"Bumpy? Are you okay? What happened? And why the *hell* haven't you called me yet?


"Dad just waltzes in the fucking door and says, 'Your brother was in an accident today,' and he did it in that way that makes it sound like I'm the only one in this house who's related to you again, and I really hate hearing about stuff from him, and you should have called me."



"I'm sorry I didn't call. It just happened this afternoon. And I'm fine."

"How's the car?"

"Sitting in one of the garages."

"So it's okay?"

"The opposite of that. It's been ripped apart."

"Wow. What happened?"

"I'm not sure. I can't remember anything except waking up with my head on a rock and one of the locals dripping water all over me."

"You got rescued?"

"In the most heroic way possible."

"Wait a minute. Dripping water--you drove off a bridge?"

"And Dad's worried that public school will dull your intellectual capacities."

"I'm not in public school. I'm just not at boarding school. You drove off a bridge?"

"At about sixty miles an hour."

"On your second day there. Pretty impressive."

"It was your fault, actually."

"This ought to be funny."

"You called me. I was taking the phone out of my pocket, and I lost control of the car. Boom."

"Oh, whatever. Talking on a cell phone in cars is illegal in some states, you know."

"So you were encouraging me to break the law?"

"What do you know?" I'm a bad influence on you, for once."

"Heh. How's Dad taking it?"

"The accident? I think he's angry. I can't tell. But… I asked him if that meant you were coming home in disgrace, or at least coming home, and he looked at me and gave this laugh and started lecturing me on the value of learning from your mistakes. In other words, you're still stuck out there. Sorry."

"I didn't really expect anything else."

"Yeah, you did. Lex… you didn't do it… on purpose. Did you? Because that's just a bad idea."

"No. Believe it or not, I haven't gotten quite that desperate for fatherly affection."

"I'm sorry. It's not because he doesn't want you here. I don't think. He's worried about you."

"Really. Worried about me before or after I wrecked a Porsche and nearly killed a pedestrian?"

"Before. And you've got to tell me more about the dripping local pedestrian later."

"Why's he worried?"

"Because you rely too much on your gut feelings to be a good businessman. You get excited about things, then you lose interest, and you need to learn discipline and basic managing skills before you can start working with him."

"Is Dad standing there with cue cards?"

"Heh. No. I asked him why he was making you go a few days ago, and that's what he told me."

"A straight answer? From Dad?"

"He gives me straight answers. Remember, I don't mock him."


"Anyway, it looks like you're going to have to deal with the crap factory. So tell me about your hero."

"Clark? He's… a nice kid who pulled me out of the car and saved my life. I'm still a little…"


"Unsettled. I'm sure I had a more sophisticated vocabulary at seventeen."

"And that was thanks to whom? I was the one who bought you the word-of-the- day calendar for Christmas."

"'For the man who has everything.'"

"Shut up. You loved it."

"It changed my life."

"I hate you."

"I now know what 'phrenology' means."

"Well I don't, but I'm going to do it to you if you don't stop making fun of me."

"It's a noun, not a verb."

"You were talking about the nice kid? Is he cute?"

"You can't possibly have worked through everyone in Metropolis already."

"I haven't worked through anyone in Metropolis. I'm not the party girl you were; give me a book and TiVo and I'd never leave the house."

"You'd never leave your room. And did you just call me a party girl?"

"I'd still have to eat. And pee. You keep diverting me off the subject of Charles."


"Yeah. So, he saved your life. Pretty cool."

"Just the descriptive phrase I had in mind."

"So are you going to get him a present?"

"That's the standard thing now?"

"Well, Billy Zane gave Leonardo DiCaprio—"

"I swear to God, if you're about to quote anything from 'Titanic,' I'm not coming home for the Halloween party. You watched that movie at a far-too- impressionable age."

"Sorry. Yes, it's the standard thing. You should give him a new tractor."

"You don't even know if he's a farmer."

"Of course he's a farmer, he's living in Smallville."


"Do they even have other professions out there? Like, there's the guy who runs the general store, and the mechanic, and the banjo player, and the rest of them all herd cows and shuck corn and press apples."

"And run my plant."

"Don't let Dad hear you call it yours."

"They're not all slack-jawed yokels."

"My apologies. So what does this Clark do for a living?"

"He goes to school. He's a year or two younger than you."

"Ooh, and cute?"

"We've had this conversation before. I will not risk my masculinity by declaring another man cute, or handsome, or in any way attractive. You may deduce his attractive qualities for yourself if you ever come down here and meet him."

"And with the books and the TiVo, that's so likely to happen."

"Your own fault for being a hermit."

"So he's cute."

"No comment."

"Meaning yes. Okay. What do his parents do?"

"All right, so some people do herd corn and shuck cows or whatever—"

"Hah! Farmers! Yes, I win I win I win. You owe me--damn, we didn't bet on anything, but you still owe me. They're farmers, with the cows and the corn and the plaid and the gingham!"

"I didn't notice any gingham."

"Buy him a truck."

"A truck."

