I am Mashie Niblick. I am presently employed as the greenskeeper of the Hoity Toity Golf
and Monopoly Club in the big city of Tracy. I struck out the Monopoly part as they have suspended playing Monopoly due to rampant cheating. They are unsure what might take Monopoly’s place. But these people are all rich. They could fly to Atlantic City, New Jersey and play their own brand of Monopoly, or they could fly to Bari, Italy and drive down the Adriatic coast to Monopoli. But this was all a Perils of Pauline misadventure when she did not need me, I am writing it in third person. Until various people filled me in, I knew none of this was happening. All I knew was that Pauline got a call at about 3:00am to come to the Federal buildings in Tracy and see someone from Hugh McAdoo’s office. A complicated message had arrived using one of her crazy codes, and they wanted the code creator to confirm they had the correct message translation. Then in late afternoon, after I had worked a full day, I saw Pauline emerge from a familiar looking delivery truck wearing the typical brown shirt and a pair of darker brown shorts that did not fit too well. The truck was familiar in that you see them everywhere, but never with my wife driving one. Yep, some explaining had to be done. Thus, her story unfolds before the sun came up…
Pauline arrived at the federal building and nearly had to wake up the night security to be let into the building. The Niblicks were contracted employees of Hugh McAdoo, part of an alphabet organization outside DC dealing with things that the general public might not want to know about. The Niblicks would have to work fulltime to get a security card to enter without someone buzzing them in. She was expected, but it was late in the guard’s shift.
She went to the office number that she had been given. A smarmy fellow by the name of Riley Smiley, but probably a different name in “real life,” handed her a few pages of code and a notebook and pen to take notes.
Riley said, “I heard Mashie had married above his station, but I never expected this gorgeous hunk of femininity. If you want to take a step up yourself, I’m available.” As she sat looking over the code, Riley ground his groin against her shoulder.
She rolled her eyes and turned to him, “We will keep this professional. I will decode this and then go back to our two-story mansion in the burbs and to the man I love. Besides, I have a PhD. I work full time as a college professor, and I doubt if you have completed high school, considering your behavior thus far. But no, I bet you faked your high school diploma. Am I right?” She looked at him, smiled, and batted her eyes.
Riley growled, “You know the drill. Nothing leaves this room. You only take notes with that notepad. The message and all your notes go into the safe if you must leave the room to use the facilities down the hall. I will be in the internal office if you need me for anything else or have the message decoded. You can press the buzzer next to the door and I can come out here if you prefer.
The code was a triple coded message that Pauline had designed. There were false sections that meant nothing unless you knew how to skip them. Those instructions were also imbedded within the code, using prearranged code words and numbers. Most people had some of those things on classified lists, but since Pauline wrote the code, she had memorized the lists.
The first part of the decode was to separate the sections and rid herself of the false code. This was time consuming. If they had simply waited another month, she was going to present a computer application that would do all that for the receiver in a matter of seconds, but she was debugging the software. She had two errors in the code, and she was trying to find them.
Riley came in when she had just finished the first phase. He suggested that they could go to the cafeteria together and he promised to behave. If you got there early, they had some breakfast items that usually went quickly. The cafeteria at the federal building was short on breakfast food since most people worked the day shift.
She acquiesced. Riley wasn’t too big of a jerk when he wasn’t on the make. He even paid for breakfast. They talked about working for Hugh McAdoo, and Riley bragged about all the countries he had visited or worked in during his career. Pauline admitted that their only travel had been to London to bring back an agent who had been in deep cover. Ever since, she had been developing this code that she did not even think was in the field at this time. She was teaching at the university, Tracy Regional University for Science and Technology, T.R.U.S.T. Her work for the agency was on contract when she had time. She and Mashie had a safe in the house, just like the one in the office where she was working upstairs.
