Fan Fiction - Written by Doug Fowler - Television Universe

Grand Confusion Auto
Written by: Doug Fowler

What if Danny goes with Joey to pick out a car for D.J.? Problems that day can keep Joey there till Danny goes with him. But, that car from "Grand Gift Auto" still causes confusion. Can they keep the secret from D.J.?

This is a short attempt - through an alternate universe - to explain what really happened with that car Joey got D.J. in "Grand Gift Auto." Joey is kept at home by a family meeting about some problems that have been allowed to fester (because Michelle doesn't wander off at Disneyworld.) After the meeting, Danny's ready to go with him, like he wanted, to look for a car for D.J.. The end is like the end in our universe, where the officer comes by to tell what, with how it would have been solved if Joey bought it.

The Tanner family was all gathered in the living room. They had just finished talking about six-year-old Michelle's "bad attitude." "I'm sorry I've been so lax; this is all my fault," Danny tanner was saying. He was the father of Michelle, eleven-year-old Stephanie, and sixteen-year-old D.J. Tanner.

"Dad, remember, Dr. Landress said you had to take charge," D.J. insisted. Danny sighed as she continued. "And, she has had this attitude since before Disneyworld."

Danny agreed. "I know; ever since I promised fewer rules, and said she could tell me if I was being too tough, after she knocked over that dinosaur. She's taken advantage of that to try to have no rules, since she remembers when I didn't a few years ago, and..." He sighed, stopped his rambling, and addressed his youngest. "You know, sweetheart, I've always had a hard time seeing you as anything but a baby. And, now I think I'm seeing more of your mother in you, and, well..."

"One thing you're great at; avoiding the subject," Jesse said candidly. He was Danny's late wife's younger brother, and had moved in to help Danny raise the girls almost six years ago. Now, he and his wife, Becky, lived upstairs in the Tanners' attic with their one-year-olds, Nicky and Alex.

"Look, Michelle said she's sorry," Joey Gladstone offered. He was a professional comedian, and Danny's best friend. He'd also moved in to help then. "That's why we just had a family meeting, instead of Danny lecturing. Let's take a walk in the woods till everything cools down."

"Whaddaya think this is, 'The Three Bears'?" Jesse chided him. The macho, motorcycle loving Jesse still could get miffed at Joey's childhishness at times.

"No, but I was really hoping to go looking for something; remember what I told you about, Danny?" Joey asked him.

"Oh, right. Good point. Okay, Michelle, you understand I'm going to let D.J. handle the discipline around here till we agree you're ready to listen to me, right?"

"I know, Daddy," Michelle said, hopeful nobody would find out about the sweets she'd stashed and been eating, even when she couldn't today, after her behavior yesterday.

"D.J. loves you very much. And, Dr. Landress is right. When I couldn't enforce limits when you were two and three, she's the one who taught you that certain behavior had consequences; otherwise you couldn't have started listening so quickly to me when I finally did start." She'd sat in the corner and stayed as punishment right away when Danny made her then. "Come on, Joey, let's go look for that surprise you talked about."

D.J. embraced Michelle. "And, I know you're going to be good."

Michelle looked up at her, and smiled a little guiltily. She'd also been grounded from TV for a few days because of her refusal to obey rules, but she still liked cartoons. It would be harder with D.J. in charge, but part of her was tempted to watch, anyway.

A few hours passed. After lunch, while Danny and Joey were still out looking for a good car for D.J.'s Sweet Sixteen - Joey had wanted to buy one for D.J., who had turned sixteen a month ago - a police woman showed up at the door on a motorcycle.

Jesse opened the door. He was totally faithful to Becky, but couldn't help kidding around a bit with a pretty female police office at the door. "Hey, they got some really good lookin' police on the force now," he teased. Becky simply chuckled; she'd just put the twins down for their afternoon naps.

"I did not come here to have remarks made about my appearance. Is Mr. Tanner home?" she asked.

