A Discussion of the Societal and Personal Impacts of a
Lana raised a finger and was about to
point it accusingly. Clark was Superboy, she was increasingly
certain, and his parents were covering for him again.
Only this time, she thought, they
weren't doing their usual good job at it.
She was just about to comment on this,
when Pete interrupted. "Well, yeah, but we came up Taylor
Street," he noted. "Clark cuts across Jack Potter's
back field sometimes." Lana looked at Pete, who added in an
almost teasing voice, "I think he hopes that Sally Potter will
be laying out by their new pool."
There was a moment of silence as Lana's
gaze turned into a mild glare. Then Pa said to Mr. Jones, "Miss
Lang here is always checking up on Clark's whereabouts."
He chuckled and, in a stage whisper, added, "Seems she suspects
him of being Superboy."
Lana's cheeks reddened, especially
when Mr. Jones joined in. "Well, I'm sure Clark is
flattered. Will he be wearing his cape during dinner?"
Hearty laughter from the three males
followed. As Lana's face flushed, Pa couldn't help but
feel a bit guilty at her embarrassment, and noticed that both Mr.
Jones and Pete seemed to share this sentiment. But it was necessary,
he knew, and hopefully the social rebuke would help to dampen Lana's
Even if only for tonight.
There was a noise from the rear of the
house. "Hey," Clark said as he emerged from the kitchen.
"How is everyone?"
As everyone greeted Clark, Lana noted
that she hadn't heard the back door close. You usually did, she
knew, given that squeaky spring that Mr. Kent had been talking for
years about changing.
No squeak meant that he hadn't
used the back door. But how else could he have come in?
She almost brought this to everyone's
But then she decided that maybe she
At least not tonight.
"Dinner's ready," Ma
Kent announced once Clark had said hello to Mr. Jones again.
Everyone found a seat, and after comments on how wonderful everything
looked and smelled, dug in.
Dinner went both well and quickly.
During and between generous helpings of Martha's renowned
chicken potpie, mashed potatoes, gravy, and biscuits, everyone had
ample opportunity to catch up with one another. They talked about
Pete's part-time job at the drugstore, and the psychology class
Martha was taking at the community college, and the tool shed
Jonathan was building in the back yard, and the calf Clark was
raising for the state fair, and Lana's recent trip with her
father to South America. As usual, the globetrotting Miss Lang was
able to supply the most interesting recent experience. Mr. Jones was
particularly fascinated by her report of an artifact she and
Professor Lang had discovered in the Yucatan earlier that summer.
"And it was plastic?" he
"Um, sorta," Lana replied.
"But more like luminous, very thin metal that behaves like
plastic. Dad said he had never seen anything like it. He dated it
to the late Paleolithic, and said that there was no way that the
local inhabitants, or anyone else on Earth at the time, could have
made anything like that. Or probably even now. He thinks it's
pretty convincing proof of extraterrestrial visitors." She
flashed a smile that could, and had, melt the heart of a titan. "Of
course, since Superboy came along, Dad is a lot more willing to say
so in public."
Mr. Jones nodded eagerly. "And
the markings, you say that they looked like Japanese script?"
"Well, they did to me, but Dad
describes them as some type of 'mathematical art.' They're
really pretty. The symbols are all multi-colored, and no two seem to
be exactly alike. Dad doesn't think he'll be able to ever
Mr. Jones' eyes seemed to alight
with the glow of recognition. "That's ... fascinating,
Lana. Your father is most accomplished in his field. Will this
piece be on display anytime soon?"
Lana shrugged. "I doubt it. He's
still studying it. I can probably get you a look at it though, if
Mr. Jones seemed to almost agree, but
then looked slightly to the left of Lana's shoulder. He
hesitated a moment, then smiled and shook his head. "That's
okay, dear. I think I can wait until it's displayed."
