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Authors: William Johnston

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BOOK: Get Smart 1 - Get Smart!
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“Oh, yes!” she gushed. “But I didn’t think you were interested in anything but your work.”

“I don’t mean that. I mean falling down . . . descending rapidly from a high level to a low level.”

“Yes, that, too,” she said.

“How about you, Boris?” Max said.

“Da.”

“Fang?”

“Rorff!”

“We seem to have a consensus,” Max said. He looked down. “And we’re right,” he said. “We’re headed straight for the East River!”

Blossom looked down and shrieked.

“Don’t panic,” Max said. “The East River is really very nice country. I was thrown into it in the summer of ’61. I was trailing a ping—”

The splash was heard all the way to The Bronx.

Bobbing to the surface, Max sputtered, “It certainly hasn’t gotten any drier since ’61.” He spotted Blossom and Fang a few feet away. “Ahoy!” he called.

Fang back-stroked over to him.

Blossom dog-paddled.

Max counted. “One . . . two . . . there seems to be one missing . . . where’s Boris?”

Blossom pointed. “There he is . . . swimming toward that submarine!”

Max looked. “That isn’t a submarine,” he said disgustedly. “That’s only a periscope. The East River is much too shallow for a submarine. A periscope, yes. A submarine, no.” He called out. “Boris! Boris! Gome back! This way to Grant’s Tomb!”

But Boris continued swimming toward the periscope.

“Apparently
he
thinks it’s a submarine, too,” Max said. “Well, goodbye Boris. The minute this case is concluded, I’ll report his disappearance to the Missing Visitors Bureau. That means they’ll have to go to the expense of dragging the river. The city will lose every cent it made on Boris.”

“Rorff!”

Max shrugged philosophically. “You’re right, Fang . . . you make a little, you lose a little. It all evens up in the end.”

“Hadn’t we better get to shore?” Blossom said.

“Good thinking,” Max said approvingly. “I wish I’d had you with me in the summer of ’61. I spent a whole night in the East River. I was finally picked up by a garbage scow. At least, that’s what I thought it was. Later, I discovered that it was a motor launch that was being used by a FLAG agent to smuggle orange ping-pong . . . but that’s another story. Let’s get ashore.”

Max and Blossom clung to Fang’s tail and he towed them to land. On shore, Max and Blossom shook themselves violently, flinging water, drying themselves, as Fang watched disinterestedly.

“Is that Noel ever going to feel like a fool when we tell her where that door led to,” Max said. “She was
so positive
it was a private office.”

“You know—” Blossom began.

“I guess this will teach her a lesson,” Max continued. “From now on, she’ll double-check before she sounds off about how much she knows about languages. ‘DANGER’ probably means ‘This way to the East River’ or something like that.” He smiled. “Well, it’s a good laugh on her.”

“I don’t entirely trust her,” Blossom said. “Could she be a FLAG agent?”

“Hardly,” Max replied. “She didn’t ring a bell with me.”

“Rorff!”

“All right, all right, we’re coming,” Max said. “Don’t be a nag. Nobody likes a nag, Fang!”

They made their way back to the entrance of the U.N. Building. When they reached the lobby, Max looked around, then said, puzzledly, “Funny . . . no Noel. Maybe she’s on her coffee break.”

“There’s something,” Blossom said, pointing. “She said Fred had become a new member. Maybe he’s listed on the board.”

Max peered toward the large board, where a young man was posting the names of new countries. “It’s worth a try,” he said.

They approached the young man, and watched as he worked.

He put up ‘Malawesia.’

“Could that be Fred in the universal language?” Max said to Blossom.

“How would I know? I thought D-a-n-g-e-r spelled Danger.”

The young man put up ‘Fredonia.’

“Hmmmmm,” Max mused. Then, “No . . . too easy.”

Up went ‘Carpetbagia.’

Max turned again to Blossom. “Fred isn’t by any chance from out of town, is he?” he said.

“Oh, no. I put him together in my little apartment. It isn’t far from here—if you’d like to drop by for a cup of coffee . . . or something.”

The young man put up ‘Zamporangowatsiabunalumpornaland.”

Max tapped him on the shoulder. “I wonder if, by any chance, you might have a ‘Fred’ in there?” he said, indicating the box from which the young man was taking the names.

“How do you spell it?” the young man asked.

“Rorff!” Fang barked.

“Don’t listen to him,” Max said. “It starts with an ‘F,’ not ‘Ph.’ ”

The young man sorted through the names in the box. He shook his head. “Not here.”

