forgive the past with me
 

Chapter 2: Too Many Dances But Not Enough Song

August 18, 1957

Jim stood up and started pacing. "I can't just sit here anymore."

The room had been quiet for at least ten minutes. Dan listened to the others as they responded to Jim but still sat there, keeping himself in the present just by the feel of Honey's hand in his. He wasn't even sure when he had reached for her hand, or if she had reached for his. He was just grateful for the touch.

"Why don't we go to the library?" Trixie suggested. "Maybe we can find something on deciphering code or music or something."

"I give up." Mart sounded tired, defeated, as he entered the living room. "For now, anyway. I'll try again later. What was that you said, Trix?"

"We should go to the library." Trixie no longer phrased it as a question.

Mart sniffed. "You just want to see if there's any merit in the other part of the verse."

"She did suggest looking for books on deciphering code." Jim stopped his pacing.

Bob frowned. "It's Sunday. Won't the library be closed?"

Harvey shook his head. "No. The library is always open on Sundays. At least our Brooklyn branch always is. I guess the one here would be, too, and it should be open until at least five o'clock."

"Then I agree. Let's head there. I don't know what else we can do about that code right now." Ned got up from the couch.

Honey smirked. "It's better than sitting here getting frustrated."

"We'd rather get frustrated in public." Dan heard a hint of sarcasm in Di's voice.

"May we go, Regan?" Honey asked.

Dan looked over at his uncle. He was concentrating intensely, and Dan was sure he was still trying to remember something about the code. "Mr. Wheeler and Miss Trask should be back soon. Maybe you should wait until they return."

"But the library could be closed by then." Trixie clasped her hands together in a pleading gesture. "Please? We promise to stick together."

"Brian! Neil! Barbara!" Regan stood up and called out to the two boys and girl who were still in the kitchen.

The three of them walked into the room.

"Neil, is Harvey coming back here today?" Regan asked.

Neil nodded. "But not until late; after dark."

Trixie leaned over the arm of the couch and bent her head down close to Honey's. Dan heard the two girls whispering but couldn't make out the words.

"Right. Okay." Regan stood there, one hand on his hip, the other flat against the wall. "They want to go to the library." He pointed with his chin to the teens in the room.

Brian shrugged. "Okay."

"Are you still worried about Tony and Blinky?" Jim asked. "They should leave us alone. They know we don't have the diamond anymore."

Dan stood up. "I think you should let them go ahead and go." He wondered if he should take them to his old apartment. But what would they find there that would help them with the musical code? The place was empty except for his old writings; nothing would be in there that could aid them. "Why not let them try the library. It helped me find you."

Honey looked up at him. "You're going to come with us, aren't you?"

"I guess it couldn't hurt." Regan glanced around the room. "Are you all going?"

"You should come, too, Regan." Trixie bounded up from the couch and headed to the kitchen. "I'll go write a note for Miss Trask and Mr. Wheeler."

"No, I think I'll stay here." Regan shook his head. "I want to talk to Mr. Wheeler as soon as he returns."

Dan looked at Honey and then at his uncle. He was torn. When Trixie first mentioned the library, he was thinking he would stay behind. He didn't have any desire to go on a wild goose chase, and he was hoping to spend some time writing. But now, one look at Honey's big hazel eyes was enough to turn him. He held his hand out to her to help her up from the floor. "I'll come."

His uncle looked surprised that Dan had considered staying behind. "Hopefully you will all stay out of trouble, and I expect you all to stick together. But if you see any sign of Tony or Blinky, try to get to a phone and call the police."

Honey smiled at him as she stood and smoothed out the skirt of her sundress. "I hope we find something that will help."

Dan tried to smile back but couldn't quite manage it.

 

"Why didn't you want to come along?" Honey glanced at Dan. They were sitting outside the library, on the steps, waiting for Jim to check out a couple of books. A few of the others were outside with them, while the rest of their group was still inside with Jim.

The trip to the library hadn't offered any further insight into the musical puzzle, specifically, but Jim had found two books on cracking codes that looked somewhat helpful. One of the books talked about various encryption methods that went beyond a simple substitution; the other talked about the history of encryption.

Trixie had spent most of her time in the library looking for hidden rooms, and, as far as Dan knew, she was still looking. He had watched her examine every book on every wheeled book-rack she could find, but nothing seemed to pan out for her from the prophecy. He felt a twinge of guilt over that but really couldn't think what that little room in his old place held that would be helpful either. That's when he had decided to wait outside.

"We ran into some Cowhands here once." Neil sounded worried. He was leaning against the pillar of one of the lions.

Dan nodded, even though that hadn't been it at all. He just knew they wouldn't find anything here and he would rather have stayed home to write. But at Neil's words, he recalled the day the old Cowhand leader had threatened him here. He never had told Neil about that. "Not just any Cowhands. Paul."

"Paul?" Harvey's face paled. "When?"

Mart raised an eyebrow. "Who is Paul?"

Dan closed his eyes for a second. He answered Harvey first. "It was that day we came here to look through the newspaper archives."

Neil shook his head, disbelieving. "We left with Judge Moshe."

