Stern checked his watch as his car pulled up to the rendezvous point on the barren open road.
He was at least five minutes early.
That gave him plenty of opportunity to reconsider, to pull out of the deal, to make good his escape. Leave what he believed to be a futile deal behind.
Those five minutes ticked by, and eventually wound down with Stern still undecided. The price tag of the deal had done its job in making his mind up, and he cursed himself for it.
Another car soon pulled up behind him, with a tall and keen African-American male with flowing dreadlocks, flanked by two large muscular goons.
He beckoned Stern to step out of the car, Stern obliged.
The two men stared at one another, one cool and collected, and the other sensing his every nerve was shot.
Stern fumbled through his pockets searching for something, the other gentleman’s two heavies moved an inch closer, which hastened Stern to quickly produce the item from his person.
“Look Kincaid, I’ve been as clear as I can, I can’t retrieve anything else from the facility without being implicated, and they already know I was the one who last checked the security feeds”
Stern nervously handed Randy’s men a small black obelisk device.
“Here, now it’s not much, but it’s everything on the first fifteen agents we could recruit, it’s not the fifty like we arranged, but that’s all I can supply”
The heavies moved closer, Stern tossed the device to Randy, who caught it without even flinching.
He looked at it with a look of mild disappointment, it was obviously not what he’d ideally desire, but at the same time he looked as if he was also partially satisfied, like this was worth some kind of wait.
“You like what you see don’t you? Alright, I think I’ve earned my take. Give it to me”
Stern noticed the large men were starting to put on black gloves. He could tell trouble was brewing.
Randy gave a silent and commanding nod to his heavies, who rushed Stern and grabbed him headfirst, applying pressure from their massive hands as they pulled him into a vice like grip, ultimately succeeding in caving in and crushing his skull.
Randy snapped his fingers, which seemed to bring the two heavy hitters to heel. They returned to his side and all three entered their car, driving off into the distance and leaving Stern a lifeless shell on the desert road.
Inside the car, Kincaid played with the black box, testing it’s durability by gripping it tightly. Suddenly, and frustratingly, it came apart in his hand.
“A dud” he said, almost smiling. He quickly got on the phone.
“Keep Mrs. Stern precisely where she is. I’m sure he’s left the real box with her”
Travelling along the open road in his faithful supercar K.I.T.T, Michael Knight, flagship agent for the Foundation for Law and Government was preparing to lecture his sentient partner on a topic that had been on his mind as of late
“KITT, one in three fish caught around the world never makes it onto the plate, ever wonder why? Because it’s either thrown back overboard or it rots before it can be eaten”
“Please…why talk about fish?” K.I.T.T asked.
“Always keep your keener interests fresh in your mind buddy, helps you plan ahead for the future” Michael advised.
“Does that future still require you to be at the foundation?” K.I.T.T asked.
Michael’s silence spoke volumes.
“Please reconsider Michael” KITT begged.
“KITT, we’ve been through this, we’ve tried to keep Wilton’s torch burning bright, but it’s been far too cold since Stevie passed away. The torch doesn’t have to burn out with me if I know that it’s time to relinquish my hold of it”
“I can’t imagine having another partner, it just won’t be you. However will I find one?” K.I.T.T asked.
“Have you perhaps considered dating?” Michael replied, trying to keep the tone of the conversation light and full of merriment.
“Very funny” K.I.T.T replied.
“Believe it or not, I’m serious buddy; you’ve got the pizzazz, the right look, that wise-cracking, cynical but convincing personality and an attitude that all women admire”
“…But I don’t exactly have the physical qualities women would find pleasurable now do I?”
“Beauty is best perceived on the inside pal, you just need a woman who understands that, who can be a rock for you in times of great need, who can patch you up when you’ve left in pieces”
“Name one” KITT asked insistently.
“Go ahead. Name one. I’m all receptors”
“Alright…off the top of my head…April”
“April hasn’t worked at FLAG in over two years Michael, and I think I know where you’re going with this, you just don’t want to say it in case I become repulsed by the very notion”
“And will you?”
“Absolutely. It’s Bonnie isn’t it?”
“The name never left my lips”
Michael was satisfied that K.I.T.T had said it and not him.
“She’s practically my mother Michael”
“She mothers you, but she also mends you. She’s perfect”
“She’s human. I’m not”
“KITT, I’ve even heard Devon refer to you as the most humane thing the Foundation has ever produced”
“How flattering, but you’re just trying to make me feel better about you leaving. It won’t work”
“Would you prefer I turn the topic back to fishing?”
“Mercifully, you won’t have to. Devon’s on the line”
“Alright, patch him through”
The features of kindly, yet strict Englishman Devon Miles appeared on KITT’s monitor screen.
“Devon, judging from your shaken demeanour, something’s either hit you hard or you’ve just read my notice”
“A little bit of both Michael, I can’t persuade you to think differently?”
“Not this time my friend, in just under a month, the sun will set on this gentle Knight. I’m game for a few more missions before that, so it’s best you assign them to me when I’m still in a willing mood”
“Then I shall not waste time over your personal matters, instead you’ll just have to deal with mine. Tanner Stern is dead”
“Tanner Stern…Devon, isn’t that one of Jennifer and Garth Knight’s godparents?”