"Well, it's manly and cool, and it'll be useful around the farm, and you can obviously afford it, and it'll show him that you're not all distant and bitchy like your father."

"Bitchy would be the last adjective I'd use to describe Dad."

"You haven't lived with him for a long time."

Silence. "So. A truck."

"Yeah. Give me a minute… okay, the best and most expensive out there is a Ford F-150. You could get it all decked out by tomorrow, probably, if you throw enough money at the dealers. CD/tape player, heated seats, racing stripes, airbags, everything."

"Please tell me you didn't have all that information in your head."

"Well, I am the one who buys your cars. But no. I'm online. Look, I've got to go; it's almost time for The Daily Show. Call Hans tomorrow; he'll get the truck for you by tomorrow afternoon. You've still got his number?"

"I had to call him earlier today."

"Right. Poor Speed Racer."

"Did you name the car, or did I?"

"I did. Duh. Do you watch any cartoons? Besides Animaniacs?"

"Pinky and the Brain."

"What do you want to do tonight, Brain?"

"Same thing we do every night, Pinky. Try to take over the world!"

"G'night. Love you."

"You, too."



"Your truck idea didn't pan out."

"Okay, you know I don't have caller ID. And yet every time you call me, you just start out conversations like we're in the middle of one already. It freaks me out."

"My apologies. I'd hate to freak you out."

"Shut up. Why didn't the truck idea pan out?"

"He didn't want it."

"He didn't want it? Is he human?"




"And a farmer?"

"I've seen the produce."

"So what's the--wait a minute. 'Definitely'? Lex—"


"Don't go getting yourself a jailbait boyfriend. Dad sent you there to keep you *out* of trouble."

"My intentions toward Clark are purely--"

"Impure. I know that tone."

"No, you don't."

"You get this little raspy thing whenever you have a crush. You got it when you were head over heels for Victoria. Who I still think was a drag queen."

"Have you been visiting that 'Gay or European' website again?"

"No. Yes. Don't do this. He's what, fourteen?"

"Fifteen, I think."

"A freshman in high school, anyway. High. School. Lookee, no touchee."

"Immortal words of wisdom."

"There are laws. Especially in Kansas."

"Weren't we talking about the truck? And about how your idea was wrong?"

"We were on a tangent."

"How was what we were talking about related to trucks?"

"Trucks have beds? I don't know. Why didn't he like it?"

"He liked it fine. His father didn't want him owning anything given to him by a member of the Luthor family."

"What did Dad do?"

"Raped and pillaged all that was good and right in Smallville, apparently."

"What does that have to do with the price of potatoes in Pittsburgh?"

"The price of—"

"I'm boning up on colloquialisms and quaint sayings of the American Midwest. If you do come home for Halloween, I want to be able to understand you when you're saying things like 'y'all'."

"There's not much risk of that happening."

"Come on. 'Y'all'? Great phrase. Signifying a second person plural, something the English language lacks in its more formal dialect."

"You're trying to distract me from the fact that you were wrong."

"Damn, my evil plan has been discovered. How was I supposed to know his father was a bigot?"



"Nothing… it's just. Speaking of bigots."

"What about them?"

"I found Clark tied to a post in the middle of a cornfield last night, stripped down to his boxers with an 'S' painted on his chest."

"I'm not your dream therapist, Lex."

"I'm serious. This really happened."

"You're kidding."



"Faintly reminiscent, yes."

"Is he all right?"

"Apparently. I saw him this morning. A little taciturn."

"That's normal, even if he wasn't crucified."

"You don't know Clark."

"Nor, may I remind you, do you. Who strung him up?"


"Who did it?"

"Not sure. Hey, do you know anything about gemstones?"

"Other than that they're pretty? Nope. Why?"

"Clark was wearing this… necklace. He dropped it after I untied him. It looks a little like an emerald, but it's… off, somehow."

"You have it with you?"

"In my hand right now."

"Go get it appraised."

"It's not mine to appraise."

"When has that ever stopped you? Or just give it back to Clark."

"Somehow, I don't think it belongs to him."

"Really. What makes you think that?"

"It's a woman's piece of jewelry."

"Maybe Clark wanted to feel pretty. You said he just ran off; how long was he tied to the pole?"

"I don't know. He looked pretty bad, but as soon as I untied him, he seemed fine."

"Smallville certainly puts the strap back in strapping, doesn't it? Must be all the corn they eat."

"Maybe. Anyway."

"Have fun figuring out The Affair of the Necklace. Hey, have you seen Nasty Nell yet?"


"Sorry. Have you seen Nell, that dispenser of sweetness and light, yet?"

"This morning. She said to say hi."

"Say 'You're a bloodsucking fiend' back for me, will you? Hey, maybe it's her necklace."

"You think Nell strings pubescent boys up in cornfields?"

"Well, if she doesn't have TiVo—"

"She's probably got cable, at least."

"You never know. There's not much to do in a small town on weekends."




"They have a farm team, or something?"

"High school. You know, I think I have an idea."

"Ooh, share."

"I've got to go."

"Ooh, don't share."

"I'll explain later. Gotta go."

"I hate you."

"Me, too."