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An Inside Job

Episode Synopsis

Originally Aired October 7, 1986

~"Silly, maybe, but not dumb.  Dumb means silent & I'm never that." - Simon to Todd~

A car alarm invented by Simon McKay could only be outdone by the alarm bandleader Spike Jones once designed to protect comedian Jack Benny's fictitious vault.  And then, only just.  Simon's alarm was designed to be heard from the garage to the farthest reaches of his immense house while completely disabling the vehicle.  At the same time scaring the living daylights out of the would-be thief &, very best case scenario, make him or her rethink a life of crime.  To leave them shaken &, perhaps, stirred.

In the end, the very best case scenario would turn out better than even Simon could have imagined.

The 12 year old, would-be thief lay in wait outside Simon's garage & watched as our intrepid heroes returned from a trip to the market.  Once the Bronco had been left unattended, the kid made his move for the radio in the dashboard.  It was Simon who was left holding the bag (or, to be more precise, bags) as Alex raced back to the garage to stop the crime in progress.  The kid led Alex on a wild goose chase through the alley, over a fence, through a backyard & back again leaving garbage & once clean laundry scattered in their wake.  As the federal agent makes it a point to always get his man (or, in this case, boy), Alex didn't stop until he had the struggling kid in his clutches.  Simon raced to the scene &, seeing the teeny-bopper bandit, went to work trying to keep Alex & the sole witness, Mrs. Cranston, from calling the police.  The quick thinking inventor told his neighbor that the kid was a new robot gone berserk & eventually talked the kid into playing along.  It was part play & part punishment-by-embarrassment, but Simon didn't just make the kid walk like a robot back to the garage alone.  He joined in the fun by pretending to be a robot, too.  Leaving Mrs. Cranston standing there, with garbage & the cans that once contained it still scattered at her feet, silently watching as the robot parade passed her by.  Alex brought up the rear, but decided he was much happier just pretending to be an Alex Jagger.

As it turns out, Simon's neighbor was not the sole witness.  A blue van parked at one end of the alley also witnessed the hijinks.  The couple inside was happy to see that the kid was able to play on Simon's kindness & generosity to get inside the house.

There was a far more dangerous game afoot than mere car thievery.

Over tuna-salad sandwiches ala Tillie, the kid begrudgingly gave up his first name - Todd.  He told Simon, Tillie & Alex that he was an orphan who lived where he pleased.  Simon remembered the days when he lived where he pleased & how very cold it was to be alone & homeless.  Tillie was sympathetic & eager to help in any way she could.  Alex, on the other hand, wasn't so sure that things were as cut & dry as they appeared.  Ever since the Bronco had sounded it's alarm, Alex's intuition had been sounding an alarm that put Messers Jones & McKay to shame.  There were so many things that just didn't seem right.  So many things that didn't add up.  He carefully collected Todd's now empty milk glass & bagged it.  Simon pretended to not see or know exactly what Alex was up to.

By this time, Simon & Alex knew each other well enough to know that the other meant well & just had their own way of going about things.  Simon felt his job was to help Todd, whatever the extenuating circumstances.  But Alex's official job was to protect Simon.  Now that they had become friends, Alex felt compelled to include protecting Simon from the disaster others might make of his best intentions to the job description.  Alex did want to help Todd, but he wanted to know who & what he was dealing with first.  If that meant lifting Todd's fingerprints from his milk glass to uncover his true identity, then so be it.  Even if it meant disapproval from Tillie, who also knew Alex meant well, but preferred Simon's methods better.

Since Todd was so hesitant to open up, Simon decided to tackle Todd's lack of trust first.  He told Todd about his workshop & showed the kid around.  He even showed him a new invention.  A shoe scuffer guaranteed to turn brand new, wimpy, white sneakers into super cool, dirty, scuffed used sneakers in a matter of seconds.  Simon gave Todd a new white sneaker to test run in the machine.  This invention was perfect for letting Todd test whether or not he could trust Simon as he had to put his foot in between the rollers of the machine while Simon turned it on & off.  Eventually, the two made their way around to the locked door of Simon's private workshop.  Todd was certain that Simon didn't trust him when Simon refused to open the door on command.  All Simon wanted was to be asked politely & Todd acquiesced.  Simon let Todd stand close by & watch him punch in the security code.

