there's a gleam in your eye
 

Chapter 8: It Was Worth More Than We Understood

August 12, 1957

The tour had finished and Dan descended the stairs with the rest of his family and friends. The lower level held a number of shops and counters that sold everything from stamps to souvenirs and coffee to clothes. Ned, Barbara, and Di headed to the UNICEF counter that sold stationary and gift cards, as well as colorful scarves and other hand-made items. Mart, Harvey, and Bob went into the bookshop, while Brian, Neil, and Regan headed to the post office to browse through the stamp collections. Trixie and Honey headed to the main gift shop, and Jim and Dan followed quietly behind them.

"Are you trailing the girls, too?" Jim asked, winking his eye, as he stepped beside Dan.

"Yeah," Dan admitted sheepishly. "I just can't shake this feeling that they're going to get into some kind of trouble."

Jim smirked. "They always do. And we boys usually have to rescue them."

Dan thought back to the few stories Honey had told him. "From what I've heard, they can handle themselves pretty well," Dan replied. "Still, I feel better keeping an eye on them."

Jim nodded in agreement. The two boys waited behind a rack of colorful native gowns, from which country, Dan couldn't say. The length of the gowns and the variety of colors helped provide some cover and camouflage for them. They crouched down just a bit while still trying to make it seem like they were browsing and tried to figure out what the two amateur sleuths were up to.

The two girls were looking at souvenirs from South America. Small wooden carvings in all shapes and sizes, including more little idols like the one Trixie had bought, filled the two shelves they were perusing. Dan couldn't believe his eyes. He pointed them out to Jim, who chuckled a little. "And here she thought she had something unique."

Dan listened carefully as a saleswoman approached Trixie. She seemed to be the only one working besides the cashier. "Can I help you find anything in particular?" she asked.

Trixie pointed to the wooden carvings. "How much do these little Incan idols cost?"

The saleswoman picked one up and handed it to Trixie with a smile. "I'm pleased you recognized them. How do you know about the Incan culture? Have you studied it in school?"

Trixie put the little man back on the shelf. "Actually, I have one that I bought at an antique store a few days ago."

"Well, the prices vary, but they range from three dollars all the way up to ten. Those little statues you were admiring cost seven dollars." The woman smiled at the young teens. "Is that around what you paid for yours?"

Trixie nodded. "Mine was in that price range. But I was wondering if it might be more valuable, perhaps even an antique."

"Seven dollars?" Jim whispered to Dan, apparently shocked that the wooden doll cost that much. "For that price I could've bought myself a fancy new pair of dress shoes."

"Well, I honestly don't know very much about these beyond where they are from and what they cost," the saleswoman stated. "But there was a gentleman in here just a little bit earlier. He was looking all through the carvings. He seemed to be trying to find something in particular, but apparently we didn't have what he wanted. He might know more about these idols."

Dan noticed a man walking over to the girls and quietly pointed him out to Jim.

Jim looked over to where Dan was staring. "Is that who I think it is?" he asked the other boy.

Dan shook his head. "No, I don't think so. He doesn't have a scar, but I thought the same thing when I first saw him today, too."

"Do you mean to say you spotted this guy earlier and didn't say anything?" Jim's voice started to rise.

"Shhh." Dan put his finger to his lip. "Yes, I did say something. But you were way at the front of the group. And anyway, I'm quite sure he's not either of the two that were bothering us before, so what was there to say? He's just some foreign diplomat or something."

Jim calmed down. "You're right. He does look quite a bit like our scar-face, but no one can hide a scar like that. He can't be the other guy either. That guy was taller, wasn't he?"

"Right." Dan was glad Jim agreed with him. Even though he didn't quite trust this gentleman, there was no reason to think he was connected with Tony. "We can head over there if he starts any trouble, but for now let's see what happens."

"Okay. There's no real reason to think anything bad will happen," the redhead finally admitted. "But he gives me the creeps, all the same."

"If this guy does do something, Trixie and Honey can probably handle it." Dan watched as the foreign gentleman approached Trixie.

"I hope so." Jim didn't sound like he believed they could.

