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Episode 68, originally published 17-Oct-97
Sharon is in the guest bedroom putting Cassie to bed. She reads to her out of a book. "...and so, once again, Encyclopedia Brown had saved the day." Cassie grimaces. "Encyclopedia didn't really solve it, you know," Cassie explains. "Sally did all the real leg work in that one." Sharon smiles and nods. "Well, behind every successful man--" Cassie finishes, "is a woman? You really are out of touch with your generation, Sharon. Women don't have to stay in the background any more. Take me for example. I've taken a position at Jabot, supervising your husband's career growth," Cassie says beaming. "Yes, of course you have, sweetie," Sharon says agreeably, not realizing the truth of Cassie's remarks [see episodes 66 and 67]. "Well, you'd better get a good night's sleep then," Sharon continues. Cassie smiles. Sharon takes the Cindy doll, who is still wearing a business suit, and sets her on a table next to the bed. "There," says Sharon. "Cindy can take care of any of Nicholas's needs while you sleep." "Oh--Grace has volunteered to cover his needs during this shift," Cassie says. "You're so cute when you're half-asleep," Sharon says softly. Then she kisses Cassie's forehead and leaves her to sleep.
The next day is Saturday. Sharon is pacing back and forth talking to Nicholas. "I just wish I knew what had happened to my little boy or girl. Do you think there's any chance I could ever find him or her?" Nicholas is peering out the window, only half-listening. "Huh? Find him or her, what? Sharon, what is this obsession you have with complex pronoun construction? Can't you just speak like a regular person and say just `him' or `her'?" "But that's what I said. `him or her'," Sharon says. Nicholas sighs. "Hey, look, Cassie's setting up some sort of sign over the table where she's having lemonade with Cindy." "What's it say?" "It's blank. She's writing. Something about a detective agency." "Oh, she must be competing with Encyclopedia Brown," Sharon says. "The kiddie detective?" "Yep. I was reading to her last night and she seemed unhappy that Encyclopedia kept getting credit for cases that Sally had really solved." Nick reads again, "`Fast Service. Reasonable rates.'" "Honey, maybe Cassie could find `him or her'?" Sharon suggests. Nick looks at her, confused. "Huh?" "My child." "Oh, right. Sharon, I don't think even Paul Williams could find him." "Him? What makes you think he or she is a boy?" "Who cares if he's a boy or not if he isn't here?!!?" Nick says. "Look, I'm going to ask her to find the kid just so you stop with this pronoun thing," Nick says.
Nicholas tosses a shiny quarter down onto an upside-down the gas can next to Cassie. "You dropped a quarter," Cassie says. "I'm hiring you," Nicholas says. "To find Sharon's lost child." "Noah?!" Cassie says, her eyes widening. "No. Sharon had another baby before Noah. But she gave him up for adoption." Cassie makes some notes in a palmtop computer, reading aloud as she does. "Sharon. Lost boy. Older than Noah." "Well, we don't know it's a boy." "It? Babies are not neuter gender. It's either a boy or a girl. You said `him'." "It's simpler that way," Nicholas says. "It's simpler if you express yourself clearly, Nicholas. But I'll make a note to take that up with you on Monday. For now, let's see about finding Sharon's child. Now what's this quarter?" "That's your fee, isn't it?" Nicholas asks. Cassie laughs. "Like in the Encyclopedia Brown books? Do you know how old those books are? Those are 1967 quarters, Nicholas. And in any case, kids were stupider then. My rates are based on what the market will bear. Would you like me to explain to you about markets again?" Nicholas sighs. "Oh, do we have to? How about if we save that until Monday, too. Besides, we kinda need to find the little guy as soon as possible." "Well, ok, I'll take the quarter as a retainer. Technically, any amount of money is appropriate consideration for the creation of a binding contract. Perry Mason often used to take a dollar as his retainer, and yet he was still able to afford a nice office and dinner out with Della every night. So I guess it works to do the serious billing later on," she reasons. "Where did you last see him or her?" "I never saw him ... or her. This is really Sharon's thing. Maybe you should ask her."
Cassie enters the house to find Sharon knitting. "Hi, Sharon. Nicholas has hired me to find your lost child." "That's great, Cassie! I've really been wondering about him or her and how he or she is doing." Cassie smiles. "If I had a child and had had to give him or her up for adoption, I'd be worried about how he or she was doing, too! It must tear you up inside wondering where he or she is all the time." Sharon nods. "Oh, it does. He or she is always on my mind." Nicholas, who has followed Cassie into the room, just rolls his eyes. "Look, could we just get on with this?" he says. "Certainly," says Cassie. "I'll need a ride." "I'll saddle up the horses," Nick says. Cassie laughs. "No, a ride in the car. I'm not old enough to drive and I left my bike at Mrs. Kramer's..." "Ok," says Sharon. "Let's get going."
