Clark raced along Route 49 toward his family’s farm. He hoped he wasn’t too late. Minutes before, he showed the national media the water tower he welded back together with his heat vision. Once they were intrigued enough to investigate the mystery of the flying water tower on their own, his duty was to return home and protect his parents.
He turned down the long drive that led to the family farm and saw his mother picking through the charred remains of their home. She held his Grandmother Clark’s silver serving platter in her right hand and looked lost. She was alone. Clark was at her side between the beats of a hummingbird’s wings.
His mother turned to him. “Slow down, son. It’s hard to understand when you speak at super-speed. And they’ve already taken your father.”
Clark grabbed his mother by the shoulders. “How could you just stand here and let them?”
His mother struggled against his grip. “Son, you’re hurting me. Please let go.”
In his haste to chastise his mother Clark had forgotten his strength. He released her. “I’m sorry, Ma. I didn’t mean to hurt you. It’s just that I…”
His mother hugged him. “What’s one more bruise? And believe me I put up a fight but your father went with Norm willingly. We need to find a lawyer.”
“Norm?” Clark asked. “Norm Dale? He always seemed like a decent man.”
His mother nodded. “He still is son. He put that bully Rogers in his place and made it very clear he doesn’t support Chief Parker’s witch hunt.”
“Lionel Luthor’s witch hunt, you mean,” Clark countered.
“It doesn’t matter,” his mother replied. “A witch hunt is still a witch hunt.”
Clark grabbed his mother and hugged her, taking care to not hurt her. “What are we going to do?”
His mother pulled away and resumed her search through the rubble.
“Ma? What are we going to do?” Clark asked again.
She bent down and retrieved a picture frame with broken glass. The photo inside was blackened with smoke but the image of his parents in their twenties was still visible. “We trust the Lord and pick up the pieces of our broken lives. It’s what we always do.”
Inaction wasn’t Clark’s first choice but he realized his mother needed to search their burned home. Perhaps it gave her a sense of control in a wild world but if that’s what she needed to get her head together then he would support it for the time being. He sifted through a pile of ashes and found one of his baby shoes beneath a sheet of tin from the roof. The shoe was blackened by a thin layer of ash but at least it wasn’t incinerated like so many other precious memories. He wiped the ash away with his thumb and saw the yellowed white leather underneath. “I found something for the salvage pile!”
Clark’s mother walked to his side in a zombie-like trance. “What did you find son?”
Clark held up the shoe. “One of my baby shoes. I think.”
His mother took the shoe from him and gripped it tightly to her chest. “I remember how badly you hated wearing shoes when you were a baby.”
“Sorry I couldn’t find the other one,” said Clark.
A light chuckle escaped from his mother’s lips as she cradled the shoe like a wild west prospector who had struck gold. Her laughter evolved into a full-blown cackle. Had the Lord lightened her heart or was she going mad?
“What’s so funny?” Clark asked. “Ma? You okay?”
His mother smiled. “There isn’t another one. You hated wearing shoes as a baby. You grabbed the other one by the tongue and pulled so hard it tore right off your foot! I took this one off you immediately so I could have your baby shoes, or at least one of them. Thank you Clark.”
“I’m afraid there isn’t much else left that’s salvageable,” said Clark.
“Oh yes there is,” said his mother. “We have one another. No one can take that away.”
“Thanks to Hourman’s timely entrance we won’t have to test that theory any time soon,” Clark answered.
“That was certainly unexpected,” his mother added. “Any idea what he’s doing in Smallville?”
Clark couldn’t lie to his mother. “I can venture a pretty good guess, but not without betraying his secret identity.”
Mrs. Kent smiled. “And there’s some kind of code against that?”
Clark returned the smile. “Yeah, I mean – haven’t you read All Star Comics?”
They both laughed.
The light-hearted reprieve from the charred hell that surrounded them was interrupted by the sight of a shiny Cadillac pulling into their long, dirt driveway.
“Get behind me in case there’s trouble,” Clark warned his mother.
She complied without protest.
The car sloshed through the mud and finally rolled to a stop only a few feet from where Clark and his mother stood. He balled his fists up ready to fight.
The front door opened and Perry White stepped out.
Clark breathed a sigh of relief. “Mr. White! Good to see you again.”
Perry nodded but looked confused. “You’re the kid from the water town, right?”