Michelle noticed the slight monotone and businesslike demeanor, after what she knew was an attempt by her uncle to draw a reaction. "Hey, you sound just like that famous detective."

"You mean Joe Friday?" the policewoman asked, as she was invited in.

"I think her name's Jane Tuesday," Michelle replied.

Stephanie explained. "Michelle, that's the girl on some Sesame Street skits. She's just modeled after Joe Friday; hence the day as a last name. She's not a real detective."

"Well, maybe she'll grow up to be one," Michelle said, with her hands on her hips.

Kimmy Gibbler, D.J.'s dumb, and weird, best friend had come over, too. "Was Rick Monday modeled after him, too? You know, the guy who played for the Dodgers?"

"Kimmy, Rick Monday would have been born years before 'Dragnet' came on the air," Stephanie said. She turned to the officer. "You'll have to excuse her; her brain's been gone so long, I think it's in the witness protection program."

The officer managed a slight smile. "Clever. Anyway, Mr. Tanner was reported by some witnesses to have been looking at a car that we then heard had been stolen. So, I wanted to ask him if he saw where it went, or knew anything about the car..."

"...reeokee machine," Jesse coughed out, hoping not to spoil the surprise for D.J..

"Excuse me?"

"Oh," Becky said, catching what Jesse was doing. "Maybe that's what Joey's getting D.J. for her birthday, a karaoke machine."

The officer was puzzled, but continued. "Yes, well, anyway, they recognized him from 'Wake Up, San Francisco. This elderly woman said one was stolen from her garage that looked just like it."

"Why did some old woman have a karaoke machine?" Kimmy asked.

Sensing that the gift was a secret, and recalling a favorite way to keep secrets from her childhood, the officer said, "It wasn't a karaoke machine. He was looking at an arcay."

Kimmy excitedly turned toward D.J.. "Wow, Deej, do you know what this means?" The officer was worried Kimmy would spill the secret, till the next sentence. "You're getting an arcade for your birthday!"

"Something like that," the women said. "I've been sent to investigate. Is he home?"

After being told he wasn't, Michelle asked, "Are you a police officer?" She said she was. "Are you really good at finding stuff out?" She said she was. Then, Michelle turned to D.J. and said guiltily, "You know how I wasn't supposed to watch TV today 'cause of my bad attitude?" D.J. nodded. "If I just tell you everything, will I be in less trouble?"

D.J. took Michelle's hands in hers, and said, "Well, I'll still have to come up with a different punishment since you wouldn't listen to that one. I think doing spring cleaning with Dad is probably best. But, I can tell you're very remorseful; so you'll get much less of a lecture." She tried to keep Danny from sounding too bad. "You'll have to excuse us. Our dad's really good otherwise, but he's had troubles off and on since our mom died. Michelle tries to take advantage at times, but she knows very well she has to obey the rules." Michelle lowered her head as D.J. and she went upstairs.

Jesse agreed after a moment. "Yeah, it's just like Papouli says with some of the guys he knew when they came back from World War Two, with all the shell shock."

"Depression?" the officer guessed.

"Nah, that was before, that was in the 1930s," Jesse corrected her.

"I mean does Mr. Tanner suffer from depression?" she explained in a bit of a monotone.

"He doesn't have time; he's too busy cleaning," Jesse said.

Becky explained that, "He used the excuse that he thought of Michelle as a baby and never enforced limits if she did something wrong, till she was almost four; despite what the doctor said. D.J. filled in when needed, and has recently, too. Some of his cleaning may be to keep him from thinking about it, since it was so sudden and tragic. But, that's why making Michelle do spring cleaning with him is probably a good idea. She's old enough now, they can talk about it, and she can learn to empathize with him more."

"Makes sense. Then, she'll think about how he feels, and why he's more lax. And, why it's not nice to take advantage of someone in that situation," the officer concluded.

