VACATION IN MAYBERRY
Agents 86 and 99 were on a long deserved vacation. It was hard for Control's Chief to spare his top two agents at the same time, but he knew the married couple needed some time off together. Lately, they had been on case after case without a break. Luckily, 99's mother was available to take care of their 2 year old twins for a couple of weeks.
Agent 86, Maxwell Smart, was driving his beloved red Sunbeam Tiger sports car and he tended to drive it fast.
"99, where is the turnoff to Raleigh?" he asked.
"Max, I can't make head nor tail of this map…"
"99, I specifically asked for the detailed North Dakota map…Look up Raleigh on the back …it will give you the coordinates."
99 put the map down. "You're right, Max. This is a North Dakota map….Max, we're looking for Raleigh, North Carolina!"
"Eh, sorry about that, 99. Let's just keep going on this road and we'll get somewhere soon."
99 sighed and folded up the map. Just then, Max's shoe began to ring. "Can you get that, 99? I'm driving. Wonder who that could be?" he asked pensively.
"Max! Who could it be but the Chief? And stop the car before you answer your shoe."
"Wait, 99…I've been practicing this maneuver. You see, I put my left foot on the gas to keep the car going. Then I put my right foot on the console in your direction. You pull the shoe off and dial. Then…"
Max was looking at his shoe phone as he was talking. The car started to veer off the road into the ditch.
"Maaaaxxx! The brake! Put on the brake!" screamed 99 as she flung herself over his lap and pushed the brake down with her hands. The car stopped abruptly, in the ditch, but at least it hadn't turned over. 99 put the car in park and turned the key off.
"Eh, I might need a little more practice. Sorry about that, 99. Wonder what the Chief wanted."
"Max, you almost gave me a heart attack!"
"I said I was sorry!" he pouted.
She smiled indulgently and gave him a kiss. "Why don't you call the Chief back?"
Max dialed Control's number and the Chief answered. "Max, I hate to disturb you and 99 on your vacation…"
"Oh, it's OK, Chief," said Max cheerfully. 99 groaned inwardly. This would probably be a working vacation…again.
"Max, we have traced a KAOS operation to the hills in northeastern North Carolina near where you are vacationing. We believe KAOS is running an automobile theft ring in the area. They are stealing cars and either breaking them down for selling as parts or shipping them out of the state."
"Why are they doing that, Chief?"
"We think they are trying to immobilize areas of the state by getting rid of all vehicles. There will be no products moving in or out. Then KAOS can move in and force the area residents to buy only their products. They will have a monopoly on everything, Max.
"It's the old KAOS monopoly trick!" mused Max. "What would you like us to do, Chief?"
"I hate to intrude on your vacation, Max, but I'd like to ask you and 99 to keep your eyes open and report back if you see anything suspicious. I won't ask you to investigate…we can send some other agents in if you can pinpoint where any of this activity is taking place."
"Chief, you can count on us."
99 wished Max would beg off at times like this, but he never did.
"99, we're on a case!" Max smiled like a little kid who had just been given a wonderful new toy.
"Yes, I heard, Max." She was unenthusiastic. "Max, we have to get the car back on the road."
"You're right, 99! You push and I'll steer."
"Wouldn't it be better the other way around?"
"Eh, I suppose so," he agreed.
Together they got the car back on the side of the road. But when Max tried to start it, the engine only coughed and died.
Max opened the hood and peered in. "99, I can't see anything wrong in here…"
"Max, look!" "She pointed to the big black puddle of oil sitting in the ditch where the car had been resting after going off the road. There was a greasy trail that followed where they had pushed the car a short way onto the road again. "We must have damaged something underneath and all the oil is draining out!" 99 exclaimed in dismay.
"You're right, 99. Help me push the car to the next garage."
"Max, the next garage could be miles away! Let's get the top up and lock the car. We'll have to walk somewhere and find a garage."
99 was thinking that this was the start of a not-so-great vacation. Max put the top up. The two Control agents put their trench coats on and Max grabbed their big suitcase. Or tried to…
"99, what did you put in this thing…rocks?" He pulled it out of the trunk and fell backwards under the weight, falling right in the oil slick.
"Here, Max," said 99, with a sigh. "Let me help you."
"No, 99, I should do this." He tugged at the suitcase again.
"Let's leave it with the car, Max. We can get it later."
"I want to carry something, 99," Max pouted.
"Max, you can carry my purse."
"Okay." He slung her white shoulder bag over his own shoulder. Max and 99 started walking down the road. The late afternoon sunlight peeked in through the lush trees and forested areas on either side of the unpaved road.
