I stormed into the station that morning with the intention of grabbing everyone’s attention and making my announcement. Who would have thought that a guy carrying a box of dynamite into a federal building would cause so much excitement? I was walking in, whooping and hollering about Agent Baumen being a fraud, when I was blindsided by an agent tackling me to the floor.
Before I knew it, I found myself in handcuffs, being taken to a cell.
“You’re making a big mistake,” I said as they tossed me in. “I can probably break out of here, you know ...Can I get rock hammer ...And a movie poster?”
“Jack, what are you doing here?”
I looked for the source of the low voice, and saw a hand sticking out from behind the wall in the cell next to mine.
“James?” I asked, as I attempted to fit my head between the bars with no luck.
“Yes, it’s me. What’s all the commotion out there?”
“Oh, that; I brought a box of dynamite to get you out of here.”
“Not like that. It’s evidence. You didn’t make any bomb threats.”
“I know that! Don’t you think I know that?”
“Listen, I can prove that dynamite was planted in your lab.”
“How are you going to do that, Jack? You’re in a jail cell.”
“I just need to talk to that Agent Brownoser.”
Hours went by and there was no sign of him. The cell was extremely uncomfortable and lunch hadn’t arrived yet.
“Guys, I usually like to eat several small meals throughout the day,” I whined to deaf ears. “Can we order from Main Street Diner? I know what I want.”
More time passed, at one point the song Show Me the Way to Go Home popped in my head so I started to sing. Personally, I thought it was a perfect choice, given the situation. It was old enough that these people would have known it, and you can just repeat the thing on a loop all day. Fun for everyone! I made it about halfway through the fourth time around when shouting from other cells, including James’ had become too much for me to overpower. The nearby agents seemed to get a kick out of it; they were laughing hysterically. That was when I finally saw the stooge.
He knew I was talking to him. He tried to swagger over when he saw I was in a cell, but it looked like he was forcing it.
“So you’re on lockdown now too, huh?” He smirked.
“You’re going to want to listen to this, groupie. Your shining star, Agent Baumen, isn’t on the level.”
“What are you talking about? He always gets his man!”
I nodded along with his scripted lines.
“Yeah yeah, and why do you think that is?”
I grabbed his jacket through the bars and pulled him close.
“He plants evidence for Dr. Zake! Go examine the dynamite I found in Zake’s lab, you’ll find a coincidence or two.”
He backed away from me, shrugging off my accusations.
“You’re not the first one to try and discredit Agent Baumen. I’m sure you won’t be the last,” he said, turning to walk away. I interrupted him.
“You don’t want to be a puppet your whole career, do ya?”
He paused and listened, but wouldn’t look at me.
“Just check the dynamite.” I growled menacingly, and he slithered off.
I had spent almost the entire day in that crummy cell. Real low-rent place. At one point, Linda came to visit James, poor guy couldn’t stop cry afterwards. I wanted to cheer him up.
“James, I’ve got a plan in motion to get both of us out of here and turn this whole place on its head!”
I made sure to say the last part loud enough so the agents outside could hear.
“Oh yeah, Jack? What’s the big plan, huh?” He asked, getting agitated. “You haven’t done anyone any good since I met you. In fact, you’re probably the reason Dr. Zake caught on to the Go Goo!”
“How do you figure?” I gasped.
“He probably saw you following him around, pretending to be a private dick, and tracked you back to me.”
“I was flawless in my - I’m a real private -”
“And what help did you give me when they arrested me?” James interrupted, starting to build steam. “For all I know, that was your dynamite they found.”
“Now you're just lashing out.”
“No. You’re a buffoon, Jack Klugman. I can’t believe I didn’t see how utterly stupid you are.”
“That’s a mean thing to say, James. We’re friends,” I said, lowering my head.
“We are not friends. If I get out of this, I don’t want to see you ever again!” His voice reverberated for what seemed like minutes.
I sat there, still, for the rest of the night. I don’t think I could have moved if I tried. Agents came and went; interrogating me, attempting to lead me into saying James was guilty of things he didn’t do. I didn’t really feel like talking, so I didn’t say a word through any of it. I had always been a lone wolf who wanted to impress the pack, but they never paid any attention. I endeavored to drum up some admiration by being The Six-Minute Man, but it never meant anything. I thought, with my new direction here in 1940, I had started doing something right, but instead I just made things worse for everybody.
I was staring at the ceiling when I heard a commotion coming from the front of the station. I put my head against the cell bars to peek down the hall and get a look at what was going on, as I imagine James was doing as well. I started feeling a little better because I had a pretty good idea what was going on. A woman was yelling; Mrs. Zake, to be specific.
“I want this whore-using hack-inventor out of my life!” She shouted.
Dr. Zake was in handcuffs, being led to the counter by a police officer. Agent Baumen cut them off.
“I want to know what’s going on here.” Baumen demanded.
“He was caught soliciting prostitution.” Replied the officer, “his wife made the call.”
“And I’m getting a divorce and I’m taking all that grant money you laundered into your personal bank account!”
“Lets all calm down now. I’m sure there’s an explanation here.” Baumen suggested.
“Who are you to say anything, Baumen? You helped him do it!”
That was the needle-scratch moment. Everyone who wasn’t already watching, certainly was paying attention then.
Agent Baumen chuckled as he looked around the station. “Careful now, Mrs. Zake, you don’t want to slander anyone in your distressed state.”
“It’s not slander if it’s true!” She exclaimed wildly.
She was so exasperated after finding her husband with a hooker I don’t think anyone fully believed her, but that’s when another voice chimed in.
“She’s right. It’s true.”
It was Agent Brownoser to the rescue!
“And he framed the men in those cells.” He continued, “the dynamite Jack Klugman found in Dr. Zake’s lab was the same kind found in Mr. Ferguson’s lab. These two framed him, and have been framing people for years so that they can steal money, patents, and anything else they desire.”
“This is crazy talk. I always get my man!”
“Yes, Baumen, and now we know how you did it.”
You had to give it up for him, after being a teacher’s pet for so long it must have
been hard turning on the master. They surrounded Agent Baumen and put him in cuffs, and apologize profusely about the whole thing to James and myself. My favorite part of the ordeal was getting to whisper “I always get my man, jerkoff,” in Baumen’s ear as I walked out of the same cell they were about to throw him in.
“Hey, Jack!” James yelled as I made my way out of the station. He caught up to me and said “listen, I’m awfully sorry about that stuff I said before. Can you ever forgive me?”
I took a beat to think about it, but only to build suspense. “Yeah, don’t worry about it.”
He laughed and gave me a pat on the back.
“Say; how in the world did you make that happen back there?”
“It was easy. Before I came here, I stopped by Zake’s place and gave his wife the prostitute catalogue full of his handwriting. I knew she would do the rest. Then I brought in the evidence that proved Baumen was crooked, and figured it would all fall into place.”
“That’s amazing! So, you knew that they would throw you in jail?”
“Not at all! I was expecting to be praised for my detective work when I showed them the dynamite. I guess I am a buffoon, huh?”
“Jack, you’re a genius. C’mon, let’s go pick up Linda and Rachel Lynn and celebrate.”
“I’m gonna take a rain check on that. I’ll catch up with you later.”