Take me back Home!

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The Park Central Affair

by

Amanda Haverstick

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Part One

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“Okay, 86,” said the Chief, flipping off the lights in his office. “I want you to watch this surveillance footage closely.”

“Right, Chief,” nodded Maxwell Smart, Agent 86 of Control.

The Chief started the projector and the film went through its normal do-si-do of focusing and counting down to the beginning shot. A minute went by only to reveal to Agent 86 that his new mission was about a blank screen. The following minute that went by, however, revealed to the Chief that his projector was not functioning.

“Darn Government Issue projectors,” growled the Chief, jumping up from his seat and fiddling with the film, which seemed to be lodged into the projector at a twisted angle. “The film’s stuck!”

“Hmm… I hope that isn’t Kodak film,” remarked Max.

“It isn’t!” barked the Chief at Max. He then directed the rest of his complaints very directly to the projector itself.

After several minutes and several pieces of torn film later, the Chief sat back down in the dark next to Max. Aside from the nuisance of damaged equipment and ruined surveillance footage, what aggravated him the most was that the failure of the equipment had happened to him. He could see the all-thumbs agent sitting next to him performing such a display, but not him!

“Chief,” said Max.

“Yes?”

“Did you try talking nicely to it?”

***

“Alright, Max,” moaned the Chief after briefing Max on the mission without the aid of the projector, “let’s discuss this mission again. I don’t want any foul-ups, bleeps, or blunders. Now, sum up for me what this mission is about.”

“Lies,” answered Max, nonchalantly pulling out a cigarette and lighting it.

“Max, when we’re dealing with Kaos, it’s all lies,” frowned the Chief. “Why don’t you get to the point of this?”

“Chief,” sighed Max, “I think you should find someone else for this one.”

The Chief wrinkled his brow in confusion. He asked himself if he had entered a parallel universe where everything was exactly the opposite of what it was supposed to be. First, he had to succumb to a gaffe with a projector and now his most over-eager agent did not want to go on a mission. Whatever the problem was, though, the Chief was determined not to let this domino effect of peculiarity continue.

“Max,” began the Chief, searching 86’s eyes for a clue as to what was going through the spy’s mind, “you’re going on this mission whether you like it or not.”

“But, Chief,” frowned Max, “this mission is about a Kaos laser smuggling ring, right?”

“Yes, Max,” nodded the Chief, somewhat relieved that 86 had paid attention to at least some of what he had told him.

“And Kaos,” continued Max, “is smuggling parts of this laser into the Park Central Hotel in New York City, right?”

“Correct Max!” exclaimed the Chief, who was now actually amazed that Smart had listened to his entire spiel on the case. “At least, we assume it’s a laser –it’s parts to something. The film I wanted to show you was of Kaos agent Krachanski unpacking what looked like a gun barrel. Unfortunately, that’s all we have because the Control agent that was doing the taping, Smithson, was caught by Krachanski and was killed. What we don’t know, Max, is what they’re doing with these items once they get them. That’s going to be your job –just make sure you steer clear of the Kaos agent that’s replacing Krachanski.”

“Why?” asked Max, taking a drag on his cigarette. “Who’s he?”

“His name’s Mogler –he’s Kaos’ Killer of the Year.”

“Chief, I have only one question about all this,” said Max.

“What?”

“Can I retire?”

“Max… moaned the Chief in a moan that was all too familiar to the walls of Control. What is your problem? This is a simple cut and dry mission!”

“It’s not the mission, Chief. It’s the local,” explained Max.

“Do you want me to call Kaos and have them move their project down to sunny Florida for you?” snapped the Chief.

Max smiled at this comment. “Chief, I think that’s a terrific idea! In fact, I—“

“Smart!” growled the Chief. “I want a simple reason.”

Max frowned. “Chief, the thing is, one of my very first assignments was in the Park Central. I was working undercover as their house detective.”

“So?” shrugged the Chief. “What does that have to do with this –unless it’s about a laser smuggling ring.”

“Actually,” explained Max, “it was a rubber garbage smuggling ring. It took us over a year to track down the culprits. The real problem is, Chief, that my assignment was so top secret that I had to use a phony name and ID for it. Everyone there really believed that I was really a house detective. What if I go back and they recognize me?”
The Chief scratched his balding head and frowned. “I can see how that would be a problem, Max, but it’s only a ‘what-if’ scenario. I’m sure they see a lot of in and out guests and you’re probably at the back of their thoughts.”

