CLARK - Myth and Mythos
When Clark was little, Martha and Jonathan felt it bad enough that they were lying to him about where he came from and some of the things he could do, so they were determined not to mislead him about anything else. They vowed to be as honest and truthful as they could about anything that might come up.
Clark Kent was the only kid in town who didn't believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy. In fact a slip of the lip with Pete garnered a heated phone call from Pete's mother after the boy came home crying. Clark had told him Santa Claus was nothing more than the spirit of giving and a shopping cart full of stuff from Cost-Mart. Later, after he recovered, Pete managed to pry out of Clark the truth about Ms. Fairy and Mr. Bunny as well. Martha received another phone call from Mrs. Ross when Pete decided his teeth were worth more than a quarter apiece.
The Kents' direct approach seemed to work, although it did have some drawbacks. One had to be very honest with him to avoid misunderstandings. The boy was gullible to a fault, and generous to the point of getting in debt with every manipulative bully who came down the pike. He simply refused to believe anyone could be mean to him, and Martha was hard pressed to figure out if it were arrogance or innocence that led him to think that way. It seemed to be a little of both. Clark tolerated people being mean to him, but not to anyone else. They found that out the hard way when, in first grade, he lost his temper with a bully who had turned his attention from Clark, to Pete.
Said bully wound up at the emergency room where several splinters had to be removed from his posterior, and Clark went home from school in tears afraid Martha and Jonathan would get rid of him. THE biggest rule in the Kent household for Clark was in regards to fighting. He was never to lay a hand on anyone in anger. A scolding, grounding, and reassurances that he was theirs permanently had resolved both the situation and Clark's tears.
First grade also was the year of "The Great Pumpkin."
Clark was gullible, and what he watched on television had to be carefully monitored, particularly the commercials. If someone said a thing were so, Clark would believe them. Some of the special effects seen on television were particularly convincing to him and he went through a period of time whole-heartedly believing there was a man with a boat living somewhere in the toilet. He spent hours peeking under the lid with a fish net in one hand, determined to catch the man and his little boat too.
Martha and Jonathan tried to preempt any misinterpretations Clark would get from television, but sometimes they missed things.
They'd already told him about the known holiday heroes, but they missed one of the more obscure.
The Great Pumpkin.
Charles Schultz, via Linus VanPelt, convinced Clark utterly that on Halloween the Great Pumpkin would rise out of a pumpkin patch and distribute gifts to any small child who sat up and waited for him. As Clark had been eyeing a particular RC truck in the window of Fordman's department store, one which cost more than Martha's grocery bill for two weeks, he determined that this would be an excellent opportunity to procure said truck without costing his parents one red cent.
Martha and Jonathan were sitting on the couch watching the Bride of Frankenstein on the late night movie when Clark came clumping down the stairs dragging a blanket and a duffel bag behind him. He was heading for the door when Jonathan, who had gone into the kitchen on a snack run, captured him.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa. Where are you going, sport?"
Clark looked up at him all wide-eyed and innocent, and then gave him a look of complete exasperation, as if Jonathan were a complete moron.
"To the Pumpkin Patch."
Martha, peeping over the back of the sofa, rolled her eyes when her husband shot her a confused scowl. Her attitude was more or less: "This one's yours."
Jonathan laughed. "Whatever for?"
"To wait for the Great Pumpkin." Clark sat down on the bottom step and opened his duffel bag. Inside he had a handful of candy from his Trick or Treat experience of earlier that evening, the plastic sword from his pirate costume, a big flashlight and his Tigger.
"What's with the sword?"
Clark leaned close, his already large eyes getting larger. "Just in case."
"In case of what?"
It was a struggle not to laugh when Clark whispered (loudly) "Daaangers."
Jonathan had to agree, however, that his son was being prudent. There were coyotes running around, and a particularly aggressive and/or hungry one might not think twice about harassing a small boy alone in a pumpkin patch.
"And what about him," Jonathan petted the rather dog-eared stuffed Tigger on the head. "Tigger is going too?"
Blushing, Clark tucked Tigger back into the bag. At seven he considered himself too mature for stuffed animals, but only to the general public at large. In the confines of his room, and certain parts of the farm, Tigger was a constant companion. Martha had stood in the doorway of the kitchen one afternoon watching Clark play with blocks while holding a discourse with Tigger on the fundamentals of modern architecture. At the end of the lecture Tigger went crazy and knocked over the building, rampaging through the streets of "Toe-ko" eating Matchbox cars.
He was as practical as he was imaginative.
"I guess," Jonathan said with a wink. "Tigger could run get help in case of danger."
Clark said soberly: "Daddy, it's just a stuffed an'mal." But he smiled a little as he zipped up his bag and shouldered his blanket.
