha Kent, the daughter of Jor-El and Alura … and then there’s this emotional basket case that I have seen only a few times – when we worked through her claustrophobia, when she was pregnant with Leah, when she was pregnant with ….” Lex caught himself and paused for a moment before continuing “and now on this iceberg in the North Atlantic. AD I must be a bigamist because I am married to and hopelessly in love with each and every one of them. I’m sure there are many others, but a man must keep some secrets to maintain an air of mystery.”
Clara said, “All I smell is in the air is bull.shit. I’m not going to let me play me with words this time. Your list has some glaring omissions. Who’s the woman stashed at my parent’s farm?”
Lex said, “OH! You mean the one from the barn loft. You and I haven’t had a literal roll in the hay in a long time. We should do that soon.”
Clara asked, “Is she the one you have paintings done of … in wet see-through clothing?!”
Lex was quiet for a while. Then he said, “Yes, the very same one: my secret love, the one I am infatuated with, the one I want to spend the rest of my life with, the one you deny me the right to worship, the woman who changed my life who I would give up everything for if she would only ask me to.”
Clara sucked in some air so she could say what she felt she had to. She said, “Lex, I told you that you can have her … just never bring her home or let her anywhere near our kids.”
Lex was quiet for a while before he said, “That’s something that I would NEVER agree to. She belongs at home … by my side … always.”
Clara hung her head and said, “You called my bluff. I’m in no position to stop you.”
Lex said, “I was wrong earlier when I said that the secrets started on that day three years ago. It started the day when you made me start hiding my feelings. The day we returned from our honeymoon … NO, even earlier. It started when you made me pretend that we were just friends when we first started talking to each other. The implied threat then was that you would run away from me and never speak to me again if I told you that I wanted you as more that a friend and for more than just a summer or two. After today, there will be no more secrets. I don’t care if you are embarrassed by what I feel or how I express it. I’m not going to bottle it up anymore and put on my calm, unflappable expression when I am boiling over inside. I didn’t call your bluff. You were mistaken, but you told me way too much and now I know that I can flaunt my love in front of you and the world and, no matter how much you are embarrassed by it, you will never leave me. I’ve got you right where I want you now, and you’d better believe that I’m keeping you there. You need to know the truth now, and you won’t know it as long as you stay here. I really wanted to wait for this until another time when everything would be perfect and you wouldn’t be able to refuse what I am offering you … or squirm your way out of getting what I know will give you a world of pleasure … if you only give it a chance. Once you’ve been down there, you might never want to come back up. Are you ready to get wet?”
Clara said, “Does this have to do with me doing something with Lori?”
Lex said, “Yes. You two will be great together.”
Clara said, “Oh, Dear God, Lex. I’m scared. I never judged anyone else but I never had the slightest desire …. I’m really not in the mood to have someone else touch me … especially after Edward ….”
Lex said, “Calm down. I’m scared that I might actually understand what you’re saying … I hope not. All I wanted to do was show you your anniversary present, but you’ll have to get wet to get to it.”
Clara said, “You know better than to get me an anniversary gift. I don’t like getting gifts. I’m embarrassed by it. It makes me feel uncomfortable. You know that.”
Lex said, “Sorry. I told you that I don’t care about you getting embarrassed anymore. I’ll give you things whenever I want to. Just learn to live with it. Like you said, you just have to accept the things I do because I’m too irresistible for you to ever leave me … no matter what.”
Clara said, “But I don’t like ….”
Lex said, “Think about it Clara! You thought I meant something else a moment ago and you were willing to do it if I insisted. Is accepting a present from your husband worse than doing whatever you thought I wanted you to do? Tell me what you thought I wanted. Maybe we could do that instead if it’s less embarrassing.”
Clara said, “I thought … I thought … I thought you wanted me to go home and do the dishes. OK. I’ll do the dishes. It’s OK. I wasn’t in the mood but I’ll do them.”
Lex said, “You were scared that I’d make you lick the platter clean? Come on -- so much for being honest with each other!”
Clara said, “OK, OK! I’ll take it … whatever it is -- even if it’s a red kryptonite ring. Just don’t let me hurt anyone while I’m wearing it or run off to an orgy or something embarrassing.”
Lex said, “For someone who struts around on TV in her lingerie, you sure put a high value on not being embarrassed.”
Clara screamed, “LEX!” and cried loudly.
Lex said, “I’m sorry. You had nothing to be embarrassed about on TV at all. You did our family proud. Look. Don’t you get it? You make it so hard for me to show you how I feel. You don’t let me give you things or go out of my way to do something for you. That’s why I have to keep secrets. I have to lie to you and say that I got something given to me from a vendor as a sample whenever I give you anything. I’ll be honest now. We didn’t get your van for free just because we bought as fleet of cars for LexCorp employees. There. I said it. I’m a filthy liar just because I want you to have a nice vehicle to drive. I know that you can drive a junker with no brakes – that you and the kids will survive any crash better than a test crash dummy. I know that you don’t even need a engine to make a van seem like it’s moving under it’s own power. But I don’t care. And you like that van. I know you do.”
Clara said, “Part of the reason I like it was because it was free.”
Lex said, “Why can’t the reason you like it be because your husband loves you and picked it out because he thought you’d like it? As a scientist, you should understand cause and effect. Apply it to people and you’ll see how your embarrassment over me loving you makes be less than honest with you – and I dislike that as much if not more than you do. So I HAVE DECIDED! You WILL accept my anniversary present from me this year … please. I’ve been working like a dog on it for two months. That’s where I’ve been.”
Clara asked, “Does my Mother know about this?”
Lex said, “No.”
Clara said, “So, her secret with you is about your dark haired lover – the one you sleep with in my parent’s barn while Samantha watches.”
Lex said, “Whoa! This has gone WAY too far. I think we need to go to your snow fort now.”
Clara said, “I closed that place up when I was cleared of blowing up the university lab.”
Lex said, “And I re-opened it shortly after we got married. I like to go there whenever I get a chance.”
Clara asked, “To be with her?”
Lex said, “No, to think about her -- to remember and celebrate our times together. She had no idea that I ever go there until today.”
Clara said, “That was MY place!”
Lex said, “It still is. We need to go there.”
Clara said, “I don’t want to.”
Lex said, “It’s either that or the dishes. No, really. If you want to know the truth … about what I’ve been hiding from you … you’ll come with me now. Please. It’s important.”
Clara said, “I don’t want to know about her. The others may just be about sex but it sounds like there’s something more that you get from her … and that makes me ill. Tell me anything about the others, but not about her -- not now.”
Lex said, “You’re right that it’s about more than sex, but you’re wrong to think that you don’t know her. You know more about her than you think you do.”
Clara said, “It’s Diana, isn’t it?! Oh my God, oh my God!”
Lex shook his head no and said, “Stop torturing yourself. Let’s get this over with quickly. You’ll feel a lot better soon. I promise.” Lex reached out and firmly gripped her hand. He said, “Let’s go.”
Clara tried to pull back at first but then gripped back and then interlaced fingers with him. She looked sadder than she had all night, but she had given in. When he took flight, she stayed at his side. In a couple minutes, they were over the North Pole. Lex used his heat vision to melt the drifted snow away from the entrance just before they landed. Without letting go of her hand, Lex used his free hand to push open the heavy blast doors that only a few people on Earth had the strength to move. When the automatic lights came on, he pulled her inside. Clara saw the rows of paintings and display cases and clamped her eyes shut – afraid of what … or who she was about to see. Lex guided her forward for a while and then stopped. He turned her in the direction that he wanted her to look and said, “This is my latest acquisition. It was the moment I first saw her face. I thought with good reason that I had died, but I didn’t know why I had ended up in heaven. I knew that I was in heaven because what I saw couldn’t be anything other than an angel. I never have seen anything more lovely. I’ll admit that are babies are beautiful, but no one cold ever be as lovely as she is. Come on, Angel. Open your eyes for me.”
Nervously, Clara worked up the courage and opened her eyes. In front of her was a scene by a river bank. Both Lex and the woman who had pulled him from the river were soaking wet and the woman’s dress was somewhat transparent. Clara saw that the painting was of the day she rescued Lex from the river. She glanced down the row of paintings and saw image after image of her and her kids. She burst out crying. When she could manage to speak between her tears, she said, “You’re wrong. … We saw … each other first … there!” She pointed at a painting of a young man covered in long strands of fallen red hair being carried by a blond haired farmer to a truck while a young dark haired girl and red headed woman looked on in concern from the truck.