They walked for what seemed an interminable time. The sun went behind a cloud and it started to rain softly. It gradually became darker and darker and the rain was colder and turned into a downpour. The road was a grimy mess of mud. Several vehicles flew by and splashed the unfortunate couple with the greasy mud. The vehicles were going too fast to flag them down for directions or a ride. Afternoon turned into evening and night. The wind picked up.
99 could hardly see as she held on to Max's sleeve tightly. The rain was blowing and stinging her eyes. As they rounded a curve in the road, 99 finally saw lights ahead and made out some buildings.
"Max, there's a town up ahead! There should be a gas station nearby!"
"Eh? I don't see anything."
99 glanced at him. "Max, you're still wearing your sunglasses!"
"It keeps the rain out, 99."
They walked past some homes and then into the business area of the small town. There was a park bench in front of one of the buildings and it seemed to afford a bit of shelter from the wind and rain. "Max, let's sit down for a minute. I'm so cold and wet."
"Okay, 99." He sounded weary too. "Your pocketbook is really heavy, 99…What's in it, rocks?"
"Never mind, Max. Just sit down." She laid her head on his shoulder. It felt good to sit and she was so tired she nodded off.
They were awakened suddenly by a shout. "All right, you two bums, get up…I'm arresting you for vagrancy!" The rain had cleared and they saw a skinny little man in a deputy's uniform. His brown eyes bugged out as he shook his gun at them. "I'm a trained police officer and I know how to use this! Get yer hands up!"
Max and 99 complied wearily.
"Get over here and inside the courthouse!" He motioned with his gun at the large building next door. He pushed the door open.
"All right you two…over there!" He motioned toward the double jail cell.
Max suddenly found his voice and asked, "Where are we and who are you?"
"Never you mind. We'll talk about it in the morning when you two have slept it off!"
"Officer, we're not drunk…we have just been stranded…our car broke down; we've been walking for hours!" explained 99.
The deputy was startled at the sound of a woman's voice. "Oh, yer a lady…well that don't make no never mind. Lady, you get in that cell and your friend in the other one."
"We're married!" protested 99. "We're staying together!"
"Are you two going to get into the cell or will I have to use my bullet?" said the deputy in his high, shaky voice. He patted the pocket where he kept the one bullet that the Sheriff had issued him.
"99, let's do what he says," whispered Max. "At least there's a cot in there that we can lie down on." She agreed. The two secret agents sat down on the cot and the deputy locked the door.
At that moment, the courthouse door opened and a tall, well-built man with thick wavy brown hair entered. He was wearing a sheriff's uniform. He was accompanied by an 8 year old boy with a shock of red hair.
"Anj" said the wiry deputy. "I'm cleaning up the streets! Just picked up them two bums for vagrancy." He gestured toward the jail with his gun.
"Barn, who are they? And put the gun away!" said the tall man.
"Don't know who they are, Anj. Caught 'em sleeping in front of Floyd's Barber Shop. Right out there in the open!"
The tall man looked dubious. He glanced at the prisoners. They were sitting on the jail cot and were asleep again, leaning on each other. They looked exhausted and soaked to the skin. The woman was wearing a navy blue trench coat and some type of colorful pants suit underneath. Her brown hair was stringy from the rain and still dripping water on her shoulders.
The man's black hair was stuck to his forehead in short wet bangs. He was dressed in a white trench coat with a dark conservative suit underneath. Oddly enough, he carried a white purse slung over his shoulder and had sunglasses on. Both of them were splattered with mud and grease.
"Ope," said the sheriff to the boy. "I want you to do a couple things. I want you to go home and have Aunt Bee whip up something for these two to eat. Then go over to Helen's and borrow something dry for the lady to wear."
He turned to the deputy. "And Barn, I want you to bring some of your clothes for him to wear. You look about the same size."
The deputy looked pained. "Anj! They're prisoners! Do I have to?"
"Barn, they need some help…don't think they's really vagrants.. They look like big-city folk." He looked thoughtful. "And I think I know who they might be…"
Opie Taylor and Barney Fife returned shortly with dry clothes for the prisoners. Sheriff Andy Taylor's Aunt Bee, a chubby, motherly, gray-haired lady, bustled in with a picnic basket bursting with home-made food. The jail door was sitting open now, and the prisoners were half-laying down on the cot with a heavy blanket that Andy had placed around them. They were still sleeping.
"Oh Andy," said Aunt Bee. "We should put them up at our house! The poor things…"
Andy woke them and after a shower, clean clothes and a nice home-made meal, Max and 99 felt much better.