Clark smiled and returned the nod. He had to be more careful. Mr. White had only met him as his alter ego, not as Clark Kent. “That’s right,” Clark stammered. “I wasn’t sure if you’d remember me or not.”
Perry smiled. “I’m a reporter, kid. I don’t forget a face, especially when that someone saved me from ridicule in front of more of my peers than I’ve seen assembled in one place in my life. Thanks for coming to my rescue.”
“He’s good for that,” Clark’s mother laughed. She stepped out from behind her son. “Martha Kent. How can I help you Mr. White?”
The driver’s side door opened and Rex Tyler stepped out. He walked around the car and stood by Perry and shook Clark’s hand. “Good to see you again, Clark. This is quite the son you have there, Mrs. Kent, a fine one indeed! I’m Rex Tyler, Tyler Chemicals.”
“Clark has told his father and me good things about you, Mr. Tyler,” Clark’s mom replied. “I’d offer you a place to sit and some coffee but I’m afraid the house is a mess.”
Tyler and White looked unsure whether or not to laugh.
“It’s okay to laugh,” Clark chuckled. “Ma has Grandpa Clark’s sense of humor.”
The gentlemen chuckled at the irony of Clark’s mother’s offer.
“It’s good to see you in such high spirits following what took place a few nights back, Mrs. Kent” said Mr. Tyler.
Clark’s mother nodded. “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
“The Book of Job,” Tyler replied.
“You a man of faith, Mr. Tyler?” Clark asked.
Mr. Tyler shook his head. “No, I guess I’ve seen too much evil in my time to be a man of faith, but I am a man of education and the Bible is one of the greatest books in the history of the world.”
“So what does bring you gentlemen all the way out to what’s left of our little farm?” Clark’s mother asked.
Perry removed a cigarette from his shirt pocket and lit it. He inhaled a few slow drags of tobacco until the end of the cigarette glowed red. With one smooth move he flipped his lighter shut and exhaled a cloud of smoke. “Your husband’s arrest, ma’am. Can you tell me what happened?”
Clark’s mother looked to him. He nodded to her.
“Not much to say. Police cars rolled up with sirens blaring. Norm told us he had to arrest Jonathan on suspicions of starting the violence a couple of nights ago. Norm’s a good man. He’s just following orders but my Jonathan did nothing of the sort. He’s preached to our people to go out of their way to not retaliate against Klan violence. He’s not a violent or vengeful man.”
“I believe you, Mrs. Kent,” Tyler replied. “That’s why I’ve taken the liberty of speaking to my personal attorney, Steven Malone about your situation. He’s flying in tomorrow morning to represent your husband. That is if you feel I haven’t overstepped my bounds.”
Clark’s mother took Mr. Tyler’s hands and clasped them within her own. “Thank you Mr. Tyler. Your generosity lightens our burden. You’re sure it’s no imposition?”
“Ma’am it would be my pleasure to provide my attorney,” Tyler replied. “These are troubled times here in Smallville. I trust Malone.”
“Your word is good enough for us,” Clark replied.
“I’ve put in another call as well,” said Tyler. “I don’t want to say anything until I know for sure.”
“Any idea who this flying boy may be?” Perry asked as he blew a cloud of smoke into the air.
Clark shook his head. “I wish I knew! Isn’t he super?”
Perry laughed. “That’s what we’re calling him, son – Superboy.”
Clark was glad the media picked up on the name he was calling himself. It not only matched the shield emblazoned on the front of his costume but sounded cool too. And was a much better moniker than “that flying boy” or worse, the names the Klan cursed at him.
Perry flicked his cigarette to the ground and ground it beneath the toe of his shoe. “Let’s hope our resident guardian angel endorses it as enthusiastically then!”
“I’m sure he does, Mr. White,” Clark answered. “I’m sure he does!”
The Luthor Mansion
Lex Luthor strolled across the manicured grounds behind the Luthor mansion. He nodded cordially to the new landscape contractor mowing the grass. The man was meticulous at his job but Lex begrudged the uniformity the newly-introduced riding lawn mower left behind. He searched in vain for a stray shoot of grass that defied the mower’s whirling blades but found none. The Luthor mania for imposing its will on every nuance of their lives was alive and well.
As the mansion shrunk behind him the growl of the motor’s engine grew faint like a bee that refused to be shooed away.