Lex said, “I stand corrected. But the feelings that this painting brings back is very special to me. I see two images when I look at it. Two months ago, I saw you playing in the sprinklers in the yard with Larry, Leah and Alan. You were wearing a white dress. Seeing you like that took me back to that day at the river. It was like I was in a trance as I watched you … and I almost didn’t think to pick up my camera. I got some really good photographs and sent took them to an artist that I had under contract. I explained exactly what I wanted and this was the result. So now, I look at this and I think of 14 years ago and two months ago at the same time. In the painting, my head is in your lap as I looked up in wonder at you. It was a moment before I kissed you for the very first time. Then that day, two months ago, when you came inside after getting drenched playing with the kids, I carried you upstairs and dried you off. As I touched you then, I remembered how I felt that day at the river… but that day was almost as special too, because now we were man and wife and I was able to express my love for you in a way I couldn’t do then. We made love – so gently, so sweetly … and when it was over, it felt like something special had happened. Not that every time we make love isn’t special, but there was something eternal and magical in that moment. I rarely have felt that way in my life -- maybe a half dozen times when we made love, but never quite so intense or so satisfying. I hope you feel that way sometimes too.”
Clara said, “I did too … on that same day … like always … when …. That is why it can’t be any other man for me. I wish it was that way for you too.”
Lex said, “But it IS that way for me. But you won’t let me tell you that. For some reason it embarrasses you that I love you so much. Why is it so hard for you to allow me to love and worship you? Why can’t I keep my paintings and photos of you at home instead of up North in this cold and desolate place? Why must I keep the depth of my love a secret from you?”
Clara said, “Is that why? I knew you loved me Lex. You didn’t have to do or say anything. I knew it. Is that what made you go to the others – because I wouldn’t let you give me things? I’m sorry Lex. I’m sorry. I don’t want anything. I don’t deserve anything. Everybody died Lex. Every single person died except me? Why, Lex, why? What did I ever do? Why should I be the only one to live? That wasn’t fair. That wasn’t right. And why should I be here on this world eating your food and living in a big house when a lot of the people born here don’t have food everyday or good clothes or a safe and comfortable place to live? It’s not fair. IT’S NOT. I don’t deserve ANY OF IT. And I don’t WANT any of it. I only want YOU!” Clara resumed crying so loud that it echoed and re-echoed thru the snow fort.
Lex said, “Clara. Clara! Clara, Listen to me. I need to talk to Dr. Clara Kent Luthor. Are you there somewhere? Please. Is this why you are so cheap with yourself? I’m no doctor but I think I’ve heard of something called survivor’s guilt before. I never even thought of it that way. I just thought of you as a visitor that we were all lucky enough to have stay around. Dr, Luthor, please. What would you do if a baby boy survived a fire that killed his parents and brothers and sisters – throw him into the fire? If he grew up would you tell him that he should kill himself or cheat himself out of the life that God saw fit for him to continue to have.”
Clara said, “No-oh” as she continued to cry.
Lex said, “Talk with yourself like a Doctor to a patient and tall yourself whatever you would anyone else that survived. You are not God and you can not judge Him for his decision to save you. And you may not understand why God saved you but I do. I don’t think I’m being grandiose here in thinking I can read God’s mind, but to everyone else on the planet, it seems quite obvious why you were the one that got saved. It’s an unimaginable tragedy that they died, but it would have been infinitely worse for the people of Earth if you hadn’t arrived. Where would we be without our protector? You talk about people without food or shelter? How many people would be without shelter or without food or without their very lives if you hadn’t showed up? How many people would be writhing in agony with cancer or suffering the loss of a loved one or financially devastated by paying their life sayings for ineffective medicines? Do you seriously believe that you haven’t provided enough for others to deserve more than a small wardrobe of clearance items from a Kmart sale? I was wrong earlier. I said that you knew the woman that I love and worship better than you know. You hardly know her at all. And you hardly know me either if you think that I could EVER be with another woman after being with you. Come here. COME HERE!” Lex grabbed Clara and held her while she cried. He felt the convulsing slow as she worked on letting go of her pain. Lex melted into her when he felt her arms circle his back and return his hug. He whispered into her ear, “Do you believe now that I would never cheat on you.”
Clara said, “I want to … but there are too many things to ignore. I feel like an idiot when people ask me questions about you that I can’t answer.”
Lex said, “I don’t care what people say about me or you, but I do care about what you think and feel. So if you have any questions at all, ask them. I won’t evade a question, I won’t answer in half truths and I won’t make light of the accusations … at least I’ll try not to. Ask me. Go on.”
Clara asked, “Why do so many of the women that hire in at LexCare get pregnant? It’s out of proportion statistically with any large company in the world.”
Lex said, “That’s your fault.”
Clara said, “What? I may have super powers but I still can’t make as flimsy a thing as a Y chromosome.”
Lex said, “You are a sexist, aren’t you! You didn’t need to make a Y chromosome to cause a population explosion at LexCare. All you needed to do was create the ridiculously generous LexCare Maternity Benefits package.”
Clara asked, “How does that get anyone pregnant?”
Lex answered, “It doesn’t, what it does is give an incentive to anyone intending to get pregnant to get a job at LexCare. Heck, they can already be pregnant. The DAY a woman hires in at LexCare, she qualifies for maternity leave at full pay with full benefits. That maternity leave starts when the woman enters her 3rd trimester – earlier if medically necessary, and continues until 16 months after the baby is born. Then the baby has college tuition money set aside in trust for them the day they are born. I’m sure that, in time, these women may return as loyal employees in gratitude for how good of an employer we are … or to have more babies … but right now, it is an expensive proposition. Since YOU established the policy, it’s your baby … babies. I just have to sit there and suffer through what people say because they don’t look at the true source of the phenomenon. I’d have to work night and day to make that many women pregnant. Even a Super Man has his limits.”
Clara said, “Which brings us to the second question, and DON’T tell me that Diana put her magic lasso around you and made you do it. You said in your e-mail that you aren’t going to deny the Amazon women the right to have your babies. Do you intend to have babies with 800 Amazon women?”
Lex said, “You got part of that backwards. I’ll answer the last part first. I have my hands full with you. I’m not going to provide stud service to any Amazon women. This is what you messed up: what I won’t deny is my children’s opportunity to have Amazon women.”
Clara said, “What? What you said didn’t make any sense. What exactly are you arranging with Diana Price?”
Lex answered, “This can’t go over very well. I guess you could say that she wants me to … wants US to … vacation near Paradise Island a few years from now … so that our sons can ... fraternize with the natives so to speak. She hopes that our boys will take a certain interest in Amazon women … women who probably won’t be too shy in arousing … in attracting their attention. I wanted to say no but I thought how I might have felt when I reached puberty if I had an opportunity like that and my parents forbid it. I decided that we shouldn’t get in the habit of making their choices for them … or of limiting their opportunities for personal growth. It won’t be a hard on … AS hard on them with easy women … umm, with willing teachers. I don’t think they would end up with broken hearts over it because they won’t be attached too any one of them very long … won’t GET a chance to get too attached to any of them because there will be too many for them to even remember …. Damn. Diana could have said this better. Help me here. Do you know what I am saying here? I don’t think I do.”
Clara said, “That doesn’t sound as bad as I thought. I don’t know why you are so uncomfortable with it. It could be the most natural thing in the world. They want each of our boys to pick one of their girls to marry.”
Lex said, “Clara, they don’t have any girls … NO children. That’s why they need our boys. Maybe 3 of them are under 30 due to visits some of their women have made to what they call “Man’s World.” Most of them are over 100 years old. And there are so few potential mates in the world that they would find acceptable … or sturdy enough for their needs … that our boys would be discouraged from granting any special favors to just one or even just a few … dozen of them. Unless we have a lot more boys in the next few years … or some other super-powered individuals come forward, our boys could have their … their hands full.”
Clara said, “That’s disgusting!”
