there's a gleam in your eye
 

Chapter 10: And He Knew He Did Belong

August 12, 1957

The older woman who had greeted them at the door approached the stage and stood in front of one of the microphones. She gave a small nod to one of the musicians who then shouted a few words out as an announcement of sorts. The music started playing, she started singing and people all around them started dancing. Dan and his uncle sat there, quietly just listening and watching. "A bit close to home, isn't it?" Regan asked, his voice low so as not to be overheard. Speaking low probably wasn't necessary; if he hadn't been sitting so close, Dan wouldn't have heard him at all over the music.

"I'm worried." He hated admitting it, but he was.

Neil came over and started talking to him about tumbadoras and timbales and for a second Dan thought the older boy had become part of the fortune-teller's words. It turned out Neil was just explaining the names of the different instruments on the stage. Dan managed a smile as Neil was grabbed by Barbara to dance some more, her wide red skirt twirling around her as she hastily pulled him to the floor.

The upbeat rhythms of the guitars and the blaring of the trumpets started to break through all his dark feelings. The beat from the timbales found its way to his feet. The next thing he knew, Trixie had grabbed his hand. "Come on, Dan; you haven't danced at all!"

Dan protested, trying to sit back down. "I haven't danced because I don't know how. Especially not the mambo or whatever this is." He looked at the crowded dance floor. Dark haired couples were moving quickly, the girls' skirts twirling around them.

"I know you can't if you don't try." Trixie waited for him to stand and then pulled him onto the dance floor.

He spotted Honey and quickly switched partners, as much to Trixie's delight as to his own, since Honey had been dancing with her brother. He heard Jim and Trixie laugh as they tried to copy a move another couple was doing.

"I'm glad this place is so crowded," he told Honey. "I have no idea what I'm doing."

Honey giggled as she tried to sway her hips to the beat. "Me neither, but I do like the music. I'm just trying to relax and have some fun with it."

Dan smiled at her and tried to do the same.

 

"That was the most wonderful evening ever!" Barbara was still dancing as the visitors left Pema's late that night and headed back to the subway that would bring them to the apartments they were calling home during their stay in New York City.

"I'm surprised how tiring that was." Sweat glistened lightly on Honey's brow. "I'm impressed with how some of those women could just keep moving so quickly."

"I think I could mambo all night." Mart grinned widely as he grabbed Diana's hand and attempted to twirl her around. Her pale lavender cardigan was draped over her arm and it nearly fell to the street, but Mart rescued it in time, handing it back to her with a bow.

As Dan watched the small performance, he thought he saw something in the shadows, but when he turned to look, there was nothing unusual to be seen.

"I'm sure you could," Miss Trask said to Mart, a twinkle in her light blue eyes.

Dan tried to ignore that feeling of being watched and turned his attention back to his friends. He had been surprised at how well, and how often, Miss Trask had danced.

She glanced at her watch and then peered up the street. "That was a fun evening, but it's really quite late. I wonder if we shouldn't just split up in cabs instead of taking the subway."

"But I like taking the subway. It makes me feel so much more like a real New Yorker instead of an Iowan tourist." Bob linked his arm through the older woman's. "Please, let's not do any taxis. I'm sure we'll be fine since there are so many of us."

Miss Trask laughed heartily. "Real New Yorkers take cabs quite frequently, too, you know."

"I would love to take a taxi," Barbara admitted. "We never take taxis in Iowa."

"And we never take subways, either," Ned stated. "We don't even have a subway but we do have taxis."

Di raised her hand. "I vote cab."

"Me, too," Barbara said.

"If we take cabs, we'll need four of them." Neil looked around the group. "I think the maximum they're allowed to take is four each."

"We could split up," Brian suggested. "Some of you can take a cab and the rest of us can take the subway."

The group had just reached the subway entrance and stopped to decide how they would proceed.

"I'm good with that," Mart stated. "I'd even be fine with walking."

Miss Trask shook her head. "It would take us over an hour, even if we cut through Central Park. And I don't think we should walk through the park this late at night, even with our numbers. Let's just stop some cabs for tonight. It would be the fastest and safest way to get home."

Neil went to the street and stopped one of the cabs cruising by on Lexington Avenue.

"I can't take all of you," the driver shouted out the open passenger-side window. "Four max."

