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Chapter 5

 

 

Max and Susan arrived at the home of Mr. David Khan early the next morning. Max rang the bell and a beautiful young woman, wearing nothing but a see through nightgown and matching robe, opened the door.

“May I help you?” she asked, sweetly.

Susan elbowed Max in the ribs, knocking him out of a long (and rather disgusting display, Susan thought) of undressing (or at least continuing to undress) the young…beauty, using the term loosely. Max snapped out of his stupor.

“Um…yes…” he stuttered, trying to remember what he had wanted to say. “Is…is the residence of one David Khan?”

“Yes, it is.” The woman said, leaning against the door jam and smiling seductively at Max.

“I’m…I’m Maxwell Smart and this is…this is…” Max had suddenly became a blubbering idiot. And worse yet, he had forgotten his companion’s name!

“Susan Hilton.” Susan said, dryly. She was not liking how this common exchange of morning greetings had turned into some sick expedition into whatever Maxwell Smart was thinking…and she had a pretty good idea what he was thinking about indeed!

“I believe your…father is expecting us.” Max said, seeing the look Susan was giving him every minute she could.

“He’s not my father,” the woman said, moving so the two could enter the house. “He’s my husband.” Surprise, surprise, Susan thought.

“Oh.” Max said, slightly embarrassed. “I’m terribly sorry.”

“How do you think I feel?” the woman asked, leading them into a large study. “I’ll be right back with David.” The woman left the room and closed the two heavy doors.

Max started to look around the room. “Not a bad place, huh?” Susan casually looked around. “I wonder what I’d have to do to get a place like this.” Max said, facing her.

“Marry a much older and wealthier man.” Susan said, sarcastically. Max folded his arms across his chest and looked at her.

“You don’t like her, do you?” he asked, referring to the young wife of Mr. Khan.

“Now, what makes you say that?” Susan asked, eyeing Max. Max walked over to her.

“Just making conversation, doll.” Max said, leaning in closer to her. Susan closed her eyes, as the two came closer…then the door opened.

The two jumped apart and looked towards the door. The young Mrs. Khan wheeled in an elderly man, who sat in a wheelchair. She brought him over behind a large desk in the center of the room.

“This is my husband, David Khan.” The woman said.

“You must be Ms. Hilton.” The man started. “It’s certainly a pleasure to meet you. I’m sure you’re wondering why I called you.”

“Well, I certainly didn’t think it was for coffee and donuts.” Susan replied, sarcastically.

“Who’s this?” Khan asked of Max. “Your fiancée?”

“I wish.” Max muttered. “My name’s Maxwell Smart, sir.”

“What’s that?”

“I said, my name’s Maxwell Smart.”

“What?” repeated the elderly gentleman.

“You must forgive him.” His wife cooed. “He’s a little hard of hearing.”

“What was that?”

“I said, you’re a little hard of hearing.” His wife repeated.

“Nonsense!” the man exclaimed. “That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard! A little hard of hearing… that’s crazy! I’m A LOT hard of hearing!”

Max and Susan exchanged glances and then turned their attention back to their host. “I’m sure by now, Ms. Hilton, you’ve heard that your uncle has passed on.” The man continued.

“I was aware.” Susan said, fighting back tears. “What I don’t know is why.”

“And how.” Max went on.

“And by who and where.”

“What?” the man asked.

“Not what,” Susan said, continuing Max’s thought. “Where.”

“Where’s what?” the man asked.

Max was about to repeat the whole thing, when he stopped and said, “Nevermind.”

“I can tell you who killed your uncle and why, Ms. Hilton.” The man replied. “But it’s going to cost you.”

“Now wait a minute!” Max said, coming to Susan’s defense. “Now you can’t possibly tell me you’re not a millionaire. So, why in the world would you need more money for?”

“I don’t believe my husband was talking to you, Mr. Smart.” Mrs. Khan replied, running her fingers through her hair.

The act made her stick out her chest in the process. Max realized she was doing a number on him and unfortunately for him and Susan, it was working. Max tried to continue what he had been saying, but just couldn’t remember what it was he had been saying.

He turned to Susan, with a dejected look, that told her he had to throw in the towel. Susan rolled her eyes at him, annoyed by the fact the man wasn’t thinking with the right parts of his adorable little body. Oh, she was good, Susan thought.

“I can’t explain my reason, Ms. Hilton.” Khan continued. “I know that this information will be invaluable to you and the money invaluable to me. So what do you say?”

Susan thought about the pros and cons of the whole thing. “All right.” She said, finally. “Name your price.”

