Feb. 7th, 2007

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It began with two simple words: LUTHOR ESCAPES!  It was the headline on practically every newspaper in the US,  On the night of March 26, 1990, the master criminal once again left the custody of the penal system, this time by disguising himself as the man who delivers fresh lettuce to the prison.  No one could explain how he got out of his cell, or where he got the makeup.  And while the warden was called to the carpet, all of America wondered what Luthor would do next.  Including Knox.

Two days later, a device with a recording from Lex arrived at the <i>Daily Planet</i>, addressed to Lois Lane.  He promised that he would "make a fool of Superman for April Fool's Day" and that he wanted to give Lois the scoop since she seemed to make a fool of herself for Supes.  Knox read about this and imagined the angry face Lois had made at this.  He also realized that Lex most likely had invented the MP3, over a decade ahead of schedule, and wondered just why some people couldn't just make their money through things besides taunting Superman.

April 1 dawned warm and sunny in Metropolis, and bleak but mild in Gotham.  All of Metropolis was wondering what Lex was going to do, with a bit of trepidation but also a sense that Superman would be up to the challenge.  Gotham, Knox noted while dealing with a host of other things on his mind (like paperwork for the mortgage and researching homeless shelters in the city), really didn't care about the strange rivalry between hero and villain.  Knox thought that alone was worthy of a column, even as he wished he were still in the newsroom to get immediate word of when Luthor had done his prank.

No one really noticed that the wind had shifted in both cities till around 2 pm.  The sun vanished behind thick clouds that seemed a little out of season.  Temperatures fell below freezing.  And snow began to fall by nightfall.  But only along the Goth-Met corridor.  It remained seasonable in Boston and Philly.  

By morning, the blizzard of '90 had dumped three feet of thick snow on both cities.  And word trickled in from Metropolis of an incredible battle on an offshore platform between Superman and a giant purple and green robot armed with a weather ray.  If it wasn't clear before, it would be after Jimmy Olsen's photo of Superman flying to City Hall with the robot over his head and with a rather embarrassed Lex Luthor under his left arm.  This was Lex's April Fool's Day gag.  And the super-genius had lost control of it.  The plan, it would emerge, was only to snow on a few spots in Metropolis and draw out Supes for a battle.  Knox, snowbound like everyone else in the two great cities, watched the news as Superman explained to the public that things would be okay after a few days, that he would personally see to it that food reached both cities.  When asked why it snowed in Gotham, Supes just shrugged.   Knox knew why, though.  Gotham ALWAYS gets it on the chin.

And so began the very harried week to forever be known as Gotham's Big Dig.  Thousands were without power, or water.  Roofs were close to collapse in many places.  Police and firefighters and sanitation men were pushed to the limit.  And Knox found himself hired on a freelance basis by <i>PM</i> to help with the coverage of the ordeal.  He followed the plowmen across the city, watched as the National Guard rolled in, and marveled as Superman flew overhead, carrying a tanker truck full of milk.  He interviewed a soft-spoken expert in cryonics named Victor Friese, a slight, balding man with huge glasses and an Austrian accent who admitted that he didn't think what Luthor did was possible.  He trudged about in his heavy leather coat and in old snowboots, raced to meet his deadlines, and watched as for the first time in ages, Gotham City pulled together.  The recall election, the scandals, the crime, were forgotten as the shovels and salt and strange level of good cheer emerged.

Oh, and he tracked the Bat.  The stories of daring rescues spread as it became clear that Batman was doing everything he could to save lives.  The fearsome avenger gave way in the public's mind for the first time and was replaced by a genuine hero.  The only people doing  more for the city were Superman and Bruce Wayne, who threw all of his resources behind the Big Dig.  Knox was even there for the impromptu press conference where the Man of Steel and Gotham's richest man shook hands and thanked each other.  And it was odd how Supes seemed to defer to Wayne.  Clearly, Bruce Wayne must be doing something right for Superman to give him his due.

By April 6, Gotham and Metropolis were back to their usual selves.  The latter was as good as ever, and waiting for Luthor to make a statement (where he apologized only for letting his sense of whimsy get out of hand, in exchange for a reduced sentence).  The former reverted to her usual state of gloom and decay, as the criticism of City Hall's handling of the blizzard snowballed in a matter of days.  All the while, Knox wrote one story after another, and had the time of his life.  Every so often, he wondered if there was time to find a door to  Milliways and get a beer, but for the moment, he felt his place was in his city.

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November 2011

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