"Extry! Extry! Read all about it!"
It was trumpeted by every newsboy from Whoopieville to Whoopie City. The 4th National Bank of Whoopieland had been robbed! That made eight banks in three weeks! The 8th National Bank, then the 1st National Bank, then the 6th, the10th, the 7th, the 12th, the 3 1/2th, and now the 4th. And each carried out the same way.
The style favored by The Purple Lilac.
Scheduled for any time of the day, after noon, so they couldn't be predicted. They began with an army of almost a dozen hoods wearing the Purple Lilac's trademarked magenta suits, vests, gloves, shoes, ties and bowlers storming the bank and taking everyone hostage. Then ransacking every teller's station and finally making a mass getaway. But not before leaving a calling card that said, "Dis Robbery Broughts To Youse Coitesy of Da Poiple Lilac".
The Whoopieland police were on it from the first holdup. Asembling descriptions, collecting clues, trailing the car. It was a stolen car, another of the Purple Lilac's tactics, verified by the fact that he left a card with the car's owner saying "Dis Car T'eft Provided By Da Poiple Lilac".
Fortunately, the car was spotted parked at the edge of a beach along the southern edge of Lake Whoopie a few hours later, and the department swooped down on it. Sure enough tracks, sunken deep in the sand from the weight of the loot led in a mob away from the vehicle. The police were quick to pursue.
Then they found a shoe. Then a sock. Then a hat. Then a tie. Then another tie. Then a jacket. Then three more shoes. Then a pair of pants. Then some gloves, another hat, another jacket, a couple more ties and a sash. There's always one in every crowd! Then,...a mask! Then another mask.
Incredible. someone robbing a bank pretending to be the Purple Lilac's gang! But who could it be?
They followed the trail of discarded costume items, then, just beyond a heaping pile of clothes and masks, more tracks.
Size 48 wide tracks, like Mr. Noogle's! Oversized dog like prints, like Prince The Dog's! Rounded pits in the ground, like the tracks of Mr. Huffer, the character composed of balloons twisted together! The tiny paw prints of Whiskers The Cat. All decent, law abiding individuals! They followed them for more than a mile, until they lost them in the high grass.
Understand. This is Whoopieland, the world of a children's Saturday morning cartoon program. The characters included live action with latex appliances, flat cartoon characters, computer generated characters, marionettes, characters in costumes and sock puppets. They could stage flashbacks virtually at will, they could pull anything they wanted from behind their backs. And they could fit into any costume! If Andy The Elephant wanted to fit into a Pipsqueak Pete costume, he could. He could even imitate Pipsqueak Pete's voice. His apetite might not be the same, but aside from that, there would be no telling them apart.
And that was the problem that faced the police. Formerly legitimate citizens imitating the Purple Lilac's gang to carry out robberies!
Realizing the importance of this, the officers who located the car called in the department. In two shakes of a lamb's tail, believe it, two shakes of a lamb's tail, they were at the scene and all over the car. Believe it, they were all over the car. Certain his intellect could help solve the case, and being involved in something like this could get him good exposure in the press, Inspector Bumble made sure to join in the effort. When Chief Kronk arrived to survey the investigation, he found Bumble staring at the line of tracks leading across the sand, deep in thought.
"Anything to report?", asked Chief Kronk.
"Actually, something pretty serious", replied Bumble.
"It might be."
"What is it?"
"What is what?"
Bumble turned to face Kronk and approached slowly. "I think they're watering down the soda at the Whoopieland Department Store snack bar.
"I meant anything to report about the investigation!"
"Oh, that. We've got ten complete costumes, with clothes and masks."
"That fits the reports of the bank being overrun", said Detective Stumblebum.
"And there were tracks found?"
"Yes, sir", replied Officer Wimple, "They go on for over a mile, but then they go into the grass."
"What tracks can you identify?", asked Kronk.
