Chapter Thirty-five

Tony was disappointed that Kevin was not at home. He had hoped he would have an opportunity to ask Kevin about his 'black-caped, red, super-hero' costume. As he drove down the road, Tony glanced at the police report lying on the seat beside him. The incident at the Hinkley home was the freshest lead he had in this vandalism case. Could Kevin actually be the mysterious 'Superman' behind all this? Could Kevin be capable of causing this kind of damage?

Tony shook his head. The Kevin he knew would never intentionally do the kinds of things this 'superman' had done, especially on purpose. This is five years worth of vandalism here, Tony recalled. Five years… five years? That would make Kevin only ten years old at the time of some of these earlier vandalism incidents! It couldn't be Kevin! he realized. The incident report was useless! Kevin must have been dressed up in some hokey red Halloween superhero costume goofing off with his friends, Tony reasoned. That makes more sense than Kevin busting through windows and pulling down clotheslines. It must be some other character, he concluded. But who?

Tony's mind wandered as he continued down the street heading back toward the Bureau.

Approaching from the opposite direction, pedaling as fast as he could, was a blonde, curly-haired teen-aged boy on a bike. The teen reminded Tony of Kevin Hinkley. Could it be him? he wondered.

Without a second thought, Tony jerked the car around and followed the boy on the bike to his home.

The boy rode up the Hinkley's front lawn and leapt off the bike tossing it carelessly aside.

Tony watched as the front door opened and Ralph, Pam and Bill ran out to greet Kevin.

"Where is it, Kevin? Where's the red jammies!" Bill frantically demanded.

"Bill!" Ralph scowled at Bill.

Kevin shrugged his shoulders as he ran into the house with a worried expression on his face.

'Red jammies'? Tony repeated. The words struck him cold. They're worried about red pajamas? Tony wondered. No. That's not it at all, is it?

RedpajamasRed jammies.

Ralph? Ralph! We have no time to lose; you gotta get into your red jammies and come with me to the Bureau! Bill's words reverberated in Tony's mind as he sat in his car across the street from the Hinkley home.

Suddenly he knew.

Chapter Thirty-six

Kevin ran into the house and straight to the dresser in his room to look for the red super suit. "It's not here," he said, looking puzzled.

"Think! Kevin, where did you put it after you took it off last night," Ralph said calmly.

"I put it right here on my dresser," Kevin answered firmly, pointing to the only bare spot on his dresser. "I'm sure I did," he said sounding as if he were trying to convince himself.

"Well, Kevin, you must have put it someplace else because it's not there now…" Ralph shot back impatiently. "You know Kevin, you really need to pick up this room," Ralph commented as he picked up a crumbled shirt that had been draped over an open dresser drawer.

"Dad…" Kevin stopped short. "Does the suit have powers to move by itself?" he asked worriedly.

"No, of course not Kevin, don't be ridiculous," Ralph answered without thinking. "At least it never did before…. Now Kevin, let's just go over everything that happened last night."

"Well, the guys waited in here, while I talked to you out in the living room about the suit… then I came back to my room and got changed out of the suit. I left it on the dresser and joined everyone in the living room to watch the movie," Kevin said carefully. "After the guys left last night, I went to bed."

"Did you notice if the suit was on your dresser last night before you went to bed?" Pam asked gently.

"I don't … wait a minute! It wasn't there last night. I'm sure of it! It was not there! I thought you had taken it back," Kevin insisted.

Ralph shook his head, "No, I haven't seen it since you were wearing it," he said, turning to Pam.

"I didn't touch it," Pam added.

"What's that?" Bill asked, pointing to the floor area beneath the dresser.

Kevin bent down and pulled out a pair of shoes.

"Those are your shoes, Ralph!" Bill said excitedly. He dropped to his knees on the floor and began pulling everything out from underneath the dresser. "Where is it? Where's the suit?" he demanded as he searched anxiously.

"Here Dad," Kevin said, handing the shoes to his father. "You won't find the suit under there, Mr. Maxwell," Kevin answered. "It's gone."

Bill slowly rose to his feet with a worried look on his face. "It's gone? You're telling me that the red suit that the aliens gave us… is gone?"

Chapter Thirty-seven

Tony returned to his apartment with a carton filled with the FBI vandalism case files and assorted police reports. Tony was sure he knew who was masquerading around town as the mysterious superman; he just wasn't sure why. He knew the answer would come to him in time. He also knew he couldn't go to Maxwell about this until he had all his facts straight, and that was exactly what he planned to do, even if it took all weekend to do it.

Tony carefully placed the heavy carton on the floor in the dining room of his apartment and pulled out the first file folder. This file was the incident at the bureau that Carlisle had reported about five years ago. Tony recalled that Carlisle had given a detailed description of the costumed intruder. He opened the file and skimmed over the report. It read, 'The man had blonde curly hair, blue eyes, light complexion, his height was about 5'11, non-threatening…'. Tony smiled. This was a good description.