He was already wearing flannel pajamas; blue ones, with little red planets and bright yellow suns. On his feet were his workboots, just like Daddy's, scaled down for the small fry.
"Maybe you should wear a coat too," Jonathan suggested.
Martha got up from the couch and came into the kitchen. "What? You can't let him go out there! It's nearly midnight!"
"It's not a school night," Jonathan caught her up and hugged her, wrapping his arms around her and resting his chin on the top of her head. "He'll be okay."
Clark's pout was huge. "I hafta wait for the Great Pumpkin!"
"He'll be fine, Martha. The pumpkin patch is within a stones throw of the house. I'll keep an eye on him from the porch."
Martha appeared skeptical. "Clark honey. Do you realize that there...."
Jonathan cut her off, steering her back toward the couch where their movie was coming back from a commercial break. "I wish you luck there, son. Holler if you need anything."
The child's face was etched with a beatific smile. " 'kay! See ya."
Scowling, Martha sat down on the couch beside her husband. They listened to Clark dig around in the coat closet for a jacket. Even though it was chilly, Clark was pretty resilient. The blanket probably would have been more than enough for him. One couldn't however, be too careful. If Clark caught a cold or the flu (which was still possible if unlikely) they wouldn't be able to take him to the doctor.
Presently they heard the door open and close, and Clark was gone.
Martha punched Jonathan in the shoulder. "How could you, letting him go out there and wait for the Great Pumpkin. There's no such thing!"
"Of course there isn't, and he'll figure it out."
"He'll be disappointed."
"He'll figure it out, Martha. Just you watch. Long before morning he'll come back in here with a half dozen questions." Jonathan settled back on the couch, frowning at his lack of snacks. "And then we can discuss other ways he can get that car."
"That's a two hundred and fifty dollar car, Jonathan."
"So it is," he replied, and said no more about it.
Ten minutes later, Martha was out on the porch peering out toward the cornfield with a pair of binoculars. Along one edge was the pumpkin patch where the last of that seasons gourds were ripening. Their first harvest had gone to market for Halloween Jack-o-Lanterns. The next would be for pumpkin pies, rolls and cakes just in time for Thanksgiving.
Clark was lying just outside the pumpkin patch on the neatly spread square of his blanket. He was holding Tigger and pointing up at the stars that liberally dotted the dark sky above. October was a beautiful time of year for stargazing, when the skies were clear and the stars bright. Clark had a little book describing some of the constellations. It was one of his favorites, causing Martha to once remark to Jonathan that Clark must at least subconsciously know of his origins.
Martha went back inside and reported to Jonathan that Clark was well and there was as yet no sign of the Great Pumpkin.
On the next commercial break, Jonathan went out to see how things were progressing, or so that's what he told Martha. In reality Jonathan was having a flashback to his own Halloween activities, and in a fit of mischief, decided to play a prank on his wayward little boy. He went into the barn and rummaged around until he located a folded up tarp, which he dusted off, tucked under one arm, and took with him out into the corn field. He angled toward the edge where the pumpkin patch lay, carefully moving through the tall stalks he had not yet harvested.
Clark was practicing his whistling. Jonathan took out his pocketknife and cut a small opening in the tarp. It rustled alarmingly loud as he shook it open. He paused before pulling it over his head. The whistling had stopped.
A very soft voice from the far side of the pumpkin patch said, "Tig, here he comes!"
Jonathan crept around beyond where Clark lay, emerging from his concealment behind the boy. The tarp rustled, but Clark's attention was on the front part of the garden, not the back. He was now standing, holding the flashlight in one hand and Tigger in the other. Jonathan got within a yard of him and raised his arms, rattling the tarp as he made a low moan.
Clark whipped around, clicking on the flashlight, which failed to light up as expected. All he saw was a huge dark shape waving its arms at him. All he heard was its growling breath.
The boy's eyes went wide, the color drained from his face, and when he opened his mouth he let out an ear piercing shriek that not only hit high C, but would have sent any "real" monster fleeing in terror. Had he been any closer to the house he would have shattered all the windows.
Boy's got a set of lungs, Jonathan thought, and that's the last thing that went through his head for quite a while.
Instead of turning tail and running back to the house, Clark took matters into his own hands. As Jonathan took one more step toward him, Clark stopped screaming abruptly. His little face screwed up in an expression of utter outrage, and with one broad swipe of his arm, he chucked the flashlight straight for Jonathan's head.
The "bonk" sound it made when it connected with Jonathan's forehead was alarming. He went out, no pun intended, like a light, falling backward into the corn with the tarp and his arms flailing. Only then did Clark turn around and run back to the house as fast as he could possibly go, which was pretty damn fast. He practically tore the door off its hinges when he burst into the kitchen where Martha was preparing to go out to his rescue with a very large kitchen knife.
