there's a gleam in your eye
 

Chapter 4: The Last Words She Said

August 11, 1957

Even though he had gone to bed late, Dan was still up and dressed by eight-thirty the next morning. He and the rest of the guys were headed to the Wheeler apartment since Diana and Barbara had promised to cook breakfast for everyone. Harvey stayed behind to eat his own breakfast of scrambled eggs.

When Dan entered the kitchen, he saw plates, glasses, and forks already stacked on one end of the long kitchen counter. Barbara was busy placing platters of eggs, potatoes, and bacon in a row, buffet-style, next to those, while Di filled a pitcher with orange juice and another with milk. Mart took the two large pitchers from her and set them at the other end of the counter.

Miss Trask was busy pulling the kitchen table into the dining room, and Dan rushed forward to help her. Brian grabbed the other end of the table from her, and the two of them set it next to the dining table. Some of the other boys followed them, carrying the kitchen chairs. It wasn't long before everyone was seated at one of the tables with a plate heaped high with food and a glass of juice or milk. Everyone except Trixie and Honey.

Dan noticed that once again, those two weren't in the room. He hoped they hadn't gone for another walk. Those fears, at least, were soon alleviated.

Trixie yawned as she walked in to the room. Honey came in behind her, looking as though she had just tumbled out of bed as well.

"Good morning, sunshine!" Jim sang to his sister, flicking back some of her unkempt hair as she walked by him.

"Mornin'," Honey mumbled as she went to get a plate of food in the kitchen.

The two girls soon rejoined the others in the dining room and squeezed in to spaces at the crowded tables. Trixie had one of those far-off looks on her face as she absentmindedly ate some bacon, but her blue eyes were glimmering with excitement.

"I know that look," Brian cautioned. "Don't tell me you were up all night trying to find a connection between the Mexican woman and those guys that followed us yesterday."

"As a matter of fact, I was," Trixie retorted.

"But that's not all," Honey noted. "Trixie, show them all the paper."

Dan's stomach turned somersaults and panic overcame him. He couldn't block out the voice in his head, his mother's voice. "I don't have the papers! I don't even know about the papers!" Why were those papers so important? Why did Tony want them?

"What paper?" Jim asked.

Trixie quickly put her fork down and went back to her room. She came back with the brightly colored purse, and Mart let out a groan. Ignoring him, Trixie triumphantly unfolded a piece of paper and placed it on the table.

Dan both wanted to see it and wanted never to see it.

"What is it?" Barbara asked, moving her glass of orange juice aside so she could reach for the mysterious paper.

Trixie smiled sheepishly. "I don't actually know. It's all written in Spanish."

"Let me see that," Miss Trask demanded, holding out her hand towards Barbara. Barbara handed the paper to the older woman. Miss Trask studied it carefully. "Hmm. No. I'm afraid my Spanish is too rusty to translate this."

"We tried last night. I recognized some words," Honey said. "I really hope we can decipher it."

"Can I see it, please?" Regan asked. He took the paper as Miss Trask handed it to him, but quickly gave up trying to read it and put it back down.

Dan picked it up and studied the small neat handwriting. Spanish. Music. He couldn't read either, but he tried to make out the words all the same.

Hombre de cabeza dura, ojo parpadeando,
un caballo grita en un camino sombreado.

Escucha a las palabras extranjeras;
íTen cuidado! un peligro enorme acecha cerca.

...

He didn't read any further. He didn't know what it meant. Maybe it was a song; Tony had wanted his dad's music. Hadn't he?

"You think I care about this, you dumb broad?" He snarled at the woman crouched on the floor, nearly hitting her with the song book in his hand. "You tell me or I kill you."

Sarah stared up at Tony defiantly. "How am I supposed to know where he put them? I don't even know what it is you're looking for."

"I tell you before. I need the papers Tim has." The tall ugly man appeared to calm down. "He put them in his song book and I need them."

"I don't have the papers! I don't even know about the papers!"

Dan dropped the note back onto the table.

Bob picked it up, glanced at it, and snickered. "Doesn't make any sense to me, either. I can't read Spanish."

"Until we can get this translated, you may as well put it out of your mind, Trixie," Miss Trask suggested kindly.

Trixie frowned. "But how will we get it translated? Doesn't any one of us know enough Spanish?" Dan could sense her frustration. "When the Mexican woman gave me the purse, she told me it was more than a purse; that it is a great fortune."

