Chapter 7: Revelations
After Jonathan and Mr. Jones watched the pair head out the door and down the sidewalk, Martha said, "I'll get these dishes. Why don't you two sit out on the porch for a while."
"Thank you dear," Jonathan said. "Though you know I'll be glad to clear the table for you."
"Of course you would," Martha said with a wink at their guest, "but I'll take care of it. You two go on and relax."
They walked out to the front porch, and Jonathan sat down on the swing that hung there. "Have a seat," he said to his guest, who politely declined.
"Oh, I think I'll stand for a while. I've been sitting all day."
Jonathan nodded, and took out his pipe. "Nice night," he observed.
"Just beautiful," Mr. Jones agreed. "It's so peaceful here." He turned and walked around the porch, looking at the tree-lined street and the darkened woods that ran around one side and the back of the Kent property. He seemed to slip into a reverie while Jonathan carefully packed tobacco. He listened to the crickets, and Martha doing the dishes, and the Mason kids down the street as their mother called them inside from playing, and a few other things besides. They didn't say anything for a while, just enjoyed the night sounds and smells.
When Jonathan almost had the pipe packed, he said, without looking up, "You know, don't you?"
It wasn't really a question. "About Clark," he added.
Mr. Jones had not been quite so surprised about anything since ... well, one very eventful day some years prior. As he slowly turned, his mind waged an internal war. A dozen different responses occurred to him. Most involved subterfuge, or worse. He considered his options, but when Jonathan Kent looked up and their eyes met, Mr. Jones quickly realized that only one response was worthy of his host.
"Yes," he admitted softly. "I know about Clark."
As the last syllable fell from Mr. Jones' lips, Jonathan Kent scraped a match across its box. He held the flame in front of his face and watched it dance for a few seconds. Any concern that his guest was privy to the secret he and his family had tried so hard to protect was not apparent. "Figured you did," Jonathan said succinctly. Then he applied the match to his pipe.
Mr. Jones turned away, walked to the edge of the porch, and gazed into the distance as Jonathan got his pipe going. Both were silent for a time, the sounds of crickets and frogs and the porch swing dominating a typically placid Smallville evening. Eventually, Jonathan said, "You with the government?"
Without turning, Mr. Jones replied in a low voice. "No, Jonathan. I'm not with your government."
"Didn't think so," Jonathan said as he puffed his pipe in rhythm with the swing. Four cycles of the swing passed, then he asked, "You with any other government? Russians? British, maybe?"
Mr. Jones smiled tightly, though of course Jonathan couldn't see it. "No. I'm not."
"Didn't think so," Jonathan said. He swung a bit more, then added, "Though that's what Martha suspected. British, of course. Not Russian. But I didn't think so."
They grew silent again, long enough for Mr. Jones to observe that the air and sounds of the Smallville night were almost enough to distract him from the tension of the present situation. He truly did love it here.
"Well, then," Jonathan said, again breaking the silence, "would you happen to perhaps be with a government not ... of this planet? Some, oh, galactic police force or, I don't know, some interplanetary city council or something?"
Now Mr. Jones did turn around. His lips formed a faint smile. "That's your surmise, I take it."
Jonathan nodded and shrugged almost simultaneously. "You could say it's my best guess."
Mr. Jones looked at the man before him. It was remarkable, really. From all appearances, one would never know that this small town farmer-turned-shopkeeper was playing a game of potentially fantastic stakes. Fate, Mr. Jones decided, had chosen well.
"Your instincts are good, Jonathan. Slightly erroneous, but still, quite remarkable." Mr. Jones leaned back against the porch railing and visibly attempted to relax. "There are such organizations, however, and one, at least, has taken notice of Clark. But though they have many agents, I am not one of them."
Jonathan nodded, and quietly pulled on his pipe. "But you're not ... from around here, are you?"
Mr. Jones raised both eyebrows. Suddenly, a new possibility occurred to him. One he'd not considered until this moment.
Did he ...could he ... dare tell this man the truth?
The whole truth?
He sighed. It was so difficult to let go. The years of secrecy and isolation, he knew, had made it almost impossible to trust anyone with ... this. He wasn't sure he could do it. But then, another realization barged into his consciousness.
If one had a secret, a huge secret, and if you were ever going to trust anyone with that secret, then one would have to look long and hard to find a better choice than Jonathan Kent.
"You are correct. I am not from Earth." He paused, and noted that Jonathan remained unperturbed. "How did you know?"
Jonathan shrugged almost imperceptibly. "Ah, mostly it was a guess. Little things I suppose. Things that seem to be ... just a little off. Just a little, mind you. If having Clark around hadn't taught me to be on the lookout for such things, I'd have never suspected."
"Still, that's ... really quite remarkable," Mr. Jones observed.
"Thank you," Jonathan said graciously. He fell quiet again long enough for at least three bullfrogs to sound from Hanson's pond. Then he said, "You mind telling me where you are from?"
Mr. Jones hesitated. He'd already told him what mattered. Why should the rest be difficult? Such a simple thing, he knew, but so hard to say. So many years now of not saying the word.
Trying, at times, to not even think it.
"Mars," he at last said very softly. The word was so difficult to speak that he wasn't sure Jonathan had heard him. A little louder, he said, "My real name is J'onn J'onzz. And I ... I am from Mars."
|STRANGE VISITOR Copyright 2000 Samuel Hawkins.  All rights reserved. This story is neither authorized nor endorsed by DC Comics. Superboy and all related previously established characters are TM DC Comics & © DC Comics, Joanne Siegel, and Laura Siegel Larson.|