Inside that room were two model prototype radio controlled airplanes that Simon was working on for the government, The Blue Streak & The Golden Fleece.  The Blue Streak was all in pieces on a table & Simon explained that one of his greatest joys was in taking things apart to see how they work, putting them back together & then taking them apart again.  All Todd could see, when he looked at all the radio control equipment, was the money that could be made by selling it to kids.  Simon decided this young entrepreneur would really be impressed with the model that was in one piece.  The Golden Fleece was meant to be the ultimate flying machine.  Todd was very impressed & left in disbelief when Simon agreed to let him to take the plane out for a test spin.  Simon offered a spit-in-the-hand shake to prove his sincerity, but discovered that even tough-guy Todd had his limits.

For Todd, it was a dream come true to be standing in that park, the controls of The Golden Fleece in his hands, watching as the model plane flew through the air twisting & turning at his bidding.  Simon stood beside Todd keeping an eye on the plane & also on the TV monitor that was connected to the camera in the nose of the plane.  Alex was standing behind them a ways trying very much to keep his cool.  Todd got a bit over excited once & nearly crashed the plane into a tree.  Alex reminded Simon that they were playing with a $50,000.00 prototype, which only helped to make Todd even more nervous & he nearly dropped the controls & crashed the plane again.  Of the three, Simon was the only one who could have cared less about the monetary worth of anything.  But he felt that Alex had been put under quite enough stress for one day & asked Todd to bring the Fleece in for a landing.  Todd tried to hand the controls to Simon, but Simon reminded the boy that he was only the co-pilot.  One thing Simon had learned is that it's not enough to be trusted by others.  It is just as important, if not more so, to also trust yourself.  This was a 2 for 1 deal for Todd who brought the Fleece in for a beautiful 3-point landing with the help of his co-pilot.  Alex congratulated Todd for doing such a great job, giving Todd's ego & esteem a much needed boost.  Then Simon gave Todd a pair of pilot's wings.  Unfortunately, Todd's joy was quickly dashed at the sight of the blue van, which reminded him of what he was supposed to do.

Once the trio returned to the house, Alex settled in for some quality time with the TV while Simon went back to work on his perpetual motion paddle-ball game.  They listened to a news report about the San Paolo peace conference scheduled to take place as soon as Montego Airlines flight 524 touched down on American soil.  The delegation from San Paolo was arriving to find a way to stop outbreaks of escalating tensions & warfare taking place in Central & South America.  Tillie, meanwhile, was fixing a sumptuous feast for that evenings meal & trying not to curse a blue streak every time she had to open the refrigerator door.  The voice, which told Tillie what items were missing each & every time she opened that door, was a constant & annoying reminder to never tell Simon when a new appliance was needed.

Simon called for Tillie & Todd to join Alex so they could witness the perpetual motion paddle-ball game in action.  The paddle included the primary colors & a special core with a pulsating negative/positive field.  The ball contained a magnet, which made a string unnecessary.  The changing polarity from the field meant that the ball would travel only so far from the paddle & then be pulled back.  It worked until the ball decided it would much rather be outside.  It broke free of the paddle's field & flew through the nearest window shattering plate glass & Simon's ego all in one fell swoop.  Simon made himself a note to head back to the old drawing board & Tillie made herself a note to call the perpetual window replacement company in the morning.

Alex was pretty certain that Todd had run off for good when he failed to show up for the demonstration & they couldn't find him anywhere in the house.  Tillie & Simon were certain that Todd wouldn't do that & felt justified when he walked in the back door claiming to have just gone for a walk.  Tillie went over the menu for that evening, but Todd wasn't very hungry & eventually headed upstairs to be alone.  Simon, on the other hand, was hungry & wanted to have a taste of the soup Tillie made for the feast.  Sometimes even grown-ups forget their manners & Simon was no exception.  Without asking first, he headed for the what he thought was the soup pot & took a mouthful of liquid from the ladle which he spit right back out.  Tillie had lots of fun telling a green-mouthed Simon that the soup was in the other pot & the 'soup' he just tasted was liquid in which she was dying a new pair of gloves to match her green purse.  Hopefully, the genius learned his lesson.