Neil nodded, and held the door open for Barbara, Di, Harvey, and Miss Trask. "We'll be right behind you," he assured their chaperone.

Dan and Jim had already hailed two more cabs and he saw that Brian had flagged down a fourth. He watched with some regret as Honey enter one of the other cabs. As he watched it leave, he thought he saw something in the shadows again. He stared at the spot, studying it intently and watching for any little movement, but nothing seemed to be there. He shrugged it off, hoping he was just tired and imagining things. He maneuvered into the backseat of the taxi and his uncle followed him.

"25 Central Park West," Regan told the cabby before turning to look at Dan. "I'm glad it's just the two of us right now. It was hard to talk in that place."

Dan was just wishing that he could have gone in the cab with Honey, or that one of the other teens had joined him and his uncle. It hadn't been hard to talk in that place at all; he just hadn't felt like talking.

"You buy into any of that fortune telling stuff?" his uncle asked.

Dan shrugged.

"I wouldn't, but that bit at the end was pretty specific. A moving rack? Moving bookshelf? Could it be the same thing?" Dan could feel Regan's stare but still didn't turn to face him. "'A room hidden behind books.' Come on, you had to think the same thing."

"Yeah, okay." Dan was blunt, angry. He wasn't even quite sure where the anger came from. But the thought that some stranger could write prophecies about his life unsettled him, and he certainly didn't want to talk about it at the moment, not even with his uncle.

"Look, I'm not going to say anything to Trixie or to any of them, for that matter. But I don't think Trixie is going to let it go until she figures out what it refers to." Regan was right, of course.

"Then we'll just have to figure out something else for it to refer to because I am not taking her to my old apartment." Dan crossed his arms and leaned his head against the side of the taxi door.

 

Dan woke the next morning, sensing the room was still dark, but with the strange feeling someone was watching him again. He opened his eyes very slowly, just enough to make out the shadowy figure standing near his bed. He opened his eyes further, squinting at the freckled boy with the sandy blonde hair.

"Good morning, sunshine." Mart grinned, but his blue eyes held a note of worry.

Dan opened his eyes fully and looked for his other roommate. Jim was folding up his sleeping bag. The room they were using during their stay only had two single beds; it had been Jim's turn to sleep on the floor.

The red-haired boy looked over at him and smiled. "Finally up?"

Dan yawned. "Why did I choose to room with the two early risers?" He looked over at the clock on the night stand to confirm his suspicions. "It's not even six yet." He buried his head under his pillow and groaned.

Something soft hit him on the back. "You're awake. You may as well get up." Mart's voice sounded muffled through the pillow covering his ears.

"There aren't any chickens to feed." He lifted his face out of the pillow and turned to Jim. "No horses that need exercise. So why? Why must we get up with the sun on our vacation?"

Jim shrugged. "Habit?"

"Nah." Mart disagreed. "It's really just to torture you."

Dan sat up and a rumpled t-shirt almost slipped on to the floor. He caught it before it hit the ground and tossed it back at Mart.

Jim grabbed a pile of clothes that had been sitting on top of the dresser and headed out the door. "The advantages of an early riser plenty of hot water."

Dan pulled his legs out from under the light sheet that had been his only covering on the muggy night. He sat on the edge of the bed, letting his feet touch the warm hardwood floor. "Now that you have me up, tell me what's got you looking so worried this morning."

Mart looked taken aback but then grinned. "I was going to ask you the same question. So in answer to your question, what has me worried is the fact that you have been acting really nervous since we got here. Now, what has you worried?"

Dan thought for a moment. He wasn't sure what, if anything, he should say. "Nothing."

Mart looked disgusted. "Nothing?" He walked around the room as he spoke, his voice sounding angrier with every sentence. "Nothing is why you were up all night talking to Regan when those two thugs followed us home from the movie on Saturday night? Nothing is why you were freaking out in the park when someone attacked the hansom cab? Nothing is why you were acting nervous and constantly looking around as if someone was following you at the United Nations? Nothing is why you turned pale when that friend of yours translated Trixie's prophecy? I see. Nothing."

Dan glanced at Mart. "What do you want me to say? Everyone was rattled by the two men that followed us. And why weren't you more upset when those thugs attacked Trixie?"

Mart looked at him curiously. "Not nearly as rattled as you were. And, rather unfortunately, I'm getting quite used to Trixie and the trouble that seems to follow her. If those guys had hurt her, you bet I'd have been more upset. But she was fine. She's been in much worse scrapes in the past." Mart stared at Dan intensely. "You, my friend, still need to explain."

