Lois Lane, Superman, and all related characters are property of DC Comics.
“Lane! Get in here!”
How does he know?! Lois thought. No sooner had she stepped off the elevator and entered the newsroom had Perry White called her into his office. She was in no rush to answer his call; certain she was already in trouble for something. And it’s not even 9:00 yet, she laughed.
Lois took time to stop by her desk, which was near the editor-in-chief’s office. But she was careful not to make eye contact with Perry just yet. The man intimidated the hell out of Lois, but she worked incredibly hard not to let that show.
Perry White was a giant in the world of print media. At least, he was in the eyes of Lois Lane. She knew his story almost as well as she knew her own. Unlike her, Perry had been willing to begin his career in the Daily Planet mailroom while he finished his journalism degree at Metropolis University. The fact that they shared an alma mater had not won Lois any brownie points, however.
For the better part of the last 30 years, Perry White had been a fixture at the Planet. He was a cub reporter when he tagged along with the paper’s head sports writer for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. The then 23-year-old Perry had been in the thick of things when Centennial Park was bombed. He covered the story like an old pro.
It wasn’t long before the powers that were in those days recognized the pure talent that made Perry White one of the best writers that the Daily Planet had ever seen. Whenever the big events came along, Perry got the assignments. He traveled the world, breaking stories wherever he went. In 2009 he was given his own weekly column, along with the opportunity to finally settle down, which he did with his wife, Alice.
He still writes that weekly column, and has continued doing so, even though he has held the title of editor-in-chief for the last three years. “Lois!” he yelled, spotting the new girl dropping her coat at her desk.
“I’m coming, Chief!”
“Now!” he shouted, clearly impatient. Perry White was not a man who liked to be kept waiting.
Lois turned away from her desk and walked casually into Perry’s office. In her mind her walk was casual. She was trying to be casual. She was hoping that a casual demeanor would mask the anxiety that coursed through her. There weren’t many people in this world who could actively intimidate Lois Lane. Not many she would admit to, anyway. Even though Perry White was one of them, she was not ready to admit that out loud to anyone other than herself.
“You rang?” she asked, unable to hide a look of disgust when she detected the odor of cigarette smoke. Another thing she knew about her editor: he only smoked when he was stressed out. Which seemed to happen a lot these days. What newspaper editor wouldn’t be stressed out these days? Print media was a dying breed. It was a struggle to keep circulation numbers up and Perry put the bulk of that weight on his own shoulders.
Standing, but leaning over his desk, Perry looked over several open file folders. “You’re late,” he said, snapping his head up to see Lois standing there.
“It’s 8:53!” Lois protested, even though she knew Perry had probably been in his office since before 6:00.
Perry merely grunted in response and returned his attention to the surface of his desk.
“Did you need something, Chief? Or can I get to work now?”
“Work?” Perry snorted, “What are you even working on, Lane?”
Lois took a deep breath. She did this dance with Perry about once a week. Twice if he was in a bad mood. “There have been a string of burglaries at some of the higher end jewelry stores in the city, mostly in Midtown. I thought I’d look into those and see if there are any common threads.”
“Good girl,” Perry said, smiling and extinguishing his cigarette.
“If you weren’t already on that, I was going to assign it.”
Lois couldn’t help smiling a little herself.
Perry continued, “I want you to think bigger, though. I’ve been keeping track of a lot of little things that have been coming in over the wire that shouldn’t be connected.”
Perry sighed, “I don’t know. I just have a gut feeling that something bigger is happening in Metropolis. I want you to figure out what it is.”
“You got it, Chief,” Lois said as she turned to leave. She stopped just short of the door and turned back. “Chief, you do remember this is supposed to be a smoke free building, right?”
“If our publisher wants to come down here and fire me for smoking in my own office, he’s more than welcome. He knows where to find me.”
Lois laughed, “Franklin Stern wouldn’t fire you if you told him to take a flying leap into Hob’s Bay.”
“Get out of here, Lane. I want something on my desk in two days.”
Lois returned to her desk, finally taking a seat and getting organized for the day. She was coming up on six months as a staff writer for the Daily Planet and it had not taken her long at all to get comfortable in the newsroom.
Her plan to get a job right out of college had worked. She graduated from Metropolis University and delivered the exclusive interview with Lex Luthor to Perry White the very next day. Lois kept a clipping of her first byline in the bottom drawer of her desk, as if it were a good luck charm. She had never felt more proud in her life than she did when she saw the headline and those big, bold letters: I SPENT THE DAY WITH LEX LUTHOR.
In the months since she was hired, Lois had earned the respect of her colleagues. They saw her as a tough as nails reporter who was willing to do whatever it took to get a story. Many of the other staff writers knew she was a horrible speller, but her writing was on point with every article she wrote. They wouldn’t say it out loud, certainly not in earshot of their editor, but a lot of people held the opinion that she could be a better journalist than the great Perry White.
If Lois Lane hadn’t won a Pulitzer by the end of her first year on the job, there would be a lot of shocked employees at the Daily Planet.
She scrolled through her contacts on her LexPhone, seeking the name of someone she knew in the Special Crimes Unit of the Metropolis Police Department. Inspector William Henderson had been instrumental in providing information regarding a number of stories that Lois had covered during her short time at the Planet. Lois understood the value of having friends in high places and Henderson was one of those friends.
Lois knew that Inspector Henderson was sort of sweet on her and she knew she could exploit that if she needed to. Even though she had made it clear to him that nothing would ever develop between the two of them. He was, after all, about 20 years her senior. Besides that, Lois was so laser-focused on her career, dating wasn’t even a blip on her radar.