"Mommy, Mommy, Mommy! I've killed a Bigfoots!"
Martha's mouth fell open. "What?"
But her query fell on deaf ears, because Clark was already up the stairs, where he slammed shut the door of his room and took refuge under the bed. His muffled voice floated down the stairs.
"Bigfoots, Mommy! Bigfoots!"
Jonathan couldn't figure out why everything smelled like stale chicken droppings. He also couldn't figure out why he couldn't see anything. It was very dark, and very cold.
Something was kicking him. It had a sharp and very pointy toe. In his addled state the first thing he thought of was that it was a giant chicken come back to seek revenge for all the chickens Jonathan had beheaded during his lifetime.
Then he remembered.
"Ow," he muttered. He struggled upright, his head throbbing, and pulled the tarp off. His makeshift eyeholes had prevented him from suffocating, but it was nice to breathe fresh air.
The sharp and pointy toe belonged to his wife, not a giant chicken. She was standing over him with her arms crossed, looking about as peeved as a cat in a rain barrel.
Jonathan gingerly felt of the lump forming in the center of his forehead. It was the size of a walnut but quickly approaching goose-egg proportions.
"Jonathan Kent," Martha said coolly. "If we can't afford a two-hundred fifty dollar toy car, we certainly can't afford the two-hundred and fifty dollar an hour psychologist we're going to have to hire because you've traumatized your seven-year old child!"
"He hit me with the flashlight," Jonathan protested. "He wasn't that scared."
"You deserved it too." Martha began picking up Clark's things. He had taken Tigger with him. "Now you deserve to have to go coax him out from under the bed and tell him there is not only no such thing as the Great Pumpkin, but there's no such thing as Bigfoot either."
"There will be crying."
"Tough noogies. Buck it up and go talk to your son, and if I ever catch you behaving like a hooligan again, you'll be sorry."
Jonathan stood up woozily. He grinned. "You used to like it when I behaved like a hooligan."
He made a motion like he was going to slap her on the butt but backed off immediately as she brandished the flashlight at him. Thus chastised, he skulked off to the house.
Clark was not only holed up under the bed, but he'd barricaded the door with his dresser, desk, and a large steamer trunk. It took Jonathan a while to actually gain access, and when he did, he found Clark bouncing around on his tiptoes as if he had to pee. In actuality the boy was simply extremely excited.
"Bigfoots, Daddy! Didja see! I conked him, but there may be more!" Clark nodded vigorously and bounced over to the window where he stood on tiptoe to peep out toward the garden. "It was big and black and it growled at me!"
Jonathan sighed. He caught Clark by the hand and together they sat down on Clark's bed. Silently, he pointed to the big red bump on his forehead.
Clark looked, frowned, and then blinked as he figured out the equation Jonathan was posing. "Oh. That was you."
"I was being bad."
There was a pause. Clark's scowl deepened. "You were trying to scare me on purpose?"
"It's called a practical joke, but it wasn't very funny."
Another pause. Clark's look softened. "It was kinda mean, Daddy."
"Yeah, I know. I'm sorry."
"Mommy will be mad."
"Mommy is very mad, sport." Jonathan ruffled his hair. "But I was trying to show you that there really isn't any such thing as the Great Pumpkin."
The disappointment was painfully clear. "There isn't?"
"No, son. There isn't."
"What about Bigfoots?"
Jonathan thought about it. "You know, son, people have said, smart, honest people, that they've seen Bigfoot, but nobody has ever gotten proof that he's out there. I can't say for sure that he isn't. But I can say for sure that Bigfoot isn't in Kansas. He likes the woods and the mountains."
"Oh," Clark settled down with his elbows on his knees, and his face in his hands, the epitome of morose. "I'm sorry I hit you with the flashlight, Daddy." He sighed. "I guess I'll never get my car."
"Not from the Great Pumpkin you won't, but I have an idea."
A huge yawn interrupted any reply Clark may have made. The excitement had worn off rather quickly, and now the events of the very long day were catching up with him. Jonathan helped him take off his boots and crawl into bed.
"Idea?" Clark murmured sleepily.
Jonathan crawled out from under the bed where he'd gone to fetch Tigger. He tucked the toy into Clark's arms and pulled the covers up around them both.
"I'll tell you in the morning."
Jonathan's idea was to put the boy to work.
Clark harvested the entire pumpkin patch all by himself, and all by himself he loaded each pumpkin into the truck to take to the market. At the Smallville Farmer's Market Clark set himself up in a little booth and sold pumpkins. He had carefully hand printed a stack of index cards with Martha's pumpkin pie recipe and with each purchase he would include a recipe. Some people only wanted the recipe, and in those cases he would smile prettily and charge them a quarter. At the end of the day he had sold every pumpkin and the cards were all gone.