"That little straw thing?" Ned looked at Trixie skeptically. He got up to get himself a second helping of food from the buffet in the kitchen.

Barbara frowned. "It's a beautiful purse, but certainly not a fortune."

"Exactly," Trixie said. "But maybe this paper is? I mean, maybe it's directions on how to get to this great fortune."

Di put down her glass of juice and her eyes widened. "Like a treasure map of some sort? Here in the city?"

Mart hooted with laughter. "If that is directions to some hidden treasure, you can bet in this city that someone else has already found it. But look at the way the lines are coupled together. It's probably just a poem."

"A poem?" Honey repeated. "Why would she give Trixie a poem?"

"Or a song." Dan hadn't meant to say the words out loud; they just slipped from his tongue.

"Was her English very good?" Bob asked. "I bet when she said the purse was a great fortune, she meant that she was greatly fortunate to find you; that's all."

"But what about this poem, or song, or whatever it is?" Trixie looked around at the others as if hoping for some support from them.

"You said she was a fortune-teller. Maybe it is a fortune," Brian suggested. He let out a little sigh as he scooped up more potatoes on his fork. "Maybe it's your fortune, and that's what she meant by the purse being a great fortune. She probably scribbled up the normal phony fortune-telling stuff: you'll meet a boy, you'll get married, you'll become successful."

Ned nodded as he returned to his seat, his plate once again heaped high with eggs, potatoes, and bacon. "All that vague kind of stuff that will probably come true anyway."

Neil had his elbows on the table, his hands folded together over his plate, and his chin resting atop his hands. "You said you recognized some words. Like what?"

Honey nodded vigorously, almost swishing her hair into her still-full plate of eggs and potatoes. "Yes, here," she said pointing to a word, "'hombre' means man and 'niña' means girl." She continued to move her hand across the paper, pointing out more words. "Then there's 'trabajo' here which means work, and I think 'camino' means street."

Barbara smiled. "That does sound like she told your fortune. Those words fit with that vague fortune stuff Brian mentioned."

"But what about these?" Miss Trask asked, taking the paper again. She pointed to some of the words she knew. "'Cuidado', that means caution. And 'peligro' means danger. I'm fairly certain that 'peligro enorme' means 'enormous danger'."

Regan snorted, but Dan saw worry in his eyes. "Sounds like that Mexican woman might actually be for real. Neither of those words are surprising at all in relation to our Trixie."

Miss Trask grinned. "True. It probably is just a generic type of fortune, and she probably guessed you were the type to get into trouble. I wouldn't give it another thought if I were you, Trixie."

Trixie frowned. "But I have to know what it says. I still think it's something more than that. Can't anyone else recognize any words?"

"Afraid not," Jim answered. "But don't give up entirely. You never know; we could pick up an English-Spanish dictionary from a book store. Maybe we can head down to Strand's."

"Meanwhile, anyone up for a ride in Central Park?" Bob asked, as he got up from the table.

"Sounds fun," Di remarked. "As soon as you boys clean up these dishes."

"Your apartment, you clean." Mart grinned mischievously, and then ducked as Di gave him the evil eye.

"I'll help with the dishes," Neil said. He picked up some of the empty plates from the table and carried them into the kitchen.

"A hansom cab ride in Central Park sounds wonderful," Barbara commented. She had wandered over to a window that overlooked the park, the same window at which Dan had stood the previous day.

Dan looked up as Harvey walked into the front door and joined them. "Did I hear something about Central Park?"

"You did." Bob grinned. "I get to check off one of my 'must-see' places."

"You know, for all the years I've lived in this city, I've never been in a hansom cab in Central Park before." Honey looked around at the others. "Has anyone else?"

Harvey shook his head. "Not us Diamonds."

"Not us Beldens," Trixie replied in kind.

"What about you, Di?" Barbara asked.

Di gave her a dimpled smile in return. "It was one of the first things our family did when my father made his fortune."

"If we're going for a ride in the park, Jim and I should probably head down there now so we can get enough cabs together." Brian headed toward the door.

Jim followed right behind him. "We'll be back soon."

The door closed and the remaining crowd finished cleaning up the kitchen.

Dan approached his uncle. "Do you want to head up to Trinity Park after the cab ride, Uncle Bill?"