“I think ten thousand dollars will be fine.” Mrs. Khan interjected.

“I agree.” Agreed her husband. “Well, Ms. Hilton, this actually may come as a shock to you, but the killer is none other than…”

Suddenly, Khan clutched his chest and took a pained look on his face.

“Then who?” Max asked, impatiently.

“Oh my God!” shrieked Mrs. Khan. “I think he’s having a heart attack!”

“At a time like this?!” Susan exclaimed, annoyed that she was so close. That’s when Max noticed blood on Khan’s hand.

“Heart attack nothing!” He said, rushing over to the man. “He’s been shot!”

The three gathered around the now dying David Khan. He looked as though he was trying to say something before slumping over in Max’s arm. He pushed Khan back into his wheelchair, which he wheeled out of the way.

“Who would want to kill David Khan?” Max asked.

Susan turned to the former young wife and now young widow. “I’d like to know where you were when my uncle was killed.” She asked, coldly.

“Would you excuse us for a moment?” Max asked of their hostess. He put his around Susan and turned her around. “You know how you hired me to figure things out about this case?” he asked.

“Yes.”

“And how I led us to here?”

“Yes.”

“I’d like to handle things if you don’t mind.”

“Oh, of course, Max.” Susan said. The two turned back around and Max began his questioning of Mrs. Khan.

“I’d like to know where you were when her uncle was killed.” Mrs. Khan looked at this so-called private detective.

“Isn’t that what she just asked?” she asked.

“I’ll ask the questions around here.” Max stated matter of factly.

“Listen, Mr. Smart, perhaps I should tell you who I am. My name is Chaka Natalia Hess. I’m from German Intelligence.”

“Of course.” Max said, hitting his fist into his hand. “Chaka Khan, international German spy and hitwoman.”

“So you had your husband killed.” Susan said.

“Oh no, you don’t understand.” Mrs. Khan insisted. “I loved David with all my heart. I could never kill him, but I think I know who did.”

“Who?” Max asked, impatiently. Before she could speak, Mrs. Khan took a pained look on her face. “Oh not this again.” Max sighed. “What? Are you having a heart attack, too?” he joked. Mrs. Khan started reaching around to her back, as if to tell the two her problem.

“Max, maybe she’s been shot!” Susan questioned.

“You know, I still don’t know how Mr. Khan was shot.”

Mrs. Khan finally fell to her knees and fell flat on the floor. “Look Max,” Susan said, pointing at the long object sticking out from the woman’s back. “She wasn’t shot at all.”

“No,” Max surmised. “Just stabbed.”

The two did a double take and exclaimed in unison, “Stabbed!?” The two rushed to her.

“Well, that’s the end of Chaka Khan.” Susan said.

“Susan,” Max said, after checking the young woman’s pulse. “Something decidedly fishy is going on here.”

“Perhaps we should call the police, Max.”

“Good idea.”

The two stood up and walked over to the phone. Max picked up the receiver, but didn’t get a dial tone. Just then, a shot rang out, disconnecting the cord from the receiver to the phone. Another shot hit the vase on the desk, where Susan stood.

Max quickly pushed her out of the way and the two fell to the floor. A barrage of bullets came through the window and after a minute or so, they stopped and all was quiet again. Max looked up and surveyed the room. The smoke was clearing and things had holes the size of Swiss cheese in them. He looked down and saw Susan staring up at him.

“Are you all right?” he asked.

“I’m fine.” She said, staring into his eyes. “Are you all right?” she asked.

“I think so.” Max said, glancing around the room once more.

He once again stared down at the woman beneath him. He loved her eyes. No one had eyes like 99…ahem, Susan Hilton. Actually, he thought. Zachary Thomas Smart has those eyes.

Max had never seen the kind of things that he saw in 99’s eyes in anyone else’s. He saw his future and their past together. An entire lifetime had been shared between them and Max realized that on more than one occasion he had almost lost that. Whether it was the intense gaze or the shared feeling between them, Susan looked away and saw a wire coming from under the desk.

“Max, look.” Max looked over and also saw the wire. He pulled on it until a small microphone came from under the desk.

“Susan,” Max said, staring at the small mic. “Someone planted a bug in this room. They’ve been listening the whole time!”

 


 

Max took Susan back to the office, so they could talk. Trudi had left him a note that someone had called and said it was urgent and would call back. The two walked into his inner office and took seats on the edge of the desk.

“Max, this case is getting so mysterious.” Susan said.