He had kept one pumpkin to himself, and that he took to the fair, where he entered it in the Young Farmer's of America competition for ten and under, and won third prize. Third prize was a twenty-dollar gift certificate to Fordman's department store.
In November, when harvest was over and the bills paid, Jonathan took stock of everything and carefully counted out two hundred dollars. It was, he told Martha, Clark's share of the pumpkin money. Clark added his money together, including his gift certificate and some saved birthday money from Grandpa, and asked Jonathan to please take him to Fordman's where the shiny RC truck still stood in the window.
Clark stood near the display and looked at his truck, shifting his weight back and forth as he waited for Mr. Fordman to finish with another customer. Jonathan felt a surge of love and pride for the boy. He had been very pleased with the Clark's industry. Clark had not only worked hard to harvest the pumpkins, but he'd shown amazing ingenuity when it came to selling his product. He was going to make a good farmer.
But then Clark's eye wandered. His gaze traveled beyond the RC truck, to another display set up near the window. Jonathan watched as the child carefully made his way toward it, and he followed at a careful distance. Clark looked at the display with a look of wonder and awe, almost mesmerized by what lay before him. Mr. Fordman came up behind him and smiled.
Clark snapped out of his daze. He looked up at Mr. Fordman. "Hello," he said shyly. Then guided him to the display he'd been admiring. "Sir, how much is that?"
"The telescope? That one is two hundred dollars. It's the best I have in stock."
The boy looked at the telescope again, and back at the truck. Jonathan stood back and refrained from commenting. It would be Clark's decision. It was Clark's money.
After a moment of lip chewing, Clark dug into his jacket pocket and pulled out a crumpled wad of money and the folded gift certificate. He handed the whole lump over to Mr. Fordman, his small hands trembling with excitement.
"I'd like to buy it," he said quietly. "Please" was hastily added, and Mr. Fordman went to get Clark his change and box up the instrument.
Jonathan's voice was a little gruff as he moved over to put a hand on Clark's shoulder. "No truck?" he asked.
Clark looked up at him, his expression thoughtful. "Mommy says that when she buys me clothes, she gets them bigger so I grow into them. That way they last longer."
"Yes, she does."
Slowly, the boy nodded. "I think the telescope will last longer."
Jonathan pulled him close, and hugged his shoulders with one work-worn hand. "You're a smart boy, son."
Clark blushed, and hugged Jonathan's waist in return. "Daddy?" he said.
"I'm gonna have some money left over. Can we go to the bookstore? I want to get a book on the conas...consill...."
With a gentle sigh, Jonathan closed his eyes. Clark would not follow in his footsteps. He supposed that was just too much to ask when they'd already been simply blessed with his presence. His little farmer had his head, and his heart, in the stars.
"Sure, Clark. The bookstore it is."
Martha was tickled with the telescope. She and Clark set it up in the yard and she read to him from the book, which he found just a bit too difficult in some places. They spent hours looking at the stars and learning where to mark out the signs of the zodiac. Jonathan decided to construct Clark his own little observatory in the hayloft of the small barn, rising early to complete his chores so he could work on it.
After school, Clark helped him, fetching and holding things.
But sometimes they goofed off a little, sneaking off together to read from the other book they'd purchased, one they kept hidden from Martha.
"The Legend of Bigfoot. "
LEX - Curious and Curiouser
Mrs. Bauman had been in the business of educating small children for many years, over thirty according to her latest book- lengthed diatribe listing her credentials. She was an expert in psychology, child development, and etcetera, etcetera, etcetera with a degree in yadda, yadda, yadda.
Lionel fought back a grimace of agony, or perhaps a yawn, maybe both. The strains of a song from The King and I wafted through his head as he watched the "gifted scholar's" lips move without listening to what she was saying. This was the third or fourth time he'd heard her recite her resume. He'd be hearing it in his sleep.
The administrator of the Bauman Institute for Gifted Children took a deep breath before throwing her concluding statement out for Lionel.
"And I have never seen anything the likes of that...that...heathen!!"
The head of LuthorCorp., one of the world's leading corporate giants, cocked an eyebrow. Heathen was a new one.
He put on his most soothing expression.
"My dear Mrs. Bauman. Granted, Lex can be difficult at times...."
"Difficult!?!?" the woman shrieked.
"But I'm sure such a gifted educator...."
Mrs. Bauman was barely five feet tall, and portly. Had anyone been present to see her step up to the one time Olympic alternate in fencing, the multi-billioniare industrialist in charge of LuthorCorp, and waggle her finger in his face, they would have died of shock.