Max squirmed uncomfortably for a second and then narrowed his eyes at the Chief. “Fine. I’m going to go on this mission just to prove you wrong! That’s right, Chief! I’m going to go home, get 99, go to New York, and prove to you that you are R-O-N-G! Wrong!”

“Max… ‘wrong’ starts with a ‘W’,” corrected the Chief.

“It doesn’t matter to me if it begins with an umlaut –you’re still wrong!” retorted Max.

***

“Max,” purred Agent 99, as they walked into the Park Central Hotel in downtown New York City, “I’m going to love this assignment! We get to spend a week alone in a luxury suit!”

“Wrong, 99,” frowned Max in all seriousness, “we get to spend a week spying on Kaos Agent Mogler. He’s this week’s new penthouse resident.”

99 frowned. Max was being just a tad too earnest about this assignment for her liking. “Well,” she said, brightly, “we’ll get to spend some time in New York. Maybe we can—"

“99,” moaned Max in a tired voice as they approached the front desk, “we won’t have time to do anything because we’ll be too bogged down with post-mission paperwork!”

“I’ll keep that in mind, Max,” frowned 99, mocking his serious tone.

“Good!” approved Max as he rang the bell on the desk. The bell, however, went unanswered for a few minutes. Max then concluded that the lack of a desk clerk was enough of an excuse to bail on the mission and leave.

“Max,” said 99 as she saw her husband start to walk away, “where are you going?”

“Nobody’s home, 99. Let’s go!” said Max as he turned and walked directly into the bellhop that was standing behind him.

“Byron!” exclaimed the bellhop, his eyes lighting up as he hugged the life out of Max.

“Hi Jose,” smiled Max, squirming away from his buddy’s embrace.

“Byron, I’m so glad to see you!” exclaimed Jose. “Wait ‘til I tell Mr. Phillips and Susie and—"

“Phillips is still here?” asked Max in a low voice.

“Uh-huh,” nodded Jose. “Give him a minute –I think he’s about to yell at you.”

“Jimenez!” exclaimed a voice from the hallway that was painfully familiar to Max.

“Like I said,” nodded Jose.

“Love,” said 99 in a low voice as she walked over to Max, “what’s going on?”

“You see, 99,” explained Max, “Jose and I are going to get yelled at by the manager for some Mickey Mouse little thing that went wrong. That’s how it works around here.”

99 wrinkled her nose in confusion and then turned to Jose and smiled at him. “Are you one of M—"

Before 99 could spit out the ax of “Max,” her husband wrapped his arm around her shoulders, drew her close, and kissed her on the check. Seeing that she was too speechless to give any more classified information away, he turned to Jose and smiled a broad smile. “Jose, I’d like you to meet my wife. I call her—"

“Ah –Mrs. Glick!” exclaimed Jose, smiling at 99 and shaking her hand.

99 and Max then traded looks that conveyed two separate ideas. 99 made a face at Max that read, “What kind of a name is Glick?” Max’s reaction was to give her a look that said, “Just play it off 99! They then turned back to Jose with the best poker faces that they could muster. The serenity of the moment, however, was not to last, because at that very moment 86 and 99 watched the hotel manager, a stone faced man named Phillips, storm into the lobby.

“Jimenez!” barked Phillips. What did you do with Mr. Mogler’s luggage?”

“I sent it on its way through the dumb waiter, Mr. Phillips,” explained Jose.

“You nitwit!” groaned Phillips. “How did you expect Mr. Mogler to get it by sending it through the dumb waiter?”

“Well… gee… Mr. Phillips, it is a pretty dumb waiter…”

“And you are a dumb bellhop!” sniffed Phillips. “You were supposed to be checking up on the Smarts’ suite! They’re government agents and I want everything exceedingly perfect for them!”

Max and 99 exchanged crestfallen glances. They were faced with the fact that worst that could happen to a spy had happened to them: their covers had been blown. Indeed an exposed identity was a spy’s worst nightmare, but Max was a bit glad that he still had the phony alias of Byron Glick to fall back on.