“In happier times, yes, he was a dearly valued friend of Wilton, his cooperation and funding was vital to the initial operations of the Knight Foundation, but he had demons Michael, we could never prove it, but we were certain he’d been embezzling, Wilton acted on his gut instincts and dismissed him”
“So what, did his demons catch up to him?”
“We don’t know. We kept tabs on Stern on the possible chance we could nail him for the same crime in a different position, but he must have learned his lesson because he kept a quiet profile as he bounced from one national interest job to another, he was most recently a key researcher in the Dreamfields project”
“Sounds like they’re experts in a good night’s sleep”
“I’m afraid it’s nothing quite so innocent Michael, Dreamfields is an advanced study of sleeper agents affected by MK Ultra techniques. Over fifty agents, CIA, freelance etc, were subjected to the procedure and had their brainwave patterns taken, stored on a computer hard drive, every secret they ever possessed is on that box”
“And you think this Stern guy was thinking of stealing it?”
“Not ‘thinking of’ Michael, he has stolen it. Don’t ask me how, but someone put him in charge of security detail for Dreamfields, and this afternoon we discovered he had tampered with the security cameras to create the illusion the master memory was still in our custody, but it no longer is”
“He stole it and badly covered his tracks?”
“It may be that failing to conceal the trail may have been deliberate. We discovered that he had recently checked in to a couples retreat with his wife somewhere in Colorado”
“So he left a trail did he? Guess he wanted to redeem himself. Alright, I’ll pay this retreat a little visit”
“Good luck Michael”
“Ready for a big catch buddy?” Michael said as he put his foot down on the accelerator pedal.
“Maybe, hopefully this is one assignment that convinces you not to be the one that got away”
Michael and KITT’s arrival did not go unnoticed by the couples at the retreat, who marvelled at the look of the black T-Top as it strolled up to the front of the building.
In an attempt to look even more suave than usual, Michael pressed the C button on the car dash, triggering KITT’s convertible mode. The roof of the car slid back and Michael sprang out of his seat and leapt out of the car, landing on both feet with precision agility.
Noticing all this was a dapper looking bushy haired lady in crystal clear heels, a long silk scarlet scarf around a white shirt. She admired the look of Michael’s ride.
“Nice wheels, but it makes me wonder, do you give all your attention to this particular mistress over your own woman?”
Michael was unsure of how to answer that without getting too personal.
“Actually I’m looking for someone”
“Those are the words a woman wants to hear, you’re alright” said the lady, giving him a longing wink before stroking her fingers delicately over the hood of the car.
As she walked off, Michael entered the clinic’s reception area.
“Excuse me; I’m looking for a Mrs. Emilia Stern? I understand she’s still in residence here” Michael asked.
“Who are you in relation to her?” asked the receptionist.
“I’m not related, but we have something in common…one Tanner Stern, he was killed just on the outskirts of this very clinic, now I’d like to ask Mrs. Stern a couple of questions if at all possible”
“I’m sorry sir, I can’t permit you an audience, are you even married? Our policy strictly prohibits anyone not related to our guests be denied access to the building”
“Listen, I’m not here to patch things up with a loved one, I’m here to conduct an investigation”
“We conduct our own investigations here sir, I’m afraid I’ll have to ask you to leave”
The receptionist pressed a button behind his desk, signalling security.
Michael sighed deeply, this was just the kind of complication he didn’t need.
Suddenly, an inspiring thought came to him.
“Yeah, as a matter of fact, forget what I said, I was just trying to play macho, you know, the old tough uncompromising cop card. I actually came here to book me and my wife a five week session; do you think that could work?”
“You must think I was born yesterday sir. You meant exactly what you said earlier and falling back on an excuse isn’t going to sway me. Mrs. Stern will not be disturbed”
Michael was soon escorted out of the building by two lean and brash looking guards, who took him out and tossed him on to the concrete pavement.
The woman with had admired the manner of his arrival earlier walked over to him.
“I take it she still thinks you value the car over her?” she remarked.
Michael looked back at KITT, frustrated and dejected.
However, even as he clambered back into his vehicle, more radical and dangerous thoughts were occurring to him.
“KITT, have you been made by the security cameras?” he asked.
“Negative Michael, the one camera at the front of the building takes a while to cover the entire scope of the area”
“Let’s keep it that way, blow it out” Michael asked.
KITT did as instructed and sent out a disruptive signal that caused the camera to short-circuit.
“Any particular reason why you had me do that?”
“Let’s just say I’ve a feeling you’ll be coming this way again, and I’d hate for you to be recognised”
Back at the FLAG semi, Michael and KITT discussed the days’ events with Devon, Bonnie Barstow, and Reginald Cornelius the 3rd, or RC3 to his friends.
“I don’t get it Devon, how can a clinic like that even be able to deny an official investigation?”
“I’m afraid because of the company it keeps; it can keep us out indefinitely. We are a private operation Michael, but so is the clinic, and there’s no way of proving a connection that would require the presence of the police, not officially”
“But we have a connection, Tanner was there Devon” Michael insisted.
“He was there on private business; he and his wife were working on ways to fix their relationship”
“So why hasn’t she checked out yet? If he’s dead, there’s nothing keeping her there. Devon, something stinks here”
RC3 interrupted the conversation and handed Devon a print out of the clinic’s proprietor.