"Well, there's a mess of them", replied Bumble, "But we can make out Mr. Noogle's, Mr. Huffer's and Prince The Dog's plainly."
"We think others belong to Whiskers The Cat", said Wimple, "and some look like they might be Hotshot Hawk, but he would be spending most of his time flying, anyway."
"This is unbelievable", opined Kronk, "I've known these characters since the pilot show! And to find out that they're involved in a crime! How can that be?"
"It's not always easy to judge someone's personality", offered Bumble, "Why, would you believe some people actually think I'm a moron?"
"That's comforting", said Kronk, "Are you certain they're involved?"
"In calling me a moron? Well,..."
"I mean in the crime! Did you find any evidence in the car?"
"Actually", replied Bumble, "we did."
"We found some strands of what looks like the crushed velvet of Prince's costume in the front seat", said Detective Stumblebum, "and what looks like one of Hotshot Hawk's feathers in the back."
"Anything else?", demanded Kronk, "Do you have any fringerprints?"
"Oh, yes, Chief", replied Bumble, "one on each finger!"
"I mean in the car!"
"Yes, Chief", said Wimple, "We found Mr. Noogle's fingerprints all over the car."
"How did you find them all over the car?"
"Well, when we got here, we were all over the car, and..."
"Never mind! This is serious, this is more than just finding out who's behind this. We can't allow ourselves to just go off willy nilly accusing innocent citizens!"
"Can we do it wibbly bibbly?", asked Bumble.
"No! Bumble, have you considered the possibility that maybe we're going in the wrong direction? That maybe this is set up to implicate innocents like Sam The Panda, Hotshot Hawk and Mr. Noogle? That someone carried out this robbery and is trying to cast blame on him and the others to take attention away from themselves, preparing a massive, cunning deception to drive us the wrong way?"
"Well, can you consider it?"
"Chief", offered Stumblebum, "since this involves costumes, apparently such high quality ones, it seems there's one place to start."
"Yes", replied Kronk. Stumblebum was right, there was only one place to start.
Sadie Grady, the Costume Lady. Between her and her staff, Sadie Grady supplied all the official costumes and appliances for every character in Whoopieland. When a costume was worn out, they came for a new one. When they had a special episode, they got the appurtenances. When a cosrtume was damaged, they came to her to repair it. Captain Scuttle's peg leg, whichever leg he wanted the peg on that day. Bombo's trumpet. Fancy flat cartoon hats for Flockie The Ostrich.
They got there in three twitches of a rabbit's nose. Literally.
"Have you had an order for a set of Purple Lilac Gang costumes, complete with masks?", asked Bumble.
"No", replied Sadie Grady, "No one's ordered a set of Purple Lilac Gang costumes at all."
"Well, we just found a set of costumes, perfectly made to match the gang", said Kronk, "Where would they get that if not from you?"
"Maybe from the person who ordered twenty sets of costumes, complete with masks", she replied.
"Twenty?", Kronk exploded, "Bumble, do you know what that means?"
"Yes", said the Inspector, "That's three less than twenty three!"
"Who ordered the sets of costumes?", asked Stumblebum.
"I don't know", said Sadie Grady, "I received the order through the mail with payment and I was told someone would pick them up."
"Who was supposed to pick them up?", asked Stumblebum.
"He said his name was Herschel."
"Herschel?", asked Chiek Kronk.
"Herschel?", asked Detective Stumblebum.
"Herschel?", asked Officer Wimple.
"Do you think they're watering down the soda at the Whoopieland Department Store snack bar?", asked Inspector Bumble.
They knew Herschel. A small time hood. No big jobs to his name. He was known more for doing jobs for someone else, fencing hot stuff, stashing cash, acting as look-out for floating jacks games in Whoopie City. Herschel had so light a reputation that they just called him "Herschel", or, if anything else, they called him "'No Pithy Nickname or Intriguing Title' Herschel".
"So somebody must have dressed up like the Purple Lilac Gang to try to frame them for the robbery", said Stumblebum, "But who?"
