Method in Madness
[i]My brother sent you, didn't he? Don't look surprised. I've always known he was as jealous of me as I was of him. No? I would have thought Lex would jump at the chance to keep me locked away for good. Actually clicking the gun to my head earlier was just the opening for him to do it too. Oh if you see him later tell him it's a stupid idea to put only one bullet in there. It would have saved him a lot of trouble if I blew my brains out.
So what would it take for you to go away? You want me to give you a reason why I shouldn't be admitted to an asylum? Why would I do that when I don't care anymore? Oh right. The loony bin isn't the suitable place for what I need, is it? You know my beard grows quickly. Will you give me a razor?
Not much of a talker then. That's good. I don't really care about what you have to say.
Where do you want me to start? Well that's not very helpful in this case. I'll start in the beginning then.
I was the unwanted son. In all days when I had to ask myself where I came from and what I did that was so awful that the people who spawned me had to get rid of me, I comforted myself with the thought that perhaps I did not nothing bad at all. Maybe, by some mischance, I was born to two young lovers unprepared to take on the challenge of raising a child. Maybe I was born to high school students who could not raise me, an impoverished couple who loved me like they loved nothing else in the world, and because of that love was forced to give me up so I may have a better life.
Fate is a bitch, always has been and always will be. When adoption should have provided me with a chance of a better life, I was given to middle-class couple that moved me to Edge City and got themselves killed in the process. The good husband and wife gone, I was left on the streets to fend for myself. And then I find out that I should be heir to a fortune. Years of starvation taunt me the first time I saw the man who was my brother push away a plate of a nameless edible thing, no doubt more expensive than a month of my food supply, because it was not from the caterer he favored.
I came to Smallville a young man in need of vengeance. Even if I could only spite this father who dared to contact me only when it became apparent that he would need me, or to injure this brother who tracked me down for all the same reasons, I had to succeed. On my way out of the cowtown, the bitch reared her sick head.
I drove away from the mansion of lies with future set before me. In my brother's resounding words, 'Lucas, you will never need to cheat to survive. Now you can do it for the sheer fun of it.' I would live the high life, with no problems, with nothing to worry about.
Just like all the four days of my kindergarten, I was dead wrong. On the way out of town, along the dusty road that was littered with clumps of hay that must have fallen off the residents' trucks, right between two large masses of horse dung, an odd combination of angel and hellion happened to crash her car with mine. In her words, the opposite happened. But Chloe is used to exaggeration, so she could have lied then. Either way, the moment she stood beside my window with her hands on her hips and her breasts heaving with fury borne of the fear that the damage would have to be taken out of her pittance of an allowance, the muscle in my chest that pumped blood started to pound steadily in a beat just a notch louder than before. I never told her that then.
I did not even get out of the car. I fished out the mobile that I had been provided with. I never intended to use it. It was their way of keeping track of me after all. For the blonde glaring at me from outside though, I thought that I probably should. I called Lex to tell him that I ran into trouble. He said, "Send it to me."
Lex enjoyed brunettes. For that alone, I felt confident to do what he asked. "What's your name?"
She narrowed her eyes at me, and I was captivated by the color in her cheeks. She was attractive incensed. If I were planning to stay around, I would keep her angry just to see her in all her glory. "Chloe Sullivan," she bit out. I half suspected she only did because she really could not do without the insurance money. I was willing to take the blame after all.
A blossom then. She was far too fiery to be a simple flower. I ached to smell her suddenly. Instead I told her, "Go to Lex Luthor. He'll pay you for the damage." One of the hardest things that I ever had to do was look up at the rearview mirror to watch her figure vanish with the distance I established with my foot on the gas pedal.
Four years I did not see her again. She was a pretty face, an attractive body. I was a man suddenly with such a large fortune I did nothing but satisfy all the cravings I had since I was a kid. I asked one of the boys at the alley I spent nights in once if I could lick at the ice cream he was able to scrounge up enough money for. He spat in my direction and I broke his nose. For the next four years after meeting the Luthors, I had a gallon of Double Dutch in the freezer. I was busy living the life I only just discovered I was meant to have. Lex wired me money; I bought an entertainment system. Lionel wired me money; I treated myself to clothes that would disguise the thief and gambler that I was. Lucas Dunleavy covered up with enough dollars and I became a Luthor-wild, careless, and most importantly, carefree.