"I know." Dan frowned. "But Paul walked in right behind him."

"So, is Paul one of the Cowhands, or is he part of Tony's gang, or .... Who is he?" Honey regarded him curiously.

"Paul was the old leader of the Cowhands." He grimaced and then looked around at the others. "Apparently he's not anymore."

"That's right. You had asked that kid on the train about him." Brian leaned back, putting his elbows on the ground to prop himself up.

"But ... Paul ... he wanted to kill you, didn't he?" Harvey still seemed in shock.

"He did. And he probably would have if Judge Armen hadn't gotten their first." Dan sighed. "He had a gun with him. He made sure I saw it."

"What is it with you?" Mart tried to joke about it, but Dan could tell he was really worried. "Why did Paul want to kill you?"

"And what is it with me?" Honey let out a little laugh. "I go from being the mousy picked-on girl with no friends, and when I finally get out of my shell and make friends, my best friend seems to always have guns being pointed at her, and now my ... and now I find out you do, too?"

"I'll try not to make it a habit. I don't much care for it." Dan grinned at her. Had she almost called him her boyfriend?

Brian frowned. "I wish my sister wouldn't make such a habit of it. I don't much care for it, though she doesn't seem to let it bother her."

"I kind of know what you mean." Harvey winked. "It's bad enough having Dan as a brother; I don't think I could handle the amount of danger Trixie seems to get into."

Dan glanced over at Ned; he was sitting next to Mart on the stairs, and he was the only other person outside with them that hadn't spoken. He could see the eager look in the other dark-haired boy's eyes, but he had his lips firmly pressed together as if he was trying very hard not to say something. "What is it, Ned?"

Ned's cheeks took on a bit of color. "I'm a bit worried you'll get mad, but ... you never answered Mart. I want to hear this story about Paul and why he was threatening you. And why here?"

Mart clapped him on the back. "How very stouthearted of you; thank you for reminding him. You will tell us the story, won't you?"

Dan felt his own face flush a bit in embarrassment as he remembered how he'd lost his temper with Ned before. "It all has to do with when I left the Cowhands."

"Best thing you ever did." Neil grinned at him. "But you picked the stupidest way of doing it."

"Don't interrupt him. I'm just as anxious to hear this story." Honey gave him a dimpled smile. "Go on, please."

 

When they got back to the apartment, Jim put the two library books down on the dining table. Mr. Wheeler had returned, but there was no sign of Miss Trask or of Regan.

"Where's Uncle Bill?" Dan had been looking around the room for his uncle.

Mr. Wheeler gazed searchingly at Dan. "He went to St. Patrick's."

Dan felt uncomfortable under the scrutiny. He wasn't sure what Mr. Wheeler was trying to figure out, but it seemed like he was trying to understand something about him. At this point it could have to do with any number of things: what he knew about Tony; his days in the gang; his interest in Honey.

"Your father was a musician, right?" The question from Mr. Wheeler seemed to come out of nowhere.

Dan swallowed. "Yes, sir."

"Would you mind if I acquired some of his work?" Mr. Wheeler smiled kindly. "I happen to enjoy jazz music and I have to admit I'm curious."

"Of course you can, if you like." Dan didn't see how he should have any say in what Mr. Wheeler might want to listen to.

"Speaking of music, why don't you kids take out the turntable later? I'm sure we have a lot of singles here to listen to, and I think you all should relax at home again this evening." Mr. Wheeler settled back in the overstuffed armchair. "There's plenty of room to dance in here."

"Dancing? Again?" Bob sounded disappointed.

Barbara smacked him on the arm. "I think a relaxing evening at home would be perfect."

"What should we do for dinner tonight?" Ned seemed to think about his stomach even more than Mart.

"We should have some leftovers here." Honey looked toward the kitchen. "Maybe we can just heat those."

Di nodded her head. "That sounds like a wonderful idea. I know Miss Trask put the leftover lasagne in the freezer, and I think there was some of that yummy tuna casserole also."

"That sounds fine to me." Mart rubbed his belly. "Should we take them out of the freezer to defrost now?"

"I'll go take care of that." Trixie went to the kitchen.

"Let me help," Barbara called after her, following the other girl.

 

After the rest of the household returned, including Harvey, and dinners had been heated and eaten, Neil called Mr. Diamond. Dan waited anxiously at his elbow, crossing his fingers that they would be allowed to stay in Manhattan longer. He needn't have worried; Mr. Diamond readily agreed.

The group of teens and adults then gathered in the living room. Jim pulled out a wooden box from the TV cabinet and placed it atop a nearby side table, which was likely there just for that purpose. He lifted the lid off and Dan could see it was a turntable.

"Is that the new Thorens model?" Neil rushed over and knelt next to the contraption. He was practically drooling over it and then he actually caressed it. "I saw one of these in a magazine last month."

Brian laughed. "Did you really just pet the record player?"

Neil put a hand defensively over the top of the turntable. "It's not just a record player. This is the Thorens TD 124. It's supposed to be quieter, smoother."

Harvey snickered. "Quieter and smoother than what?"