“Byron! Did you hear that?” exclaimed Jose, turning back to Max. “We’ve got spies in our hotel!”

“How little he knows,” muttered 99 under her breath, shifting her eyes towards Max.

“Did you say…” gasped Phillips, looking over at Max and 99. “Glick! What are you doing here?”

“Well, Mr. Phillips,” began Max, “we’d like a—"

“You came back to haunt me, didn’t you Glick?” accused Phillips. “You came here to turn Jimenez against me!”

“Actually,” interrupted 99, “we just want a room.”

Who’s she?” demanded Phillips, looking 99 up and down in a state of awe.

That’s Mrs. Glick,” explained Jose.

“The poor thing,” frowned Phillips, shaking his head and clicking his tongue.

“She doesn’t look poor to me,” remarked Jose. “She looks pretty expensive!”

“You should see the credit card bills,” said Max, turning to Jose.

99 rolled her eyes. “What about the room?”

“The only room available is the honeymoon suite,” sniffed Mr. Phillips. “Take it or leave it.”

“We’ll take it!” smiled 99, her eyes glowing.

“99,” interrupted Max, “haven’t I taught you anything? You can’t just go jumping into things like that! You’ve got to haggle a little!”

“Byron,” interrupted Jose, “why don’t you take the honeymoon suite –it has nice terry bathrobes, a coffee maker, and a TV!”

“Love,” purred 99, as she gave Max a sharp elbow in the ribs, “why don’t we take the honeymoon suite?”

“Because, 99, we already did that and I can’t believe that every other room in this hotel is booked! This place was never this booked before!” insisted Max.

That, Glick, is because after you left we had an increase in popularity!” smirked Phillips.

“You really know how to hurt a guy, don’t you?” snapped Max.

“Come on, Byron,” said Jose, picking up Max’s luggage and ushering him over to the elevator, “I’ll show you to your room.”

99 smiled as she grabbed her train case. While this was definitely going to be an odd mission, she was certain that staying in the honeymoon suit was going to make up for the mishaps of the moment. Still beaming as she stepped onto the elevator, she turned around only to see Mr. Phillips’ Plaster of Paris scowl just as the elevator doors smacked shut.

***

“Max,” said 99 as she began to unpack her things, “there’s something funny going on here.”

“What do you mean, 99?” asked Max from the bathroom where he was trying to figure out the coffeemaker.

“Max,” said 99, appearing in the doorway, “since when did you become Byron Glick?”

“Since our cover as innocent New York City tourists was blown,” explained Max in a matter of fact tone. “Boy would I like to get my hands on whoever spilled the beans about us being-"

“Max,” interrupted 99, frowning, “those men downstairs seemed to know you as this Byron Glick person! What I want to know is who this Mr. Glick is --I mean, is this some sort of case of mistaken identity?”

“You could call it mistaken identity in a round about way, 99,” shrugged Max, looking up at her. “Of course this is all really nothing to worry yourself with.”

“Max!” cried 99, aghast. “If you’re going to take another man’s name for this mission, then that’s just not right! It’s one thing to use a phony cover name, but this Mr. Glick sounds like a real person!”

“Tell me about it,” moaned Max, wondering how long he could keep his game of charades going.

“Max,” said 99, patiently, “why don’t you tell me about it? After all, we’re married and it’s not right to keep secrets from each other!”

“99,” frowned Max, “I just don’t know where to begin.”

Interrupting 99’s interrogation and Max’s potential revelation was a thorough pounding on the door. 99 moaned as Max walked over to the door. The last thing she wanted when she was trying to dissect her husband’s secrets was a welcome wagon to suspend the process. She watched a smile spread across Max’s face as he looked through the peephole. Their visitor was obviously Jose.

“It’s Jose!” announced Max as he opened the door and let his friend in.

“Hello Byron and Mrs. Byron,” greeted Jose as he handed Max a pile of towels.

Max eyed the towels strangely. “Jose, I’m not one to sound picky, but weren’t these supposed to be in the bathroom?”

“No, Byron, they weren’t, but they should be now,” answered Jose.

Max threw Jose an uncomfortable look when 99 decided it was time to step into the conversation. “Jose, are you sure that we didn’t have towels before?”

“No, Mrs. Glick, I’m trying to say that you don’t have towels,” explained Jose.