I visited my brother once when I got my new convertible. I asked for a blue one to replace the model drove to the ground, from the year before. I got everything I asked for and I deserved it. I was going to make them make up for all the years I curled up on a carton because child services did not exist in Edge City. I did not run into anyone that time. I was curious enough to comment on it. Lex told me that the illustrious Ms Sullivan, prey to our father's predator since she was a high school junior, was no longer resident of the town that lived down to its name. Needless to say, a talent that even Lionel Luthor lusted after would be well in demand all over the country. Chloe had her pick of the litter and she stayed close to home.
By lunchtime I was enveloped by the smell of leather seats, speeding my way to Metropolis.
Chloe said that day was the equivalent of a fairy tale for her. I almost ran her over when I beat the red light. She was crossing the street in front of the Daily Planet. It was serendipity, she thought. I did not tell her otherwise. She would remember it as the time when her knight came, only instead of a white steed I was in a blue convertible and instead of saving the fair damsel I almost killed her.
Sorry. My mind drifts you know.
Where was I?
Ah. I've always been a bad influence on people. I was the one who plotted out the game Lex and I played on Lionel when I first came to Smallville. Given, Lex was already well on his way to hell because of our father. I like to think I contributed to his education though.
Anyway, I got Chloe Sullivan so pissed off enough that she did not return to the office after her lunch break. That was as far as I got in transforming her. The woman is one strong character. By the time dinnertime rolled in, I was sitting in front of her in a caf on poetry night, learning that above journalism, literature was her passion. A dozen readers and even over coffee I must have dozed off for a while. She rose and read the sonnet she brought. It was Millay; it was cynical; it drew me to poetry like moth to a flame. My wings were burned enough that I could not fly away. That night, I found myself in her living room flipping through collections of poets I have always scoffed at. For a child living hand to mouth, stories of men and women who spent their lives in pursuit of a sublime abstract was ridiculous.
She brought me a cup of coffee and sat on the armchair across mine. Chloe Sullivan asked me what I had against her and when I told her I had no ill intent, she slithered down to sit on the carpeted floor in front of the coffee table and dug out a piece of paper and a pen from the stacks of periodicals stacked underneath. She quickly scribbled something on it and asked me to sign. It was a contract that I would not try to crash with her vehicle or run her over. I signed it and asked her to tell me about metaphysical poems.
Yeah. You'd think so. But I regret driving to Metropolis that day.
Of course I would do it again. Despite all her protests, I am true to myself and I know that I am not a good man. I regret setting into motion the events that led to this infernal hell. But I also admit that I am selfish enough to need those days and months that followed.
Do I need to detail them? If I am not crazy yet, I would be by the time I'm through.
You drive a hard bargain.
Have you ever seen paradise, felt it, smelled it, heard it, tasted it? I am not talking about that. She would kill me. I am proud of the fact that even in the way I raised myself, I never did drugs. Drugs stole your mind. All I had to live on in the streets were my wits. I would not lose them so I never took drugs. I'm talking about the paradise that lets you in when you're so blissfully happy that earth just wouldn't do.
I pity you.
Every moment of every day that we spent together. Until now I don't really understand the reason she went into the relationship with me. I know why I did with her. Hell, anyone would have an idea why any man would fall for her. Chloe's answers varied depending on the context in which she has to say them. It ranges from a girly exclamation about my butt to a simple smile that tells me all I need to know without words. I like it best when she told Lex, "It's because for me, he's the only choice." Lex left off the glowers after that.
I have a theory. At least it's a theory that explains part of the reason why we are so suited. When your parent leaves you, you're left with the question of your own worth. Chloe went through it the same way I did. It was only with her that I said that despite the obvious flaws with the family I had found, I would not let anyone stand between any of us. They found me and this was for keeps.
It took her precisely three weeks to find out that I was unemployed, a bum living off a name. I didn't mind living on money wired to me. Chloe did. She made an entire argument about Lex's role in the company, and about how sometimes he would be so tired that he would need to vent out his anger on a police car using a golf club. She can be very harsh when she wants to be. Lex earned the right to strut and boast. I, apparently, did not. It took me a day to come to Lex, ask him to teach me the basics of the job and take a post with LexCorp. It took Lionel two days to learn about the development and install me in his company. Because my shares were with LuthorCorp, I took the job. It took Chloe an hour to visit me in the LuthorCorp Metropolis tower bearing cake to celebrate.
If Lex sent you, you probably know the entire story anyway. What good would it do to rehash what happened?
