A SMKVirtual6 Episode
Scarecrow and Mrs. King are the property of Warner Brothers, Inc. and Shoot The Moon, Inc. No infringement of copyright is intended. The author and SMK Virtual Season 6 have not profited from this story. The characters belong to WB and Shoot The Moon, the story is the property of the author.
By: Diane (Not Exactly)
Many thanks to Di, Laura, Kelley, and Lori (my team of wonderful betas) for doing your thing so quickly. It would have never been ready on time without your invaluable help. An extra thanks to Di and Laura. Di, you knew I wasn’t happy with the ending and you came up with a super suggestion! It’s exactly what I was looking for. Laura, your technical support saved me from hours of research, hours that I just didn’t have. And Lori, you saved me with your title suggestion – I just couldn’t think of a thing.
A tall man with dark hair and a thick moustache took the elevator to the 4th floor and walked down the hall to an office. "Robertson Maintenance Company" was stenciled on the door in block letters. Unlocking the door, he slipped inside, carefully locked the door behind him, and silently began his inspection routine.
Once satisfied that the premises were clean of any surveillance materials, he settled behind the desk and began typing on the old typewriter sitting there. He pulled the paper out and inserted a business-size envelope. After typing the address, he folded the letter, placed it in the envelope and sealed it, then put it into a larger manila envelope along with a $20 bill. He scrawled "Acme Delivery" across the surface and carried it with him as he left the office, locked the door, and walked calmly back to the elevator.
Amanda poured orange juice into the five glasses on the table. She placed the pitcher back into the refrigerator, then looked at her watch with an exasperated sigh. "Fellas!" she called. "Move it or you’ll be late for school!"
Jamie and Phillip pounded down the stairs. They shrugged into their jackets and grabbed their backpacks.
"Whoa! Not so fast! You haven’t eaten any breakfast yet." Amanda blocked their path to the front door.
"Awww, but, Mom, I’m not hungry!"
"Neither am I," added Phillip. "Besides, Mrs. Peterman is picking us up early so I can meet with my study group before school."
"All the more reason to eat a good breakfast first. You’ll learn much more if you’ve eaten."
"Ah, Mom, he’s not really gonna study. He’s just going ‘cause Alyssa Johnson will be there."
"You be quiet, dorkhead!"
Jamie danced out of the way as Phillip turned toward him. "Phillip’s in love; Phillip’s in love!"
"Phillip, don’t call your brother ‘dorkhead.’ And Jamie, don’t tease your brother."
A horn honked outside. "Gotta go. Bye, Mom." Both boys rushed toward the door, but Amanda refused to move. "You boys aren’t going anywhere without breakfast. Jamie, you run outside and tell Mrs. Peterman that I will be driving you boys to school today. Phillip, sit down and eat something! And I don’t want to hear any complaints!"
"What’s going on in here?" Lee questioned as he came down the steps.
Amanda shook her head. "Just a normal morning in the King household." She smiled up at her husband. "The King-Stetson household, that is. I swear, trying to get those boys to eat breakfast is becoming as difficult as getting you to eat it."
Lee grabbed two mugs and poured coffee into them. "And we all know that it’s the most important meal of the day, don’t we?" He winked at Phillip and held out a mug to Amanda as Jamie rushed back in.
"I guess you’ve heard me say that a time or two, haven’t you?" Amanda took the mug and sipped the coffee as they sat down at the table.
"Not nearly as much as I’ve heard your mother saying it."
"What have I been saying?" Dotty asked as she entered the room and headed for the table.
"Here, Mom, let me get you some coffee." Lee jumped up and poured another mug of coffee and delivered it to his mother-in-law with a flourish.
"Thank you, Lee, dear. You are always so thoughtful." She added a spoonful of sugar and stirred it slowly. Reaching for a muffin, she continued, "But I would still like an answer to my question."
"Well, I was just mentioning to Amanda that I have sometimes heard you saying how important breakfast is, that’s all." He looked at Jamie. "So, Sport, you’ve got that history field trip coming up this week, right?"
