forgive the past with me

Chapter 15: Some Things Got To Be Known

August 22, 1957

Ned, Bob, and Barbara had their bags sitting by the door just waiting for the van Miss Trask had arranged to transport all of them to the airport. They had gotten back to the apartment around one o'clock and had a late lunch, but no one ate much.

Mr. Wheeler had joined them. He had left his office early and had already been at the apartment when they returned. He was a bit upset with Regan in even allowing the teens to go up to Inwood. He hadn't yelled, but Dan could tell all the same.

With almost an hour remaining before they needed to leave and the mystery still unsolved, everyone felt unsettled. Most of the teens were talking about how they wished the Iowa visitors could stay just a little longer. Dan knew that was unlikely. They had already extended their stay once, and even if they did stay longer, who knew how long it would be before he had any news from Unay about Tony?

The buzz of the intercom startled him. Dan turned away from the window, watching and listening as Miss Trask went to the door. It seemed a bit early for their rides to be there, but that was probably who it was.

"Wheeler Residence," she stated.

"Miss Trask, ma'am, there are two gentlemen here to see Mr. Wheeler: Mr. Hill and Mr. Hu ... Hooman." Sam seemed to struggle with the second man's last name.

Mr. Wheeler looked away from the novel he was reading and glanced over at Dan and then at Regan. "Let them up, please." Once Miss Trask had relayed his message and let go of the buzzer, he stood up from his chair and turned to Dan. "Did you tell everyone about Mr. Hill's friend?"

Mart glanced at them from his place at the table where he and some of the others were playing a game of dice to pass the time. "Am I correct to assume this friend is the mysterious Mr. U?"

"I told you there is no Mister U." Dan frowned. "U is his first initial."

"You mean we get to meet your U, finally?" Trixie smiled widely.

Bob and Barbara lifted their heads up excitedly, and Ned let out an audible "whoop" as he hopped up from the couch.

Jim, however, looked a little concerned. "Why would they come here? Did something happen?"

"Hopefully something good," Neil commented.

"There is something you should know about Unay." Dan wondered how they—especially Trixie—would react to finding out the villainous Blinky was really one of the good guys.

"Uh-nay?" Brian tried out the pronunciation. "That's an unusual name. Is it African?" he asked, looking first at Dan and then at Mart.

"Middle Eastern, maybe?" Harvey guessed.

"I ... I don't actually know." Dan wondered just what country Unay was from. He knew the accent was fake, since he'd heard him speak without it, so that gave no clue. He'd assumed he was Peruvian like Tony and Pedro, but that had been based partly on the accent and mostly on association with those two. He could just as easily be from some other South American country or from anywhere in the world.

Honey gathered the dice and the score pad off the table, putting them back in the box. "What should we know about him, then?"

Dan hesitated. He wasn't sure how to tell them, but he supposed he should just say it. "Unay is—"

A knock on the door interrupted him.

"That was fast." Miss Trask opened the door, letting the two men outside enter. "Welcome, gentlemen."

"Gosh, everyone! It's Blinky. Get him!" Ned lunged for the man behind Teddy Hill.

"Unay is Blinky," Dan said quietly. He wasn't sure if anyone heard.

Jim went to hold down the government agent. "Someone call the police."

Unay didn't resist, and it didn't take long for Jim and Ned to have the man down on his knees and his arms behind his back, locked in some sort of wrestling hold.

Brian narrowed his eyes at Teddy Hill. "Why did you bring him here? And lie about who was with you?"

"Hmm, Nicholas, funny you should say I lied about someone's identity." Teddy winked.

Brian blushed but still gazed angrily at Teddy.

Mr. Wheeler raised an eyebrow. "Nice to see you, again. You do have a flare for dramatic entrances, don't you?"

Honey had headed over to the phone and picked it up, ready to dial, but paused when she heard her father's words.

"Get these boys off of me," Unay grunted, but Dan could see the glint of humor in his eyes.

"Honey, put the phone down." Mr. Wheeler smiled. "Boys, unhand the man, please."

