Max woke up to the sound of an alarm clock ringing. He sat up, noticing he had a terrible headache. He looked at his surroundings and was instantly confused. He was sitting on a couch inside of an office. The office was well lit, thanks to the use of the large window with some writing on it. There was a desk in the middle of the room, with the standard leather chair sitting behind it.
Max thought this was totally weird, but not as weird as what he noticed next.
Everything was in black and white.
HE was in black and white.
Max stood up from the couch and started to walk around the office. That’s when he noticed the window again and saw that the lettering said, MAXWELL SMART, PI. He turned and saw himself in the mirror on the wall. He had a slight five o’clock shadow, but nothing out of the ordinary.
What was he saying? Nothing out of the ordinary??
HE WAS IN BLACK AND WHITE! EVERYTHING AROUND HIM WAS IN BLACK AND WHITE!
It was like he was in some old movie…hey, that’s it! He thought. I’m having some weird dream and I’m dreaming that I’m a detective in the 30’s or something. That’s GOTTA be it! I hope. Suddenly, the intercom went off. He looked at it for awhile, before walking over to the desk and answering it.
“Yes?” he asked, nervously, wondering who his secretary was.
“Mr. Smart…” a young woman answered. Max knew that voice.
“Trudi?” he asked. Max started getting a sickening feeling. If this was a dream, it was going to be a lousy dream.
“Yes, sir.” Trudi said. “Are you okay, Mr. Smart? I noticed you slept in your office last night. And you sound different. Are you coming down with a cold?”
Max cleared his throat and gave her his best Bogart impression. “Everything seems to be on schedule, Trudi.” He sighed, waiting for some stupid reply.
“Good.” Replied the woman. “Mr. Smart, there’s a Susan Hilton to see you.” Max’s ears perked up at the name.
“Susan Hilton?” he asked in surprise.
“Yes, sir. Should I send her in?”
Max hadn’t heard the name Susan Hilton since the San Jerman incident. He wondered if this woman calling herself Susan Hilton could possibly be… “Send her in, Trudi.”
Max walked to the front of the desk, eager to meet this Susan Hilton. He leaned back on the desk, only to knock the cup that held his pencils off and on to the floor. Max knelt down to pick them up, when he heard his door open and close.
“Good morning, Mr. Smart.” Greeted the woman, who looked down at Max, as he picked up pencils from the floor. He looked up and saw two gorgeous legs before him. His eyes made the continuous up movement until he saw the face of his visitor.
“Tell me, Mr. Smart,” the woman said. “Do you usually greet all your new clients from the floor?” Max couldn’t help but look the woman over a couple of times before responding.
“Well, the view’s pretty nice from down here.” He said, grinning.
“Stand up.” The woman replied, giving Max a grin of her own. “The view gets better.” Max stood up and looked the woman in the eye. It was 99, alright. There was no mistaking those legs or that face.
“You’re right,” Max said, trying to keep himself from hugging the woman. “The view is even better from up here.”
This dream’s looking up after all, Max thought. He and 99 could act out all the cool Bogey and Bacall scenes that were in those movies they had seen tonight. He had a second thought about whether or not this was the real 99 or an imagined 99.
He wasn’t sure until he looked in to those blue eyes of hers, he knew this was the real 99. He had yet to see the same thing in any one else’s eyes that he had always seen in 99’s. Yet he still wondered why 99 was going by the name Susan Hilton and not 99 or even better, Mrs. Maxwell Smart. Maybe his brain was trying to tell him something.
“I need your help, Mr. Smart.” Her words broke Max’s train of thought and brought him back to the black and white reality he was now living in.
“Anything for you.” Max said, but then he quickly added, “You being the client of course. My job is to help you in any way I can.” He wasn’t so sure he should let his true emotions out right now. Yeah, sure the beautiful woman standing in his office was his beautiful wife, but this was a dream. He hoped. And in a dream, things are usually never what they seem.
“I need you to find my uncle, Mr. Smart.” Susan Hilton replied, taking a chair from the corner and sitting down in it.
“Your uncle?” Max asked. 99 doesn’t have any uncles, Max thought to himself. This is a dream, remember? His brain replied. Nothing is what it seems.
“Yes,” Susan said. “It’s of vital importance that he’s found.”
“Why’s that?” Max asked, taking a seat on the edge of the desk, just to fall to the floor. He quickly got back up, ventured to his chair and sat down.
“If you must know, Mr. Smart, I’m getting married.”
Max’s heart sank to the bottom of his feet. It was like some horrible de ja vu thing from the past. He hoped she would say her fiancée was a guy named Max whom she loved dearly, but he had a sinking feeling that was not the case. Max cleared his throat, so that his discomfort didn’t show.
“Married, huh?” Max said, forcing a smile on his face. “That’s a mighty big step.”