Lex said, “That’s cultural bias. You should be more tolerant coming from a extraterrestrial culture. I’m sure that they were much more liberated on Krypton and would find the entire arrangement a natural way to enhance the gene pool.”
Clara said, “That shows what you know. I don’t think that my birth parents ever even did it.”
Lex said, “No child thinks their parents do it.”
Clara said, “I’m serious. It was considered messy and barbaric. I’m surprised they didn’t genetically alter us to remove our … equipment. I might be the first Kryptonian female to have sex … or give birth in 3 millennia. I wasn’t born. I was basically hatched … at least they opened a hatch to get me out when my time was up. I was really scared to marry you because I didn’t think that I would be able to … to consummate the marriage and I didn’t think that would be fair to you.”
Lex said, “If you natural talent is any indication of your race, that was a terrible waste. Krypton probably exploded from sexual tension.”
Clara said, “LEX, that’s not funny! Some of my babies haven’t even started walking yet. Do they expect them to crawl up on top of a bunch of 100 year old women?”
Lex said, “Amazons live a long time … and they plan ahead. To them, … and maybe to us too, it will seem like no time at all until the boys are shaving … something I haven’t done since your spaceship flew over me when you arrived. The boys will be mature enough when the time comes. You looked twenty-six when you were 15 ... and you still do. There’s a lot o time left to figure this out and I didn’t promise Diana anything.”
Clara said, “They’re a bunch of cradle robbers!”
Lex said, “Well, I’ve been accused of that with you. I waited until you were ready … and the Amazons are willing to wait ten or twenty years … but not much more.”
Clara said, “I thought they wanted you to do it all yourself. I’m surprised they didn’t ask for you to do it.”
Lex said, “They probably would have … except out of respect for you.”
Clara asked, “And if they had asked?”
Lex said, “I’m just concerned that our boys would father a bunch of male children. The Amazons would send any male offspring home with me.”
Clara broke free of Lex’s embrace and said, “You heard what I asked, Lex Luthor!”
Lex said, “The mansion would turn into a regular Boys Club of America if that happened. Did you have any more questions?”
Clara said, “Yes, the one I just asked!”
Lex said, “No. No, I wouldn’t sleep with them if I was asked to. Let’s move on. I don’t know why you felt to even ask that.”
Clara said, “If I need to ask about you and my Mother, then it’s NOT out of line to ask about you and 800 gorgeous, fit Amazon women in heat.”
Lex said, “What about your Mother? I thought we settled that. I lust after her home cooking.”
Clara said, “Nothing is settled yet. Mom told me and you confirmed it that you meet each other’s needs and that her and Daddy aren’t doing it that much.”
Lex said, “Well, I don’t really know about your parent’s love life … and I don’t care to … but I would think that the existence of Jon Jr., Samantha and Timmy indicate that …. HEY! Don’t look at me like that! Samantha looks the most like your Mom, but both her and me have red hair … at least I did when I HAD hair … and Samantha is as blonde as Jonathan was when I first met him. The boys could be clones of Jonathan. Besides, they don’t have any super human abilities.”
Clara said “I don’t know if any children you have by human females would have super powers … or if they did, if they would become apparent right away. My kids got their “charge” off me in the womb. Any babies that grew inside a non-super woman would have to build up their charge after birth … just like I had to build up my own charge after I arrived here. Having said what I just did, I believe that Dad fathered all of Mom’s children … except me of course. What I want to know is, what are these “needs” that you have that my Mother takes care of … OTHER than cooking … and what are the needs of hers that you used to fill before that “other person” showed up at the farm – the one you are going to walk out on your family to be with?”
Lex asked, “By “other person,” do you mean the dark haired woman that I am hopelessly in love with – my mistress?”
Clara said, “Yes, that one!”
Lex said, “Turn around and look at the photos and paintings again. That’s the woman I turned my back on Lionel for – HE’s the family I walked out on and you’re the one I walked to – No, RAN to! We resolved that issue already. Let’s not back-track here.”
Clara said, “Oh …. But you have SOMEONE stashed at my parent’s farm. Mom told me and we’re going to discuss that before this is all resolved!”
Lex said, “You misinterpreted what your Mother said. She couldn’t have told you that I have a woman stashed at her house because that just isn’t true. I hope you’ll laugh it off when you hear the truth of it, but I just know that won’t go easy on me either.”
Clara said mockingly, “You poor thing! How do you put up with me? Now I believe we were talking about your needs that I don’t fulfill so you have to go running to my Mother … who is happy to satisfy whatever … whatever … whatever thing that is so that her innocent little Clara won’t have to perform that act for her needy husband.”
Lex said, “Wow. You make it sound like you’re mother…. I won’t even go there. What could it be that you heard that would make you think…. I haven’t got a clue. Maybe this one will have to wait until we can discuss it with her. All I know is, like I told you, she is a great cook, but she is an even better friend. If you’re not around for whatever reason, she’s always there for me. She’s like a mother to me, but I don’t know about any needs…. There we go! I just said it. My mother was never one that you could take a problem too. She brought her problems to me and I had to act like the adult from early childhood because she couldn’t. She was never really “right” in the head and she I lost her so long ago. I finally felt like I have a mother … a REAL mother … since I became a part of the Kent family. If you had ever been without a mother, you would know how real of a need that is. That must have been what I was referring to when and if I talked about needs. And of course she wouldn’t want be to go running to you to make you fill the role of being my mother. You’re my wife. So Martha wasn’t doing something low and disgusting with me, she was filling a niche that you shouldn’t.”
Clara said, “So Dad is like your real Dad?”
Lex said, “That’s kind of insulting to Jon, don’t you think? I consider Jon to be a great friend now. I don’t think I’ll EVER try to have a father figure in my life again. I’d trust your father with my life, but if for any reason you weren’t around to give me emotional support when I need it, Martha would be the one that I would go to … instantly … without thinking about it. So that kind of answers the other question as well. I was like the son she never had. But, now I’ve been replaced … twice! At least, I can consider myself her oldest son … and her first.”
Clara said, “Sorry to disappoint you, but you’re her second.”
Lex said, “What? Jor-El didn’t send her a son too, did he?”
Clara said, “Don’t be ridiculous. You remember Ryan, don’t you?”
Lex said, “The mind reader? I could have used his powers the last couple hours.”
Clara said, “Count you’re blessings. If you didn’t like what I‘ve been saying, you REALLY wouldn’t want to know what I’ve been thinking! Besides, Ryan couldn’t read my mind. If he could he might have really understood that no means no.”
Lex said, “Ryan seemed like a sweet kid. He lived with you for awhile didn’t he.”
Clara said, “He lived with us twice. I got interested in medicine because of him. The specialists said that he was going to die and I couldn’t accept that. I didn’t have a license to practice medicine at the time, but let’s just say, I found a way to fix it.”
Lex said, “Let’s NOT just say that. I’m fascinated. You didn’t play doctor with him did you?”
Clara blushed, “LEX! No! Well. Not really. Kind of.”
Lex said, “That was an innocent comment, Clara. I meant to have you re-assure me that you didn’t perform surgery or experiment on him with your heat vision or anything like that. But the way you answered incriminated yourself. What did you do with Ryan?”
Clara said, “I don’t get injured often, but I heal fast. My aura helps me. I knew that I had something that protected tight clothing from getting tore if I did anything super human and I came to realize that I would extend it out to allow me to put a great force against something otherwise too weak to withstand it. I experimented by putting my aura over him … just like I put my aura over you when I got you out of the asylum.”
Lex said, “So I wasn’t your first?”
Clara said, “That remark didn’t sound innocent! All I did was hug him. I crawled into bed with him and held him against me … spooned with him … for a couple days straight.”
Lex said, “I’ll bet he was straight for a couple days! I bet his voice changed by the time you were done with him!”
Clara said, “It’s not funny! It was awful. He was already infatuated with me. After I spent time with him like that, he would always be crawling into bed with me and hugging me from behind … saying that he was sick and that he needed another treatment. He said he was interested in the stars so I let him have my telescope until I noticed that it was always pointed at the window of the barn loft where I slept. Then, we only had that one bathroom and, due to my claustrophobia, I never kept the shower curtain pulled closed. So Ryan would trick Mom into going into the bathroom while I was in there to get something for him out of the medicine cabinet.”
Lex said, “What was the harm in that?”