“And more dangerous, too.” Max turned to look at her. “Listen Susan, I’d feel so much better if you’d just stay here or even at my apartment while I figure this thing out. No use having you get hurt over this.”

“Max, if you think I’d just sit idly by while something horrible happened to you, you’re out of your mind.”

Max was very concerned, but also very happy. The fact that she was getting worried about him made his heart soar. He had fallen in love with this woman all over again. And even though he knew she was engaged to another, he had a pretty good feeling she was falling for him, too.

“I don’t think you know how dangerous this is getting.” He said, finally.

“I do, Max.” she said, gently. “But I do have the right to know what happened to my uncle. You can’t deny me that.”

Max sighed. He knew 99 pretty well and knew Susan just as much. He knew it would be pointless to try and talk her out of anything. Max was set to tell this woman how he felt. And he would have too…if the phone hadn’t started to ring. He looked at Susan one last time, before picking up the phone and answering.

“Hello?”

“Mr. Smart,” a mysterious voice said. “Don’t talk, just listen. I’ve been following you, Mr. Smart. And as you may have seen, my employer was killed this morning. Now, I know who’s behind this whole thing and I’ll tell you. Meet me in an hour, at the Sing Sing Sing Club. That’s one hour, Mr. Smart.” The caller hung up and so did Max.

“Who was that?” Susan asked.

“My follower.” Max said, the gears in his head turning.

“Your what?”

“Look,” Max said, jumping off the desk and grabbing his jacket. “I’m meeting this guy in an hour. I want you to stay here. If I’m not back within the hour, you call the cops.”

“No, Max,” Susan said, rushing to him. “I’m going with you.”

“You are not.” Max said, boldly. “Now, you’re going to stay here…”

“Max, I’m going with you.” Susan stated.

“Why do you insist on arguing with me?” Max asked, rather annoyed. “Now, look. There is nothing you can say or do that will make change my mind.”

Susan kissed him passionately on the lips. “With the exception of that.” Max said, reeling from the kiss.

“Now, I’m coming with you, Mr. Smart.” She said, smiling at him.

“You’re coming with me.” Max said, obviously knowing he couldn’t win. Not with his wife in real life OR the one he was dreaming about.

The two took the leisurely walk from Max’s office to the club. They both entered the darkened arena and noticed the place was closed for the afternoon. The door opened behind them and the two jumped around. Entering was…Agent 22!

“So you’re the guy that’s been tailing me.” Max said.

“That’s right.” Leave it to Agent 22 to be the sad lackey that every black and white murder mystery needed.

“You said you wanted to talk.” Max said, eyeing the young man. 22 started to walk around them until he stood in between them and the stage.

“That’s right. My life’s in danger, Mr. Smart.” The lad replied. “I’d rather go to my grave with a clean slate, you know.”

“So what was it you wanted to tell us?” Susan asked.

“First and foremost, Ms. Hilton, I killed your uncle.” The two let the words sink in and Max quickly looked over to make sure Susan was handling this well.

“Why?” Max asked, taking the defensive lead questioning.

“I was under orders to do so.”

“From whom?” Susan asked, fighting back the tears and the urge to kill this boy.

“I killed your uncle, as well as David Khan.”

“Why?” Max asked, impatiently. He was holding back the urge to kill this boy, which was usually the case whenever Agent 22 was in the picture.

“As I said, I was under orders to do it. That’s why we’re in the club. I think you should know, Ms. Hilton, you’re friends aren’t exactly you’re friends.”

“What’s that suppose to mean?” Susan was really having it with this guy. Not only had he killed her beloved uncle, but now he was avoiding the subject as to why and who made him do it. A shot rang out and 22 stumbled forward before falling dead to the floor.

“Nice shot,” Max said, looking towards the stage. “Mr. Thomas.”

Indeed, Zachary Thomas stepped from the shadows of the stage, gun in hand. “Nice work, gumshoe.” The man said, coming towards them. Susan was in utter disbelief.

“But Zachary, why?” she asked, letting her emotions show.

“I’m sorry, Slim.” He replied. “You see…I run this…place. It’s not much. Just a place…”

“We get it.” Max seethed. “You’re running an illegal gambling joint.”

“I have…certain customers that come in. It’s in the back, you know. Certainly can’t let certain people in, you know. Everything was going along fine, until your uncle found out about it. He was going to turn my name in to the FBI. They would’ve shut this place down, hauled me off to jail…and the money. The money!

“I couldn’t let that happen. But I refuse to take the blame for killing your uncle. I’ll admit to…roughing him up a bit and sending Lefty there to…take care of him. I even admit to shooting good old Lefty. I even had him follow you, Mr. Smart.