"You listen to me, Mr. Luthor. I want you to take that little...BRAT...out of this school right now! And I do NOT want to see him set one foot on these grounds ever again. I don't care if you bring him back when he's thirty years old!"
"I'm getting complaints from other parents. Children's Services is nosing around here. I could lose my license. Get him OUT!!"
Lionel's face twitched. He weighed the option of getting nasty with the woman against simply finding another school with a less - volatile - administrator. Perhaps she was simply ill equipped to handle a gifted child like Alexander, credentials or no credentials. After all, the boy was a genius. At four he was already reading at a level far above other children his age, and he could work simple math problems. He was also quite articulate for a four-year-old. Perhaps his misbehavior was simply because Mrs. Bauman's curriculum bored him.
Mrs. Bauman was still glaring, and looked as if she were going to throw a foot stomping hissy fit in the manner of one of her own pre-school students.
"Where is he?" Lionel sighed.
She pointed, to a door marked: kitchen.
Lionel nodded. "Fine," he said brusquely. "I will remove Alexander from this facility. It appears to me, Mrs. Bauman, that perhaps you are ill equipped to handle my son's particular genius."
A feeling of dread rose in the pit of Lionel's stomach when the administrator started laughing. He turned on his heel and pushed open the swinging door that led into the kitchen. Just inside the door there sat a chair, around which was a rainbow of color. The color was dripping down from the occupant of the chair.
Lionel groaned. "Oh, no."
There, his hair sticking up in colored spikes, his naked body liberally streaked with tempera paint and one finger shoved firmly up his nose, sat Lionel Luthor's boy genius.
When he smiled, Lionel saw that his teeth were blue.
The LuthorCorp CEO buried his face in his hands and moaned.
"Lillian! He won't keep his clothes on!"
"I told you I didn't want him in pre-school. He's too young!"
Lillian Luthor cuddled her little boy, which wasn't exactly a very - comfortable - situation for her. He had just that morning peeled off his darling little sailor suit and went through the cupboards, coating himself with chocolate pudding before rolling through a pile of cornflakes he'd scattered all over the floor. When Cook had found him she went screaming for Mrs. Luthor who was informed, upon her arrival in what once had been her pristine French Country kitchen, that Hunts was "bad pudding" and Del Monte was much preferred.
"It's not 'nuff sticky," Lex had said gravely, before Lillian had scooped him up out of the cornflakes and carried him into the living room.
He now sat in her lap picking pudding coated cornflakes off of his belly and eating them while Lillian argued with his father. Lillian was not exactly comfortable with the situation not only because her husband was yelling at her, but because Lex was rather crusty and he smelled funny.
"The child reads Shakespeare, Lillian!"
"Yes, but does he understand Shakespeare?" Lillian asked. "There's a difference, Lionel." She hugged Lex close and he beamed up at her as the perfect picture of cherubic innocence. "Let him stay here with me, be a little boy."
Lionel sighed. "Lillian. It is obvious that neither you, nor Cook can handle him. And your health...." His voice softened. "Is so frail...."
"We'll hire a nanny." Lillian said. She looked down at her son. "A nanny, Alexiboo. Would you like a nanny to play with?"
Lex nodded vigorously, sending a shower of cornflakes all over the living room floor like giant sugary dandruff. "Yes!" He shouted, in a voice loud enough to wake the dead.
"But you must keep your clothes on. Do you think you can do that for me?"
"Pants!" Lex shrieked, and cackled as he stuck a finger up his nose.
"And for God's sake!" Lionel roared. "Stop picking your nose!"
Ms. Douthett eyeballed the creature eyeballing her with some trepidation. It was approximately three feet tall, with googly eyes, a long tubular proboscis protruding from its mouth, and large webbed feet. It was wearing a pair of yellow shorts that were on inside out and backward, and it was smeared with a strange green goo that smelled suspiciously like hair gel. In fact, she decided, as she took in the wild orange spikes all over the creatures head, it may very well have been hair gel.
It was breathing at her.
"Uh," she said, trying not to wince. "He's very - imaginative." She tried to smile, but it came out in sort of a pained expression. "Why is he wearing scuba gear?"
"Mrhaufm mmuhm mmunt," the small creature said.
"Cousteau," Mrs. Luthor replied, as if that explained everything. "He's really quite intelligent. Enjoys science." She smiled at her son, and in a low voice added what Ms. Douthett swore was: "At least he's wearing pants."
Alexander spit out the snorkel. "Al Gee lives in the fish pond," he said informatively. His voice sounded rather nasally from the goggles pinching his nose.