"D.J. talked about working at Camp Lakota this summer, too. Oh, that reminds me, I wanted to work with her," Kimmy added. "My bosses haven't been too thrilled where I've worked. Would the library's reference desk give me references?" Becky suggested Kimmy have D.J. walk her through things, and check with families where she'd babysat. "Good idea, thanks. Anyway, I want to get back to this arcade," Kimmy said. "How'd someone steal a whole arcade out of this woman's garage without her knowing?"

"It wasn't an arcade. Now that D.J. is gone, I can tell you that 'arrcay' is Pig Latin for car," the officer explained.

"What's that got to do with D.J.'s gift?" Kimmy asked, now quite puzzled.

Stephanie rolled her eyes. "Kimmy, don't you get it? Joey and Dad went to look at cars. This woman probably had one stolen, and then someone spotted Dad looking at it."

"That's right. We were wondering if he..." Danny and Joey came in from the kitchen at that moment. "Mr. Tanner?" He shook her hand as she introduced herself, and he introduced the others. "I came to inquire about a car you were looking at."

"I thought you wanted to know who stole it. Now you want to buy it from him?" Kimmy asked.

"'Inquire about' is a multifaceted term. It can mean asking for a number of reasons." The officer turned from Kimmy and looked at the others. "Now I know what 'Dragnet' would have been like as a comedy. Does she understand 'multifaceted' doesn't mean it has several faucets?"

"What's this about a car being stolen?" Danny inquired.

"Yes; back to the matter at hand." Silently, she added "finally." "Someone said they may not have noticed otherwise, but they recognized you looking at a car." She said which parking lot it was in.

Danny turned to Joey. "See, Joey, aren't you glad I advised you not to buy that car for D.J.?"

"Well, it was a great price. Besides, how'd you know from looking under the hood that old lady had stolen it?" Joey countered. "And, she seemed like such a nice old lady."

"I didn't, I noticed even if it started up again it wouldn't make it very far. I'm just saying that the..." He saw D.J. coming down with Michelle. "The arcay we picked out is much better for D.J.."

Kimmy shot Stephanie a look. "I was right, blondo; D.J. is getting an arcade for her birthday. Much more logical present for Joey to get her, anyway." With Joey being such a comedian, she thought something with a lot of games made sense.

"You're saying D.J. is getting an arcade, and you're lecturing me about logic?" Stephanie asked. "Where would you go to buy an arcade?"

"Perhaps instead of talking about the arcay, I can ask you about the car you looked at, instead." There, the officer thought with a triumphant smile. That will totally keep the surprise intact.

That smile was erased when Michelle spoke. "Isn't an arcay a car?"

"No, no," Stephanie and Jesse said quickly, "it's an arcade." Jesse added that, "Of course, Joey's gonna buy an arcade, I mean, just look at the guy's room, he thinks life is one big game."

"Wait a minute," D.J. said with a goofy grin. "Do you realize how much an arcade would cost? And...what would I do with an arcade?"

"If you serve food, you'll know where Steve is at all times," Kimmy said. D.J.'s boyfriend, Steve, was always eating, it seemed. "And his buddies who come to the arcade with him could be mine."

D.J. shook her head. "This is weird; I just can't believe I would be getting an arcade."

Jesse agreed. "You think that's weird, I just agreed with Kimmy."

"Enjoy the sight; it's as rare as Halley's Comet," Stephanie said.

The officer interrupted. "As Mr. Tanner noted, he and Mr. Gladstone were also looking at a car. Can either of you describe the person who was selling it?"

"Well, she seemed like such a nice old lady. I mean, I'll never forget her." Joey thought for a second. "She was...really old. And those eyes...there were two of them."

"Fortunately, I'm much better at giving descriptions than Joey here." Danny described - in increasingly intricate detail - the woman, the car, her outfit, her purse, and the way she spoke. The officer seemed bored with writing near the end.

Jesse couldn't resist making a wisecrack. "You know, I bet if you averaged those two descriptions out, it'd sound normal."

