THE STOLEN COSTUME – PART III
by Kirk Hastings
A "Lost Adventure" of Superman
(Based on the original teleplay by Ben Peter Freeman)
Author's Note: In "The Stolen Costume - Part II", I speculated on what might have happened after the events of the first season TV episode "The Stolen Costume". In this story I continue that speculation, exploring the possible legal ramifications of Superman's actions concerning Ace and Connie Chiles.
The telephone on Clark Kent's desk rang. The Daily Planet reporter, who had been typing a story, stopped and picked it up.
"Kent, this is Inspector Henderson."
"Oh, hi, Bill."
"Kent, I need to contact Superman immediately." Henderson's voice was no-nonsense, almost panicky. In the short time Kent had known Henderson, he had never known him to be panicky over anything.
"Bill, what is it?" Kent asked.
"I really need to discuss that with Superman. Is there any way you can get ahold of him?"
"I'll do my best."
"Try to get a message to him to contact me as soon as possible. Thanks."
Henderson abruptly hung up.
Kent's brows knotted. Henderson was obviously greatly disturbed by something, and that something had to do with Superman.
His curiosity aroused, Kent got up from his desk and walked out of his office. He strode down the hallway, and quickly entered a deserted storeroom.
# # #
Henderson was pacing his office when Superman flew in the window, landing on the floor with a thump. As soon as Henderson saw him, he immediately crossed to the open door of his office and closed it. Then he locked it.
Superman looked at him, concern on his face.
"Inspector, what's wrong?" he asked.
"We have serious problems," Henderson replied, turning to face him.
Henderson came back to his desk and sat down in his chair, looking as if he couldn't get his news out without sitting down first.
"A warrant has been issued for your arrest by the city prosecutor," he said.
Superman's eyebrows went up.
"A warrant for my arrest?" he responded. "For what?"
"For kidnapping, and contributing to the wrongful death of Ace and Connie Chiles. The complaint was filed by Nick Chiles, Ace's brother."
Superman shook his head in disgust, looking down at the floor.
"I had a feeling this might happen," he said, half to himself.
"What are you going to do?" Henderson asked him.
Superman looked up and shrugged his shoulders.
"What can I do? I'll have to turn myself in. I can't fight the same law that I've sworn to uphold."
"But it's all nothing but a plot to get you out of circulation!" Henderson shot back. "Chiles's lawyer is a fly-by-night by the name of Dave Green. He's as crooked as they come. He's only doing this to make a name for himself. And Nick and Ace were not exactly loving brothers either. They've both been in the mob since they were teenagers, and they've been rivals since day one. Nick doesn't give a hang about Ace. Or Connie. He just wants to use this situation to get you. If the mob can't succeed in fighting you on the street, then they'll just fight you in the courtroom. And if they pay enough people off along the way, they just might be able to get away with it!"
Superman stroked his chin. "I know all that. But the fact remains, Ace and Connie are dead - and if the law decides that I need to pay for that, then I don't have any choice in the matter."
Henderson let out a big sigh. "Well, if you're guilty, then I'm guilty too," he admitted. "I went along with everything. I even convinced the DA to lay off the situation. But now he probably has no choice, what with Green filing suit."
"No, Bill, this is not your fight," Superman replied. "This is my fight. I don't want you to get involved. Promise me that you won't."
With that, Superman turned and headed toward Henderson's office door.
"Where are you going?" Henderson asked him.
"To turn myself in," Superman replied.
# # #
"Here's today's edition, Chief, hot off the presses," Lois Lane announced, as she entered Perry White's office and handed the paper to him. She did not look happy.
White looked at the large, blaring headline: SUPERMAN ARRESTED. In smaller letters, it continued: 'MAN OF STEEL' TURNS HIMSELF IN ON KIDNAPPING AND WRONGFUL DEATH CHARGES.
White shook his head. "I never thought I would see the day," he mumbled to himself.
"Chief, what are we going to do about this?" Lois asked him, in her usual determined tone.
"What can we do about it?" White replied. He looked as glum as Lois did.
"I don't know right now, but this whole thing is a total disgrace!" Lois fumed. "We know Superman didn't do these things!"
Just then Jimmy Olsen wandered into White's office.
"Has anyone seen Mr. Kent?" he asked. "He's not in his office."
"Personnel said he called in earlier and told them he won't be in for a while - he has the flu," Lois told him.
