The Great Pitstop Pandemonium - Part 1
“It was nice of Fred to let us borrow the van for the weekend.” Velma nodded as she sat beside Daphne in the front of the Mystery Machine, reading the map as the brightly coloured van made its way out of their home town.
“Well, he was so intent on staying in town for the Trap Convention, and Shaggy had the track meet, so neither of them really wanted to come with us,” Velma eventually said as she closed the book. “It makes a nice change for us to have a girl’s weekend.”
Daphne nodded, her green scarf moving slightly in the breeze that came in through the open window. “Oh I so agree - I love Fred dearly, but we do need some time away from them and the Mystery Incorporated team.”
Velma nodded as she crossed her arms in front of her. “So this cousin of yours - how well do you know her?”
“Oh, we used to visit them all the time when we were all younger,” Daphne said as they turned onto the freeway. “Penny and I used to play together all the time while my sisters were busy been the best they were at what they did. She was definitely the most normal person I knew.”
“As opposed to now,” Thelma said, a small smile crossing her face.
“Oh come on, you know what I mean,” Daphne said with another smile. “Despite the fact her great-grandmother was a world famous racing driver, it doesn’t mean that she is one.”
“But she is, isn’t she? After all, the papers are full of the exploits of her on the NASCAR circuit - the first female to be accepted, isn’t she? So what is happening at her mansion this weekend that she wants you to be at.”
“Believe it or not,” Daphne said, “It’s a celebration of her family history. In fact, she’s getting out the car her great-grandmother drove for people to look at. And I’m told she has a special outfit planned for the occasion...”
Marrakesh, two weeks previously.
She walked down the narrow alleyways, her head held high as she stopped from time to time to speak with the stall holders. Her shoulders were bare, the sleeves of her peasant style top pulled down over her shoulders, while the brown trousers she was wearing seemed to move like a second skin on her as she walked. Her feet were in a pair of open heeled sandals, while over her jet black hair she wore a scarf, tied over it so that only her fringe was showing, and made of material the same colour as her pants.
As she approached one particular building, the stone bleached white by the fierce sun, she glanced quickly from side to side and behind her, a smile playing on her red lips as she slipped through a curtain that covered the entrance.
“Abdul,” she called out in the darkened room, “Abdul, are you her?”
“Abdul is - indisposed,” a voice in the shadows said, strangely high pitched and whining. It was obviously not her contact, so she stood still, her hand reaching behind her back as she said “If you are a brave man, show yourself.”
“I am a brave man,” the voice continued as she saw someone step out of the shadows, “but I am also a cautious one, Ms Jezebel Jade. Boys?”
Before she had a chance to react, Jezebel felt her arms been grabbed. Out of nowhere, on each side of her had appeared a tall, burly man, one of their hands on her arm as they half walked, half pushed her towards an ottoman couch that lay in the centre of the floor.
“Make sure she cannot interrupt our conversation by trying to escape, boys,” the voice commanded, and despite her struggling Jezebel felt her arms been pulled behind her and something rough been pulled against the skin on her wrists. As she felt her arms been pulled back, she turned in the direction the voice had come from and said “A real gentleman would not have someone do their dirty work for them.”
“Well, it’s just as well I’m not a real gentleman,” the voice replied, and from the shadows Jezebel saw a thin man step out, dressed in a khaki shirt and shorts, but rather incongruously with a purple eye mask tied over his upper face and a green fedora perched on his head.
“Do I know you,” she said as she felt her ankles been pulled together.
“I don’t think we’ve had the pleasure,” he said with a laugh that made Jezebel’s skin crawl slightly. She had faced many villains in her time, and had worked alongside some as well, but this one - this one, for some reason, seemed worse than all of them, despite his stature.
“No, we haven’t, my dear,” he said as his two henchmen stood back. “But I’m sure we can get better acquainted once you answer one trifling little question for me.”
“Oh - and what is that?”
“Where is the Star of Alamein?”
Jezebel looked into his tiny, blue eyes before she started laughing. “The Star of Alamein? Now why would I know where that is?”
“Because you stole it two days ago, Miss Jade.”
“I prefer to think I returned it to the rightful owner,” Jezebel replied in a steely tone. “It was taken from her many years ago, and I was - asked to make sure it was brought home safely.”