"Maybe it's somebody that has it in for the Lilac", said Kronk.
"That'd be a lot of the crooks in Whoopie City", said Stumblebum.
"Don't forget, we have suspects", said Bumble, "Those tracks don't lie."
"You don't really think that characters you've known all this time are involved in something like this?", said Kronk.
"If it means solving this crime", said Bumble, "I'll suspect anyone, even you, Chief." With a scrutinizing look in his eye, Bumble sidled up to Chief Kronk. "And just where were you, this morning?"
To head off what seemed like an inevitable catastrophe, Stumblebum interjected, "Maybe the answer is something else. Maybe someone had costumes of Mr. Noogle, Prince and the others on underneath the Purple Lilac costumes!" Turning, Stumblebum addressed Sadie Grady. "Were there any other unusual costume orders lately?"
"Well, there was an order for a Mr. Transparent costume."
"Who was that by?", asked Kronk.
"So much for locating Herschel", said Bumble.
"Any others?", asked Detective Stumblebum.
"Only Nutso Nathan."
"What costume did he order?"
"A Nutso Nathan costume. Somebody really should talk to him."
"Oh, that would be for me", said the Inspector, "We do this every year. I put on the costume on Nathan's birthday, and then he tries to figure out which one of us is him."
"You do this every year?", asked Kronk.
"Well, it's kind of an obligation. After all, he is my identical twin nephew."
Thankfully returning attention to Sadie Grady, Kronk asked, "Did anybody recently ask for costumes, say, of Mr. Noogle, Mr. Huffer, Whiskers The Cat,..."
Before he could finish, the phone rang. Sadie Grady made a motion that she would be quick answering it. A few pauses, a few words, then she hung up.
"I'm sorry, I really can't talk right now. I have to go help Prince The Dog repair his costume and I need to get a new tail feather for Hotshot The Hawk!"
That galvanized the department into action. Stumblebum was assigned to monitoring the actions of Noogle and the others, Kronk would check with the Purple Lilac to see if he know anyone who might pull something like this, and Inspector Bumble made arrangements to examine the soda being served at the Whoopieland Department Store snack bar.
The surveillance of Noogle, Huffer, Prince, Whiskers and Hotshot yielded an important clue. Generally, they all went their own ways, except a couple of hours before noon when they met at a ramshackle clubhouse in Whoopie Glen. With them would be Sam The Panda; Bombo The Ape; Sonnie The Lion; Peter Pesky; Hillbilly Tillie; and Otis, third assistant junior ancillary clerk at the Whoopieland train station in East Whoopie Falls. He just had a promotion. Reports were that they'd gather there for an hour or so, then they'd all leave, some in groups, some individually. Examination of the clubhouse revealed very little, mounds of candy wrappers, chairs of all sorts, a television set, and posters of Captain Corpuscle, Alien Smasher; Captain Valiant, Monster Smasher; Captain Cavalry, Bandit Smasher; and Captain Resolute, Crime Smasher. The clubhouse itself had a sign above the entrance that read, "Bad Guy Smasher Club".
Chief Kronk decided to take on interviewing the Purple Lilac.
Arriving at the warehouse in Whoopie City that said "Purple Lilac's Hideout", he was met by one of the Lilac's fuschia dressed gang members.
"Who ya lookin' for?"
"The Purple Lilac."
"The Purple Lilac."
"Oh, Da Poiple Lilac!"
He was led through a secret entrance, marked "Secret Entrance", and soon found himself faced with the head of the gang himself.
"Youse is lucky youse came t'day. Several days a week I'm at one o' me udder crime hideouts."
"You have other hideouts?"
"A hunnerd and forty convenient locations, fer yer criminal purposes! Whaddya want?"
"Well, Purple Lilac, I'm looking into this bank robbery and I want to know what you know about it."
