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The Evil Stepmother's Manifesto
by Hazel von Nolastname
Author's note: If you're looking for continuity, this belongs in the pre-revelation days. If you're looking for a serious story, look somewhere else. :)
Lois hung up the phone and swiveled in her chair to face Clark. "Well, all that hard work finally paid off," she announced smugly. "Come on, Smallville! We've got an interview down at the prison."
Clark grabbed his jacket and followed Lois toward the elevator. "Don't tell me you managed to get an interview with Emma Jackson!" he exclaimed.
Lois shot him a triumphant grin. "The paperwork will go through by this afternoon and she'll be released, but she agreed to speak to us first."
"She hasn't spoken to anyone since the kids were arrested," Clark marveled. "Dare I ask how you managed to pull this latest scoop out of your pocket?"
"As one wronged woman to another," Lois said airily, "Ms. Jackson is willing to tell me the inside story."
Clark just barely avoided rolling his eyes at this. "I don't think you've been half as wronged as she's been," he said dryly. Then, seeing the glint in her eyes, he added hastily, "But I could see how you might feel that way."
Lois stabbed huffily at the elevator button, then relented. "All right, nearly getting killed by every villain-of-the-week that comes into town isn't half as bad as being ruthlessly framed by a couple of delinquents and jailed, not to mention being divorced by her clueless husband based on false testimony. But she *does* see me as a sympathetic fellow victim of sorts. If it works, why argue?"
Clark, who had long since learned that working with Lois meant not arguing, wisely refrained from comment. "Did you get any hint that she plans to sue for false arrest?" he asked instead. The elevator dinged, and the two of them stepped inside.
Lois shook her head as she pressed the button for the parking garage. "That might come later, of course. But right now, it looks like Ms. Jackson just wants to go home." She sighed. "Not that I'm sure exactly where 'home' is for her right now."
"The ex-husband went back to Norway after the children were convicted, didn't he?"
"Do you think he'll come back, then, to offer Ms. Jackson his support?" Clark's mouth twisted into a grimace of distaste. "He might be so convinced of his children's innocence that he'll still deny their guilt. He certainly seemed oblivious enough at the time."
Lois frowned at this suggestion. "He might," she said doubtfully. "It's hard to say. Considering the background, Olafsson might be too blind to recognize the truth right in front of him."
Clark shifted uncomfortably at this choice of phrase. Fortunately for him, the elevator chose that moment to arrive at the parking garage. He quickly stepped forward, heading towards the Jeep that Lois always parked in just the right spot for a strategic getaway.
"We'd better make sure we have all our facts straight before we talk to her," he suggested, trying to change the subject.
"Right." Lois strode ahead of him and unlocked the Jeep doors. "Well, Ms. Jackson's involvement in all this starts three years ago when she married Henrik Olafsson, an immigrant from Norway who settled in the rural community of Andersen, New Troy." She shot a glance at Clark as he settled himself into the passenger seat. "Of course, you'd know all about Andersen. It sounds like a local Smallville."
Clark, buckling his seat belt, merely grinned. "Well, Andersen has all those woods. We're more into corn."
Lois snorted and fit the key into the ignition. "Yeah, right. Anyway, Olafsson had two children from a previous marriage, aged fourteen and fifteen at the time. The mother had died about eighteen months before Ms. Jackson came on the scene." She stopped for a moment, an arrested look on her face. "Clark, you don't think those kids had anything to with *that*, do you?"
"I admit I did wonder about it during the trial," Clark said, a bit reluctantly. "Considering their subsequent behavior, it might be possible."
"Gah." Lois shook her head as she drove out into the sunlight. "I know that teenage delinquency is on the rise, but to think that those kids might have killed two women, not just one..." She shivered. "Olafsson must have been a really *lousy* parent. Permissive, doting, letting his children get away - literally - with murder!"
"I don't think you can blame it all on Olafsson," Clark protested. "It can't be easy to bring up two teenagers on your own."
"Yeah, well, we can't all have parents like yours," Lois muttered.
"My mom and dad are the best parents in the world," Clark agreed readily, "but that doesn't make Olafsson the guilty party here. No matter how lousy his parenting skills, it was his children who chose to behave as they did." He glanced at Lois, then added carefully, "Besides, I've known a few cases where children, even those whose parents weren't exactly always there for them, managed to grow into mature, successful adults."
Lois, braking for a traffic light, gave him a sideways smile of twisted appreciation.
"Okay, so we've got Emma Jackson marrying Henrik Olafsson," Clark continued. "The two kids resented the marriage from the beginning - that much is clear enough. They'd only been married for about three months before the children started their accusations."
Lois drummed her fingers on the steering wheel. "They accused her of abuse, neglect, abandonment - you name it, they claimed it."
"The part I don't understand is why they were so easily believed," Clark said with a touch of sadness. "Of course, protecting innocent children should be a top priority of the system. But there was never any proof, was there?"
"Not hardly," Lois agreed grimly. "They got lost in the woods, and they claimed she'd deliberately left them there to starve. She locks the door at night like any sensible woman, and they accuse her of imprisoning them against their will. I don't know what the judge was smoking when he put her in jail!"
"Olafsson didn't help," Clark pointed out. "He swallowed every insinuation whole. By the time those two were finished manipulating him, he really believed that his new wife was the classic wicked stepmother you find in fairy tales. When the father is so solidly on the children's side, what do you expect the judge to do?"
"So they lock her away for child abuse, despite her protestations of innocence and lack of proof," Lois sighed. "And six months later, the kids run away from home, find an old woman living alone, and kill her."
"It was so senseless." Clark shook his head. "Sarah Coven couldn't have possibly been any threat to them. She was just an elderly woman with a sweet tooth, living by herself near the woods."
"And they broke into her home," Lois said quietly, "helped themselves to her food, ransacked her belongings for any valuables, and gassed her in her own oven."
Clark swallowed back a surge of nausea. "I'm just glad they were finally caught before they could harm anyone else. If they hadn't tried to sell some antique items that were easily recognized as Sarah Coven's, Emma Jackson might still be in prison, and Hansel and Gretel Olafsson still at large."
"It makes you wonder, doesn't it?" Lois said reflectively. "Look at how Ms. Jackson was painted so black by those kids and the media. In the end, it turns out she was innocent. Who knows? Maybe all those 'wicked stepmothers' in the fairy tales were innocent, too." She took one hand off the steering wheel to wave it in the air. "How much do you want to bet that Snow White's stepmother really just sent her off to the local nunnery, and the ungrateful kid ran off to some commune in the woods?"
Clark smothered a laugh. "And the poisoned apple, Lois? Where does that one fit in?"
"Pesticides, perhaps," Lois said, grinning. She trod on the brakes, bringing the Jeep to a screeching halt just outside the women's prison. "I would say that every fairy tale out there can be explained easily enough. Now, the prince coming to sweep the princess off into the sunset - that's *definitely* only a storybook tale." A wistful look crept across her features. "Too bad it can't happen in real life."
Clark sat still for a long moment, even as Lois turned off the ignition and scrambled out of the Jeep. "Some day, Lois," he said softly. "Some day, I'll make that come true for you, too."
Hazel Von Nolastname is an FDK addict. You can support her habit by e-mailing her and encouraging her to write more material for Fanzing!
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This piece is © 2003 by Hazel von Nolastname
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