“Oh - and where might that home be?”
Jezebel laughed as he said this. “Do you honestly expect me to tell you where it is?”
“Frankly, my dear, no,” was the reply before he nodded, and Jezebel felt a large rough length of linen been pushed into her mouth, before a second was pulled tightly between her lips. “Trash the place,” he said as Jezebel was pushed onto her side, her eyes meeting his as he knelt behind her and whispered “I want to teach Miss Jade the error of her ways...”
“You have got to be joking,” Thelma said as Daphne turned and drove the Machine through a set of high, ornately worked iron gates, the drive running through an avenue of low hanging sycamore trees until it opened out onto what could only be called a castle. The house was large, square, and built in the style of an English manor house, with wide grass lawns on all sides and a large gravelled area in the front.
“Yeah - nice, isn’t it,” Daphne said as she stopped the van and turned the engine off, stepping out as Thelma also left the vehicle, pulling her jumper down over her short skirt as she did so. As she turned to look at the house, she saw two men, dressed in white shirts with waistcoats and dark trousers, walk towards them.
“Miss Blake, Miss Dinkley, you are expected,” one of them said as the other took their bags from the rear of the vehicle. “If you will come with me, the mistress is waiting for you in the drawing room.”
The two girls looked at each other, then followed him as their bags were taken to another part of the house. They entered the building, walking down the oak lined hallways until he stopped and knocked on a heavy door.
“Yes,” they heard a young woman call out.
“Miss Blake and Miss Dinkley have arrived, Madame,” he said as he opened the door and showed the two girls in. A young woman, with blonde hair that fell down her head and shoulders reaching almost to her waist, turned and ran over, embracing Daphne as she said “Daffs!! How long has it been!!”
“Too long, Penny,” Daphne said as she returned the hugs. “Penny, I want you to meet my very dear friend Thelma Dinkley. Thelma, this is...”
“Penny Pitstop,” Thelma said as she shook Penny’s hand. “I’m a big fan of yours.”
“You are,” Daphne said as she looked at Thelma. “You never told me.”
“You never told me about your crush on Jonny,” Thelma shot back.
“Jonny? Jonny who? Daphne, I thought you were saying some ‘lovable lunkhead called Fred’, as you put it the other day.”
“All right,” Daphne said as she blushed slightly. “Enough of that - is this portrait who I think it is?”
“It is,” the blonde said as the three girls looked up above the ceiling. It showed a young woman, the spitting likeness of Penny, dressed in an old style red driving jacket over a high collared purple dress, with matching gloves over her hands. Her legs were encased in a pair of red riding britches, and over her lower legs were a pair of white boots. A driving cap, in the same shade as her dress and gloves, was fastened on her head, and a pair of goggles sat on the front of them. She was smiling, and standing behind an old, but rather strange looking racing car.
“That’s her,” Penny said with a smile, “Great-Grandmother Pitstop, the darling of the 1920’s racing circuit.”
“It’s not here, boss,” the henchman said as the masked man stood up. On the ottoman, he could hear Jezebel laugh through the thick gag.
“You must have sent it on,” he said as he looked at her angrily, “Who did you send it to?”
Jezebel stared back, not afraid of what he might do, but before he had a chance to do anything the second henchman said “Boss!! I found a shipping receipt!!”
“Bring it here,” the thin man said a she took a pair of wire spectacles out and put them over his nose. “Oh this is rich,” he said a she started to laugh, “This is too rich. Thank you for your time, Miss Jade - we won’t keep you any further.”
“Where are we going, Boss,” the first henchman said as the three men slipped out of the building.
“We’re going home, boys,” the thin man said with a cackle, “to meet some old friends...”
As Penny escorted Daphne and Velma into the dining room, they found a tall, well built African American woman sitting there already, who stood up as they came in.
“Hi Daphne,” she said as she came over and embraced the new arrival, “It’s been a long time!”
“DEE!” Daphne exclaimed as she returned the hug, “I didn’t know you would be here!”
“Penelope employed me to help with the security arrangements,” she said as she finally let go of Daphne. She was dressed in a red roll neck sweater, blue denim skirt and knee high red leather boots, with her hair tightly permed.