“Yes,” Hilton said, a large smile crossing her face. Max prayed and prayed she’d say, his name is Max and he’s the love of my life. “He’s a wonderful man. Are you married, Mr. Smart?”
The question surprised him and he was at a lost as to what to say. “No,” he answered finally. “I…missed that boat a long time ago.”
“Oh,” she said, doing a sympathy nod. “That’s too bad. But back to my uncle, Mr. Smart. He has something I need in order for my wedding to take place.”
Max was intrigued. Very intrigued. This woman, who in real life was his adoring wife, needed him to find an uncle he didn’t even know existed, so she could get married to a man who probably isn’t even him. Max got a huge smile on his face.
“Say no more, Ms. Hilton.” He said. “I’ll take your case.”
Yep, this dream was definitely looking up. Hilton said she needed to leave, but that she would meet Max at the Sing, Sing, Sing, a local jazz club. Max said fine. He watched as she left the office, leaned back in his chair and started to laugh. He continued to laugh as he put his feet up on the desk, and pushed himself back even further. He did stop laughing when the chair tipped over backwards.
Max got to the Sing, Sing, Sing Club and heard music coming from inside. It was the start of the afternoon and it wasn’t odd to hear music coming from the local jazz joints, but it certainly didn’t mean the place was open to customers. Max made his way in and wasn’t too surprised at what he saw.
Zach stood on stage, singing the Louis Prima classic, Lazy River. On bass was Austin Parker, Tracie Lewis, Agent 66, was playing tenor sax, and Maxine Smart was seated comfortably behind the drums. There was a solo break and Tracie took a chorus. I didn’t know Tracie played tenor, Max thought to himself. She’s very good. I should tell her that when I get out of this dream.
Zach took the next chorus on piano and as he played, Max heard someone say in his ear, “He’s very good, isn’t he?”
Max simply nodded, recognizing the smooth, sultry voice of that of his wife, or in this case, his client, Susan Hilton. “He owns this club.” she continued, watching as the quartet played on. “He’s a wonderful talent and an extremely giving individual.”
Max looked at her. “Oh, it’s nothing like that.” Hilton replied, seeing the inquisitive look on Max’s face. “I’ve known him for a long time. He’s like a son to me.” Yeah, our son! Max’s brain shouted. Quiet you! Max thoughts shouted back. The quartet broke for a break and Zach came over.
“Slim!” He called, giving Hilton a great big hug.
“Hello Zachary. Mr. Smart, this is Zachary Thomas. He’s the owner of the Sing, Sing, Sing. Zachary, I’d like you to meet Mr. Maxwell Smart.”
“Oh!” Zachary said, shaking his father’s hand. “So you’re the private…” Hilton cleared her voice, in order to stop Zachary from continuing the sentence. He had a special name for private detectives that she didn’t quite approve of. Zachary gave a chuckle and continued. “So you’re the gumshoe.”
“I see my reputation proceeds me.” Max said.
“And what reputation would that be?” Zachary asked, folding his arms across his chest. Max got a feeling he was suspicious of him. His own son! Suspicious of his own father! Some dream, Max thought.
“Care for a drink, Mr. Smart?” Hilton asked as she headed for the bar.
“I shouldn’t,” Max replied. “I’m on a case and I never try to drink and solve a case at the same time.”
Max watched as she walked towards the bar. It was more than her brains that made the man marry her. “Well, in that case,” Max said, handing his black fedora to Zachary and following after Hilton. “Who am I to refuse?”
Max picked a table and Hilton brought over two glasses. The two sat down, but were soon joined by Zachary, who stood looking over at Max. “Why don’t you tell me more about this case, Ms. Hilton?” Max said, taking a drink. Moving in closer, he added, “And maybe a little more about yourself.”
“What do you need that for?” Zachary asked, giving Max a killer look. Max looked at him.
“I like knowing about people.” He said, sarcastically and rather annoyed. “I find it helps when I’m trailing something.” Turning his attention back to 99, Max said, “I need to know exactly what this whole thing is about.”
“What’s to know?” Zachary said. “Her uncle’s gone. You’re gonna have to find him.” That was it.
“Say, do you enjoy buzzing around people like a fly?” Max replied, now getting a tad fed up with his son’s attitude.
“Yeah.” Zachary retorted. “Yeah, I do. I like to be a busy little bee.”
Yep. Max was sensing a lot of hostility being directed towards him.
“Zachary,” Hilton pleaded. “Could you give us a moment?”
Zachary looked as though he was going to say something, but he simply nodded his head and went back to practicing. “You’ll have to excuse him,” Hilton replied, drawing Max’s attention back to her, as though it was a hard task to do. “He’s very protective. As I said, we’ve very close, like family. I’m like a mother to him.”
Like you wouldn’t believe, Max thought. “I’m like a mother to all of them.”