"Lois, why don't you go down to the county jail where they're holding Superman, and see if you can talk to him," White continued, ignoring Jimmy. "See if he can give you any background on this mess."
"Right away Chief!" Lois replied. She turned and rushed out. Jimmy ran after her.
# # #
At that same moment, in his downtown apartment, Candy Myers was watching a news bulletin on TV about the arrest of Superman.
"I guess I'd better get down there too," he said to himself. "Looks like Kent's got himself into a real fix this time."
# # #
The crowd around the Metropolis county jail was big, and getting bigger, as curiosity seekers milled about, hoping to get a glimpse of the mysterious, superhuman Man of Steel who had managed to almost single-handedly put criminals on the run in Metropolis over the past year. Lois and Jimmy approached the two officers guarding the jail's entrance, and showed their Press Pass cards.
"We're friends of Superman," Lois announced. "We'd like to see him."
One of the officers went inside. When he came out again, the jail's warden was with him.
"Warden, we've both from the Daily Planet, and we're personal friends of Superman's," Lois repeated. "We'd like to see him."
The warden thought a moment. "Come inside," he finally said. Lois and Jimmy followed him inside the building.
They walked down a long corridor, past numerous other cells filled with criminals of all kinds. "Out of respect for who he is, I put Superman in solitary," the warden explained as they walked. "I didn't want him subject to the jeers of the other inmates."
After going through another set of doors, they all finally came to a bank of empty cells in another part of the building that were closed off into their own separate area.
In one of the cells Superman stood, leaning against the back wall with his arms crossed over his chest.
"Superman!" Lois called to him, upon sighting him. Superman looked up, uncrossed his arms, and came over to the bars of the cell.
"Miss Lane!" he replied. "Jimmy! What are you two doing here?"
"For once, we're here to help you," Lois replied.
"Jeepers, warden, isn't it kind of ridiculous to lock Superman up in here, when he can break out whenever he wants?" Jimmy asked.
"He's given us his word that he wouldn't try to escape," the warden told him.
"Why believe him, if he's here for committing a crime?" Lois shot back sarcastically.
The warden didn't reply. He turned and left.
Lois turned to the Man of Steel. "Superman, what can we do to help you?" she asked, concern evident in her voice.
"Nothing. This isn't your concern, Miss Lane. I appreciate you coming down here, but there's really nothing you can do."
"But what do you intend to do about this?"
"Go through the legal process, just like everyone else does, and hope that it vindicates me."
"But do you know who is bringing the charges against you?" Lois asked him.
"He's a mob lawyer. He doesn't care about truth or justice. He'll do anything he can to put you behind bars where you can no longer hurt him, or his fellow gangsters."
Lois looked totally frustrated at the situation. So did Jimmy.
Just then the warden poked his head through the doorway again.
"Superman, there's another man here to see you, who says he knows you," the warden said. "He says his name is Candy Myers."
"I know him," Superman replied. "Let him in." He turned to Lois and Jimmy. "You two better go. Thanks for coming down here to see me, but don't worry. I'll be all right. Everything will come out all right."
"I certainly hope so," Lois told him. "You don't deserve any of this!"
She had a look of real concern on her face, and it pleased Superman to see it.
When the pair had left, Candy was escorted in.
"Hiya, pally," Candy said.
"Well, you sure got yourself in a pickle this time, didn't you?"
"I guess I did," Superman replied.
"I'm not afraid to tell ya, I don't like the smell of this whole deal," Candy continued, lighting up a cigarette. "You know the mob is behind this, right?"
"And that they'll do anything to win."
Superman nodded again.
Candy took a puff on his cigarette.
"Look, let me snoop around a little bit. Maybe I can find something that will put a crimp in their cute little plan."
"Sure, Candy. I'd appreciate your help."
Candy reached his hand through the bars. Superman took it, and they shook hands.
Without another word, Candy turned and walked out.
# # #
Very early the next morning, Superman was in the process of being transported to the Metropolis court house in a police van for his arraignment. The early hour had been chosen in hopes of avoiding crowds of gawkers. As the van approached an intersection, it stopped at the red light there. When it began to move again, a large sedan came seemingly out of nowhere, barreling out of the cross street. It rammed the side of the van, pushing it some distance down the side street. When the vehicles finally came to a stop, the two men in the sedan jumped out of it. From behind the open doors of the automobile they started peppering the van with sub-machine gun fire.