Lex finally reached Sarah’s grave. “I wish I had flowers but the old man would explode if he saw me. You know how he is.”
The grave didn’t answer.
“You were the best thing that ever happened to me,” Lex continued. “I wish I could see you one more time to tell you what you meant to me… what you mean to me.”
Lex shook his head. “I’m not good at saying I’m sorry. I’m a Luthor, you know. But I wish things would have turned out differently. I never intended for you to die. I’m not sure what I thought would happen or what I wanted, but I do know I … “
Lex composed himself. “I met someone but it ended badly. I don’t know if that’s a Luthor thing or if the race cards were stacked against me again. But it doesn’t really matter, does it? Her name is Lana and she’s pretty like you.”
Lex bent down and scooped up a handful of loose dirt and let it fall through his fingers. “I did something bad but I didn’t mean for everyone else to get hurt, just him. He had it coming to him and if it meant the entire town burned to the ground to see him squirm then so be it. I’m not done though. I won’t rest until he’s behind bars. And there’s this guy. He’s one of your people, black I mean. I think he may be an alien from another planet. Men can’t fly and bullets don’t bounce off them if they’re born on this planet. I won’t play his fool. I…”
“Listen to me prattle like an old woman,” Lex laughed. He stood and watched the groundskeeper make a few more passes with the mower. “I need to get going before the old man comes home and finds me out here moping but I promise you this. He’ll pay for killing you and when I’m through with him he’ll long remember that I too have Luthor blood coursing through my veins!”
The Home of Eula Jefferson, Smallville
“…. scene outside the Smallville City Jail where the well-known local black minister Jonathan Kent is being held on charges of inciting the recent riot that caused thousands in damages and left two dead. Our sources confirm that…”
Clark’s mom turned the radio off. “I’m sorry. I can’t take any more of this.”
Mrs. Jefferson patted her on the shoulder. “The Lord give you strength Martha. He’ll see Jonathan through this. Just you wait and see.”
Clark stared at the silent radio in disbelief.
“Penny for your thoughts,” said Perry White as he walked in from the kitchen with a coffee cup in each hand.
“I doubt they’re worth that much tonight,” Clark replied.
“I brought you some coffee,” said Perry.
Clark stole a glance at his mother. She didn’t like him drinking coffee.
She smiled. “Maybe a little won’t hurt this one time.”
Clark took the cup from Perry. “Thank you Mr. White.”
“Why are you doing this Mr. White?” Clark’s mother asked. “What’s in it for you?”
“Mom!” Clark shrieked. Of all the inappropriate questions! They needed all the help they could get.
Perry White sipped his coffee before answering. “Because it’s the right thing to do.”
“We’re not just some story to you?” asked Mrs. Jefferson. “The Kents have been through a lot. All the folks around here have. Why stick your neck out for us when you could go back to that fancy Metropolis newspaper and be safe?”
“I can’t believe you two!” said a flabbergasted Clark.
“Calm down, my young friend. Their questions are fair,” Perry answered. “I’ll admit my involvement was initially journalistic curiosity. I smelled Luthor blood.”
“But now?” Clark asked.
Perry placed his coffee on a coaster on the coffee table before him. “Now it’s personal.”
“You mean your beating?” Clark’s mom asked.
Perry shook his head and laughed. “No ma’am. I’ve been roughed up a few times in my day and it’ll probably happen again, I’m sure. My interest now is in Clark.”
Clark looked surprised. “Me?”
Perry nodded. “You’re a special young man, son. You have a bright future ahead of you and I’ll be damned if I let these cowardly sons-of-bitches in bedsheets and pillowcases rob your opportunity to make something of yourself. Please pardon my language, ladies.”
“So what now?” Clark’s mom asked. “We can’t just sit here and wait.”
The phone rang. Mrs. Jefferson excused herself to answer it.
“Sometimes the best thing one can do is to wait,” said Perry.
Clark’s mother smiled. “You sound just like Jonathan, except he usually says something about waiting upon the Lord.”
“It may not be the Lord, but we’re waiting on someone specifically,” said Perry.
Mrs. Jefferson came back into the room. “Martha, Doctor King is on the phone for you!”
Clark’s mother threw up her hands in protest. “I don’t know a Dr. King. Is he the one who treated Jonathan in Jackson last year?”
