Final Forgiveness 2: Perry's Story (4/5)
by Alicia U.

Lois immersed herself into the file before her and hardly noticed when Clark entered the newsroom. When he put a hand on her shoulder, she nearly jumped out of her chair.

When Lois regained her composure, she noticed the haunted look in Clark’s eyes. “What’s wrong, honey?”

Clark looked almost reluctant to speak. Finally the pleading look in Lois’ eyes made him speak. “Lois, honey, Alice White had been in an accident just a few minutes ago. I got there in time and flew her to the hospital. Don’t worry, she’s okay, but she’s hurt.”

Lois’ face turned bone white and she gasped for air. She felt like someone had punched her right in the gut and sucked the air out of her lungs. “What? What happened? Does Perry know?”

Clark took a deep breath. “She’ll be okay.” Lois breathed a sigh of relief. “I got there in time. Thank God.”

Jimmy approached the couple with a huge grin on his face. Lucy had just agreed to go out with him! And she seemed just as excited as he was about it. He wiped the happy expression from his face when he saw that Lois was near tears and that Clark just looked wiped out. “Lois, CK, what’s wrong?”

Clark took another deep breath, telling the story just got harder every time and now he couldn’t tell the whole story because Jimmy did not know he was Superman. “Jimmy, Alice White was in an accident. She’s going to be fine, but it was a nasty accident.”

Jimmy clutched Lois’ desk for support. “What?”

“I was walking back here and when I was at the corner of Fourth and Eucild when I heard car wheels screeching. I turned around to see a red Corvette crashing a red light and smashing a blue Ford Probe. The Probe looked familiar, but I couldn’t remember if I knew anyone that had a Probe until Superman arrived. He pulled Mrs. White out of the car, and flew her to the hospital. I had no idea what was wrong with her until I talked to Superman later.”

Lois squeezed Clark’s hand encouraging him to continue his story. Jimmy listened in silence, afraid that if he moved he would surely fall over in shock.

Clark continued, “The man driving the Corvette was hurt a lot worse than Alice was, though. Superman had a hard time getting him out of the car. He was completely unconscious and there was blood oozing from his mouth. Superman told me he was Christopher Loparo. There was a car chasing Loparo’s car and that’s why Loparo crashed the red.”

“Christopher Loparo? You’ve got to be kidding me! Is he okay? Did Superman catch the car that was chasing him?” Lois exclaimed. “No, wait, how’s Alice?”

Clark took another deep breath. “She’s stable. Broken ankle, broken wrist, some nasty cuts and bruises, but she’s okay.”

Jimmy and Lois collectively heaved a sigh of relief. “Does the Chief know?” Jimmy wondered.

Clark shook his head. “I don’t think so. Look at the way he’s smiling and whistling in his office.”

Lois frowned, “Do you think we should tell him?”

Clark bit his lower lip. “Yeah, I think we have to. He might take it better if he hears it from someone he knows.”

Lois, Jimmy, and Clark all nodded in agreement.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

In the relative privacy of his office, Perry tapped his pen merrily against his desk humming along to The King. He tried to keep his mind focused on his work, but he could not keep his mind from wandering. Dinner tonight with Alice was going to be wonderful. He promised himself that this time it was going to be different, so different. Even if they never got back together, he just wanted to make up for everything he had done wrong in their thirty-some years of marriage. For whatever reason, he couldn’t figure out, Alice had finally decided to talk to him, to let him prove that he was a different man now. And he still loved her, God, how he still loved her. He never stopped loving her, and he knew that he would still do anything in his power to protect her from all the world’s evils from this moment on.

When he looked out into his newsroom, he was troubled to see that Lois, Clark, and Jimmy were all staring at his office, each looking like they wanted to move, but none wanting to take the first step. Perry folded his arms over his chest in his best ‘I am in charge and you’d better listen to me’ position and walked to the door. “Lane, Kent, Olsen, get your hides in here.”

