She’s a Body Snatcher, Chief
Jimmy took the empty cup of tea from Lois. She made no comment as he left the couch and walked into the kitchen to deposit the cup. Stepping to the sink, he grabbed the damp dish towel, squirted some soap on it, and washed the dish. He’d already done so with the plate he’d given her a Pop-tart on. Normally, he was never this clean and orderly in someone else’s place, much less his own. With a twinge of guilt, he knew this was hardly an effort to be polite to Lois. No, washing these dishes was a ploy for time spent away from a friend who suddenly felt like a stranger.
He examined the cup and decided there was a stain he needed to scrub harder to try and get rid of. Cups deserved to be spotless.
He’d dutifully taken her home and sat with her on the couch—where she had remained ever since—but after that, his time spent by her side was the most awkward time he could ever recall being with her. She said nothing unless spoken to, and whenever Jimmy tried to press for more details about Clark’s death, Lois said nothing more than she’d already said in Perry’s office.
In the whole time Jimmy had known Lois, she had never, ever been this quiet and withdrawn. It scared him. He had no idea what to do or say. He asked if there were calls to kin and friends Lois would like for him to make, and he received silence for his answer.
He’d phoned Perry once to inform the Chief Lois was home and safe and had received strict orders to stay with her through the night. Jimmy now wished he hadn’t made such a promise. Guilt rolled through him whenever that thought came back around—which was now making its tenth round.
After all, Clark was dead.
Jimmy’s gut twisted uncomfortably. It was such a horrible thought to give weight to.
And if that’s how he was feeling, he couldn’t imagine what Lois must be going through. They were soulmates. Of course she would be devastated. Clark had died once before, and they were only friends back when Bonnie and Clyde’s gang had shot him. Losing him a second time. . . that’s why she was this far gone, right? It had to be. It wasn’t reassuring, but it had to be the reason.
Jimmy let his thoughts wonder as he set to work drying to cup.
Lois and Clark had done so much for him. Not just for his career at the Planet, but they had befriended him, treated him like an equal and not as some naive, young adult too dumb to be trusted with responsibility.
They had saved his life more than once—not to mention Superman, as well—so being here for Lois in her time of need was the least he could do.
It was just. . .
Jimmy set the cup down and slowly approached the kitchen door. He opened it a crack and peered through. He could make out Lois sitting on the couch, staring ahead into space with that same vacant expression.
Jimmy had no idea how to deal with the Lois he was staring at. It was like. . . like—
Jimmy jumped high into the air.
The phone. The phone was ringing on the counter next to him.
And it was continuing to ring.
Embarrassed at how easily a dumb phone call had spooked him, Jimmy let out a small laugh.
But the phone continued to ring.
Jimmy cracked open the kitchen door all the way and saw Lois was clearly making no move to answer it.
“Uh. . .” Jimmy said uneasily. “Would you like me to get the phone?”
“Sure,” came Lois’ monotone reply.
Her response sent a flutter of anxious butterflies in Jimmy’s system, but he reached out and answered the phone.
“Kent and Lane household, this is Jimmy speaking.”
“Somehow I figured it would be you answering the phone,” came Perry’s gruff voice on the other end.
“Hey Chief,” Jimmy said with a breath of relief. Then, to Lois, “Hey, it’s the Chief. You want to talk?”
“No,” Lois replied without looking up.
Jimmy nodded. “Uh. . . Chief, looks like she’s not up to talking right now.”
“Has she said much at all since you’ve been there?”
“Not really,” Jimmy said slowly.
“Still a vegetable, huh?”
Jimmy looked at Lois hard. “Um. . .”
He would feel much more comfortable having this conversation out of earshot from Lois.
“Hang on a sec, Chief.” Jimmy covered the mouth piece and addressed Lois. “Do you mind if I take this in the kitchen? You can lay down and, um, rest? Or. . . something.”
Lois kept her gaze on the carpet. “Okay,” came her delayed response.
Jimmy re-entered the kitchen, shut the door, and retreated into the furthest spot he could.
The anxiety and fear that had been building inside burst out in a rushed whisper. “Chief, I have no idea what to do. She’s done nothing but sit on the couch and stare off into space. I’ve tried to talk to her, but she gives short responses or no response at all, and, and. . .” Jimmy took a deep breath and lowered his voice another octive, alarm etching into his next words. “Chief, what if Lois got cloned again? It’s like Invasion of the Body Snatchers. She’s here, but she isn’t here, you know?”
“Son, calm down,” Perry spoke in a soothing tone. “I doubt she’s been cloned again, and there is no Invasion of the Body Snatchers going on. She’s been deeply traumatized, which is exactly why you are not to let her be alone, ya hear?”
“Yeah, but Chief—”
“I’m at the police station talking with Henderson,” Perry went on, overriding Jimmy’s protest. “He says she’s probably exhibiting some PTSD symptoms and shouldn’t be pressed to talk if she isn’t ready to. So sit tight and put on a Disney movie for her or tell her to rest or whatever in sam hill you need to do to make sure she does present a danger to herself and snap, alright son?”
Jimmy let out an exasperated sigh of defeat. “Okay. I’ll keep watch over her. I promise. But Chief, what are you doing at the police station? Researching PTSD can’t be the reason.”
“No, it isn’t,” Perry agreed. “I’m assuming you’re somewhere Lois can’t hear?”
“Yeah,” Jimmy confirmed.
“Keep this to yourself and don’t share this with Lois unless she volunteers similar information, but I suspect foul play with Clark’s death.”
Shock rippled through Jimmy. “Have you seen his body?”
“No.” Disappointment and a hint of anger echoed in that one word from Perry. “Dagnabbit, Lois already told them to cremate his body. No in-depth autopsy was done except for the superficial body wounds the coroner identified when he was brought in.”
“Why would Lois want him cremated so soon? I didn’t even know either of them wanted cremation,” Jimmy whispered.
“You got me, but the whole thing doesn’t smell right. The accident, the lack of eyewitnesses, Lois’ behavior, PTSD or not. . . so I’m looking into things,” Perry explained. “It’s why I’m here. Henderson’s back, gotta go. I’ll call and keep you posted, but you stay there, and make sure Lois can’t hear you next time I call.”
Jimmy nodded, even though he knew his boss couldn’t see it. “Got it, Chief.”
“You might want to keep her away from any sharp objects, just to be safe.”
So his boss was dismissing Jimmy’s body snatcher idea, and yet Perry was telling him to keep Lois away from sharp objects?
Somehow, both men knew tagging Lois’ behavior as PTSD wasn’t the real explanation—it just afforded them a peaceful lie until more information could be found out.
And another thought suddenly entered Jimmy’s mind.
“You don’t think Clark’s really dead, do you?”
There was a heavy pause over the line.
“I’m saying I smell a fish, Jimmy. And until I find that fish and can tell it’s a fish, it might just be a skunk.”
A small smile pulled at Jimmy’s lips. “Got it.”
A click on the other end signaled Perry had hung up, so Jimmy pressed the red button to disconnect the line.
If Lois’ odd behavior and Clark’s sudden disappearance could mean anything other than PTSD and the death of someone Jimmy had thought of as his older brother, then he desperately hoped Perry could find it.
A small beacon of hope swirled. And then plummeted.
If Clark wasn’t dead, then he was in trouble.
Jimmy looked at the closed kitchen door.
Life was never simple for Kent and Lane.