Mrs. Jefferson danced like a new convert springing from the river at an old-fashioned baptism. “No, Martha. The Doctor King! Martin Luther King, Jr!”
Clark had never seen his mother speechless before.
Dr. King was a hero to millions of Clark’s people. He was Elvis and the President rolled into one for black folks all over America, particularly in the South. And now he too was Smallville?
“Don’t keep him waiting!” Mrs. Jefferson blurted as she handed the phone to Clark’s mother.
Clark’s mother composed herself and held the phone to her ear. “This is Martha Kent.”
Silence filled Mrs. Jefferson’s kitchen as Clark’s mother listened intently. At last she replied. “Thank you so much for calling. It means so much to us.”
“What’s he saying?” Clark whispered.
His mother tried to shush him. “Unfortunately it’s all true, sir. My husband is being railroaded for the Klan’s crimes.”
Clark refused to relent so easily. He squeezed beside his mother and held his ear to the receiver.
“Clark Kent, you’re practically on top of me!” his mother shrieked. “I’m sorry, Dr. King. It’s our son, Clark. He’s quite a fan of yours.”
“Don’t tell him that!” Clark groaned. “I look up to him, but fan sounds so….”
“Dr. King says to tell you hello,” Clark’s mother added. “Mr. Tyler has told him a lot about you too.”
Clark panicked for a brief moment. What exactly did Mr. Tyler share with Dr. King? How much did he know?
“Here?” his mother continued. “Are you sure that’s a good idea? Things are already at the breaking point as they are. Of course, we’ll support you but we don’t want to put you to any trouble. Yes, thank you so much! We look forward to it.”
Clark’s mother gave the phone to Mrs. Jefferson.
“What did he say?” Clark asked excitedly.
Mrs. Jefferson ran back in from the kitchen. “Yes, Martha? What did Dr. King say?”
Clark’s mother took a deep breath. “He’s going on the news tonight to demand Jonathan’s release. He’s coming to Smallville to lead a march on the courthouse downtown. Mr. White? Is this the contact you were waiting for?”
Perry White smiled. “I told you it was big, Martha.”
Steve Malone had visited many jails but none like the segregated facility in Smallville. The black population was kept away from the white prisoners and in conditions that could only be described as inhumane. The colored jail had one time been the grounds for a Confederate prison camp. It was built on swamp land. After the war it was converted to a crude jail until better facilities were built for the white prisoners. Rather than waste the existing building, they built around it leaving the harsher quarters to the colored people. The situation disgusted Malone.
Malone approached the small desk that sat outside the rock walls. “Steve Malone to visit Jonathan Kent.”
The officer looked up and laughed. “Ain’t you in the wrong section? White prisoners are held upstairs.”
“I’m not here for a white man,” Malone replied.
The guard looked confused. “Then why are you here?”
“To see Kent,” Malone replied. “I’m his attorney.”
The guard chuckled. “Attorney? That’s a rich one, my man!”
“Look Mack, I’m here to see my client,” Malone shot back. “Keep your bigoted opinions to yourself.”
The guard spit a brown stream of tobacco onto the ground then looked up with a squint in his left eye. “You listen here, Mr. Big City Lawyer. We respect the law in this town. Do I make myself clear?”
“Just grab the keys and show me to Kent’s cell,” Malone answered.
“It’s not that easy,” the guard replied. “You have permission from Chief Parker to see a colored prisoner?”
Malone was growing tired of the shenanigans. “I don’t need permission.”
“You do in this prison,” the guard replied. “You don’t have permission then you don’t see your “client”.
“Is there trouble here, Brewer?” bellowed a voice from the darkness. The owner of the voice was a rotund man wearing a police uniform.
“Parker?” Malone asked.
The man nodded. “Yeah, I’m Parker. Who wants to know?”
Malone pulled a cigarette from his blazer and lit it. “Steven Malone, attorney. I represent Jonathan Kent. I demand you release him at once.”
Parker raised his eyebrows. “You demand, do you? On what grounds?”
“Do you have any physical evidence to hold my client for the crime for which he’s been accused?” Malone asked.
Parker shook his head. “Don’t need none. I know he did it.”
“Interesting,” Malone replied. “Any witnesses?”
“Don’t need none,” Parker replied again.
Malone puffed on his cigarette and blew its smoke into the damp air. “You’re a very interesting man, Mr. Parker.”