Clara said, “He could read Mom’s mind so clearly that he could literally see anything she did. He could read her memories too, so he could see whatever my Mom saw whenever she helped me dress growing up. That really got him excited and crazy. After I cured his tumor, he was ALWAYS there whenever I turned around. He always liked being around me because he said it was peaceful having a conversation without being able to read the other person’s mind. He liked that I could surprise him. I sure surprised him … and myself when I slapped him for something he asked me to do … I don’t even remember what it was now. I was very uncomfortable. Mom really loved him and wanted to adopt him but he was making me a nervous wreck. He wasn’t content to be my brother or a friend. He wanted to be more than just friends.”
Lex said, “Well, I can understand how he felt. I’m glad I staked my claim to you first.”
Clara said, “It doesn’t matter who’s first, it matters who is the proper match … and who is there to last. He must have known your intentions about me. He warned me about you. I think he was jealous, but how you explain yourself tonight may answer whether or not it was just jealousy that made him say what he did about you. Oh. That was it. He knew about us meeting at the rock. If he told me that he would tell Mom and Dad about it, I would have understood. But he wanted me to give him a private, hands-on anatomy lesson in return for his silence. I’m lucky I’ve learned to hold back even when I’m taken by surprise or his head would have landed in the next county. I’m just lucky that he never chose to blackmail me about me being an alien – he knew from reading Mom and Dad’s minds. I guess he knew that we could always turn him over to a lab as well. He knew I could have really hurt him and he apologized for trying to force me to do things I didn’t want to … but he told me how much he loved me and wanted me. It scared me and broke my heart at the same time. Mom and Dad found a home for him but he didn’t want to leave. It wasn’t very pleasant. I hope he’s OK. It’s been 12 years since I’ve heard from him. But he always did keep my secret … at least I think he did. But we’re not here to discuss Ryan. So, you are Mom’s son. That’s how I always thought it was … before today, and that’s the reality that I want to believe, so I’ll let that go while you answer my other questions.”
Lex said, “OK.”
Clara said, “I’ve really missed you Lex. I have. You haven’t been around as much as normal for two months.”
Lex said, “I’ve missed you too, Baby.”
Clara said, “You said you were off making an anniversary present for me, but you can move at incredible speed. What kind of present would take someone with your abilities that long to make? That’s NOT the question, at least not yet. All I want to know right now is, don’t you want to be with me anymore?”
Lex answered, “More than anything. LexCare hasn’t been the same since you haven’t been there with me everyday. Say the word and I’ll turn it all over to Bruce Wayne. He won’t run it like you or I would, but he’s a good man. If I could trust him to train you to use your strength more effectively in a fight … now THOSE were some long evenings waiting for you to get home knowing you were wrestling with a charismatic guy like that all night … if I could trust him with you, I could trust him with LexCare. I could stay home with you 24/7. You would never have reason to believe I was cheating on you because it would be impossible – I would always be at your side … or your front … or wherever else you would have me be.”
Clara said, “NO. I don’t want you to give up LexCare. There is too much of us in LexCare. It’s an extension of US and we need to control how it’s used. But you haven’t been at LexCare when you told me that you were at work, were you?”
Lex said, “Yes, in fact I have been.”
Clara said, “DON’T DO THAT! I told you I would accept it, but you have to be honest with me. I KNOW you weren’t at LexCare. You were off sitting on a rock somewhere doing a balancing act with a slippery .bitch named Lori!”
Lex said, “Calm down. I am NOT lying. I wasn’t at the Metropolis branch of LexCare, I was at another branch of the company on company business.”
Clara asked, “You’re telling me that it wasn’t personal?”
Lex said, “I didn’t say that. Like you just said, LexCare is an extension of US and anything to do with LexCare is extremely personal to me.”
Clara said, “OK. Well, then why don’t you start by telling me how it got to the point that you and Lori are so intimate that you don’t need words to let each other know your deepest desires?”
Lex said, “Well, you’re overstating it a bit, but Lori doesn’t need words at all. She has a language but it’s more of a tradition than a necessity.”
Clara said, “So she’s one of those -- the kind that knows how to make a man give her what she wants without asking for it.”
Lex said, “It isn’t limited to men. She can make anyone know what she wants – even animals to an extent.”
Clara said, “Oh! I forgot that she likes women too. Please don’t tell me what she makes animals do … and please don’t ask me to do things with her … I’m not that way. It’s not that I’m condemning people who do that stuff but it’s just not something that I would be comfortable with … et alone enjoy.”
Clara said, “Clara, it’s not like that at all. Lori is telepathic. She can place images or messages in people’s minds … and she can read people’s minds if they think clearly about what they want her to know.”
Clara said, “I still don’t want to.”
Lex said, “Clara, after all this time together, I never had any idea that you think about sex this much. Everything anyone tells you today and everything you read, you think it’s all about sex.”
Clara said, “It IS about sex … isn’t it? You’re trying to embarrass me so that I’ll stop asking you questions that you don’t want to be asked about. You don’t want me to ask about Lori because you’ve been having sex with her every day for months.”
Lex said, “I don’t even know it that would be physically possible. Maybe you can ask her when you meet her. I was kind of curious but it seemed to personal a thing to ask. You could ask her as a scientist … maybe if you decide to try to help her people with their medical problems. Let me start at he beginning of this whole affair … oops … bad word choice. I met Lori about 10 months ago, shortly after our last anniversary … our MOST RECENT anniversary. It won’t be our LAST, you can count on that. Anyway, remember when Orin … Arthur Curry addressed the United Nations a year ago?
Clara said, “Sure -- “Aquaman,” King of Atlantis or something.”
Lex said, “Actually, he’s King of Poseidonis. He forbade any ships from crossing the Atlantic. He said he would consider any ship ignoring his order to be committing an act of war and would sink it without regard to human life. The garbage that ships routinely dumped and the waste products from their propulsion systems was destroying their environment – killing their sources of food and seriously affecting their health. The world was ready for war but you went to the President as Super Woman and asked him to give LexCare a chance to work out a peaceful solution. No man could refuse a request from you, so you went to the lab and got our engineering staff working. You found ways for ships to better contain their garbage and convert it to fuel and materials that they could sell for scrap. We gave the shipping industry economic incentives to operate cleanly and offered free upgrades to the propulsion systems of their ships. You worked on finding solutions for some of the health issues for Orin’s people. And I went to Poseidonis to act as ambassador and help them solve some of their immediate problems.”
Clara said, “I know all this. You’re stalling so you won’t have to talk about Lori.”
Lex said, “I’m getting to that. Orin agreed that he would allow the shipping lanes to remain open if I helped construct massive green houses and water filtration systems so that his people could have an adequate supply of food and unpolluted water. I was amazed by the variety of plants and aquatic life at that depth. I needed information for our design engineers on the type of environment needed to preserve the life forms down there – what needed to be filtered out and what needed to remain. Orin sent for the best botanist/zoologist he knew. She came from another region of the Atlantian province and was a direct descendant of the man who used radical means to keep his people alive when Atlantis sunk. I was pretty shocked when Orin introduced us. I had never seen anyone as remarkable as Lori before.”
Clara said, “She’s that beautiful? I know she had a body on her – you said she had a nice butt.”
Lex said, “I don’t think I would have said that.”
Clara said, “Yes you did! You said that you liked the way she wiggled it around to keep her balance!”
Lex laughed, “No! Not her butt – her tail. She has an incredible tail on her.”
Clara said, “What’s the difference?”
Lex said, “Lori is a Mermaid. … I can see that you don’t believe me. We can go see her now. She’s dying o meet you. She has been rally anxious to show you everything she and I have done together.”
Clara said, “NO! I don’t want to! We need to talk. I don’t want to see her.”
Lex said, “I wish you would. I try to communicate with her about some aspects of our project, but I’m not the geek that you are. The scientific stuff that she literally pushes into my head gives me a migraine -- but she gets really excited and won’t stop. I’d rather just step aside and watch you two go at it. You’d really eat up everything she put out. Anyway, I knew that you would love the plants down there … and could possibly come up with medical uses for them … or simply enjoy exploring something new and different. Lori’s people had a worst food supply problem than Orin’s people. Many of the unusual plant species down there were dying out. So I told her about ….”