Trixie was calmly asking the man about the statues and had just pulled the wooden idol out of her purse.

"May I look at the statue a little closer, please?" the gentleman asked.

Dan saw Honey whisper something to Trixie. Surprisingly, Trixie handed the ugly little thing to the man. Dan felt Jim start to move forward again, and he put a finger to his lips and motioned for him to stay close. The two boys quietly approached the four people they had been watching until they were standing less than two feet behind the girls. Dan still held a restraining hand on Jim's arm indicating he didn't think they should get any closer. He didn't see any reason for them to interfere, at least not yet.

The saleswoman looked over at them, a hopeful expression on her face that they would actually buy something. Dan shook his head slightly to indicate they weren't interested in any help. With a disappointed shrug of her shoulders, she wandered over to another tourist in the shop. Dan focused his attention back on the two girls and the foreign man.

The foreigner was holding the statue up to the light and looking at it in all directions. Then he smiled enigmatically. "If someone has sold you this as an antique, miss, I'm afraid you have been victimized. I must not allow that. I shall be glad to take it off your hands for the price you paid for it. Unscrupulous people from my country have been known to bring cheap machine made work into this country and try to pass it off as handmade." He took out his wallet.

"I don't want my money back. I want to keep it. I didn't buy it for an antique. I like it just as much even if it isn't." Trixie reached for her statue.

The man pushed her hand away and shook his head. "No, miss, I couldn't allow you to have this poor piece of work. If you do not want your money back, I shall replace it with one which is hand-carved."

"You are very kind, but I like my own better." Trixie snatched the idol out of the older man's hand and quickly tucked it back in her purse.

The man's face flamed. "Are you a crazy girl? The idol is worthless!" He seized Trixie's arm and whirled her around. "You give it back to me!" he demanded.

Dan finally let his hand drop and he and Jim moved forward together. Trixie and Honey didn't seem to notice them; they were too busy dealing with the strange man. The man however, did notice them, and calmed down at once.

"Forgive me," he said with seeming abjectness. "I become too excited when I know what bad people in my country are doing. You have made a mistake, miss. I bid you good-bye."

As the man slipped away into a crowd of people who had apparently just finished a tour, Trixie and Honey turned and almost ran smack into the two boys.

"Just how long have you two been standing there?!" Trixie yelled.

Dan just smiled. "Shhh... you don't want to attract a crowd like your crazy friend there almost did."

Jim also smiled at the irate Trixie. "I was going to step in but Dan wouldn't let me. Good job getting the statue back from that creep."

A blush darkened Trixie's cheeks as she smiled back at him. "Thanks, Jim. I figured you were about to lecture me."

"Oh believe me, I'd like to," Jim admitted with a wink. "But when I think about it, there's no reason to. Although if you really want a lecture, I'm sure I can come up with something."

Trixie smirked back at him, and then grew serious again. "So, do you think he was one of those two guys that followed us and attacked us? When he turned around and left I thought he looked like one of them."

"Nah." For the third time that day, without mentioning he knew it wasn't Tony, Dan pointed out that the man had no scar and that the other guy had been taller.

"The plot certainly thickens, doesn't it?" Honey mused. "This has been an interesting day. Let's find the others and fill them in on what just happened." She glanced down at her wristwatch. "Everyone should be heading to the staircase right about now."

The four of them headed to the pre-arranged meeting spot. If anyone noticed that Dan was still nervous and warily watching his surroundings, no one mentioned it. He couldn't help feeling that man at the gift shop might be just as much trouble as Tony and his partner. Maybe the idol really was valuable.

 

"Finally, a real delicatessen!" Bob rubbed his hand over his stomach hungrily.

Harvey grinned. "And a kosher one. I can actually eat with you."

The group of thirteen had left the United Nations building and was now standing in front of a kosher deli just a few blocks away. Although the sign read "Benjamin's Delicatessen", it was more of a sit-down restaurant. Rectangular, square, and round tables were place around the floor almost haphazardly making the place look cramped, but a large mirror hanging on a brick wall countered that effect with the reflection of the space.