"Well, Poiple Lilac, I'm lookin' inta dis bank robbery an' I wanna know what youse knows about it."
"Wasn't none o' my guys", said da Lilac.
"Dey all looked like yer guys. An' dey carried it out quick, wit a lotta guns an' used a stolen car."
"Mebbe dey likes me style. I always had a way wit poiple."
"Well, we figgered dat it might be sombody else. Dere was a pile o' costumes an' masks near da getaway car. We figgered somebody what's gots a gripe against ya mighta pulled dis. Who woulda wanted t' frame youse like dat?"
"You name 'em, dey're probably me enemy", replied Lilac, "Ma Mayhem don't like me 'cause I looks better in poiple than she does. "Fivesies" Malone, the jacks ganbler, dislikes me 'cause I've mastered me 'sixies'. And Silas Q. Sidewinder's riled 'cause I'm cuttin' on his cattle rustlin'. I revolutionized da business."
"How'd ya do dat?"
"Sidewinder drives th' cattle off in hoids, I takes 'em fer a ride!"
"Dat's a lotta people ta check. Don't ya get tired o' so many people hatin' ya?"
"Nah, I always like bein' da center o' attention."
As much as the police assembled, there was little they could do until the next robbery.
But they didn't have long to wait. Less than a week after the 8th National Bank came the 1st, then the 6th, the 10th and the rest. Each time, a gang stormed the bank, each time they drove off in a stolen car, each time it was found abandoned, with a pile of costumes nearby. And tracks that made no sense.
After the 1st National Bank, the car was found at the edge of Dusty Gulch. The tracks leading away included Sam The Panda, Peter Pesky, Whiskers and Hillbilly Tillie. The 6th National Bank was followed by the car being discovered in Soggy Bog. Bombo's tracks, Hotshot Hawk's, Sonnie The Lion's and Otis' led away into the swamp. Then the 10th, the 7th, the 15th. With tracks leading up Frosty Mountain; leading into the spooky old deserted haunted house just outside Whoopietown, called The Spooky Old Deserted Haunted House Just Outside Whoopietown; and trampling the just laid cement on Whoopieberry Street in Whoopie City. Always different places and not necessarily near where the hold-ups occurred. And tracks of Sam The Panda, Mr. Noogle, Whiskers The Cat, Prince The Dog, Hillbilly Tillie, Sonnie The Lion, Peter Pesky, Hotshot Hawk, Mr. Huffer, Otis and Bombo. And, worse than that, physical evidence at the getaway cars. Hillbilly Tillie's hair ribbon, a lace from one of Bombo's tennis shoes, one of Whiskers' whiskers.
Since they were leaving tracks, it appeared the clubhouse members didn't realize they could be followed. But questioning them directly could tip them off. Checking all of Purple Lilac's enemies yielded nothing, even though it produced a warehouse full of notes. And placing guards on all the banks in Whoopieland was not reasonable, since they could always switch their target.
When the 3 1/4th National Bank was knocked over, tips or no tips, they had to interview them prime suspects.
Kronk started with Sam The Panda.
"Tell me, Sam, what do you know about these robberies?"
"Are those supposed to be connected with the robberies?"
"I like to swim."
"Do you have any explanation why your tracks lead from the cars used in the robberies?"
That quickly became tiresome, so Kronk switched to Mr. Noogle.
"Can you explain why your fingerpints are all over the getaway car used in the first robbery?"
"Can you explain why your tracks lead away from the abandoned getaway car?"
"Spaghetti and meatballs."
"Did anyone pay you to impersonate The Purple Lilac and his gang?
WHen he asked Bombo The Ape what he knew about the bank robberies, he replied, "Apple pie", when he asked Hillbilly Tillie, she responded, "I like to ride horses", and when he asked Peter Pesky, he said, "5:30".
Things were becoming desperate. Nothing was stopping the robberies. Citizens were becoming upset. It had gotten to the point that the choice was to break the case or have Chief Kronk replaced!