“So you know Dee Dee - I should have realised you would have met before.”
“It was a mystery convention,” Velma said as she sat down at the table, “Dee and the others were there as well. We’ll tell you the tale later. What’s for dinner anyway?”
“Are you sure something of Shaggy hasn’t rubbed off on you,” Daphne said as she sat at the table as well. Dee Dee laughed before saying “And how are the two lunks anyway? Fred still obsessed with traps?”
“All the time,” Daphne said as the servants brought in the dinner, “All the time...”
New York, one week previously
“Well, boys, I guess we’ll be home soon enough - but what say we take in some of the sights as we look over this fine city - what do you say, Officer?”
The blonde haired woman stared at the three men, eyes wide under her round glasses, and screamed into the heavy cloth gag that filled her mouth. She was still dressed in the outfit she had worn to work that day - the regulation blue female officer’s uniform of the NYPD, where she worked as a data analyst and telecommunications specialist.
“Whhhsssduwnt,” she mumbled as she tried to twist round in the tight ropes, holding her firmly to the metal pole on the high balcony of the Empire State Building. Her wrists were tightly secured behind her back, while ropes encircled her ankles, legs, waist and chest.
“Now then, my dear Miss Thyme, I need to you tell me some information, if you would be so kind.”
“Iddnntkwwhtuwnt,” the officer mumbled as she kept trying to break free.
“I know that you, Miss Rosemary Thyme, have been helping to co-ordinate the police support for the transportation of a delivery from Marrakesh, and I need to know the eventual destination of that delivery. Now, I am sure you may want to tell us, but I so hope you are going to refuse. Which is it going to be, Rosemary?”
“Mnntggngntlunfngufnd...” Rosemary mumbled as she looked round. She was hoping, praying that her saviour would show up to rescue her, as he always did, but so far there was no sign of him. She turned her head back to look at the trio, only to scream as the two bulks of muscle stepped forward and picked her and the support she was tied to up as if it was a paperweight.
“Perhaps the beauty of the view will help you to refresh your memory, reconsider your decision,” the third man said. He looked like a throwback to a hundred years before, in his purple double breasted suit and green fedora, but the eye mask covering his face made him look menacing,
“Now, my dear,” he whispered as Rosemary found herself looking down the 102 floors to the ground, “where did the Star of Alamein get delivered to?”
“NNNNGNNNNNFFFNNNNNNNNN” Rosemary screamed as the glasses slipped off her face, falling slowly to the ground.....
“.....and it’s 7 am here in Richville. You’re listening to the mellow sounds of Casey Kasem Jr. Today is the grand opening of the Pitstop Memorial Weekend, and I wanted to remind you that the gates at Pitstop Place will be opening from 10 am for everyone to come. There will be stalls, rides, and you too will be able to sit in the famous Compact Pussycat....”
Daphne turned over and switched off the radio, before lying on her back and staring up at the ceiling. The four girls had sat up late into the night, talking about their experiences and adventures, but they had all known it was going to be an early start today.
Eventually, she threw back the covers and stood up, smoothing down her short purple nightie as she headed to where the dressing gown was hanging from the door. As she slipped it on, she looked out of the window onto the vast lawns, as workmen set up tents, stands and a large dais.
“Beautiful day for a party, isn’t it?”
Daphne turned to see a tall, blonde haired man standing there, his jaw rugged and his manner straight. He was wearing a white polo shirt over a dark jumper, riding breeches and boots.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you. I’m Peter, Penny’s brother. I’m surprised you don’t remember me.”
“Oh I remember you now,” Daphne said with a laugh, “but the last time I saw you you were a little squirt in shorts, and now...”
“Now I’m a bigger squirt,” Peter said with a laugh. “Penny asked me to come up and tell you that breakfast is ready, if you want to come down.” He looked at her and said “we don’t stand on ceremony too often around here, so come as you are.” He turned and left the room, Daphne following as she tied the dressing gown around her with a sash.
As she entered the dining room, she found Velma already sitting there, deeply immersed in a combination of pancakes and a technical manual. She was wearing a set of tan coloured coveralls over her red jumper, and smiled as she looked up.
“Ohhdfne,” she said through a mouthful of food, swallowing before she continued “I’ve been helping the mechanics to set up the Pussycat. For a real vintage car, it sure moves sweetly.”