Before Jamie could do more than nod, Dotty spoke. "I’m glad to know you hear my words, even if you don’t follow them. Well, you’re a grown man; you can make your own choices, poor as they may be." She took a bite of the muffin, chewed it thoughtfully, then added, "And I’m sure that I don’t need to mention how much of a role model you are for these two growing boys."
Lee turned mutely to Amanda for help, only to find her shaking her head as her lips twitched in amusement. "As a matter of fact," he went on, his voice getting stronger and more certain, "I was just about to say that hearing ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’ so many times has made me realize what a poor example I’ve been setting for Phillip and Jamie." He reached for a muffin, took a bite, then hurriedly washed it down with a sip of juice.
A sound suspiciously like a strangled laugh came from Amanda, while the two boys sat with mouths gaping open in surprise. Dotty sat calmly, as though nothing unusual had occurred. Breakfast was finished in silence, as Lee buried himself in the morning paper and the boys tried to figure out what had happened in the morning’s Battle For Breakfast.
"Good morning, Mrs. Marston. The password for today is ‘butterscotch.’"
"Good morning, Mr. Stetson, Mrs. Stetson." The guardian of the Georgetown foyer handed Amanda two badges. "Mr. Melrose asked to see both of you as soon as you arrived."
Amanda clipped Lee’s ID onto his suit jacket, then smoothed his lapels and adjusted his tie. "Thank you, Mrs. Marston."
Lee put his arm around his wife’s waist and steered her toward the elevator.
When it opened several floors below street level, Lee and Amanda walked through the bullpen, stopping only when Francine hurried to intercept them. "Oh, thank goodness you’re here! Billy’s been like a caged animal for the last half hour, pacing and roaring, pacing and roaring."
Just then the office door flew open and Billy stuck his head out and bellowed, "Francine! Aren’t they…" Seeing that Lee and Amanda had arrived, he stepped back to let them into the room. "About time you two got here! When I called your house 45 minutes ago, your mother told me that you’d already left. What took so long?"
"Sorry, Sir; we dropped the boys off at school this morning on our way here." Amanda smoothed her skirt and sat in a chair next to Francine.
Lee stood behind his wife and put his hands on her shoulders. "What’s up, Billy? It must be pretty important if you called the house looking for us."
"It is, Scarecrow, it is." Billy reached into the desk drawer for a bottle of antacids. Dumping a few into his hand, he popped them into his mouth and chewed them before picking up a folder and handing it to Amanda. "We’ve just received a terrorist threat and it’s from someone you two have come across before."
Amanda opened the folder and read from the computer printout. "This week, the Arab nations will celebrate as your capital city receives a devastating blow. Many countries will tremble as the targets I have chosen are destroyed. You cannot stop me this time." She paused and looked at Billy. "’Targets’? It sounds like he’s planning to attack several locations."
"I noticed that, too, Amanda." Billy sat down heavily in his chair. "It sounds like he’s expanding his operation."
"Who is?" Lee leaned over his wife’s shoulder to look at the signature on the threatening note. "The Scarab." Lee ran a hand through his hair and began to pace. "Damn! I hoped it would be longer before he surfaced again."
"I was afraid we hadn’t heard the last of him after he failed to blow up that rocket." Amanda sighed.
"You mean after you and Lee stopped him from blowing it up." Francine turned to look at Lee. "I remember processing the report on that case. If it hadn’t been for you two, the launch of that rocket would have been a real disaster for the space program."
"Yeah, not to mention the population of central Florida." Lee shook his head. "With all that plutonium on board, it would have been a catastrophe!"
"You know, Lee, when we ran into him in Florida, his threats were designed to throw us off the track, so I wonder if that’s his game plan this time too."
"Could be, but this threat is so vague it’s hard to be sure exactly what he’s targeting. Maybe he learned his lesson about being so specific."
Amanda thumbed through the remaining pages in the folder. "All that’s in here besides the current threat is a copy of our report on his attempt in Florida. Don’t we have any other information on him, Billy?"