Clara said, “You told her how fragile our marriage is! I read that! You wanted to make something permanent with her instead of me. Do you really feel that way or did you have to say that so that she would think she was saving you from a bad marriage? Wasn’t your worm big enough to attract her attention without saying terrible things about our life together? No wonder you came home smelling fishy. Men love to brag about the fish they catch. Why don’t you tell me how big she is or what kind of fight she put up before you reeled her in with stories about your terrible life with me? That REALLY hurt my feelings, but it’s honesty time. So go on, tell me all about it.”
Lex said, “Jeeze Clara, I AM telling you everything. Lori saw me working with Orin to build the green houses and begged me to help her people the same way. We discussed the possibility of building a huge undersea wild life preserve which would enclose an area and return the area inside it back into the kind of natural, unpolluted environment where the species that were dying could instead survive and thrive. That’s when the idea for “LexCare: Atlantis” was born. Her mistake was thinking that I had engineered the structures that I was helping Orin build. She told me that she wanted me to build the facility with my own hands. I said I couldn’t and an image flashed in my head. She started laughing uncontrollably because she was reading my mind and saw the last thing that I designed and built by myself – the kids play house. She never failed to find some way to remind me of it. That was the fragile thing she referred to. Women can be cruel everywhere.”
Clara said, “That thing was a disaster. What was left of it after the first day DID make a good fire.”
Lex said, “Thanks for proving my point. To be fair here, our kids can be kind of rough on things if they get cranked up! And, in case I forget to mention it, Lori has a very devoted and jealous husband by the name of Ronal who was usually close by whenever I was working down below. To continue, Lori and her engineers were very patient with me training me how to build structures that would withstand water pressures in areas below crush depth for most submarines. It’s like I’ve been taking courses in advanced building techniques for months. The Mermen and Mermaids worked together to make immense panels on the ocean floor like nothing they had never attempted before. They knew that I would be able to lift them – and knew that I could use both hands to hold the panels while I welded them together with heat vision. Lori’s people spent months planning and building the prefabricated panels and I helped pretty often. But these last two months have required me to be there all day most days. It was brutal. I often wished you had been there to help out.”
Clara said, “Why wasn’t I? Would I have cramped your style?”
Lex said, “The main motivator on this project for me was you. I was still upset about not being allowed to give you a sixth anniversary gift when I saw all those unusual plants and began talking to Lori about helping her people in more than a make do type way. I didn’t involve you because for once, just ONCE, I wanted to make something for you and surprise you. I knew that if you found out what I was doing you would stop me from enhancing the facility to make it something that you could enjoy. It would turn into nothing more than a humanitarian effort to help Lori’s people … and that just wasn’t enough for me this time. I wanted to make the facility something that you would instantly care about. I wanted you to want it so much that you couldn’t refuse to keep it as a place for you to continue the work that is so much like play for you. When I told Lori that I wanted to give you a gift, she told me that I was welcome to take any of the gold bullion or treasures that her people had rescued from ship wrecks over the years. But I knew that none of it would be as interesting to you as a single unknown species of plant.”
Clara asked, “So what is this business about a rock where you too meet? That was OUR thing! That was something special to me.”
Lex answered, “I never even thought about it that way. That rock where Lori and I met was just a convenient place – the highest outcropping of rock near the construction site. It could never mean anything like what our rock means to me. But it is really something to see her on that rock. She looks un-real like something out of a Ray Harryhausen movie. Big waves crash against the rock and you would swear that she would be thrown right off her perch, but she shifts her tail in almost a snakelike manner without even thinking about it and doesn’t lose her balance. It is bizarre to see it … very un-real.”
Clara said, “You explained the fragile business, but what about telling her that I deny you something. When you let me know that you really want something, I NEVER say no to you. Give me just one example of something that I absolutely refused to do for you!”
Lex asked, “Before I answer that, let me ask you something. If we end up kissing and making up sometime tonight, can I borrow your engagement ring and get some larger diamonds put in it to show you how much I love you?”
Clara said, “No, I love my ring and I don’t want you changing it.”
Lex said, “Well, now that your secret is out … now that everyone knows that you’re the sexiest thing on the planet, how about letting me take you to Paris and get you a designer wardrobe.”
Clara said, “No, my clothes aren’t just a disguise, they are comfortable. Those designers charge a fortune just to put less clothes on you and make you feel uncomfortable and self-conscious. Fashions come and go and there is no point spending that kind of money to keep up with fashion trends that change continually.”
Lex said, “Well, I guess I’ll just have to get you a little red sports car. You’d look good in one of those. I can have it customized. With your reflexes, you’ll be flying down the highway ….”
Clara said, “Forget it!”
Lex said, “OK, I guess I’ll just get you a little house in the Alps that I’ve seen on TV. It has 15 bedrooms and plenty of room to add on. It’s got it’s own air strip … not that we’ll ever need one.”
Clara said, “NO!”
Lex said, “See, denied, denied, denied, DENIED! Four times in a few minutes!”
Clara said, “That’s not what I meant about me denying you anything!”
Lex said, “Maybe not, but it’s what I mean when I say it.”
Clara said, “Oh.”
Lex said, “Oh, and there is the one thing that I would have liked you to do for me – something with your tongue that I would really enjoy.”
Clara said, “All you ever have to do is ask. What do you want me to do with my tongue?”
Lex said, “Well, next time you think of something really nasty to say to me tonight, why don’t you bite it. Not very hard and not very long … just long enough for me to answer your question? Don’t look at me like that. Your face is about as dry now as it’s been all night. I was just testing the water with a little joke.”
Clara said, “That wasn’t very funny! I think you are trying …. I didn’t want to be like this … I want to trust you. It’s just that everything … every thing ….”
Lex said, “OK. I’ll work harder to make the next joke better. I WANT you to get all of this out of your system right here and now. Tonight is your night to get it all out … THEN you can bite your tongue until we do this again in another fourteen years. Unless you are finished, I’m ready for the next question.”
Clara asked, “OK. Well, Lori said something about a place for your kids. You don’t have kids with her … or plan to, do you?”
Lex said, “No and, hmmmm, no. There are no guppies in my future. Between you and me, we can have enough kids to pack them in our house sardines. No, I’m sticking to my own species … and since I was altered, that means you. The place she refers to is a place for our kids – mine and yours, the half dozen at home, and her kids – the three she had with her husband Ronal, to socialize. Her kids have seen people with two legs before, but they were fascinated by how much weight I can lift and how fast I can move. When I told them bout our kids and told them that our kids have the same powers, they want to see them.”
Clara said, “Our kids aren’t going to be freaks in some underwater zoo … or provide stud service for a bunch of Amazons!”
Lex said, “Don’t you think that our kids would be watching the Mer People as much if not more than they are being watched. The Mer People live near Orin’s people so they know what legged humanoids look like. Our kids have never seen people with tails. And the so-called zoo would be owned by us, not them. I’m more nervous that Larry will pull out the fishing pole that your Dad gave him, make up a bunch of tartar sauce and set out to catch a Merman so he can have a Merman sandwich. Enough talk for the moment. Come here, come here.” Lex grabbed Clara’s hand and used his free hand to push open the blast doors. He pulled Clara outside and positioned her in front of him. He put his hands on each side of her head, looked over her shoulder and tilted her head. he said, “There. Now keep looking out further until you see it.”
Clara changed her focus until see saw what Lex intended her to. She gasped in shock. She said, “It’s so incredibly large.”
Lex said, “Hmmm. Now you’re reminding me of our wedding night.”
Clara elbowed Lex in the side before she continued scanning the facility. She said, “It doesn’t look real at all. It looks like some kind of crystalline underwater ice sculpture. It goes on for miles but it’s relatively empty. Is that their city?”
Lex said, “No, that’s LexCare – your anniversary present.” He rotated her head slightly and said, “That’s their city – what’s left of it.”
Clara said, “There are so many of them, but their city looks pretty much abandoned and desolate.”
Lex said, “Their people are getting sicker. The pollutants in their environment are making them less fertile every year. Infant mortality is at an all time high. Their decreasing population has made it impossible for them to maintain their civilization. The Mer People have spread out to farm the ocean bottom but their efforts have yielded less and less crops over the last few years. Many of them will move back once the LexCare facility is complete. They will be able to grow crops in a controlled environment. Ronal will run the day to day operations. Lori wants to spend her time in pure research. They sure could use someone with a family background in farming … and a medical researcher. Now I would like to ask you a question. Are you going to give in to me like your mother does?”
