Who Wants to Be Penfold's Assistant?
London. Home of commerce and trade. Home of such attractions as Big Ben, the Tower of London, the Wimbledon Tennis Club, and, unknown to almost the rest of the world unless they've seen it, a small red pillar box (mail box to Americans) that simultaneously served as home to the world's greatest secret agent (Danger Mouse) and the world's worst assistant (Penfold), or so some people claimed. Penfold may have been a coward, but at least he had some ethics in him. It was his comedic abilities that bothered DM to death.
Having returned from stopping Baron Greenback from a bank holdup, DM parked his car, the Mark III, and walked up the stairs, with Penfold right behind him. He entered his living room just in time as the TV screen flashed "ALARM" once again. "Oh, good grief," he exclaimed mildly. "And I just took care of Greenback."
"Maybe it's the Colonel wanting to congratulate you," Penfold suggested.
"Yes, I had considered that, Penfold," said DM. "Sometimes, however, there are cases where as soon as you take care of one, you begin another. Well, come to think of it, Colonel K. would've told me before we got home. All right, then. Let's see what he wants, Penfold."
"Ah, Danger Mouse, good show," Colonel K. began after his connection with DM had been linked up.
"Just wanted to congratulate you and Penfold for bringing Greenback to justice again. But what's the sack in your hand there?"
"Oh, this is £20,000. The authorities insisted I keep it and all the banks close at 5 p.m. So I'm stuck with it until tomorrow unless someone breaks in and steals it or Penfold misplaces it and I am unable to find it. I'm not saying you will be doing that, Penfold, but it's a possibility."
"Oh, carrots!" Penfold exclaimed.
"What's the matter, Penfold?" asked Colonel K.
"Just the thought of me misplacing it is making me nervous."
"Why is that?"
"If you think I'm that stupid, then there's no way for me to argue back."
"You not stupid, Penfold; you're just cowardly, to the point where it sometimes saves me from the brink of disaster," DM spoke up. "In the meantime, do keep your hands off this £20,000; it is going into my account. Although there is some more cash coming your way."
"Why is that, Chief?"
"Here's why. Colonel, I forgot to show you this. Sorry about that." DM held up an advertisement stating the question "Who Wants to Be Penfold's Assistant?", spoofing the logo of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?".
"Since when do I need an assistant, Chief?" asked Penfold.
"Ever since you accidentally blurted out Greenback's plan to the media before you were supposed to. This goes back to the time Greenback was plotting whatever he was plotting; I don't know, because there was no one at the abandoned fun fair but Nero."
"I forgot to ask you about that," said Colonel K. "What was Greenback up to, exactly? Do you know now?"
"No, I don't, Colonel; what I do know is that Nero, as a result of some elements of the plot backfiring, gained the ability to use the force, just like in Star Wars, and he was making a 1-ton barbell float in midair with only his mind's powers. Once he hit water, however, he couldn't do it anymore, and when the barbell came crashing down, it revealed Greenback's hideout, flooded to the point of no return."
"By Jove, you don't say," said Colonel K. "At least his plot stopped before it could start. Anyway, Penfold, your assistant is really going to help you improve your skills at computers, since I heard you took a job for Sinclair ZX Spectrum, and the games associated with that computer system. The one I played the other day is 'Gunfright.' You know, with the Sheriff, Quick Draw McGraw, or is that a villain? DM?"
"That name applies to both," said DM. "Penfold is only going to assist me part-time from now on, but apparently, most of the work I do is solo work anyway. It'll get him a job at any rate, in case his aunt Doreen escapes from that island she was exiled to."
"She'll still be a pain," Penfold replied. "She'll monologue starting with first lines such as, 'Why didn't you get a job like this 30 years ago?', or something. That is, unless she admitted to the fact I really was a government agent."
"If I recall, she did confess she realized it too late," DM replied back. "She's exiled and she's never going to come back. And by the way, Colonel, the U.S. of A. and Canada have been instructed never to let her into their borders either shortly after she was exiled, and just now, so has Mexico."
"Yes, I see," said Colonel K. "In the meantime, good luck with your new job, Penfold, and good luck finding the assistant."
"Thank you, Colonel," Penfold replied as the screen turned off.
"Well, shall I drive you home? To your new home, anyway," DM offered.
"Sure," said Penfold. "My car's at home. At least I don't have to go down in the lift no more. I hate this bit, and I don't know why, and one of these, someone will be parked there. At least, if they're parking illegally."
Not wanting to say, "Penfold, shush!", DM jumped onto his sofa, followed by his soon-to-be former full-time assistant. The lift led to the Mark III and DM drove calmly over to Penfold's new house, where all the furniture and stuff was already in place (hence Penfold's former bedroom now serving as extra storage). To ease his mind off the troubles of Penfold's aunt and all the pain she caused believing her nephew and the White Wonder were just pretending, DM turned on the radio. "Here we go, Penfold," he said. "Here's some Chicago blues. These I like."
"Which ones are your favorites, Chief?"
"Probably B.B. King and Muddy Waters."
When they got to the house, Penfold said one last good-bye to DM and waved as the White Wonder drove off. He took his key and unlocked the door. "It won't be the same, but at least it brings in a better paycheck," he said to himself. "And if my auntie Doreen should ever show up again, let's hope she won't be so cross."
The next day, the search for the assistant began. Penfold took a tour of Sinclair ZX Spectrum's HQ building and interviewed each of his potential assistants. Each interview took about six or seven minutes. After concisely reviewing each interview, he decided the perfect choice for his assistant was a dog that previously posed as Agent 12 for Colonel K. (who had to resign full-time after an injury, unlike Penfold, who was still working part-time for DM).
At the bank, DM made his deposit of £20,000. "Penfold not with you, DM?" the teller asked.
"No," said DM. "He's been hired by the staff of the computer system Sinclair ZX Spectrum, the chief competitors of the Commodore 64 system. Both are excellent systems, believe me. He's looking for a new assistant at the moment, and at some point he'll introduce me to the choice."
Later that day, Penfold, back at DM's house, with Agent 12, re-introduced DM and Colonel K. to Agent 12. "Agent 12," DM exclaimed mildly. "How nice to see you again. Sorry you got hurt."
"Yes, but it turned out for the better," said Agent 12. "I know most give up playing video games in their spare time at my age, but I didn't. It turned out I had an interest in programming and designing games and was doing a few personal ones of my own. Now I'm going to do it with Penfold, at least until the system is discontinued."
"Well, according to my contract," Penfold explained, "we'll still be employed, but whatever the next system to go in style is, we'll learn about that."
"Sounds like a plan to me, Penfold," said Colonel K. "And congrats on finding the best assistant possible for you."
Danger Mouse © Cosgrove-Hall Productions, talkbackthames, and FremantleMedia
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? © ITV, Victory Television (previously Celador and 2waytraffic)
Sinclair ZX Spectrum © Sinclair Research Ltd.
Commodore 64 © Commodore International
Quick Draw McGraw © Hanna-Barbera, Warner Bros., Cartoon Network
Gunfright © Ultimate Play the Game