“The clinic is operated by one Randolph Lester Kincaid” RC3 confirmed.
“I’m afraid this just got more complicated. Kincaid is another slippery customer with a bit of a grey area to him. A militant prodigy, recruited into the service at just 14 years old, they knew he wasn’t the legal age but were so impressed with his skills they kept that little fact quiet. He left the army of his own accord nine years later to pursue more passive interests”
“Never knew being a murderer was such a gentle pastime” Michael remarked.
“Yes, well, good luck proving it” Devon added.
Inside KITT, Bonnie was checking on KITT’s systems when the dash came alive, the TAPE deck was played, and powerful and immersive music became blurting out of the speakers. Bonnie was taken aback, slightly amused.
“KITT, what is this all about?”
“Careless Whisper, it’s your favourite”
“And what do I owe this pleasure?” Bonnie asked.
“Michael thinks we’re a match”
Bonnie gave KITT a look conveying both annoyance and cynicism, not taking his sincerity at face value, and clambered out of the car to give Michael a telling off.
“What have you been telling him?” she said with mellow frustration.
“Hey, I’m just proving how attentive I’ve been over the years. Most observant” he said.
“He’s just teasing you KITT, he knows his days here are numbered and he’s going to make sure we’re all as uncomfortable as possible” Bonnie explained.
“That’s what I thought too, but on reflection, the idea of standing a chance of us being compatible has warmed me to the potential situation”
“Well, that’s because I haven’t given your positronic relays a bit of a temporary jump to realign them with your agility shifters” Bonnie asked.
“Was that a threat or an advance warning?”
“A bit of both”
“Ah, I see you two are flirting” Michael said
“Cut it out Michael” they both said.
Bonnie noticed something on KITT’s dash.
“KITT, your internal temperature levels are rising so slightly, if I didn’t know better this could pass for blushing”
“Question is Bonnie, are you?” KITT asked.
“Don’t be silly”
RC3 proceeded to explain the purpose and function of the clinic to the others.
“The clinic only takes couples who’ve been on the rocks. They keep them apart most of the time when they get there as a way of testing just how much they long for each other, only allowing couples to have contact through special phone lines. When the couples are on the cusp of reconciliation, they’re brought together through a special reconciliation line, and when they make their intentions clear over that, and then they’re allowed to see each other, enjoy some time together, and check out”
“Sounds like a very orderly procedure” Bonnie replied
“And exactly the kind of militant strategy Kincaid is capable of dreaming up” said Devon.
“So either Stern was in a hurry to reconcile, or it’s possible he had to check out before his wife could check on him” Michael deduced.
“Michael, I would like very much for you and KITT to return to the clinic. If Kincaid has his hands on the master memory box, national security is of the utmost concern. Heaven knows what was stored in those agent’s heads.” Devon confirmed.
“I’d love to Devon, but the clinic caught on to me real quick, and they know what I look and sound like, so I can’t go back there, but I made sure that KITT could, the cameras never made him outside the building…and the way that clinic’s wired, we can just use his voice”
“Then we’ll have to arrange someone else to help KITT co-ordinate our operation” Devon replied.
“Yeah, and it’d have to be female” RC3 added.
All three men turned to Bonnie, who looked perplexed.
“What are you looking at me for?”
“You’ve been in the field before”
“Yeah, but to act like KITT and I are some kind of couple? Come on Michael”
“Hey, if anything, it’ll give you a chance to vent about his short-comings, all part of a relationship that just grows and grows”
“You’re sick” Bonnie replied, a little flustered.
KITT again began playing Careless Whisper as Bonnie sunk her head into her hands.
Back at the clinic, Emilia Stern was listening to a soothing session of classical music when a sudden knock at the door startled her. She tensely approached the edge of the room and called out to whoever was on the opposite side.
“Who is it?” she said
“Room service ma’am” came the response.
Stern’s nerves calmed and she opened the door to let them in.
“Of course, please come in”
Two large, muscular men stepped in; both looked like they were fixed on a different kind of mission. They looked at the records she was playing.
“Got an ear for Beethoven?” one of them asked.
“Tanner’s favourites, I can’t help but listen to him. They were playing even when we talked over the reconciliation line”
The men stood still, keeping quiet, staring into Mrs. Stern, making her most uncomfortable.
“I can’t seem to bring myself to…part of me is always thinking he’ll come back through that door, or call me on the reconciliation line. That’s all I want to hear, just the sound of his voice”
She noticed the men weren’t leaving.
“If you don’t mind me asking…when am I going to be allowed to leave?”
“When we’re fully satisfied” replied one of the men, cracking his knuckles.
“Satisfied with what?” Stern asked.
“The state of your health” said one of the men in an icy manner.
En route to the clinic, KITT was trying to make small talk with Bonnie.
“You haven’t talked to me since we left the semi”
“I’m just thinking of how I’m going to sell the ups and downs of this ‘marriage’ of ours to those waiting for us at the clinic”
“Define the ‘ups’ first if you care to”
“I just don’t think we thought this through, according to the information we processed, both partners have to be present and then they’re led away to separate rooms. You’re a car, I can’t exactly say you’d prefer to sleep in the garage than be anywhere near me in the villa”
“I’ve processed a little more of the details since then Bonny, and apparently if the couple is already experiencing long-term separation, an exception can be made to that rule. There is an eight day period where the groom can prefer to deal with matters directly over the phone, but he must make some sort of personal appearance once that session is up”
“So you’re telling me I may have to be here a while?”
