by Headley Hauser
It’s a January day in 1952. A bespeckled man in a conservative suit steps gingerly up to a mid-twentieth century sky-scraper, the Daly Planet building. Although it’s cold, he doesn’t seem to be feeling it. Wait a moment. He just shivered, but it sure didn’t look like a natural shiver.
What is he thinking?
Alright, here’s the door, gently grasp the handle and pull lightly.
Perfect. That looked just right.
“Hi Clark! I heard you were on vacation.”
“Hi Sam. Yeah, I had a slight mishap at my vacation home, so I came back early.” Why did I ever make my house out of crystals? Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t compress coal into diamonds. One little slip and the whole place came down.
“Sorry about that, but welcome back, Clark.”
Remember to wince. Sam likes to make people wince when he slaps them on the back.
“Yup, Clark, back to the old grindstone. Just don’t get your nose too close!”
Remember to laugh. Earthlings expect laughter even about things that aren’t funny.
Now the elevator. Walk slowly; don’t jostle. Let other people run into you. Don’t crush anyone.
“Somebody hit five for me.”
Oh no, I’m next to the panel again. Pushing these buttons is like pressing down on lily pads without sinking them.
“Seven for me, Buddy.”
“Twelve for me, too.”
“Right.” The twelve button is showing a worn wire behind the panel. Should I tell someone? If I was alone, I could probably fuse it myself.
“Twenty-five for me, Kent.”
“So Kent, We’re looking to have Superman as the Planet’s Man of the Year for 1951. Can I depend on you for an interview?”
“You want to interview me?”
“Great Caesar’s Ghost, Kent, of course I don’t want to interview you. I want you to interview the Man of Steel!”
I wish people didn’t call me that. I sound like a character from the Wizard of Oz.
“Oh, yes, I think I can manage that.”
“Honestly, Kent, sometimes I wonder where your mind goes.”
“Let me by, will ya Buddy?”
“Right.” Step slowly back a half step. Don’t land on somebody’s foot or dent the wall. I wish the shaft wasn’t lead-lined. I can’t see a thing outside, and everyone in this elevator is showing early signs of lead poisoning.
Oh no, Jimmy!
“Hey, Chief! Hi, Mister Kent!”
“Olson, what are you doing on the fifth floor?”
“I wanted to ask Angie in classifieds if this ad for stuffing envelopes is on the up and up.”
“Of course it’s not, Olson. Those things never are.”
“Then why do we advertise for them in the Planet.”
“Don’t be impertinent, Olson.”
“Oh, Mister Kent, Mister Boyle says he can’t repair your typewriter this time. You’ll have to requisition a new one.”
Please stop talking, Jimmy! Why can’t you ever stop talking?
“What’s this, Kent!”
“Oh, I had a little problem with the keys.”
“I’ll say, Mister Kent! The whole side of the carriage is busted! How’d you manage to do that?”
What’s this? Someone is pushing me from behind. Is it an attack by a super-villain? Maybe I should… No, just a rude guy.
“Outa the way, folks. This is my stop.”
“I don’t know who you are, but if you work on the 7th floor, you work for me! Walk around!”
“Yes Sir, Mr. White.”
“Golly gee, Chief. You sure scared him!”
“I wish I could scare you into doing your job, Jimmy, instead of your cockamamie want ad schemes.”
“Well, gee, Mister White. You could pay me a little more.”
“You think I’m made of money, Olsen! And Kent, I’m not made of type-writers either. Stop ruining the equipment!”
“Sorry doesn’t feed the bull dog.”
“Gee Chief. Don’t blame Mister Kent. He types like a thousand words a minute.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Olsen. Nobody types a thousand words a minute.”
“Mister Kent does. I’ve seen it. He typed a whole page in seconds.”
Jimmy always shows up at the worst times. If only I could make him forget the things he sees. Maybe I could learn hypnotism and do it at super speed. I’ll take a class and sell Mr. White on a story about the subject.
“Olsen, I’ve heard about enough from you, today. Next you’ll be telling me that Kent was flying through the air like Superman.”
“Well, once I thought…”
Jimmy and Mr. White is a dangerous combination. Maybe a little heat vision under Mr. White’s collar will do the trick. Not too much. People are starting to doubt that spontaneous human combustion excuse.
“Be quiet, Olsen!”
“Ulp. Right, Chief.”
No matter how scared Jimmy is of Mr. White, he can’t stop talking all the way up to the 23rd floor. If only I could just fly to work. If I flew fast enough, would anyone see me? If I flew faster than atoms collide, could I fly through my office window without breaking the glass? I should ask Professor Einstein next time I see him.
Why bother. Even if I could, Jimmy would probably be in my office looking for a paper clip or something. Would it be such a bad thing to be a few seconds late next time Jimmy needs saving?
“I’ll be getting off, here, Mr White.”
“What business do you have in legal, Kent!”
Ah, time for my blanket excuse that Mr. White always buys. “I’m doing a favor for Superman.”
“Well then, go right ahead.”
“See ya later, Mister Kent!”
“Olsen, I thought I told you to be quiet.”
Jimmy won’t be quiet though. Maybe if I… Whoa! Check out the skeleton on that secretary!
“Hey, Fella. We work here on twelve. We’d sure love to help Superman.”
“Uh, no thanks. I’m just going to take the stairs.”
“I get it. You don’t want to ride all the way up with the boss.”
“Something like that.”
“Don’t blame ya, Fella. I wouldn’t want to be around Mr. White much either, but say hello to Superman for us, will ya?”
“I sure will.”
Alright, lightly grasp the door handle, twist slightly and pull gently. Well, at least nobody’s in the stairwell, but it’s hard to see through all this lead paint. I have to walk slowly and remember to breathe heavier as I go. Maybe I should start to show symptoms of lead poisoning. When’s the last time I pretended to catch a cold? I should have marked it on my calendar.
It’s not even nine AM, and I’m already a nervous wreck. Anyone who thinks it’s great to be super should see how many buttons I have to sew after changing to superman in super speed. Maybe I can do that tonight.
No, tonight Superman’s got a date with Lois. She says she wants to introduce more passion into the relationship. How do I do that without turning her into a red smear on the wall?
I should ask around at the next Justice League meeting. Maybe Wonder Woman or that Lantern guy can recommend a more durable planet.