He put the file folder down and reached into the carton for the information on the vandalism claim at the Palmdale Hotel from last year. The description given was nearly identical word-for-word, and read, "He was about 5'11 with blonde curly hair, average build. He was dressed like Superman…". Tony smiled again. This is just as he had expected.

Tony continued to dig through the files and compare the descriptions of the man in the red suit, and the circumstances surrounding these cases. Not surprisingly, the descriptions of the costumed man matched. Not one case or incident reported a man as anything but a blonde curly-topped man wearing a red 'superman' suit.

Next, Tony compiled any detailed information he could find on 'a red costumed superman' given to the FBI by convicted criminals. Even though most men were deemed 'insane' and sent to the Psychiatric Ward or Sanitarian for treatment, their statements all testified of a man answering the same description.

Tony began to notice that Agent Bill Maxwell solved many of these cases. Even though Maxwell received the credit for solving these cases single-handedly, many of the arrested criminals attested to the fact that a mysterious 'superman' was very much Maxwell's partner.

There was no question that this man existed. There was no doubt as to who this man was. This confirmed exactly what Tony already suspected: Bill Maxwell and Ralph Hinkley were more than friends; they were partners.

Tony rubbed his eyes. Weary from hours of sifting through case files, Tony collapsed on the couch in his living room. He yawned and stretched out full-length on the courch..

Tony sighed. There were still too many unanswered questions.

Wanting a distraction, he reached over and grabbed the remote control. He clicked on the television, not paying any attention to the television screen. The sounds of gunshots filled the room.

"Sorry gentlemen, your bullets won't work on me…" Tony heard a familiar voice calmly announce.

Tony glanced at the television screen. An episode of The Adventures of Superman was on. Tony watched Superman calmly stand in place with his arms folded confidently across his chest, smiling at his assailant. Bullets bounced off his chest as Superman waited patiently for the last bullet to be expelled. As always, the assailant quickly ran out of bullets, panicked and took off running for his life.

Tony smiled. He knew what came next. As in every other Superman episode, Superman easily caught up to the criminal, subdued him, and handed him over to the police.

As his eyelids grew heavy, sleepiness overtook Tony and he drifted into a peaceful sleep.

In his dreams, Tony saw Mr. Hinkley dressed in the red suit with black cape. He was running down a street, chasing a bank robber. As he ran, he carelessly knocked garbage cans over and pulled clotheslines down. He tumbled and tripped, crashing into parked cars, denting them and accidentally bending antennas. In spite of his clumsiness, Mr. Hinkley managed to keep up with the criminal. With one giant leap, he rose up into the air and began to fly, soaring like an eagle.

Suddenly, Mr. Hinkley fell to the ground, landing atop of the bank robber. Bill Maxwell appeared just in time to slap handcuffs on the man and arrest him, as Mr. Hinkley faded into the background.

Chapter Thirty-eight

"Kevin, what do you mean, the suit is gone?" Ralph asked his son.

Kevin looked down, "I… think Scott has it," he answered sheepishly.

"What? You gave the super suit to some irresponsible kid?" Bill said incredulously. "Ralph, this is getting way out of hand here."

"Hold on a minute, Bill. I'll take care of this," Ralph said, not taking his eyes off his son. "What happened, Kev?"

"I didn't mean to give it to him… I mean… well… it was before I knew what the suit could do, Dad. I didn't much care for the suit, especially after the cop called me 'superboy'. I felt like a walking joke. All the guys thought it looked great, but I still felt foolish. Scott, especially, liked it and asked if he could borrow it since I didn't like it. After we were locked out of the house, cutting your dinner date with Pam short, I wasn't sure you'd even let me go to the costume party. So, when Scott asked if he could borrow the costume, I told him he could. I'm sorry, Dad. I'll get it back from him. Don't worry."

Kevin left his bedroom to go call Scott.

"Looks like he doesn't like the suit any more than you do, Ralph," Pam commented as they left Kevin's room.

"Can't say I blame him," Ralph replied.

Kevin hung up the phone just as they entered the kitchen. "Scott and his mom were just on their way out. Scott said they could swing by here to drop off the suit. He thinks I'm wearing it to the party on Saturday night, Dad."

"Ralph, the kid can't wear the suit. Who knows what will happen? He might ruin it!" Bill grumbled.

"Bill, we don't even have the suit back yet…" Ralph answered.

"They should be here soon, I'll go outside and wait for them," Kevin said, glad for an excuse to leave the room. He didn't know how Maxwell and his dad managed to get anything done with all that arguing. If he had the suit, it would be different. No one would tell him what to do.