The two officers in the cab of the van tumbled out of the driver's side of the vehicle onto the pavement, on the side away from the sedan. Pulling their service revolvers they tried to return fire from behind the smashed truck.
Suddenly, Superman burst out of the side of the van. Seeing him, the gangsters concentrated their fire on him. But the bullets simply bounced harmlessly in every direction.
Superman ran forward. Grabbing the driver's side door of the sedan he yanked it off and threw it to one side. Then he grabbed the gun of the gangster that had been hiding behind it. He hefted it and twisted the barrel into a mangled pretzel. Then, before the astonished hood could react, Superman knocked him to the ground, unconscious.
The other would-be assassin tried to run, but Superman leaped up into the air. He came down right on top of the hood, forcibly knocking him to the ground. The gangster did not get up.
Then Superman waited until the police officers from the van finally came over to him.
"That was incredible," one officer said, with a slight Irish brogue. "I've never seen anything like that in me life."
"It was a stupid trick," Superman replied. "They're just small-time hoods, who were dumb enough to think that they could assassinate me."
Both the officers stared at Superman, realizing that the Man of Steel could escape from them any time he wanted to. But he just stood there.
"I'll wait here while you call in for another truck," was all he said.
# # #
A couple of hours later, the scene at Metropolis's main court house was pandemonium. Reporters, media people, and a sea of humanity crowded the street for blocks around the building. It was all the Metropolis Police could do to keep some semblance of order.
After the incident with the police van, it was decided to bring Superman to the court house through the back way in an armored car. Despite this attempt at concealment, many reporters were still waiting for the truck when it pulled up to the rear of the court house. Two officers hustled Superman into the building, as reporters strained against the wooden barricades that had been hastily set up, attempting to get photographs of the captive Man of Steel.
"Did you notice that Superman isn't wearing handcuffs, as per usual procedure for a felony?" one reporter commented.
"Yeah," replied a second. "But why bother? He could easily break them anyway!"
If the scene outside the court house was pandemonium, the scene inside the court house was sheer bedlam. Hundreds of spectators and reporters tried to crowd into the court room where Superman's hearing was to be held, even though the room only held a hundred people or so. Finally, when the seats were all filled, the door to the room was shut, guarded by two police officers. According to a previous ruling made by the municipal judge appointed to the case, no cameras or film equipment were allowed into the court room, in an attempt to keep the proceedings from becoming a total media circus.
Finally, the hearing began. The judge called Superman up to the bench. All eyes were on the Man of Steel as he got up from his chair at the defendant's table and approached the judge's seat.
"State your name for the court," the judge said.
"Superman," the Man of Steel replied.
Metropolis's district attorney stood up. He had a sheepish expression on his face.
"Yes?" the judge asked him.
"Your Honor, I must respectfully point out that 'Superman' is not technically a legal name. It is more of a title. According to the law, the defendant must provide a legal name in order for this case to go forward."
The judge thought for a moment.
"Mr. Lowery, this is not a trial," he replied to the DA. "At this point it is only a preliminary hearing, simply for the purpose of assessing whether or not the charges leveled against the defendant hold any legitimacy. If this hearing is in fact carried over into a trial, then we will address the issue of the defendant's legal name at that point. But right now, I am satisfied with 'Superman'. After all, I am not aware of anyone else in this city that goes by that particular name. And I think we all know exactly who the defendant is."
Some people in the audience laughed.
Inspector Henderson, who was one of the people who had managed to get a seat in the room, did not laugh. His expression remained stoic. He was truly concerned for the legal fate of the man who had become a good friend of his during the past year, and a trusted partner in the war on crime in Metropolis. The faces of Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, and Perry White, who sat on either side of him, were not any brighter. It was all Lois could do to keep from shouting out what a disgraceful injustice this entire hearing was.
The DA, placated, nodded and sat down.
"Now," the judge continued, looking back at the Man of Steel, "the charges against you are kidnapping, which is a felony offense, and wrongful death, because of the subsequent accidental demise of both Ace and Connie Chiles. How do you plead to those charges?"
"Not guilty, your honor," Superman replied.
The judge nodded. "As the presiding judge in this case, I have the authority to hold this case over for an evidentiary hearing," he said. "I hereby exercise that authority, as I am not yet quite convinced that probable cause has been shown to suggest that a true crime has taken place here."