“Ah, the beautiful single mother,” Max sighed, gazing into her eyes. “And no father to be seen.” In no subtle way, Max was trying to work his way back into the good graces of 99. He knew, in her heart of hearts, she didn’t want to marry whoever this guy was she was supposed to.
She wanted to be with him. That was just the facts of the matter. They belonged together, simple as that.
Hilton blushed at the comment and rather bold come on. “I am engaged, Mr. Smart.” She finally said. Minor problem, Max’s brain said. Very fixable.
“Why is it so important for you to get your uncle’s blessing?”
Hilton looked down into her glass, before giving a sigh and starting. “He’s all I have, Mr. Smart. My parents were in a terrible car accident when I was younger and he raised me. He’s like a father to me.”
Max knew that all to well. The Chief was like a father to the two of them when they arrived at CONTROL and they certainly discussed things that maybe shouldn’t have been discussed with one’s boss: personal feelings, minor fights, child rearing, but in the way of a family, besides their mothers of course, he was all THEY had.
“When was the last time you saw your uncle, Ms. Hilton?” Max asked, not wanting to ask any more personal questions that could possibly upset her.
“About two weeks ago,” she replied. “I don’t see him all that much and his work keeps him busy most of the time. But when I went to see him and tell him about the plans Victor and I were making, he wasn’t in his apartment.
“I tried calling and stopping by repeatedly, with no results. I even got the police involved, but they said due to his work, he probably went away on vacation. You know how the police can be. Anyway, when I finally was about to give up hope in finding him, I saw your offices when I past by one day and decided to ask for your help.”
“Ms. Hilton, I hate to switch subjects, especially when information of this type is critical to the case and the final outcome, but I need to know something.”
“What line of work was my uncle involved in?” she asked, filling in the blank.
“No,” Max said, folding his arms across his chest. “But that’s a very relevant question though and certainly important to this case.”
“Oh.” Hilton answered, confused as to what Max’s question could possibly be. “Well, then what was your question then, Mr. Smart?”
“Who is Victor?” Yeah, Max’s brain yelled. Who in the hell is Victor? Hilton laughed slightly, not catching the implied jealous tone of the question.
“Mr. Smart, Victor is my fiancée. You know, the man I plan to marry.”
Max hated the way that sounded. The man I plan to marry. It sounded so sick…and WRONG! Max tried to control the urge to shake the woman to her senses. “Oh,” he said, finally. “Then everything’s been explained.”
“Mr. Smart, nothing has been explained.” Hilton added. “Don’t you think you should know the kind of business my uncle was in?”
“Let me guess,” Max said, sarcastically, not caring about what her uncle did for whoever or whatever. He was merely upset at this ironic and depressing turn of events. “He’s a spy.”
“Shh!” Hilton exclaimed, looking about them. When she was sure that no one had heard, she inched in closer. “How did you know that?” she asked. Max’s smirk was quickly removed.
“You’re kidding!” he asked, in shock. He was not liking the way this dream was headed.
“I certainly am not kidding, Mr. Smart.” Hilton said. “He’s not a spy, per se, but he is doing some top secret work for our government. I tried getting them involved, too. Please, Mr. Smart,” she took his hand and held it. “You’ve just got to find my uncle. It’s more then getting his blessing, there’s a lot more at stake then just that.”
Max’s attention went back and forth between the hand that held his and her intense blue eyes that looked pleadingly at him. The man couldn’t refuse her anything.
“Of course, Ms. Hilton.” Max said, finally. “First things first. I’ll have to check your uncle’s apartment for clues.”
“He lives on Dublin Street, on the top floor. Here’s his key.” She handed him a key. Max picked up his drink and took a drink.
“Okay.” He said. “It’s…” Max turned his hand to look at his watch and ultimately spilled the rest of his drink onto his shirt. He looked down, looked back at his watch, and continued.
“It’s after 12pm right now.” He stood up and wiped the drink from his shirt. “I’ll head over there now. I’ll call you if I find out anything.”
Hilton too stood up and took both of Max’s hands in hers. “Oh, thank you, Mr. Smart. You have no idea what this means to me.” She gave him a kiss on the cheek. You have no idea what THAT means to me, Max thought.
“It’s alright, sweetheart.” He said, giving her a smile.
He started to back away and immediately tripped over the chair behind him. He quickly got back up and left the club. Hilton returned to her seat and her drink. He may not be the best sleuth on the block, she thought. But he certainly is amusing. And charming. As Max left, Zachary’s quartet stood on stage.
“Who was that?” asked Austin.
“A private…” Zachary started, stopping himself. “That’s the cop Slim hired.”
“What for?” Tracie asked.
“He’s here to find her uncle.”
“You better hope that’s all he finds.” Maxine replied.
“You make sure he doesn’t gum our game.” Austin said. The four looked towards the door that Max had exited.
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