RICH MAN, POOR MAN
Disclaimer: None of these characters are mine. They are the property of Time Warner/DC/Millar-Gough, etc.
On the forty-second floor of the FirstMetropolis Tower sits the Century Club. Since 1939, it has provided lunch to the movers and shakers of the glittering city beside Hob's Bay. Serving brunch, tea, liquor and the finest in refined gentlemen's entertainment, the Century is the place to make the deal, spin the wheel, or lose it all.
Two young men decided to make an appointment for three for a light afternoon snack and chat.
"Lex, you've got cookie all over you."
"Better cookie than drool, Clark."
He had a meeting to get to. There wasn't time for this.
More insipid giggling.
Just like the Davenport luncheon. Damn!
"What do you think, Dad?"
There is a Chagall auction at four, dinner with Lucius Fox at seven. The Wayne boy is running that company into the ground. There wasn't time for this nonsense.
He lowered the cellular phone from his ear, a quick false grin stretching his lips.
"So you're 'second year' now?"
The boy, the farmer, the usurper was looking at him with those strange eyes, those laughing (almost menacing) eyes and he didn't like it one bit.
"He's got a 3.8 GPA, Dad. He's so smart. President of the Young Journalist Society."
"A regular Perry White, eh?"
The boy blushes like a trick in Suicide Slum. Why, son, why?
"He's a genius, Dad."
There's too much sun coming in and his throat is dry. He's never coming here again.
"He's moving in with me, Dad."
Choking...stop...not, coughing up the remnants of darkly roasted coffee.
"What was that, son?"
Nine point six billion dollars. Ten soon. That's what I have. Liquid. There was far more in notes and real estate. Nine point six. Ten by the third quarter of 2004. And Lex is risking it all.
"Clark's moving in with me. Today."
"I'm moving in with Lex, Mr. Luthor."
Something in the way he says it makes Lionel cringe. He says it so matter-of-factly. So boldly. No room for discussion today.
"Are you happy for me, Dad?"
Lex is looking at him now with Lillian's pleading, weepy stare. He loved her but he couldn't stand her damned empathy.
"I don't know what to say."
The boy, the man, the cookie monster across the table is looking at him in an eerie and uncomfortable way. There's something not right there. Lionel knows it. He feels a shock of heat on his lower thigh, like a cigarette burn...
The boy is staring at him, smiling. He's got very large teeth.
"Say you're happy for us, Mr. Luthor."
Do it. Lie. Just tell him what he wants to hear. Dr. Foster keeps saying he's a little 'touched' in the head anyway. Unfit to truly be the heir. Thank God for Lucas.
"Do it for Lex, Mr. Luthor. Just say it."
Another quick shock of heat--Christ! -- and Lionel's about to call the maitre'd because something's on fire in this place. Lionel nearly loses his composure but recovers quickly and replies--
"Of course, son. Whatever makes you happy makes me happy."
The boy is glowing now and--wait, he's putting sugar in Lex's tea. Handling the pink packet as if it were a priceless ruby. Making sure Lex has exactly what he needs.
"I love you, Dad."
Their hands are wrapped together. Lex is looking at Clark like he just discovered the sense of sight. Lionel begins to arrange his briefcase, ready to leave. They are whispering--
"I was afraid, Clark."
"Everything's under control, guy...I promised you he'd be happy."
I notice a new dynamic...interesting.
Perhaps young Kent isn't so bad after all. His leg feels sore. He must make the auction. He rises, organizing his things, smiling lazily at the strange lovers across the table--
"Fabulous time, Lex. Call me once you've moved in completely. I think this is a marvelous decision."
Clark is staring at him. Almost challenging him to say the right words to Lex.
Oh, yes...there is some potential there. I must call upon Morgan up at Stryker's...
"Of course, Dad. It was so good to see you."
Lawyers. Tomorrow. Change everything. Recall Lucas from exile.
"Until next time, Clark."
The threat is gone and Clark smiles brightly...
"Sure, Mr. Luthor."
I walk a few steps, then turn. His guard is down (I hope)....
"So, Clark...what does your father think of this?"
Hiram Kent purchased twenty-eight acres of additional land in 1986 intent on planting organic varieties of pumpkin and squash. He never got the chance, however, as he was felled by a massive coronary in June of that year.
On a balmy October evening, Jonathan Kent decides to host a dinner for three amidst the field of orange and yellow--the first Kent pumpkin crop had come in.
"Mom would've enjoyed this."
He looks older. Tired.
"Yes, she would've. But she's got to crunch numbers tonight. You know how much she loves being budget chair for the Christmas Festival."
Clark nods softly. Somewhere there is faint laughter.
"Is everything alright, Clark?"
Clark shrugged. Lex was happy, seemed happy. Clark didn't want to force anything more.
"I suppose, Dad."
Jonathan Kent had watched his son grow into a wonderful person. Person. Human being, not alien. It didn't matter where Clark was from, what mattered was where he was going. It gave Jonathan great faith in humanity that Clark turned out so well.
"Your mother and I really liked the new place."
Clark just nodded.
The new place was spectacular, even I must say. A three-level penthouse atop a skyscraper. I never thought a son of mine would literally live in the sky. But then again, my son flies! I chuckle to myself, and then notice Clark still looks a bit peaked.
"Has Lex fully recovered, son?"
This was a delicate question. A few years ago, Martha would have been the one to pose it. Back then, Jonathan couldn't stand to even think about his son making love to Lex Luthor.
"He's not ready, Dad. They don't know when he will be."
Jonathan looked away. He loved the fact that Clark felt close enough to him to confide his most intimate secrets, but this was still difficult.
"Are you alright with that, Clark?"
"Of course, Dad. I love him. And after Helen came back from the dead and shot him-- down there-- all I hoped was that he'd survive. We've been through so much, you know? Yeah, I'm pretty happy. Lots of cold showers, though."
"We all go through that son, believe me."
I have to admit, though, getting shot in the groin by your ex is not exactly something everyone 'goes through.'
"Most nights we just lie in bed and hold each other."
The sun is huge yet fading. Jonathan rubs Clark's shoulder.
"That's beautiful, Clark. That's more important than the other stuff anyway."
"I know, Dad."
Lex came bounding through the vines at that moment, chased by Rusty the terrier, laughing and winded.
"Mr. Kent! Rusty's insane!"
Lex looks ten years younger.
"He's just happy to see you, Lex."
The Luthor boy had never really been the same. The island all those years ago, coupled with the recent return of one deranged ex-wife had kind of shaken him up a bit. A few seeds loose.
"These pumpkins are huge, Clark!"
He no longer seemed interested in the business. Lionel kept him on, though.
Probably more for pride than for profit.
Martha tries to keep an eye on him, as best she can.
"His father wanted his help on the big Davenport Industries merger, Jon...but Lex just couldn't keep it together. He tries so hard but, well, he's just not focused anymore. All he cares about is spending time with Clark."
Sometimes he just disappears into his own smiles.
"He falls asleep in his office, Jonathan. I try to wake him and he cries out for Clark."
We have to do the best we can for him.
"We have to pick one out, Lex."
Clark just tries his best to love him.
"Find a big pretty one, Clark. Please?"
I see who's taking care of whom here. And it's all right with me. Clark is a protector by nature, a nurturer by trade, and a damned fine son. I hope everything works out for them.
In Metropolis, a man sits, counting his fortune, solidifying his dominance.
In Smallville, a man tills his soil, awaiting spring's kiss of growth and renewal.
The first man is worth nine point six billion dollars.
The second man has a negative net worth.
Both have sons.
One is a poor man. One is a very rich man.
'Rich Man, Poor Man'
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