“But…I didn’t kill your uncle. And I didn’t kill the Khans nor did I kill those guys in the apartment. I will admit though…” Zachary got a huge smile across his face. “I am going to kill you, Mr. Smart. I have to.”

“But Zachary…” Susan was heartbroken, just heartbroken. “So if you didn’t kill all those people, who did?”

Max had never been disappointed in his son this badly before. Sure, there was the time Zach had taken his car and didn’t tell him or when he had that party at the house without permission or even when he and 99 had caught him with that girl…those were just things Zach did.

It reminded him of himself when he was young. But this…THIS!…was just too much. The boy had killed his mother’s uncle and worse! Had made her cry. That was something Max couldn’t forgive.

“With a little help from my…friends…”

Again from the shadows, emerged Austin, Tracie, and Maxine. And now his own daughters! Even Austin was like a son to him! “Austin and Maxine took care of…our friends from the apartment and even with the disposal of John Patrick. It was Tracie’s excellent skills at knife throwing that killed Mrs. Khan. And I’ll admit. It was I who planted the listening device and found the secret passage, which allowed Tracie to sneak in and… dispose of Mrs. Khan.”

“You killed six people in order to protect your illegal gambling hideaway?!” Susan exclaimed through tears.

“No.” Zachary laughed. “I killed your uncle for that reason. But after I found out he was a spy, I decided to go looking for something that…another country could want. Thus bringing in more money to me.”

“That’s where the lovely Chaka Khan comes in.” Max said, dryly.

“The lovely and very dead Chaka Khan, Mr. Smart.” Tracie replied, chuckling.

“The American Communist.” Max said, disappointed.

“The rich American Communist, Mr. Smart.” Zachary said, laughing. “Isn’t money the American way? I’m just trying to achieve my American dream. But enough talk.” Zachary’s tone turned serious.

“As I admitted, I’ll have the pleasure of killing our favorite private…detective, Mr. Smart. Austin…” Austin came over and stood next to Zachary, as he loaded more bullets into his gun. “Why don’t you show Slim… to a much better room. I can’t stand to hear a woman crying.” Zachary looked at her with his cold blue eyes.

“How do you feel about a man screaming?” Max asked, nervously.

Zachary laughed, still reloading his gun. “Well, I hope you don’t mind if I start screaming now.” Max moved quickly. He pushed Susan out of the way while he retrieved his gun.

Before Austin could reach for his, Max shot him. Zachary quickly raised his gun, but Max shot him in the shoulder. The girls decided to make a run for it, instead of shooting it out, but they were caught by the police, who came storming in through the door.

Zachary and the girls were arrested, Austin and 22 were carried out on stretchers and Max and Susan stood by the door as the commotion died down.

“Oh Max,” Susan cooed. “You were wonderful.”

“I know.” Max said, smiling at her.

“How did the police ever know we were here?”

“I left a note for Trudi before we left, saying where we were. I had a bad feeling about being here without some sort of back up.” Susan fell silent for a moment, watching as they took Zachary and the girls away. Max noticed the look on her face.

“Are you okay?” he asked, putting a soothing hand on her back.

“I think so.” Susan said. “I am quite disappointed though. You think you know someone.” Max didn’t think this was the best time, but he wanted Susan to know how much he cared for her.

“Susan,” Max started. “I know this is probably not the time for this, but…there’s something I need to tell you.”

“What is it, Max?”

“Susan…I know this might sound odd, but…I’m…I’m very fond of you and…I’d like…I’d like the opportunity to at least…”

Susan knew what he was trying to say and she felt very flattered by the whole thing, but there was a problem he was overlooking.

“Oh, Max,” she said, coming closer to him. “Another time, another place…” This did not sound the way he was hoping. “I’m…very fond of you, too, Max.”

Whew! Max thought. For a minute there, I thought…

“But there’s nothing we can do about it. I’m getting married in a few months and…” Of all the dreams of everybody, in all the towns, in all the world, she has to walk into mine. Max thought. He was not liking how this whole thing was turning out.

“Susan, I…”

“Max, I can’t tell you what a wonderful presence you’ve been on this whole ordeal, but…the case is over and I’m afraid that my actions as of late…”

“Susan…”

“My actions as of late, have not been that of a faithful fiancée. I’m sorry, Max. I really am. In some other time, maybe something could have happened, but…I gotta go.” She gave him a soft kiss on the cheek, before walking out that door.

“NNNOOOOOO!!!”

 

 

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