It's just pointless. You took sixteen hours of flight only to listen to things you already know.
Chloe was asked to cover the war. It was the dream job of all reporters. I don't know why it should be. Stay and cover the White House. Why would anyone want to go to a country where you are the enemy, the invader, and deliver news of death and destruction? I have never been more afraid in my life. I did the only thing I could.
That night, Chloe almost choked on the ring I slipped in her soda. Lex wryly informed me later that it was best to try the proposal I did with clear beverage.
She had asked for time to think about it. I gave her time and space.
Time and space I really could not afford. If she were to decide to leave, then I should be spending the time before that with her. I came to the Planet to be told that she left a half hour before I arrived.
What are you recording this for? For posterity's sake? Don't be sick.
She was waiting for me in my office. Chloe really looked excited. That's what my assistant told me. Fancy that, huh? Lucas Dunleavy, streetkid, with an assistant.
She kicked. She tried to crawl away. I saw the bruise on her cheek and the cut on her lip.
She was clutching the edges of her blouse over her breasts. I could see the brutal imprint of his hands on her stomach, across her thighs.
Haven't you had enough?
You people really underwent surgeries to carve out your hearts?
I am different from Lex in so many ways. I am different from Lex in one precise and practical way. When I took the gun I kept just at the top drawer of the file cabinet near the door, I was certain it was loaded with six bullets.
All of it went into his head.
I should have screamed. But I did not feel rage or pain then. I did not scare myself. I felt nothing.
Lionel Luthor would not leave the LuthorCorp tower. I'm sure that with a death like that, his ghost would haunt my office forever.
Nothing less than he deserved. His spirit should be restless.
By the time Lex arrived from Smallville and I was released, Chloe had left on the first place bound for carnage. My brother told me that Chloe's testimony ensured that all charges were dropped. I asked for a copy. I could not feel her in any of the words. "He didn't," Lex had told me firmly. From the papers I held in my hands, I found no mention of it. "He didn't," he repeated. I believed him because I needed to.
It took me half an hour to finally be told 'no' by the travel agency. There could be no bookings for the country I had to go. It took one second after Lex looked into my eyes for him to get the company jet.
I bet that given the chance, that day in Metropolis with a red light and a traffic violator would be relegated to the annals of history as second best. This morning I knew I created the better fairy tale for her. She was standing in the open field, the camera trained on her as she answered questions from the anchor seated in CNN Headquarters London. The army jeep that I was in stopped several yards away from her and she looked away from the camera, live, and dropped the microphone.
Now I get a reaction from you. It's true. Oh. You've seen it. It's probably going to be one of the most played clips on the war. I called her name and she started running towards me. I was about to jump out of the jeep when-
The cameraman was killed on the spot. Holding that gun to my head and actually pressing the trigger is not insane. Did you know that head trauma can kill on the spot or keep the victim in a vegetative state forever? She had not woken up since. What time is it?
If she doesn't regain consciousness within the next two hours-
You know what? Take me and strap a straightjacket on me. Give me that license to pretend that everything that happened to her was nothing but an insane man's hallucinations.
You are hard people.[/i]
"Lex." My brother stood outside the door. His stare was even. If I yelled, maybe he would tell me what he has to. Instead, I stand and follow him out of the room.
Turning through the meandering corridors of the small, dilapidated hospital was torture in itself. I wonder if this was a game Lex was playing. He was still a Luthor and I do not trust him. I don't even trust myself.
He nodded towards the closed door. Lex would not come with me. I pushed it open and my eyes fell on the first bed, with the white sheet drawn up to completely cover the body. I stagger backwards until I saw the rows and rows of beds in the room.
My knees were weak but I kept walking, carefully veering my eyes from the sheet-covered body. The white blanket was encrusted with patches of blood.
It took me five minutes to find her again. She was groaning in pain and I could laugh for the joy of knowing that she was feeling her burns. I sat beside her and clasped her uninjured hand in both of mine, pressing kisses over the skin. Chloe turned her head and her tear-filled eyes fluttered open to meet mine. "It hurts."
It would take sixteen hours to come back to America, to hospitals that had electricity, to a small town where we could pretend that on the other side of the world there were no people dying. Smallville will be our asylum.
"Sorry. You said you won't let anything happen to tear your family apart."
"You and me, Chloe. We're family. Maybe Lex."
"He didn't exist."
What was it they said about ignorance? It's not true. Denial. Now that is classic.
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