there's a gleam in your eye
 

Chapter 2: Is It Worth What I Paid?

August 10, 1957

"Hey, guys," Di called out as the group of boys entered the Wheeler apartment.  Harvey and Regan had stayed behind at the neighboring suite; Harvey to finish his meal and Regan to keep him company.

"Hey, back," Mart greeted.

"Where are Honey and Trixie?" Jim asked, peering around the room as if they would magically appear.

Dan was wondering the same thing.  He had been looking forward to spending more time with Honey.  He saw her sometimes on weekends when he took the train up to Sleepyside to visit his uncle.  Those weekends were usually spent horse-back riding or swimming with the entire group and he always looked forward to them. 

Earlier in the year he had spent a couple of weeks with his uncle, but both times Honey had been out of town.  The first week was during spring break.  Honey had gone with the rest of the Bob-Whites to visit Trixie's uncle in Iowa, where they had met Ned, Bob, and Barbara.  The second week had been earlier in the summer, but the whole group was once again with Trixie's uncle in the Ozarks somewhere. 

He still hadn't gotten up the nerve to tell her just how much he liked her.

"Oh, they went for a walk."  Barbara had changed into a more comfortable-looking checkered summer dress.  A white cardigan hung over the arm of the couch next to where she sat.

"When did they leave?" Brian asked, plopping himself down on the couch in between the two girls.

"I don't know exactly.  Probably just a few minutes after you boys left to go unpack.  You guys left, and Honey and Trixie left right after that, and then Miss Trask left to visit her sister."  Di looked down at her watch.  "I'd guess maybe twenty minutes ago?"

"All right."  Jim wandered over to a credenza along the wall.  He opened one of the larger panels, revealing a television within.  "Anyone up for watching a bit of TV while we wait?"  He clicked the dial on without waiting for an answer.

"Sounds fine with me."  Dan settled himself on the larger of the two armchairs in the room and watched as the dark screen slowly became lighter and a small white speck in the middle of the screen started to spread out to reveal a picture.

"I hope the girls aren't gone long enough to watch anything," Mart commented, just as his stomach rumbled rather loudly.

Neil grinned.  "You can always go back across the hall and share some of Harvey's dinner.  I know he'd be willing to let you have some."

Ned laughed.  "Can I invite myself to Harvey's dinner, too?  At this rate I'll be starving by the time we get to the restaurant."

"Not me," Bob stated.  "I had enough peanuts on the airplane to last me a bit longer."  He sat himself down on the floor just as the booming voice of Ed Herlihy came from the speakers and the image on the TV finally settled into a moving picture.  "Besides, I never get to watch TV at home much."

"Oh, that is not true!" Barbara exclaimed.  "We watch The Phil Silvers Show all the time.  And you wouldn't miss an episode of Lassie or the Adventures of Rin Tin Tin."

The room grew silent as everyone stared at the television set.   Dan was riveted by the story of a shop owner from Brooklyn who had been sent to Texas for deportation but was now being charged with espionage.

"Harvey!" Mart shouted as the front door opened again to reveal Harvey and Regan.  "I was just going to come back over and see if I could have some of that chicken dish you were eating."

"What, aren't we heading out to dinner now?  I mean for the rest of you?"  Harvey looked around the room at the others.

"Well, we would be," Brian said, "except two of our squaws have gone missing."

"Missing?"  Regan's eyebrows furrowed in concern.  He looked around the room.  "Don't tell me Trixie wanted to go back to the airport and find that Mexican woman."

Jim chuckled.  "Hopefully not.  But she and Honey went for a walk.  They should be back soon."

"Why did you let them go out on their own?" Regan asked.  He put his hands on his hips.  "I'm responsible for this crowd here and I'm not sure it's safe for them to be wandering around New York City alone."

"Miss Trask said they could go," Di answered.

"Oh, I see."  Regan started to calm down.  "And Miss Trask left to visit her sister already?"

Di and Barbara both nodded their heads in confirmation.

"How long ago was that?" Regan asked.

Di didn't hesitate to answer.  "Twenty minutes ago."

"You said twenty minutes ago at least ten minutes ago," Brian pointed out.  "That makes it at least thirty minutes now."

"They left just after we left the apartment to unpack." Dan stated.

