“Yes you can Mr. Professor, you certainly can,” answered the chief. “Unless it’s on a Friday night of course. I know you wouldn’t ask me to miss my beano night.”
“Oh now Mary, you mean you wouldn’t miss one night of beano to help me out if I really needed it?” asked the professor.
“Well, maybe, yes, of course I would,” answered the chief. “If you really, really needed it.”
“You’re a good girl, Mary,” said the professor, patting her on the shoulder, as one would pat a pet dog. “A very good old girl.”
“Now Mr. Professor, I’m not old enough to be called an old girl, not quite yet,” said the chief. “Aren’t we both about the same age.?”
The professor laughed. “Yes, I guess we probably are, Mary, I guess we probably are. I tell you what, I’ll agree that you’re still young if you’ll agree that I’m still young.”
“That sounds like a good idea Mr. Professor,” answered the chief. “That’ll make us a pair of liars won’t it?”
“I guess it will Mary,” said the professor. “Yes I guess it really will. By the way, Mary, if this new formula works, how would you like to look the way you looked ten years ago? Or maybe you’d like to look like your favorite movie or tv star. How about it Mary? If this works like I hope it will, I can make your face over to look just the way you want it to look, and without any surgery or pain, just like molding a lump of clay. How about it, Mary, want to look like Miss America?”
“No thanks, Mr. Professor,” said the chief after pretending to think it over for a minute. “None of my friends would recognize me if I did that. I think I’d rather just keep the face I’ve got, I’m used to it.”
“Ok Mary,” chuckled the professor. “But if you ever change your mind the offer will always stand.”
“Yes sir, Mr. Professor, thank you sir,” answered the chief.
The professor laughed silently to himself.
“He so loves talking to the woman he regards as being simple minded,” thought the chief. “If he ever knew, if he ever finds out who I really am. It’s like my mother used to say, the best place to hide is right in plain sight.” She worked around the room, finding out information to pass along to agents of Operation Themis as she worked and the professor didn’t suspect a thing, but just went back to work on the experiments upon which he had been working before Amanda, or perhaps I should say Patricia Mason, had made her unexpected appearance.
Amanda and Steve played a game of Horse Basketball on the playground. “This is a good way to get a chance to talk,” said Steve. “We can see all around us and know if someone is coming near us and be careful not to be overheard. Did you bring the note in code to see if I can figure it out?”
“I sure did,” answered Amanda, handing it to him. “You can see if you can read it while I beat you at spelling horse.”
Steve grinned. “Fat chance,” he told her. “I’m going to solve this right away.
“Jk Uvgxg, K jqrg aqw ecp tgcf vjku,” read Steve. “Ummm I should be able to solve this.” He read the note over and over and then knelt down and scribbled with his finger in a nearby patch of dirt.
Amanda grinned as she watched. “Not as easy as you thought?” she teased. “You’d better hurry, I’m already on R.”
Steve wrinkled his brow thoughtfully. “Every time I think I’ve got it, I find that I haven’t,” he told her.
“You want a clue?” asked Amanda, shooting another basket.
“I guess I’m going to have to give in and say yes,” answered Steve.
“What are you two doing?” asked Sarah as she and her friend Dorrie came over to join Steve and Amanda.
“I’m teaching Amanda to play Horse Basketball,” answered Steve, He wiped out what he had been writing and wrote in the basketball score instead.
“Looks like she could teach you a thing or too,” teased Dorrie, as she looked over his shoulder at the figures.
“She’s good alright,” answered Steve. “It’s just that she’s never played basketball before and so she needs to learn the rules.”
“Mrs. Stevens is motioning that it’s time to go in so we’d better get going,” said Sarah. “Maybe we can play Horse at home later.”
“It would be fun to do it with our spelling words,” said Steve, “It might help us to learn them.”
“Yeah, you need all the help you can get when it comes to spelling,” teased Sarah. The others all laughed. They knew that although Steve was smart, he tended to spell words the way they sounded and of course words aren’t always spelled the way one would think they would be from the way they sound.
“What’s this?” asked Dorrie, picking up a paper from the ground.
“Oh, that’s mine,” answered Steve. “It must have fallen out of my pocket.”
“I couldn’t help seeing the writing when I picked it up,” said Dorrie. “Is that some foreign language?”
“No, no it’s not,” answered Steve. “Sarah here told you I’m a terrible speller.” He quickly tucked the note deep in his pocket.
“Maybe you can come over later and practice basketball with us, Dorrie,” said Sarah. “And Brenda, Amanda and I can show you our new school clothes.”
“That sounds neat,” said Dorrie. “I’m sure my mother will say yes.” The three girls linked arms as they headed towards the school and Steve dribbled the basketball as they walked along.
“It is nice to have friends,” thought Amanda. “I never could when I was a kid before. If Agent 13 and I ever get married and have kids, I’m going to let my kids be kids and have friends no matter how smart they are, it’s important.”