Under his breath, he whispered,
The conversation drifted on as the
second helpings were served. The kids related to Mr. Jones how the
previous school year had went, their anxieties about beginning high
school in a few weeks, and how summer had been great, particularly
since Superboy had turned a spot in Miller's Creek into a
fantastic swimming hole. Of course, the subject of Smallville's
newly world-famous resident had a habit of coming up in the
conversation. It was almost unavoidable.
"And how was the spring dance?" Mr. Jones asked.
"It was great!" Lana bubbled. "Superboy showed up
for a little while! And he danced with me!"
"I noticed that the road through Conner's Cove was
finished," Mr. Jones remarked. "Last time I was in town I
heard that the state wasn't going to be able to complete the
"They weren't," Pete exclaimed, "so Superboy
did. It was incredible! He did it in just a couple of hours. They
let us out of school so we could watch. It was incredible!"
"Clark, are you keeping busy at the store?" Mr. Jones
"Yes sir, pretty much," Clark answered.
"Well," Lana elaborated,
"there are lots of tourists in town now. They come to see
And so it went. At one point, Mr. Jones commented on the changes
wrought by the appearance of the teen phenomenon from another world.
"Well, I suppose things have been turned upside down here, since
this ... uh ... Superboy first appeared. I must admit, I've
been a bit worried that Smallville's new status as his home
might have somehow ... tarnished your wonderful town. Changed it,
in some way."
Lana was the first to respond. "Oh no, no way. Things are
more exciting, of course, but nothing bad has happened to
Pete chimed in, "That's right. It's still the
Clark spoke a bit more cautiously. "I think ... I think
that Superboy has tried real hard to not disturb things too much.
Real hard. I ... I don't think you have to worry about
Smallville ever changing."
Mr. Jones nodded slowly. "Of course not." He replaced
his coffee cup on its saucer and almost smiled. "After all, the
young man has probably grown up around here himself. I'm
certain that a different Smallville would be the last thing he'd
wish to see."
Jonathan Kent took a drink of iced tea and leaned back from the
table. "I think that goes for everyone in town. Oh, folks
kicked up a ruckus about the boy at first, but things settled back
down to more or less normal in a few weeks. We get a few tourists,
but they don't stay long. They get kinda bored waiting for a
look at Superboy. There's only so many times you can visit that
Superboy Museum that Tom Jefferies has set up over in his hardware
store. Especially since all he has on display are a couple of
pictures and the fender off a '49 Packard that Superboy
accidentally put his handprint in." When the kids had finished
laughing at their memories of that incident, Jonathan added, "Mostly
the tourists are kinda disappointed. I think some of them expect us
to have the boy on display in the town square when he's not out
Mr. Jones did smile now. "Well, Smallville is a jewel,"
he said in his slow and thoughtful manner. "I'd hate to
see it spoiled in any way. Though I'm sure that won't
"Me either," Jonathan said softly.
Changing the subject, Mr. Jones said,
"That was quite an event around here this afternoon."
"Oh," Clark asked, "you,
uh, you got to see that?"
Mr. Jones nodded. "Yes, I did.
That robot was certainly impressive."
Lana hadn't heard the news, but
caught on quickly. "Oh. Was Lex at it again?"
Clark nodded. "Yeah. But
Superboy melted down his robot this time. And, uh, I heard that he
caught Lex. Took him back to the Reform School."
Pete smiled at the news that their former classmate was at least
temporarily locked away, but then shook his head sadly. "I just
don't know what's gotten into Lex. He was always ...
kinda stuck up, but as smart as he is, you kinda understood it. This
Mr. Jones raised an eyebrow. "You kids know this Lex
They all nodded. "Not for long, really," Pete
answered. "His family had only been in town about three months
before ... the ... thing that happened."
"What was that?" Mr. Jones asked.
No one jumped to relate the story, so the task fell to Pa Kent.