"No, he’s fairly new on the scene. We’ve questioned the guy who delivered that note and I’m sure he’s telling the truth. He says the letter was in their company’s overnight drop box and that he has no idea who put it there. We’ve staked out the location, but I doubt that the Scarab will use it again." Billy sighed deeply. "Quite a mysterious guy, this Scarab. We don’t know what he looks like and we never even heard of him until you ran into him last year. Work your sources, Scarecrow. See if anyone’s heard anything that might lead us to him. If he is planning something big that involves several targets, it’s unlikely that he’ll be working alone. Someone somewhere must know something. I just pray we get lucky enough to find out what it is before it’s too late." Billy stood up and leaned over his desk. "I want you to head this one up, Scarecrow."
"We’d better get cracking then, Billy." Lee reached out a hand to Amanda. "Come on, let’s go to the ATAC Center. Francine, get Beaman and the two of you meet us there. We’re going to need help to try and find this guy."
"Okay, Francine, I need you to try to narrow down possible international targets here in DC."
"Oh, right, that’ll be a walk in the park. This is the capital of the United States – just about every other building has international links of some kind."
"Do your best, Francine. Looks like we’ll be working nonstop on this one, so cancel any plans you have." He ignored her as she rolled her eyes and groaned. "Beaman, cross-check all terrorist threats in the last year against our guy’s. See if any of them have similar MO’s."
Beaman nodded. "Okay, Scarecrow. I can help Francine once I’m done."
"Good idea. Billy has made this top priority, so use all the resources and people from the ATAC team that you need. We’re totally in the dark here. We’re hoping that the Scarab follows the pattern he used in Florida where he issued several threats before acting, but we may only have several hours to try and stop him. All agents have been alerted to keep their ears open for unusual activity of any kind and to report back here immediately. Keep us posted on anything that sounds promising. Amanda and I will be out on the streets, checking in with our contacts. You can reach us on the car phone."
AM Monday morning
"Lee, my boy, always a treat to see you. Mrs. King, I mean, Mrs. Stetson, you’re looking lovelier than ever, a daisy among the dandelions."
Amanda leaned over and kissed the old man’s cheek. "TP, you’re a shameless flatterer." She sat down and patted his hands.
"What can I do for the two of you on this beautiful Monday morning?"
"Beautiful morning? Not to me, it isn’t." Lee ran his hand through his hair.
"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, Lee, haven’t I told you that many times?"
Lee sat down next to Amanda and slid a folder across the table. "Yes, you have, TP, but we have a really serious situation on our hands. Not only that, but we’re in the dark as to where to start."
TP opened the folder and read it quickly. "The Scarab? Can’t say I’ve ever heard of him before, but I’ll poke around and see what I can dig up on him." He passed the folder back to Lee. "However, I have heard some whispers about a big-shot foreigner taking over different blue-collar businesses in town. You might want to check it out. It’s a tenuous connection at best, but it might be worth looking into."
"Do you know the names of any of those businesses?"
"Well, let’s see…I’m pretty sure that I heard about a takeover of an electronics store. What was the name of it again? I’ve got it – it was Lloyd’s. Yep, Lloyd’s Electronics Emporium, located on Rockville Pike."
"Thanks, TP; thanks a lot! We’d appreciate hearing from you immediately if you find out any more information that could help us." Lee placed his hand on the small of Amanda’s back and they left the library.
Amanda paused on the sidewalk outside. "Who’s next, Lee? Neither Rhonda nor Lana knew anything, and we haven’t found Augie yet."
"Let’s go check out this electronics store, and then we can try again to find Augie."
"That was a wasted trip," Lee grumbled. "The store is closed, the inventory is gone, no one from any of the other businesses ever saw the new owner, and we’re no closer to finding the Scarab than we were this morning."
"If he is the one who bought this store, he now has all the wires and fuses he’ll ever need to make 100 bombs. He’d just need the actual explosive." Shivering, Amanda buttoned her coat. "Well, at least we know how to contact the previous owner. Who knows, maybe he’ll be able to tell us something helpful."
