Maxwell Smart, Agent 86 of Control, came down the stairs of his apartment one bright Washington morning in spring, still tying his red tie and buttoning his vest. At the landing he turned and fell over something that was draped across the steps. He sat up and brushed himself off, then looked for the offending item that had tripped him.
It was a wire, a telephone wire, draped across the steps from the telephone to a chair. He stood and put his hands on his hips when he saw who was on the phone. It was F3, the tiny Siamese Control agent who lived with Maxwell Smart, his wife Agent 99 and their six year old twins, Shawn and Sarah.
The blue-point Siamese cat was laying upside down on a chair with the huge receiver near her ears. She had her paw around the receiver as far as she could get it and was talking on the phone. F3 had been bred to be extremely intelligent, understand human speech and wore special Control-designed implants in her ears. She could be understood by the Smarts or other Control agents when they used a special ear device. She had accompanied Max and 99 on many missions and she entertained the children when she wasn't working. And she was an extremely valuable Control agent, one of a kind. Despite her name, F3, there had not been two more before her.
But F3 was always on the phone…she was worse than the kids. She looked up at Max with her large blue eyes and made a "go away" motion with her paw.
"F3," said Max. "Get off the phone."
She put her paw to her lips and said, "Sssh."
The cat put her paw over the receiver and said, "Max, this is Control business. I'll tell you in a minute."
Max sat down while the cat spoke for a few more minutes. Then she extricated herself from the phone. "Max, can you hang up the phone. It's pretty heavy for me."
He wrinkled his nose at her. "So who answered it for you?" He hung up the phone and put the cord out of the way.
"Oh I did. But Sarah carried it over here so I could be comfy talking."
"Oh, comfy talking," said Max, sarcastically. "My cat has to be comfy…and by the way, Miss Smarty-Pants, don't you know it's dangerous to leave cords on the steps…why I could have knocked myself silly falling down those steps!"
Max sat down on the sofa, still looking grumpy. F3 jumped up on the coffee table that was in front of the sofa. "Three things, Max."
"What are you talking about?"
The little cat sat down and stretched her ears, then gave a big yawn. Then she started licking her paw. She finally gazed at Max, who was looking at her impatiently, waiting for her to say something. Sometimes the little cat could be irritating, and she knew it. Finally she stopped licking her paw and gave him her full attention. She stood very straight and glared at him with her blue eyes.
"Max, first of all, I'm NOT your cat. I am a Control agent, just as you and Agent 99 are. I am grateful you allow me to stay here, but I believe I certainly earn my keep by baby-sitting the children and entertaining them when I am not on a case."
"Go on, F3."
"Secondly, Max, you always fall down those steps. It wouldn't matter if there were nothing there or a boulder. You would still fall down those steps."
"It hasn't been every time, F3," said Max, pouting. "Why just last week I made it down twice without falling…eh…make that once."
"Yes, I have to give you that, Max."
"So what's the third thing?"
"Max, you said you could have knocked yourself silly falling down those steps."
"Well, it's true."
"Max, think about it, you're ALREADY silly."
Max jumped up in mock fury. The little cat ran up the steps in a flash. Max knew she was just teasing. It was a little game she liked to play and she always got the best of him. He sat down again, waiting.
He sat on the couch for a few minutes. He wondered where 99 was. He reached for the morning paper and soon was engrossed in it. He jumped when F3 landed on his shoulder from behind.
"Are you ready to kiss and make up?" whispered the little cat.
"The day I kiss you, Agent F3.…"
She meowed softly and rubbed his face with her head. "Don't you want to know who that was on the phone?"
"Ok, F3. Who was it?" said Max impatiently.
"It was the Chief. You and I are on a case together."
"What? They don't want 99? What can you do that she can't?"
"Crawl around unobtrusively and listen to the enemy, Max…or haven't you noticed I'm considerably smaller than a human and KAOS doesn't know Control has a feline agent."
"Get to the point, F3."
"That was the Chief, Max. He told me that KAOS has a dastardly plot to eliminate all the important US scientists, then they will begin working on other countries' scientists. And that's not all. They have built a machine to extract all the scientific information from their brains into a computer where it will be used to help KAOS create a super-scientist robot that will not be able to be stopped."
"Sounds scary, F3. So where do we come in?"
"You are posing as a scientist in the field of nuclear physics." She cleared her throat and the corners of her mouth tipped upward in a feline smile. "I'm going as your kitty."
"I thought you said you're not my cat."
"I'm not. It's my disguise. Good one, huh?"
Max rolled his eyes. "OK, when do we leave?"
The cat consulted her wristwatch. "Couple of hours, Max. We have to be over at Control Labs to pick up a few gadgets they designed for us and check in with the Chief."
Max was still looking at the miniscule wristwatch the cat was wearing. "You have to be kidding. They gave you a wrist watch? They never gave me one…" Max looked a bit pouty.
"Sure, Max. Take a look. It's a Mickey Mouse watch."
"How appropriate," he said dourly. "I want one too."
"Max…if they gave you one, it would have to be a backwards Goofy watch…" At this, she took off at the speed of light, up the stairs again.
99 came down the stairs. She was combing her hair and looking into a small mirror. "What was F3 in such a big hurry about? Are you teasing her again?"
"99," said Max, as his wife came down the last few steps. "Be careful, don't fall…"
99 stood at the bottom of the steps and put away her mirror. "What are you talking about, Max?"
"Nothing." He paused. "99, the Chief is sending F3 and me on a case. They didn't want you."
99 looked puzzled. "What?"
"No, 99, they didn't want you…you're too big..."
"Well, you're not a cat, at least I don't think you're a cat, …eh…you never said you were a cat. I never found a collar and leash in your luggage…wait, you do drink catnip tea sometimes…and….I don't suppose you chase mice when I'm not looking….." his voice travelled off.
"Max, what are you talking about?"
"We have to be at Control in two hours. F3 has to do some undercover work, in very small spaces."
"Well, Max, why didn't you say so in the first place? Maybe the Chief will send me somewhere too on a case."
"Yes, but you have to baby-sit."
"Max, F3 may be going on a case with you, but my mother usually can come by to watch the kids. If not, Larrabee or one of the other agents can take the kids down to Control. It's good for them to see where their parents work and what we do for a living."
"Well, now that's settled."
They both turned around as they heard a thud. F3 had pushed Max's suitcase down the stairs with her head. It stopped at the landing. She was carrying the straps of a miniscule backpack in her teeth and daintily walking down the steps.
"What did you do that for, F3?"
"We don't have much time, Max. Get a move on."
Max picked up the suitcase. It was strangely light. He opened it. It was empty.
"F3, there's nothing in here."
She dropped the tiny backpack. "What? You want me to pack for you too?"