William Johnston: Get Smart Once Again!

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William Johnston Get Smart Once Again!
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    Get Smart Once Again!
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    Иронический детектив / на английском языке
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    Английский
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William Johnston


Get Smart Once Again!

1

Maxwell Smart, a trim, dapper young man known to Control as Agent 86, stepped from his specially-designed automobile, slammed the door, then stuffed his fingers in his ears. A moment later a cannon boomed, a machine gun rattled, dense smoke poured from the car’s exhaust pipe, and both seats shot into the air, then settled back toward earth, carried by parachutes.

As this happened, Agent 99, an attractive brunette, stepped from Control headquarters. She stared at the car in front of Max’s, through which a cannon ball had passed, and the car in back of Max’s, which was riddled with machine gun bullets.

“Max! What happened?”

“My car-it has a bug in it,” Max replied disgustedly. “I was on the way to the exterminator, when-”

“The exterminator, Max?”

“To get the bug out.”

“Oh.”

“I was on the way to the exterminator,” Max went on, “when I got an urgent call from the Chief. It seems the fate of the entire free world is hanging in the balance again.”

“I know,” 99 nodded. “I’m sorry I won’t be on this case with you, Max.”

“Oh? Why not, 99?”

“Don’t you remember? My vacation starts today.”

“You’re going on vacation? With the fate of the entire free world hanging in the balance?”

“I’ve already made reservations, Max.”

“In that case, I understand.” He saluted. “Have a wonderful time, 99. And, while you’re gone, I’ll be wishing you were here. Incidentally, where are you going?”

“On a cruise, Max. The ship travels all the way up the exotic east coast of the United States, stopping at ports-of-call so we can observe the natives in their native habitats. It really sounds exciting. We’ll see Maryland hardware merchants selling power lawn mowers in their open-air shops. And New Jersey office workers driving to their jobs on their open-air turnpike. And New York brokers selling stocks beneath the persimmon tree on Wall Street. And New England Yankees selling-”

“Excuse me, 99. But the Chief is waiting. I’ll hear about your vacation when you get back. Don’t forget to take pictures.”

“All right. Good-by, Max.”

“Good-by, 99. And bon voyage.”

Max entered Control headquarters, made his way through a passage of steel doors, entered a telephone booth, dialed a wrong number, and was dropped through a trap door to headquarters’ main floor, where he continued to the Chief’s office.

Max rapped on the Chief’s door.

“Who is it?”

“It’s me, Chief-Max. But you’ll have to give me the password before I come in.”

The Chief’s sigh could be heard through the door. “All right, Max, here’s the password: The big blue bluebottle is burning buns on the bottom of Biscayne Bay.”

“That’s it, Chief,” Max said. “Now I’ll come in.”

Max entered the Chief’s office-and was surprised to find that the Chief was not alone. Seated in a chair near his desk was a gorgeous blond.

“Max,” the Chief said, “this is Peaches Twelvetrees. Peaches is a cryptographer.”

Max peered at her, steely-eyed. “Aren’t you a little grown up to be photographing graves?” he said.

Peaches blinked at him, puzzled.

“Max, not the kind of crypts that are graves,” the Chief said. “A cryptographer breaks codes.”

“She’s a little grown up for that, too,” Max said. “I have a nephew who breaks kiddie-cars. But he’s only four-and-a-half.”

“Max, what I’m trying to say is- Let me put it this way. Suppose we intercepted a communication from one KAOS agent to another. But, still supposing, suppose we couldn’t read it because it was in code. We would call in a cryptographer. The cryptographer would decode the code and tell us what the message said.”

“Do you think we ought to do a thing like that, Chief? Isn’t it against the law to read other people’s mail?”

“I was just giving you an example, Max.”

“Oh. Well, in that case, I guess it isn’t illegal.”

Peaches Twelvetrees spoke to the Chief. “Is this the man I’m to trust my life to?” she asked, distressed.

“I’m sorry, Miss Twelvetrees,” the Chief replied. “But, you see, here at Control we assign cases by rotation. And Max’s number is up.”

“That’s what I’m afraid of,” she said. “And, if I’m with him, I’m afraid my number will be up, too.”

“Miss Twelvetrees,” the Chief said, “Max is our top agent.”

“Then Control is in even worse trouble than I am,” she replied.

“Chief,” Max broke in, “would you mind telling me what’s being discussed? Besides my superior ability, that is.”

The Chief faced back to Max. “This may be the most important case you’ve ever handled, Max,” he said. “It concerns the Dooms Day Plan.”

“What exactly is that, Chief?”

“We don’t know.”

“Hmmmm… that does sound important!”

“What we do know is this,” the Chief went on. “We have learned that a meeting has been called of all of the KAOS top executives.”

“The brass, eh?”

“Right, Max. And, at that meeting, the Dooms Day Plan will be revealed.”

“Chief, I have an idea.”

“What, Max?”

“Why don’t we send someone to the meeting? That way, we’ll find out what the Dooms Day Plan is.”

“It will be a closed meeting, Max. Only the top executives of KAOS will be allowed to attend.”

“Drat!”

“However, Max,” the Chief continued, “as matters stand, the meeting will be a total flop. Because we have acquired the only copy of the Dooms Day Plan.”

“You mean only one copy was made-and we have it?”

“That’s right, Max. That shows how important it is-only one copy was made. Fortunately, the file clerk at KAOS headquarters to whom it was given to file was one of our agents-an infiltrator, Un fortunately, though, the plan is in code.” He reached behind him to his desk and picked up a sheet of paper. “Here,” he said, handing the sheet of paper to Max, “would you like to see it?”

Max stepped back. “Should I, Chief? Isn’t it private?”

“You won’t be able to read it, Max. As I said, it’s in code, and, so far, we have been unable to decipher it. Go on, read it, and you’ll see for yourself.”

Max accepted the sheet of paper, and, frowning, read the list of words:

Sad Al

Astor

Mays

Bronco Con

Map Change

Three Bs

Watch

“Chief, I think you’re right,” Max said, handing back the sheet of paper.

“Keep it, Max. I want you to take it with you. And, what do you mean-right about what?”

“You’re right about it being in code. As it is, it doesn’t make any sense at all. And, uh, what do you mean-take it with me?”

“I’ll get to that in a second, Max. First, I want to explain Miss Twelvetrees’s part in this mission. Our own cryptographers here at Control have been unable to break the code. Consequently, we have asked Peaches to help us. Peaches is a free-lance cryptographer. In fact, she comes from a distinguished family of free-lance cryptographers.”

“Perhaps you remember the Little Orphan Annie secret code ring years ago,” Peaches said. “My father broke it.”

“The ring or the code?” Max asked. “If it was the ring, I can do you one better. I have a four-and-a-half-year-old nephew who breaks whole kiddie-cars.”

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