"Where are we?" asked 99.
"This is Mayberry," answered Andy. "What brings y'all here?"
"I'm Maxwell Smart and this is my wife, 99. We're on a vacation in your neck of the woods…on our way to Raleigh, North Dakota," explained Max.
"North Carolina," interjected 99.
"You're about 60 mile away from Raleigh, Mr. Smart. I'm Sheriff Andy Taylor, this is my deppity Barney Fife, my son, Opie and my Aunt Bee." He looked at 99 quizzically. "What did you say your name was?"
"Oh it's 99…you can call me Nina for short," pronouncing the word as Nine-ah. "It's an old family name. Sheriff Taylor, our car broke down on the road leading into town. I don't know how far away we were…"
"We'll jest get Gomer over at Wally's gas station to tow your car in tomorrow. They should be able to fix it up right nice too. I'll drive y'all over to my house; you can stay there for the night."
99 smiled graciously. "Thank you so much, Sheriff Taylor, this is very kind of you!"
Andy smiled. "Call me Andy."
Barney Fife was still eyeing the secret agents suspiciously. He sidled over to Andy and whispered, "Are you sure that's a good idea, Anj, putting them up at your place? I don't trust that big-city guy…he has beady, shifty eyes!"
Andy ignored him. The Smarts got in the back of the squad car.
"99," whispered Max. "I don't trust that deputy; he has wild, crazy eyes!" 99 ignored him.
The next morning, Max and 99 were anxious to get on with their vacation. After one of Aunt Bee's wonderful breakfasts at the Taylor home, Andy called the garage and asked Gomer Pyle to tow Max's car in. He knew approximately where the car would be located based on what 99 had told him about their journey into town.
"While we're waitin', why don't we sit on the porch for a while?" suggested Andy. He grabbed his guitar and brought out a couple of chairs for them. There was a rocking chair with soft cushions that looked cozy to Max and he sat down and started to rock. Andy strummed his guitar softly and began to sing a folk song in his pleasant baritone voice. Max rocked with the music…to the edge of the porch where the rocker fell off with Max in it.
"Are you all right, Mr. Smart?" asked Andy, running over to give Max a hand. Aunt Bee came out and fussed over Max. Max suddenly realized he liked the attention. "I'm fine, but you can rub my shoulder right there, Aunt Bee." As she rubbed his shoulders, he noticed that he was extremely sore from tramping around in the rain the day before.
Just then, a tall, good-natured, rural-looking man came over to greet Andy and their guests. He was dressed in a mechanic's uniform and a cap with a visor. He had a funny high-pitched voice. "Gaw-lee, Sheriff Taylor, Ah got some bad news fer ya…that ther car ain't nowhar' to be found. Ah searched all over them roads, ever' one of 'em…nothin'." He shook his head.
"What?" yelled Max as he jumped up. "My car? You can't find my car?"
"Calm down, Mr. Smart," said Andy in his slow drawl. "Ain't nothin' we can't find around here if we put our head to it."
"99," Max whispered. "These yay-whos can't find my car and they aren't even upset about it!"
"Let it go, Max," she whispered back.
Aunt Bee went back into the house and Gomer left in his tow truck.
"Mr. Smart, I need a word with you," said Andy. "May I call you Max?"
"Yes, and you can call her 99," said Max.
"Nina, Max, remember?" whispered 99.
"Eh?" said Max, blankly.
"Max and 99," said Andy. "I believe I know who you are."
"We're Mr. and Mrs. Maxwell Smart," said Max. "Who do you think we are?"
"I know you're secret agents and you were sent here to find out why all the vehicles are disappearing from Mayberry."
Max and 99 exchanged glances. Max narrowed his eyes at Andy. "So, how did you find that out, Andy? Cunning police work? Did you plant a bug? Is Barney an informant?"
"Your Control Chief is good friends with the sheriff in Raleigh. The Sheriff called me. Deppity Fife and I keep an eagle eye out. We purty much know ever'thing that goes on in Mayberry."
"Well, if it isn't the old Chief-calls-the-sheriff-who-calls-the-sheriff-in-North-Dakota-trick. Very clever, Sheriff Andy!"
Them city folk is pretty strange, thought Andy, but he didn't say anything to that effect.
"Your Chief wants y'all's identity to stay undercover, Max. I'm th'only one in town what knows about it," Andy said aloud.
Just then a big rock landed at Andy's feet, followed by some maniacal laughter. A figure could be seen behind a tree. Max drew his gun, anticipating something dangerous was about to happen.
"Put it away, Max," said Andy, quietly.