Regan glanced at his watch, his green eyes filled with anxiety.  "That makes it almost forty minutes ago, then."

Jim paced nervously in front of the TV, making it difficult for anyone to follow the news anchor's story.  "Should we split up and search for them?"

Brian got up from the couch and turned the TV back off.  No one appeared to be watching it anymore.  "We could split up into three groups.  One go right, one left, and one through the park."

Dan nodded.  "Uncle Bill and I can check the park."

"Has it really been that long?" Barbara asked.  "It doesn't seem possible."  Her dark blue eyes brimmed with worry.

Regan looked at his watch again, as if that would somehow make the girls appear.  "Yeah, it has."

The door behind him opened, and Trixie and Honey walked in, calm as cucumbers.

"For Pete's sake, Trixie, where have you been?  We were just about ready to call the police!" Mart shouted, at the same time going up to the girls to make sure they were okay.  From where Dan stood, no scratches or bruises or any signs of any trouble they may have gotten into were visible; even their stockings were free of runs.

"Girls, I know Miss Trask gave you permission to go, but you did have us worried."  Regan was trying hard to keep his temper in check.

"I'm sorry we took so long," Trixie mumbled.  "It's all my fault, really.  I spent so long bargaining with that man - "

"What man?  And bargaining for what?" Brian demanded, interrupting her.

"It was just a short walk." Honey blushed.  "We really didn't mean to be gone so long.  I'm sorry the time got away from us."

"Just look at what I found in the oddest little shop.  That's what took us so long.  Look at this!"  Trixie held up a small wooden statue for all of them to see.  "Isn't he adorable?"

"What in the world is it?" Harvey asked. 

Trixie pulled the statue back as Dan tried to get a closer look at the ugly little thing.  "Huh-uh.  Don't touch it.  The man at the store called it some kind of an Incan idol."

"I think it put a spell on Trixie," Honey said.  "Did you ever see anything quite like it?"

Dan smirked.  He recognized Honey's tactfulness for what it was.  "No, I can't say I've ever seen anything quite like it at all."

"It is a queer one," Jim agreed, his green eyes twinkling with humor, now that he knew the girls were safe.  "I'm not surprised it caught Trixie's eye."

"Her pocketbook, you mean," Brian said.  With a patient sigh, he asked, "What did it set you back, Trix?"

"It was my own money and I'll keep the price a secret.  You do, too, Honey!"  Trixie cautioned her friend as she returned the idol to her purse. 

Ned rolled his eyes.  "In other words, it cost too much.  Well, I sure hope it's worth whatever you paid."

"I don't care what it cost.  In fact, I find myself curiously nonchalant about the whole fugacious performance," Mart said smugly.

"But not aphonic... rather ebullient."  Bob grinned mischievously.

"Whoops!  He beat you at your own game!" Trixie exclaimed.

Mart held up his two hands.  "I surrender!"

"Have we decided where to eat yet?" Regan asked.  He had calmed down quickly now that Trixie and Honey were back in the apartment.

"I don't think so," Honey replied.  She looked around at the others.  "I know a nice French restaurant over by the theater district, on 57th street.  Would that be okay with everyone?"

"French food is fine by me," Bob said.  "I hope that includes French fries, too."

Barbara swatted Bob's arm.  "I think it sounds divine.  And I hope it doesn't include French fries.  Imagine going all this way and eating at a fancy restaurant just to eat French fries."  Her dark curls shook belligerently as she shook her finger in Bob's face.

"Hey, what's wrong with frites?  That is one of my favorite foods."  Mark rubbed his stomach hungrily.

"Let's go then."  Jim herded the crowd out the door to the elevators.  "Walking or taxis?"

A chorus of voices answered, "Walking!"

 

The group walked down Central Park West to the circle at the corner of the park and turned on Broadway.  Jim and Honey then led them down 57th Street toward the French restaurant they had chosen.   They walked up a stairway into the elegant little restaurant.  A busboy was busy placing silver ware on the tables while the sun shone brightly through the daintily draped windows.

"I wonder if we should have made reservations," Regan observed.

Most of the tables were small round tables and set to seat only two.  There were some larger tables in the back that could easily seat four.  Dan wondered where their large crowd would sit or if they would divide up.  At least the restaurant was mostly empty since they were still early for the dinner crowd.