“I’m glad to hear it,” Penny said as she walked in. She was wearing the driving costume her great grandmother had worn, although the heavy gloves were in her hands as she put them down on the table and helped herself to some coffee.
“You really do look like the original Penelope,” Daphne said as she cut into some bacon, “how does it feel to wear that outfit.”
“Stiff - give me the coveralls and helmet any day,” Penny said as she sat back down. “Peter, have you seen Dee Dee today?”
“Yeah - she said she had some security matters to take care of, staff briefings and so on. Why?
“There’s something I need to ask her about,” Penny said as she drank from the cup, “but it can wait. Daphne, I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve asked for an outfit to be put in your room for you to wear today. It’s about your size.”
“Oh joy,” Velma said as she looked up at the ceiling, “and what shade of purple is this one in?”
“It isn’t,” Jenny said as she put her cup down, “and the outfit I’ve put on your bed is not in orange either. You two need to mix up your dress sense a little.”
“I keep telling her that, but...”
“Sorry to interrupt, folks,” Dee Dee said as she walked in, “but I thought you ought to know the Pussycat is now in place, and we’re going to open the doors in an hour. Oh, Penny - this came for you.”
She handed Penny a plain white envelope, addressed to Miss Penelope Pitstop, but not stamped or franked. Penny opened it, and pulled out a card with “A Special Message” written on it.
“Now who can this be from,” she said as she opened the card, only for a high pitched voice to say “I’ll Get You, Penelope Pitstop, Mwwwahhhhaaahhaaaaaa....”
“Oooookayyyy,” Penny said as she closed the card, “That was different. Wonder who sent it?”
“I don’t get it,” Peter said as he picked up the card, “What on earth is he talking about?”
Dee Dee and Daphne looked at Penny as Velma examined the card. “Standard voice card - easy enough to make,” she said as she looked carefully at it, “but why send it today? And who sent it?”
“It can’t be - it just can’t be, he died decades ago.”
Velma looked at Penny as she said this. “Who died?”
Penny looked at everyone else as she slowly said “The Hooded Claw.”
Rosemary screamed again as she was pulled back from the brink and set upright, her eyes wide with fear as the masked man walked up to her and stroked her cheek.
“I will ask once again, my dear girl, where was the Star of Alamein sent.”
“Lttlluu,” she mumbled as she looked at him with pleading eyes. He reached round and untied the scarf, removing the cloth as she said with a heavy Bronx accent, “All right, all right , I’ll tell you.”
“Sensible girl,” he said with a smile, “I’m waiting.”
“It was sent to someone on the west coast - he name was Brenda, and she was one of a trio of detectives. I swear that’s all I know?”
“Oh I think you know something else - the address?”
“It was an old amusement park near Haight-Ashbury - and I swear that’s all I know. The courier was most insistent.”
“Ah well, at least it’s a start,” he said a she pushed the cloth back into her mouth and tightened it, “I can always ask around there. Come on boys - we need to catch a plane.”
“Yes Boss,” the two muscle men said as they walked off, leaving Rosemary to struggle and scream before she heard some faint Chinese rock music...
“The Hooded Claw? But he must be dead - it was your great-grandmother who had all the trouble with him. Why would you think that?”
Velma looked across the table at Dee Dee and Daphne, while Peter held Penny’s shoulders. “It just seems so funny hearing that voice,” was all she would say eventually.
“Look, Penny, it’s just somebody’s stupid idea of a joke. Don’t let it get to you - besides, it’s time for all of you to get into costume. Go on - I’ll see you outside.”
Daphne and Velma stood up and walked out of the room, as Dee Dee looked at a small parcel that had arrived for her.
“Wonder what the girls are sending me now,” she said as she looked at the return address label.
San Francisco, two days ago
“I know the seventies are coming back into fashion, young lady, but even then sleeveless mini dresses and Farah Fawcett hairdos were so passé.”
Taffy tried to lunge forward to hit the man who had just taunted her, but the ropes that were wound round her torso and the back of the chair she was sitting were too strong. “Whtdummnnntttoopsseee,” she mumbled through the thick white cloth that was pulled between erg teeth.