Neither Dave Green nor Nick Chiles looked happy at that announcement. Nevertheless, the judge then called Nick Chiles up to the stand. Chiles came up to the bench, was sworn in by the court's bailiff, and then sat down in the witness chair. He proceeded to tell the judge his understanding of how Superman had allegedly abducted Ace and Connie from their Metropolis apartment, had taken them up to the Arctic, and then had left them at an isolated cabin on top of a snow-capped mountain.
"That's it," he finished. "If Superman hadn't taken Ace and Connie up to that mountaintop and left them there, then they would still be alive today!"
Next, it was Superman's turn to take the witness stand.
"Yes, I took Ace and Connie from their apartment, and transported them up to the Arctic," he admitted. "I didn't know what else to do with them at that moment. If they had remained in Metropolis, they would have immediately exposed the secret of my dual identity to all their underworld friends, and then my effectiveness as a duly-deputized agent of the law would have been severely compromised."
"Did you intend to leave them there indefinitely?" the judge asked.
"Of course not! I only meant to leave them there for a couple of days, until I could decide exactly how to keep them from exposing my secret. As for 'abducting' them, I have been legally authorized by President Eisenhower to arrest and detain suspected criminals. I believe I was acting completely within that legal jurisdiction when I detained Ace and Connie. After all, they had already committed two recent crimes that I knew of - planting a bomb in Clark Kent's apartment, and kidnapping Candy Myers and threatening to kill him. Before I left them, I directly warned them not to try to climb down the mountain that they were on, as such an attempt would probably result in their deaths. Of course they chose to disobey my warning, and the result was, unfortunately, exactly what I warned them it would be."
Just then the doors at the back of the courtroom flew open, and Candy Myers strode into the room. He looked a bit disheveled, as if he had just had to physically wrestle with a few people in order to get into the room.
"Your Honor!" Candy shouted, as he came down the aisle. He straightened his coat and hat as he went.
The judge pounded his gavel again. "What is the meaning of this interruption?" he shouted back.
Candy came up to the bench. "Your Honor, I've just found additional evidence about this case that could directly affect its outcome!" Candy announced. "I respectfully ask permission to testify in front of this court!"
The judge, who knew Candy from previous cases, pondered this for a moment, then finally waved Candy over to the witness chair.
"All right, Mr. Myers," he said. "Bailiff, swear the witness in."
After this was done, Candy took the stand.
"All right, just what is the nature of this additional evidence that you have alluded to?" the judge asked him.
"Judge, I've just come from the morgue. The autopsy on the stiffs of Ace and Connie Chiles show that they were both infected with a highly potent form of Hepatitis. This particular form is often fatal, and is highly contagious, being transmitted through blood. They got it from Johnny Simms, the night he came to their apartment after being shot by the police. 'T-Ball' had a record of being a dope user, and his autopsy showed that he also suffered from the disease, which can be caused by using unsterilized needles. When Ace and Connie came into direct contact with 'T-Ball's' blood, that's how the disease was transmitted to them!"
"And this information is relevant to this case how?" the judge asked.
"Don't ya get it?" Candy replied. "When Superman isolated Ace and Connie up on that mountaintop, he was actually doing everyone a favor, by keeping them from spreading around that Hepatitis! And if they hadn't fallen off that mountain, they probably would've keeled over soon enough anyway, because of that stuff in their bloodstreams!"
This revelation, in addition to Superman's testimony, was too much for Nick Chiles. He knew by now that the hearing was not going his way. He jumped up from the prosecutor's desk and pulled a revolver from inside his coat, aiming it directly at the judge.
But at that exact same moment, almost faster than the eye could follow, Superman also jumped up from his seat. He shot forward and planted himself in front of the judge's bench, where the bullets from Chiles's revolver bounced harmlessly off his chest.
Henderson, who had been sitting a row or two behind Chiles, leaped over the courtroom seats and grabbed Chiles from behind, wrestling the revolver from his grasp. One well-placed punch to the jaw and Chiles went down.
After Chiles had been led from the courtroom in handcuffs, the judge banged his gavel down on his desk.
"Case dismissed!" he shouted. Everyone stood up in their seats, and slowly a sea of applause started to wind its way around the courtroom.
The DA was the first to come up and shake Superman's hand. "That's one case I'm glad I lost!" he admitted.
Candy was next in line.
"Thanks for your help, Candy," Superman told him.
"Any time, big guy!" Candy replied, with a wink and a smile.