A maître d' walked up, a queer expression on his face.  He must have recognized Honey and Jim, for he suddenly smiled.  "How many in your party, Miss Wheeler?"

Honey turned around and quickly counted.  "Thirteen.  I'm sorry, I should have phoned ahead."

"It is not a problem, Miss Wheeler.  We are not too busy, yet.  Please wait five minutes and we will put some tables together for you, yes?"  The man's French accent was barely noticeable as he spoke.

"Yes, thank you."  Honey smiled.

"Gosh, this place is fancy.  Are you sure we should eat here?"  Barbara looked around the room.

Dan glanced at Jim, Di, and Honey.  He knew they were wealthy enough to afford this place, but he wasn't sure about the rest of them.  He felt a sudden pang of guilt as he remembered stealing money from the kind of people that could afford to eat here.  "Uncle Bill," he said.

Regan looked down at his nephew.  "Are you worried about the price?"

Dan nodded.  "I don't think the host guy likes us much either.  If it weren't for his recognizing Honey, I'm sure he'd kick us out."

Regan chuckled.  "Don't worry about it.  Mr. Wheeler is paying for this meal.  He told me to use his credit card for expenses."

Mart was standing beside Dan.  He spoke up.  "Well, I do worry about it, too.  I don't like the idea of everything being paid for when we earn our own money."

The maître d' returned then and led them to where the busboys had arranged three of the larger square tables together.   Once they were seated, with menus in hand, the talk returned to food and what to order.  Harvey sat at the end of the table where he could look out the window. 

Dan looked over the menu and frowned.  He had taken French when he had returned to school last year, but hardly any of the words looked familiar.  Rather than trying to figure out what to eat, he thought about how the maître d' had recognized Honey.  She was such a down to earth girl that he often forgot how wealthy and well-known her family was.  He wondered if he was foolish to even think a girl like her would really go for a guy like him.  He glanced once more at the menu and for just a brief moment felt like he'd rather be at some greasy hamburger joint up in Harlem. 

"If we had come a bit later," Jim commented, "there would be a little jazz trio playing music and we could dance."

"Jazz?"  Dan's ears perked up.  Maybe he liked this place after all.

Honey nodded.  Before she could speak though, Ned interrupted.  "Dance?  Where?"

Jim pointed to a space where another table could easily fit in the room, but Dan had assumed it was left clear for the waiters to walk through.  "Right there."

Barbara put her menu down.  "Is this a night club then, if there's music and dancing?"

Honey giggled.  "No, it's just a restaurant that we like.  Our parents take Jim and me here often."

"Who wants to dance anyway?" Bob asked, sounding disgusted. 

"Just about everyone, but you, I guess," Barbara answered.

"I think we should go dancing at least one evening while we're in the city."  Di looked around the table.  "Don't you all agree?"

"Yes," Harvey answered.  "I love going dancing.  But not to Jazz, please.  That stuff grates on my nerves."

"Only because you have no taste," Neil retorted.  "Danny and I know a nice jazz club we could go to and dance, if you like."

Regan looked at Dan askance.  "A jazz club?  As in a night club?"

Dan nodded and grinned.  He knew what Neil was thinking, but he knew of another club he hadn’t been to in years.  "Yes.  As in a night club.  Not like this restaurant, but a real club."

Regan lowered his menu and his green eyes narrowed.  He didn't need to say anything; Dan sensed his disapproval.

"Nothing seedy," Dan added quickly.  "A family friendly club."  Dan remembered previous visits to The Pink Angel fondly.  Its bright red walls at the entrance and the pale pink sign reading "CAFE" down the front and "Pink Angel" down the side were vivid in his mind.  His father had taken him there many times, even though he had only been eight or nine years old.  They would enter the darkly lit room and head to the back where they could play pool.  Well, his dad played pool; he barely managed to hit the balls properly with the cue stick at that age.  The Pink Angel was also where he had first heard Willie Smith, known simply as "the Lion", play.  Dan had learned much about jazz from the guys at both that club and another one in Harlem that his dad actually frequented even more often.  Although the clientele was largely dark-skinned, they welcomed one and all and it was popular among the more affluent residents of the neighborhood.