"Wouldn't two parks in one day be a bit much?" Di asked, even as Regan nodded in response to Dan's question.

"Trinity Park is a cemetery," Regan explained.

Dan looked over at Di, trying to keep his emotions in check. "It's where my mom is buried. I was thinking Uncle Bill and I would go up there on our own."

"We wouldn't mind tagging along," Neil said quietly. "But it's completely up to you."

"I think we'll just go on our own," Regan answered. "Maybe another time."

Miss Trask nodded at this statement. "I'll take my turn at being chaperone today, then." She smiled at the young crowd.

 

Brian and Jim returned and the cabs were waiting on the street below at the 65th Street Transverse Road entrance to the park. The group of fourteen was soon divided up amongst three cabs, each driven by men in tall silk hats and long-tailed waistcoats.

They had all agreed that, after the ride, Miss Trask and the other teens would visit the Central Park Zoo while Regan and Dan were visiting the cemetery.

Dan felt rather pretentious sitting in the plush seats of the cab, once again reminded of how different he and Honey were. He was somewhat relieved that he'd chosen to not ride with her and Trixie. He knew he wouldn't be good company today. His only aim was not to think and to just get through the ride.

They went all through the park, stopping at different points as the cab drivers or one of the others would tell a story about something in the park. Dan barely noticed anything and found it impossible to pay attention to any of the tales.

Just as the cabs were turning toward the zoo, two men ran in front of the cab in which Honey, Trixie, Jim, Ned, and Bob were riding. Dan recognized them. He felt helpless as he watched Tony grab the reins of the horse while the scar-faced man grabbed Trixie roughly out of the cab and tried to pry her purse from her.

At that, he somehow managed to force his legs to move. He jumped out of his own cab and was still running toward Honey while Jim had already leapt down from the hijacked cab and punched the small scar-faced man in the jaw. The two men ran away before any of the guys could stop them. "Damn it," Dan cursed. "What does he want?"

"What?" Mart asked, confused. He and Dan watched as Brian checked on Trixie. She stood up, and they could see her knee was scraped and her stockings had tears in them, but she looked more angry than hurt. Mart chuckled as Jim held her back from trying to follow the two guys.

"Same two?" Regan asked quietly from behind Dan.

Dan nodded. "Yes."

Besides the teens, a crowd of other onlookers was drawing around Trixie and the cab driver. Regan pulled Dan aside as some policemen came over to find out what had happened. Mart followed them.

"Shouldn't you stay with Trixie?" Dan didn't intend for the words to come out sounding so mean.

Mart shook his head. "She's fine. It's you I'm worried about."

"I saw the whole thing," Regan said. "Why would he be after Trixie's purse?"

"That's what I'm wondering." Dan looked around the park at the growing crowd. "If he was just snatching purses, there were a lot easier marks around, ones who likely had more money. And snatching purses is beneath him." He thought for a moment. "Could he have been after our address? Keys to the apartment? He definitely targeted that cab, with Jim and Honey."

Mart eyed his friend suspiciously. "I have so many questions. Let's start with why you're talking singularly when there were clearly two guys." Mart paused. "You talk as if you know one of them."

Dan gazed at Mart as if he'd just noticed the blonde-haired boy was still there.

Mart's blue eyes narrowed. "Look, the rest of the crowd is distracted. Now would be a good time to fill me in. You've been acting even more mysterious than Trixie, and that's saying something."

Dan sighed. He didn't know what to say.

Regan answered for him. "It's kind of personal."

Mart stood there and shook his head, ignoring Regan. "So one of these two characters is someone you knew, from one of those gangs you mentioned last night?" Mart glanced behind him where the others were still talking to the police officers on the scene. "Someone you had trouble with in the past."

Dan just stared at the scene in the distance.

"Ergo, you think they might be after you, not Trixie and her ugly little statue." Mart nodded his head slowly. "That makes more sense than Trixie's theory. Except, why is this gang after you, and, if they are, then why didn't they attack your cab?" Mart took another quick look back at where Trixie and the others were still standing, apparently talking about what had happened. "Why did they try to grab Trixie's purse?"

Dan frowned. Maybe Tony wasn't after him. Tony still didn't know he had the papers. And Tony spoke Spanish. He was certain now that what Tony was really after was that paper in Trixie's purse. "Whatever it is, we can't let him take it."


chapter 5: the clickety clack