On the way back to the office, he offered his arm. She suggested that he might have to explain why he fell down the stairs. He explained that she was just an analyst, and he was a highly trained agent with a license to kill, and he would not fall down the stairs. She explained that her career field at the university was in a combination of physical therapy, psychological therapy, and kinesiology combined. They call it Kinesie P for short. She could twist him into a pretzel physically and mentally at the same time. And she only had one man who she trusted to take her hand and walk her to the office. Maybe two, since her nearly life-long friend Millennium Yeggs, Deviled Yeggs’ GrandPa, had taught her things that Riley Smiley may not know.
Pauline was really close to completing her task. She had no lessons to teach that day, but she wanted to talk to Mashie about something. She figured she could have breakfast; learn a little about Riley Smiley; and then be home before Mashie had to be at the golf course. Mashie had either Rotten Yeggs or Scrambled Yeggs to do the early morning course maintenance. Their regular jobs were mostly on the night shift, night guard duty and baking. That way, she could do the last step of the decoding in her head without writing anything down, and she could be home before Mashie left for work. But that was a plan that never happened.
She retrieved the code and her notes. As she studied her notes and the words started to form, she became frightened. She realized that she might be in peril. Mashie had always told her that he loved women named Pauline so that he could swoop in and save the fair damsel, rescuing her from her latest Peril of Pauline. But Mashie suspected nothing of peril. This was a simple decoding of a routine message. She had done the decoding in her head. There was nothing written down that indicated that she suspected something was amiss. She locked her notepad and the message in the safe and excused herself to go to the restroom. The restroom was an internal room, no easy means of escape, but she felt that she had time to sit and think. She heard someone in the hall. It was a delivery man taking packages to the mail room for distribution for beginning of the day guaranteed delivery. She stood by the restroom door.
As the delivery man walked back by with his handheld communicator and his two-wheel dolly, Pauline said, “Oh, young man, I noticed your walk. You have something out of alignment. It hurts if I press here, doesn’t it?” She pressed a spot in the man’s back that would hurt regardless of alignment. “I’m a doctor. Let me give you a quick shoulder and upper back massage and you will feel a lot better.”
Since the delivery man was a little ahead of schedule he agreed. Having a beautiful lady rubbing his upper body seemed and felt like a good idea. But then she rubbed deeply in one particular spot and the delivery man got weak in the knees and told her he had to sit down. She guided him into the ladies room, and pressed the spot a little harder. The delivery man passed out. He wasn’t harmed, but he would sleep for an hour or so. She took his clothing off and put it on herself. She rolled up her clothing to close the gap between her waist measurement and his. The shirt was a little roomy, but not too bad. She felt sorry for the guy. He would soon awaken in a ladies’ room with nothing on but his underpants, and he would have no idea how he got there.
She exited the ladies’ room, grabbed the dolly and walked out without the guards giving her a greeting. She checked her pockets, the delivery man’s pockets, and decided to take the delivery truck home. That way, if they saw her car in the parking lot, they would think she was still at the federal building. And if anyone was looking as the uniformed delivery man got into a car, it would raise suspicion.
As she cranked the engine, the navigation screen came alive and told her that the next delivery was at T.R.U.S.T. Medical Center. She had to make that delivery. Someone might need the stuff on the truck. It might be bed pans, but it might be surgical supplies that they are running out of. This was guaranteed early morning delivery for a reason. She thought that many people at the medical center knew her and as for the college there were a lot more, but it was worth the risk. She knew no one at package receiving. She boldly walked into the hospital and made her delivery.
The next delivery was at an auto repair shop. It could be a part for someone’s Granny’s car. Granny might need to go to a doctor visit or get groceries. Each subsequent delivery was made for the same type of excuses. The early morning guaranteed deliveries morphed into the usual deliveries. By this time, she was having fun. She was determined to make all the deliveries. The thought of the coded message had slipped her mind. The thought of talking to Mashie before work slipped away due to the early morning deliveries lasting until he was already at work. She could catch him when she drove the truck home.
She would ask the industrial guards where to go to deliver packages because she was just filling in. On a couple of the occasions, the guard took the packages and said he would have them come get them. She’d say, “Now, aren’t you sweet!” And she would flash him a big smile. She kept hearing a voice in her head saying that she was doing to the guards what Riley had done to her earlier in the day, but she suppressed such feelings.