“You can’t get rid of me that easily”
“Oh be quiet”
Bonnie stared out at the open road, taking in the splendour of the great outdoors as KITT hurried along towards the villa.
She didn’t know why, but she felt compelled to ask KITT precisely what he had in mind for their back-story together.
“Have you even come up with a narrative for the pair of us? How we met, and ‘fell in love’? We need something to give the people there a slim hope their techniques can reconcile us so I have an excuse to get out of dodge and abandon this crazy scheme”
“Let’s say when we first met, you swept me off my feet with a salsa…”
“Why a salsa?”
“It was the first dance I could think of”
“Ok then, what was our song?”
“I think I’ve come across one in my leisure index that’ll do just the trick”
The car’s interior soon came to life with the beats of que locura enamorarme de ti, on a continuous loop.
Bonnie, feeling a little overcooked, pressed the reliable C button on the dashboard which, as before, pulled down KITT’s top. Bonnie got up on her feet and spread her arms wide across the crisp open air, taking in a rush of the afternoon breeze as the salsa played loudly over the speakers.
Their activity on the road caught the attention of a nearby police car, which sped after them.
Bonnie heard the sirens and quickly dropped back into the driver’s seat. A quick press of the C button, and KITT’s top swiftly slid back over her head.
“Now you’ve done it, we’re going to get pulled over”
“I did nothing, you were the one who went topside looking for fun in the sun, and I was the designated driver”
“Designated? KITT, are you trying to spin it like I were drunk”
“That’s the story you might have to tell the officer”
“Don’t you even think of pulling over?”
Despite her protests, KITT did just that as the police car drove up beside him, the sun roof retracted as its driver gesturing with his hands for it to slow down.
As KITT came to a halt, the officer, slightly obese with bags of weariness over his eyes and his tin star badge sloppily stapled to his shirt, slowly made his way out of his own car and approached the window of the right side of the vehicle, he lightly tapped it.
The window came down to reveal Bonnie’s flustered features.
“You looked an awful lot like you’d prefer walking on air to keeping your eye on the road ma’am”
“I’m sorry officer, its first day jitters”
“First day jitters?”
“Yeah, my first tour of pro bono work in a long stretch, I felt like celebrating”
“You some kind of doctor?”
“You could say that, I dabble in a little surgery. Treat every man I meet like a machine”
“You on your way to perform an operation?”
“Yes” KITT replied, startling the officer, who could not see anyone else in the pitch blackness that filled the car’s interior.
“Who said that?”
“Her husband, and I’m in quite a sorry state” KITT continued, adjusting his voice so it was slower paced and sluggish.
Bonnie caught on to what he was trying to do.
“Yeah, he can’t hold his liquor” Bonnie answered.
“Why is everything so dark in there?” the officer asked, peering again into the pitch black interior.
“He’s sensitive to sunlight”
“But you had the top straight up when I caught sight of you. This is a convertible correct?”
“I risked all that to give my wife a brief thrill, she’s due to perform live-risking surgery on me, and I have developed an allerg-aller-…”
“An allergic reaction” Bonnie finished for him, recognising KITT didn’t want to sound too coherent in detailing his ‘dire condition’.
The officer found the explanation most unorthodox.
“Ok ma’am, say I were to believe this tall tale, how soon is this operation?”
“As soon as I arrive at where I need to be”
“Ok then, I’ll escort you to where you need to go, just in case you feel the need to indulge in any special stress-relieving ‘thrills’ again, these roads aren’t for any sort of joyride, no matter how noble the intention, you got me?”
“Clear as crystal officer, won’t happen again” Bonnie replied.
“You might want to turn the lights up in there a little, just so you can see where you’re going” the officer advised before walking back to his car. Bonnie gave him a reassuring wave.
She slumped in the chair, reflecting on just how close a call that was, but she could not feel anger even if it was quite necessary. All she could think of was the enormous risk KITT had taken for her.
“KITT, I can’t believe you”
“Did you really think I’d let you take the blame for me?”
“I don’t know, you’re normally the first person who puts Michael on the spot whenever you’re in a jam, and here you are making sure I come across as the better person”
“And now we have another narrative to spin to those at the clinic. Drunken disorderly putting your medical career at risk”
“I’d like to think our relationship has some redeemable qualities”
“Do you have anything in mind?”
“All I can think about is the way it all began”
At this prompting, KITT resumed playing his personally selected salsa for the duration of the journey
Emilia Stern was resorting to a round of cleaning, constantly keeping herself distracted from the tragedy that had impacted her. The doorbell rang, she answered.
“Mr. Kincaid, what do I owe this pleasure to?”