"Oh, no, boys. He's very dangerous," Teddy told them as he moved further into the house. He turned around to face the man staring back at him. "Don't let him up."

"Come on, Hill." Unay groaned.

"Uh-uh. I'm enjoying this too much." Teddy Hill was laughing now. "I think he deserves it and a bit more."

Regan shook his head. He was leaning against the wall, watching the scene with some mirth. "I agree. Do we have any rope to tie him up with?"

Trixie glared at the man being held down on his knees with his hands behind his back. "I wish we did. Who are you?"

Honey walked over to Trixie and linked her arm through the other girl's, staring defiantly at the villainous looking man.

Unay peered up at the girls, and his expression grew sad. "Trixie. I need to apologize to you. I am really sorry you got hurt that first day. And I'm even sorrier that I frightened you."

"Really?" Trixie didn't exactly accept his apology.

"I don't think you should listen to him." Neil crossed his arms as he turned his gaze over to Unay. "Why should we trust him? Or even trust Mr. Hill anymore?"

Unay wiggled one of his arms, half-heartedly trying to get out of Jim's hold. "Danny? A little help from you at least?"

Dan shook his head. "So, as I said, Unay is Blinky. Or should I say Blinky is Unay?"

Mart's jaw dropped open. "You're U is Blinky? Blinky is U? But ...."

"Pretty rare for him to be speechless, isn't it?" Bob winked.

Barbara frowned. "You didn't know this all along, did you? Because that would be pretty awful of you to have kept this from us."

"No. I didn't know until yesterday." Dan wandered over to where Jim and Ned were still holding on to Unay.

Jim still looked skeptical. "You're sure we should just let him go?"

Mr. Wheeler nodded. "Yes, son. Let our guest go. Margery, can you bring us a bottle of scotch from the bar, please?"

Miss Trask chuckled lightly. "The good one or the better one?"

Mr. Wheeler winked back at her. "The best."

She nodded and then moved quietly through the room toward the locked liquor cabinet.

Ned and Jim slowly let Unay free and the agent stood up and opened up his coat.

"Watch out, he has a gun!" Brian leapt forward again.

Unay held his hands up in the air. "Sorry. I don't go anywhere without it." He moved with deliberate slowness and pulled something out of his upper pocket, handing it to Brian. "Decided to bring this with me today. I had a feeling I might need it."

Trixie crept forward cautiously. "What is that?"

Brian unfolded the black leather holder revealing a badge, and then wordlessly handed it to his sister. He took the wallet the scar-faced man handed to him, already opened to Unay's picture ID, and then handed that to her, as well.

She stared at them and then at the man still standing there.

"Can I see that?" Dan reached for the badge and she handed it over to him. It was a twelve-pointed rounded star medallion with an eagle, wings spread, across the top. Just under the eagle was the title "Investigator" and in the center, in large blue letters, it said "U.S." Around the edge of the medallion it stated "U.S. Treasury – Internal Revenue Service" and under the circular section of the medallion was engraved, "Alcohol and Tobacco Tax". He focused on the open wallet showing a picture ID of Unay Huaman. The I.R.S. identification card also identified him as part of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax division. It looked legitimate to Dan.

Miss Trask placed a silver tray on the coffee table. It held a crystal decanter that Dan guessed held the expensive scotch Honey's father had requested. There was also a small tub of ice with some tongs, and five tumblers.

"Thank you, Margery." Mr. Wheeler raised an eyebrow as he looked at the tray.

"I hope you don't mind, sir, but I thought I could use something a little stronger than my normal tea this afternoon." Miss Trask winked.

"Of course. And you, Regan?" Mr. Wheeler glanced over at Dan's uncle.

Regan shook his head. "I don't drink, but thank you."

Trixie's apprehension of Unay seemed to diminish. "What exactly does an Investigator for the Internal Revenue Service do?"

"Investigate." Unay winked, taking the glass Miss Trask offered him. "Thank you."

Mart took the badge from Dan and then looked at Unay. "You're one of the good guys?" He sounded like he was choking on the word "good".