They quickly realized they would have to sit at separate tables but found three that were not too far from each other and split up among them. Dan managed to sit at the same table with Honey, and Mart and Di joined them.

"I thought 'deli' just meant sandwiches." Mart was looking at one of the thin flimsy paper menus the waiter dropped on their table. "But all these steaks on here look delicious."

Bob leaned over to him from the next table. "Did you see the chicken fricassee? It sounds fantastic. And the fish, too. I don't know what to get."

Harvey was also at Bob's table. "Anything you get will be good. I've eaten here a few times before and have never been disappointed."

"Well, I'm glad we let you decide on the restaurant. Everything looks just wonderful." Barbara put her menu down. "But I've already decided what I'm getting. The goulash sounds too good to pass up."

Dan turned back to his own table. Just about everything on the menu did look good. "What are you getting?" he asked Honey.

She pointed to an item near the top of the menu. "I'm going to try the stuffed cabbage."

"Cabbage?" Mart grimaced. "Not me. I'll take the burger and fries and coleslaw."

Di laughed. "Coleslaw is cabbage. Even I know that. I've helped my mom make it enough times for picnics."

"Touché. You got me on that one." Mart smiled back at the dark-haired girl.

The waiter came to take everyone's orders. When he left, the guests at each of the tables had their own conversations.

"Was that guy really scary?" Di asked Honey. "I'm so glad I wasn't there."

"No, not really. More like ... slimy." Honey giggled. "He was trying to be so slick but when he lost his temper he was just kind of funny."

Dan grinned. That description did fit the olive-skinned man.

"And he was the same one you spotted in the lobby before the tour, right?" Mart looked at Dan inquisitively. It was a guess, and a good one.

"You saw him in the lobby earlier?" Honey's hazel eyes grew wide.

Dan shrugged. "Yeah. Remember when I told Trixie not to take the statue out of her purse?"

Honey nodded.

"I saw him heading down the stairs. I thought he was the guy... one of those guys from the park." Dan corrected the near slip. Mart had already caught him talking 'singularly' about the pair before.

Unfortunately, the slip did not get past Mart. He raised his eyebrow inquisitively at the dark-haired boy, but he kept quiet.

"I did, too, but not until he turned around. Then I was trying to remember which of those two guys had the scar and if he could have been one of them." Honey wrinkled her nose. "I wish I was better at remembering faces."

"You remember that one had a scar. That's something." Dan smiled at her.

Mart grinned at Honey with a twinkle in his blue eyes. "If you really want to be a detective you're going to have to work on that. We should do some memory exercises."

"Oh, no, not that!" Honey laughed. "I still remember when we tried that with Jim last summer. I promised myself I would not be caught in a trick like that again. And here I am unable to remember exactly what any one of those three men looks like."

"I bet Mart remembers." Di looked at the blonde-haired boy with admiration.

"I think I do. Although I have to admit I'm better at remembering words than faces." Mart looked at Dan. "I have a feeling Dan's the one who would recognize them best."

Di looked over at Dan. "Would you really?"

Dan frowned. "Yes, I would. I see their faces like a photograph in my head."

"I wish I could remember things that vividly," Honey mused.

Dan frowned and lowered his voice to a whisper. "Sometimes I wish I couldn't. It would be nice to be able to forget, at least for a while." He knew he shouldn't have said anything, but he felt comfortable with the small group at the table.

"I don't know what it is you want to forget, but you know you can always talk to us if you need to," Mart said.

Di nodded in agreement with Mart. "He's right. We're good listeners. And maybe talking about it will help."

Honey put a sympathetic hand on Dan's arm. "I've always found that if I talk about something that I feel like I wish I could forget, then remembering it isn't half as bad."

The waiter came by again and served their food. They all waited until he left before picking up their forks and knives to start to eat.

"Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, shehakol nih-yeh bidvaro." Dan said a quick blessing out of respect for the establishment in which they were eating before gratefully digging into his pepper steak. He already missed the feel of Honey's hand on his arm.

 

"Oh, shoot!" Trixie exclaimed.

"What's wrong, Trixie?" Regan asked from the table next to her.

Dan turned around from his seat to see what Trixie was upset about. He had already finished his steak and most everyone else had finished eating as well.

