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Mickey's Diner

Posted by Kragghle , in Superman, Literature Oct 18 2012 · 137 views

Short Story
IT WAS OPEN 24 HOURS A DAY, 365 DAYS A YEAR. There was ham, sausages, bacon, pancakes, waffles, everything a nostalgic fan of the 50's could ever want. Neal Kaplen once said in the Metropolis Times that it had "Malts so thick you could eat them with a fork, hamburgers so juicy you can use a spoon, and waitresses so ornery you better know exactly what you want by the time they reach you."
..........As it happened, Lois knew before she looked at the menu that she wanted the Fresh Ground Coffee.
.........."You're a reporter, aren't you?" said the waitress, her name tag labeling her Jenny.
.........."The best there is," said Lois. "So says my boss."
.........."Your boss a guy?" said Jenny.
.........."Yeah," said Lois.
.........."Probably because you're pretty, then," said Jenny. "No lie, sometimes I'm sure I get tips because I'm attractive myself."
.........."Shouldn't you be busy getting me coffee?" prodded Lois. She was a bit tired at the time and her voice was husky, but her face was sharp, demanding to be kept seriously. The waitress corrected herself and went back into the kitchen.
..........She got her coffee, drank it dry, and repeated her order. Clark was nowhere to be seen. She wished he had told her what had come up. On the other hand, she never specified the time to meet. She shook her head. More coffee. Lather, rinse, repeat. The best she could to with her time was to make use of the caffeine in her system and zoom in on the details of the newspaper she had with her. She swore she waited for an hour, but when she looked at the clock it was only fifteen minutes before she saw Clark's giant glasses making their way across the street. He almost got hit by a car along the way. He readjusted the glasses, bowed, and apologized. Lois looked on almost apathetically, used to the sight.
..........He bumped open the door and removed his hat once inside.
.........."I'd like a - " he began.
.........."More coffee," interrupted Lois. She tapped her cup. The waitress took it.
..........Clark looked around the diner, observed the seats, the counter, the waitress, and the food like he was a kid in a toy store. "You know, I've always liked the 50's. The food, the fashion, the television shows, it all kind of reminds me of family. On that thought, my favorite actress was Noel Niell. I loved her."
..........Oh, the small talk. It was completely out of character when they were both reporters. Lois looked at the manuscript folded up in her purse. She picked it out, unfolded it, and pondered the contents. "Ah, heck, I might as well give this to you right now," said Lois.
..........Clark took the papers, unfolded them, and speed-read his way through.
.........."Hm." Just that, hm.
.........."Well?" said Lois. "Anything else?"
.........."It's a very tall claim," said Clark, looking up. "Never mind that for now, though. You are aware that spell-check doesn't catch everything, right?"
.........."Oh shut up," said Lois. "Flatter me. Overlook the flaws."
.........."I just thought I'd mention it, because I'm trying to be helpful," said Clark. "It's called constructive criticism."
.........."Yes, but I want you to appeal to my ego. I'm on an ego trip right now and there's no way you're taking me down," said Lois.
.........."It's a marvelous story, then," said Clark. "I'm very happy for you. From here on things are swell - "
.........."Oh please, not that word again."
.........."Sorry," said Clark. "Now the main thing that stands out to me, other than the subject previously alluded to but since relegated to the category of unspoken subjects, is the title."
..........Lois opened her mouth as if to take offense, as his tone was doubtful. "What about it? It's an awesome title!"
.........."'My Date with Superman?'" Many wrinkles appeared on Clark's forehead.
..........The waitress intervened with the coffee. Clark grabbed a cup without looking at it and continued to maintain eye contact with Lois, both of them looking incredulous with each other.
.........."Rule number one, buddy: headlines have the catch the eye. What about this doesn't scream to be read?" asked Lois.
..........Clark sipped his coffee. "Well, that's the thing. By phrasing it that way everybody knows that you are romantically involved with the most powerful man in the world. Now say you were to report that Superman chose to reveal personal details to you for the benefit of the public, but were to leave the elements that qualify this encounter as a date ambiguous. See, the details of who Superman is are the things the public ought to know. They ought to know that he's an alien from the planet Zenon - "
.........."Krypton," said Lois.
