Way back in 2007 we had a writing contestÂ where contestants competed to win a $200 gift certificate at SuperHeroStuff.comÂ were they were asked, “Which Superhero would you send on a mission to hunt down Osama Bin Laden and why?” We received quite a few and we even managed to pick a winner.Â The following story was written by Donna Dudish.Â Thanks for competing Donna.Â You rock.
Luthor and Bin Laden: Match Made in Hell?
You know me, the guy voted most likely to be recruiting backstage passes to the latest slugfest. Itâ€™s all bullets and name-dropping, thatâ€™s what you pay me for. Thatâ€™s what keeps you perched on the bus-seat edge, trying to read over Joe, Jack, Jillâ€™s shoulder. And I live to serve my adoring public. So who couldâ€™ve been more surprised at the voice on the other end? I mean, really, why call me? You canâ€™t work on this rag without hearing about â€œla femme Laneâ€. But her phone didnâ€™t ring, mine did.
A call that left me enduring a November rain under an elderly umbrella. When the limo ghosted in behind me, I jumped.
â€œI would ask if itâ€™s wet enough for you just to break out the clichÃ©s.â€ I squeaked back in surprise, too damn jumpy. Hey, you learn to be in my line.
â€œLex Luthor,â€ I acknowledged as the passenger door swung open. And that began the conversation between your intrepid narrator of crimeâ€™s vicious lives and our cityâ€™s most reviled citizen.
I cupped my chilled fingers around a cooling brew, black and strong, no fancy lattes on this beat. When he reached to his breast pocket, I felt the cold sweat pop at my temples. The hand came out clutching a news clipping: â€œThe Man of Steel vs. Radical Bombers.â€ Iâ€™d seen this one, a pure spec piece with a rather poor photoshopped â€œshot on the sceneâ€. I said as much to Lex when I handed it back to him.
â€œThat is inconsequential you see,â€ he replied. â€œI am far too intelligent to be taken in by this pulp. You work the inside and know the story from the tripe. The common man though, there is the rub. They will believe and Superman will have to prove them right.â€ Lex fell into the usual tirade he plays to any public, even a public of one. Iâ€™d heard it all before, we all have. If I was still a betting man, wouldâ€™ve won the pot saying our Lane has not only heard it all but seen the proof.
He ground through the stump speech. Towards the end the brute hulking in the facing seat pulled Lex the last dreg of tea from a steaming silver samovar, ignoring the long since empty container in my hand. Only then did he stop. I have to tell you I was almost impressed with the constant theme, the tenacity, the sheer bullishness Lex displayed as he waxed on his number one topic. Websters should have a photo of Lex for obsession, thatâ€™s how crazy it was.
But at the end of it, he stopped and stated, â€œThatâ€™s why I will kill Osama bin Laden.â€
I mustâ€™ve looked as confused as I felt. He smiled that English gentlemenâ€™s club smile. â€œI will not have any peers. I am the superior man and I will not let some sorry excuse of a goat herder confusing pure luck with the genius of complete planned chaos interfere with me proving that. Until Osama is dead and his distraction gone, I cannot be sure of unrestricted access to the superjoke you so quaintly fawn over.â€
For a moment, Lex fell silent. Staring at his face, I knew this was the man with the hate and drive to pursue beyond all limit, to see only the end and not the means. Here was the monster you send to kill a monster. At some unseen signal from Lex, brute made it clear the interview was over with a languid wave of his gun hand towards the rain peppering the window; Lex assuring me regular updates of his progress, me posturing on fair representation in the press.
It was a good twenty minutes before my shoulders came back down from my ears. Tobacco curled lazy-sweet around my head. I thought about a certain day. I thought about the power of ego, the siren lure of hate.
I thought yup, maybe Lex just could do it.
Hello, hello, this thing on?
Ok, not much time, just gotta hope itâ€™s working. Nate hereâ€¦your highway to the stars, criminal though they are. Not sure where I am. Well, Iâ€™m sure itâ€™s a plane and this ainâ€™t
After our friendly chat, I didnâ€™t give Lex much more thought. Seen it all and heard plenty, whatâ€™s one more crazy rant? Had plenty others to reel in; the Maggio brothers were feuding again and all the little fishies were circling for the fallout.