“I figured I would take an interest in how you are coping with your loss. We are doing everything we can to keep you well accommodated”
“Are you ever going to let me out of here? I need to move on, make preparations for Tanner’s funeral. I’ve got to a get a hold of his nephew”
“We’re not detaining you Mrs. Stern; we’re just trying to keep you at ease during your grieving process”
“I’ve done all the grieving I can process in this place…you don’t know what it’s like being surrounded by all these squabbling couples, all taking what they have with one another for granted. I should never have been persuaded to come here”
Mrs. Stern seated herself on the couch and buried her head in her hands. Kincaid sat down beside her, cradling her as she went limp in his arms, spent from the emotional toll the past few hours had taken on her.
“I would hate to have you run out just as we on the cusp of a true break-through, in many respects, you can help our little community learn a great deal on how to process this kind of grief if anything similar should happen”
Stern couldn’t help but find that last sentence most curious.
“You sound as if you strongly anticipate whoever it was that killed Tanner will come back for the rest”
Kincaid stroked the edge of her cheeks delicately.
“It could be the others, it could be me, and it could even be you”
Kincaid got up and made his way out, gently blowing a kiss at his guest before swiftly exiting. His two lumbering henchmen awaited him on the other end.
“May we deal with her now?” asked one of the brutes.
“Your bloodlust will have to wait a little longer. I’ve managed to put some fear into her, she will be less compelled to leave if she knows a threat still exists, eventually I will ask about what items Tanner brought with him to the clinic. When I am fully satisfied with her answers, then I shall demand her silence. Not before”
Kincaid then quickly changed the subject and turned to other matters.
“The security cameras, have they been repaired?”
“Maintenance workers reckon another day tops before they can go up” confirmed another of the goons.
“Then we will have to tread carefully. I’ve already been informed someone was here at the clinic asking about Tanner, we must acquire the information vital to our operation quickly…and if grief and fear cannot coax the truth out of her, then and only then will you step in to supply absolute force. Is that quite clear?” Kincaid spoke, his ice-cold voice sending tangible shivers down even the normally unshaken enforcers’ spines.
KITT approached the mountain road that Kincaid’s couple’s clinic was perched near the top of, the police car still tailing them from behind serving as an escort.
As KITT and Bonnie pulled up at the clinic, Bonnie proceeded to freshen herself up with a spot of perfume. She paused as she applied it, taking note of something across KITT’s dashboard.
“Something the matter?” KITT asked.
“You’ve turned on your Olfactory sensors”
“Well, since you’ve turned things up, so did I. Am I not allowed to form an opinion on what type of fragrance you put on?”
“Let’s just talk business OK? Use your micro scanners to keep audio tabs on me”
“What about visuals?”
“I’ll notify you when you can turn them on, a girl needs her privacy too you know”
“You’re absolutely correct; I must learn to respect your boundaries”
Bonnie sighed and motioned to get out of the car.
“Don’t forget your wristwatch” KITT advised.
“You mean Michael’s wrist watch”
“No, I meant the one I had Michael buy you”
The door to the glove compartment on the dash opened of its own accord, and Bonnie gazed inside at its contents. A sparkling white and gold plated Seiko ladies’ watch.
“Do you like it?”
Bonnie was mesmerised.
“Did Michael put you up to this?”
“I put Michael up to it; we picked one up on the way back from our first visit to the clinic”
Bonnie tried it the eloquent gift, slipping it onto her wrist with ease. Her eyes sparkled in awe of its rather simple majesty.
“It’s beautiful, I’m flattered KITT, really, I don’t know if I can accept something like this”
“It’s not a question of acceptance; it’s more about the appreciation. You have affection for my gesture, I am content with that”
Bonnie again took a peek inside the compartment and fetched out another item, it was indeed Michael’s own communications watch.
“I already have to deal with you over the phone; I’d appreciate it if I didn’t have to keep in touch through every vital moment of my stay here. We’ve been through enough work on and off the field to know you can trust me. Just give me a chance to wind down”
“You wish to wind down? I thought you said we were all about business from here on out”
“What is it that you and Michael always do? Mix a little business here, a lot of pleasure there”
“It’s quite the opposite; Michael’s personality just blurs the lines a little”
“Only just a little?” Bonnie said, as she opened the door and scrambled out of the car.
“Have I put you in the mood most appropriate for this assignment?”
Bonnie peered back into the dimly lit interior to give KITT an earful to his receptors.
“You’re not doing it for the assignment KITT; you’re doing this all for me in some terribly misguided insistence that there’s something going on between us. You have to prioritise here, get into the part if you have to, but stop treating it so personally. It’s not fair to me”
“How is it not fair? It means nothing to you doesn’t it?”
Bonnie maintained radio silence on either confirmation or denial.
“I’m going to check in now, phone ahead to let them know you’ve already made arrangements to arrive at the clinic in a couple of days time, but that you’ve been given the number to the direct phone line so we can stay in touch until you ‘arrive’, that should hopefully give us all the time we need to get Mrs. Stern and the black box out of there”
“What about our police friend?” said KITT.
Bonnie looked north of her to find the officer getting out of his own car.
“Leave that to me” she said, shutting the door behind her.
She approached the officer, trying her best to feign appreciation for his good deed for the day.
“Thank you ever so much, I need to prepare a room for my husband, you wouldn’t mind looking over him and my car while I sort this out will you?”
“If you think it’s the best for your husband’s health, but I can’t stay too long, I’m needed back where I was. The road stays awful rowdy”
“I understand, thank you” she said, and headed to the entrance, giving KITT’S bonnet a gentle tap on the way over there.