.........."Is that really its name? Really?"
.........."Is the big S on his chest really his family crest?" countered Lois, like it was a rhetorical question.
.........."That seems awfully contrived to be a coincidence," said Clark.
.........."Clark, you trust me, don't you?" said Lois. "Really, you've always assumed the best in people. I'm not lying. This is what he told me, and I know he was telling the truth."
..........Clark blushed. Lois wasn't sure why. Then he finished his coffee. "Just promise me one thing. Keep the title, because it is an eye-catcher, but quickly downplay it. I mean, that's personal information. You can afford to be slightly deceptive on it."
.........."I find it hard to believe that you would support something like that," said Lois. "Isn't that still dishonesty?"
.........."No it's just..." Clark paused to look for the right words. "Letting people to follow their natural tendency to look but not see. The point is, I care for you. I don't want to see you get hurt. Is it possible that you could publish it anonymously? Just Perry White and I would have to know."
..........Those words hit Lois harder than she was willing to let on, but she unwillingly let on everything by dropping into silence and staring at her coffee cup. It hurt her to actually consider the possibility of publishing what could be the biggest article of her life anonymously. He was treating her like someone who needed to go into the witness protection program, which if she went through with her plans could very well be the case.
..........The swirling white top of her coffee wasn't giving her any answers.
.........."What if..." she couldn't think of anything. She had no convincing counter-argument, and it was killing her. "I mean, uggghhh..." She certainly knew what she wanted. Yet, she had to admit, it was kind of selfish. Yet the more she thought about it, the more she had to admit, she was scared. She wanted the spotlight, but what would happen if she really got it? Yes, it would open doors, give her opportunities to really make a difference as a reporter. She would be important. All it took was a willingness to sacrifice some of her safety.
.........."It's okay, Lois, at least you're getting the truth out there," said Clark. "This is a man who's changing the world. What matters is that he's expressing himself and you're there for him." He put his hand on her wrist.
.........."I hate it when you're right," said Lois. She was secretly very angry with him. Why did he have to be like her father? Why did he have to be so concerned with her safety? She couldn't dwell on that anymore, though. It was time to put the discussion back on her terms. "So I'm pretty sure I'm pleased with the way I organized the paper. I mean, I figured when he first appeared last Christmas, the two biggest questions on people's minds were 'How can he do all those things' and 'What's up with the underpants on the outside'? I figured it was best to just answer both of them at the same time. The way I see it, he's a supreme alien from Krypton; he can wear whatever he wants."
..........Clark chuckles, almost spilling over his coffee.
.........."But seriously, that's how they dress where he comes from," said Lois.
..........Clark put the papers on the counter and looked straight at her, smiling. "That's swe - uh, that's sweet. No, I was laughing for completely different reasons. Your organization, by the way, is fine, just fine. I have no complaints. Asides from typos, you're the world's best reporter."
.........."Yeah, well, I guess that explains why the Daily Planet's circulation is down," said Lois. It made her blood boil just thinking about it. "That villain Lex Luthor's declaring a personal war on us because we published some critique on him. Things would be going completely the other way if I actually had proof that he's a white collar criminal."
.........."Don't worry. We'll come back out on top," said Clark.
.........."And the thing is, most of the public is afraid of Superman because he has the other newspapers attack him," said Lois. "There needs to be just one article out there that shows him for who he truly is. And I believe him, by the way. I believe I met the real man. He has his secrets, I guess, who doesn't? But he's still honest. I don't know everything, but I know what's important. He's a good man, and when he says that he's just here to be a friend I think he really means it."
..........Clark looked at his cup. "I think I've had enough coffee."
.........."I haven't," said Lois.
.........."Once you're done, I think we'd better leave. I mean, we'd be taking up this space and we'd kind of be loitering."
.........."Clark, you're paranoid," said Lois. "Nobody's cramming to get in here."
.........."Are you sure? I mean, it's a pretty nice place," said Clark.
.........."Have you looked out the window? It's just a bad day for business."
.........."Okay, Lois," said Clark, withdrawing.