The officer nodded. "I can't see what use I have for knowing she mentioned a vacation in Alaska in 1972 with her husband, but I suppose it could be useful," she said with great uncertainty. "And, as to that being the year you met your late wife, Mr. Tanner..."

While the officer was thinking, Michelle stepped forward and spoke sadly. "That reminds me; I'm sorry I've been taking advantage of you, Daddy."

"I know, you mentioned that, Sweetheart," Danny said.

"Yeah, except now I'm sorry for real." She sighed. "I'm gonna be doing spring cleaning with you now."

"We'll talk about it later. I love you." He and Michelle hugged. "Is there anything else you need?"

"No; believe me when I say you've given me more than enough information." She looked at her notes. "She claims she purchased it around 20 years ago....Strange."

"What's that?" Becky asked.

"It's a word that means out of the ordinary," Kimmy said. When the others looked oddly at her, she said, "I'm just trying to show I can be intelligent."

The officer shook her head, not sure how much stranger this could get. "Yes, well, a couple things are matching what the caller said who reported it stolen. I wonder if someone could have tried to assume her identity," she muttered She told them, "I'll let you know if I need any more," and left, wondering if it might be more helpful to speak to them without Kimmy's presence next time.

"Anyway, Deej, would you like to see your Sweet Sixteen gift?" Joey asked.

D.J. was stunned. "You already took me to a hockey game. What could it be?"

"I already guessed," Kimmy pointed out.

"Kimmy...I don't think it's an arcade," D.J. corrected her gently. Recalling what Jesse said at first as Joey led them all out back and Danny pulled the camera off the mantle, she added, "I can see a karaoke machine...but why would it be around back."

Kimmy thought it was another clue. "It wouldn't be; but an arcade would be." Michelle looked ready to say something, but Stephanie shushed her.

Jesse opened the door as Joey led D.J. - who now had her eyes closed - outside, and Danny held the camera. "Well, let's tell our contestant what she really won for turning sixteen!" Joey said. "Because, behind door number two..."

D.J. opened her eyes and shrieked. "A car! Oh, Joey, this is amazing!" she said as she hugged him.

"Can I say it now?" Michelle asked. Stephanie nodded. "I thought arcay was Pig Latin."

"Kimmy, I don't usually get the chance to say this," Danny said as the video camera recorded D.J.'s reaction, "but, you were really a great help today. Thanks."

"Anytime, Mr. T.. So, does this mean she's not getting an arcade?"

"Why should she?" Stephanie quipped. "She's already got a Pacman machine, the way Steve eats."

The same officer was riding by on her way home from work a few days later, when she decided to stop by the Tanners. "I just figured you'd be interested to know what I found out," she said.

"Yes, it's hard to imagine a nice old lady like that stealing a car," Joey said.

"Maybe it was a young punk in disguise," Stephanie suggested. "Of course, that would fool Joey if it was good enough, but I don't know if it would fool you, Dad."

"If she tried hard enough. Till D.J. caught her," Michelle said matter-of-factly. Danny held her in his lap and cuddled her. "I'm just glad she stopped me from wandering off at Disneyworld last month. I'd hate to think of how much trouble I'd have been in. 'Cause I'd have been grounded for a while for that," she noted, not wanting to add that she still would have been testing limits till D.J. got involved, after Danny had promised fewer rules, and also promised Michelle could say if he was being too tough, before that.

"D.J. would have handled it just like your mom would have, I'm sure. I'm glad you're behaving so much better now," Danny remarked, for the officer's sake as much as Michelle's, so someone else could compliment her on her good behavior.

She took the hint. "I'm glad to hear it. It sounds like you've got a wonderful family that can get anyone through anything with love. Even a weird neighbor kid," she finished with a grin. "Anyway, we solved the mystery. It was the same car that the woman had reported stolen. But, it was also the same woman selling it."

"What was she, like a split personality?" Jesse asked sarcastically.

