Takes A Chimp
Aired November 15, 1986
~"What do I want
with weeds when I have the most beautiful flower in the garden right here." - Alex to Tillie~
How much is that
elephant in the window?
Alex Jagger choked at the $400 price tag.
Maybe for a real, live elephant, but who in heaven's name would be foolish enough to pay
that much for a toy elephant bank?! To the 'fool' in question, however, $400 for such a
more than reasonable. For Simon McKay knew enough about the elephant in
the window to realize what a find it truly was. It wasn't just any toy
elephant bank, mind you. It was an original Bradbury elephant! He hurried into the store
to buy the bank & then charged Alex a quarter to show him
how it worked. Pulling down on the elephant's trunk, Simon told Alex to
place the coin in
the trunk's notch & then Simon pulled the tail up. The elephant flipped the coin over it's head &
into a slot in the saddle on it's back. $399.75 was definitely more than
reasonable for such a fun & rare toy. Especially when the buyer has
far more important things than money to consider. Like having as much fun
The fun was interrupted by the arrival of a stranger who seemed to
be running for his life. The unknown man darted out into the street &,
to the horror of all, right into the path of an oncoming car that had no chance
to stop in time. Screams resounded as Alex & Simon raced to the
victim's aide. The stranger was bleeding & barely conscious.
Alex ran to find the nearest phone while Simon tried to keep both the wounded
man & the onlookers calm. The man kept trying to say something to
Simon, but, between the raised voice of the horrified driver & the
weakened condition of the man, Simon couldn't make out what he was trying to
say. Unwitnessed by all, save the still camera in the pursuing car now
parked one street over,
the man finally reached over his head & dropped a coin into the elephant
bank Simon had set down in order to tend to the injured party.
That half dollar would herald both trouble & a new friend.
An invitation to a charity garden party at the California estate of Lady Whitehurst was
something very special for Tillie. To see her name listed on the
invitation, along with those of Simon & Alex, was beyond her wildest
dreams. She had one ultra-special evening gown, but never anywhere
important enough to wear it in the 25 years since she bought it. This was her chance
to show off her colors & glitter & she was taking
it. Tillie was a bit miffed to see Alex & Simon dressed as though this
were just an ordinary event. The boys, on the other hand, were taken aback
at the sight of the elegant beauty standing before them. Simon called her "Poetry in motion", which made Tillie blush to match
her beautiful gown. When rebuffed for not dressing up for the occasion, Simon very
happily showed Tillie his color & glitter, which mainly consisted of a glittering rainbow he'd
painted on each of his black, high-top sneakers. If it was Simon McKay
Lady Whitehurst wanted to meet, then it was Simon McKay she was going to get.
Tillie was crushed to find that she was the only one at the garden party who was
dressed to the nines. To make matters worse, all three friends discovered
that Lady Whitehurst was a terrible snob. She delighted in making fun of
Tillie, leaving Alex & Simon very upset. Tillie, however, thought
herself beneath anyone who held a royal title. No matter how mean Lady
Whitehurst was, Tillie still felt that she would never measure up in terms of
class. Simon & Alex both scoffed at the idea that Lady Whitehurst had
more class than Tillie, but she wouldn't believe them. They tried
their best to cheer up their friend, but Tillie managed to slip away from them
so she wouldn't be such an embarrassment. She tried to be herself, but
couldn't find any new friends among the other guests at the party. Tillie
felt like a fish out of water, to say the least.
Simon & Alex split up to look for Tillie after she disappeared. Simon eventually ended up
inside the Whitehurst mansion & looked around at the nick-knacks lining the walls.
He came upon a grandfather clock which was, at that very moment, striking three & then came across
one of Lady Whitehurst's henchmen. Simon quickly excused himself &
made his way back to the garden.
Poor Tillie had since found an empty table & was sitting alone feeling bluer than
ever. To her amazement, she suddenly found herself flanked on either side by Simon
& Alex, who had preferred her company to anyone else at the party.
