Clark Kent brings the bus to a stop and opens the door. A man dressed in rags steps up, his pungent aroma rushing in ahead of him.
"I, uh, lost my wallet," the man says, narrowing his eyes as if daring Clark to contradict him.
"Sorry, sir," replies Clark. "I can't let you ride for free."
"But I got no money!"
Clark resists the urge to correct his grammar and instead says, "I'm sorry, but you're going to have to get off the bus, sir." His resolve is already weakening.
"C'mon, man. It's minus thirty out there!" says the man.
Clark heaves a sympathetic sigh and motions the man onto the bus with an almost imperceptible nod of his head.
As he pulls the Regina Transit bus back into traffic, Clark tries to remember how he ended up here. It all started when Lois took the job with that bank. No. Earlier. It started when he got laid off from the Daily Planet. Times were tough and they were cutting back on "superfluous costs."
Is it ironic that Superman is superfluous? He thinks it might be, but can't quite remember the definition of irony.
Yes, that's where this all began. He got laid off and money was tight. Lois was still working at the Planet - she escaped the hatchet, probably because of her gender (not that he's bitter). But rent kept increasing and bills piled up. He would call it pathetic and cliché if it wasn't his life.
Lois thought Clark should use his abilities to get them some extra cash, but he felt awkward asking the police for money when he helped them with a case, and he refused to do anything illegal.
That's when Lois took the job with the bank. "There's more money in PR and communications than journalism," she had insisted. She was right - she usually is - but it still wasn't enough. He tried to get other work but, because of the recession, no one in Metropolis seemed to be hiring. He kept up with the crime-fighting thing, but mostly just to keep in shape. His heart wasn't in it any more, and he spent most of his days eating Doritos and watching Dr. Phil and Oprah.
When the bank bought a small Canadian credit card company with headquarters in the middle of the prairies, they needed someone to head up Canadian communications. Lois jumped at the opportunity.
"Think of how great it will be to go somewhere that hasn't been hit as hard by all this crap!" Lois had said. "Rent will be cheaper, businesses will be hiring - we'll finally be able to stop living like this!"
And, again, she was right. Things are a lot better. They have a huge apartment downtown and pay one third what they payed Metropolis. He tried to get a job with the local daily, the Leader Post, but they weren't hiring. He writes a column in the Prairie Dog, but it's just a bi-weekly so he had to find something else.
That's how it ended up that Superman (well really Clark Kent) drives the #3 bus route in Regina in the middle of the Canadian prairies. He doesn't mind it. The wide open spaces take him back to when he was a boy growing up in Kansas. The people have that same friendliness, something that was missing in Metropolis, and he doesn't seem to feel the cold like Lois does. Sure, his crime-fighting has suffered a bit. After all, Regina isn't exactly seething with murderers and evil masterminds. However, he has stopped a number of robberies and has recently started tackling the inner-city gang problem. Yes, he likes it here just fine.
"Hey driver!" a woman shouts from the back, yanking him out of his reverie. "You missed my stop!"
"Sorry about that, ma'am," Clark says, his cheeks hot. He stops the bus and lets her off. Looking around, he tries to get his bearings and determine where he is on his route. He realizes he had been driving on autopilot for several miles. Kilometres, he corrects himself.
He spots Tim Horton's a block ahead and a smile spreads on his face. That is his favourite stop. If he arrives early enough, he gets to run in, pee, and grab a double-double and maple glazed for the road.
Clark hums tunelessly, pulls back into traffic, and forges on ahead.