“Come again?” Parker asked.
Malone tossed his cigarette on the cold stone and crushed the glowing end. “You hold a man without one shred of evidence or witness, ignoring his constitutional rights and due process of the law.”
Brewer pushed his chair away from the guard desk and stood to his feet. “Chief, you want me to escort this bum out of here?”
Chief Parker shook his head.
Malone reached beneath his coat and retrieved a paper. “Given that you have no reason to hold Mr. Kent, I have here an order for his release signed by none other than the Attorney General of the United States of America, one Mr. Bobby Kennedy. You heard of him, Parker?”
Parker’s Irish roots heated his face as he jerked the order from Malone’s hands. “I know damned well who he is, Malone! Brewer, release Kent.”
“Sir?” Brewer asked.
“I said release the goddamned prisoner!” Parker shouted.
Brewer scrambled from behind his metal frame desk toward the large steel door that separated the cells from the outside. He inserted a key into the lock and turned it. The door made an awful noise as metal scraped over metal while sliding from right to left and into the wall. He disappeared into the shadows.
“Glad to make your acquaintance, Chief Parker,” said Malone.
Parker left without a reply.
The Home of Eula Jefferson
“This waiting is killing me,” said Clark. The clock on the wall promised it was eight thirty but Clark suspected it was lying.
His mother sighed. “Nothing we can do but wait, son.”
Mrs. Jefferson pushed herself out of her worn-down brown recliner and shuffled across the room to the radio. She turned it on. “Opry will be on in a few minutes, Clark. The Carter Family will be there tonight. I love to hear those girls sing. Maybe they’ll help pass the time.”
A commercial for King Flour was half over when the radio tubes in the old set finally brought it to life.
Clark smiled. His mother’s old friend was doing her best to make them comfortable in her home. If it were up to him he’d find the latest from Chess Records but he dared not insult her hospitality. “Much obliged, Mrs. Jefferson. I’m sure they will.”
Mrs. Jefferson walked toward the kitchen and stopped before leaving the room. “I’m going for some milk. Anyone else want some?”
Both Clark and his mother assured their host they were fine and she disappeared into her kitchen. The handle on her ice box made a loud pop when she opened it.
Clark was happy for the moment of privacy. “I have to patrol tonight, Ma. It’s been a couple of days since I’ve been out.”
“It’s been quiet son,” she replied.
Clark nodded. “True but this is Smallville. I doubt it will stay that way long.”
His mother sighed and nodded. “Go then, son. I’ll tell Mrs. Jefferson I sent you to town.”
“At this hour?” Clark asked. “For what?”
His mother shooed him away. “You leave that to me. Now get while the getting’s good.”
Clark didn’t have to be told again. With a burst of super speed he was out the door and into the windy skies. Sheet lightning flashed on the western horizon but the storm was still a good hour out. He ducked behind a stand of trees and ditched his civilian clothes as he called them in the branches of a walnut tree. His parents hated when he called them that. They were quick to remind him Superboy was the alter ego, not Clark Kent but he was beginning to feel more comfortable in costume than in his street clothes. Costume was the word he picked up from his mother. His father preferred to call it his “funny book suit”.
Clark wondered about the shield on his chest. The letter “S” emblazoned inside a pentagon could definitely stand for Superboy but its origins were unknown to him. He wasn’t even sure where he came from. His origins were in the stars and that very idea seemed strange to him. He certainly didn’t feel like a little green man but his folks swore him to secrecy regarding his alien heritage. He liked to think the insignia represented a great house or country on his home world. His father agreed but didn’t like to broach the subject often. Perhaps it reminded him Clark wasn’t his natural born son.
Traffic on Route 49 was sparser than usual. Ordinarily it was busy with vehicles headed for all points unknown but faithful to direct drivers along their way. Fifteen miles as the crow flies north Clark found the traffic. It was backed up in a long, straight line of impatient drivers. Most were out of their vehicles wandering to and fro. He guessed a bad wreck had traffic snarled since it wasn’t moving in either direction.
Clark continued northward for nearly five miles and discovered the reason for the clogged road. A school bus painted white was stopped in the middle of the road with the Klan circled around it. They were trying to rock the bus onto its side. Two hooded figures held traffic at bay on either side with shotguns. Of course the Klan wasn’t alone. Both the authorities and the media were on hand to witness the spectacle. Clark spotted Perry’s vehicle parked alongside the road but didn’t take time to find his friend.