Tillie was a rose between two very dashing thorns. The boys whisked her home without a word to
When the Bronco pulled into the garage, there was a utility repair van
parked in the alley. The trio didn't take much notice of it. The two men
inside the van, however, panicked at the site of the Bronco. They were the
same two men who had been chasing the stranger through the streets & taking
pictures of him dropping the coin in Simon's elephant bank. There was a
third party currently inside Simon's house & the men tried
desperately to call their cohort out before they were
discovered. When the cohort failed to answer the call, the men in the van left the
scene before all was completely lost.
Tillie, Simon & Alex were very glad to be home where they could relax & feel
comfortable. That is, until they suddenly heard the sound of multiple toys
coming from the direction of the workshop. Alex headed downstairs, gun
drawn, & found only a chimpanzee dressed in fatigues sitting among some of
Simon's toys. The chimp took off up the stairs & headed to the living
room fireplace, surprising Tillie & Simon on the way. It took Simon a minute to stop
Alex from chasing the confused & scared chimp around the living room.
Then Simon calmly made friends with the chimp. They didn't know where their new
friend was from, but Alex quickly discovered it's occupation - cat burglar. They
emptied out a bag that the chimp had been carrying. Among the
items the chimp had nicked was Simon's new elephant bank. Simon called
the chimp Oliver & Alex realized that this was in reference to Oliver
Twist. There had to be a 'Fagin' somewhere who taught the chimp how to steal.
Alex suddenly remember the utility repair van that had been parked in the alley
upon their arrival. He dashed outside to see if it was still there.
Tillie knew by the way Simon spoke to Oliver that he had every intention of keeping
the chimp with them. He wanted to rehabilitate Oliver, but Tillie wasn't
happy about it. She had rehabilitated many a juvenile & adult delinquent in her
time, but she never thought she'd see the day when one would be a real live ape.
Dinner ended up consisting of fried bananas, at least for Simon & Oliver. Simon loved fried bananas,
but not the way Tillie was acting towards Oliver. She was treating Oliver
in much the same way that Lady Whitehurst had treated Tillie earlier that
day. When Simon mentioned this to Tillie, she thought about it & agreed. Tillie
apologized to Simon who refused to accept her apology since he wasn't the one she
was being mean to. Tillie couldn't believe what Simon was suggesting,
but eventually apologized directly to Oliver who graciously accepted.
When Simon pointed out that it also wasn't fair for Tillie to scold Oliver's table
manners when she hadn't even given him silverware, Tillie pointed out that she
had. Oliver suddenly took off for the living room & tried to hide in the
fireplace again. Tillie saw guilt in the chimp's eyes & demanded that Simon
frisk Oliver. Simon discovered that Oliver had not only stuffed the
silverware in his bag, but also the elephant bank. Simon shook the bank
& realized he could hear more than Alex's quarter rattling around
inside. Turning over the bank, he was surprised to see the stranger's coin
fall onto the coffee table. He put both coins in the jar Tillie used for
her grocery money, all the while musing that the bank was becoming a better
investment all the time.
For anyone keeping score, it now only cost Simon $399.25. If this kept up, the bank would literally pay for itself.
After Tillie reluctantly gave Oliver a bath, Simon read him a bedtime story. As
Simon tucked Oliver into bed for the night, he patted the bed spread & suddenly
felt something under the covers that wasn't Oliver. Oliver tried to hold
the covers over his head in shame, but Simon finally managed to pull the covers
back to reveal a treasure trove of valuable trinkets. Once again, the
elephant bank was among the loot. Simon knew how frightening it could be
to sleep in a strange place & gave Oliver the bank to hold onto for
security. This rehabilitation was going to take a lot of work, but that
could wait 'til morning.
