The Park Central Affair
Note: This segment was posted prior to Part One because it was used as part of a Grab Bag Challenge on the Get Smart Fan Fiction Mailing List. The elements used in that challenge were Mr. Hugginstuff the teddy bear and the Sunday Morning Comics. Mr. Hugginstuff will also appear in later parts of this story.
Later that evening, Max nestled down into bed next to 99 and discovered that she was reading Pride and Prejudice. A sly smirk played upon his lips as he drew her close to him. He gently lifted the book from her hands and set it aside. He then eyed her delicate lips and wrapped his arms around her. Just as his lips brushed against her, the ring of a phone broke through the tranquility.
Max smiled a nervous smile and then moved to pick up the phone on the nightstand. However, the only sound he heard was a dial tone and the still persistent ringing. He slammed the receiver back into its cradle and fished his shoe out from under the bed. As Max fiddled with his shoe phone, 99 sunk back down into her pillow and opened her book back up. As she read about the exploits of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, she heard Max engage in a brief conversation with Agent 13. Shortly after moving into the next chapter, she faintly heard him put his phone back together. She then shoved a bookmark into her book and turned around just in time to see Max fall out of bed.
“What did 13 want?” asked 99.
“13 figured out Mogler's coming and going pattern and has already received word from Control as to when we should search the penthouse. He wants me to go downstairs and buy a newspaper from him,” explained Max, grabbing his robe.
“I thought he was upstairs inside the vending machine,” commented 99.
“He had to move for the night,” explained Max.
“But why a newspaper, Max?” demanded 99.
“Because we're using Communication Plan UFS which calls for our instructions to be in the funny pages,” explained Max.
Agent 86 then marched out of the room only to march back into the room well over a half hour later. 99 noticed that he had, aside from a rather thick Sunday edition of the New York Times in his arms, a bathrobe and a head that was dotted with snow. Max dropped the newspaper onto the floor and then shook the snow off of him. He was not pleased that 13 had forgotten to tell him that the newspaper machine he was hiding in was across the street from the hotel.
“Ok,” began Max, pulling the funny pages out from the newspaper and then hopping into bed, “13 said our instructions would be found in Blondie this week.”
“Not Prince Valliant?”
“Nope, Control switched over to Blondie –Prince Valliant’s plots were starting to confuse our cryptographers,” explained Max.
“But Max, will our decoder rings still work?” asked 99.
“13 said we don’t need ‘em,” said Max. “He said if Dagwood is late for work, then we go ahead and search Mogler's room after breakfast. However, if Dagwood is sleeping on the sofa, then we search his room after dinner.”
“What if Dagwood is making a sandwich?” asked 99.
“Hmm… 13 slipped on that one,” frowned Max. “There’d better not be any five layer sandwiches in this strip, or I’ll see to it that 13 is put inside a bread machine next time.”
13, however, was not in any danger of such cramped quarters anytime in the near future. Max and 99 discovered that this particular Blondie strip featured Dagwood’s typical tardiness to work. After it was understood that they would be snooping around in the Kaos agent’s room promptly after breakfast, 99 went back to her novel and Max bent down to pick the circulars up off of the floor. He noticed, as his head nearly touched the floor, that the underside of the bed was blanketed with dust.
“So that’s how Phillips is going to do me in,” breathed Max as he watched the dingy fluff that was waltzing around under the bed. “He’s going to dust bunny me to death!”
“That’s silly, Max,” declared 99. “A hotel manager would never do that to a guest.”
“Phillips would –he left that shiftless janitor slack off on vacuuming,” pouted Max. Then he eyed the somewhat ragged teddy bear that was propped up between he and 99 and a stomach churning thought hit him. “Actually, I’d be more worried if he got his hands on Mr. Hugginstuff.”
“Max,” purred 99, snuggling up next to him, “why don’t we just forget about Mr. Phillips for tonight –okay?”
“You’re right, 99,” he nodded, wrapping his arm around her. Then a sly twinkle lit up his eye and he smiled the smile of a sneak. “Why don’t we discuss bridge instead?”
After Max had finished his sermon on the importance of signaling, and after the two had snuggled under the covers, and even after Max had fallen asleep… he woke up. He squinted around the room, but in the darkness he could see nothing more than shadows. He then heard a knocking in the bathroom, which made him sit bolt upright in bed as if by reflex. He then snatched up Mr. Hugginstuff and squinted over at 99. Her side of the bed, however, was empty.
“99?” asked Max, a quiver entering his voice. “Where are you?”
“In the bathroom,” said a muffled but still velvety voice. “Go back to sleep.”
“Okay,” said Max, lying back down and smiling to himself.
It was not too much longer before he heard a door creak open and shut. He then felt the bed move as a body slid into it. He was about to draw the covers up over his chin when they slid not only out of his hands, but were torn off of his body. Had it been light, he would have made some sort of expression of disgust, but since he was in the dark, sneers were hardly worth the trifle. He decided, as he yanked the covers back to him, that 99 was just going to have to get what she asked for.
“Max,” purred a voice some five minutes later, “I’m back.”
“I’ve noticed,” remarked Max, dryly. “99, how come you never told me that you were a sheet hog?”
“Oh, Max….” sighed 99, “You’ve got all the blankets and sheets covering you! Don’t you think it would be better if we… shared?”