He would have almost laughed at them had they not been wearing expressions of such uncertainty and pain. What could have possibly caused them to act like this? What did they know that he didn’t know? They all hesitated not wanting to be first into Perry’s office. In fact, Jimmy tried to hide behind Clark and Lois turned her eyes away from him avoiding the inevitable pain that would occur if she made eye contact with him. Right then Perry knew that something was terribly wrong. Lois never avoided eye contact with anyone unless she had horribly bad news.

Perry took a deep breath. Obviously there was something wrong here. What could have happened to make all three of them, the three employees he though of like his own surrogate children, so uncomfortable around him that they could not even look him in the eyes? He took a deep breath and hollered, “Now, kids, get the lead out! Or else you’ll all be whistlin’ Dixie down at the unemployment office!”

Lois led the way into Perry’s office and when she was next to Perry, she immediately, almost impulsively, took his hand. Perry wasn’t sure what to make of her gesture, but all he knew was that it was sure making him nervous. He cleared his throat and demanded, “Now would one of you please tell me what’s going on?”

Lois and Jimmy both looked at Clark who was staring intently at the ground. Perry barked almost to the point of desperation, “Clark, you can tell me. What’s wrong, son?”

Clark took a deep breath and let it out slowly. Why did he always get nominated to deliver the hard news? Why did he always have to experience pain first hand? But Perry had to be told, and Clark wanted to do it before anyone from the hospital called. “Chief, I was walking by the corner of Fourth and Euclid just a few minutes ago and I witnessed an accident. Perry, it was Alice.”

Perry turned white and he began to shake. “Tell me she’s all right, son.
For the love of God, please tell me she’s okay.”

Clark smiled shakily. “She’s okay, Chief. But Superman told me that she has a broken leg, a broken wrist, and some cuts and bruises. She’s going to be in pain for a while, but she is fine.”

Perry let out a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding and opened his mouth to speak. Just as Perry was about to speak, the phone rang.

Perry lunged for the phone and picked it up before it rang twice.

“Hello?” Perry prayed that it was Alice calling.

A welcome voice came through the phone, “Hi, Perry…”

Perry heaved a sigh of relief. “Oh, God, Alice, Darlin’, it’s so good to hear your voice. Clark just told me what happened.”

Jimmy, Lois, and Clark all exited quietly, leaving Perry to talk to Alice in private.

“I don’t know what happened, Perry. There was a red car that came out of nowhere and hit me. Thank God Superman get there so quickly!”

“Alice, are you okay?”

“It hurts; it hurts really bad, but I can handle it. They’ve hopped me up on a lot of pain medicine. They told me I broke my leg and my wrist, but my ribs hurt the worst. But they told me that I only bruised them.”

Perry’s breath caught in his throat again. What pain she must be in. He only wished that he could have helped her or even that it could have been him instead of her in this position. “Oh, Alice. I’m so sorry.”

“Perry, you have nothing to be sorry for. It was a freak accident. It could have happened to anyone.”

“Yeah, but it shouldn’t have happened to *you!* Where are you?”

“I’m at Mercy Hospital in the Emergency Room. They haven’t given me my casts yet. I’ll probably be here for a while yet.”

“Okay, honey, I’m leaving now, so I’ll be there in ten minutes at most.”

“Perry, you don’t have to do this. I’m fine. You have a paper to run.”

Perry knew Alice was probably testing him to see how he would respond. “Damn the paper, Alice. Lois and Clark know what to do. I need to be with you right now.”

Perry could almost hear the smile in her voice when she said, “Okay, Perry, I’ll be here. I’m not going anywhere any time soon.”