And replacing Chief Kronk meant only one thing, having Waldron C. Nefarious in charge of the law in Whoopieland.
Waldron C. Nefarious was one of the richest men in Whoopieland. The owner or director of newspapers, magazines, radio networks, movie studios, television stations and doughnut shops, he produced and televised, among other things, the "Alien Smasher", "Monster Smasher", "Bandit Smasher" and "Crime Smasher" series. But no small number disliked his rapacious and pitiless way of doing things. More than a few felt there was something nefarious about Nefarious.
But, if Kronk was replaced it meant Nefarious would take his place. Mostly because no one else wanted the responsibilities.
It wasn't a surprise, then, when the Chief arrived at his office to find Nefarious sitting in his chair, but it wasn't pleasant either.
"What are you doing, Nefarious?"
"Don't mind me. Just getting a feel for the job."
"You've tried half a dozen times to have me replaced. You should be familiar with the feel of the chair by now."
"But, now, it's only a matter of days before the job will be placed right in my lap. Thanks to the poor way you've been running your department. What is it, eight banks in three weeks? That's only a few days between them. With the 4th National Bank held up yesterday, you only have maybe three days to find who's been masquerading as the Purple Lilac Mob. And you refusing to pick up the likely suspects! Sam The Panda, Mr. Noogle and the others."
"We don't have anything definite on them and I've vowed never to arrest an innocent individual, even on suspicion."
"And that's what's going to get you removed as chief. You've got physical evidence, you've got tracks, you've got the club members unaccounted for when the robberies take place and don't think it escaped notice that the number of robbers was never more than the members of the club!"
"You seem to have a lot of information."
"I always make sure my people are on the spot."
The A to F drawer of the file cabinet next to Chief Kronk's desk shot out and Byline Bob stood up. "You got it, Mr. Nefarious. Therre's nothing that goes on here that we don't find out about."
Tossing off the mat in front of the Chief's desk, Stan The Stringer sat up. "And anything he doesn't get, I have. We're all over the place."
Carla Redundant, gossip columnist for Nefarious' newspapers stood up from behind the Chief's couch. "Is something bothering the Chief of Whoopieland's police department? Can the utter, embarrassing failure of his officers to apprehend the perpetrators of the latest rash of robberies be hounding him?"
"Don't be too sure", said the Chief, "Even if you get my position, it'll be a long time until you have the loyalty of the force."
A knock at the door and Otis entered, carrying a giant fruit basket.
"I tried to get you at your newspaper offices, radio station and television studio, Mr. Nefarious. They told me to come here. This is a present to you", he took the card from the basket and read it, "It couldn't come to a more deserving individual. Every respect and confidence, you loyal staff, Officers Wimple, Bimple and Glork."
"Just put it with the others in my block long sports car. It's parked downstairs, and in front of the next building, and all the way down the block."
Kronk took Otis' arm.
"What are you doing here? I thought you worked at the train station."
"I still do, but part time. Being a third assistant junior ancillary clerk doesn't pay that much, you know. I didn't expect a big raise in salary, but was I surprised to find out it pays less than to be a fourth assistant junior ancillary clerk! To get some extra money, I've been working at Mr. Nefarious' television station. This way, I can also see Captain Resolute, Crime Smasher in action!"
"Well, you're not chief yet", said Kronk to Nefarious, "so, unless you want to get in trouble for interfering with police business, you'll clear out."
"I don't mind", said Nefarious, "It's only a matter of time. Remember, you got until the next job they...whoever they are...pull!"
The phone rang and Kronk answered.
"What is it?" A couple of seconds, then, "I see."
"What is it?", Nefarious, Byline Bob, Stan The Stringer and Carla Redundant asked simulatenously.
"Another car has been reported stolen and a card from the Purple Lilac was found at the scene", replied the Chief. Then he returned his attention to the phone. "What else? More discarded costumes and more tracks? Whose tracks?" Another couple of seconds. "Sam The Panda, Bombo, Sonnie The Lion...and who?"