Simon ran into Tillie in the hallway as she was making her way to bed. It
was a good thing, too, because the bed Simon tucked Oliver into just happened to
be hers. Needless to say, this was yet another strike in Tillie's book,
but she was too tired to fight about it. She decided that, since Alex was
out for the evening, she'd play musical beds with Alex ending up the looser. Tillie went
quietly into her room to retrieve her
pillow, but when she turned on the light she found the bed empty & no sign
of Oliver anywhere in the room. Tillie called for Simon & the two headed out the
recently opened side door in search of their new friend. Poor Oliver had
been awakened by the sound of the high pitched whistle he was trained to respond
to & was heading in the direction of the call. Oliver made it
from the house, across the backyard & was climbing the trellis on the other
side by the time Simon & Tillie made it to the window he exited the house
from. Simon called to Oliver, who, by this time, was on the roof of the
garage & as confused as ever. Oliver was torn as to which call to
answer. Simon inflated the emergency escape
slide under the window & slid down into the backyard. By now, the men
who were trying to get Oliver to come to them, were shouting as well as using
the whistle. Tillie could only look helplessly out of the upstairs window & watch,
hoping that Oliver would come back. Simon continued to call to Oliver
& tell him not to listen to or go with the bad men. He hurried up the
ladder of his tree house so that he would at least be eye level with
Oliver. Poor Oliver was going back & forth, uncertain of what to
do. The bad guys had finally had enough & one of them climbed up to
the garage roof to grab Oliver while the other man drew a gun & started
firing at Simon, who was still in the tree house. Tillie hurried to the
backyard as fast as she could. Once Oliver was in custody, the two men
took off leaving Simon & Tillie at the back gate watching helplessly as the
tail lights of the utility van headed down the alley & around the corner.
When Alex finally got home he found Simon & Tillie in the kitchen trying to
console themselves over hot chocolate. They told Alex what had transpired
in his absence. What upset Simon the most was that Oliver didn't want to
go with those men. They forced Oliver into that van. The only thing
Oliver had in his possession was Simon's elephant bank, but Simon didn't care
because he saw it as Oliver's security blanket. Tillie knew that, whatever
Oliver was sent into that house to steal, there was far more going on than petty
theft. Alex agreed. He had been spending all afternoon & evening
trying to dig deeper into the unusual events of the day. The city had no
record of any work being done on the street where the utility van had been
parked. He also had Linden checking into chimp thefts at local zoos & laboratories to
see if that would lead to Oliver's Fagin. To Tillie's surprise, Alex had even asked
Linden to do a background check on Lady Whitehurst. All three of them
being specifically invited to a surprise garden party which would leave the house empty at
exactly the same time of the burglary was just too precise to be a
coincidence. It just didn't sit right with Alex's instincts. The
only thing Alex had learned so far was that not much was known about their
ungracious hostess before she married Lord Whitehurst. Lord Whitehurst
couldn't be questioned because he had mysteriously died shortly after their
marriage. Tillie refused to
believe that a woman of nobility would do anything like this, but Simon was
willing to believe it.
The next day, Tillie walked to the market. She only got as far as the corner
of Elm Street when the same gray van pulled up & Tillie was pulled inside & whisked
away. A short while later, Alex answered what turned out to be the ransom
call. Alex got Simon to start the recorder that was hooked up to the
phone. The man on the other ended demanded the return of the coin that had
been in the elephant bank or Tillie would be killed. He told Alex to bring the
coin to the bus stop at the intersection of Lincoln & Montana in one hour. Simon suddenly remembered which coin the
caller was referring to & grabbed the money jar
from the end table. Dumping the contents on the coffee table, Simon
carefully looked through all of the coins hoping that
Tillie hadn't accidentally taken the half dollar with her to the market. He explained to Alex about
finding the coin in the bank & putting it in the jar the night before. Simon then came
across a very unusual half dollar. When he first saw the coin, it hadn't
occurred to Simon that there was something different about it. Real half
dollar coins have a rough edge. The edge on this one was smooth. Alex held it in one
hand & a real half dollar in the other & noticed there was also a difference in
weight. On closer examination, they discovered that the fake coin
slid open to reveal a micro photo of a blue print hidden inside. Simon made a copy of
the film & fashioned a tracking device small enough to fit inside the
coin. He gave Alex the coin & the tracking monitor. Alex wanted
to go to the drop point alone because it was just too much for him to have to
worry about protecting Simon at the same time. As much as Simon wanted to
go, he understood Alex's concerns. Out of respect for his friend, Simon
chose to stay behind.