Later that evening, Tillie took a tray up to Todd's room.  The old sea-dog had seen enough in all her years to know when someone was in trouble.  She also figured out that, whatever Todd's trouble, he was just too scared to talk about it.  She told him about some of her run-ins with trouble during her lifetime, but it wasn't enough get Todd to open up.  The nicer she was to him, the worse he felt about what he had to do.  And the more he fussed, the nicer Tillie was to him.  She finally acquiesced to his demands & left him alone.

The following morning found Simon staring at the empty pedestal which, only yesterday, had displayed The Golden Fleece.  The plane was gone & he could have cared less.  Todd was gone & he was worried sick.  His intuition alarm was giving Alex's a run for it's money.  Something was very, very wrong.  Alex had, at least, solved a bit of the riddle.  Todd Bernhardt of San Bernardino, California was not an orphan, but he was a runaway & his separated parents were also worried sick.  The kid had a rap sheet which consisted of truancy & malicious mischief.  To Alex, this answered everything.  To Simon, this answered nothing.  Todd may have been a trouble maker, but Simon didn't believe that the boy was a liar or a thief.  He knew he was reaching Todd so something had to be incredibly wrong for this to happen.  Alex, who was pretty certain Todd had stolen the Fleece to sell it, suggested that Simon have a look around the rest of the workshop to make sure nothing else was missing.  Simon agreed & started looking around at his organized clutter, but didn't notice anything out of place.  Then he headed over to the closet & opened the door.  It was Santa Claus meets Fibber McGee & Molly as a shower of stuffed animals, games & toys rained down on Simon's head & nearly knocked him over.  When the last bell bounced off his head, Simon announced that nothing was missing & headed to the workbench where he found a message from Todd.

When Todd made his way to the private workshop the night before to retrieve the Fleece, he stopped at Simon's workbench to leave behind the pilot's wings he no longer felt worthy to wear.  This sign told Simon everything the rap sheet couldn't say.  He & Alex quickly headed to the 3rd Street underpass in search of their young friend.  That underpass had been home to Todd for a while & Simon was certain that he would head back there if he was afraid.  Simon & Alex split up to search for the boy.  Alex said he would give Simon the high sign if he spotted the boy first.  Alex knew that Simon would want to talk to Todd alone & Simon was impressed that his friend was becoming so in-tuned with the inventor's thought processes.

Simon followed his instincts to a Todd sized cardboard box in the shelter of an overpass column.  Inside he found a frightened & ashamed boy who had wanted to talk to Simon so badly that he didn't run away when he had the chance.  He was finally able to tell a sympathetic & forgiving Simon about the couple in the van who offered to pay him to steal The Golden Fleece for them.  He tried to get out of the theft, but the couple had threatened the lives of his new friends & Todd felt he had no choice.  Once the plane was handed over, however, he refused to take any money for it.  Simon showed Todd the wings he left behind.  Simon told Todd that those wings let him know that Todd wanted to help put things right.

The trio headed off together in search of The Golden Fleece.

All Todd knew about the couple who took the Fleece is that they suddenly appeared one day at a warehouse where Todd & his friends often played.  Todd showed them around & that was when they offered to pay him to steal the model plane from Simon.  Alex then confronted Todd about his family.  He told the boy that his parent's were worried sick.  Alex then felt as though he was listening to himself as a boy when Todd recounted his parent's constant fights & feeling like he wasn't wanted or loved.  A very surprised Simon listened as Alex spoke to Todd about the similar experiences with his parent's divorce.  Alex reminded Todd of how lucky the boy was to have Simon to help straighten him out.  Simon was feeling pretty good about being able to help both of his friends straighten out.  To open up & trust again.

Todd took Alex & Simon to the warehouse in question & waited in the Bronco while our heroes went in to check the place out.  They were greeted at the gate by a pit-bull that Todd had never seen before.  Simon tried to calm the dog down himself, but thought better of it & decided this situation called for the big guns.  From his carpet bag he produced a small, wind-up puppy which was designed to show that sometimes it's also the size of the roar in the dog that matters.  The pit-bull barked savagely at the small toy, which Simon wound up & placed before the fence.  The puppy started to bark & then suddenly began to roar like a lion.  The pit-bull ran off, whining in fear.  Alex then picked the padlock on the gate & he entered with Simon.  What none of them realized was that the doggie shenanigans caught the attention of the couple, who were inside the warehouse fixing up The Golden Fleece with explosives.  The man went outside to investigate & found the Bronco parked just outside the opened gate.  Luckily he didn't see Todd inside.