Clara said, “What?”
Lex said, “Your mother finally learned how to graciously accept gifts from me – without being embarrassed about it AND without giving me any grief about it. Will you accept LexCare Atlantis as a gift? Otherwise I will complete it and turn it over to the Mer People.” Clara’s eye’s were darting back and forth through the underwater facility. Lex said, “Clara?”
Clara said, “Huh. Did you say something?”
Lex said, “I asked if you will accept the Atlantis facility as an anniversary gift? Under that much water, we couldn’t torch it … and I don’t know of any insurance investigator that can go down that deep. Well?”
Clara said, “Wait a minute! What?”
Lex said, “Will you, Clara Kent, take me, Lex Luthor, to be your lawfully wedded husband, to love and to cherish as long as we both shall live?”
Clara quietly said, “Not right now.” Lex pinched her bottom and she yelped and turned around. She looked him in the face and said, “What did you do that for?! I was listening!”
Lex asked, “What did I say?”
Clara said, “You said you want me to learn to cook like my mother.”
Lex said, “No.”
Clara said, “To look more like my mother?”
Lex said, “I asked if you would accept my anniversary gift.”
Clara said, “What is it?”
Lex said, “LexCare Atlantis!”
Clara said, “We’ll discuss it.”
Lex asked, “And what will you say when we discuss it?”
Clara pouted her lip a little and looked down. She quietly said, “Yes ….”
Lex shouted, “GREAT! That’s wonderful! You couldn’t make me happier than you just made me!”
Clara said, “… if ….”
Lex shouted, “IF! What do you mean “If” ???
Clara said, “If you promise … not to … wrap it.”
Lex said, “Well, I did have some nice pink paper picked out.”
Clara said, “I hate too much pink.” Lex pulled Clara into his arms and she didn’t resist him. She said, “Please don’t make a habit of this. I don’t like secrets between us and this gift is plenty for a lifetime. You know, I would have liked helping you build it. It would seem more like ours then.”
Lex said, “That’s great, because it’s got another month’s work left to do on it before they can start planting. Lori will work you like a dog. So, you’ll be the first Kent to farm the ocean bottom … but probably not the last.” Lex lifted Clara gently off her feet and gently floated inside with her. He let go of her with one hand just long enough to pull the blast doors closed. As he nuzzled her neck, Lex whispered, do you have any more questions for me, Angel?”
Clara said, “I don’t think so. Maybe one.” Clara began to cry softly as she spoke, “Why don’t we … why don’t we … make love as often as we used to? Don’t you want me anymore?”
Lex said, “I make love to you every time I look at you.”
Clara said, “Please don’t make me ask again. Why?”
Lex said, “Do you have any idea how many times NORMAL married couples make love?”
Clara said, “Uh-uh.”
Lex said, “Well we would probably get a gold medal in the love making Olympics.”
Clara said, “What?! Where do they hold that one?!”
Lex said, “Why, do you want to enter it or just carry the torch? There isn’t an Olympics like that that I know of, I was just saying that we probably do it as more than anyone else does because we don’t have to sleep and we have super human stamina … and this undying appetite for one another.”
Clara said, “So are we perverts? Wait, I don’t want to know that. All I know is that we used to do it more than we do now and why.”
Lex said, “Well, you aren’t living in the penthouse over LexCare any more, I’ve been building the Atlantis facility, the kids limit our opportunities to a degree and … frankly, you have been on edge for a few weeks and I didn’t think that you were interested.”
Clara asked, “Are you unhappy with your love life?”
Lex said, “Clara, you wear me out! I couldn’t be happier!”
Clara said, “Thank you Lex. I think I’m done with the interrogation now and I’m sorry … Oh. I wanted to know something. Here.” Clara lifted Lex’s hand and placed it on her chest. She asked, “Do you remember how other women … women with real breasts feel?”
Lex said, “Vaguely. Why?”
Clara said, “Feel mine.”
Lex said, “Do I HAVE to? Hey … just joking. OK. I’m feeling away. Tell me when to stop.”
Clara said, “When Edward touched my breasts, he … OUCH … Hey, that hurt!”
Lex said, “Sorry. I was startled. Edward … “touched” … your breasts.”
Clara said, “I didn’t WANT him to!”
Lex said, “Touched them like … brushed up against them by accident without noticing … or kneaded them like a chef kneading dough to make a few loafs?” Clara’s face turned bright red. Lex said, “I think I have my answer. I knew you for FIVE years … five years before … you never let me until you were about to be locked up in prison …. I certainly hope that Edward doesn’t dare show up for work tomorrow!”
Clara said, “If he catches up with Jim … his .assistant, he will probably get a cut of whatever the TV studio gave him for the video of me and leave town. He talked a lot about Brazil.”
Lex said, “His .assistant … did he feel your breasts too?”
Clara said, “No, he was just going to get a wash cloth to clean up afterwards. But anyway, this is my question. Edward feels breasts for a living and he told me that my breasts didn’t feel exactly natural. From what you remember of fondling other women … now that I believe that it’s been a while since you’ve done that … do mine feel natural or not?”
Lex said, “You feel great! But what about the wash cloth.”
Clara said, “That wasn’t the question. Natural or not?”
Lex said, “Hmmm. I’ll say that you feel … super-natural … which is pretty fitting for my guardian angel. Are you satisfied now?”
Clara said, “No, but I will be totally satisfied before we go home … but I am done with the questions if that’s what you mean.”
Clara buried her head in his shoulder and he held her and rocked her for a while. Lex said, “I’m sorry you’ve had such a terrible day. It could have been worse. Last time you were like this, you were just so frightened that Lionel was going to hurt the kids ….” Lex felt Clara jump in his arms and then begin to cry softly … but she was shaking as if she was holding the bulk of what her sadness inside of her and fighting to keep in inside. Lex said, “Honey, this isn’t like you at all. I thought everything was cleared up. Oh shoot. I forgot to tell you about the secret Martha, Jon and I have been keeping. That’s it, isn’t it?”
Without lifting her head and as she continued to cry, Clara said, “NO! I don’t care about your secrets anymore. I was stupid not to trust you. I love you and I don’t need to know anything that you don’t want to tell me. But I shouldn’t have EVER accused you because I can’t be trusted. I was mad at you, but I was the one who used the poor judgment and did something I shouldn’t have.”
Lex asked, “With Edward? Did it have something to do with the wash cloth?”
Clara said, “NO! And forget about the stupid wash cloth! It was Leah! You’re going to HATE me now!”
Lex said, “I COULDN’T hate you, Honey.”
Clara said, “I took Leah … I took Leah to see her Grandfather today.”
Lex said, “And …?”
Clara said, “Her Grandfather Lionel!”
Lex was quiet for a while. Clara’s sobbing grew louder as she anticipated his anger. Lex said, “I don’t hate you. I couldn’t. I just don’t understand what’s happening with you that you would even consider doing something like that.”
Clara said, “I don’t know why I would do that either. It was SO STUPID. I’ve been stupid all day and I’ve made terrible mistakes that I can never undo. I practically showed the world what I look like, I showed Edward how strong I am, I let Lionel do his best to pollute our daughter’s mind, I doubted you and said nasty things and accused my mother of being a … a … I don’t even know if there’s a word for it.”
Lex said, “Leah’s our wild child even without Dad’s influence on her … and he will use any tool at his disposal, even his own grand daughter to drive a wedge between us. What did he say to her? You did listen to the conversation, didn’t you?”
Clara said, “I tried but I couldn’t.”
Lex said, “YOU couldn’t. Now I know something’s wrong. I’ll never have the kind of control you do … and eavesdropping from a short distance is about as easy as it gets.”
Clara said, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I know that doesn’t make anything any better. Can you forgive me? I will understand if you can’t.”
Lex said, “I’ve already forgiven you. I just want to understand what made you think to go visit him … and take her along.”
Clara said, “I didn’t think of it. She decided she wanted to go see her other grandfather.”