Well, if he couldn't go to the drop point, then Simon would just have to find
some other way to make himself useful. He listened again to the phone
recording & heard something familiar in the background. The same
chimes he heard at 3 o'clock the afternoon before. He knew exactly where
Tillie was & he knew that Oliver was with her! He raced outside to
tell Alex, but the little gray sports car was already driving away. Okay,
so it would just be Simon & his magic carpet bag to the rescue.
Simon was absolutely right about Tillie & Oliver ending up in the same place
- the same cell, to be exact. Tillie had been blindfolded in the van &
was now being forced down into a basement & into a large cell which already
contained Oliver. Tillie was happy to see Oliver, confused as to why they
were there & thinking that if it weren't for bad luck she'd have no luck at
all. She assured Oliver that Simon would come to their rescue.
Alex & the coin waited for the next bus to arrive at the designated stop
while Simon & the carpet bag made their way to the Whitehurst estate.
When the bus finally arrived, Alex waited for someone to exit the bus, but no
one did. He finally told the driver to continue on. Then a man
suddenly leaned out of a bus window & demanded the coin from Alex. In
order to keep the man from getting suspicious, Alex pretended to be hesitant
about giving the coin without getting Tillie in return. After finally
handing over the coin, the bus departed & Alex ran back to his car to begin the
pursuit. Simon, meanwhile, arrived at his destination & made his way around the estate fence carefully
checking to see if any guards or dogs were on watch. He made his way to
the most secluded area he could find & took a futuristic looking earth
moving vehicle out
of the carpet bag. This radio control vehicle started digging into the
ground. After a while, it dug a tunnel right under the electrified fence
& Simon was able to enter the estate grounds undetected.
Alex drove along trying to keep an eye on the road as well as watch the tracking
monitor. It was a good thing he had that monitor, because the kidnappers had
anticipated someone following the bus. At some point along the route, the
van pulled up alongside the still moving bus & the man inside the bus leaned
out & handed the coin to the driver of the van. Then the van turned
down a side street to get away from the bus. Alex saw the turn indicated
on the monitor & took off after the van.
Simon made his way across the grounds to the house. He snuck around the
house until he found a sturdy looking downspout on one
This time the carpet bag produced a climbing toy. Like most of Simon's
electronic toys, it was radio operated. Unlike his other toys, this one looked just like a native of the
Alps, right down to his plastic lederhosen. Simon attached the device to
the downspout, fastened a belt around his waist, then ran a line from the device to a clip on
the belt. Once Simon was securely fastened, he pushed a button on the
remote which started the mountaineer climbing
up the downspout until it reached the portion where the pipe runs from the wall
to the gutter on the roof eave. Then Simon pushed another button, which caused the line to
retract back into the device & pull Simon up off of the ground. Simon
got about half way up when the remote control slipped from his grasp. It
hit the ground in such a way as to start the yodeling sound & stop the line,
leaving Simon hanging helplessly in mid-air. The yodeling
caught the attention of Lady Whitehurst who leaned out a nearby window.
She reminded Simon of his early departure from her party & let him know
that, this time, he would be staying - permanently.
Simon's rescue hit a snag in more ways than one. Hopefully Alex was having a better
The driver of the gray van never noticed the gray sports car that was following
him. Although they had anticipated someone trying to follow the bus, they
never anticipated the possibility of anyone following the van. He drove around until he came
to another bus stop where the man from the bus was waiting for him. When
the van stopped to let the other man in, Alex seized the opportunity.
Pulling up behind the van, Alex stopped his car, jumped out & ran to the
unlocked back doors of the van. He opened the doors & took custody of
both men, who were unarmed. Alex bound & gagged the man who had been
on the bus & locked him in the small cage in the back of the van that was
used to transport Oliver. Then Alex ordered the driver of the van to
continue on to the Whitehurst estate. Alex then called Linden from the
phone in the van & asked for agents to be sent to the mansion to arrest Lady
Whitehurst & the rest of her gang.