As the car pulls up to the designated address, Sharon is puzzled. "Don't you need to ask me some questions or something?" Cassie laughs. "Oh, like in the books? No. Not really." They get in an elevator and ride up a couple of floors, then walk to an apartment door, where Cassie knocks a special knock.
At the Romalatti residence, Michael and Phyllis are going at it hot and heavy on the couch. Joani enters and sees them. "Excuse me, Mrs. Romalotti. You've been doing that non-stop for days. Does either of you need something to eat or drink?" They pry themselves free. "Uh, sure, Joani, whatever you've got," Michael says. He shrugs at Phyllis and says, "Gotta keep up my energy, you know." Just then, the knock at the door is heard. Michael straightens his hair and struggles to pull on his clothes while Phyllis pulls a silk cape around her. "Oh, that's probably Danny. Joani, can you get that?" Phyllis says. Joani nods and opens the door to see Nick, Sharon, and Cassie. "It's not Danny," Joani says. "Hello," says Cassie holding up a bit of a classified ad. "I'm looking for Phyllis Romalotti," Cassie says. "That's me," says Phyllis, more or less composed. "I saw your ad in the paper," says Cassie. Michael looks at her. "Your ad?" "Computer wiz," Cassie says. Phyllis blushes. "Well, I have to have some way to pay the bills. Keeping Joani and all. You don't think I do that on Danny's salary, do you?" Michael is still confused, "But that dinner the other night. I thought we were spending Danny's money." "Oh, we were. But that was just for fun. I have lots more than he does--he just doesn't know it. It's just a little side business of mine."
Phyllis pulls on a book in a bookshelf and the wall swings back to reveal a modern array of high tech computers. Then she turns back to Cassie and says, "What can I do for you?" "I need a complete dossier on this person," Cassie says, pointing to Sharon. "Ok," she says. She turns to Sharon and asks. "Driver's license?" Sharon looks at her, confused. "We're looking for my lost child. Someone I put up for adoption." Phyllis smiles. "It doesn't matter, actually. I just need your driver's license." "I tried to explain," Cassie says, laughing. Sharon pulls out her driver's license and hands it to Phyllis. Phyllis types in the social security number from the driver's license and a few moments later a high speed printer spits out about 20 pages of output. "What's that?" Sharon says. "That's your life history," Cassie says. "It saves me a lot of boring questions." Cassie hands Phyllis a business card. "You can send the bill to the address on the card." Phyllis pushes the book back into the bookcase and the computer system disappears from sight.
Back in the car, Sharon asks, "Where to now?" Cassie says, "The public library." "The library?" Cassie nods. "I could have done it from Ms. Romalotti's computer, but the library will be cheaper. They have free computers there and I can get the rest of what I need from web search engines." The car pulls up in front of the library and Cassie enters. Quickly finding the public terminal room, she logs in to the public access server and enters Netscape. "What are you doing?" Nicholas asks, curious. "I'm getting an e-mail address for this guy Frank you used to date in Madison--I assume he's the father. It looks like you forgot to buy condoms one week." Sharon blushes. Nick says, "Wait a minute, couldn't he have bought them?" Cassie says to Nick, "When you have your little flings in Noah's room, do YOU bring condoms?" Nick says, "Well, I--" Sharon looks quizzically at them, "What's this about?" Nick sighs. "Never mind, Sharon. Just a big misunderstanding."
"Ah," says Cassie, who has been typing away. "You found his e-mail address?" "Oh, I sent him a message already--I just got back the reply." "Wow, that's fast." "Well, he wasn't there. But I got some autoresponder. It says he's screening his e-mail, but that if it's about the little girl he put up for adoption, he's not answering any more questions. He says to refer all such questions to Alice Johnson, in care of Millie Johnson, Cassie's mom." "She's me," squeals Cassie. "You're Alice Johnson?" "No, I'm Cassie Johnson," says Cassie. "So--Sharon's baby--he or she is you?" Nick asks. "SHE," Cassie corrects him. "Not he or she?" Cassie just shakes her head, "We'll talk about it on Monday." "So that's it? You're my lost child?" Sharon asks. "Apparently so," Cassie says. "Wow, I always wanted a little girl just like you, and it turns out I had you all along." Cassie beams, then says, "I guess it's a really good thing your dad put me in charge of your career growth!" Cassie says to Nick. "Why?" he asks. "Well, we see now that it's my own inheritance I'm helping you manage. I feel more comfortable knowing it's got at least one level head watching over it." Nicholas smiles proudly. "Oh, definitely!" he says. Sharon grins and says, "Come on, you too. Enough talk about money for one day. I'm just happy my little girl is found. Let's swing by Collins & Sons and get mom to put the wheels in motion on the adoption paperwork..."
That's all for this episode.
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