"Eh?" said Max, but he stuck the gun back in his pants.
"Ernest T," said Andy in a loud voice. "Ernest T, show yourself!"
"Cain't show mahsef whiles ah's in looooove…an' ah'm crazy in looooove!" came the answer from behind a tree. Max could make out a little man crouching behind the tree. He was wearing rumpled overalls, had thinning hair falling over his forehead and a loopy smile.
"Ernest T, what are you talkin' about?" said Andy.
"Ah jest spied me a bee-yoo-tee-full woo-man and ah's fallin' fer her lahk rain a-fallin' from the skah!" Ernest T threw another stone and cackled his maniacal laugh. "Ah'm Ernest T an' Ah'm a-comin' fer thee!"
The stone fell just in front of Max and startled him. He tripped and fell down the steps. He picked himself up and brushed the reddish clay off his slacks.
"Ernest T, you're gonna hafta come out and tell us what you're a-talking about," shouted Andy.
"Ah'm a-gonna come an' git her anon!"
"Anon?" Max looked confused.
"It means, 'in two shakes of a lamb's tail,'" explained Andy.
"Eh?" Max still looked confused.
"Soon!" said 99.
"Soon what?" asked Max.
Ernest T threw another rock, laughed hysterically and ran from tree to tree til he was out of sight.
Aunt Bee came out on the porch again. "Oh Andy, what are you going to do about that awful man? He could have broken our windows with those rocks of his!"
"99 and I will round him up for you, Andy. We're trained in this kind of thing," said Max.
"Max, you can't just go after Ernest T Bass like that…you have to use psychology."
"Is that because he's a psycho?" asked Max.
"Not exactly, Max. We have to find out who he's after. I have a bad feelin' about this."
Just then Barney rode up in the squad car. "Anj, was that Ernest T again?" He got out of the car. "I can go up there and rough him up a bit."
"I'll go up there with him," volunteered Max.
Barney gave Max a dirty look. "Not until you pay yer ticket from last night!"
"Barn, let the ticket go," said Andy.
Andy thought about his slightly inept deputy teaming up with the accident-prone Control agent. And it involved Ernest T Bass. That would be a disaster in the making.
"Barn, there's something else we hafta do. Them missing autos, ever'body's up in arms…we have to find who's behind this. Wally's garage won't be worth a plug nickel if nobody has a car to fill up and the used car lot is losin' cars like buttons off a coat. I'm going up to see the Darlin's. I want you to stay in Mayberry and do a little detective work." Barney looked elated at the prospect of real detective work.
"Okay, Anj!" He turned and walked into Floyd's Barbershop.
"Can I help?" asked Max. "Who're the Darlings?" He envisioned a bunch of pretty girls, maybe a brood of curly haired little kids, possibly a swarm of chubby puppies…he was getting bored with inaction and wanted his red sports car back again.
"The Darlin's…they's a mountain family…y'all can come, but… let me do all the talkin'. Don't even say a word. And Max,"
"What is it, Chief?" said Max out of habit.
"Don't let Nina out of your sight," drawled the Sheriff. "In fact, holding her hand might be a good idea."
99 gave Max a worried glance. What were they getting into?
Sheriff Taylor and the two Control agents piled into the squad car. Andy drove up a narrow winding road leading into the mountains. It ended in no more than a dirt trail high above Mayberry. Beyond the trail was a large, but very shabby cabin. Andy got out of the car and knocked on the door. "Mr. Darlin', you in there?"
A white-haired, jovial looking man dressed in shabby overalls opened the door. "Well, if it ain't Sheriff Taylor. Y'all come on in!"
Inside the cabin were four young men in their twenties and a blonde, smiling girl about the same age. They were all dressed in overalls. The boys were sitting on stools, unsmiling and silent. "Who's yer friends, Sheriff Taylor?"
"Meet Max and Nina Smart - here in Mayberry on vacation." Max and 99 smiled, but didn't say anything. Max and Nina, these are the Darlin's…" He nodded in each one's direction as he introduced them, "This here's Mr. Briscoe Darlin', his daughter, Charlene, and the boys is Othor, Jebbin, Ward and Frankie." The Smarts still didn't say a word.
"Whatsa matter, cat got yer tongues?" asked Briscoe. Andy looked at the Smarts strangely.
"You said not to say anything!" whispered Max to Andy.
"Well, Briscoe, they's a bit shy, seein' yer big ol' spread up here. And they's big-city folk too". Charlene, the blond daughter, came over and shook hands politely with Max and 99.
Max looked at the Darling boys, who were still sitting on their stools, not moving a muscle and with no emotion on their faces."
