Who is Superman?
Lois has trained her entire life for this assignment. She is going to expose Superman’s identity. It will be the story of a lifetime. She is ready. She thinks she’s ready. She hopes she is. It feels as though everything depends upon this.
Her research has been exhaustive. She has an itemized list of everywhere he has appeared, cross-referencing the time of his arrival with the time of the police APB or news item preceding his engagement. She is triangulating all of the possible locations he might be coming from. She has Jimmy’s photos to reference what direction he came from or left to for almost every appearance, as well as to help calculate his flying speed.
She just has to let the answer appear.
With a little help. Her office looks like a crime scene, complete with a full wall “murder board” where she’s got maps, news articles, and photos all connected with string. Yarn, actually. Lois has stress knitted forty seven pairs of socks in the four months that she’s been working on this project. It’s healthier than gin + tonics, probably. (She’s been through a fair few bottles of gin.) It’s helped with all of the birthdays she’s forgotten, too. Everyone likes socks.
Clark is worried about Lois. She knows because he’s told her as much. She ignores him. He’s never around when she needs him.
Some days, Lois wishes she were a computer genius. For one thing, it probably pays better than journalism. But relevant to right this minute, if she were a computer genius she could build a program to run this data and come up with the answer for her.
This idea has merit. Lois calls in a favor.
“Are you joking?”
Angie knows Lois isn’t joking, but she wishes she were. Lois got Angie out of a lot of trouble, and Angie would do anything for Lois, but good grief. This is a big favor.
Lois and Angie spend a week of late nights together, drinking coffee and building a computer program to analyze Lois’s data. Angie is impressed with the volume of information Lois has collected. It’s taking a long time to process.
“Do you research everything this thoroughly?”
“I have to. If I miss one detail, I might never find the full truth.”
Angie, thinking about how narrowly she got off, types faster.
“Can you get me another espresso, Lo?”
“You want bourbon in this one?”
“I wish. Let’s open the rosé after I write this bit of code.”
They take the wine up to the roof and drink straight from the bottle under the stars. Lois comes up here a lot. There’s a wicker furniture set and a little fire pit. Lois produces a blanket for Angie from somewhere. They’re both wearing wool socks; Lois gives Angie a pair that turned out too small because she was so tense while she knitted them. The wine goes fast. They fall asleep leaning on each other and wake up holding hands.
Back to work.
Lois hasn’t worked on another story in four months. She only pauses her research when Superman turns up, and then only to gather the relevant details to add to her data. Some days Lois feels that she will never work on another story; this story is forever.
Angie needs a shower. She’s exhausted and her entire body has been low key vibrating for days from over-caffeination. But her work is almost done. Once she delivers this program to Lois, they’ll be on even footing. Finally.
Lois watches Angie working. Tired of socks, she casts on a shawl. She uses her finest yarn, a cashmere blend that was hand dyed by a woman in the Pacific Northwest. It’s beautiful, like Angie. Lois thinks some rain would be nice. She gets into a rhythm with the knitting; it lets her tune out the world. Usually she uses that quiet to solve a problem, but now Angie is solving her problem. Lois lets her mind be quiet. It’s a strange and lovely feeling.
Lois looks up, confused.
Angie nods. “Done.”
Angie stands up, giving Lois the chair. Lois sits, nerves buzzing.
“What do I do?”
“You just click ‘compile’.”
Two words appear on the computer screen in front of her:
Confused, Lois, looks up at Angie, whose face is contorted.
“I don’t understand.”
“I don’t either. Unless you’re Superman.”
“I’m pretty sure I’m not.”
Lois sits, confounded, for another minute. Angie paces.
Where did I go wrong? both women wonder.
Lois stands up, knocking over her chair. She goes back to the murder wall. Grabs a notebook. Starts taking notes. Angie makes coffee.
There’s still work to be done.