She had been grabbed as soon as she had walked into the office by two burly men dressed like old time hoodlums, with tweed jackets over mustard jumpers, trousers and cloth caps. Their outward appearance notwithstanding, they had been very efficient, carrying her in and lashing her wrists to the side of the chair back before encasing her in the longest length of rope she had ever seen.
She was dressed as the masked man had described - a green sleeveless minidress with a zip front, and matching heels. So what if she liked the dress, she thought as she tried to kick out, forgetting for the moment that her ankles were secured to the front legs of the chair.
Instead she looked at the man in front of him, dressed in an old fashioned double breasted green suit and an over sized purple trilby. Why on earth was he wearing a cape and an eye mask anyway - he looked like something from a silent film.
“I do hope your friend will not be long,” he sneered as he looked at Taffy. “After all, the bomb under your seat is on a tight schedule, and we need time to get away from here.” Taffy shook as she heard that, the ticking under her chair seeming to get louder and louder as she mutely called out.
Velma looked at herself in the mirror, turning from side to side. Penny had been right - the outfit was not orange, but a deep red velvet. It consisted of a floor length full skirt, under which she was wearing a white lace petticoat, a high collared blouse and a fitted jacket which allowed her to show the brooch that Penny had left for her.
“Not bad at all,” Velma said as she lifted one leg, the skirt rising with her as she tied the laced white ankle boots onto her feet. As she set her foot down again, the door opened and Daphne came in.
“That is definitely a new look for you,” she said as she saw Velma standing there. She was wearing a white lace dress, fastened with small pearl buttons at the front and cuffs, which was tightly cinched at the waist before flowing down to the floor. A straw hat was jauntily placed on her head, and she carried a parasol in her lace glove covered hands.
“Do you think shaggy would like this,” Velma said as she allowed herself to twirl round, the red velvet rising as she did so.
“He would be an idiot if he didn’t - but then again, he is Shaggy,” Daphne said with a laugh as the two friends made their way along the corridor and down the stairs. At the bottom was Penny, who smiled as she held a small box in her hands.
“Well, don’t you two look the part,” she said as Daphne landed gently on the floor. “Listen, Dee Dee got a package which she has passed to me, but looking at it I think it would suit you much more, Daphne.” She opened the box to reveal a dark green emerald, fitted into a gold filigree brooch.
“My god,” Daphne said, “It’s beautiful. What is it?”
“A present to me from an admirer - at least, that’s what the note said. Anyway,” Penny said as she fixed the brooch to Daphne’s neck, “I think it looks stunning on there.” Satisfied, she picked up a white racing helmet and walked to the door.
“Come on then - let’s get this party started!”
The trio walked out onto the front porch, where a small crowd had gathered around the world famous pink racing car known as the Compact Pussycat. “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls,” Penny said as she put on the helmet and climbed into the car, “I am Penelope Pitstop, and I declare this day OPEN!!”
The crowd applauded as Penny smiled, while Velma and Daphne made their way down into the crowd to look round, unaware of the people who were following them with their eyes.
Brenda slowly opened the office door and walked in, closing it quietly behind her. The fear on her face was plain for all to see as she looked round, her long brown hair falling in soft curves around her face.
“All right,” she called out, “I’m here. Where’s Taffy?”
“Right here, my sweet,” the voice said as the lights went up, and Taffy called out “BRNDRRNNNNN!!!!” Brenda looked at her old friend in the chair and said “If you don’t disarm that bomb right now, we won’t talk.”
“And if we don’t talk, then the bomb kills us all.”
Brenda swallowed as she said “I can take that risk - can you?”
There was silence as Taffy looked on, wide eyed at the new found courage of her friend, before the voice said “All right - boys, go and throw the bomb into the sea.”
“Right Boss,” one of the goons said as she reached under the chair and ripped the bomb away, carrying it outside. They listened for a few moments, before an earth shattering “KA-BOOM” rent the silence and a splash of water hit the window.
“I do hope he remembered to throw it this time,” the voice continued as the masked man stepped into the light, a very real looking pistol in his hand. “Now, if you pleas my dear Brenda, the Star of Alamein.”
“I don’t have it.”
“Don’t try my patience girl,” he said as he walked forward and grabbed Brenda by the arm, pulling her over towards him. “Where is the Star?”