“No I don’t!” retorted Max, angrily.
“You don’t want to share, Max?” asked 99 with obvious doubt in her voice.
“That’s not what I meant,” said Max, abruptly. “I meant that I don’t have the covers because you keep taking them from me! I’m tired of fighting about it, 99!”
99 sighed. Max was making less sense than usual and she was freezing. Perhaps, she decided, the “Old Snuggling Trick” would help her get the blankets back. Grinning, she snuggled up next to him and gently placed her arms around him. She noticed that he did not, however, seem too interested in returning the affection.
“Max,” sighed 99, “why don’t we kiss and make up?”
Max’s eyes popped open and he smiled a broad grin. “Yes, 99, why don’t we!”
He then wrapped his arms around her and was about to go for a kiss on her silkily sweet lips when he froze. There was something greatly amiss, he decided, and it was all 99. He had always loved how 99’s figure tucked so neatly into his embrace. Now, though, she was not fitting into his embrace at all. She was not feeling like the slinky and slender girl he knew, but instead she seemed to be rather hard and lumpy.
“Max,” said 99, “if we’re going to kiss and make up, you can start by wrapping your arms around me.”
“99, I’m doing the best I can!” cried Max. “What did you do in that bathroom? Inhale a shipment of Tastycakes?”
“Max!” gasped 99, feeling her checks start to tingle with a mixture of rage and chagrin. “That is a cruel thing to say to your wife and I believe could ask you the same thing if I were like that! Just how often do you hang out at the Control Deli, Mr. Smart?”
It was then that a motor like sound of snoring buzzed through the air. Max sat up in bed and glared down at the lump next to him. He could not comprehend the situation that he was presently submerged in. 99 had first wanted to play the cuddling game, then she had insulted him, and now she was sound asleep. Something deep down inside him told him that this was not the way to act in a Honeymoon suite.
“99,” said Max, “I didn’t know you snored.”
“That’s not me, Max!” insisted 99. “It’s you!”
“It’s me?” asked Max, making a face. “Gee… I didn’t know that I sounded like a Hotrod.”
99 then flipped on the bedside lamp and sat up. She then looked over at Max and discovered that he was also sitting up. They both exchanged confounded glances and then looked down at the snoring lump that was positioned between them as if it were the Berlin Wall. 99’s immediate reaction was to scream while Max’s response was to jump out of bed. He then yanked the covers off of the foreign lump only to discover that Jose, who had his arms wrapped around Mr. Hugginstuff, was their human buzz saw.
“Jose!” cried Max, pulling the bellhop out of the bed. “What are you doing? That’s my bed!”
Jose turned to Max with a bleary-eyed look. “Byron, it’s the middle of the night! What are you going around and waking people up for? You should go to bed!”
I can’t go to bed, Jose,” moaned Max. “You happen to be sleeping in my bed!”
“Jose, what are you doing in here?” asked 99. “Don’t you have a room of your own?”
“Of course he has his own room,
99” snapped Max. “If you ask
me, I think he’s suffering from what we know as Larabee’s Disease.”
“Oh no!” wailed Jose. “I am?”
“Mm—Darling,” said 99, starting to say her husband’s name but catching herself when she saw that he was frowning at her. 99 bit her lip out of frustration. The last thing she wanted to do was call Max ‘Byron.’ “I don’t think Jose’s the type for that.”
“99,” frowned Max, “this is a definite case of Peeping-Tomism!”
“Peeping-Tomism?” asked 99, wondering if that was really a word.
“Peeping-Tomism?” echoed Jose, raising an eyebrow. “When was Tom doing the peeping?”
99 turned to Max and rolled her eyes as if to ask why he had to complicate their confusion. She then turned to Jose and smiled. “Jose, if you have a room, why aren’t you in it?”
“My roommate, the janitor, told me to ‘Get Lost’,” explained Jose. “That’s a little hard to do when you know this hotel like I do!”
“That’s some swell roommate,” remarked Max, sarcastically. “You didn’t have a roommate when I worked here.”
“Mr. Phillips put him there to save space,” explained Jose.
“Did you complain to Mr. Phillips about his behavior?” asked 99.
“Yes…” nodded Jose.
“And…?” prompted Max.
“Mr. Phillips gave me two choices –a roommate or a pink slip.”
“Typical Phillips,” frowned Max.
“Love,” said 99, turning to Max. “Why don’t we let Jose have the sofa tonight and then we can straighten this out in the morning!”
“Gee... 99,” replied Max, “You sure do like to procrastinate.”
99’s response was to give Max nothing more than a fiery glare. Max winced and then pulled a blanket and a pillow from his bed. He then tossed them to Jose and, with 99 by his side, he returned to his own bed. After a few minutes of resettlement, the light went out and the trio nestled into their assigned areas. Exactly a minute later, the light came back on again and Max shot out of the bed and lunged at Jose.
“Jose,” began Max, snatching away the teddy bear that Jose was holding, “the only way you can stay is if –and only if—you promise never to touch Mr. Hugginstuff ever again!”
“Sure… but why?” asked Jose.
“Because this teddy bear is hazardous to your health!”
COPYRIGHT ©1999-2016 BY AMANDA HAVERSTICK.
What's next in store for Control's top agents during their stay in The Big Apple? Find out in Part Three!
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