Chapter 6 – The Chief is Not Happy
Max was surprised to see both 99 and the Chief in the Chief's office as he and the twins walked in. Another agent wheeled the three gold bars into the office on a hand truck. Max was expecting accolades from the Chief, but from the look on his face…
"Don't yell at the kids, Chief. They did everything by the book." Max started to say.
"Max, I don't know where to start. Maybe you better sit down before you cause an accident. Never mind…you ARE an accident."
Max thought the Chief's face looked a very odd colour. He sat down on the edge of the chair and it tipped over, spilling him on the floor. He got up and brushed his jacket off. He didn't like the look on 99's face either.
The twins were standing in the back of the office, near the door. They were about to back out when the Chief said, "You two are involved in this too. Sit down!" Sarah and Shawn took seats. They both looked a little scared.
"First of all Max, I left you in charge here today."
"So where have you been the last 6 hours?"
"I got a call that Agent 13 was kidnapped."
"And you had to go yourself? You couldn't send another agent?"
"That would have been a good idea," said Max.
"Another thing…why wasn't there anyone answering the phones in the office?"
"I transferred them to my shoe phone."
"Max, your shoe phone only has one extension. And by the way, you shoes are HERE in MY OFFICE, not with you!"
"True," said Max. He narrowed his eyes and seemed to be thinking very hard. He was really trying to come up with a good explanation, other than he hadn't thought things through very thoroughly.
"And why are you wearing my suit, Max? My best suit? The one that you ruined once before…the one that Sarah's wearing…"The Chief looked at her quizzically. "Sarah, why are you wearing my suit? And your shoes don't match…"
"Uncle Thad, I'm sorry…what happened is that Dad and I were answering calls like you said and then when we transferred all the calls to his shoes, there were too many calls and then we went down to the disguise room and dressed up like Peter Pan and Tinkerbelle…"
"You WHAT?" yelled the Chief. 99 was listening in silence, thinking she was in the Twilight Zone. Well, it wouldn't be the first time.
Sarah cringed when he yelled. Max stood up and leaned over the desk, looking threateningly at the Chief. "Chief, I'll thank you not to yell at my daughter! She was the one that broke this case, you know!" He pounded his fist on the desk. The effect was somewhat lessened by the fact that his hand was in the Chief's ashtray.
"Max, sit down!" The Chief was really mad. Max sat down trying to wipe the ashes from his hand and wearing his best I-know-I'm-right look.
Shawn spoke up. He had his arm around Sarah. "Uncle Thad, Sarah really did well today. She helped Dad solve the case."
"I appreciate that, Shawn. But Sarah, why did you desert your post? I put you in charge of answering phones. I expected that you would be able to do as good a job as Larrabee, and probably a lot better!"
"I'm sorry, Uncle Thad. I didn't mean to mess up. Does this mean I'm fired?"
"No, Sarah. You're not fired because you were never hired in the first place. However, I do think you have potential. I would like you to come back on Monday and fill out a real application for employment. I want you to continue to fill in for Larrabee until he returns and then I am sure we can find something else, at least for the summer."
Sarah brightened considerably and smiled. Her twin gave her a brotherly hug.
"Now, Sarah, that hinges on your promise to me that you will not go on any cases with your father, unless approved by me…" he glanced at 99…"and your mother. Do you understand?"
"Yes, sir," said Sarah humbly.
"Now I think 99 has something to say," said the Chief. Max looked at 99.. He could tell she was steaming. She let Max get away with all kinds of shenanigans, but when it came to the kids, she was very protective.
"Max, how COULD you?" she demanded. "You let Sarah take my gun, you know she hasn't been to a weapons class yet, you put both of them in danger by taking them along, neither of them has been to spy school…" 99 was angry and tearful at the same time. "Then I hear that you were involved with gangsters and there was a fire…a FIRE, Max! You could have all been hurt or killed! What's the matter with you, Max? I'm sick of your idiocy!"
Max felt really embarrassed in front of the kids and the Chief. 99 was right. He shouldn't have run off like a little kid after the ice cream truck.
"And Max," said 99.
"You got another speeding ticket!"
"I did NOT!"
She handed him a speeding ticket. "The cops couldn't keep up with you, so they just wrote a ticket and handed it to me."
Shawn and Sarah glanced at each other in amusement…it WAS fun riding with their Dad; he drove faster than anyone they knew.
Max looked up. He tried again, "You know, Chief, we really did rescue Agent 13."
"Yes, Max, I know." He walked over to the wall map/movie projector and knocked. A small door in the map opened and Agent 13 looked out.
"Max, I told the Chief that you three were great! I was sure getting tired of being bitten in the toes by the rats in that piano," he complained. "And last night, you wouldn't believe the songs they were playing on the piano! Real loud too! And I couldn't sing along because they were mostly songs I didn't know!"
"Thanks, Agent 13, for your report," said the Chief, wearily. "And 13?"
"Take some time off and wash that liverwurst out of your hair. It's smelling up my office."
The ride home in the red sports car was quiet and painful. Sarah had opted to ride in Shawn's horrible jalopy to let her parents talk. Max drove slower, almost too slow. He didn't want another speeding ticket, especially in front of 99.
"Max," said 99 at the same time that Max said, "99?"
"What?" they both said in unison.
99 smiled. "Max, I'm really sorry I made a scene in front of the Chief and the kids. But sometimes you just act like a big kid yourself. "
"99, they're 17 years old now, they're almost grown up…"
"That's the point, Max…almost. They still need our guidance."
"I want to encourage Sarah to join Control, 99, I think she should go to spy school."
"Me too, Max. I think she shows such a lot of promise. And she adores you, Max. Be a good example to her."
"You're right, 99. From now on, no more running off without thinking about it first. No more speeding. No more…" He pulled the car over to the nearest curb.
"What are you doing, Max?"
Max stopped the car and grabbed 99, pulled her close and gave her a long and tender kiss. "Sweetheart, don't ever let me do anything to lose you!"
"I won't, love," replied 99.
Sarah wondered why her parents were taking so long to get home. She was worried they were still mad at each other. She kept peering out her bedroom window. Then she caught sight of the red Tiger entering the garage. Max and 99 were holding hands and smiling as they walked into the house.
She heard him fall up the stairs and then knock on her bedroom door. "Sarah?" he said.
"Come in Dad." He tripped over her jewellery case.
"Sarah, somebody could get hurt in this room. I want you to clean it up. Your bed looks like Oscar Madison slept in it…are you sure he's not in there?" He pretended to look for someone under the mess of bedclothes.
"Dad! You're such a neat-nik!"
"Sarah, if you want to be a spy, you have to be neat and tidy. You have to know where your tools and devices are at all times. You have to be totally aware of your surroundings. You have to have the eye of an eagle and be quick as a fox. You have to scout out every area of a room to look for danger and hidden KAOS agents. And…most importantly, you have to follow orders."
"Dad, you didn't follow orders today."
"Well, Sarah, that's a hard one to sort out. You also have to have the wisdom to know when to follow orders and when it's a good idea not to."
"So how do you get that wisdom?" asked Sarah.
"Eh…I'm still working on it," said Max.
She hugged him and stood on tiptoe to give him a kiss. They walked hand in hand to the door where he promptly walked into the door frame and hit his nose.
"One more thing, Sarah."
"Don't do that."