The officer peered over at KITT.
“How’d a no-good drunk like you ever net a fine catch like that?”
Bonnie headed into reception and made accommodation arrangements.
However, she hit a snag.
“I’m sorry Mrs. KITT, we’re kind of full, you’ve have to cohabit with one of the other guests”
“Sure, no problem any candidates?”
“Would room fifteen A be a good fit?”
“Looks like you and me are gonna be roommates” came a voice from behind her.
“Tammy Clarke, occupant of 15 A, a pleasure to meet you”
Bonnie anxiously shook her hand as it was offered to her.
“Bonnie, Bonnie KITT” Bonnie said, her heart in her mouth as she grappled with the pseudonym she had taken.
“I’ll get you settled in no time, you can keep me company with stories about your own love and loss” Tammy said.
The two ladies made their way over to 15 A, where they unpacked and eventually unwound, sharing several pleasant conversations about the people in their lives.
“My man had a son by another marriage, Channing, sweet kid, he just turned thirteen. He cleaned his old man up at the tennis courts, it took some time for me to sooth that ego of his, but that should have been my first warning sign. Before long, I found he was set off by a million things; usually it had to do with something competitive. He had to be everything around me, the best swimmer and the best dancer, but he all he had to show for it was two left feet and the shallow end”
“Maybe you should thank him for making the effort” Bonnie suggested.
Tammy flinched, almost like Bonnie had read her mind.
“That’s just it; he wants me to thank him. Every time he’s on the other end of the line he says I help him come in first, but I want to be leading the charge too in our business. He says I should be grateful and content as an equal, but we both know he just wants me to stay in second place; he doesn’t want me sticking one foot ahead of his. That’s why we’re here; he’s got to learn it’s OK for him to trail behind too”
Bonnie poured herself and Tammy a glass of water and raised a toast.
“Well, I hope you end up owning the dog in this race” she said.
The Two women raised their glasses together in a toast and drank.
“So, what brings you all the way out here?”
“My husband has a few issues to work through, I practices in medicine, I mend people, but lately all I seem to be doing is patching him up exclusively, I give him daily examinations, I give him fuel”
“He’s an engine you have to keep running” Tammy concluded.
“Yes, yes exactly that and it’s me who ends up running on empty. It’s not like he doesn’t appreciate me, he’s wonderful, he depends on me to mend him, but I need to be on the mend myself, to improve, and to do that I need to be in the field of practice”
“Well, speaking of practice, time I worked on mine over at the court, fancy a go?”
“No, I’d better start trying out that hotline; I think I miss my husband already”
Once Tammy excused herself and headed over to the tennis court, Bonnie made her way to reception and contacted KITT, verifying with the receptionist that KITT had indeed called ahead as she’d requested.
“You can tell our officer friend to head out now KITT, we’re completely settled”
“Bonnie, must you announce to the entire clinic we had a police escort? If you’re not careful, you might attract undue attention to yourself, and just imagine my cover’s public image”
“I’m being as quiet as I can”
“Speak up; I can’t hear how difficult you’re making this”
“Oh you’re impossible” Bonnie yelled
“Is there fire in my dragon?” said KITT
Bonnie hung up the phone and took a glance over at two women who had eavesdropped on the outburst and were already making chatter amongst themselves.
Outside, the police officer looking after KITT received the news.
“Well, it’s been nice to meet you fine folks, take care of that girl and your car while you’re at it. If I were you, I wouldn’t know which to love first or more”
“And the less I think like that, the more I’ll start loving life” KITT replied.
Unbeknown to KITT, one of Kincaid’s two heavies had caught a glimpse of him when returning from an errand he had been running.
The heavy made his way into the lobby and called in to Kincaid’s office, only to receive his secretary on the line.
“Mr. Kincaid is at an all-day meeting with your clients, can I take a message”
“I think I’ve spotted something he’ll definitely be interested in, have his schedule free for sometime tomorrow morning”
Once both ladies had settled in for the night, Bonnie found herself tossing and turning, unable to get a good night’s rest.
She got up, put up on a pair of slippers, and calmly entered the bathroom. She curled up beside the shower and turned on her watch.
“KITT? KITT are you there?”
“Bonnie, do you know what time of night it is?”
“I’m restless, and I wanted to apologise for snapping earlier. You’re far from impossible. I just can’t stop thinking about how crazy all this is”
“You’ve been out in the field on more dangerous escapades than this, you can handle it”
As pleased as she was that KITT had faith in her abilities, that wasn’t what was troubling Bonnie, if she could even call it trouble at this point.
“It’s not that, I was thinking back to things I was saying to Tammy, it made me realise a few home truths about myself, about you, and how easy we are together”
“I’m touched Bonnie”
“Could you do me another favour?”
“A little serenading would make for good morning coffee conversation with Tammy, you got any tracks?”
KITT played What’s New Pussycat from Tom Jones and patched it through directly to the watch at a modest volume. Bonnie leaned back against the walls of the shower and clapped her hands with delight.
The next morning, Tammy awoke to find Bonnie humming a delightful melody to her.
“Sounds like you had heaven handed to you last night” she asked.
