Suitable for Framing
Open with Jimmy Crockett on a shopping-mall bench amidst indoor plants, wondering why Miss Power is late after she called him and set up an appointment. He's ill at ease: still a country boy, in a place filled with punks. One stands nearby, a small-busted seventeen with purple crew cut, white makeup and black lipstick, baggy black layered dress and combat boots. She starts sidling up behind him. He starts sidling away. She bends down to whisper in his ear.
"See, I said you didn't have to worry about people recognizing me in my secret
identity!" (He jumps.)
"That's startling! Sit down." (He pats the bench next to him.)
"I'll stand. I got dog-bit last night." She tells him about her encounter with the
robots stealing a Buick for Professor Wadleigh's birthday. "And I saw you next to a shot-out
Buick on the way home. We should compare notes."
Jimmy: "Wadleigh, hm? Today is his birthday."
Miss Power: "Arr! I thought I had a clue."
Jimmy notes that Wadleigh's early history is public knowledge right down to his report cards. "Straight A, except for deportment and attendance." But those records were on paper. Caltech was computerized, and computers don't tell the truth about Wadleigh. "From then on, we don't know a thing for sure."
"The police computer lists one lousy warrant against him -- horse theft, Dodge City, 1864.
Last week's bank robbery keeps coming up parking violation."
Miss Power: "I suppose a bank lobby is a no-parking zone...."
After discussion, they decide they DO have to flush Wadleigh out. Jimmy wants a follow-up story, and Miss Power is annoyed at the robots for throwing a biting dog at her. But how?
The morgue's folder on Wadleigh has one issue of the Disneyland house newspaper from those days. While in college, Wadleigh did audio-animatronics there. "He made some fine Tiki-Birds, by all accounts". There is a photo of Wadleigh and birds.
Miss Power suggests putting a false story in the Trumpet that Wadleigh's first Tiki Bird is going to be used by the police as "Sam the Stool Pigeon" -- as an example of a robot gone straight or something. Jimmy doesn't like falsehoods in the paper. He suggests actually getting that Tiki-bird. "I have contacts."
And in due course, we see Wadleigh reading the morning paper, frowning over the article with its picture of the bird in a jailbird suit, in a grey-painted cage. He has Babbage hack into the police computer to check things out, and finds it is all terribly true: there's even an audit trail for the cake and cookies for the reception.
Jimmy knows (and Miss Power confirms) that Wadleigh's robots don't have much street-smarts.
Wadleigh usually lurks nearby in his crime-car so he can make policy decisions on a short-range
communicator. The campaign kickoff will be at the new and glitzy Third Precinct police station, and
Wadleigh will almost certainly park in the Minnehaha Mall lot across the street.
Jimmy: "But once he's there, how will we catch him?"
Miss Power: "I have an idea..."
Several weeks later, Jimmy is on the mall roof, with a walkie-talkie and binoculars. There is a crowd at the police station across the street, and TV cameras. Jimmy spots Wadleigh driving up in a Buick. He parks about where expected.
Miss Power is listening to a matching walkie-talkie. She has cut back on the super-outfit, putting on knee and elbow cushions and a fanny pack. Instead of a cape, she has a white sweatshirt tied around her neck by the arms. As the news comes through, she gets on her skateboard, and heads out towards the crime car (which is just parking).
Car speaker: "Boss, about that girl coming up behind us...."
Wadleigh: "Ada, she's a teenager on a skateboard!"
Ada (the car): "She's the teenager Rhett told me about. And she just shoved a potato up my tailpipe." (wheeze, sputter, die....)
Following which Miss Power pulls a spray-can from her fanny pack and begins painting the windshield red, and the headlights, and the side windows, and....
... and by that time, the police are boiling out of the station in pursuit of Slippery Jim, who is carrying a tiki-bird and running towards the car. From another direction, Jimmy Crockett is sprinting towards the car with a camera.
Professor Wadleigh is inside that car, and while it is quite able to handle the paint (that is an expected attack) there is absolutely no way to get rid of the potato except by getting out and plucking it forth with his fingers. "Ada, glue that wretched kid to the asphalt!" Ada extrudes a nozzle, and squirts Miss Power around the feet and ankles. She tries to get loose, but finds she's standing helplessly in a pool of glue. She can't even take off her shoes and jump (she tries) because they are glued to her feet.
Wadleigh opens the car door, hops out, and runs around to the rear -- where he steps on the skateboard, goes whooping into the air, and lands on his back in the pool of glue. Miss Power leans down and smiles at him. "If you wiggled out of that jacket, you might get away," she says. And she takes his hands, and smacks them down on the glue.
Jimmy arrives, attache case and all, and begins taking pictures of the capture. He sticks his
torso in the car for some more pictures. Slippery Jim whizzes past carrying the bird.
Jim: "I see you're tied up, so I'll head on home by myself."
Wadleigh: "Go for it, Jim!"
The police arrive and surround them. Of course, they want to arrest Wadleigh.
"So what for?" Wadleigh asks.
"Bank robbery; and Grand Theft, Tiki."
"Where's your warrant for the bank robbery? And did the robot that just ran past have your bird? I was glued to the parking lot, with a super and a reporter for a witness, while it was happening. They took pictures!"
(Into walkie-talkie): "Fred, pull the Wadleigh file and get those warrants over here!"
There is only one warrant: Horse Theft, Dodge City, 1864. Wadleigh points out it must be mistaken identity. "I'm only 30! Do you think I'm immortal, or have a time machine?"
At which point a policeman emerges from examining the interior of the car. "Time machine, I'd say. He even kept the horse blanket!" The policeman holds out a horse blanket and two books -- A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking, and The Flight of the Horse by Larry Niven. Jimmy Crockett and Miss Power do a nudge nudge wink wink at one another, then Jimmy takes pictures of the evidence.
"You have the right to remain silent ..."
"Do I have the right to be doused with super-glue remover?"
Later: Wadleigh in a cell. "A potato! I'll never live it down!"
Back at the hideout, Clea is playing with the tiki bird, which has been hooked up and is operating. "Oh, isn't he cute!" Rhett is preparing a high-powered bath to get the last traces of glue off of Wadleigh. Slippery Jim and Babbage are preparing an escape.
Ada is in the police lot. "They haven't made the impound lot that can hold me! First, I gotta get rid of that potato..."
Miss Power, back in her crewcut and fresh from a bath, is putting up the newspaper article; front-page, this one.
- End -