“Why don’t we?” asked Max.

“Well,” said Jose, “now you do have towels because I brought them to you.”

“I think we’re aware of that,” said Max in a tired voice. “Why weren’t they here before?”

“They were supposed to be here before you checked in, but the maid is a… a—“

“Slob?” offered Max.

“Uh-huh,” nodded Jose, “that’s the word.”

“A slob maid,” mused Max. “That doesn’t make any sense. Why doesn’t Phillips fire her?”

“The maid’s a he,” explained Jose. “Besides, Mr. Phillips is happy with the way he cleans the penthouse. After every guest it is completely spotless!”

“How do you like that, 99,” said Max, turning to 99. “Those of us down here in steerage don’t have a chance!”

“Jose, does this ‘cleaning person’ always clean the penthouse?” asked 99.

“Yes, Mrs. Glick. No one gets to go up there but him!” explained Jose, who then turned to Max. “Byron, does she have a name?”

“She’s 99,” explained Max.

Noventa-nueve?” breathed Jose in amazement. “But she doesn’t look a day over—"

“No, Jose, her name is 99!” exclaimed Max.

“Byron, since when does a name have an age?” demanded Jose.

Max sighed. “Jose, you don’t—"

“Jimenez!” barked Phillips from the hallway. “Get out here now! This is not tea time!”

Jose made a sick expression and walked towards the door. He and Max then exchanged parting formalities. After Jose left, Max slowly closed the door and took a deep breath. His grace period with 99 was over.

“Well, Byron,” smiled 99, walking over to Max. “What do you have to say for yourself?”

“99, I think you should sit down for this,” he said, leading her over to the sofa.

99 sat down on the edge of the sofa and looked up at Max. “Alright, Max.”

“On second thought, you may take this better standing,” deducted Max.

99 then stood up and looked Max directly in the eye. “Okay, Max?”

Max frowned and shook his head. “No, I’d better sit down. This is entirely too stressful.”

99 sighed as Max plopped down on the sofa and began massaging his temples. “Max, are you feeling alright?”

“No!” cried Max, jumping up. “What I’m about to say is top security and I demand the C.O.S.!”

“Maaaaxxxxx!” cried 99, stomping her foot in frustration. “We don’t have a Cone of Silence! You’re going to have to tell me out in the open.”

It was then that a devilishly cute smile played upon Max’s lips. He took 99 by the arm and led her into the bathroom. His grin broadened as he pushed open the shower curtain. 99 looked at Max and the shower with curiosity. She could tell by the twinkling glint that was in Max’s dark eyes that some scheme had infected his mind as well as his common sense.

“We may not have a C.O.S, 99, but we do have an S.O.S.,” announced Max as he stepped into the shower.

“An S.O.S.?” asked 99.

“Yes,” smirked Max as he fiddled with the tap. “The Shower of Silence!”

99 rolled her eyes and shook her head. This was all too much –even for her. Max, however, quickly sensed her reluctance and scowled. His stab at stalling was not working. He was going to have to engage his last ditch tactic: the sad puppy dog look.

“Awe, 99,” he whined, granting her with his most pathetic of expressions. “Come on, 99! Remember your patriotic duty and hop in here. It’s for the good of the free world, 99!”

“Fine, Max,” agreed 99 stepping into the shower and pulling the curtain shut. “I just hope you remember your duty.”

Max smiled and turned the shower knob so that the tap was open the whole way. After some sputtering from the showerhead, the Smarts were bathed in a downpour of warm water. 99 was glad that Max had thought enough to get the water warm first, but she was not thrilled that her dress was soaked and her hair was ruined. She looked once at her grinning, dripping wet husband and gave him the glare of an irate mother.

“Alright Max, who’s Byron Glick?” demanded 99 raising her voice above the din of the hammering water.

“No, 99, I didn’t hear anything tick,” said Max shaking his head.

“What are you saying Max?” shouted 99.

“Exlax?” asked Max, cupping his ear with his hand. “Sorry 99, I forgot those.”

“Max!” cried 99, stomping her foot in a puddle and making a splash. “It’s not that noisy in here!”

“What did you say, 99” asked Max.

99 took a deep breath, reached around Max, and turned the water off. She then looked over at him with a school marmish scowl. The sneaky glint in his eyes had vanished and had been replaced with a rather vacant look.