"He's one of the good guys?" Di echoed. "Are you sure?"

"You were going to kill me." Trixie narrowed her eyes at Unay. "You had a gun pointed at me in that horrible Jake's place."

"I know it looked that way, but no, I wasn't. I wasn't even supposed to be there, but I overheard ...." He paused and flushed lightly. "I had put a listening device in your purse."

"Yes." Honey frowned. "Dan found it."

"Right. Anyway, thanks to that, I overheard about the meeting Pedro set up with you, Trixie. I showed up there to make sure Tony didn't hurt you. He was a little bit surprised I had turned up at Jake's that morning." He scowled slightly. "I hate to think what those two might have done if I hadn't been there. I had the gun out because I didn't trust Tony. If I was going to use it that day, it would have been to shoot him or Pedro, but not you."

"We're supposed to believe that?" Brian scowled. "I don't think I can."

Jim stood there with his fists clenched. "I don't believe one word of it, either."

"What about ... at the Empire State Building ... you and Tony chased us?" Di's voice quavered.

"I'm very sorry I frightened you. I don't expect you to believe me, but I led Tony the wrong way a couple of times to give you girls a chance to escape." Unay frowned. "I wouldn't have let him hurt you."

Harvey was staring thoughtfully at the man everyone had thought was a villain. "I do believe it. I'm not sure why, but I do. In any case, he doesn't seem to be here to harm us now, so let's hear him out."

Teddy shrugged his shoulders. "We actually came by here to deliver some news. Although I think Unay should be hogtied for the way he's treated all of you."

"Deep cover is neither fun nor easy." Unay frowned. "With Tony or one of his paid help possibly watching my every move, I could hardly act friendly."

"So you were undercover?" Trixie's eyes shined with awe. "I want to hear all about that."

"I guess I still am at the moment. Kind of shook your doorman up a bit. Sorry about that." He gave Mr. Wheeler a sheepish grin and then glanced at all the teens around the room.

"What did you do to poor Sam?" Miss Trask glanced toward the front door, even though the doorman was thirty stories below them.

"I didn't do anything to him. But I think he recognized me, well, the Blinky me." Unay shrugged. "He seemed pretty nervous, practically scared."

"I wonder where he knows you from." Mr. Wheeler frowned. "I'll have to talk to him about that later. If he's mixed up in anything illegal—"

Regan coughed lightly. "He was at the restaurant last night."

"What?" Dan turned to his uncle. "He was?"

Regan nodded. "I ... uh ... asked him to tail us, you know, just in case ...."

"Well, that's interesting. I wonder what he thinks I'm mixed up in having dealings with this criminal here." Mr. Wheeler raised his hand with the glass of scotch in it to indicate Unay. "I'll definitely have to talk to him later."

"He was there?" Unay looked thoughtful. "I thought the dark-haired guy in the gray jacket waiting outside was with you. I didn't even see your doorman. He's good."

Mr. Wheeler looked up at Unay in surprise. "You mean my chauffeur, Tom. He said he talked to the police, but my back-up plan obviously didn't work. Maybe next time—although God forbid there should be a next time—I'll have to ask Sam instead of Tom."

Unay gave him a mischievous grin and shrugged one shoulder. "Your back-up plan might have worked if I hadn't talked to Reynolds first."

There was a small pause in the conversation and Trixie quickly asked her question again. "Can you tell us about your investigation? Or what it's like to work under cover?"

Dan was relieved she believed Unay and wasn't too upset with him. She seemed to take it all in stride.

"She wants to be a detective some day. And she's really good!" Ned smiled at Trixie with admiration.

Dan noticed Jim frown slightly at the look, but then the redhead smiled. "She will be a great detective, or investigator, I suppose, someday."

Unay nodded his head. "That doesn't surprise me. You have a lot of spunk, Trixie, and you're smart. It's a good combination."

Regan frowned. "Please don't encourage her. She nearly got herself killed."

"So, what news do you have for us?" Mr. Wheeler settled back in his armchair, deftly steering the conversation back to the reason for their visit.

