Lionel was fighting sleep in his study, nodding off, until ringing on his direct line woke him. The caller ID simply said "Kansas." A precious handful of people have his personal number, and none of them would call it at 2 in the morning on a random Tuesday. Except for one person.
It's Lex."Hello?" There was crying, sobbing actually, on the other end of the phone. "Who is this"
"Julie." The name was barely audible through the tears.
"Julie Martinez. I-"
"I don't know any Julie Martinez." He almost hung up. "How did you get this number?"
"Who is this?"
"Who else calls you 'Dad'?"
"Lex, you better have an excellent explanation for this intrusion. How did she get my number?"
"That was Julie."
"A redundancy that fails to answer my question. What is going on?"
"She dialed because my fingers are swollen." Lex's flippancy was chipping and he sounded harried and scared.
"You give my number to another one of your bimbos and swollen fingers will be the least of your problems."
"Dad?" He paused. "I don't know how to tell you this. I didn't even want to call you."
"Get on with it Lex."
"I don't know how this happened."
"Lex you better be telling me a story in the next three seconds or consider yourself on your own."
"I think I might be going to jail. I'm in the back of my Range Rover with Julie and two other guys from the party. The police raided the house and are taking everyone into custody. I mean, some kids were drinking and smoking, but I wasn't. Somebody got shot. I didn't do anything. I just came to the party, I haven't touched anything."
"What is this party? I thought you were going to dinner."
Lex wanted to inform his father that he lies to him sometimes, but he figured it was the wrong time for sarcasm.
"After dinner we went to a party," half truth, "over a friend of Julie's. I was just sitting there dancing."
"Quite a feat," he sighed. He continued, rather condescendingly. "Lex, if you are guilty of nothing, why are you crouching in the back of your truck?"
"I think they think I did it."
"Shot the guy," Lex whispered.
"For the love of humanity." Lionel exclaimed. He pinched the bridge of his nose. "Why would they think that...Lex?" There was silence for several seconds and the crying got louder. He heard Lex talking, possibly comforting the girl.
"Lex!" Lionel shouted. "Talk to me or hang up!"
"I got in a fight with the guy earlier. He said that he thought - "
"The details of your trivial attempts at bravado don't interest me." This conversation was getting more ridiculous by the second. Lionel was exasperated with Lex's wanton capriciousness, and was tempted to introduce him to the dial tone. The day's issue of the Inquisitor caught his eye. "Lex I'm not going to play Matlock with you all night. Bottom line me."
"That guy and I got in a fight. He was drunk, and I swear that I really am not. As the night went on, a shot rung out. Julie and I were outside on the side of the house, but when I heard it, I ran out back near the pool, like a lot of people did. Several girls started screaming and this guy named Thud asked me if I did it. I said that I didn't, and then me and Julie and Rich and Drew ran to my truck, but by then the police had shown and blocked off the street. They started handcuffing people and herding them into cars. We jumped in the back of my truck. The cops are still out there. I can't leave, but I can't take my chances out there."
"Does anyone know you're back there?"
"No, I don't think so."
"Anyone from the press there?"
"I didn't see anybody."
"Sit there. I'll have someone from the department come and pretend to inspect the truck and then tow it back to the house. Stay there and do not get out. Your friends are on their own. Get them out of the truck."
"What about Julie?"
"What about her?"
"But if I let them out, someone might see me, or they might rat me out. Besides, if we all leave together, they can be my alibi's that I had already left."
"Lex, for all your stratagems, do you ever get these moments of lucidity before you affiliate yourself with every crime in Metropolis? You have the survival instincts of a kamikaze pilot." he lowered his voice, but his tone grew sterner. "I am not spending the rest of the summer bailing you out of your half-baked capers. Lex, this has got to stop."
"Dad, I am so sorry." Lex said, stifling a whimper.
Lionel snorted with derision. "You're a textbook damsel in distress...Don't any of you move."
They both hung up.