“I thought that was too easy,” Max said.

“Let’s try Fredonia,” Blossom suggested.

“Too obvious,” Max said. “I’ll put my money on Zamporangowatsiabunalumpornaland. That’s the sort of thing a computer would think up.” To the young man, he said, “Where exactly would we find Zamporangowatsiabunalumpornaland?”

“Forty degrees longitude, eighty degrees latitude,” the young man replied.

“When I said where would we find Zamporangowatsiabunalumpornaland, I meant where would we find the representative of Zamporangowatsi . . . you get the idea.”

“Oh. Second floor, turn left,” the young man answered.

“Forward!” Max said, striking out toward the elevators.

“Rorph!” Fang barked.

“ ‘F!’ ” Max snapped back over his shoulder at him.

3.

A
FEW
seconds later, Max, Blossom and Fang reached the second floor. They turned left, and soon came to an exceptionlly wide door with ZAMPORANGOWATSIABUNALUMPORNALAND stenciled on it in gold lettering.

Max put his ear to the door, listening. “There’s something going on in there!” he said.

“How do you know?” Blossom whispered.

“I hear voices!”

Blossom frowned. “What’s so sinister about that? It’s an office, and there are usually people in an office, and people talk. So what’s so strange about that?”

“They’re talking in code,” Max said, his ear still at the door.

“Oh.” Blossom pressed her own ear to the door. She listened a second, then said, “I don’t see how you can tell—I can’t understand a word they’re saying.”

“Of course not—it’s Zamporangowatsiabunalumpornaland code.”

“Well, if it’s Zamporangamacallit, how do you know it’s—”

“We’re going to have to break in,” Max said crisply, straightening. “Every second counts. All that talk . . . they must have Fred in there grilling him. Wringing the entire knowledge of Western Man out of him. There’s not a minute to lose. Stand back!”

“But, Max—”

“I think you’d better call me ‘86’ on formal occasions like this when I’m breaking in,” Max said.

“All I’m trying to say is, you haven’t even tried the door. Maybe it’s open.”

Max smirked. “You may be a hotshot inventor, but it’s obvious you don’t know the first thing about espionage. Those people in there have been clever enough to lure Fred—the world’s greatest repository of human knowledge—into their trap. Now, does it stand to reason that they would be stupid enough to leave the door unlocked?”

“Well . . .”

“If I walked up to that door,” Max went on, “and turned the knob—like this . . .” He turned the knob, and the door creeped open a crack. Max leaped back, startled. “Watch it! It’s a trick!”

“Oh, for heaven’s sake!” Blossom pushed the door open, then peered into the office.

There were a number of people, mostly young men, in conversation at a small reception desk. They glanced up, and their conversation halted, as the door opened.

“Prudosier?”
smiled the girl at the desk, the receptionist.

Max pushed Blossom aside and sprang into the office, pulling his pistol. Fang, meanwhile, crouched in the corridor, whining.

“All right—the game’s up!” Max barked. “Where’s Fred?”

One of the young men replied.
“Awunda yonbaro aqua pistola.”

“Knock off the code!” Max snapped. “Just tell me where Fred is, and I’ll see that the judge goes easy on you.”

The girl, still smiling, said, “He is not speaking Code, he is speaking Zamporangamacallit. I am the only one here who speaks English.”

“Yeah?” Max said suspiciously. “All right, then, what did he say?”

“He said that there is water dripping from your pistol.”

“Oh.” Max looked down at his gun. A trickle of river water was dripping from the barrel. “Yeah, well, it’s a water pistol,” he said, thinking fast. “Now, enough of that . . . where is Fred?”

“Huboni drosti ust Bigelow ”
said one of the young men.

“What’s that?” Max growled at the receptionist.

“He says your pistol is dripping on the carpet.”

“Sorry.” Max holstered his gun. Then he called out, “Fang! Come in here!”

A canine nose appeared in the doorway.

“All
the way in!”

Tail between his hind legs, head lowered, Fang came crawling in.

“Search the premises,” Max ordered.

“Rorff!”

“Never mind that! That date isn’t until tonight. You’ll have plenty of time to get your hair combed. Stop acting like a scared pup, and search this office!”

Fang went crawling off, nosing into an adjoining room.

“Excuse me,” said the receptionist, “what are you looking for?”

“As if you didn’t know! But, just in case you don’t know, we’re looking for Fred. He’s a computer. Built in the form of a robot. His eyes revolve, and he has a lever at his side, and he goes ‘peep-a-dotta, poop-a-dotta, dippa-dotta-boop!’ ”

The girl translated for the young men.
“Probona slot machine, expresso ‘peep-a-dotta, poop-a-dotta, dippa-dotta-boop!’ ”

The men stared open-mouthed at Max.