“Okay, Mr. Smart, or Mr. Glick, or whoever it is that you really are,” snapped 99, looking him in the eye, “your game is over!”

“99,” said Max in a quiet voice as he snatched one of the towels from outside the shower and wrapped it around her, “I am Maxwell Smart. Byron Glick was a cover name that I used once for a long and extensive assignment.”

“When was this, Max?” asked 99.

“Before we met. I think the Chief still had hair then, too…” reflected Max. “You see, 99, Control had a mission in this hotel and they stuck me in here as the house detective.”

“Really, Max?” asked 99. “That must have been exciting!”

“It was great, 99!” said Max, his eyes glowing. “We once hid an elephant in Jose’s room and—"

“Max,” interrupted, 99, “did anyone ever find out that you were a spy?”

“No, 99,” said Max, shaking his head. “Everyone thinks I’m Glick –I don’t know how to get around it.”

99 frowned. “Well, considering that our covers were blown, I suppose it’s just as well that everyone believes you’re this Glick person.”

“I know, 99,” nodded Max, “but that’s not what’s bugging me.”

“What’s wrong?” asked 99, wishing they could have their discussion in dry clothes.

“Jose!” cried Max. “You see, 99, Jose and I are friends and… well… it’s just that... what if he found out that I’m not who I told him I was? It was bad enough explaining this mess to you! It’s going to be ten times worse explaining it to Jose.”

99 frowned. This was a problem and she could see that either path Max might choose could result in a possibly volatile reaction. She knew that, as she studied Max’s mopey expression, all this was eating him up. There was, however, only one right answer to this situation –she knew it and Max knew it well enough to pretend that he didn’t know it.

“You’ve got to tell him the truth, Max,” said 99.

“99,” cried Max throwing his hands in the air, “I can’t tell him –and don’t give me that line about how if Jose’s my friend, he’ll understand.”

“Max,” smiled 99, putting her arm around him, “if Jose is really your friend, then he’ll understand.”

Max rolled his eyes at her. “99, I asked you not to give me that line! After all, we’re secret agents.”

“But Max, you’re friend Sid found out,” 99 reminded him.

“Well, that’s because Sid interfered –and ruined a perfectly good date all at the same time!” said Max in a huff.

At that moment they were interrupted by a knock at the door. Max motioned for 99 to stay put as he hopped out of the shower. He then sloshed over to the door and opened it to find Jose standing outside. Jose looked his soaked friend up and down and wrinkled his nose.

“Byron, do you still forget to take your clothes off when you take a shower?” asked Jose.

“No, Jose,” said Max, trying to think of a reasonably believable tall tale to tell. “I was inspecting the shower just to make sure that it was in tip-top condition!”

Jose smiled. “Well, Byron, you could have just asked –or tried the faucet.”

Max pulled off his saturated jacket just as a sneeze came from the direction of the bathroom. “99 wanted to help,” he explained.

Jose nodded and gave Max a sneaky wink. “Byron, I was wondering if you would like to have dinner with me and Susie in the Coffee Shop.”

Max was about to agree when a fleeting image of Mr. Phillips passed through his mind. “Just as long as Phillips won’t be around.”

“Mister Phillips told me that he can not eat or rest until he finds out what happed to Mr. and Mrs. Smart –so I don’t think he’ll be coming. I wonder what could’ve happened to them… Mister Phillips may have a long while to go without supper,” mused Jose.

“Well, Jose, I’m sure that when the smoke clears, you and I certainly won’t want to be around when Phillips finds out,” said Max.

***

Later that evening, Max, 99, Jose, and Suzie, the waitress, were huddled together in a quiet corner of the Park Central’s Coffee Shop. They had spent much of the evening exchanging idle chitchat –except for Max. He had been trying to think of some sort of strategy for dealing with Jose. It was when Max had almost reached a strategic epiphany and when the rest of the group were about to order dessert that Mr. Phillips shot through the doors and marched over to their table.

“Glick!” gasped Phillips. “The spies that were supposed to be staying in room 312 have not arrived! Why aren’t you investigating this?”

Max rolled his eyes halfway back into his head. “Because I don’t work here.”

“Because you don’t work here,” mimicked Phillips. “Don’t put me on with your half-baked excuses! I know all of your excuses quite well.”