Nefarious and his staff leaned in toward Kronk, almost to listening in to the receiver themselves.
"Bumble!", Kronk erupted.
"'A startling development in the wave of bank robberies that has plagued Whoopieland...'", began Byline Bob.
"'Compounding the troubles brought by the rash of bank heists, Police Chief Kronk today learned...'", said Stan The Stringer.
"'Trouble aplenty for all of you out there who fancy Inspector Bumble as the absolute end...'", Carla Redundant stated.
Stepping up investigations did no good. None of the Purple Lilac's enemies seemed to be gearing up for any kind of operation. And the Bad Guy Smashers met every day, then broke up as usual, going their separate ways. If their meetings had to do with carrying out robberies, what were they doing the other days? And Nefarious was already having people call him "Chief". The police needed a break. Until then, the they were stumped, and they didn't even have Bumble to blame.
Where was Bumble?
"Bumble!", the Chief called out of the squad car, "Bumble! Stop right there!" Flinging open the door of the car, Chief Kronk launched from it without even waiting for it to stop and ran after the lanky figure with deerstalker hat and size 24 shoes.
Grabbing him, Kronk demanded, "Bumble, where have you been? We haven't heard from you in days! Why didn't you answer me when I called you?"
"Because I'm not Bumble!", replied the other.
A moment's reflection, then Kronk said, "Oh, yes, that's right. I heard about this. So you must be Nutso Nathan."
"That's impossible! If you're not Inspeector Bumble and you're not Nutso Nathan, who are you?"
"I'm Donald Dinkleton, Inspector Bumble's identical twin uncle."
"Hey, DInk, what's happening?", asked a tall figure with thick brush mustache and size 24 shoes.
"Are you Inspector Bumble or Nutso Nathan?", asked the Chief.
"No, I'm Waldo Wibblebibble, Inspector Bumble's identical twin grandfather.
"Why's everybody getting together here?", asked Phil Runkle, Inspector Bumble's identical twin great grand cousin.
"Nobody said anything to me", replied Oswald Oscar Osgood, Inspector Bumble's identical twin 14th nephew, 5 2/3rds removed.
"Wait a minute!", bawled Kronk, "Which one of you is Bumble?"
"You call me Chief?", asked a heavy set figure with barrel chest, tiny legs, a walrus mustache, smoking a cigar.
"Bumble?", asked Kronk through his walrus mustache and cigar.
"I thought you were going to wear a Nutso Nathan costume!"
"I decided to be different this year."
"But we all knew who he was!", said Elmo Eggleby, Inspector Bumble's idenatical twin third nephew on his father's side, and ninth cousin on his mother's.
"Why would any of us dress up like Chief Kronk?"
"Bumble, where have you been?", demanded the Chief as Bumble stepped out of his Chief Kronk costume.
"Sorry, Chief, but the festivities lasted a little longer than we thought. We were able to guess who each other was in their costumes, but each had some difficulty figuring out who they themselves were."
"Bumble, do you know what's been going on? There was another robbery! We still haven't been able to find the perpetrators! There's been talk of replacing me and Weldron C. Nefarious was sitting in my chair and received a congratulatory fruit basket from Officers Wimple, Bimple and Glork! Do you know what that means?"
"Yes, it means they left my name off the gift basket!"
"If only because it would mean not having to work with you, I don't mind being replaced!"
"Calm down, Chief, while I was trying to figure out who I was, I put some of my incredible mental prowess to work figuring out this problem!"
"Absolutely, Chief! I'm always on the job. No matter where I am! Even when I'm miles away, I contribute as much to the case as if I was right in the station house!"
"I've nopticed that."
"And what did you come up with?"
"Oh, that. Well, I've come to the conclusion those Bad Guy Smashers were really careless in handling their crimes."