As Perry was hanging up the phone, he was already grabbing his jacket and briefcase. When he reached the door, he bellowed, Lois, Clark, you’re in charge. The evening edition is all set; all you have to do is put the paper to bed. I’ll be at Mercy Hospital, page me if you need me. He reached the elevator and left before anyone had the opportunity to respond.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

In nine minutes flat, Perry arrived at Mercy Hospital and barreled into the Emergency Room’s waiting room. He immediately ran to the information desk and asked, “I’m looking for my wife, Alice White. Where is she? Is she okay?”

The young woman behind the desk smiled at Perry and said, “Let me check the computer. Yes, she’s here waiting for a doctor to see her. I can take you back to her if you want.”

Perry breathed another sigh of relief. If he was allowed to see her, then it couldn’t be that bad. “Thank you, Miss, I’d appreciate it.”

She led Perry down a long white corridor to a set of curtained off rooms. She led him to the furthest curtain, and left when he walked up to Alice’s bed.

Alice looked horrible, frankly. She had two black eyes, a long jagged cut across her forehead, and another cut running up her left arm. Perry rushed to her side and grabbed her unbroken hand. “Alice, I’m so sorry.”

Alice squeezed Perry’s hand trying to reassure him that she wasn’t hurt as badly as it looked. “Perry, thank you for coming, but you have nothing to be sorry for.” At Perry’s strange look, she continued, “Really, you don’t. I’m so glad you came, I really can’t even put it into words, but I’m okay. I’m really okay.”

Perry heaved another sigh of relief. Alice was still alive and well if just a little worse for the wear. “So, when are they going to spring you from this joint?”

Alice smiled when she said, “I just have to wait to get my stupid casts on. How long does it take them to make a cast? It can’t be this long. I feel like I’ve been here forever. But they said that the doctor will discharge me as soon as they’re done.”

“I’d be happy to help you home. I could help you around the house ‘til you feel up to it.” Perry waited with bated breath for her response.

Alice shook her head. “What about the paper, Perry? You can’t leave it alone. I’m sure I can manage well enough for myself.”

Perry shook his head vehemently. “No, Alice, I meant it before when I said I was trying to change. That’s what I was going to tell you at dinner tonight. I’m trying to delegate more of my responsibilities so I can spend more time with the people I care about.” His eyes pleaded with her to understand. “Alice, honey, you have to believe me. I know you don’t want to get back together with me, but I do want to at least be friends again.” As Alice opened her mouth to speak, Perry cut her off, “No, let me finish. I love you, Alice. It’s just taken so long for me to realize that. I want you back in my life, honey, if only as a friend. I miss you more than words can describe. You complete me. Without you, I’m only half the man I once was.”

Alice’s breath caught in her throat. She wasn’t sure what to say. Sure, the last year without Perry in her life had been hell, but so had the last ten years of their marriage when Perry devoted his entire life to the paper. Oh, she wasn’t sure what she wanted. All the days they had been separated, she had longed for him to come to her and say just those words, but now that he was here and had actually uttered them, she wasn’t sure what to do. She had never planned to have Perry stumble back into her life; in fact, she had resigned herself to a life alone. Now that Perry had opened her mind back up to the thought of their reconciliation, Alice wasn’t sure what she wanted any more. Of course she wanted Perry back; after all, she had never stopped loving him. On the other hand, though, Perry had hurt her so badly that she wasn’t sure if she could ever trust him again.

Finally, Alice responded, “I don’t know what to say, Perry. I know I’ve never stopped loving you, that’s for sure. Perry, you old hound dog, you’ve hurt me so badly I don’t know what to do. If I let you into my life again, how do I know you won’t hurt me again?”

The pain was evident in his eyes as he said, “I know I’ve been such a bum to both you and the boys, but now I am trying to make amends, trying to put my life back together. Hell’s bells, Alice, can’t you see I’m putting my heart on the line here. Couldn’t we just be friends again? I’m not asking for a commitment or even a second thought, but I am asking for a chance. Please, Alice, I’m just a guy trying to put his life back together. I’m hangin’ out on a limb here.”