“You could say that. The husband played me the dreamiest tunes last night”
“He made you forget the nightmare that brought you two to this point did he? When he’s coming over? I’d love to meet him; I’ll tell my man about him if I can”
“Another day or so, truth be told, sometimes I don’t think I’d need him around physically, we’re not the type that requires that kind of intimacy, all I need is the sound of his voice”
“So long as snoring doesn’t come out of his mouth, I ought to be fine with whatever else he’s selling. Just be careful it isn’t snake oil that makes you feel good’n’ready for him just yet. A girl’s gotta fortify herself if they want a little more effort shown their way”
Tammy checked her watch.
“Oh, will you excuse me? I have to run an errand for a friend”
“Sure, I ought to be heading over to the phone anyway; I’m expecting the hubby to give me another house warming call”
“Might have to get my man to do the same, tell me about it later”
“Of course, I’ll tell you when we head over to aerobics”
“I’d like that”
Kincaid was led to the outside of the building by his hired help, who pointed him in the direction of KITT
“You’re absolutely certain?”
“That thing gave me and my brother the shock of our lives, we don’t forget little deeds or who commits them”
“They couldn’t have known about Tanner’s stash, not unless his wife had gotten a message out without us knowing”
“Do we have your authorisation to pay Mrs. Stern a visit?”
“I want to see the registry for yesterday morning and afternoon, once we have their location, then you can pay them a visit”
“Sir, there’s no more time, they’re here. They’re trouble. Give us the go-ahead”
“”Ok, I’ll arrange transport for you to depart as soon as possible if you succeed in retrieving the goods, don’t cause a scene”
After Tammy had left, Bonnie slumped down on the bed and called KITT on her signal watch.
“How are you?” KITT asked.
“I’m good KITT, thanks so much for last night, it warmed me right up. How’s life on your end? Any trouble?”
“Trouble has a habit of noticing me”
“Somehow, I don’t think Tammy is that much of pain in the ‘toosh”
“I would. I’m tagging her heat signatures, and she’s heading towards WO8, that’s Mrs. Stern’s room”
“KITT, how do you know that’s Stern’s room?”
“I’ve tapped into the clinic registry”
“Aren’t you rushing things just a little?”
“I don’t have a choice. As I said, trouble takes notice of me, and this assuredly is trouble”
KITT played a video recording from last night of the hoods pointing Kincaid to where he was parked. Bonnie froze with apprehension as she recognised him.
“I recognise that man; he’s one of Margo Sheridan’s goons from that mess in San Francisco”
“He recognised me Bonnie, we have to act fast. Notify Devon”
“”Actually, hold that thought, I’ll head on over to Stern’s room and see what Tammy is doing there””
“Bonnie, that could be extremely dangerous” KITT cautioned, but Bonnie was insistent.
“Both of them could be in danger and I’m not about to sit here knowing I could have done more. If this were Michael, he’d be on it by now, I’m your partner for this, I’ve been your partner always, we’re doing this together, don’t try to stop me”
“Very well, but you must hurry, I’m detecting another heat signature approaching Mrs. Stern’s room”
Bonnie swiftly made her way along the corridors, following KITT’s directions and heading towards the room.
KITT was beginning to worry.
“Bonnie, the door has been breached”
Bonnie dashed through the halls, making her way finally to Stern’s door, where she heard a struggle going on a few meters away. She suddenly heard a smash.
Arriving at the door, she found a morbid sight,
A visibly upset Stern screaming at a lifeless body sprawled over the remains of a coffee table.
It was Tammy.
“Are you OK ma’am?” Bonnie asked of Stern, who grabbed Bonnie’s arms and pleaded with her to leave.
“Get out, they’re still here” Stern said.
“Who are?” Bonnie replied.
Two of Kincaid’s goons suddenly shot past her, one of them carrying a briefcase in their hands, they shoved Bonnie to the floor, but Bonnie quickly tripped up one of them while lying down.
She got up to her feet and waited for the brutish hulk of a man to rise, before springing onto his back and clawing at his eyes with her fingers. The man swung violently, trying to crush Bonnie against the side of the wall, but Bonnie placed her legs against the side of the structure and used the momentum to propel her and the goon into a glass cabinet full of polished ornaments.
Bonnie clambered off the brute’s back, grabbed a nearby glass candle holder and smashed it across the base of his head, knocking him senseless.
She swiftly patched through to KITT on her watch.
“KITT, I need you to track the heat movements of anyone who has just left this room”
“I’m already on it Bonnie”
Bonnie checked in on Tammy, she looked for a pulse, but couldn’t find one. She could afford no tears just yet, as there was business to settle.
“It’s my fault she’s gone, I was giving her something to look after, we’d be seeing one another a lot on the tennis court, I confided in her, she was to take Tanner’s effects from me and put it in her room…suddenly these brutish people came in, accused her of working for some law enforcement agency and
“They mistook her for me, my god” Bonnie said, almost numb with shock.
Kincaid intercepted his henchman at the parking lot just as he was scrambling to enter a car that belonged to him.
“I told you not to make a scene”
“Change of plans, I’ll see the client gets this box personally”
“What about me? I want my cut”
“Consider yourself cut” said the goon, levelling Kincaid in the stomach, entering the car, and speeding off.
Bonnie dashed out and headed towards KITT, climbing into him, the two headed off in pursuit.