Lee pulled her close to his side as they walked toward the car. "Let’s have Beaman get in touch with him. I don’t want to waste any more time chasing dead ends." He held the door open for Amanda, then walked around and got into the driver’s seat. "As much as I hate to say it, we need to find Augie. He usually knows when a big deal like this is going down." He started the engine and pulled smoothly out onto the street, heading south toward the Anacostia River. "Let’s go back to his place. Hopefully, he’ll be there this time."
"Thanks, Efraim…Yes, you might want to take an artist along in case he can describe the buyer…No, that’s it for now. We’re getting ready to talk to Augie if we can find him." Amanda hung up the car phone as Lee pulled up in front of a dilapidated warehouse.
The sign decorated with a lopsided swan and the words "Swann’s Sanitation" hung cockeyed over a door covered in peeling olive green paint. Lee pushed the door open, then stepped into the gloomy interior. "He must be here now – the door’s unlocked. Augie? Augie, are you here? We want to talk to you!"
Amanda followed closely behind him as he walked further into the building, almost running into him as he stopped abruptly. Catching herself by hanging onto his shoulders, she whispered, "Lee! Why’d you stop like that?"
Glancing back at her, he grinned and said, "Because I like it when you grab onto me."
Amanda playfully swatted him as she shook her head. "Lee Stetson! All these years I’ve felt guilty for running into you so much, and now you tell me that it was deliberate?"
"Yeah, well, back when we first met, it was annoying, but then it kinda grew on me, so I tried to make it happen." He turned around and rubbed his hands up and down her arms. "Can you blame me for wanting to enjoy your touch as much as possible?"
"I guess not, since I happen to enjoy your touch quite a bit, too."
"You do, do you?" Lee quirked an eyebrow and leaned closer to her face, never taking his eyes off hers.
"Mm-hmm." Amanda raised her lips to meet his.
They jumped apart as a voice intruded. "Lee! My man! Long time no see!" Turning, Lee and Amanda saw Augie striding toward them across the warehouse floor. He was in a stained tan coverall with the logo Swann’s Sanitation encircling a picture of a swan perched on a trash can. "And, Mrs. Lee! Still with this joker, I see. Remember, any time you want a real man, you just call on me! The offer’s always open."
Lee draped his arm protectively over Amanda’s shoulders, subconsciously pulling her closer. "Augie, Augie, another new business venture? The last time I was here, you were setting up an awning business. Augie’s Awesome Awnings, wasn’t it?"
"Yeah, well, Lee, between you, me, and the missus, the overhead was killing me." He paused, then started laughing. He laughed harder and harder, until tears were rolling down his cheeks. Finally noticing that Amanda and Lee weren’t joining in on his joke, he gasped out, "Overhead…get it? Awnings…overhead?" He pulled a grimy rag out of his overalls and wiped his face with it, finally getting himself under control. "You two have no sense of humor. You need to lighten up."
Amanda shook her head. "Augie, we don’t have time to waste exchanging pleasantries with you. We need some information. We’ve had word of an attack being planned, an attack on DC. Have you heard about anyone in the market for explosives, rocket launchers, weapons, or anything like that?"
Augie looked pained and put a hand to his heart. "Why would I know anything about that? You know I’ve been squeaky clean since that time that you and Lee…"
Lee interrupted him by grabbing the collar of his overalls. "Save it for someone who believes you, Augie. We’re running out of time real fast on this one, so tell me what you know."
"We-e-ll…" Augie held out his hand and rubbed his thumb against his fingertips.
"Augie, don’t you ever do anything just to be a good citizen?" Lee grumbled as he released Augie and pulled his wallet out, removing a few bills.
"I resent that, Lee! I’m always glad to do my civic duty; you know that. Can I help it that you always come around when I’m short on cash?" Augie quickly grabbed the money and shoved it into a pocket. "There have been some rumors flying around about some guy stockpiling the materials for a bomb, but I thought they were just stories since no one’s come to me for anything, um, that is, I mean…" He paused and cleared his throat. "I can look into it further if you want me to, see if there’s any truth to the stories, you know?"