"Yep, the boys is overjoyed to meet y'all!" said Briscoe, heartily.
"Andy, we're going outside for a breath of fresh air," whispered 99. "Would that be a problem?"
The Smarts waved self-consciously to the Darlings and made their exit. "That is the second weirdest family I have ever seen, 99, and I know weird!" exclaimed Max. "Let's go sit in the squad car."
But the squad car was gone. "It was right here, wasn't it, 99?" said Max. He looked confused.
"Max! It must have been the KAOS car theft ring that the Chief told us about! Our car, the Sheriff's car, who knows how many others…"
A light suddenly went off in Max's head and he smacked his fist against his hand. "Of course! It's the KAOS car theft ring! I'm glad I thought of it, 99!" He looked down at his hand where his fist had hit it a little too hard. "Owww!"
"Max, look!" 99 pointed to the soft earth trail. "Car tracks leading away, down the road we came up!"
"99!" Max chided. "Don't be silly. Those are the tracks the Sheriff's car made when we drove up here!"
"Max, there are two sets of tracks!"
"99, you're right!" He started following the tire tracks stealthily, 99 right behind. They followed the tracks for quite a ways down the mountain. The trail went down, down, as it wound around the mountain. The road was only wide enough for one car and a person didn't want to get too close to the outer edge. There was no fence and a false step too close to the edge could cause a fatal fall. There was a lot of vegetation growing up and down the sides of the mountain, including some trees, making it difficult to see very far in the distance.
At one point, Max thought he could see a glimpse of something odd through the vegetation, colors, but not the colors of nature. He saw what looked to be a farm, and colored objects near it. Some were piled into a huge heap, some were larger…"99!" said Max, as he carefully moved toward the edge of the road. "There's something down there…I think we should give it a closer look!"
Max stepped on a large rock near the edge of the road to see better. "99, there is something down there!" She didn't answer and he looked around… and slipped off the rock, falling down the side of the hill. The vegetation slowed his descent and after hitting a tree abruptly, Max found himself hanging onto some branches sticking out from the jagged rocks on the side of the hill. His legs were swinging in the air and he couldn't find a foothold. "99, he yelled, "Get some help!" She still didn't answer. What was going on?
Sheriff Taylor came out of the Darlings' cabin. He had been wondering what the Smarts were doing for so long after they had gone outside. Andy had asked Briscoe if there had been any strange goings-on up in the hills, trying to get a clue about the car thefts. The Darlings hadn't noticed anything strange other than the usual moonshiners in the area and the "revenoo-ers" going after them.
The Darlings had then insisted on entertaining Andy with several mountain songs accompanied by Briscoe on the jug and the boys playing the guitar, bass, mandolin and banjo. Charlene added her sweet voice to make a wonderful mountain harmony. Normally Andy would have welcomed the chance to sing and pick with the Darlings, as he often did. But his mind was on the Smarts and the trouble they could get into…or cause.
Andy looked around. The Smarts were nowhere to be seen. The squad car was gone too. He checked the two sets of tire tracks, first thinking the Smarts had grabbed the car to go back to town, but according to their footprints, they hadn't gotten into the car. Two sets of footprints led down the trail.
Andy started to run, still following the tracks. He read the story the footprints told him. At one point there were three sets of prints, and shortly after that two again. Then one of the sets veered off into a small clearing. He saw the tracks of a sledge lead off down the trail. He was about to investigate further when he heard some muffled yells in the distance. He ran again, following the lone set of tracks where it ended next to a large rock. He recognized Max's nasal voice yelling from down below. Oddly enough, Max wasn't yelling to be rescued; he was yelling for 99.
"Max!" yelled Andy, looking down to see where the secret agent was. "I'm going to throw some of these vines down to you…they're very thick…hang on and I'll pull you up!" Andy cut some of the vines and in a short time had pulled Max to safety.
Max was grateful to be rescued, but where was 99? He looked miserable. "Andy, where's 99? I turned around and she wasn't there!"
"Max," said Andy. "We'll find her. I'd drive you back to Mayberry, but the squad car ain't here neither."
Max brightened as he got an idea. His nasal voice rose half an octave as he felt his self-assurance coming back. "Andy, where is Deputy Fife right now?"
"I told him to sniff around in town lookin' for clues. Keeps him out of trouble. Hmmm, bet he's still talkin' to Floyd. Once they git goin'…But how will that help?"