Lillian Luthor beamed proudly. "Yes Alex, algae does live in the fish pond."
"And in my pocket," the child added, and withdrew from his shorts a large dripping clump of ugly green algae, complete with a rather alarmed looking goldfish.
"Uh-heh," Lillian's smile looked pained as she watched her son wave his "pet" under Ms. Douthett's nose.
"Uh, yes. Uh...." Ms. Douthett pushed the small hand away. "That's nice dear."
The goldfish fell to the rug with a sploot. Lex picked it up with some haste and immediately dumped it into Ms. Douthett's lemonade where it loitered sideways on top of an ice cube. It still looked alarmed, or possibly dead.
Young Mr. Luthor then turned his attention back to his potential nanny.
"I hafta pick my nose when Daddy isn't looking," he informed her. "Yesterday though, I got some beans stuck up there, and HE had to pick it with a pair of pliers."
The silence was deafening.
Ms. Douthett said finally: "I think I should be going."
Patty Young was, as her name implied, very young. She was majoring at the local community college in early childhood development and came with a long list of references. If anyone, Lillian thought, could keep up with her son, it would be a woman like Patty Young.
This time Lillian decided not to let the prospective nanny meet Alexander until after she was hired and the contract signed. She should have realized that this was easier said than done. "You're hired," was no sooner out of her mouth than Alex appeared.
He was naked, which did not surprise Lillian in the slightest as clothing and her child went together like oil and water. He wasn't, however, completely naked. On his head was a pair of Lillian's purple satin panties, and around his neck was tied a bath towel. He wore swim goggles to complete the outfit, and as he ran through the living room shrieking like a banshee, globs of some sticky, amber-colored substance flew everywhere, including onto the two women.
It turned out to be honey. He was pretending to be Super Buzz, from a Saturday morning cartoon show on the Educational Network. It featured an animated honey bee who by day was a mild mannered worker bee named Stinger, but when danger struck the hive, he turned into SuperBuzz, defender of truth, justice, and a big stock-pile of honey.
There were days when having a boy genius for a son really drove Lillian bonkers. When he smeared honey all over her antique Persian rugs pretending to wrestle Super Buzz's arch enemy Gayle the Grizzly, she definitely found her patience stretching a little thin.
Patty took it in stride. "He's an imaginative little tyke, isn't he?" she giggled. She had a rather odd giggle, a sort of googly giggle that came up from her belly and out her nose.
Lex stopped rolling on the floor when Patty laughed. He sat up, his blue eyes wide and his mouth hanging open as he stared at her. Suddenly he stood up, pointed at Patty, and screamed.
Alarmed, Lillian turned around in her chair. "Oh no! No, baby, she's not a clown."
He refused to believe otherwise. With her odd laugh, her fluffy blond hair, her thick make-up, and her bright clothing, Patty did resemble a circus clown. Lillian was more used to the modern fashions and had thought nothing of it, but as soon as Alex pointed it out, she realized the girl would never work out as a nanny.
Alex was terrified of clowns.
"CLOWN!!!" he shrieked at the top of his lungs, still pointing at Patty.
Patty decided to help, or so she thought. "Oh no! I'm not a clown!" She giggled again as she rose from her chair and tried to approach him.
Lex's eyes went wider still, if that were possible. "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!! Clownclownclownclownclown!!!"
Lillian groaned as her son streaked out of the room screaming, leaving blobs of honey in his wake.
Alexander sat squirming in his chair as his father paced back in forth before him. Aside from the squirming, he was absolutely picture perfect in appearance and behavior. His bright red curls had been neatly brushed, his face and hands washed, and the little business suit - a carbon copy of his father's - was freshly pressed. He even wore shoes and a tie.
"Mrs. Frasier comes from the United Kingdom," Lionel was saying. "The ancestral home of the Luthor family."
Lex interpreted this statement in a rather different manner.
Luthor = King. Lex = Luthor. Lex = King. Ha!
"She's a highly respected nanny who has connections to the royal family."
Mrs. Frasier wears spectacles and has lose connections.
"I expect you to be on your best behavior at all times. Mrs. Frasier will not tolerate disrespect."
Disrespect Mrs. Frasier.
"Or you will be punished."
Lex sat up in his chair, realizing at this point that he'd missed something. The way Lionel was glaring at him made him wonder if he'd not made some sort of error and he was to be punished immediately. Of course he was already being punished because he was being forced to wear clothes, sit in a chair, and most definitely not pick his nose which was feeling rather gloopy after an earlier crying jag. The crying jag had failed to get him out of wearing the tie, which was slowly suffocating him.
Lionel frowned as Lex started making gagging noises and wrestling with his tie. "Lex!"
The little boy stopped immediately.
"What did I just say?" his father demanded.
