Here’s a little Lois Lane fanfic:
The Last Time I Saw Superman,
A stupid puff piece for a stupid personal interest column Perry just came up with to cram more flights-and-tights into the Planet so I’m dictating it to some free app on my phone, the one I bought myself because Perry’s too cheap to pay for a business phone for his best reporter.
By Lois Lane, Society of Professional Journalists, 2014 finalist for the Kane Award, 2015 Straub’s Top Fifty American Journalists.
The last time I saw Superman, I was in Clark Kent’s apartment.
Long-time Planet readers may remember Mr. Kent’s cutting journalistic style from such hallmark pieces as “Cats Stuck In Trees: Not Just A Midtown Problem” and “Metropolis Minis Give Their Best At Tee-Ball Quarterfinals”. Despite this reputation for hard-hitting, just-in-time reporting, Mr. Kent’s personal life is as bland as the milk that fills his refrigerator.
Memo: whole milk, not low-fat. Clark’s one weakness?
We were headed to the Metro Gala that night to try and pounce on some new CEO and get a quote for a piece on jobs. That’s “jobs” in the non-specific way only we journalists ever use. Are we getting more? Are we losing them? The less specific the better, right Perry?
My wonderful and intelligent and handsome editor engineered the invite, of course, and told me in an only vaguely sexist way to wear my best dress. I borrowed a Louis Vuitton from my rich friend, because of course I can’t afford a real dress because of course Perry still hasn’t come through with that raise he promised three years ago. Clark, on the other hand, was given extremely specific instructions on what to wear, peppered with insults about hayseeds and hand-made clothes.
I offered to throw in for a pair of glasses that fit well enough that he doesn’t have to push them back his nose every five seconds. He said “I didn’t think you noticed how I look, Lois,” in that puppy-dog flirtatious tone he uses all the time with me. That may have worked on the Corn Queen of Smallville County, pal, but it doesn’t play here in town.
I took a taxi to the address Clark gave me, asked the driver to wait, and gave him a nice tip. I was a high-class gala-goer that night; might as well live the part. He also managed to drive me across town without leering at me, so I figured that was worth a buck or two. Because that’s the world we live in; a place where a woman feels like she should tip a man for not making her uncomfortable.
Memo: Tell the IT boys to put a few extra filters on the comments for this one.
Clark came to the door of his apartment in most of a tux, and was clearly losing an epic battle with his cufflinks. He stammered the obligatory you-look-lovely, welcomed me in, and shuffled off to his bedroom to finish composing the disaster which was to be his outfit, leaving me to pry.
What? I’m a journalist. It’s how I pass the time.
I’ve known Clark for years, but I had never seen his place until that evening. A bit of Smallville, right here in downtown.
Usually when people move from the country to an apartment downtown, they decorate with what they consider city stuff. Black and white pictures of Metropolis’s Buildings of Architectural Significance. Reprints of old theater posters. Not Clark; his place his filled with plants. He’s got three rows of herbs growing on every windowsill. The only thing on his coffee table is a bowl of what I think might be wheat seed. The guy’s growing hydroponic tomatoes like some scraggly-bearded hipster.
No old sports trophies or photos of himself in a football uniform. Probably too busy shucking corn, whatever that means.
I asked him where his treadmill was.
He called from his bedroom, still wrestling with the tie. “What?”
“You’re pretty skinny,” I said. “I figured you must run or something.”
He laughed. “Me? Golly no. Just watch what I eat and do some pushups.”
I give myself a lot of credit for stifling a sigh. And, as would any rational person standing in a borrowed Louis Vuitton waiting for the world’s last boy scout to figure out how to put on a clip-on, I went to get myself a drink.
Nothing in the cabinets, of course. I had managed to stumble into the pad of the one bachelor in Metropolis who doesn’t keep a liquor cabinet. The fridge was stocked with a half-gallon of the aforementioned milk –
Memo: from a local farm in Kansas? Am I remembering that right? Sure, maybe he wants to support his home town. Probably smooched the dairy farmer’s gingham-clad daughter behind a haystack one sultry Kansas night and can’t live with the guilt. But what would it cost to get it delivered from the heartland?
…the aforementioned milk and a six pack of Coors. Actual Coors in the gold cans, not Light.
One beer was missing.
“When did your father visit?” I asked.
More sounds of struggle. “Uh… a few months ago, Lois. I brought him to the office to meet everyone, but you weren’t there.”
“Oh, I’m sure he was terribly disappointed.”
“He… uh… he got over it. Those farmboys are tough, right?”
At long last, my date for the night emerged from the lonely fortress of his bedroom in full regalia. I have to give him some credit; he didn’t look entirely like a kid going to Junior Prom. I played it up and swatted his butt with my clutch just to see him squirm. He – and this is 100% true – he blushed.
Clark started babbling on about the assignment. I looked out the window to make sure my taxi hadn’t taken off. I didn’t tip him that well.
There’s a feeling deep in your ear you get when something breaks the sound barrier, too low to be called a sound. I looked up, and there he was. He hovered there, his cape catching the wind in that perfect way it always does.
“Clark, it’s him,” I whispered, as if saying it out loud would break the magic and send him away. He didn’t answer. I didn’t blame him. The strongest person in the world, here to protect us, ever-vigilant. My breath still catches sometimes.
Superman saw whatever he was searching for and soared out of sight, faster than a speeding anything. When I turned around, Clark was still looking up at the darkening sky. His tie had come undone, so I stepped over and fixed it for him. Sharing something like that, it just makes you want to be close to people. Physical proximity fills in for the words we don’t know how to say. He looked into my eyes and smiled, not as shy as he was a moment prior.
And that, Perry, is the last time I saw Superman. Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to get back to…
[NEW VOICE REGISTERED]
Miss Lane, you should know that distracted driving has been proven to be more dangerous than driving drunk.
Oh, well, I guess they’ve never been drinking with me! I mean… not that… I….
Are you alright?
Um… yeah. Yes.
Good night, Miss Lane.
Oh screw this.