As she drove around town in a stolen delivery truck, wearing a stolen uniform, thoughts of what she had just done that morning vanished from her mind as well. Police would slow down when they drove past. She would flash a smile and wave. They would laugh and wave back.
She then made her last delivery and drove home. As she pulled into the cul-de-sac, she realized for the first time that her plan had one tiny flaw, at least the only flaw that she could think of. They lived in a cul-de-sac and their driveway only had enough room for her tiny car. Where could she park the truck? As she spun the truck around like a pro, after all, she had been driving it for about ten hours, Mashie came to the front door and leaned against the doorframe.
When she got out of the truck, instinctively grabbing the delivery man’s handheld device although there were no more deliveries, Mashie said, “I have always loved you, but seeing you in uniform, even a uniform that does not fit, I don’t know if I can keep my hands off of you.”
“Take a cold shower, Mashie, I have had a long day.” She sighed.
Mashie guided her to the living room, and she took her shoes off and propped up her feet. Mashie asked her to tell him all about it, and she left out no details at all about what she did. She did not mention the translated message, just that she had translated it, and her concern precipitated the subsequent events.
Then Mashie asked, “And what is this big news that you had for me?”
Pauline smiled, “Do you remember when I complained that Poached and Callie were expecting and we’ve been married six months more than they have and we have nothing to show for it? We built this nice house with all the extra bedrooms and no one to live in them?”
Mashie interrupted, “But you must remember that the doctor said that our problem is that I am shooting blanks. We are destined to remain childless, and it is not your fault, dear.”
Pauline shook her head, “The doctor said that you mostly shoot blanks, as you call it. There is a slight chance of me getting pregnant. It might take a miracle, but it was possible.”
Mashie shrugged, “I think he said one in a million. We can adopt.”
Pauline huffed, “Mashie, miracles can happen.”
Mashie shrugged again, “Yeah, but…”
Pauline continued, “Miracles happen all the time. God can grant us a miracle.”
Mashie groaned, “Pauline, don’t keep your hopes up.”
Pauline continued, “Miracles have happened for us, Mashie. Recently, like last night.”
Mashie nodded his head, “Yeah, you didn’t get arrested.”
Then a familiar voice shouted from the kitchen, “Mashie, you idiot!!! Pauline is telling you she is pregnant. You’re gonna be a Daddy, you fool!!” Then Hugh McAdoo burst through the door with a Dagwood sandwich.
Pauline asked, “And why are you here?”
Hugh replied, “Let’s see. I was awakened by Riley Smiley stating that you had left the building without decoding the message. Then the next call was a frantic call from the federal building security. Since you and Riley were the only ones in the building that early, they wanted to know if you had bumped into a delivery man. Then the next call was to state that the delivery man was found in the ladies’ room. He woke up and found two ladies bent over him, one doing CPR. Okay, she wasn’t doing CPR. She was kissing him, tongue and all. The delivery guy woke up thinking he was having an erotic dream. It took him a little while to realize that he was naked. He’d been wearing underwear, but the ladies removed them, thinking it might help him breathe better.”
And Pauline interrupted, “And his tighty whities left nothing to the imagination. I sort of feel sorry for the guy.” Mashie gave her a judgmental look. “Don’t worry, dear, you are my one and only, but when something is that disproportionate you notice. Now, Riley Smiley is a womanizing jerk who has an ego a mile long, and he wears a rolled-up sock in his underwear.” Mashie again gave her a judgmental look. “Hey, girls can tell the difference, and he was rubbing the sock against my shoulder.”
Mashie said, “I’ll kill him.”
Hugh continued, “I might have to fire him. He’s done that before, but maybe a forced retirement. It’s less paperwork. But back to the delivery man. He started kissing back and the ladies jumped away, realizing that he was awake. A third witness in the room says that he arranged a date with both of them at the same time. Those ideas sound fun, but they almost always end in tragedy.” Hugh looked at Mashie and winked. This was Pauline’s turn to give a judgmental glance. Mashie merely shrugged. But Hugh kept on. “I called Deviled Yeggs and he called the delivery office and all of the trucks were making deliveries on schedule. I informed him to not arrest the delivery fleet, but he might personally know one of the drivers. Then I flew here on a private jet to find out why you did all this.”