Lex wasn't real clear on that having been preoccupied with wrestling the fearsome Amazonian Boa into submission. "Mrs. Frasier is coming," he said. "She wears spectables. "
The rolling of Lionel's eyes very clearly said, "Errrnt! Wrong answer. Mr. Boa Constrictor, can you answer the question properly since Mr. Luthor apparently has pudding in his ears?"
Lex stuck a finger in his ear. Mommy had washed all the pudding out. No fair.
"Were you not listening to me?" Lionel asked.
"Pudding." Lex pointed at his ear. It was possible Daddy wouldn't notice that there actually wasn't pudding in his ear this time.
The doorbell rang. Automatically Lex started barking, something he'd done ever since he'd seen a show on dog training wherein the featured bad dog spent a great deal of time barking every time the doorbell rang. Daddy didn't have a choke collar, but Daddy had an awfully mean look.
Lex stopped barking and sat squirming as Daddy met Butler Graves and Mrs. Frasier at the door to the study. Mrs. Frasier looked like the Wicked Witch of the West, but fat. She even had red and white striped stockings under her severely plain gray dress. She did NOT wear spectacles but she did have a wart on the end of her nose. Lex watched her approach with his mouth hanging open.
"What a precious little thing!"
She chucked him under the chin, prompting him to close his mouth with a snap. Her voice was extremely low. Her teeth were yellow like those of the pony Lex rode in his lessons twice a week. It was an evil little pony too, that kicked up its heels and dumped him in the dirt every chance it got.
Mrs. Frasier smiled as she talked to Daddy, but her eyes, on Lex, were evil eyes just like that pony's.
Lex narrowed his eyes back at her for a while, then got bored. Mrs. Frasier and Daddy were talking about history, and things Daddy wanted taught while Mrs. Frasier watched Lex.
Nobody was currently watching Lex at all.
Lionel jumped, startled by the shout. Immediately he looked at the chair where Lex had been sitting and was not surprised to see that his son was missing. The shout had come from one of the upstairs maids, and sounded so alarming that Mrs. Frasier had risen from her chair.
"What was that?" she demanded.
"I...uh...wait here," Lionel insisted, but noticed the woman following him as he rushed from his study out into the foyer....
....where he immediately skidded across the floor on a layer of water that had coated the floor and was soaking the carpet.
He heard Mrs. Frasier shriek as she slipped, but saw her grab the newel of the big sweeping staircase in order to keep herself from falling. Lionel flailed about, grabbing onto Graves, who had hurried in from the dining room at the sound of the shouting. Both men went down in a splash of soap and water.
Lionel rose, spluttering, his suit and his hair dripping wet. He saw that the stair carpet had been liberally soaked with liquid soap, and the garden hose that was snaking in along the upstairs hallway was spewing water everywhere, but mainly onto the staircase. Slippery bubbles slid down the stairs like a frothy water-fall and at the top stood Lex - naked - holding a plastic sled.
"Alexander J. Luthor don't you DARE!!"
Lex ignored him and instead flung the sled down onto the stairs and himself into the sled. Bubbles flew back into his face and water sluiced out from the sodden carpet as the sled sped down the steep incline toward the horrified Mrs. Frasier. She shrieked as she tried to run, slipped, and was caught up in the front of the sled. Her dress flew up, revealing her striped stockings and a pair of pink panties as she tumbled toward Lex who sat at the back of the sled. He baled out quickly so he wouldn't be squashed.
Lionel watched with some horror as Mrs. Frasier, upside down in the sled, sped screaming out the front door just as Lillian opened it. She skidded over the porch, down the steps, and landed with a thud in the flower beds.
Lex sat on the floor with his feet in his hands as his mother and Graves desperately tried to extricate Mrs. Frasier from a rose bush. He was giggling hysterically.
He had certainly followed Daddy's orders to disrespect Mrs. Frasier, and had a great deal of fun in the process.
Lillian stared at the man standing in her living room. He wore a black leather vest, jeans, boots, and on his head was a red bandana. Both arms and his chest were covered in hair, and tattoos. Long black hair hung down his back in a pony tail and he sported a long droopy mustache. She couldn't imagine why he would be in her living room.
"And you would be?"
"Robert. Robert West. My friends call me Bob." He held out a rather massive hand. "I'm here 'bout the job."
Perplexed, Lillian shook her head. "I'm afraid my husband has all his security needs met Mr. West."
"Oh. I'm not a bodygaurd, ma'am. I'm here for the babysittin' job."
"Ah, Mr. West! How good to see you." Lionel's voice interrupted Lillian's rather confused thoughts. He strode in with a smile, and shook the big hand that was offered. "Sit down, sit down. How is your mother?"