Lex said, “It was Leah’s idea? OK. NOW I understand. I understand COMPLETELY. You were out-gunned and out-matched.”
Clara said, “What do you mean by that. She’s just a little girl. I could have just said no and that would have been the end of it.”
Lex said, “Only if Leah really didn’t care about it. If she wanted to go, she was going to go somehow. Leah has a power that we don’t have … well, you might have it but you don’t use it as a tool … at least not consciously.”
Clara asked, “What power and you talking about?”
Lex said, “I don’t know exactly what to call it. It’s a combination of charm, natural intelligence, charisma, wit and persistence with a talent for debate and a knack for problem solving thrown into the mix. A child doesn’t have to be descended from an extraterrestrial or meteor freak to have it. I don’t blame you for losing that kind of battle with Leah – I am in no position to throw stones here.”
Clara said, “Whether you blame me or not, I blame myself. I’m her parent. It is my responsibility to lay down the law to her.”
Lex said, “Yes you are her parent, just like I am. And yes, you are supposed to lay down the law … just like I told her at least two dozen times, “No Pony!” … but … I’ve been meaning to tell you ….”
Clara jerked out of Lex’s arms. Her eyes and mouth popped wide open. She gasped and said, “You DIDN’T?!”
Lex said, “She’s at your parents’ farm. Samantha wanted to name her Comet but, almost out of spite, Leah decided to call her Cupid. Now I’m really glad Leah didn’t call her “Vixen” because if you heard I had a Vixen stashed at you’re parents’ farm, I doubt you would have stood still to allow me to explain anything at all.”
Clara said, “I don’t believe you did that Lex! Leah’s not quite five yet.”
Lex said, “Samantha is only slightly younger. She loves Cupid too and will probably be heart-broken when we bring her over to our stable. How do you think Sam will feel when Leah has her own pony and she doesn’t? She’s your sister and I don’t want her to feel that she is being cheated or neglected.”
Clara said, “Mom already laid the guilt trip on me about Samantha not being able to fly like me, you and the kids. But we can’t help it. All things aren’t equal and we can’t help matters by spoiling her rotten.”
Lex said, “Well, Jon wanted me to give Leah his old mare instead, he doesn’t ride her that much … OH! That’s what he’s not riding. Wow, did you get things confused. Anyway, Jon’s horse is huge … and what if it would die in a year or two? Leah would be heart broken? Jon was really great about it all. He took me to a horse auction and helped guide my selection. I may know a thing or two about riding horses from my polo club days, but I haven’t got a clue about breeding and temperament. Cupid is a real beauty!”
Clara put out her arms and pulled Lex close to her again. She said, “We’ve got to get Leah to accept us as authority figures instead of her puppets. I know it’s almost her fifth birthday, but I don’t want her to be a little spoiled rich girl. Jor-El and Alura didn’t tolerate the slightest disobedience from me. I had to have permission to enter or leave a room … and even to go to the bathroom! I know they loved me, but that’s just the way girls were raised on Krypton.”
Lex said, “Well, I’m as happy as I could possibly be and I want my kids to be happy too. If we manage to teach them to control their powers and respect other people, the rest isn’t that important to me. The fewer hard and fast rules we hand down, the better. I will never be the cold, stern father that Lionel was – NEVER!” Lex stroked Clara’s cheek. She pulled her face back from his chest and they smiled at each other for a while. Lex played with Clara’s long hair and asked her, “Are you ready to explore a little … to get wet and take a closer look at your present?”
Clara purred, “Yes I’m ready to get wet but no, I’m not ready to go anywhere right now. Mom ordered me to go to bed and I like being dutiful. Unless you remodeled everything in here, there was a tiny, cozy little day bed bad near the lab. If you want to join me in bed, I think I could squeeze you in. I got awfully cold out there tonight and I’d like to warm up. Mom always said that the best way to warm up in a hurry was to get something hot inside of you. Do you thing you have something hot that would do the trick for me?”
Lex said, “I think there’s some packets of .cocoa back in your old lab.”
Clara asked, “Are you really that dense?”
Lex said, “Well, I am feeling more than a little dense right now. That bed is kind of small for both of us, so I want to be sure of something before I commit to anything. I don’t want to get flooded out of the bed. Are you all done crying now?”
Clara said, “Probably not. I don’t think it’s as bad as you and Mom make it out to be, but I know I do get a teeny, tiny bit more emotional when I’m in my first quarter when it’s a girl … so I’ll probably be twice as emotional this time around.”
Lex said, “You’re pregnant again?! Another little girl?!”
Clara held up two fingers and said, “I certainly hope they’re a LOT littler than Leah was!”
Lex shouted, “TWINS?! This is GREAT! Thank you God! Oh, Clara, please, please, please don’t keep that kind of a secret from me … especially if it’s a girl. It’s all worth it in the end, but you go through such an emotional roller coaster with girls that I need to get prepared for it.”
Clara said, “OH! You and Mom exaggerate that all out of proportion. So I get a little more emotional and worry a little more about the world I’m bringing my children into. It’s no big deal. You wouldn’t even notice that I was acting any different if I didn’t tell you I was pregnant … but if I do, then you put every little thing I do under a magnifying glass.”
Lex said, “You’re too close to it, Honey, you have no idea. When is the baby due?”
Clara said, “You should know. From what you said earlier, I think you know when it happens too. It was that day I played in the sprinklers with the kids. If it was a boy, it would be eight months to the day, but I can’t tell with a girl … an especially not with twins.”
Lex said, “Well, Diana Prince will probably be a little disappointed that they aren’t going to be boys. She needs more … hands to lighten the load. But there’s always next year.”
Clara said, “Well, we’d better take our nap. We want to get in as many naps as we can before I start to show.”
Lex said, “You don’t have to worry about showing. You are beautiful when you’re pregnant.”
Clara said, “Thank you.” She leaned over and they shared a long and passionate kiss. She pulled back a bit and caught her breath. Then she gave Lex one of her brightest smiles and he had to catch his breath too.
Lex smiled at her and said, “Man, I remember how big you got with Leah! Twins, Huh? Twin GIRLS! You’re probably going to be huge – bigger than you ever have been. I’m lucky that Lori had me lifting all those massive prefabricated panels or I probably wouldn’t be able to lift you in a couple months!” Lex saw Clara’s expression change. Her jaw dropped and she was taking rapid, deep breaths. She stared blankly at Lex and forced her eyes wide open between blinking them hard. It looked like she was fighting to hold back a sneeze, but Lex was horrified. He knew that he had made a BIG mistake. Lex tried to talk fast and defuse what was coming. He said, “Honey, Angel! It was JUST a joke! I was ONLY kidding. You know me. It was just a bad joke!”
But it was too late. Clara’s eyes clamped shut but her eyelids couldn’t hold back the flood of tears that flowed down her cheeks. Her face was contorted as she tilted her head back and gasped in a deep breath. As she bent forward and her head came down, Lex only had enough time to get out a short, “Uh-oh!” The wail and sobs that followed sent seismic needles vibrating hundreds of miles away.
Leah nibbled on a chocolate chip cookie (with sprinkles) and tugged on Martha’s dress. She asked, “Grandma, do you think Mommy and Daddy will be home soon? I don’t remember how long it takes to make Mommy happy when she cries.”
Martha said, “I hope they are home very soon, Dear, but they needed some time to talk so I don’t know how long it will be until they come back. But me and your Grandpa Jon will be here until then.”
Leah said, “Oh, they’re done talking now. I’ve been listening and watching them some since I’m not watching TV. Mommy was all happy for a while and then Daddy said something about me making Mommy fat and she started crying again … just like when the giant came. But Daddy is doing things to try to make her happy. It can take a long time even when Mommy isn’t crying. I don’t like her crying. She isn’t supposed to. I want to do things when people make her cry. But it will all be better soon … and since they aren’t here I can tell you about my visit to the other grandpa. Hey, Grandma, since I only have one Grandma and have two Grandpas, shouldn’t the Jon one and the Lion one share you? Wouldn’t that be more fairer?”
Martha said, “It doesn’t work that way, Dear. It’s up to your Grandpa Lionel to find his own Grandma.”
Leah said, “Well he can’t on account that he’s all locked up and all. It’s not fair.”