"You do that, Augie, and do it quick or I might have to call my friend. You know the one I mean."
"Yeah, yeah, Lee, I know, the one from the IRS with the itchy calculator finger." A look of gloom came over Augie’s face and he muttered, "I wonder if the guy even exists."
Amanda smiled. "Yes, Augie, she exists." Laughing at the look of shock on Augie’s face, she continued. "Believe it or not, there are women working in the IRS. And in other government agencies as well. I even know some women agents in the CIA, the FBI, and the Agency! Certainly you’re not insinuating that those jobs can only be done by men?"
Augie opened his mouth as if to say something, thought better of it, and snapped his mouth shut again.
Lee turned away so Augie wouldn’t see the laughter in his eyes. He walked over and peeked into the office while Amanda continued talking.
"By the way, Mr. Swann, even though I’m only a woman, I have a question of my own to ask you."
Augie flinched. "Okay, shoot. What do you wanna know?"
"Have you heard about anyone who is going around buying out small businesses?"
"Funny you should bring that up. I had a meeting with a fellow last week who wanted to buy part of my business. Strange guy."
"What was this guy’s name? And what do you mean, he wanted to buy part of your business?"
"He called himself Samuels. No first name, just Mr. Samuels. And get this, this guy only wanted to buy three of my trucks and the rights to the area they cover. I told him no dice; he either needed to buy the whole thing or none of it at all. Then he doubled the amount and offered to pay me in cash. On the spot. Not being a fool, I took his offer." He gleefully patted his pocket.
Amanda stared at him. "So, if you have all that money from him, why did you take our money?"
"Easy come, easy go, Mrs. Lee. A businessman like me has lots of expenses, you know."
As Augie and Amanda were talking, Lee came up behind them, yanked Augie’s hands behind his back, and cuffed them securely.
"Hey, what the…? Lee? What are you doing? Is this some kind of joke or something?" Augie’s face turned red in agitation and he began to whine. "I’ll give you your money back! Holy cow, you’d think I took your last dime or something. You gotta let me go! Come on, I’ve been real cooperative here."
Lee sighed as Augie continued to rant. "Augie," he said loudly, "if you don’t shut up, I’m going to gag you too!"
"You wouldn’t dare! After all I’ve done for you all these years? You can’t get away with that!"
Lee rolled his eyes. "Amanda, see if you can find something to shut this guy up, would you?" She looked around, found a large, oily rag, and walked back over to the twosome.
Augie watched her, his eyes getting bigger and bigger as she got closer. When she was an arm’s length away, he started babbling. "No, you wouldn’t, would you? Would she, Lee?"
Lee tilted his head and pretended to think. "I wouldn’t put it past her, Augie. She does have two teenage boys, you know."
Augie clamped his lips shut and shook his head fiercely from side to side.
"That’s better," Lee said. "Now, Augie, we’re going to take you back to the office with us for more questioning." He started walking toward the entrance, pushing Augie in front of him.
Augie rolled his eyes and moaned, but didn’t say anything.
"Does that mean I won’t need this rag after all, Lee?" Amanda dropped the rag and sighed. "Darn, I was really looking forward to using it, too." She lowered her head to hide the twinkle in her eyes.
Augie shook his head in disbelief, but he wisely kept quiet as he was led to the car.
Augie craned his neck to look at the computer terminal. "Yeah, that’s it. Wait, his eyes were a little larger and the eyebrows lighter…There! That’s it! Perfect!"
"Are you sure, Augie? The guy we’re looking for is an Arab, and this guy looks like…well, he looks like an American businessman." Lee glared at the image of the bald man created by the computer.
"Yep, that’s him, Lee, the spitting image too, if I say so myself." He shook his head. "You’re looking for an Arab guy?" He screwed his eyes shut in concentration. "Wait….wait a second. I’m sure that the man I met looked like this, but, now that you mention it, he did have a heavy accent! Do ya think he was wearing a disguise or something?"
"With our luck, he probably was."
