|by Samuel Hawkins|
CHAPTER EIGHT:SUPERBOY LIVES!
The shadows were stretching long across the Kent lawn when Clark came out onto the porch late that evening. "Back so soon?" Pa asked as he repacked his after-dinner pipe.
"Yeah," Clark replied. "It was okay and everything, but I was ready to leave. I didnít like being the center of so much attention."
"Well," Pa said, "canít say that Iíve ever been guest of honor at a White House dinner, but I imagine Iíd feel pretty much the same way." Both smiled. "So, what did you think of the First Couple?"
"Oh, they were okay," Clark answered. Of course, that was about as bad a thing as he ever said about anyone. "The President kept trying to talk to me about Ďenhancing our diplomatic posture.í The First Lady kept encouraging me to take an active role in Ďissue advocacy.í" Clark shook his head.
"I think they missed the point of your speech," Pa said with a grin. "How was your other dinner?"
"With the Russians? Oh, they were okay. He was a pretty funny guy. Kept mentioning that he needed to check the Kremlin records to see if they had been sending up any Russian kids in rockets ten to fifteen years ago." Clark laughed. "Red Square was cool though. I hadnít seen it up close since I was, what, five when I flew there that time? My first experience with restricted airspace." He laughed again. "No, they were all okay." He hesitated. "And they were kinda all the same. They all wanted something from me."
Jonathan lit his pipe and asked, "You okay with that?"
Clark nodded. "Yeah. Itís understandable. I know that ... Iím like some great untapped natural resource to them. Itís natural that theyíd want to ... exploit me. I just have to be careful to not let them."
"Thatís right." They were quiet for a moment. Then Pa said, "Have you had any time to think about what we were talking about before all this started?"
"About whether I want to keep on doing this?"
Clark was quiet for a moment. Then he said, "Yes. I want to keep on doing this. I know I can make a difference in peopleís lives."
"But what about your life?"
"Well, I think thatís another one of those things I have to be careful about. I canít get so caught up in being Superboy that I forget to be Clark." He paused, then shook his head. "No, thatís not right. I canít talk about myself like Iím two different people. Iím Clark. And Iím Superboy. Theyíre just different names for who I really am."
"And who is that?"
Clark smiled. "Isnít that one of those things that Iím supposed to take my time finding out?"
"Yes," Pa said as he placed his big arm across his boyís shoulder. "And you will." They were quiet for a moment, then Pa asked, "What about Lana?"
Clark looked away. "I guess ... I guess we both have a lot of growing up to do. I guess ... all that can wait. If sheís ... infatuated with Superboy, well, I guess thatís understandable. Doesnít mean ... anything, really. Weíve got plenty of time."
Pa patted him on the back. "Son, sometimes you sound so mature, you scare me. But thatís the way it is with a lot of folks when theyíre growing up. Iíve known teenagers that for twenty-minute stretches sound like theyíre thirty, then you turn around and theyíre acting like nine-year-olds. Thereís a lot about life to sort out, and you have to go a stretch trying on different ways of acting before you find the one that fits you."
"I guess it just takes time."
"Yes," Pa said. "And youíll get there."
"I know. It would just be nice to do things the easy way, sometimes."
Pa laughed. "Hardly ever happens."
Clark gently poked his father in the ribs. "No? Look at you. You were lucky enough to marry your first love."
Jonathan Kent smiled, took a final pull on his pipe, and turned to open the screen door and head inside. "Son," he stopped and said, "I didnít marry my first love. I was luckier. I married my last one."