Embarrassed, Max hooked a thumb toward Blossom. “Don’t look at me—she’s the one who thought him up!”

Fang returned. He was no longer creeping. “Rorff!” he barked.

Max looked pained. To the receptionist, he said, “I’m very sorry.” He and Fang began backing toward the doorway, edging Blossom out with them. “Natural mistake,” Max apologized to the receptionist. “I heard you all speaking in a foreign language, so I naturally assumed that there was some sort of funny business going on. Again . . . sorry.” He closed the door behind him.

“What did Fang find?” Blossom said, when they were in the corridor again.

“Nothing,” Max sighed.

“Rorff!”

“Oh . . . yeah . . . a guy in the back room building bombs and painting ‘Yanks Unfair to Yogi Berra’ signs. But no Fred.”

Blossom sighed. “What now?”

“We still have a sheepdog up our sleeve,” Max said. “If Fred is in this building, Fang will find him. Look . . . do you have anything personal on you that belongs to Fred?”

Blossom opened her purse and pawed through it. “Here’s a transistor,” she said finally. “It was part of Fred’s calculating mechanism. But it blew when he tried to work out a problem in the New Math. I had to replace it.”

“Great,” Max said, taking the transistor. He held it out to Fang. “Sniff, boy!”

Fang sniffed. “Rorff!”

“He’s got the scent!” Max said. “Now, let’s go back to that board in the lobby that lists all the names of the nations and match up the scent with the country. That will give us the whereabouts of Fred!”

As they hurried toward the elevators, Blossom said, “That doesn’t really seem very logical to me.”

“Logic-schmogic!” Max retorted. “In this business, you have to use your brain.”

When they reached the lobby, they went directly to the roster of names.

Fang sniffed. “Rorff!”

“A-ha!” Max exulted. “Zambrosia, is it?” He turned smugly to Blossom. “And you said it wasn’t logical!”

“I still don’t see—”

“It just so happens,” Max said, “that in Greek mythology, ambrosia is the food of the gods. It’s supposed to ensure immortality. He who eats ambrosia never dies. Get it?”

Blossom shook her head.

“Then apparently you don’t remember that there is also an old saying that goes, ‘Never trust a Greek bearing gifts.’ Now . . . think about it . . . who else, bearing gifts, should never be trusted?”

Blossom thought. “Santa Claus?”

Max winced. “You’re not even trying. A FLAG agent, that’s who! Or, in other words, Zambrosia is a cover-up for a FLAG agent who is holding Fred captive. Now . . . see the logic?”

Again, Blossom shook her head.

Max threw up his hands in disgust. “Try to explain something to a flutter-headed dame!” He signalled to Fang. “Come on, boy! Grab your scent, and let’s get tracking!”

They dashed away, Fang with his nose to the ground, and Blossom hurried after them.

Fang led them to the elevators, then to a high floor. Getting off the elevator, they made their way along the corridor until they came to a door marked ZAMBROSIA.

“Is that a nose, or is that a nose!” Max crowed.

“I don’t think he followed a scent at all,” Blossom said.

“He got us here, didn’t he?”

“He probably read the directions off that board downstairs,” Blossom said.

Max eyed Fang sternly. “ ’Fess up, boy! Did you read those directions?”

Fang whined and hid his face.

Max looked at him scathingly. “I hope that’s the last time that ever happens. Remember this: Cheaters never win!”

“Rorff!”

“That’s a very poor philosophy for a secret agent!” Max snapped.

“What did he say?” Blossom asked.

“He said that cheaters win all the time—you just never hear about it.”

“There’s probably something to that. You know, once—”

“Never mind!” Max broke in. “I don’t want Fang to hear about it. He’s got enough wrong ideas in his head as it is.” He faced the door. “All right . . . this is it! Fred is in there somewhere! There’s no time for the amenities. We’ll charge in, overpower the guards, release Fred, then make a run for it! All set?”

“But—”

“Ready?”

“But—”

“Go!”

Max threw the door open wide and charged in. Fang went yelping down the corridor in the other direction, tail between his legs. Blossom just stared.

As in the previous office, there was a small desk and a female receptionist seated behind it. There were two other men present. They were seated also, reading, as if they were waiting for an audience with the person behind another door that was marked Private.

BOOK: Get Smart 1 - Get Smart!
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