Dan stared stoically down at the floor.

Mart leaned against the dresser near the door, calming back down. "I'm guessing it has something to do with these guys that have been after Trixie and that little wooden idol."

Dan furrowed his brow.

"Well?" Mart persisted.

"It's …." Dan was about to say "nothing" again but thought better of it. "It's personal." Dan's tone indicated he was done talking about it.

Mart shook his head. "Whatever it is, it's eating you up inside."

Dan lay back down on the bed and stared at the ceiling. I wish it were still Tisha B'Av. Then I could just ignore Mart. Mourning. That's what I should be doing anyway. He thought back to just a week earlier when the Diamond household hadn't washed, hadn't greeted anyone, and had slept on the floor, no blankets or pillows. He hadn't understood it at all during the Jewish day of mourning, but right now it felt entirely appropriate.

Mart spoke again. "Look, Danny. I won't pry anymore. For now. But we're 'all for one and one for all', and you are one of us."

Dan was sure that his friend meant well. His eyes wandered over to the open closet where two red jackets hung clearly in view, one belonging to Mart and the other to Jim. The white stitching on the back was only partially visible. "I'm not one of you."

Mart let out a whoosh of air. He seemed about to shout but then calmed down again. "You go ahead and think that, Dan Mangan, but that was your choice. And even without a red jacket, even without being an official Bob-White club member, you are one of us." He walked out the door and left.

Dan had never talked about Tony to anyone besides his uncle, and even then he hadn't said much. He knew Mart was concerned, but this was too personal. It was something he tried every day to forget. Talking about it was not an option.

He certainly had been on edge ever since the Saturday night when he first recognized Tony as one of the men following them from the antique store. Then, seeing Tony and the scar-faced man again at the park the following day scared him. Those two guys weren't going anywhere until they got a hold of that little statue or that paper that Trixie had. He couldn't even imagine why they wanted it, just as he had never figured out why Tony had been so insistent on getting the papers Dan's dad had left with him.

But who was the man from the United Nations? Was he connected to Tony at all or was he operating on his own? It was all too confusing.

The prophecy frightened him, too. It wasn't so much the stuff about danger and pistols, although that was bad enough. What frightened him was how accurate that last verse had been about his life. The fortune was supposed to be for Trixie, wasn't it? What did it have to do with his own puzzles?

He got up from the bed and went over to the mahogany desk under the window in the large bedroom. He opened one of the drawers and removed the notebook he had placed there when he first arrived. He flipped to a blank page and started to write. The words poured freely from his pen. He started with his thoughts about Tony and the danger he represented, both past and present. Then he started to document everything that had happened since the day he'd arrived back in Manhattan.

The page was soon filled, front and back, and then a second, and a third. His hand started to cramp. By the fifth page, he stopped and put his pen down. He looked back at what he'd written. It was full of spelling and grammar errors, he was sure of that, but at least he'd gotten it down.

He flipped through the pages in his notebook, looking at previous writings. He didn't linger on those, but as he continued to leaf backwards through the pages he saw the silly poem Neil had written over a year ago. He knew which papers were next and hesitated before he continued. The page of jumbled music notes over lines still made no sense to him, and neither did the rest of those songs his father had written. He'd thought before that he should show someone. Maybe some answers would somehow magically appear out of it. But he was also scared. His mom had died because of these papers. His fear always trumped the need for answers.

And then to hear those words from that Mexican woman, someone whom he had never even met, someone who seemingly knew about his life: 'A room hidden behind the books; Musical riddles still not clear.' No, he couldn't show this music to anyone.

A knock sounded on the door and Neil poked his dark head into the room. "You're up?"

"No," Dan answered automatically. He stared at the page a second more and then closed the notebook.

"What was that?" Neil entered the room fully and made his way to the desk.

"Nothing." Dan grimaced at his own answer. That was the second time this day already that he'd used that word instead of telling the truth.

"Looked like music." Neil reached for the notebook.

Dan quickly slid it back into the desk drawer. "It was. Something my dad wrote before he left for Korea."

"Neat. Can I see? Maybe I can try to play it, although I'm sure I won't do it justice." Neil couldn't hide the excitement in his voice. He looked ready to do cartwheels at the prospect of playing the music of one of his favorite jazz guitarists.