“He’s going at an accelerated pace Bonnie, and up a mountain hill no less, if he’s not careful, he could career off of it, or worse, force other drivers off the road and plunge”
“We have to stop him before that, super pursuit mode” Bonnie replied, pressing the appropriate button on KITT’s dashboard to trigger the transformation.
KITT transformed into a sleeker, more fortified and quicker road rover and it soon caught up to the enforcer’s own vehicle.
“Jam his breaks KITT” she said.
KITT did so, and with the speed the opposing car was going, the sudden stoppage of the breaks was enough to send the enforce plunging out of the car window and across the tarmac.
Bonnie sat back in her seat, put both hands up to her face, and buried herself in her tears.
“I’m sorry for Tammy Bonnie, truly” he said.
Bonnie quickly recovered from her moment of distraught reflection, got out of KITT, dashed her fingers along his smooth frame, and headed over to the battered body of the enforcer, raising his head up to match her in the eyes.
“The next time you try to fracture someone else’s face, just remember it was this dragon that burned you” she said, and flattened the man with a swift right hook.
Back at the clinic, mop up operations were under way as police had been notified, with Kincaid having been named as an accomplice by the apprehended enforcers.
Bonnie sat atop KITT, her legs gently kicking against his bonnet, her hands relaxing across his windshield.
Bonnie watched as Tammy’s body was removed from the premises and loaded into an ambulance.
“How do we do it every day KITT? We try to be so careful, we think we’re ahead of the curb, but we were so caught up in ourselves that we made some very basic errors”
“We made human errors” KITT replied.
“Yeah, and it cost us one human. It’s easy to tell just how tired Michael sometimes is of seeing failure, makes one wonder if we’re all cut out for this in the long run. At least you can take it in stride”
“Bonnie, without the sentience you worked so much on perfecting for me, without you informing and enhancing my experiences with your care and confidence, your humour, your successes and deepest regrets, I would never have developed a soul. I care just as much as you, I care for others, and there could come a time where even I may tire of the ride”
Bonnie smiled, touched by KITT’s honesty. She knelt down and gently kissed his bonnet, only for the kiss to linger for more seconds than one would normally expect.
Bonnie disengaged, a look of astonishment on her face, she clambered inside the car and allowed the wind through an open window to give her intakes of breath for her own had felt like it had been taken.
“KITT, patch me through to Michel if you can”
“My logic tells me you’d rather this be a private conversation”
“Oh no, you’re listening in. This concerns you too”
A worried Michael appeared on the screen
“Bonnie, just so you know, I’m trying to get Devon to approve of me heading back over there… Kincaid’s heavies caused me and KITT a lot of hassle in San Francisco, I’m not about to let them…”
“Forget it, the job’s done. I need to ask you something”
“Michael, is this at all strange to you?”
“I’m asking you for your perspective on what exactly goes on in KITT’s head, it’s crazy, but it’s as if I’m trying to get an opinion on a guy I’m interested in from the person who knows him best”
Michael was delighted.
“I knew there was something”
Bonnie was visibly blushing.
“Michael, if you wouldn’t mind, I’d like to talk to Bonnie for a minute or two” Devon replied, gently pushing Michael aside.
“Let me guess, this is the part where you beg me to call if off before everything gets really toxic?” Bonnie joked.
“Bonnie, please, you know KITT means you no real harm with this form of teasing”
“I’m serious Devon, there’s things going on between me and KITT, have I been cooped up in the foundation’s labs and the semi for too long? Why would I feel this way about him? He’s not human, he can’t give me a gentle kiss or an inviting embrace, there could be no physicality, and yet I’m moved by his gentlemanly gestures, he knows what I like, It’s a pity Asimov never put forth a fourth mandate in his law on robotics, one about robot’s roles in regards to companionship. That’d be all the proof I’d need to know what I feel, want I want, is right”
“Bonnie, if I may quote Asimov, ‘You’ll have such proof as exists, you are the only one responsible for your own wants’. KITT is an exceptional machine, and we all need to give him exceptional consideration”
“Thanks Devon, I love him too”
Bonnie turned off the dashboard com
“Did you mean that?”
Bonnie nodded nervously.
“I can’t help it, it’s just there…Michael was right, it’s always been there, I’ve never really found anyone out there that matches you, matches your ideas and ideals, and you do have such things, no one has your need to feel human and wanting to know the why of what we are, and to emulate it, to transcend beyond your own basic core function. It fascinates you, it fascinates me, and I will always want, I will always need, to want to explore that with you”
“Whatever happened to looking forward to winding down?”
“How about you stop trying to wind me up?”
“That’s the whole point of this activity, that we both drive each other crazy”
“Any more lip from you pal, and I’ll drive you off a cliff”
“How very Thelma and Louise of you. You do know I come equipped with parachutes?”
KITT detected a faint giggle coming from his passenger.
“Bonnie? Are you laughing?”
Bonnie was all a flutter, she was unsure of how to react to the question without giving KITT something to further consider in regards to her mood.
“Yeah, I kind of am. My gosh, I love you. I absolutely love you. This is insane”
“To reach the limits of sanity, to venture into the unknown, is what it means to ride the dragon” KITT replied.
“Then by all means, let this dragon soar. as fast as you can make my heart race” she instructed.