Dan looked at Unay. "The box? What was in it?"

"Not just the ledger, but some bank statements and other papers and some photos. A lot more evidence than I had expected. And add to that what I've managed to collect over the years, it was enough to get Tony arrested. The F.B.I. also arrested some of his henchmen and three of the officers on the force that worked with him." Unay took a drink from his glass and then started to set it down. He must have changed his mind because he never did let go of the glass. "There's going to be a huge internal investigation in the entire New York City Police Department thanks to all this. But Tony is in custody as we speak. You should watch the news later tonight; there might be some mention of it."

"I knew it." Mart grimaced. "I knew we couldn't trust that Officer Reynolds."

"No, you certainly couldn't. I don't know how you kept the idol from him, but Tony must not have told him what exactly he was after, or I'm sure he would have taken it from you for evidence." Unay frowned again as he took a seat on the couch.

Mart furrowed his brow. "I thought he left it with us on purpose, thinking it would be easier to get it from us than stealing it out of evidence."

"And Pedro did almost steal it from us later that night," Bob commented.

"Maybe." Unay shrugged.

"So, was Tony arrested in connection with the diamond?" Barbara asked.

"No. That's all on Pedro." Unay shook his head. "We've charged Tony with various fraud charges, some tax evasion laws, and dealing in stolen firearms. Then there're a few murder charges, although that's more the F.B.I.'s case than mine."

"That was fast. I didn't think things could move that quickly." Regan sounded surprised.

"I really hope the murder charges stick." Teddy scowled. "I know your business is all about the money, Unay, but we worked together. She was my friend."

Unay shot a dirty look toward the other man. "That's not fair, Teddy. She was my friend, too, and she was my partner's wife. Don't think for one second I don't want to see him go down for that." He took another sip from his glass and then turned to Regan. "I got the wheels started early this morning, even before I picked up the papers from Danny. Once I had those, it didn't take me long to realize what Tim had done, so the paperwork was already being processed and staff was being deployed even before I picked up the package he'd left for me." He took another sip of his drink. "I didn't want to waste any time, and even if the papers didn't pan out, it never hurts to be prepared, up to a point anyway."

"He's been charged with murdering my mom?" Dan finally let the earlier words sink in. He felt like he should be happy about the news, but all he could feel was a strange emptiness.

"Yes." Unay gazed at Dan. "I have to be honest, son. The evidence against him for her murder is all circumstantial. He may not get convicted on that charge. But if there was a credible eye-witness ...."

"Don't, Unay." Teddy shook his head. "It's far more complicated than it appears, and her son would not be considered credible in court."

"But if I ... could I testify against him?" Dan wasn't sure what Unay was actually saying or asking.

"You could," Teddy answered, his voice hesitant. "But, if you do, Tony's lawyers will tear you apart, that is if he doesn't hire a hit on you first. We'd have to put you in protective custody, witness protection maybe. Right now, he doesn't know you were there and isn't thinking you know anything." Teddy glanced over at Mr. Wheeler as he poured himself another drink. "I'd strongly advise against testifying, or even admitting you were there to anyone outside this room. I don't think it's worth the risk."

"But will he go to jail if I don't? And for how long?" Dan needed more answers, not this vague uncertainty.

"I can't really say, since so much will depend on what happens during trial." Unay looked around the room, and Dan followed his gaze, noting that everyone was staring back at the scar-faced man intently. "I'm confident we can get him on the firearms violations, as long as the evidence is accepted, and it should be. Between that and the tax and other fraud charges, that should give him a minimum of twenty years, and very likely twice that or even more. If the F.B.I. can also get him convicted for at least one of the murder charges—although I'm hoping he'll go down for every single one—that will add additional jail time to his sentence, possibly life, and maybe even the death penalty."

"Good," Regan stated simply.

"Who else did Big Tony murder?" Trixie's voice was fading even as she asked the question.