“Special Crimes, this is Henderson,” he said as he answered Lois’ call.
“Hey, Inspector,” Lois said, purposely smiling so the cop could hear it in her voice.
“Lois Lane,” Henderson said as he smiled back, “to what do I owe the honor?”
Lois rolled her eyes slightly, wondering if Henderson really believed she was just calling to shoot the breeze first thing in the morning on a Wednesday. “Perry’s on my back about some recent jewelry store heists. You know anything about those?”
She could hear the creaking of Henderson’s ancient desk chair as he leaned back. “I might know some things.”
“Anything you might be able to share?”
“Lois,” Henderson got quieter, “you know I can’t really share information when it involves an ongoing investigation.”
“Yeah,” Lois said, exaggerating the disappointment in her voice, hoping it would place the inspector on a guilt trip. “I figured as much.”
“Sorry, Lois,” said Henderson, sounding genuinely remorseful.
“It’s all right, I had to take a shot. Man, Perry’s really gonna let me have it this time. Thanks, anyway.”
Lois was ready to hang up, but hesitated. She knew Inspector Henderson well enough to know that he would at least give her something. He would either give in and provide her with some small nugget of info or he would point her in the right direction.
“Lane, wait,” he sighed. “You know the Ace o’ Clubs down by the bay?”
“Of course. Best burgers in Metropolis.”
“That’s the one. Talk to the owner, Bibbo. He might be able to help you out.”
“Bibbo?” Lois asked, “Really?”
“Guy has his ear to the ground and talks to more active criminals in a week than I have in the last month.”
“If you say so,” she said. “Thanks, Bill.”
She said it without thinking, then kicked herself mentally. Lois knew she should never have been so familiar with Inspector Henderson as to call him Bill. She could only hope he wouldn’t take it the wrong way.
“Be careful, Lois,” he said seriously, “These guys you’re digging into… they don’t mess around.”
“I’m always careful. Thanks again,” she said before ending the call.
Lois stood up from her desk and put her coat back on.
“Where do you think you’re going?” asked Perry, standing in his office doorway.
“Ace o’ Clubs,” she said, “I’m really craving a cheeseburger. Want anything?”
“Tell Bibbo I’m still recovering from his left hook,” Perry said, closing the door to his office and bursting into laughter.
Lois gave him a puzzled look but brushed it off and made her way back to the elevator.
Two subway transfers and 45 minutes later, Lois was sitting at the bar inside the Ace o’ Clubs. It was still pretty early in the day, but Lois knew she could still get a cheeseburger if she ordered one. Especially if Bibbo knew it was Lois that was doing the ordering.
Sure enough, when the waitress shouted the order back to the kitchen, Lois could hear Bibbo’s deep voice as he roared, “A cheeseburger at 10:00 a.m.?! Tell that knucklehead we’re only serving breakfast!”
Lois decided to make her presence known, “Come on, Bibbo! You won’t make an exception for one of your favorites?”
At that, Bibbo popped his head around the corner and a smile cracked his face wide open. “Lois Lane!” He turned to one of his employees and told him to take over before walking out of the kitchen to give Lois a bear hug.
“Good ta see ya, kid!”
“It’s good to see you, too,” said Lois.
The Ace o’ Clubs had been a guilty pleasure for Lois and her college roommate, Margot, for the last couple of years of school. Lois wasn’t kidding when she had told Henderson that Bibbo made the best burgers in town. In spite of being the best place to grab a burger and a beer, the Ace o’ Clubs wasn’t exactly in the best part of town. Early on in the ladies’ visits to the restaurant, Bibbo had stepped in and protected them from a few of Suicide Slum’s more distinguished residents. He treated them both like daughters from then on.
“Thought you’d gone and forgotten ol’ Bibbo now that you got yer fancy job!”
“Never!” said Lois with all sincerity. “How’d you know about my job, anyway?”
“You think I don’t read the newspaper?” Bibbo asked, pretending to be hurt. “I saw yer first story about the rich kid. Yer a heck of a reporter, Lois.”
Lois felt herself blush a little. “Thanks, Bibbo. That means a lot coming from you.”
“Wait here, I’ll go make yer cheeseburger.”
Lois stopped the big man, “Do you have a few minutes to sit with me while I eat?”
Bibbo smiled at her again, “Anything for you, kiddo.”
Soon after, Bibbo presented Lois with the best cheeseburger she had had in months, and she let him know it. Then she got down to business and the real reason for her visit. She asked Bibbo about Inspector Henderson. She asked how they knew each other. She asked about the people that Bibbo talked to. She asked about the burglaries.
All the while, Bibbo tried to shut her down.
“Lois, ya gotta be careful with this stuff,” he whispered, nervously looking around his restaurant.
“That’s what Henderson said. I’m a very careful person.”
Bibbo gave her a concerned look. “Not careful enough.”
Lois finished eating her cheeseburger and looked Bibbo in the eyes. “I’m just writing a story, Bibbo. And right now, I think you’re the only one who can help me with it.”
“All right,” he said, taking a deep breath, “but I can’t talk about it here.”
Lois stood up, dropping a twenty on the bar, then pulled out a recently printed business card. “Call me later today, whenever you can. I’ll meet you wherever and whenever, okay?”
Bibbo said nothing, simply nodding his head.
“Oh, and Perry White wanted me to tell you he’s still feeling your left hook.”
With that, Bibbo let out a roar of laughter that actually hurt Lois’ ears.
“I think there’s a story there,” she said as she drew Bibbo in for a good bye hug.
Still laughing, Bibbo said, “I’ll let the old man tell you that story. Talk to ya later, kid.”