"Look at all the mistakes they made. Like damaging their real outfits inside their costumes. Prince cutting his dog suit, Hillbilly Tillie losing her hair ribbon. While I was wearing my Kronk outfit, I didn't damage my suit at all! They were wearing Da Poiple Lilac Gang costumes in the car and still managed to damage their real costumes! That's sloppy! And look at how careless they were always parking their stolen car where they left clear prints escaping, like the beach, the swamp, the haunted house with its dusty floors and the sidewalk being replaced with wet cement.. Can you imagine crooks who make such big mistakes as that managing to give the department the run-around?"
"I can when I think of some of the members of the department."
"Yes, but Officer Wimple is such a decent sort."
"But, and don't get too used to hearing this, you're right, Bumble."
"Oh, that's nothing, I say that to myself constantly."
"They couldn't have damaged their regular outfits while they were wearing Lilac Gang costumes. And they didn't start removing them until they were out of the cars! And they couldn't accidentally always park where they would leave such obvious prints. It must have been arranged that way."
"So why did they leave all those tracks?"
"They must have come along afterward and followed the tracks of whoever was really in the cars. That's why the cars always stopped in places that would leave lasting impressions. The real perpetrators wanted to make sure whoever followed them would leave prints covering their own."
"But why did they leave pieces of their outfits in the cars and have their fingerprints all over them?"
"I'm not sure about that. But it makes sense to me that they couldn't have damaged their outfits while wearing the costumes."
"Chief, I think you're going off in a wrong direction with this. Now, my considered opinion is that there was a space/time rip and duplicates of the Bad Guy Smashers fighting a desperate battle for freedom against the evil tyrant, Brogoth The Distasteful,..."
"I think we'll go with my suspicions for right now."
"Okay, but when Brogoth The Distasteful comes after you..."
"Since they aren't suspects, anymore, we can approach them for information without tipping them off. Maybe they'll be able to tell us what the footprints they were following really looked like. We'll have to make sure the Purple Lilac doesn't find out, though, or he'll probably try to take his revenge for them framing him."
"I don't think you'll have to worry about that. Da Lilac seems like a really easy going guy."
"I'll admit he keeps himself looking snazzy, but he's not necessarily what I'd call the most personable individual."
"But look how he took your interview with him. You were one step away from accusing him of being involved in the heists, but he was calm as anything. If anybody was trying to pin something on me I didn't do, I know I'd be climbing the walls. Literally."
"I know, I've seen you do that. But you're right about the Lilac. You'd think he'd be more afraid of the police suspecting his gang."
"Maybe he knows who's really behind the robberies."
"He probably does. But this would be his chance to get one of his enemies in trouble! Why wouldn't he tell us who it was?"
"That's a good question. Maybe we haven't been handling this right. You know, the past few days, I've been tapping a source for a lot of information on police procedure. In fact, he has a record of investigation after investigation that always get their culprit!"
"That's quite a commendation. Who has that kind of reputation?"
"Captain Resolute, Crime Smasher!"
Choosing his words carefully, Chief Kronk replied, "What are you saying, Bumble?"
"I've been watching the last few days I've been impersonating you at Nutso Nathan's birthday. He's incredible! He never fails to crack a case!"
"He's on every day, just before noon, and he always has tips and clues for his assistants watching. He's so clever, he even knows when crime is going to happen ahead of time! He mentioned that car that was stolen and he actually knows that it'll turn up three days from now, near the sand trap at Whoopieland Golf Course. He recommends that his fans follow the tracks as closely as possible and make sure by walking right in them!"
"Does he now?"
"And even though I didn't see them, earlier episodes included things like how to go all over a stolen vehicle to find evidence. He recommends even looking inside the upholstery."
"I wondered why we found Mr. Noogle's fingerprints inside the upholstery. Tell me, did he also have an episode about following culprits' trails by walking in their tracks?"
"Hey, that's pretty good, Chief."
"And you decided to use that tip on the last case of an abandoned car?"