"It was a little more normal than that. When we called her back that evening, we got an important clue. She forgot she'd called the police. However, she looked in the garage, saw her car wasn't there, and figured it was stolen. When I went to interview her, I discovered it was the same woman you described, Mr. Tanner. We took her out to the parking lot to identify her car, and she was a little more confused. She said she hadn't seen it in years, and yet she'd driven to the bank every day."

Becky was confused, too. "I can understand why she wouldn't have seen it in years. Danny said it looked like it hadn't been run in years. But, why would she only have reported it stolen now?"

"Maybe it was stolen years ago, and she recalled it from back then," Stephanie surmised.

D.J. smiled at her. "Right, that would make sense. Like this fellow I helped last year at the retirement center with Alzheimer's Disease," she said, turning to the officer. "But, that doesn't totally solve the mystery. Why would she have been seen with the car now?"

The officer agreed. "That was precisely our reasoning. At first, we thought it had been stolen long ago, and put in a call to check old stolen car records. But, then we discovered through Mr. Tanner's description that it was the same woman who was selling it. However, we did discover it was Alzheimer's Disease."

A light bulb went on above Stephanie's head. "So, she goes to sell it, forgets she did, gets a little confused, walks home, and reports it stolen!"

"Whoa, whoa, wait a second. I can see how someone with Alzheimer's might forget that, but what about the engine, and her not seein' it for years?" Jesse asked.

"That took a little digging. It turns out she hadn't driven it for years; it might have been her now deceased sister's. She got it out of the garage where it was stored, it happened to get her just that far, and that's it." The officer opined, "She likely thought it was years ago when she went to drive it, yet also realized she didn't need it."

"Which would explain the low price," Joey noted.

"And, the fact she didn't have the title with her," Danny reminded Joey. "So, how do you solve this if you don't have my description?"

"Like here, it would have taken some digging, but not as much as you think. We still would have talked to her after tracking it down, for instance, and by that point we'd learn she didn't remember calling us. That would have been some cause for concern. We'd have likely questioned her some even if she insisted she hadn't sold it, because of that forgetfulness. More, if we were convinced that we hadn't found the thief yet. Say, for instance, you'd bought it, and had a title, or at least a receipt and a check stub."

"Yeah, but Joey's so trusting he'd have paid cash," Becky remarked.

"Are you trying to make this more difficult? Well, I'll play along; I'm off duty." She explained. "I still might have been convinced it wasn't stolen. Whether I was or not, once we called her back, her forgetfulness would lead us to ask if she has someone who helps her make decisions. As happened now, she'd tell us a daughter did, or we'd have just searched the records. We'd have learned about her Alzheimer's, and the poor choices she'd been making otherwise lately. Someone with power of attorney would have spotted some money deposited in this woman's account that she couldn't explain. Even if she just stuffed the money in a mattress, we'd have concluded that she could easily have sold the car, because of the situation. That being that she hadn't used it herself in years, and that she could have easily tried to sell it. And, the woman's daughter would have decided it was time to get a guardianship over her anyway, just as she's doing now."

D.J. nodded. "Well, we'd have given it back, then, even if she did rightfully sell it."

"Yeah, we'd never take advantage of someone like that," Joey added.

"I can tell you care about people. I hope the car you got is running well." D.J. said it was awesome.

"Thanks for stopping by; glad it all worked out," Danny said as the officer left.

"Thanks again, Joey. I'd have known you cared, even if you had bought that one by mistake, though," D.J. told him.

"I know. I'm just glad I can help. I guess I care so much, sometimes I do get carried away, without thinking, though," he said sadly.

Stephanie said he was really smart. Danny and Jesse agreed, but Stephanie continued, "If she'd stayed longer, I was going to joke that she should help find a few bricks for Kimmy, because Kimmy's a few bricks shy of a load."

Danny put an arm around Joey. "Well, you are a lot smarter than Kimmy. And, more importantly, I'm glad I know someone like you, who can help me raise my girls."

"Thanks," Joey said, as they all hugged.