Pauline swallowed, realizing her part-time employment may be near an end. “The message said, “The person who handed you this coded message to decipher is a double-agent. He is armed and dangerous. Make every effort to escape.”
Hugh looked puzzled, “Nothing more?”
“No,” Pauline said, “That was it. With him trying to get romantic in the early hours of the morning, I was already on edge, and I wanted to leave. I could have believed anything of dear ‘socks-in-the-pants’ Smiley. But that was the entire message.”
Hugh jumped up. “That explains it! They were supposed to have added, ‘Disregard the message after you finish decoding. This was a test of the system.’ But in hearing how you escaped and all you did today, I am rather impressed. “
Mashie added, “But, Sweetheart, think it through. How would someone in a foreign land know who was delivering the message? It could have been anyone.”
“Oops! I didn’t think of that. Hugh, do I still have my job as a parttime analyst?”
Hugh laughed, “With part of what you told your husband already figured out in flight here, some of the agency’s top guns want to promote you to agent. Pardon the French, but they suggest a special agent paygrade of ‘Bad Ass.’ But now that you have made a totally different announcement, maybe the agent thing can wait.” Then Hugh looked shamelessly at his sandwich.
Pauline asked, “Are you going to eat all that? I have not had a thing to eat all day, and I should be eating for two, you know!”
Hugh said, “Let me offer this to the two of you, and I can go fix myself another.”
Mashie said, “There is enough for four in this one sandwich.”
Pauline retorted, “Speak for yourself, big fella.”
Then there was the eerie red and blue lights of the police in the cul-de-sac. The three of them came to the door. Guy Weiss was standing next to the delivery truck. He said, “Excuse me, we are not making any arrests as directed by someone in Washington, DC, like they know what they are doing in DC. But the delivery company wants their truck back.”
Still dressed in her stolen uniform, she walked over and gave the keys, wallet, and the handheld device to Officer Weiss. His partner backed away and drove off, leaving Weiss to drive the truck.
Guy Weiss asked, “This device requires a PIN. How were you able to make all those deliveries?”
Pauline shrugged, “Easily. There were four keys with the paint worn off. Two numbers were part of his driver’s license number and the other two were the day of the month of his birth. A sloppy PIN if you ask me.”
Then, Guy Weiss, otherwise known as Wise Guy, did something quite unwise, foolish even. He told Pauline that she had to take off the uniform and give it to him. She suggested that she had seen something in the officer’s walk that disturbed her, the same routine she had used on the delivery man. She had Wise Guy sit in the driver’s seat of the delivery truck, and she massaged his back until she reached where she was headed. The horn blared when Wise Guy passed out and fell forward. Hugh and Mashie strapped him into the seat belt, giving Pauline a dirty look.
“Don’t worry. He is fine. He’ll wake up in about an hour. I’m just wondering. When he wakes up, should he be wearing his officer’s uniform, the delivery uniform, or nothing at all?”
The Perils of Pauline was a movie serial started in 1914. It defined many serials that followed, including the Perils of Pauline “moment,” the cliffhanger that caused you to return to the theater for the next installment.
The Dagwood sandwich is an extremely tall sandwich, multiple layers. It is called a Dagwood due to Dagwood Bumstead of the comic strip Blondie. Blondie is Dagwood’s wife.
There are pressure points that can help you overcome insomnia. There are locations in martial arts fighting that are considered the knockout points, but if administered too hard, it could be damaging, even deadly. There may be a sweet spot, but this is one of those “Do not try this at home” moments. This was simply fictional.
And yes, Monopoli is south of Bari and considered part of the Bari metropolitan area, but I turned and went inland, to Martina Franca, Italy, near the ankle area of the boot on top of the mountain. I only worked in the area, at a steel mill in Taranto, Italy for a week.