Max removed his right shoe as Andy wondered what he was up to this time. He turned the heel around and removed the sole. Underneath the sole was a telephone dial. He pushed down a small metal piece above the dial. There was an earpiece where the heel normally was attached. "What's Floyd's phone number, Sheriff Taylor?" Max asked officiously.
Andy looked amazed, in spite of himself. "Well, if that don't beat all! Max, you have to be connected through the operator, Sara."
Max dialed "0" for Operator and asked for Floyd's Barber Shop.
"Who is this?" asked Sara. "I don't recognize your voice."
"This is Maxwell Smart. I want to talk to Floyd's Barber Shop."
"Where are you calling from? I don't know that number! Who did you say you are?"
"I'm calling from a shoe with an unlisted number," said Max.
Sara gave up and connected him to the barber shop.
"Floyd's Barber Shop," drawled Floyd.
"This is Maxwell Smart. Is Deputy Fife there?"
"Maxwell who?" asked Floyd.
Andy motioned for Max to give him the shoe. "Floyd? Andy. Is Barn there? Barn, where's the squad car?" Max could hear Barney's high-pitched, shaky voice get more excited. Andy held the shoe a little further from his ear.
"Yeah, Barn, it's gone too. I have Max here with me…we're about a mile out from the Darlin's place…ask Gomer to come up here with the tow truck or whatever he can spare…what's that?…the tow truck's gone too? Has he got anything down there? Okay. We can walk…we'll be back 'fore Gomer could get up here with the tractor.
"Where am I callin' you from? Told you, Barn, we're about a mile out from the Darlin's...no, they didn't install a phone booth halfway up the hill, Barn. Barn, it's a shoe…yeah, a shoe…I'm calling to you from a shoe. Yeah, Barn, I'll stop funnin' you." He handed the shoe back to Max.
"Max, we hafta walk down the mountain…seems that ever' vehicle in Mayberry has disappeared, save a few tractors and some autos what don't run."
"Andy, I'm going to call 99." Max wondered why he hadn't thought of that before. He tried to remember which phone she had with her today. "The bracelet phone!" Max dialed, but there was no answer. He tried again, same result. He looked upset.
Then Max glanced in the area he had noticed earlier, just before his mishap. "What's that over there, Andy?"
"It's the old McAfee farm, Max. No one been livin' there for some twenty year." Andy looked through the leaves and thought he saw something that hadn't been there before.
Max took out a pen and unscrewed both ends. He handed it to Andy. "It's a telephoto lens!"
Andy took the pen and gazed through it…"Max, I think we found the squad car."
Max took a long look. "My Tiger is down there too, Andy," he said with satisfaction which dissolved to a bad feeling in the pit of his stomach. He couldn't stop thinking about 99.
"Max, there's a shortcut to the McAfee farm, follow me." Andy led the way back to the clearing where he had seen 99's footprints disappear. They followed the prints and the sledge marks til the dirt turned to rock and the prints were no longer visible. Another mile passed, they rounded another curve and the farm appeared.
There were vehicles of every color, size, shape, age and price range arranged as if they were a used car lot. The huge pile of parts that Max had spied earlier was sitting in an area near a broken down fence and a discolored silo. There were several semi-trailers partially loaded with auto sections. Four auto trailers were laden with cars ready to be delivered somewhere. A crane sat in back of the barn, ready to lift un-moveable vehicles onto the trailers.
Andy looked at the semi-trailers. There was a huge sign painted on each trailer reading, "KAOS Trucking Corp." Funny, he hadn't heard of that company before.
The Sheriff and the secret agent crept stealthily over to the old barn. They entered and it seemed deserted. Max sat down in a haystack and motioned to Andy. "I'm going to call the Chief." Max dialed and spoke quietly into his shoe. He reported that they had found the vehicle stash.
"Max, do you and 99 need reinforcements? I have two agents I can spare right now. And I do want you and 99 to have a good vacation," said the Chief.
"I'm sorry about that, Max…where is she?"
"Well, if I knew that, she wouldn't be missing!" said Max indignantly.
"Are you sure you don't need reinforcements, Max?"
"No, Sheriff Taylor and I are making some real headway here, Chief. And I think he knows more than he's telling me!" he said in a low voice. "I'll report back later."
As Max put his shoe back on, he heard a bumping sound from overhead. The Sheriff heard it too. There was a ladder leading to the hayloft. Andy and Max climbed it soundlessly. Over against the far wall were two figures gagged and tied securely. One of them was 99. Max flew to her side.
"99, what happened?"
"Mmmmmfffppphhhbbmmmm!" she replied.
"99, I can't understand you!"
Andy glanced over. "Max, take the gag outa her mouth!" Andy was busy with the other figure, who was squirming and rolling around.