Dan never heard the answer. Everything sounded muffled around him. This day had become more and more surreal. It felt like a week ago that he'd dropped the papers off at Teddy's house, but it was just earlier that morning. Then he'd learned his grandfather was still alive, and found out his grandfather might as well be dead. "That's what they'd have you think." His grandfather's words suddenly echoed in his mind. He opened his eyes again, not even aware when they had closed. Everyone seemed to be staring at him.

"That's what who would have us think what?" Neil questioned.

"I didn't mean to say that out loud." Dan frowned. "Mr. Huaman? My grandfa—Patrick Mangan said that to me about my dad when I told him he'd died in Korea."

"I am sorry I ever let you know he was alive, and I shouldn't have encouraged you to go there." Unay frowned back at him. "I guess I was hoping that he had changed, mellowed out some. I mean, if your dad or mom had talked to him, he would have had to, or so I thought."

"But what does it mean?" Honey pushed the agent for an answer. "Is Dan's father's father saying he doesn't think his father is dead?"

Unay looked at her blankly for a moment, as if trying to make sense of what she had said before he answered her. "Patrick refuses to believe Tim is dead. He can't accept the fact that his son never came back from Korea."

"But what do you think?" Jim's green eyes stared piercingly at the foreigner on the couch. "Could Dan's father still be alive?"

Unay shook his head. "If he were, he would find a way to contact us. He'd come back here for his son. It's been over four years since anyone last heard from him."

"But it is possible?" Di pursued.

"I suppose it is." Teddy frowned. "But I sure hope he isn't."

"What?!" Trixie turned to Mr. Hill, shocked at his statement. "How could ... why would you say that?"

The older gentleman shook his head sadly. "Think about it. If he's alive, that means he's probably been a prisoner of war in North Korea for four years now. I wouldn't wish that on anybody, especially not my friend."

Dan noticed Jim's face pale at the thought. He used to wish his father was alive, and he still did, but he had never considered what that might mean. "When they told us, me and Mom, that he had died, they said he had driven over a mine or something like that." Dan tried to remember that long ago day in July.

"Yes. The Army was pretty certain Tim Mangan had been in that Jeep. They recovered his dog-tags." Teddy grimaced.

"But what about his body?" Neil asked.

The look on Mr. Hill's face said enough, and Dan could imagine there were probably only parts of bodies left, and not likely anything identifiable.

The room became silent; each person seemingly mulling over all the information they had gleaned.

"You said Tony's in custody right now. Has there been any bail set?" Mr. Wheeler's voice sounded hesitant.

Teddy shook his head. "Not yet. There should be a hearing tomorrow to determine whether or not he will even be allowed bail. With the connection to the corruption in the police force and the murder charges against him, I highly doubt the judge will consider it."

Mr. Wheeler nodded, apparently somewhat reassured. "And what does Tony know of our involvement in his arrest? Should I be worried he'll retaliate against anyone in this room?"

"No. As far as he knows, your involvement started and ended with that Peruvian diamond. He doesn't even know Blinky's real identity." Teddy managed a smile.

"Did you say Danny's mom was your employee?" Honey asked after another brief moment of silence.

Teddy turned to face her. "Yes, sort of. She worked in my department at the F.B.I."

"So she really was a spy?" Bob let out a low whistle.

"No, not a spy." Teddy winked. "Not even an agent. But she should have been." He paused to take a drink. "When I first met her, she had no plans of working outside the home at all. She just wanted to be a mother and a wife. All the same, she was going to college because she wanted to earn her bachelor's degree. She was what Tim called 'crazy smart'. She really was very intelligent. And one day I managed to convince her that the Bureau could benefit from someone like her."

Teddy continued his story, and while Danny was certainly interested to know more of this side of her, his thoughts kept drifting and he couldn't focus on the words or make any sense out of them. He got up and left the room. He went back to the Whitney's apartment. He just wanted to be alone, and the terrace seemed like the best place for that. A light drizzle was coming down, but the temperature was still well above seventy degrees. He didn't care that the chair was wet, he sat down anyway. As the tears streamed down his cheeks, the rain attempted to wash them away.

chapter 16: the emptiness and the comfort