"Are you thinking of that place over on Atlantic Avenue where we met?" Neil asked from a few chairs down, turning to face Dan.

"That, or there's another place up in Harlem where my dad would take me a lot."  Dan kept his eyes on his uncle.

"Harlem."  Regan looked thoughtfully back at Dan and nodded slowly.  "We were planning on heading up there anyway, right?  I guess that would be okay."

"Really?" Barbara asked, her eyes widening.  "I would love to go to a real night club.  Imagine that."

Jim shook his head, frowning.  "I don't know.  A night club.  In Harlem?"  He looked over at his sister. "Don't Dad and Mother always warn us not to go up that way?"

"It does sound kind of questionable," Brian said over his menu.  "But if Danny says it's an okay place, I'm up for it."

Honey looked over at Dan, her hazel eyes questioning him.  "I know, Jim.  But that's when we're by ourselves. And Danny's from Harlem, right?"  Dan nodded, and then Honey turned to face her brother.  "Danny knows the neighborhood and I don't think he'd take us any place not safe."

"It sounds like an adventure, to me," Trixie added.

Mart and Di both nodded.  "I think it sounds fun," Di said.  "I've never been to a jazz club or a night club before."

"Fun for everyone but me," Harvey complained, but his smile and wink let the others know he didn't mind half as much as he claimed to.

"I guess that would be okay," Regan repeated.  He looked at his menu again as a waiter came up to take their orders.  "I don't understand half of what is on this menu."

"I can order for us all if you like," Honey suggested. 

"Oh, yes, please," Barbara responded.  "That would be wonderful."

"Something different for each of us," her twin added.  "That way we can taste everything."

Honey put the orders in to the amused waiter. 

 

The food arrived and was eaten with gusto, including a couple of orders of pommes frites as an appetizer.  After dinner they walked down a few blocks to one of the many movie theaters nearby.  Ned, Bob, and Barbara all exclaimed over the colorful lighted signs up and down the street. 

"The Museum of Modern Art is just a few blocks from here," Di mentioned, "as well as a few other art museums.  I hope we have time to go to some of them."

"Did I just see a sign for a recording studio?" Bob asked.  "I'm much more interested in that!"

"Let's not worry about that right now," Jim said.  "Let's just concentrate on finding a movie we can all enjoy."

"There's 3:10 to Yuma.  That looks like a good movie."  Harvey pointed to a theater marquee advertising the newly released film.

"But that's a shoot-em-up western, isn't it?"  Barbara did not sound the least bit interested in the film.

They walked a little further.  "What about Night Passage?" Bob suggested.

Trixie giggled.  "That's fine with me, but isn't that also a 'shoot-em-up western'?" 

"I'm good with either of those."  Dan looked around at the others.

"There!"  Di pointed to another theater.  "They're still playing A Hatful of Rain.  I think that's got some romance in it."

"No."  Dan hadn't meant it to come out sounding so forceful.  He had heard about the movie and how the main character was dealing with a morphine addiction.  He didn't think he could stomach a movie on that topic.

"What's wrong with a bit of romance?"  Honey's eyes sparkled.  They walked closer to the theater and looked at the poster.  A man was kneeling on the ground, holding a woman standing over him but facing away.  He had his hands tightly around her waist and legs.  In the background, a shadowed figure stood in a doorway.  "And it looks really dramatic, too, so probably not too much romance."

"It's not for me," Dan said quietly.  "I'd rather go see one of the westerns.  Or maybe we can find some other romantic movie, but not this one."

Neil nodded in agreement.  "I don't think it's all that romantic, anyway, from what I've heard; very dramatic and tragic.  I'd rather see something more light-hearted."

Dan looked at Neil gratefully.  Dan had never mentioned the circumstances of his mother's death to him, but he seemed to sense that Dan needed some support on passing up that particular film. 

"Really?"  Brian raised an eyebrow in surprise.  "I'd much rather see a drama than a romance or a western." 

Meanwhile, Dan was getting more and more nervous the further south they went.  They were still in the Theater District, nowhere near Bowery, and he knew they would turn around and head up north again as the number of theater choices lessened, still he felt some relief when the girls spotted a little theater playing a French film, The Man in the Raincoat, and quickly agreed to it just to get off the streets.


chapter 3: half remembered and half remembered