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Strange Visitor
Samuel Hawkins

Chapter 9: Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot

With the last piece of pie and the last round of conversation consumed, the Kents stood on their front porch bidding Mr. Jones farewell.  He thanked Martha again for dinner, and complimented her culinary talents and hospitality.  He thanked Jonathan for the invitation, and told him that he'd enjoyed their talk.

Then he said to Clark, "Young man, I don't know when I'll be back this way.  But if I don't see you for a while, I want you to remember one thing."

"Yes, sir," Clark replied earnestly.  "What's that?"

Mr. Jones took a deep breath and looked around.  Then he held out his hands.  "This is special.  This place ... this time ... this family ... these are wonderful things.  Treasure them. Wherever you go in life ... this will be part of you.  And if all else fails, the part of you that ... is this home ... will sustain you."

Clark looked at him closely.  "Yes sir," he said softly.

Mr. Jones looked him in the eye, and slowly nodded.  Then he looked up at all of them.  "Goodbye.  I hope to see you all again." Then he reluctantly, remorsefully, walked into the Smallville night.

The Kents watched him in silence until he faded from view.

"What a nice man," Martha finally said.  "A bit ... unusual ... but still, very nice."

Jonathan nodded at her, and patted her hand.  "You got that one right, dear."  She smiled and went inside to get ready to turn in. "Did you have any trouble?" Pa asked Clark.

"Huh," Clark, lost in thought, said.  Then he shook his head.  "Oh. No.  That was the Governor.  A little girl in Oregon needed a liver transplant.  They found a donor in Metropolis, but there wasn't any way to get the liver to her in time.  Well," he modestly corrected himself, "not any other way."

Jonathan's eyes lit up with the thoughts of a child and family saved.  There was so much good his boy could do.  He hoped that his face showed how proud he was.  Not because of what Clark could do.

But because he would.

They sat in silence for a while.  Finally Clark asked, "You want me to get your pipe for you?"

Jonathan looked up.  "Oh, no.  Had one earlier.  Probably shouldn't have though.  I don't think Mr. Jones much likes it."

"No," Clark remarked, "he doesn't.  The fire, more than the smoke, I think."

Jonathan nodded absently.  "He's a good guy, isn't he?"

"Yep," Clark said.  "Sure is."  They were quiet again.  Close to half a minute passed.  Then Clark mentioned, "He's not human, you know."

Jonathan's head shot around at his son.  "He's what?"

"Not human," Clark explained casually.  "I don't know where he's from exactly, but it's not Earth."

Jonathan looked at his son for a long time.  He didn't know whether to laugh or cry.  "You sure about that?"

"Oh yeah," Clark said, almost absently.

"How long have you known?" Jonathan asked.

Clark shrugged.  "Since I first met him, in a  way.  I could tell then that he was different.  He was giving off a bit more IR than even your warmest human, and his heartbeat was ... well, just not human.  Of course, I  didn't understand that then.  I just knew that he was different, and in a way that no one else seemed to notice.  I was a lot older before I realized just how different."

"But you've never said anything."

Clark shrugged again.  "Didn't seem to be any reason to.  He's a good guy.  I knew it was okay for him to be around."

Jonathan nodded.  "Well, I trust your instincts, son."  They were quiet for a while, then Jonathan stood to head inside.  He pulled back the screen door, then stopped.  "By the way, any other aliens or peculiar characters in town I should know about?"

Clark grinned.  "No other aliens, I don't think.  But Mr. Flagg is an undercover FBI agent sent here to keep tabs on Superboy.  And Mr. Marks is doing the same for the Russians.  Fortunately they spend most of their time chasing each other."  As Jonathan chuckled, Clark said, "Jack Mitchell has a bookmaking operation running in the back of the feed store.  Frank Taylor is the secret head of a fascist group that I'm just waiting for to step over the line.  And Mattie Pryor is a witch."

Jonathan grunted.  "Well, I'm not too surprised about Jack or Frank.  But Mattie?  A witch?"

Clark shrugged.  "Well, that's what I heard Ma tell Mrs. Lang after the last bake sale."

Jonathan shook his head and laughed.  "Then it must be true."  He laughed some more, then said, "Goodnight, son."

"Goodnight, Pa."

And as the lights went out in the Kent home, Clark sat there on the porch swing.  He breathed in the smells of the freshly mown grass, and the apples ripening in the orchard, and Pa's hour-old pipe smoke, and Ma's three-hour-old dinner, and the shampoo Lana had used before coming over that evening.

He counted the fireflies, and compared that number with their total population on this date for the previous eight years.  He watched the pattern of their flashes, and decoded their messages, and reminded himself to tell Pa that it would be raining this weekend.

He listened to the crickets, and to Ma brushing out her hair as she got ready for bed, and to Lana as she did the same.

He watched the fall flowers in Ma's garden germinate, and counted the grains of meteor dust settling on the rooftop, and felt the porch swing sway and creak.

And then he leaned back, and thought about what Mr. Jones had said.

No, he decided.  Mr. Jones couldn't know the half of it.

Not just special.

It was magic.

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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.

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