Simon & Alex entered the warehouse through the same window Todd always used & made it as far as the upper floor balcony before they were stopped by the man.  The couple then locked Alex & Simon in an office &, before leaving the warehouse, the woman placed a bomb just outside the office window with the timer set for 5 minutes.

Alex tried in vain to kick the door down.  Simon did what he did best - think.  He suddenly realized what he was leaning on to think.  The warehouse was full of exercise equipment & Simon just happened to be leaning on a barbell, which just happened to be resting on two oversized jacks.  Alex took one of the jacks & held it in the door frame while Simon pumped the handle which slowly pushed the door frame apart & away from the bolt on the other side of the door.  Soon Alex was able to kick open the door with ease.  He told Simon to run & check on Todd while he tried to figure out what to do with the bomb.  Simon discovered that the bomb wasn't their only problem.  Yet another locked door barred their way.  Simon looked around & spied a baseball pitching machine & dragged a panicked Alex over to it.  Simon turned on the machine & put the bomb in as carefully as possible hoping that it wouldn't explode until it hit the locked outer door.  Once Simon dropped the bomb into the machine, Alex grabbed him & dove for cover.  When the dust settled the warehouse door was a hole in one & the friends paused for a celebratory low-five.  The explosion brought Todd running into the warehouse to check on his friends & they soon discovered a workbench which still contained bits of highly explosive bomb making materials & a radio tuned into the airport information channel.  It didn't take Simon long to realize that the couple were planning to use The Golden Fleece as an undetectable bomb to bring down Montego Airlines Flight 524 & put a stop to the San Paolo peace talks.

The trio had to get to the airport & fast!

On the way to the airport, they stopped by Simon's house to pick up the pieces of The Blue Streak.  Simon sat in the back seat of the Bronco & quickly putting together the pieces before they reached the airport.  The Golden Fleece was in the air shortly after they arrived & Alex took off to try & located the villain's van.  Simon & Todd were able to get the Streak airborne & the dog-fight was on.  The Blue Streak was able to catch up with The Golden Fleece.  The Fleece tried in vain to loose the Streak, but to no avail.  It was an intense few moments as Simon & the villainess flying the Fleece tangoed, dodged & weaved through the air with the targeted airliner close by.  Todd was following Simon's orders to keep everything crossed.

Alex finally located the blue van & he ended up in a show down with the man, who pulled a gun on Alex.  The man missed, but Alex returned fire & wounded the villain.  At that very moment, The Blue Streak finally gave it's last full measure by ramming The Golden Fleece & blowing it right out of the sky.  Montego Flight 524 was able to land without incident, Alex had the villains in custody & the ace fighter pilots celebrated with a low-five.  Simon returned the pilot's wings to Todd who promptly pinned them on Simon's suspenders since he was the pilot who ultimately saved the day.

Alex was thrilled to read the letter Todd sent once he was back home & settled.  School was still awful, but it was the best kind of awful.  He found a way to work things out with his parent's & things were going well.  Todd sent love to Tillie & said that Alex was really cool - for a federal agent.  Simon joked that the boy might be stretching it a bit.  The laughter stopped when the pair found Tillie fuming over the mess from the closet which she had in perfect order only the day before.  The quick thinking inventor got Tillie to close her eyes so that he could use a new, top-secret invention called Super Tidy.  A skeptical Tillie kept her eyes closed as Simon ran to the closet & threw all of the contents back in & shut the door.  Tillie opened her eyes & was so impressed with the job Super Tidy had done that she went over to the closet to check it out.  Santa Claus & the McGee's gave an encore performance as a shower of stuffed animals, games & toys rained down on Tillie.  Simon suddenly remembered what he forgot to tell her about Super Tidy.  The secret was to keep the door shut.

~"That 'little man' is ten feet tall, lady." - Alex to the Mary Hansen~

written by The MGT.    Updated January 8, 2007

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