"Just fine, sir."
"No, thank you, sir."
Lillian jerked Lionel aside by his shirt collar, dragging him into the corner with her. "What is that?"
Lionel smiled and patted her hand. "Lex's new nanny."
"What?!?! He's a biker!"
"Motorcycle enthusiast," Lionel corrected her gently. "Come now, Lillian. Let's not be rude in front of our guest."
Lillian eyeballed said guest rather suspiciously. He grinned at her. He was missing both front teeth.
Her eyes went wide with horror. Her husband, she decided, had cracked.
"When can you start?" Lionel was asking, as Lillian silently begged for Lex to show up and do something horrendous.
"Today," Bob said. "If you need me. I'm good."
"Fantastic!" Lionel turned toward Lillian. "Do you know where the boy is?"
Just then Lex ambled into the living room. He was wearing a pair of plain white underwear and his hair was done up in a fluffy red topknot on the top of his head. He looked somewhat like Pebbles Flintstone, only chubbier and of course, male. In one hand he carried a large chunk of red sidewalk chalk.
"Hey," Bob rumbled. "Whatcha doing?"
Alexander stopped dead in his tracks. He blinked at the big biker repeatedly.
Lillian cheered him on toward wickedness.
Lionel stroked his beard and watched his son carefully.
"I'm a sumo wrestler," Lex said finally.
"You are, are you? You look a little scrawny to be a sumo wrestler. They're big and fat, like me. You're dinky."
Lex was outraged. He puffed out his little belly. "I am not inky!" He looked at the huge round belly sticking out from under Bob's t-shirt and appeared uneasy. His finger crept up toward his nose.
"I wouldn't do that if I was you," Bob said.
" 'Cause it'll stretch out your nose holes until you have nose like a big black bull, and someone will come put a big ol' ring in it and drag you around by your nose on the end of a chain."
Lex remained skeptical, but he didn't pick his nose. Instead he gave Bob another once over and said, "Do you want to play sumo with me?"
"After lunch. Sumo wrestlers eat lunch, alot of lunch."
"No. Not puddin'. They eat rice, and chicken, and fruit 'cause it makes them big and fat and strong."
The child's eyes narrowed. "What's your name?"
"I'm 'lex. I'm the King. You come eat lunch with me."
The three adults watched as the small, pudgy sumo wrestler toddled off toward the kitchen after his decree.
"You're hired," Lionel said quietly.
"BOB!!" Lex roared from the kitchen. "Where you?"
Mrs. Bauman stared at the big biker who graced her doorway holding the small hand of a little boy impeccably dressed in a Bauman Institute uniform. The child was thin and pale, with dark circles under his eyes. His bright red curls fell over his forehead and around his cheeks, their color a sharp contrast to the whiteness of his skin.
Both the boy and the biker looked close to tears.
"Well," Mrs. Bauman said with a sniff. "Let's see if your behavior has improved after a year. Are you ready to try again Alexander?"
"Yes ma'am," the boy said softly. "I'm sorry about...about before."
The woman sniffed again. "Go on. Go in, take your seat."
There was some hesitation. The child turned to look up at his guardian, who patted his head with one big hand, and gently pushed him toward the door. Halfway there, Lex turned, rushed back to Bob, and hugged his neck tightly. His thin shoulders shook with sobs.
"Don't leave me. I don't want you to go."
Bob patted his back. " S'all right little man. You don't need ol' Bob any more. Time to get some real teachin'."
"But I want you to teach me."
Carefully, Bob pushed his small charge away. "You 'member what your Daddy said now. No tears. You'll set yourself off, and you know how that makes your Momma all upset."
Sniffling, Lex wiped his eyes on his sleeve, much to the horror of Mrs. Bauman. Bob tut-tutted him, and produced a handkerchief instead.
"Go on now," he said. "Be a good boy."
"Don't make me hafta shake a finger atchyoo boyo!" Bob said sternly, but Lex smiled a little.
"I love you Bob."
The biker cocked his head, his dark eyes bright. His low voice was rough. "I love you too little man. But it's time to go."
Reluctantly, with one sad look back over his shoulder, Lex went inside the classroom and shut the door behind him. Bob rose, and handed Mrs. Bauman the leather satchel he carried.
"He got diagnosed with asthma last year. It's got him bad. There's medicine and emergency information in here. Mr. Luthor says not to call the missus, since she's got sick herself it upsets her."
Mrs. Bauman eyed the man with a sour expression. "And if he takes his clothes off and runs amok?"
With a grin, the biker leaned forward and leered at the highly educated expert with multiple degrees in early child psychology.
"Nah. I done cured him of that." He paused, and then added. "But I cain't promise he won't pick his nose."
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