Alice sighed and felt her once iron-like resolute crack. “Okay, Perry, I’ll give you another chance. Just as friends, though. You can help me out this week, and only until I get back on my feet. But what about the paper?”

“Screw the paper, honey. My assistant editors can do the job for a while. And if they can’t, I know Lane and Kent will keep them on their heels. You’re what’s important here, darlin’.” Alice could tell by the look in his eyes that everything he had said was coming directly from his heart.

Alice cringed when she tried to smile, but Perry knew she was accepting his offer when she said, “Okay, Perry. I’ll give you this chance. But it doesn’t mean that I’m going to take you back. Yes, believe me, I want you in my life, but I don’t know if I can handle another broken heart.”

Perry gently ran his hand down her cheek careful to avoid the cuts and bruises. He gazed into her eyes with eyes full of hope and declared, “I love you, Alice. I always have and I always will.”

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Lucy paced around her mother’s house trying to calm her nerves about her date that night with Jimmy. A quick glance at her watch told her that she only had four hours and thirty-seven minutes until he was supposed to pick her up. Ellen watched her younger daughter from the kitchen and half-laughed every time Lucy glanced at her watch or turned on the television only to turn it off a second later. This was exactly the same was Ellen had behaved so many years ago when she waited for Sam to arrive for their first date. Ellen had known Sam was the man she would marry from the first time she set eyes on him, so she wanted to make the evening of their first date extra special. Today, she could tell that Lucy felt the same way. For Lucy’s sake, she prayed that Jimmy and Sam shared none of the same qualities and that he would treat her right for the rest of her life.

Ellen caught herself thinking that Jimmy and Lucy would get married. She laughed again, knowing that she had jumped ahead of herself. Who was to say if Jimmy and Lucy would end up the way she and Sam had? Ellen didn’t even know if Lucy and Jimmy were just going out as friends or if they were “more than friends.” But Lucy was a big girl and had to make decisions for herself, and from what she had gathered from her conversations with Lois and Clark, Jimmy Olsen was a decent young man with an aspiration to take the world of photo journalism by storm.

Lucy paced her way into the kitchen, and Ellen greeted her, “Lucy Lane, you are going to wear a hole in that carpet pretty soon.” She patted a chair next to her and continued, “Hot date tonight?”

Lucy rolled her eyes, but took the pre-offered chair gratefully. “Yeah, how’d you know? You talked to Lois, didn’t you?”

“No, dear. You know you and I are a lot more alike than either of us would like to admit.” Ellen smiled smugly. At Lucy’s doubtful look, she continued, “I used to act the same way before I’d go out on a first date, or any date for that matter. Honey, don’t worry everything’s going to be fine.”

Lucy sighed. She didn’t really want to be having this conversation with her mother, because she had a feeling that Ellen would use this conversation as a stepping-stone to confront her about her previous relationships. Lucy now realized that every one of her past relationships had been with men that were either white trash or something equivalent. Her psychologist that she saw in California had convinced her that she constantly seeked out men that would treat her poorly because that is what she had experienced all her life. She had an absence of a strong male role model during her childhood, and that was what attracted her to men of the same character as her father. Lucy still was not sure whether to believe that therapist or not, but she knew that she didn’t want to get into a discussion about her past loves with her mother.

Ellen surprised Lucy, though, when she said, “I know you’ve made mistakes in the past, but those are all behind you now. I just want you to be happy, sweetheart.”

A tear involuntarily rolled down Lucy’s cheek as she realized that her mother was being sincere. What a difference a few months could make. Before her father’s death, this would have sparked a major war between the two women, but today all Ellen offered was her support. Lucy smiled a shaky smile and tentatively reached out to her mother. Ellen met her half way and they hugged tightly, just happy to share each other’s company. It was a wordless, emotional next few minutes both women content to revel in their newfound companionship and understanding. To Lucy, this was probably the beginning of her new relationship with her mother, finally being able to share her life with her mother without the fear of scorn.