Back at the mansion, Simon was once again on solid ground & soon found
himself reunited with Tillie & Oliver in the basement. When Lady
Whitehurst's henchmen opened the cell door to put Simon in, Oliver raced out
& climbed up a stack of boxes to escape out an open, ground level
window. Simon & Tillie were thrilled to see Oliver make his escape,
but Lady Whitehurst was not. She had just entered the room, limping on her
recently injured leg. She ordered her henchman to get help & catch
Oliver. After the men left, Lady Whitehurst gloated over Simon &
Tillie. She was the criminal & yet they were the ones behind
bars. Simon, however, didn't see it that way. Life is, after all, a
matter of perspective & Simon reminded Lady Whitehurst that, from where he
was standing, she was the one behind bars. He may have been inside the
cell, but he still had to look through the bars to see her. Get it?
Tillie was also beginning to see things from a different perspective.
Until now, she had considered a fancy title & noble heritage to be the hallmark
of grace & class. Tillie had neither & so she felt she had no
grace or class. She was finally starting to realize what Alex & Simon
had been trying to tell her all along. It truly is what's inside a person
that counts. Not their net worth or titles or family lineage, even through
marriage. She stood there & watched as Lady Whitehurst's true colors
started to seep through & the false veneer of glitter
faded. Tillie finally saw Lady Whitehurst for the mean, selfish, arrogant
criminal she was & Tillie no longer felt beneath her. Lady Whitehurst
grew angry at the confident air of her captives & she hobbled off telling
them that they would never leave the estate alive.
Outside on the estate grounds, the men were all absolutely certain that the only
place Oliver would run off to would be the trees around the mansion. While
they were busy trying to find the chimp among the tree tops, Oliver was busy
making his way around the outside of the mansion until he came upon the carpet
bag, which had been left by the downspout where Simon was captured. Oliver
grabbed the carpet bag & quickly made his way back to the basement window
& to his caged friends. Tillie & Simon were overjoyed to see
Oliver with the carpet bag. Simon asked Oliver to open the bag & bring
him the red balloon. Oliver did as Simon asked &, this time, the
carpet bag produced an over sized red balloon with a white canister attached to
one end. Tillie helped Simon put the Power Balloon between two bars on the
cell & hold it in place while Simon turned a black knob on the white
canister. The balloon inflated until it filled the entire cell. The
only draw back to this plan is that Tillie & Simon were still inside the
cell, each ending up on opposite sides & being squished into the bars.
The pressure was almost unbearable, but they managed to hold out until the
balloon had grown so large that it began snapping bars off of the cell.
Once Simon heard the bars beginning to snap, he called to Tillie. She had
possession of the white canister on her side of the cell & she turned the
black knob until it stopped. The balloon began to deflate & the pair
were able to make good their escape.
Meanwhile, Alex & the kidnappers had returned to the estate. Alex led
the van's driver into the mansion at gun point & they made their way up to
Lady Whitehurst's office. She had been busy packing up money &
valuables that had been in her safe. When Lady Whitehurst saw Alex enter
the office with his gun drawn, she knew the jig was up - for the moment.
Another one of her henchmen entered the office behind Alex & took him by surprise,
knocking the gun from his hand. It was a tense moment as Alex fought off
several men alone, but Tillie, Simon & Oliver soon joined in to make it a
fair fight. Simon knocked out one the henchmen, Alex threw another out of
the window, Oliver went after his trainer & Tillie had fun giving Lady
Whitehurst a lesson in the school of hard knocks.
The rescue mission was successful at last, even if most of it didn't go as
planned. But then, not much in life ever goes as planned.
Alex returned home from the office the following day, he found Tillie, Simon
& Oliver having a party in the dining room. They were celebrating
Oliver's acceptance into a training program at the local school for deaf
children. Alex was excited at their news & even more excited to
tell them the news of Lady Whitehurst's questioning at the police station.
It seems that our heroes had succeeded in stopping the most notorious jewel
thief in Europe. The mysteries of hundreds of previously unsolved
robberies had been unraveling in that interrogation room. Now there was
even more reason to celebrate with cheers & toasts of carbonated cider to
their new friend, Oliver.
~"You've got more
class in your little finger than she's (Lady Whitehurst) got in her whole
body." - Simon to Tillie~
written by The
May 30, 2007
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