The Smarts’ Big Adventure
Chapter One : Adventures In Spysitting
“Are you sure you guys will be okay?” 99 was worried. There was a reason that when she went on business trips, Zach and Max were not left to themselves.
“Yes, sweetheart.” Max said. She was always worried about him. And he absolutely loved it. “Zach and I will be fine. Come on. You and Max don’t get to spend all that much time together. This’ll be great for both of you.”
“I know that, Max, but I want to be sure you and Zach will be okay alone by yourselves.”
“99, what on earth can happen?” Max asked.
“How quickly we forget the kitchen fire of 1976.”
“I thought you said you’d never bring that up again.” Max folded his arms in a pout.
“Aw, Max.” 99 cooed, putting her arms around his shoulders. “I just want to make sure you and Zach are safe. I don’t know what I’d do if something happened to my two favorite men in the world.” She kissed his lips.
“I know, 99.” Max said, sheepishly. “We’ll be okay. I promise.”
“Okay.” She let go of him and went over to her bags.
“Who’s your favorite?”
“My favorite what?” 99 asked.
“Your favorite man in the world.” Max insisted. “I mean, between me and Zach. Who’s your favorite?”
“Oh Max, really…”
“Now, come on, 99.” He said, rubbing her arm. “Who’s your favorite?”
“You promise you won’t tell Zach.”
“You’re my favorite, Max. You know that.” 99 kissed his cheek, just as Zach came from the kitchen, with a handful of cookies in his hand and his mouth.
“Hey, you’re still here?” he said, bits of cookie leaving his mouth.
“Yes, I’m still here and don’t talk with your mouth full.” 99 said, brushing crumbs from the side of his mouth.
“Alright, I’m leaving now.” 99 said, grabbing her bag. She opened the door and turned to look at Zach and Max. “I want you two to be good, okay? Stay out of trouble. I left the number of the plane by the phone, as well as my cell number. Call if anything goes wrong.”
“Mom, we’re not little kids.” Zach said, in exasperation. “We’ve been home by ourselves before and nothing happened.”
“How quickly you forget the kitchen fire of 1976.” 99 said, eyeing her son. Zach folded his arms and pouted.
“I thought you said you wouldn’t bring that up again. And besides, it wasn’t Dad or I that started fire. It was the laser.”
“And who had the laser?” 99 asked, knowingly.
“That’s really beside the point, 99.” Max said, trying to change the subject.
“Well, anyway, just be careful, okay?”
“We will.” The boys replied.
99 gave them each a kiss on the cheek and headed over to Maxine’s truck that had just pulled up in the driveway. The guys waved goodbye and closed the door.
“So,” Zach asked, rubbing his hands together. “What’s first?”
“Well, I’ve already washed the dishes and cleaned up the kitchen and we’ve already eaten…” Max said, trying to think of something he and his son could do.
Max had wanted a game of catch or toss the football around or even a game of basketball, but he knew that was something he just couldn’t do, on the account of the time they broke the front window playing ball in the house.
“We could always watch TV.” Zach said. He didn’t exactly want to waste away watching the boob tube.
He wanted to go out for a game of catch or toss the football around or even a game of basketball, but he knew that was something he just couldn’t do, on the account of the time they broke the front window playing ball in the house.
The boys went over to the couch, sat down, and turned on the TV. There was a movie about killer spiders already on.
Zach and Max looked at each other and Max quickly turned the channel. On WMC, they had a Humphrey Bogart marathon just beginning.
“Hey, we can watch the master at work.” Max replied, already excited about the whole thing.
Zach smiled at him. He had almost forgotten how much his Dad loved old movies like this, especially those with Mr. Bogart in them. “Great idea, Pop.” Zach said, getting up. “I’ll go make us some sandwiches and we can watch the marathon.”
In a few minutes, Zach was back out with a large plate of potato chips and cookies surrounding a large hoagie sandwich cut in half in one hand and two large bottled sodas in the other. He sat the plate down in front of his father and the two relaxed for a day of Bogie.
Maxine and 99 got to the President’s private hanger in about five minutes or less, thanks to Maxine’s erratic driving. “Mom, I said I was sorry.” She said, following her mother over to the plane, The Screaming Eagle.
“Maxine,” 99 said, turning to look at her daughter. “No one drives like that, unless they are certified by NASCAR, which I believe, you are not.” She turned back around and boarded the plane.
“I just thought we were in a hurry.” Maxine followed her inside and both stopped their bickering when they saw the inside of the plane.
It was like a very large living room. Couches on either side, a juice bar, a bar with every kind of liquor available, three large screen TVs, with VCR’s and computer capabilities.
“Oh…my… God.” Maxine said, in astonishment.
“Ditto.” 99 agreed.
“If you ladies need anything, just hit the buzzer on the side.” That was the voice of the co-pilot, who had graciously escorted them inside. He turned and closed the door behind him.
“You should do more errands for the president.” Maxine said, walking slowly to one of the couches. She sat down and was met by the most glorious sensation. She was completely and utterly relaxed.
“We need these couches in the office.” She said, staring up at the ceiling of the plane. Within minutes, the pilots started the plane and the two were off to Atlanta. 99 sat across from Maxine and fixed herself some cranberry juice.
“Max, do you want anything?” she asked.
“Yes.” Maxine said, still looking up at the ceiling. “Your job.”
99 smiled and shook her head. “I meant, do you want anything to drink?”