Maybe a twinge when Clara over in Society mentioned Lex had been out of the news awhile. Sure, heâ€™s a crook but a filthy rich one. Still, wasnâ€™t a clear follow-my-lead twinge. It was when I was climbing the stairs out of the 27th that those little hairs woke up. The twinge turned into a honking reminder. I checked the snub-nose, yup still in the left pocket. Didnâ€™t carry till lately, but like I said, a guy gets jumpy.
Brutus fleshed out of the archway. No way you could mistake that lump, Lex must be paying by the pound. Tried to bluff it, â€œLose your ride big guy?â€
Not one for small talk, probably couldnâ€™t form a coherent thought never mind say it out loud. The street light crossed his bulk and the muzzle already pointed at me. Geez, this guy was a broken record. I shrugged, â€œYour dimeâ€. A teeth-chattering blow ended any more brilliant conversation and sent me into blackness.
â€œAh, there is our reporter,â€ that voice was unmistakable. No use faking it, not with bruteâ€™s ham hocks around. Opened my eyes and once again found myself watching Lex across a limoâ€™s vast space, â€œSomething I should know about?â€
It was champagne at this meeting. Lex practically vibrated with excitement. â€œAll in good time please. I have to say I am rather disappointed in you. I thought we had an understanding.â€ He stopped for a moment, head cocked, eyes turned in. â€œTrue, true. I cannot really hold you accountable after all. I have beenâ€¦otherwise detained.â€
This was not a good sign; silent partners donâ€™t bode well for sane talkers. My eyes roved the interior, no door handles, no blunt objects except for the bottle chilling next to brute.
Lex caught my movement. â€œThis vintage is exquisite, you must try it. I insist.â€
Bruteâ€™s pig eyes bored into me as he leaned over, his paw dwarfing the crystal. Master and pet stared at me till I relented and sipped gingerly.
Lex grinned and barked, â€œNow please.â€
The brute touched several buttons at his console. The limoâ€™s windows wept into transparency. I was startled to see the
It clicked as Lex crooned, â€œI just love a good cause.â€ The Iraqi Anti-Defamation League had filed a permit for
â€œWaitâ€¦waitâ€¦noâ€¦give it to me!â€ Lex was practically jumping out of his seat in agitation. My gut gave a hard roll; it wasnâ€™t liking this one bit. I stared at the mixed group, some chattering in smaller sections, several with hands linked, heads down.
Luther was holding a mike to his mouth with one hand, champagne long forgotten, the other thumb covering a small box. I tensed but brute had the smarts of all predators and crushed my shoulder in a vise grip. My gut flipped again and I swallowed thickly.
â€œDeath to the infidel. There is only one God and Allah is his name.â€ Thumb pressing down, a crump that shakes even the armored limo, human wails mixing with mechanical ones, Lex beaming angelically and then bruteâ€™s backhand sending me back into oblivion.
That brings me to this flying heap. When I came to it was strapped in the middle of a pack of brutus clones. They were comparing hardware enthusiastically till several noticed I was awake. The front curtain peeled back and he walked down the aisle.
â€œExcellent!â€ That voice. My eyes mustâ€™ve looked pretty funny shooting knives.
â€œIt was perfect. What a day, what a response. And the media darlings! I really must apologize, the story of the year and here I had you incommunicado. No Peabody Award for you Iâ€™m afraid.â€
I was still getting pretty clear flashes of what happens when large quantities of explosive meet multiple soft humans. â€œWhat are you up to now Luthor?â€
â€œNow I thought we were friends. I seem to recall a certain understanding we had, promises made. And everything I have gone through to fulfill my end of that arrangement. But a prophet is never accepted in his own country as they say.â€
I squirmed in my seat, â€œYouâ€™re no prophet, just insane.â€
Lex laughed, the hired guns joining him. â€œNo, no, no! Not insane, just the most brilliant mind in history! Who else could orchestrate the perfect cover to implicate al-Qaeda? Who else will be cheered as
Lex turned and still chuckling, strode back to his private quarters. The plane droned on. The goons relaxed, some slept. Finally convinced them of the need for toilet breaks.
Not much tape left. Iâ€™ve got a good idea where weâ€™re going and what Lex will do when we get there. Donâ€™t know the plan for me. Out of time, theyâ€™re at the door. Hope somebody finds thiâ€¦