"How'd you know?"
"I'm a policeman."
"And, a few weeks ago, he had an episode that recommended not giving useful answers to the police because the crooks might have friends on the police force!"
"A few weeks ago? That's when the bank robberies started, isn't it?"
"You know, Bumble, not cooperating with the police may be the biggest favor you can do for us!"
"I'm going to keep up with the episodes from now on. Captain Resolute says he wants his fans to be helpful to the police. And I always want to help the police!"
"I can think of one way you can help the police."
"What's that, Chief?"
"Never mind. How come we didn't hear anything about all of that?"
"Well, it's in his special Crime Smasher code. It took me awhile to get used to it."
"What's the code?"
"Well, you take the first letter and put it at the end. Then, and this is where it gets tricky, you take the next letter and make it next to the last. Then you take the third letter..."
"And make it third from the end?"
"I didn't know you watched Crime Smasher, Chief."
"Let's just say it's an educated guess. Look, Bumble, go to the Bad Guy Smasher club house. See if you can find Otis there and send him to the police station."
"And after that, what do you want me to do?"
"Think twice before you ask me that, Bumble." Kronk turned to leave, then turned back. "Bumble, Sadie Grady said there weren't any other costumes ordered lately."
"Then what are you doing with that costume of me?"
"Uhhh, that's a good question, Chief, and I assure you, it has nothing to do with Mayor Fuddle saying you stormed into his office demanding Whoopie custard donuts for the department and a door with a huge gold badge on it for my office!"
"I think I have an idea for what I want you to do after you send Otis to the police station."
Bumble got Otis and sent him to the department and it only took him an hour and a half. It was only a few minutes getting to the club house, it took him the rest of the time to figure out where the station house was. Fortunately, the station house was only a quarter mile away so he could run there and get directions to give Otis.
Three days later, the robbery went off without a hitch. The 10 3/4th National Bank. The car was driven to the massive sand trap in Whoopieland Golf Course. The culprits exited and made for the nearby woods, dropping bits of costume along the way. Inside, they were all members of the Purple Lilac gang. Finally, they made a pile of the last of their costumes and lit out for Whoopie Village nearby. And, arriving at Whoopie Village, they looked up the Purple Lilac hideout in the village.
And found half the Whoopieland Police Department waiting for them.
And the other half of the force, who had been trailing them from the sand trap, stepping out of their Mr. Transparent costumes.
"Just drop your loot on the pile with the rest of the money", ordered the Chief.
"Youse t'inks youse're smart", challenged the Lilac, "Well, youse don't know half o' nuthin' about what's been goin' on!"
"You mean about you and Waldron Nefarious trying to frame the fans of his Crime Smasher show for the crimes and force me to arrest them and then ruin my image and replace me as chief?"
"Yeah, that! But you'se won't get nuthin' from me! I don't squeal!"
"Even if Nefarious was going to double cross you?"
"Whuddya talkin' about?"
"To keep his position, what do you think his first move as Chief would be except to crack the case and bring you and your gang in?"
A moment's thought, then, "Anyt'ing I gots ta say ta Nefarious, I'll say meself, not t'rough da fuzz!"
Kronk didn't expect to get more from Da Poiple Lilac. The department had foiled the crime wave and recovered the loot. He was prepared to call the case closed here.
Besides, once Nefarious found out that the Lilac knew about his plans for a double cross, or suspected them, and had time to wait until Lilac and his gang got out, he might decide to do some squealing of his own.
"Alright, men, let's pack it up here!", he called, "Get the prisoners in the wagon, get the loot cleared away, set up a guard for the area." A quick glance around. "Bumble! Where's Bumble?"
The Inspector looked out of a back room.
"Be with you in a minute, Chief! I'm watching Crime Smasher. They've got an episode entitled "Inspector Dumble Gets Run Over By A Steam Roller'! Boy, is that Inspector Dumble a moron!"