Disclaimer: The recognizable characters and settings in this story are the property of D.C. Comics, Warner Bros., December 3rd Productions and anyone else with a legal right to them, and I have no claim on them whatsoever, nor am I profiting by their use, but any of the new characters and situations are mine.
This is the sequel to "A Tasteful Lesson", written especially for the people that wanted to know what happened next.
Too Hot to Handle
By Nan Smith
Lois Lane was reading over the closing paragraph of the first article in her series on the subject of school bullies when her phone rang. She picked up the receiver. "Lois Lane."
"Ms. Lane, this is Erica Parton. I'm the Vice Principal of Metropolis Elementary School."
"Yes?" Lois had been anticipating this call. Knowing the tendency of Metro Elementary's administrative staff to take the easy way out in dealing with difficult students, she had fully expected them to attempt to penalize her daughter over the events surrounding the theft of her lunch.
"We've had a problem with your daughter, Marta, and another student. We'd like you or your husband to pick her up as soon as possible."
"You're sending her home?" Lois inquired sweetly.
"Yes. Marta is being suspended for three days."
"I'll be there in twenty minutes," Lois said.
When Lois walked into the Metropolis Elementary School Office eighteen minutes later, the first person she saw was her daughter sitting in a chair outside the office of the Vice Principal. Marta looked at her, scowling.
"I take it Susie bit," Lois said quietly, almost subvocally.
"And now they're trying to punish you?"
Again Marta nodded.
"I'll deal with it," Lois said. She knocked briskly on the doorframe.
The woman at the desk looked up. "Ms. Lane?"
"Yes," Lois said. "Are you Erica Parton?"
"I'm her secretary. If you'll just sign your daughter out --"
"Before I take Marta home, I want to see Ms. Parton," Lois said.
"I'm afraid Ms. Parton is in a meeting right now," the secretary said.
"That's too bad," Lois said, "because I'm not going anywhere until I speak with her. Or with someone substituting for her."
"Well, I'm afraid the staff is in the meeting," the secretary said.
"The entire administrative staff is in a meeting?" Lois said, raising her voice. "I find that hard to believe. But I want to know exactly what happened before I agree to this."
"Marta violated the conduct guidelines of the school," the secretary said, uncomfortably.
"In what way?" Lois asked.
"Um - there was a problem with another student. Apparently the other student took a bite from a sandwich in Marta's lunch bag, and -"
"You mean, Marta gave this other student one of her sandwiches?"
"No, not exactly. Your daughter's sandwich was extremely spicy and the other student burned her mouth."
"And what does 'not exactly' mean?" Lois inquired sweetly.
"Well -- the other student claims she mistook the sandwich for one of hers, and --"
"Are we, by any chance, talking about Susan Jones?" Lois asked, pouring the syrup on liberally.
"As a matter of fact, yes. She --"
"I've heard about Susan Jones," Lois said. "I've been interviewing a number of students from Metropolis Elementary. Several of them have stated -- on the record -- that Miss Jones has a propensity for taking the lunches of other students by threatening them with violence. The incidents were reported to the school administration and, as a result, Susan attacked the students after school. Is that the problem we're talking about here?"
"I made Marta's sandwiches," Lois said. "I know exactly what was in them, so I'm not surprised Susan burned her mouth. But what I fail to understand is why my daughter is being punished because another student took her lunch."
"I'm really not able to discuss this with you, Ms. Lane --"
"Oh, that's all right," Lois said. "I'll wait. And if Ms. Parton isn't out of her meeting before school is out, I'll be glad to come back tomorrow." She smiled with saccharine sweetness at the secretary. "Do you know how many students have transferred to other schools this year as a result of assault by Susan Jones?"
The secretary didn't answer.
"Three," Lois said, answering her own question. "I've spoken to their parents, and the parents of a number of other students, on the subject of the bullying that takes place at this elementary school. I've also spoken to the students in question. They'll be quoted in my series that starts tomorrow in the Daily Planet." She spoke in a clear, carrying voice. "I'm doing a series on school bullies, and the results of the failure of many schools to deal effectively with them. Of course, in the interests of fairness, I'd like to speak to a representative of Metropolis Elementary to get the school's side of the story for the second article. That, however, is beside the point at the moment. What I'd like right now is an explanation for why my daughter is being punished for the fact that a student with a record for violence against other students apparently burned her mouth on a sandwich intended for my daughter's lunch."
Marta, seated in the chair outside the secretary's office, listened to her mother speak, and as she had many times before, marveled at the way Mom could keep talking long after any other normal human being would have run out of breath.
Miss Wilson, the secretary, was more upset than she was letting on. Marta could hear her heart beating at least twice as fast as normal. Trust Mom to scare the pants off anyone standing in her way.
"Ms. Lane, why don't I make a call and see how close the meeting is to finishing," Miss Wilson said as Marta's mother finished speaking. "I'm sure Ms. Parton will be glad to speak with you about the problem as soon as she can."
"Why that's very nice of you," Lois responded with false affability.
Marta studied the office employees working at the Attendance desk a short distance away. Every one of them was listening to the drama going on at Miss Wilson's desk. Her mother's voice could be heard all over the school office. How she did that was something else that Marta couldn't figure out. Mom might not have Dad's super powers, but people listened when she spoke. Mom wasn't half of the award-winning journalistic team of Lane and Kent for nothing.
And here came Ms. Parton, from the conference room. Marta wasn't a bit surprised. She sat still, awaiting developments, as the Vice Principal went past her and into the other room. "Ms. Lane? I'm Erica Parton. I understand you wanted to speak with me?"
"Yes," Lois said, "but I think we should do this in private -- and bring Marta along."
"Certainly. Let's step into my office." Marta could hear Ms. Parton's pulse beating rather fast. "Marta, dear, would you come in here, please?"
"I don't know how Mom does it," Marta said to her older brother, CJ, three hours later. The two of them and Wyatt Dillon had gathered in the kitchen of the Kent home for an after-school snack. "Ms. Parton let me off with a warning, and Susie's going to have to spend time in in-house suspension tomorrow and Friday. And go back to that stupid self esteem class, again."
"Won't do any good, unless it bores her to death," CJ said thickly through a peanut butter and banana sandwich. Their Uncle Perry had told him about Elvis Presley and his liking for peanut butter and banana sandwiches and subsequently CJ had decided that he liked them, too. "Biff went to it so many times I lost count, and so did Grunt."
"Mom already said that," Marta said. "That it wouldn't do any good, that is. Anyway, if Susie tries to start something after school, I'm supposed to yell for Superman." She rolled her eyes. "I told Mom that I could handle Susie, myself, but she said it would look better this way."
"She's right," Wyatt said. He and CJ were in the seventh grade over at Jason C. Hunter Middle School. "The idea is for Susie to make herself look bad and you to look like a good little girl."
Marta made a face at the image that produced, but she nodded matter-of-factly. "Oh, I know. Mom's smart -- but I'd sure like to show Susie just once that I'm not really scared of her."
"You'll probably get a chance -- but wait until you're out of sixth grade," CJ said, practically. "Anyway, you never know. Maybe Mom's series will make some people think."
"Maybe," Marta said. She sighed gustily. "Oh well. I know what I'm going to be when I grow up."
"Oh yeah?" Wyatt said, dipping a chip into the salsa. "What?"
"I'm going to be an investigative reporter, just like Mom," Marta said. "She's as tough as Superman, and she doesn't even have super powers."
"Yeah," CJ said. He reached for the peanut butter. "Hand me the bread, would you?"