"Than you." Neil stuck his tongue out at his brother.

Brian merely rolled his eyes in response. He started pushing the chairs and tables against the wall to make a clearing for dancing. Bob and Harvey stepped in and helped.

Di giggled as she pulled out a box of forty-fives and started going through them with Mart looking over her shoulder. "Let's see, we have the Diamonds—"

"Yep, we're right here." Harvey winked. He knew she meant the doo-wop group whose song Little Darlin' was heard frequently on the radio.

Di laughed. "But you guys don't sing like these guys do." She lifted up the single, and then placed it on the floor. "There's also Frankie Lymon, Guy Mitchell ...." She continued to leaf through the recordings, pulling some out and adding them to the growing stack she had started. "Oh, and here's the Del-Vikings. Let's see which one this is." She turned the seven inch vinyl disc in her hand and read, "Come Go With Me."

Neil held out his hand and Di placed the single in it. He gently put the record on the turntable and set the needle in place.

Dom dom dom dom dom dee doo bee
Dom dom dom dom dom dom dee doo bee
Dom dom dom dom dom dom dee doo bee dom
Wah wah wah wah

Mart grabbed Di's hand and pulled her up to dance with him to the doo-wop song. Di smiled, and her blue plaid skirt twirled as she hopped around the floor to the tune.

Ned and Barbara soon joined them. Barbara's cheeks flushed prettily with the exertion, or maybe she had a thing for Ned? Dan couldn't quite tell.

He grinned as Jim and Trixie got up to dance, also. He wanted to dance with Honey, but her father was sitting right there, watching the teens.

The song ended, and Brian handed another single over to Neil. Honey got up and grabbed her father's hand, and the two of them were swinging and laughing to the tune. Dan smiled as Honey passed by him. He walked over to the box of singles to see if there was anything there he would actually feel comfortable dancing to. Then he spotted the larger full length albums inside the cabinet. He opened the door wider and flipped through them. "Perfect." He pulled out one of the twelve inch vinyl albums and handed it to Neil.

Neil looked at it and grinned widely. Dan pointed to the fourth track on the cover and Neil nodded. When the song ended, and he had lifted off the forty-five, he adjusted the speed and placed the record Dan chose on the turntable.

At the first note, Harvey let out a groan. Mart and Di looked at each other and sat down. Jim and Trixie shrugged their shoulders almost in unison, but kept dancing. Ned and Barbara stood there, listening to the music.

Dan smiled. The Jackie McLean tune was one with which he was very familiar; many jazz artists had covered it over the years. He bravely walked over to where Honey was still dancing with her father and bravely tapped the older gentleman on the shoulder. "May I?"

Mr. Wheeler raised an eyebrow but gracefully bowed out and handed Honey over to Dan. He then took a few steps over to the couch. "Margery?" Mr. Wheeler held out his hand for Miss Trask to join him.

Dan made sure he left a respectable distance between himself and his partner, even though he wanted to hold her close. It was one thing to push limits in front of his young uncle, but, with her father in the room, he didn't want to take any chances. Four minutes later he was still dancing with Honey to the same tune, A Foggy Day, and he couldn't remember being quite that happy in a very long time.

Harvey sat on the couch and grumbled. "Do you know the worst thing about jazz? The music goes on nearly forever."

Dan heard him and whispered to Honey. "Do you know the best thing about jazz? The music goes on nearly forever." He swung her around and then continued with the simple dance step.

 

Dan was dancing with Honey, guiding her around the room while Jackie McLean was playing softly in the background. Next to them her father was dancing with Miss Trask. But it wasn't Miss Trask anymore, it was his mother. She was talking softly to his dad. "Did you get the book from Tony?"

He woke up with a start. He looked around the room, and he was still in the bedroom in Mr. Whitney's apartment. Soft snoring noises came from the floor where Mart was sleeping. On the other bed, Jim was laying on his stomach, one arm dangling over the edge of the bed.

Dan quietly got up and walked as softly as he could to the desk. He opened the drawer slowly and took out his notebook. He looked around the room again. Jim stirred. He stood still, hoping the light-sleeper would settle back down. Jim sat up and looked over at Dan's empty bed, and then rubbed his eyes.

"Jim," Dan whispered.

Jim turned to look at him. "What's going on?"

"Sorry I woke you. Just heading to the kitchen." He kept his voice low in hopes of not waking up the boy still snoring on the floor.

Jim nodded slightly before laying back down.

Dan took his notebook and made his way to the kitchen. At the kitchen table he stared at a blank piece of paper. He heard his mom ask that question of his dad again. "Did you get the book from Tony?" In his dream, she had asked the question softly, casually. Now he heard it in his head and it sounded more frantic. He wrote the question down. He tried to remember if that had ever happened, but he couldn't. He chalked it up to being just a dream.

But he very clearly remembered what Tony had told him just three days earlier. "You Mangans. You always get mixed up in my business. Your father he took something from me."

What did his father take from him? Could it have been a book? Maybe he should have asked Tony that night, but at the time he just wanted to get away from him. Besides, the less Tony thought he knew the better.


chapter 3: the way that i have been hurt