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Look, up in the sky! It’s an undocumented alien

Opinion Column

Photo by Jim Hendricks

Photo by Jim Hendricks

A meteor is hurtling toward the Earth. High atop the Daily Planet in Metropolis, a man dressed in blue and red emerges from the stairwell. He crouches into a four-point stance as he prepares to hurl himself into space, where he will divert the meteor and prevent mankind from the same devastation that obliterated the dinosaurs millions of years ago. Then, his super hearing detects words being spoken ...

“Uh, excuse me, Superman. I need to speak with you if I may,” a man, dressed in a suit and breathing heavily, says as he emerges from the stairway door on the rooftop. “You can really move up those steps. I almost lost you on the 39th floor.”

Superman gets out of his launch crouch and stands up. “Well, I was just about to fly off and ...”

“I understand, sir. I’m sure it’s all save-the-world-from-devastation stuff, but I’m kind of on a deadline here and I really need a few moments of your time.”

“Deadline?” Superman repeats. “That’s ironic, given my secret identity and all. This really isn’t a good time, what with death and annihilation only minutes away. Are you with the government?”

“I am.”

“This must be important then,” Superman says, taking a quick glance at the meteor with his telescopic vision. “Let’s see ... a mile wide, mostly iron ... some rock ... 80,000 miles per hour, it’s still several hundreds of thousands of miles out. OK, I guess a couple of minutes won’t hurt.”

“Splendid,” the government official says. “Just let me get my tablet turned on here. OK, now — and please note this is being recorded for quality purposes and, of course, for your protection. All right, this is Agent Sam Jones conducting an initial interview with,” turning to Superman, “please state your full name.”

“Most people just call me Superman.”

“Yeah, yeah, gotcha. I need to know what your mom called you.”

“My mother on the planet Krypton that exploded shortly after I was sent here on a rocket ship to fight for truth, justice and the American way, or the mother who adopted me and raised me when she and my adopted father discovered my smoldering spaceship wrecked in a Kansas corn field?”

“Let’s go with the Kryptonian name.”

“Kal-El. But you can call me Kal.”

“Thank you, Mr. El. We want to keep this on a professional level. Now, Mr. El, when did you land in Kansas?”

“I believe it was about three decades ago, as your world reckons time.”

“Splendid,” Agent Jones says. “And exactly when did you apply for citizenship?”

“I don’t follow.”

“Well, certainly you must have applied for citizenship.”

“I’ve always been a citizen. I was adopted.”

“Yessss ...” Agent Jones says. “Not sure how they handled this stuff back on Krypton, but that’s not how it works here. Let’s try another approach. I know this General Zod you just got into a nasty tussle with was some kind of authoritarian figure or another. Did you seek asylum in the United States because of political persecution?”

“Er,” Superman says, “not exactly. My birth father, Jor-El, thought it best that no one, especially Zod, knew where I was.”

“I see,” Agent Jones says. “Well, that’s going to be a bit of a problem. A sticky wicket, at the very least. Do you have a green card, Mr. El?”

“Uh, I got a red cape,” Superman says with a weak smile.

“Okaaay,” Jones says as he types on his tablet. “Kryptonian humor, I suppose. Probably leaves ‘em rolling in the Kandorian Lounge. You must think all of this is real funny, muscle guy.”

“No,” Superman says, again looking at the sky. “Listen, Agent Jones, that meteor’s getting kind of close and I really need to go ahead and divert it. Can I come down to your office later and we’ll hash all this out then?”

“I’m afraid not,” Jones says. “We’re going to have to ground you until all this is cleared up.”

“Ground me? I can’t fly?”

“Nope, it’s all written right here in the tablet. No flying for you until this gets cleared up. We can’t have illegal aliens ... excuse me, undocumented immigrants ... flying around willy-nilly. I’m afraid you’re under arrest and you’re going to have to come with me. In fact, we have agents out rounding up your co-conspirators — your so-called adoptive parents, Martha and Jonathan Kent — and we’re bringing in Perry White for hiring you without properly verifying your I-9 form.”

“Great Scott!” Superman exclaims in disbelief. “You know my secret identity?”

“Well, duh!” Agent Jones says. “You mean Clark Kent doesn’t read his own paper? Did you think PRISM was a super villain or something? We’ve got copies of your emails to your parents and to a Miss Lois Lane, along with your texts, like the one where Ma Kent said, ‘Clark, be sure you have on clean underwear when you tackle this General Zod, just in case you end up in the emergency room.’ Plus, she’s got pictures of you hoisting tractors and buses on her Facebook page. Once we knew where we needed to look, it all came together.”

“I knew that Facebook thing was a mistake.”

“Tell me about it. By the way, no leaping over tall buildings with a single bound; feats of strength involving, but not limited to, locomotives; racing speeding bullets, or bending bars of steel with your bare hands till we get all this sorted out,” Agent Jones says.

Superman looks down, bitterly defeated by regulation. “But the meteor ...”

Agent Jones looks up. “Oh, I’m sure Green Lantern or Batman or somebody’ll manage to handle that. If not, well, can’t be helped. Rules are rules.”

“Can you at least tell me who turned me in?”

“Not usually, but in this case the tipster said he was fine with letting you know,” Agent Jones says. “Fellow’s name’s Luthor, Lex Luthor. Great American. In fact, I hear he has an interview to head up the Obama administration’s surveillance program. I’d say he has a bright future there. Very bright indeed.”

Email Jim Hendricks at jim.hendricks@albanyherald.com.