“I don’t have it,” Brenda replied in a choking voice, “It was sent directly on to my partner, Dee Dee.”
“I don’t believe you,” he said as he pushed Brenda over to the other goon. “Make her uncomfortable while I search this place,” he said as the goon pulled the frightened girl’s arms behind her back, crossing her wrists and using rough rope to bind them together as she stood there shaking.
As Daphne walked down the grass lane between the tents, she was stopped by Peter Pitstop. He was now dressed in a double breasted red jacket, a cravat tucked in around his neck, white riding pants and knee length black boots, with a pair of grey driving gloves on his hand.
“Impersonating your great-grandfather now,” Daphne said with a smile as she twirled her parasol on her shoulder.
“Well he was her great love,” Peter replied with a smile. “I was just going to see how Penny was doing - care to accompany me?”
“OF course,” Daphne said as she took his arm and they walked to the front of the house, where Penny was posing for photographs in front of the Pussycat. Velma was at one side, talking to Dee Dee, who was wearing a dark blue jacket and skirt over a cream top for the occasion.
“Business dress? That’s different for you Dee,” Daphne said as the couple approached them.
“Well, ladies of my colour in those days tended to serve behind the master’s table,” Dee Dee said with a smile, “so I think I will take a more modern approach.” Her eyes narrowed slightly as she saw the brooch at Daphne’s neck. “I didn’t think Penny would let anyone wear that - still, it does match your eyes.”
“Why thank you kindly for saying so,” Daphne said as she looked round the crowd. A glint of light on metal caught her eye, and she squinted slightly in the direction of the sunburst. “Dee,” she said quietly, “why is someone taking camera shots from that far away of Penny?”
Dee Dee looked in the same direction, before saying “I have no idea, but I will find out.” She walked in the direction of the tents, as Velma said “I need to talk to Penny” and walked towards the car.
“Would you excuse me, Peter,” Daphne said as she looked at the young man, “I need to go and powder my nose.” Peter stood to one side and watched Daphne as she walked away, a strange gleam in his eye.
“It’s not here, Boss!”
The masked man looked at his goon, and then at Brenda as she rolled on the floor. Her wrists had been tied together, and then secured to her waist, before ropes had been wound over her purple striped top to hold her arms tightly into her side. More ropes surrounded her ankles and legs, the bottoms of her bellbottom jeans flaring out from under the brown band.
“I told you, if it went to the Haight-Ashbury drop it would have been sent to Dee Dee automatically,” she said as she watched Taffy sweating in the chair.
“Oh - and where is your lovely Nubian partner.”
“Security detail, somewhere in Richville - I think the name was Pitstop.”
“Pitstop? Pitstop you say?” The man stood up and started chuckling, before he laughed, a manic laugh that brought no comfort to either Taffy or Brenda. “Well, this is just too, too good. I get to kill two birds with one stone - but first, I get to send two angels back to heaven.”
Taking a length of white cloth, he pulled it into Brenda’s mouth, silencing her as he forced the corners of her mouth back and secured the ends under her brown hair. Taking a small package from the goon, he set the timer to fifteen minutes and laid it on the floor in front of Brenda’s eyes.
“I wonder if your tame Neanderthal friend will get back in time,” he smirked a she started the timer, the green neon number counting down as the two men left the office, closing and locking the door behind themselves....
As Dee Dee approached the tent, she saw the side close rapidly, as if someone was trying to hide. “Who’s in there,” she called out as she lifted the side of the tent, stepping in and stopping at the sight before her.
Daphne finished washing her hands and placed the lace gloves back over them, before picking up her parasol and leaving the ladies rest room. She had not taken more than two steps before a damp cloth was clamped over her nose and mouth, while a strong arm wrapped itself around her waist. She struggled for a few minutes, before the sweet smelling fumes began to make her fall into a deep sleep.
As Velma approached the Compact Pussycat, a sound like a snake hissing started to fill eh rears, and she saw a dark pillar of smoke rising round the car, enveloping Penny and the vehicle. She didn’t hesitate, but ran forward, plunging into the smoke as the crowd scattered in every direction. The smoke seemed to linger for a few minutes, before it slowly started to clear, but where two women should have been standing, only one remained.