Martha said, “Your Grandpa did things that were wrong … and he made the choice to do those things … and that’s why he is where he is … and that’s why it IS fair. So, are you going to tell me about your visit with Grandpa Lionel or are you going to watch TV with the other children?”
Leah said, “I won’t watch TV unless Mommy is on in her underwear again – I’ll make an ‘ception for that! But I need to start now so I can have my punishment done before Saturday so I can watch cartoons.”
Martha said, “Your Mother didn’t tell me that you’re not allowed to watch TV.”
Leah said, “That’s cause she don’t know yet – but no TV is the worstest punishment she gives except for baths and she says they aren’t for being bad only they feel like it. I won’t mind being punished because I did a good thing and made it all fair! Sides, Grand people rules are more portent that parent rules.”
Martha said, “Well it’s good to listen to your grand parents, but you HAVE TO obey your parents. That’s the way it is supposed to be.”
Leah said, “Really? You don’t fib to me … is that just a pinion or a fact cause Grandpa Lion said a parent of a parent has more thority than a parent.”
Martha asked, “Well what did Lionel tell you to do?
Leah said, “To tell the truth, the whole truth ….”
Martha said, “That’s good.”
Leah continued, “… so help Mommy die … and don’t keep secrets from family specially Grand people!”
Martha nervously asked, “What did you tell Lionel?”
Leah said, “I told him everything Grandpa Jon knows so it would all be even Stephen. I even told him my big secret about what I did to the giant … so I need to go tell Grandpa Jon that secret too!”
Martha said, “This isn’t very good Leah. Your Mother has rules for a reason … even if they don’t seem fair to you. You just don’t understand it all yet. Lionel doesn’t like your Mother and tries to hurt her whenever and however he can. And he tells all kinds of fibs all the time to get people to help him when they shouldn’t. If he believes anything you told him, he might use what he learned from you to try to hurt your Mom.”
Leah said, “If he hurt her, he’d be sorry!”
Martha said, “I hate to say this Leah, Lionel hurt your Mother so badly before that she almost went to heaven … and he is ONLY sorry that he didn’t hurt her worse than he did.”
Leah said, “Doesn’t matter. He knows better now. I told him what happens if people hurt Mommy. POW!!! I told him cause he said Daddy wasn’t good. So I told him that Daddy IS good and that he’d be proud of Daddy if he knew the secret. Then he told me that I had to obey grand people’s orders even if they are different than what a mommy or daddy would say. He said, “NO SECRETS!” so I told him to be proud that Daddy is Super Man … and to not be mean to Mommy because ….”
Martha said, “Because she is Super Woman?”
Leah said, “NO! Because I protects my Mommy. Anybody that hurts Mommy gets KILT!”
Martha said, “Honey, your Mother only killed once and she didn’t want to. She only killed that giant because she had to do it to keep it from killing a lot of people.”
Leah said, “My Mommy NEVER kilt no body! I told Grandpa Lion and he thought I was fibbing. He laughed at me. So I looked to see that the Ward guy wasn’t watching. He was scratching himself. He CAN’T know cause he’s NOT family. Then I stared at Grandpa’s coffee cup and heated up his coffee with my eyes till it bubbled and smoked. Then I shook my hand fast and put my hand through his window and put my picture in front of him. So he knows I wasn’t fibbing about what I do if people hurt Mommy or Daddy or my brothers OR ME!”
Martha trembled as she asked, “What happens to them, Leah?”
Leah said, “Same as the giant! Anybody hurt my Mommy or my Daddy and I will kilt them too! I would have gone and kilt Daddy’s helper today ceptin I thought she would and I was winning at Candy Land. He was mean to Mommy and did Daddy things to her that he shouldn’t have. But I will look see if he goes near Mommy again and I’ll get him good.”
Martha said, “Honey, this isn’t a fun game. You know that we don’t hurt or kill other people. That’s a bad thing – a VERY bad thing. You never, EVER do that! I don’t like you talking about that kind of thing even as a joke or game.”
Clara said, “It is serious super hero stuff to kill people. Bad people like the giant don’t stop unless you kilt them! I like making bad people be good! I like making them stop hurting people!” Leah grinned as she remembered how she had helped her Mother that awful day three years ago. It was one of her earliest and most vivid memories.
Clara shouted to Martha, “Mother! Watch the kids. Keep them here and safe. Call Lex. It’s happening!”
Leah watched with fascination and joy as her Mother became Super Woman. She watched Clara grab her favorite blanket and pin it to the shoulders of her Super Woman costume. Then she looked into her Mother’s face and became frightened. Something was wrong and her Mother wasn’t going out to play. It had something to do with the ugly, flying giant that was pushing down buildings. Leah yelled, “No, Mommy, NO!” as Clara leapt from the balcony.
Martha tried to get Leah to look away, but Leah was immovable. At first, Leah watched quietly, but then she began to scream and cry when the giant started hitting her mother again and again. Leah was totally hysterical when her mother screamed and laid still as the giant continued to pound her. Clara saw the giant pull back to hit her mother with all the force it could … and saw her turn and look directly at her with sadness and fear. As the giant came down onto her mother, Leah saw her mother turn, flatten her hand and use it to hurt the giant. It fell on top of Clara.
Leah still cried and tried to catch her breath. She wanted her Mommy to come home but her mother taking a nap with the giant wasn’t nearly as bad as her Mom being his and thrown around. Martha dialed the phone frantically trying to reach Lex.
As Leah watched, the giant got back up and carefully pulled Clara’s arm out of its eye socket. Then the giant tossed her aside like a child throwing away a toy that it no longer wanted to play with. But the giant wasn’t done with Clara. It went over to her fallen body and kicked it.
Martha felt the building shake. She turned and saw that Leah was marching in place … stomping her feet in a tantrum as her face turned a brilliant red. Leah shouted, “No, NO, NO!”
Martha ran to console her but Leah ignored her. The air around Leah was getting very hot and soon Martha had to move away from her. Martha felt overwhelmed and helpless. Then she remembered and shouted, “The signal watch!” She looked at her wrist and it was gone. She shouted, “WHERE IS IT!” Leah was trembling and stomping and crying louder than ever. Martha remembered that she had taken off the watch when she did the dishes. She ran into the kitchen.
Leah watched as the giant began stomping her mother into the ground. Leah screamed, “NO!” and the glass door to the balcony shattered. Leah looked down at her hands and tried to think of what her mother had done. She ignored the “zee-zee-zee” sound of Martha’s watch as she flattened her tiny hands and pointed them. She put her hands together as she saw her parents do when diving into the pool. She saw the giant lift her mother with one hand and begin to crush the life out of her. Leah’s anger became overwhelming and all that she was focused on her hatred for the bad thing that was hurting her mother. Until this point, she had been stomping in place, but now she began moving forward. With a will more determined than any adult and unrestrained by years of parental conditioning, Leah moved towards the balcony with blinding speed, leapt over the handrail and took flight. She screamed in a high pitched wail of pure hatred and anger as she flew … faster than a speeding bullet – a billion times faster, more powerful than the nuclear arsenal, Leah plunged like a projectile at the object of her hatred. At the speed she traveled, no device ever created could clock the fraction of a nanosecond that it took for Leah to bridge the distance between the LexCare penthouse and her target.
The alien’s chest exploded out through its back. All his vital organs were destroyed by the impact. The thing had sustained too much damage at once for its remarkable recuperative powers to deal with. Leah hit the building behind the alien creature and it collapsed on him as his body was in the process of falling on top of Clara.
Leah’s momentum carried her deep into the Earth. When she returned a minute later, she watched as her father frantically dug her mother out from the rubble and tossed what was left of the alien aside. Purged of her anger, Leah fetched her blanket from the rubble and asked in a soft and gentle voice, “Mommy nap now?”
Lex turned to see her standing there. Startled by her presence there and concerned for her safety, he never stopped to realize that his little two year old daughter was more than capable of doing whatever was necessary to protect herself and anyone that she loved.
Leah popped what was left of her cookie into her mouth. She smiled at her grandmother and said, “I think Mommy should know what I did so that she won’t be sad about hurting that giant anymore. I’m not sad about it, he just got punished for being very bad … and I don’t mind if Mommy punishes me for being fair with Grandpa Lion. There is nothing good to watch on TV tonight anyway!”