"We spent all that time at the United Nations and then I got so excited about what happened in the gift shop, I completely forgot to look for a Spanish-speaking guide to help translate that piece of paper." Trixie's mouth turned downward into a bit of a pout.

"Hoo boy," he heard Brian mutter. "We have one mystery on our hands already with that little wooden idol. Do we really need to get that Mexican lady involved with those crooks?"

"We all agree now that those thugs are after Trixie's statue, right?" Jim addressed all the tables for agreement. "And it looks like it's not just those two, but also that guy in the gift shop today. We just have no clue why they want the statue. Maybe, just maybe, that paper will tell us that."

Trixie smiled gratefully at Jim.

Dan coughed lightly. "I may be able to help get that translated for you."

"Really?" The excitement in Trixie's voice was undeniable.

"East Harlem?" Regan gave his nephew a knowing look.

Dan nodded. He pulled the crumpled flyer out of his pants pocket and passed it to Jim who was sitting just behind him with Trixie, Barbara, and Ned. "There's a name here at the bottom, see." He looked over Jim's shoulder and pointed to "Guillermo Rivera" in small print. "I used to go to school with one of his cousins."

Ned reached across the table and took the flyer from Jim. He glanced at it and nodded before he passed it over to Trixie.

"And he speaks Spanish?" Jim asked.

"Yeah." Dan remembered when Victor's cousin first came to New York and barely spoke any English. That had been in 1953. He hoped he'd learned some since.

"Super!" Trixie yelled. "Do you know where he lives? Can we go there now?"

"Whoa, down girl," Mart chided. Then he turned his eyes to Dan. "But do you? And can we?" His voice was only a smidgen calmer than his sister's.

Dan shook his head. "No, I don't. His family moved to Queens years ago. But I was thinking we could go to that club, Pema's."

Barbara looked down forlornly at the piece of blue paper in her hand that Trixie had just passed over to her. "But he's not playing until Thursday. And today's only Monday." She reached across the narrow aisle and handed the flyer to Mart.

Trixie's expression fell.

"I know, but we could still go there tonight." Dan looked over at Regan, knowing he would have to approve. Everyone at his uncle's table had been quiet about the idea, but they hadn't seen the flyer yet.

"What good would that do us?" Di sounded both disappointed and skeptical.

"I know how musicians can be. When they're not playing, they're listening. He probably hangs out there all the time." Dan smiled in a way that he hoped looked convincing.

Regan looked over at Dan. "Just how far into East Harlem is this place?"

"Not far. It's only two blocks west of 5th Avenue. And it's actually not that far from the family-style club I was thinking of bringing everyone to over on Lennox." Dan was trying to think of what he could say to assure his uncle that it wasn't completely unsafe, even though he had no idea what the place was like and he knew there was a slight risk involved in a bunch of white kids showing up in a Puerto Rican club.

"What if he's not there?" Harvey raised an eyebrow at his foster brother.

Neil answered matter-of-factly in Dan's stead. "Even if this Guillermo guy isn't there," he mispronounced the name, but Dan didn't correct him, "someone who speaks Spanish is sure to be. If the atmosphere is friendly, we could ask almost anyone."

"Wouldn't we have to be eighteen to get in?" Brian asked.

"Nope. This says 'All Ages'." Mart pointed to some words on the flier that also proclaimed Pema's was 'Family Friendly'.

"With a crowd this large, I can't imagine anyone bothering us." Regan looked around at the expectant faces of the teenagers. "It's okay with me," he finally said.

Jim shrugged. "Safety in numbers, I guess. Should we leave straight from the U.N. after Miss Trask meets us?"

Honey nodded. "I'm sure she'll agree to it."

"Sounds like we have a plan." Trixie grinned over at Dan from the other table. "Which way do we go?"

Dan looked out the window at the street sign on the corner to see where exactly they were. He'd never spent any time in this part of Manhattan. He quickly calculated about seventy-five blocks up to 118th. "It's going to be quite a hike from here, so the best bet is to get back on the subway."


chapter 9: i don't care much for words of doom