Kevin sat down on the front steps, waiting for Scott and his mom to arrive. He looked around. Mrs. Jensen was sitting outside on her porch reading a book. She seemed to sense Kevin looking her way and looked up from her book.

"Good afternoon, Mrs. Jensen," Kevin called across the way.

"Good afternoon, Kevin," she responded, with a wave. "Would you like a chocolate chip cookie?" she asked, pointing to a small plate of cookies on the table beside her.

"No thanks, Mrs. Jensen," he answered politely.

"Hi, Kevin!"

Kevin turned to see who had called him. Kevin froze.

Crossing the street in front of his house was Tracy Thompson. She was heading his way, coming right to him!

What was he going to do? What should he say? He tried to remain calm. "Hi, Tracy," he said, trying to sound friendly, as he rose to his feet.

Kevin shifted his weight nervously from one foot to another. Here he was, alone with Tracy Thompson! The moment had finally come for him to talk to her without the guys hanging around to harass him… and he couldn't think of a single thing to say! He couldn't believe it. What a jerk she must think I am, he thought.

"Did you hear that they changed the Freshman Halloween contest from tonight to next Saturday night?" Tracy asked hesitantly.

"Uh… yeah. I hear there weren't enough parental volunteers available to chaperone the contest and the party afterwards," Kevin replied, relieved that Tracy broke the awkward silence.

"Mrs. Johnson tried to get my parents to chaperone, but they are always too busy," Tracy commented, moving closer to Kevin.

Kevin could smell the sweet scent of her perfume. "Oh…? then you're not going," Kevin replied disappointed.

"Oh no, I can go. It's just my parents that can't make it," Tracy said matter-of-factly. "If you're going, maybe we can go together," she suggested shyly.

Did he hear that right? Tracy Thompson wants to go to the party with him?

"Sure," Kevin answered happily. "But, we'll have to leave for the contest a little early because my dad and step-mom are chaperones."

Just then, Scott's mom's station-wagon pulled into the Hinkley's driveway. Scott's mom waved, "Hi Kevin! who's you're little friend?" she said warmly, remaining seated in the driver's seat of the idling car.

Kevin caught the knowing smirk on Scott's face as his gaze shifted back and forth between him and Tracy.

"Mrs. Emerson, this is my friend, Tracy Thompson. Tracy, this is Scott's mom, Mrs. Emerson," Kevin said politely.

"Tracy Thompson? You wouldn't be related to Albert and Anise Thompson, would you?" Mrs. Emerson asked in awe.

"Nice to meet you, Mrs. Emerson," Tracy said, walking over to the car with her hand extended. "Hi, Scott," she said, peering through the window. Tracy returned her attention to Mrs. Emerson, "Yes, they're my parents," Tracy answered politely. "Do you know them?"

"Oh, no… not personally. I heard the news of the jewelry thefts at their stores. My goodness, three thefts in two weeks. I'm sorry to hear of their bad fortune. Have they by any chance caught the robbers yet?"

Tracy glanced down at her feet before answering, "No, there hasn't been any news," she answered quietly.

"Well, I'm sure they'll have it solved in no time, honey," Mrs. Emerson said, confidently.

"Thank you," Tracy replied, moving closer to Kevin.

"Have you got the costume?" Kevin asked, changing the subject, sensing Tracy's discomfort at Mrs. Emerson's questions.

"Oh, yes! Where's my mind?" Mrs. Emerson said, turning her attention to Scott. "Scott, why don't you hop out and hand the boy his costume," she instructed.

Scott opened the car door and carried the red super-suit to Kevin.

"Kevin, I'm so glad you'll be going to the costume party after all," Mrs. Emerson said fondly. "I must say, that really is an amazing costume you've got there. A superman costume, very clever. I am sure you will look adorable in it. I've never seen that type of fabric before; did your mom sew the costume herself or have someone else make it?"

"No, my mom doesn't sew. Thank you for the compliment," Kevin answered nervously. He knew it was not a good idea to be answering questions about this suit, especially since he was sure his dad wouldn't want him to wear it to a party.

"Can I see it?" Tracy asked with interest, taking the red suit from Scott. She held it up and let it unfold.

Kevin watched the expression on her face turn from curiosity to admiration.

"Kevin, this costume is incredible! I can't wait to see it on you. You'll win the contest for sure!" she said enthusiastically.

"Well, I don't know… " Kevin replied, not sure how to tell her he was not going to be wearing it to the party.

"You'll certainly give Scott's costume a run for the money!" Mrs. Emerson said teasingly.

"Mom…." Scott said in a warning tone of voice that suggested his mom was embarrassing him.

"It's okay, son," she answered confidently, addressing Scott. "Your costume is no big secret."

"Oh? What are you going as?" Tracy asked Scott, oblivious to his reddening face.

Everyone looked expectantly at Scott and the humiliated teen was forced to answer.

"A duck," he answered, gritting his teeth.