Dan's mouth turned up into a half-grin. "Stop drooling. It's just some music." He shut the drawer and stood up. Neil still seemed to expect him to hand over the notebook. "It's the only thing I have of his. I ." He heard the gravity of his father's voice in his head: Just keep those safe for me. Don't let anyone see them, okay? They're very important. "I I can't share them. Maybe some other time."

Neil looked disappointed, but he dropped the subject. "I came in to see if you were ready for breakfast, but apparently you're not. Shower. Dress. See you in the kitchen." He turned around and left the room.

Once again, Dan was alone with his thoughts. But this time he was able to shake off the ghosts. He grabbed his navy dress slacks and a light blue checkered shirt out of the closet along with a slim dark gray tie, and then put them down on his bed. He went back to the drawer with the thick three-ring notebook, took it out, and looked around the room. Almost as suddenly as he had taken it out, he dropped it back in and closed the drawer once more. He'd told Neil he couldn't share it and Neil would respect that. He didn't need to hide the notebook; it was safe.

He picked up his clothes from the bed and, with a light whistle, headed to the bathroom, hoping the shower wasn't still in use.

 

By the time Dan entered the kitchen, the other boys in the apartment were already there eating. Dan caught the aroma of coffee and spotted the urn on the counter. With a mumbled "hello" directed to everyone in the room, he strode over to the counter, grabbed a mug from the cupboard, and poured himself some of the dark liquid.

"Toast?" Regan asked, holding up a breadbasket.

Dan nodded and took a seat at the table. Someone passed him the butter and a knife.

"Why aren't we eating with the girls?" Bob asked, at the same time helping himself to more toast and jam.

Mart raised an eyebrow. "I have no desire to share my morning repast with the muliebrous members of our assemblage."

Bob laughed. "I think you've beaten me today. I take it 'muliebrous' means female, somehow?"

"Correct." Mart grinned.

Brian picked up his empty plate and headed to the sink. "The more important question is 'What are we doing today?'"

Regan had been drinking his own coffee. He placed his mug on the table, almost nervous. "And the answer, as was already decided yesterday evening, is the Statue of Liberty." He frowned.

Jim's forehead wrinkled in confusion. "What's wrong with the Statue of Liberty?"

Regan fidgeted with his coffee cup. "Oh, nothing. I'm sure we'll find the statue quite lovely. It's just that Miss Trask was supposed to chaperone all the, um, tall sights and I was going to take the ones, well, lower to the ground."

"We are going to go up to the torch, right?" Bob grinned.

Regan started looking green.

Brian shook his head. "They closed the torch. But we can go up to the crown."

Neil tried to offer some relief. "The statue is shorter than this building, Regan."

Dan tried not to smirk as he took another sip of his own coffee. "Why are you chaperoning today then? Can't Miss Trask come with us?"

Regan's expression grew more serious. "Miss Trask got a call from the hospital early this morning. Her sister had some kind of reaction to some medicine or something." Regan took another drink from his mug. "She said not to worry and that she didn't want us to spoil our fun today, but we should think about stopping by the hospital later anyway."

Dan noticed that Neil and Brian exchanged a look. He had a feeling they were more interested in the hospital and finding out more about medical procedures and treatments than seeing Lady Liberty.

"Of course." Ned nodded in agreement. "I think that would be swell."

Dan heard the front door open and was wondering who would be coming in when Harvey walked into the kitchen. "The girls will be ready to leave in five minutes," he announced. "They said we should meet them by the elevator."

"Last one in the kitchen does the dishes," Mart proclaimed.

"Not fair. I already did my dishes." Harvey ducked back out of the room before anyone could disagree with him.

"Guess that makes you it, Danny." Jim grinned. "See, there are plenty of advantages to getting up early."

Dan shrugged. "Sure." He picked up some of the dishes still left on the kitchen table, and headed to the sink.

Mart pushed his chair out from the table and stood up. He grabbed the remaining dishes and brought them to the sink. "I'll dry," he said, grabbing a clean towel from a nearby drawer.

"It's okay, I've got it." Dan really didn't want help, but as soon as he said the words he regretted it. Mart was a true friend, and it would be good to just put aside any tension between them from this morning. "Actually, that would be great. Thanks."


chapter 11: just pay some attention