“Mr. Phillips,” said 99, “don’t you have another house detective –perhaps one that’s paid to work here?”

“Phillips,” said Max in the most nasally squeak of self-importance that he could muster, “I gave up detective work for good, so you’re just going to have to find somebody else.”

“Fine!” sniffed Phillips. “Let me down like you always do, Glick. Go ahead –make yourself look like a yellowbellied coward in front of your wife and friends.”

“Yellow!” squawked Max. “I’m not—"

Max’s protest was abruptly cut off by the sound of his shoephone ringing. He really wished that the Chief would have the common courtesy not to call at mealtime. He decided, as began to shovel spoonful after spoonful of sugar into his coffee, to ignore his shoe. If he disregarded it and acted casual, maybe everyone else would overlook it.

“Should someone get the phone?” asked Susie.

“They can’t, Susie,” said Jose

“Why?”

“Mr. Glick’s foot is in it,” explained Jose.

99 winced as Susie shot Max a funny look. Mr. Phillips raised an eyebrow and pulled up the tablecloth so that he could better gape at the source of the ringing. Annoyed, Max flipped the tablecloth back into its proper place and then turned to Jose.

“Thanks a bundle jabber jaw,” snapped Max under his breath.

He then got up from the table and started for the door. He marched out into the hallway and ducked into the men’s washroom. Not sparing a second, he surveyed the room and, much to his relief, discovered it was empty. Max then pulled off the ringing shoe, hopped into the nearest stall, and slammed the door shut behind him.

“I don’t want any,” declared Max, speaking into the shoe.

“86,” said a crackly voice, “this is 13.”

“13?” asked Max. “You’re on this mission too?”

“I’m in a vending machine on the floor with the penthouse. You’re in 312, right?”

“Wrong. We’re in the honeymoon suit on the floor below the penthouse. What was Control thinking, putting us all the way down on the third floor?” scoffed Max. “We can’t do our work that way!”

“That’s really neither here nor there, 86,” replied 13 in a tired voice.

“Neither here nor there!” cried Max. “13, we can certainly do a better job being here rather than there!”

“If you say so, 86,” grumbled 13. “Aren’t you going to ask me if I found anything out?”

“13?” asked Max.

“Yes, 86?”

“Did you find anything out?”

“That this place sells flat soda!” huffed 13.

“13, I meant regarding Mogler! What’s he up to?”

“Not much. He comes and goes,” sighed 13. “The janitor comes and goes a lot too.”

“Interesting,” murmured Max. “Is it always the same janitor?”

“So far,” said 13. “As soon as I can pick up a pattern on what they’re doing, I’ll give you and 99 a call so that you can search the place.”

“Good!” approved Max, hanging up the phone. He then put his shoe back on and strode out of the stall. Directly across from him, leaning on a sink, was a granite faced Mr. Phillips. Max winced and wondered how he was going to explain his conversation with Agent 13. Lately, it seemed that there were just not enough excuses.

“Glick,” began Phillips, looking him in the eye, “did you have a nice chat in there?”

“A nice chat?” repeated Max. He had always thought that Phillips did one of the worst jobs at the fine art of interrogation, although he was not about to admit that to him.

“You booby!” snapped Phillips. “Don’t play stupid with me, Glick.”

“Mr. Phillips,” gasped Max, stepping back. “I’m insulted! I’ve never stooped to playing stupid with you!”

“No… you just are stupid,” retorted Phillips. “Nevertheless, I think you have something up your sleeve.”

“My Mickey Mouse watch?” asked Max.

Phillips shot Max a look that would have surely been poisonous had it been offered in pill form. “After five years of not having to deal with your antics, you still irritate me! I want to know what you were doing, who you were talking to, and why your shoe was ringing!”

“Sorry about that Mr. Phillips,” said Max, moving to the door, “but I’m taking the fifth!”

“I’m warning you, Glick,” threatened Phillips as Max ducked out of the bathroom “Your next step if I have anything to say about it is onto the funny farm!”

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Added 12-25-01

COPYRIGHT ©1999-2016 BY AMANDA HAVERSTICK.

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Is Max a candidate for the Happy Home -or is he always in the wrong place at the wrong time? Find out by turning to Part Two now!

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