Maxine awoke from her dream-like relaxation and looked at her mother.
“Um, no, Mom. I’m okay.” She stretched out, putting her legs up on the couch. “This is very very nice.”
“I know.” 99 replied, taking a sip from her juice. “Pretty nice, just for dropping off a package.”
“Speaking of which, what’s in that package?”
“A videotape.” 99 said, glancing at the package beside her. “Would you believe it?”
“If Dad had asked me, I’d say no.” Maxine giggled. “But in this case, I have to doubt even my mother.”
“That’s what the man told me.” 99 said. “But I have my doubts as well. It’s way to light to be a videotape.”
“Then open it and see what’s in it.” Maxine suggested.
“Maxine, I can’t do that.” 99 replied.
“Because it’s wrong and unethical.”
“Oh, that.” Maxine said, rolling her eyes. She always did have Max’s ability to shoot first and ask later. “Well then, hand it to me and I’ll open it.”
“Maxine Marie Smart, what did I just say?” 99 couldn’t believe what her daughter was asking. She always did have Max’s ability to shoot first and ask later.
“Alright, alright.” Maxine said, putting her arms behind her head. “If you don’t want to open it, don’t open it. Let the excitement and suspense eat at you. I certainly have no say in the matter.”
99 knew exactly what she was trying to do. “Don’t tempt me, Maxine.”
“I’m not!” Maxine insisted. “I’m just saying if you think you can bypass the trill and perhaps mystery of a package that is too light be a videotape, then you just go ahead. It’s like not pushing the little red button. You don’t know what it is or what it does, but your orders are straightforward.
“Don’t Touch the Button. You guard the thing everyday and every night, with the pacific goal of NOT pushing the button. The shiny, little red button. That’s what that package is. A little red button. I say press it, you say don’t. Who will win out in the end?” Maxine turned to look at her mother, a wicked smile on her face.
“Alright, alright!” 99 exclaimed. Her daughter was good. Very good. “Hand me your penknife.”
Max and Zach had watched three Bogie movies that day and were now sitting and playing a game of gin. Zach looked up to see what they were watching now and was a tad bit confused.
“And that’s Gingy-boo!” Max exclaimed, winning yet another hand against his son. When Max got no response, he followed Zach’s gaze to the TV. “What’re you watching?” Max asked.
“I think it’s one of those talk shows.” Zach replied, reaching for the remote and turning the volume up.
“Welcome back to the Rich Welker Show.” Said the host. “We’re talking about the famous PJ Templeton murder case. Is he guilty or just a clever man whose America’s favorite soap star? We’re taking your calls at 819-1729.”
“I wonder why they’re still talking about this.” Max muttered.
“Well, it’s all the rage, Pop.” Zach said, pointing to the tally they were keeping on screen. “See? Of 20 callers, 15 say he’s guilty.”
“If they were the jury, he’d be hung.” Max said, going back to their card game.
“Hey, wouldn’t it be funny if we called in and tried to even out the score a bit?” Zach asked. Both men laughed at the notion, but soon they seemed to have the same prank in their heads.
Max looked at Zach, Zach looked at Max, and devilish smiles crept across their faces. Both put down their cards and Max grabbed the phone and placed it on the table.
“What was that number again?” he asked, trying to remember it.
“819-1729.” Zach said, reading it from the TV screen.
“It’s ringing.” Max said, holding the phone to his ear. He then cleared his throat and in a British accent, “Hello there? Is this the Rich Welker show? Ah, yes. Well, I’d like to vote on the PJ Templeton case. I say he’s clean. A wonderful lad. Wonderful on screen. Yes, that’s all. Goodbye.”
Max hung up the phone and waited for his call to be counted. Just like that, the numbers for PJ’s innocence rose from 5 to 6. Both Max and Zach exclaimed in joy and burst into laughter. They looked at each other, some how knowing that one call just wasn’t enough.
“What is that?” Maxine asked, looking into the box. She and 99 were sitting on either side of the package the president had given 99. They had expected to find a videotape, but when they opened it, all they saw was a medium sized black pearl. 99 lifted the pearl out of the box and examined it.
“It seems to be an ordinary pearl.”
“Hey, it’s got a hook on it. See?” Maxine said, pointing at a small hook.
“That’s certainly an interesting videotape. Maybe there’s something inside it.”
Both women peered at the little gem before 99 handed it to Maxine. “If there’s something in there, we probably won’t be able to get it out.” She said.
“Maybe the admiral will know what to do with it. In the mean time, we have to figure out how to get this package looking like a package again.” Both looked at the remains of the package, which was ripped to shreds, thanks in part to Maxine’s impatience.
“I think the package didn’t make it.” Maxine said, knowing the glare 99 was probably giving her right now. “Look, why don’t I keep it?” Maxine said, putting the little pearl on her necklace.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea, Max.” 99 said, not looking what could happen to that pearl and to her when the president found out what they had done.
“Mom, don’t you ever get tired of being the voice of reason?” Maxine asked, finding her seat on the comfy couch she had occupied before.
“Not particularly, no.” 99 replied, leaning back in her seat.
“Don’t worry, Mom.” Maxine said. “I won’t let anything happen to this little pearl thing here. I promise.”
“Okay, Max. Just be careful with it, okay?”
“No prob.” Maxine said, looking at the pearl. “I wonder what Zach and Dad are doing right now.”
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