When he'd finished explaining about the lab and the chemicals
and the fire, Lana said, "I mean, I can see him being upset
about his hair, but he's just gone completely insane. And the
way he hates Superboy ... you should see the way it twists his
face. It's scary."
Mr. Jones looked thoughtful. "I
suppose it would be traumatic for that to happen to a teen-aged boy.
But other kids come through worse things. Were there any signs of
antisocial behavior before that incident?"
Everyone sort of shrugged. "I
guess Clark would me the one to ask about that," Lana said. "He
knew Lex better than the rest of us."
As everyone looked to Clark, Mr. Jones
noticed that the lad had become somewhat silent. And, most dire of
all, he seemed to be picking at his mashed potatoes.
Feeling the expectation to respond,
Clark said, "It's ... it's hard to say. Lex was ...
is ... so smart, that it's ... well, it was kinda hard to
say what was normal for someone like that. You kinda ... wanted
to give him more leeway."
Mr. Jones looked closely at Clark, then
nodded. "So maybe," he said, "whatever has caused
young Mr. Luthor to behave in this way was present before he lost his
hair. Long before. It might have come out eventually in any event."
"I suppose that's true,"
Clark admitted, "but ... he seems so certain that Superboy is
responsible. For everything. Like Lana said, you can't miss
seeing how much he hates Superboy. Seems like ... he wouldn't
hate him so if he weren't to blame. At least a little bit."
Mr. Jones raised an eyebrow.
"Perhaps." He paused, then added, "But I doubt it's
that simple." Clark was about to respond when Mr. Jones cut him
off. "Do you think that Superboy feels responsible for the
change in Luthor's behavior?"
"Sure," Clark said
automatically. "I mean ... I think he probably does. He's ... kinda mentioned to me that he really wishes he had done things
differently with Lex."
Mr. Jones nodded. No one spoke while
he paused to pour more gravy on his potatoes and reach for another
biscuit. Very casually, he said, "I guess that surprises me.
I've seen and read a few interviews with this Superboy. He
didn't seem arrogant to me."
As Mr. Jones was sitting in the midst
of something akin to a Superboy Fan Club, this last statement flew
with something akin to the aerodynamics of a greased brick.
"He's not," Pete
"Not at all!" Lana agreed.
"Sakes no!" Martha offered.
"He's ... well, he seems like such a sweet boy."
Jonathan and Clark remained silent.
Mr. Jones seemed to shrug, and began to
butter his biscuit. "Oh, well, you folks would know him better
than me. It's just ... well, you know, it sounds like the
young man is perhaps taking a bit too much on his shoulders."
"What do you mean?" Martha
"Well, it seems to me," Mr.
Jones said with a slight chuckle, "that when people look at some
new thing, they usually find what they were already looking for.
Folks tend to hunt for ... confirmation of what they already
believe, I've found. I suppose that if you have someone as
different, and powerful, and honest as Superboy seems to be, then he
will give people all sorts of justification for the way that they're
already thinking. Some of these will be things that Superboy
intends, but I suspect that some of those things will surprise him.
And some of those things, as in the case of poor Mr. Luthor, will
unfortunately be bad." He paused as Clark's expression
shifted. "I just hope that this young Superboy understands that
he can't prevent that. Human nature, after all, was around long
before he came along. No more than any of us, he can't control
how people perceive him. He can only try to do what he thinks is
Clark seemed to consider that
carefully. "And I certainly hope," Mr. Jones added, "that
Superboy wouldn't think that he's responsible for the
choices that everyone else makes. Even his friends. That would be ...
a trifle condescending, don't you think? After all, everyone is
entitled to make their own choices. Even bad ones."
No one spoke for a while. They seemed
to be thinking about what Mr. Jones had said. Then Clark lifted a
hunk of potatoes aloft and stared at it. "You have a point,"
he said. Then he popped the potatoes in his mouth, and smiled, at
more than just the taste. "A good point," he added, and
smiled again. "I'll have to mention that to Superboy the
next time I see him."