It was decision time. He could end the stand-off and rescue the bus but that would mean venturing onto the national stage. Up until now he was more legend than real to the world. Thanks to Perry, the Daily Planet was the first to run stories of the flying boy but few took him seriously even after Clark showed them the water tower. They were impressed with the evidence but most agreed there had to be another explanation. But if he landed and handled the periled bus then his face would be plastered on every newspaper and television set in the country. It would change his life forever.
In the end there really was no decision. There was a reason God put him on Earth and in Smallville, no less. It was time to say hello to the world.
Clark descended slowly. The driving winds whipped his cape up behind him. As he grew closer to the ground he read the words “Freedom Ride” spray-painted on the side of the white bus along with some other slogans about love and peace. He guessed the occupants were a group the pressed dubbed the Freedom Riders. They were mostly college kids from up north who came to Mississippi and Alabama to register black voters and protest the Deep South’s treatment of the black community. They were good kids with high-minded ideas of freedom, brotherhood, and equality. All too often they were also naïve about the dangers they faced or the bravest people on the planet. Clark wasn’t sure which.
“My god! Would you look up there?” yelled a man’s voice.
A second later the crowd was pointing and flash bulbs began to pop.
The four shotguns were Clark’s first priority. A burst of heat vision caused the two Klansmen on the north to drop their weapons and frightened the crowd as well. The panicked onlookers raced for their vehicles as a light rain began to fall.
Someone opened fire on Clark but he wasn’t sure who. It was small gun fire, not the Klan’s shotguns but a ricocheting bullet could hurt an innocent bystander just the same. His presence was as dangerous to the panicked crowd as the Klan’s. There was only one thing left for him to do. He quickly disarmed the remaining Klansmen then flew underneath the bus. He found a good hold on the frame and lifted.
At first the bus was reluctant to move. He’d never lifted anything so heavy into the air before. He wasn’t even sure he could fly with something that big but he had to get the riders out of danger. The bus driver panicked and tried to get away but Clark held firm. At last gravity surrendered to his will and the bus rose into the air with him.
More flashbulbs erupted as the news hounds went bonkers. Within moments Clark cleared the tree line with the bus and head north with his precious cargo. The passengers were frightened at first but once they realized he was moving them out of danger everyone seemed to settle down. Along Route 49 he flew with the Freedom Riders bus until he was several miles north of the traffic jam. He found a clear spot off the road and landed. With his feet on solid ground he lowered the bus to the ground then crawled out from under it.
Clark held up his hands to assure the Riders they were in no danger. The driver opened the door.
“Please tell us you’re on our side,” the driver yelled. He was a middle-aged white man with a professorial look to him.
Clark nodded. “I am but this entire area is dangerous right now. If you’d like I’ll escort you to someplace safe.”
A girl lowered a window near the back and stuck her head out. She was a white girl with long, blonde hair that was held in place by a blue plaid headband. “We may not have your fancy powers dude but we knew this gig was dangerous when we signed on! We appreciate the assist but liberty won’t protect itself!”
Another window opened and a young man’s head popped out. His golden locks were hardly long enough to classify him as a beatnik or the newly-coined term “hippie” but they grazed the top of his collar. A rat’s nest of a moustache marked his upper lip. “Cool threads, man! Is that a cape?”
The two were soon joined by at least a dozen more students peppering Clark with questions all at once. How did he learn to fly? How strong was he? Did the bullets really bounce off him? Did he smoke weed? Did he like Rock and Roll? How did he feel about Communism? The Space Race? Was he a Democrat? One girl even asked about his virginity which prompted a round of giggles from a few of the other girls.
At first Clark tried to answer but as the questions ran together he wasn’t sure which he was answering. He finally gave up when he answered yes to the bullets bouncing off his skin but the question about him smoking marijuana came so quickly afterward that it seemed he answered yes to it. When he tried to deny smoking marijuana it appeared he didn’t like rock and roll and then he fell farther behind. He finally floated off the ground a few feet which brought the questions to an end with a gasp.
“Good luck and … um… thank you for standing up for our freedom,” Clark said before shooting into the sky like a missile. He was a good thirty-thousand feet high before he took a breath to relax.