Beaman came into the room carrying a paper in his hand. "Here’s the picture of the guy Mr. Lloyd sold his business to." He handed it to Lee, then glanced at the computer. "Same guy?"
Lee looked at the picture, then back at the computer. "Sure looks that way, doesn’t it?" He spoke to the computer technician. "Chang, get this over to Ernie and have him see if he can make an ID. It’s a long shot, but you never know. Beaman, have someone pull the surveillance tapes from the airports and get them to Ernie as soon as possible. Maybe he can spot this guy on one of them." He turned to Augie. "Come on, let’s go."
"Great! Hey, Lee, can someone give me a ride back to my place? After all, it’s a long way and…"
"Sorry, Augie, but you’re not going anywhere but up to my office. And the only ride you’ll be getting is the one on the elevator."
"But, Lee…" Augie whined.
"But nothing. I’m not through talking to you yet."
"I thought you wanted me to check with my sources about those bombs and stuff."
"Later. Now we’re gonna have a talk."
"Well then, how about something to eat? I’ve been here for hours and I’m starving."
"You’ll eat when I eat. I’ve been here as long as you have, and I wasted half the day looking for you. I better not hear a peep out of you until we get to the office, either, or I’ll have to sic Amanda on you."
"But it’s the middle of the afternoon and I’m getting faint…Okay, okay, don’t get grouchy! I’ll be quiet, Lee, I’ll be…" He clamped his lips shut as Lee turned and glared at him. He walked meekly beside Lee down the hallway, into the elevator, and up the stairs. He began to speak as they entered the Q-Bureau, then noticed Amanda sitting at her desk, and broke off mid-word.
Amanda was on the phone, and hung up as they came through the door. "Lee, that was TP." She glanced at Augie, then looked at Lee.
Lee pointed to a chair near his desk. "Have a seat right there, Augie. Don’t touch anything, don’t move, just wait." He walked out into the hall, followed by Amanda.
She closed the door behind her and said, "TP has the name of another business that was bought recently: DKL Construction Supply in Alexandria."
"That’s great, Amanda. Looks like we might be getting some breaks in this case – Augie’s composite matches the one provided by Craig Lloyd." He showed her the picture. "There’s a possibility that he’s in disguise, but why don’t you take this with you anyway, grab Francine and go check out DKL while I have a little chat with our friend Augie. Just be careful."
As they walked back into the office, Augie jumped away from the refrigerator. "Augie! I told you to stay put!"
"Hey, Lee man, don’t get all bent out of shape; I was just looking for a little snack!"
"You’ll eat when I say you’ll eat. And when I say don’t touch, I mean don’t touch!!!"
"Shoot, Lee, don’t get your boxers twisted! Hey, Mrs. Lee, is he always this grouchy?"
"No, Augie, he’s just that way around people who don’t do what he says." She put her arm into her coat as Lee held it for her, kissed him goodbye, and whispered, loudly enough for Augie to hear, "Don’t do anything to him I wouldn’t do."
She looked back in time to see Augie wince.
Lee looked at Augie. "Okay now, let’s have a little conversation." Lee reached over and pushed the record button on the tape player. "Tell me all about the deal you made with this guy."
"Yes, I need you to start work immediately – tomorrow morning at six." The bald man behind the desk stood up and reached across the desk to shake the other man’s hand. "Do we have a deal?"
"Yes, indeed, Mr. Robertson, and thank you for this opportunity. You won’t be sorry."
As the door closed behind the new employee, the stocky man muttered, "No, I will not be sorry, but you will. Oh, yes, Mr. Flannagan, you will be very sorry." He chuckled as a thought occurred to him. "But then again, when you are dead, I doubt that you will feel anything at all."
He stood and walked into the small bathroom adjoining the office, where he proceeded to painstakingly peel off the mask that was covering his features. After washing away all traces of the glue that had held it in place, he peered approvingly into the mirror. The reflection showed his normal dark hair and skin. "Ah, it is so good to see myself again! Now that everything is set, there will be no more need for these ridiculous American disguises." He stroked his moustache lovingly. "And soon the whole world will know the power of the Scarab!"