.........."See? I'm always right," said Lois. "Except when I'm wrong." Clark's eyebrows raised and he looked at her expectantly. "Okay, I was wrong just a moment ago. But that doesn't count."
.........."Statistically speaking, you're still generally right," said Clark.
..........Lois smiled without knowing why. Again, it was the same smile she had on the rooftop with Superman. What was with that?
..........Jenny walked up to them and put her hands on her hips. "Are you two lovers done yet? I can't have you two taking up space here."
..........Lois looked at her and gave her an indignant look. "Excuse me?" Clark at once averted his gaze and scratched the back of his neck like a turtle pulling its head into its shell. Goodness gracious, if he wasn't going to be any help, Lois would just have to pretend that she didn't know him.
.........."It's called loitering," said Jenny.
.........."Well I haven't received my next coffee yet," said Lois.
.........."You've been drinking coffee all day!"
.........."Twenty minutes," said Lois.
..........Clark got up.
.........."Clark, sit down!" said Lois.
.........."Uh, Lois, I've had enough coffee. I can go," he said.
.........."No, I invited you here and our business isn't finished yet!" said Lois.
.........."Lois..."
.........."Don't 'Lois' me!"
.........."Lois?"
.........."Lois!" said Jenny.
.........."Hey, you're not on a first-name basis with me, Jenny," shot Lois.
.........."I'm sure we can discuss this at a different time," said Clark.
.........."That's it, you're out of here!" said Jenny. "I am officially telling you to get out!"
..........Clark grabbed the papers off the counter and immediately left. Lois couldn't believe he was chickening out just like that. On second thought, yes, she could definitely believe it. Lois lost her will to stay and fight, since her reason for coming in the first place had just walked out the door. She followed him onto the street. He was sitting on the curb with the papers in hand. She sat next to him.
.........."I'm sorry," said Clark.
.........."You don't have anything to be sorry for," said Lois. She looked behind her to glance through the window of Mickey's Diner. Nobody had taken their seats. Jenny had no one to serve. "It was mostly that waitress's fault."
.........."It wasn't her fault either. I'm just - I'm just sorry," said Clark.
.........."Clark, why don't you just come out and say it was me?" said Lois. "You're always blaming yourself for everything because you're too afraid of inflicting judgment on anyone. Come on, be a reporter! Have some guts! Say it!"
.........."Lois, you were just being yourself," said Clark. "And you're so secure with who you are. I don't want to take that away from you."
.........."Part of me being me is that I'm pretty used to people calling me out on things," said Lois. She put her hands on his to get his full attention. The paper rustled as his grip loosened. "Clark, can you do me a favor?"
.........."If you need one," said Clark.
.........."Just say yes," said Lois.
.........."Yes."
.........."I'd like you to be completely honest with me. Call me out when I'm going too far, like when I was going to tell the world that I dated Superman," she said.
..........Clark just looked at her haplessly.
.........."As a friend," said Lois. "I trust you."
..........Clark sighed. He handed the manuscript to her and began walking across the street. There was a break in the traffic and the opportunity was perfect. Lois got up and didn't let him leave her side. To her satisfaction he wasn't sulking. He was genuinely deep in thought and stayed silent for a while. Finally, "I'm trying to imagine what that would be like."
.........."Don't think about it. Just know that it will be better."
.........."I know," said Clark.
..........They walked shoulder-to-shoulder as the returned to the Daily Planet.


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Username: Emperor Kraggh
Real name: N/A
Age: 20
Gender: Male
Heritage: Half Dutch, 25% Hungarian, 12.5% Swedish, 6.25% German and Irish
Physical description: Looks like the eleventh Doctor
Favorite food: Chicken, turkey, and beef.
Least favorite food: Vegetables of any kind
Favorite band: Queen
Favorite singer: Billy Joel
Favorite song: American Pie
Favorite movie: Schindler's List
Favorite TV show: Smallville & Arthur the Friendly Aardvark
Favorite play: Les Miserables
Favorite color: Silver
Second favorite color: Brown
Favorite board game: Risk
Favorite athlete: Michael Phelps
Lucky Number: 53
Past-times: Writing, reading, politics, drawing
Political party: Republican
Religion: Christian
Language: Not English, but American.

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