Max untied 99. "Max, it was terrible! I was right behind you when we were following the tire trails when someone came up behind me and shoved something in my mouth so I couldn't yell. It was Ernest T Bass! He tied me up and carried me over to a sledge and started pulling me down the mountain! He said we were going to see the preacher so we could get "hitched!"
Max glanced at Andy. The squirming figure he was untying was none other than the infamous Ernest T himself. He was ranting and raving and Andy was trying to quiet him down.
"99, tell me one thing."
"How did he tie himself up? That's a trick I need to learn!"
She gave him a quizzical look. "No, Max, I'm not finished telling what happened. At one point, he stopped the sledge, came over to me, pulled down the kerchief that was tied over my mouth and ask me for a kiss! I pulled away, saying I was married. He thought I was just shy, I guess, so he pulled the kerchief back up and started pulling me around again.
"When we got near this farm, he was still yelling about being in love with me and making a lot of noise. A group of thugs jumped us from nowhere and tied up Ernest T and took us both up here to the hayloft. I'm sure they are the KAOS agents the Chief warned us about. We've been here about an hour maybe…I'm not sure. That's when you and Andy got here."
Max and 99 looked over at Andy and Ernest T. Andy was giving the little mountain man a lecture and Ernest T had quieted down.
"Now, Ernest T, you apologize to the lady!"
Ernest T and Andy came closer to 99 and Max. Ernest T held his hand out shyly to 99. He was looking down at the ground. He giggled. "Sorry, Ma'am, but yew is the most bee-yoo-tee-full thang Ah has ever seen! Ain't no purdier woo-man 'round these hyar parts….Ah jest gets crazy in loooove…"
"Calm down, Ernest T," warned Andy. "Now you stay away from the lady, understand?" Ernest T nodded humbly, but he still had that goofy smile on his face.
Max was affronted that the mountain man had kidnapped his wife, had attempted to kiss her and marry her, to boot! He was about to give Ernest T a piece of his mind and fist too, when he heard a noise and turned around.
From down below, four KAOS agents sprang up the ladder. Max and 99 flew into action. 99 threw hay in the first man's eyes and banged him on the head with the butt of her gun. Max punched the second thug who fell against the wall unconscious. Andy, who didn't carry a gun and usually didn't need to resort to violence, got in a few good punches to the third KAOS agent's face.
The fourth thug was jumping into the entrance to the hayloft when Max delivered a punch to his stomach. The man flew off the entrance of the loft and hit the floor below. But the momentum carried Max too close to the edge. He grabbed the tall ladder and it swung back and forth perilously. Max tried to grasp the edge of the hayloft. Finally the ladder crashed to the floor leaving Max hanging by his hands from the hayloft, his feet swinging in the air for the second time today.
Andy and 99 pulled him up. He tried to brush the hay off his clothes and out of his hair to no avail. "Missed it by that much!" he said holding up his thumb and forefinger a couple inches apart.
"Max, how are we going to get down from here?" asked 99.
"Not to worry, 99. I came prepared!" Max produced his checkbook. He pulled out a telescoping stalk from one side of the checkbook. He kept pulling and it grew to about 10 feet. Then he tugged at the other side of the wallet and a large hook appeared. It now looked like a fishing pole with a checkbook attached. He went "fishing" out the hayloft entrance with the hook far below them. He grabbed the top rung of the ladder with the hook and pulled it easily back toward the hayloft. Max looked proud of himself. "Doubles as a fishing pole, too!" he added.
Finding some rope, Max, 99 and Andy tied up the three thugs in the hayloft, then descended and Max tied up the one down below.
The man was groaning and Max leaned over to hear what he had to say. "What did he say, Max?" asked 99. "Was he revealing a KAOS secret?"
"Eh, he asked me to take my knee off his chest."
Outside, Max saw his beloved red Tiger resting on the grass in the midst of the other cars. He ran over to it and jumped in the driver's seat, even though he knew it wasn't running. He put the key in and turned the radio on.
He wasn't paying any attention to 99 and Andy shouting warnings to him from the barn when he was startled by someone getting in the passenger seat next to him. He looked up and there was another KAOS agent in the car with him and one in front of the car. They both had guns directed at him.
Max pressed a button on the console. It sprayed fog all over the inside of the car. The KAOS agents seemed stunned for a moment, just long enough for Max to press the eject button. The agent in the car flew up and away in the driver's seat. By this time, Max had pressed the button to open the doors in the right side of the hood of the car and a machine gun appeared, trained on the KAOS agent in front of the car. The KAOS agent raised his hands and Max tied him up, all in the time it took Andy and 99 to come over from the barn.
Andy was impressed. "Well, if that don't beat all!" he said, looking at the red Tiger appreciatively.
"Max, you were wonderful!" gushed 99, hugging him.
Suddenly, from overhead came the whup-whup-whup of helicopters. The three looked up as several large Control helicopters landed nearby. The Chief and several other agents alighted. 99 told them where the KAOS agents were located and they quickly loaded them onto the helicopters.
"Congratulations, Max and 99!" said the Chief proudly. "Working on your vacation is over and above the call of duty. Good job!"
"Thanks, Chief!" said 99, hoping that soon she and Max could get on with what was left of their vacation. "Sheriff Taylor was invaluable to us too!" The Chief shook Andy's hand and Andy smiled broadly.
"I'll be looking forward to getting a ride into town in one of those, Chief," Max said, nodding toward the helicopters.
"Sorry, Max," said the Chief. "We can't spare any of them; we have to get the KAOS agents to custody in Washington immediately."
Max looked disappointed. "Are any of these vehicles working?" he asked.
"Doesn't matter," said the Chief. "We have to impound them all before we can release them to their owners. You know, paperwork."
"So when will I get the Tiger back?" complained Max.
"Max, I'll make an exception for you because you and 99 have done such a great job. We'll check in the Tiger first, then you can have it towed and repaired right away tomorrow."
"Chief, the tow truck is up here too."
"All right, Max, the tow truck is second."
"What about my squad car?" asked Andy.
"All right!" the Chief said wearily. "The squad car is third!"
"So how do we get back to Mayberry?"
"Waaall, you could walk, Max," chimed in Andy. "Or you could ride with Gomer."
Gomer made the turn onto the farm atop a very large, verrrrry slow farm tractor.
"I'll walk," said Max.
"Max, please...can we ride the tractor? Do it for me?," said 99, remembering yesterday's fiasco in the rain. She didn't want to get lost again.
"Okay," said Max. He climbed up on the tractor next to Gomer and pulled 99 up on his lap.
"Gomer, take them back to my place again", said Andy.
"Andy," called 99, as she had a sudden thought. "What happened to Ernest T?"
"Don't know, Nina," replied Andy. "He's good at disappearin'. Don't think he'll give y'all no more trouble, though."
The Smarts spent the rest of their vacation relaxing around Mayberry. They had a wonderful time, with no mishaps. Well, except for when Max went fishing with Andy and tripped over the edge of the boat and fell into the lake. But mostly they just had a quiet time, meeting more of Mayberry's fine citizens, the Mayor, Floyd the Barber, Aunt Bee's friend Clara. They went on a triple date with Andy and his girlfriend Helen Crump, who also happened to be Opie's schoolteacher, and Barney and his girl, Thelma Lou. They had fun in spite of Max spilling his ice cream soda all over Barney.
One night Max got to spend some time regaling Opie with some of his secret agent adventures.
"Gee, Mr. Smart," said Opie. "I think I want to be a secret agent when I grow up!" He thought about it a bit. "Well, after I get a job directing movies."
The best part of their vacation though, was a picnic in a wooded and secluded area in the hills with a special lunch packed by Aunt Bee. It was just Max and 99.
"This is the best vacation we've taken in a long time, Max," said 99. "We've spent more time alone than…well, I don't know when."
"You're right, 99. It started out a little rough"…he stopped talking and gave her an odd look, "you know, 99, my shoe phone hasn't rung for at least a week!"
"I know," smiled 99. What she didn't tell him is that she had stuck the phone shoes in the suitcase where they could ring away all day, unheard. She replaced Max's shoes with the ones Barney had loaned him at the beginning of their vacation. Max hadn't even noticed they weren't his shoes.
The time came to leave for Washington and the two secret agents said their goodbyes. 99 was hoping they could come here again for a vacation sometime. Still waving, they drove off in the newly repaired Sunbeam Tiger. Max floored the car and they roared off into the sunset…eh, not quite.
The secret agents heard the sound of a siren. Max looked in his rear view mirror. It was Barney in the squad car. He pulled over to the side of the road.
Barney jumped out of the squad and started to write out a ticket. "Max," he said with satisfaction, "you were goin' 60 in a 35 mile per hour zone. Here's yer ticket!"
"How much?" said Max resignedly, pulling out his checkbook. The checkbook opened into a fishing rod. "Eh, 99, have some cash on you?"
Max paid the ticket, started the car, put it into gear, floored it, and roared out of town at 75 miles per hour.