there's a gleam in your eye
 

Chapter 15: Some Other Time You'll Enjoy the View

August 14, 1957

"Isn't it a glorious day?!" Trixie exclaimed as they left the apartment building.

"It certainly is," Dan agreed. The previous night's excursion had done him a world of good.

Jim grinned. "I'm glad to see you looking so chipper this morning." He turned to his other side and rubbed the top of Mart's head. "And you're supposed to be the early bird, sleepyhead. So, where did you two run off to last night?"

"Just needed some air," Dan responded.

"Well, I wish you had stayed with us." Honey smiled at him. She was wearing a green, sleeveless dress, and Dan thought the color suited her. She had ditched her heels for some more sensible shoes since they planned on walking quite a bit, and she had left her dressy summer gloves at home, too.

"And I wish you could have come with me." He smiled back at her, and then looked up at the trees as they walked through Central Park. He wished he could just grab Honey's hand, run to that tree over there, just a few yards off the path, and kiss her underneath its boughs.

"What was that?" Honey said, blushing.

Had he spoken his thoughts aloud? "Nothing." He reached for her hand, making at least that part of his brief fantasy come true. "So, where are we going anyway?"

"Rockefeller Center, to start," Brian answered from ahead of him. "We can go see Radio City Music Hall and the RCA Building. Maybe even go up to the roof."

"Then we're going to 34th Street," Honey said.

"34th Street?" Dan echoed.

"We're going to Lionel Trains," Ned said excitedly. "To the showroom."

"I've been collecting their trains for years," Bob announced, turning around and walking backwards to address the others.

"After that, we girls want to go to Macy's." Di looked happy at the prospect of shopping rather than sight-seeing.

"The same one that is in Miracle on 34th Street!" Barbara exclaimed with a squeak. "I wish we could come back in December and see it in all its holiday glory!"

"After that, food, right?" Mart winked.

"Sure. And then tonight we will go to the Empire State Building." Jim motioned for the others to follow him down one of the paths in the park that would lead them to West 59th.

Regan and Miss Trask were both with them now, but Miss Trask was leaving to see her sister, and would return in time for the Empire State Building visit.

"It's so nice just walking through the park like this," Honey said softly.

"Mm hmm." Dan thought it was nice just walking anywhere with Honey, holding her hand. He slowed down his stride, letting the others get a little further ahead of them.

"You seem happier today." Honey smiled at him.

"I feel better," he admitted. They walked under the shade of some trees whose branches made a natural arbor over the path. "I do wish you could have come with me last night."

She tilted her head up at him. "Where did you go?"

"This club I know. It's a place my dad would take me to, back when I was little." Dan stopped walking and turned to face her.

Honey giggled, and then put a hand over her mouth. "I'm sorry. I was just picturing you as a little boy."

He blushed. "I was cute, you know. At least that's what everyone told me."

"Oh, of course." Honey's hazel eyes twinkled teasingly.

Dan leaned toward her. He could do this.

No, he couldn't. He backed away and slowly started walking again. "I was worried, yesterday, that if you found out I used to be one of those gang members, maybe …." He took a deep breath. "Maybe you wouldn't like me, if you really knew me."

"You're not one now." Honey intertwined her fingers with his. "Yes, of course, I still like you."

Dan stopped again. "Even though I would've rather hidden from my old gang than stop them from bothering those two kids? And even knowing I used to go along with that kind of bullying?"

"Maybe it wasn't the most honorable way to act, but I think I understand why." She scrunched up her mouth, thinking.

He really wanted to know just what she was thinking, but was afraid to ask. I really shouldn't have reminded her about yesterday. I really wasn't honorable at all, and never have been.

She finally spoke, and Dan felt his heart beating, worried what she was about to say.

"I know I said yesterday that I would just say 'hi' if I ran into one of those girls from my boarding school, but, honestly, I'm not sure if I really could." She frowned slightly at first, but then quickly smiled again. "I'd probably be far too scared, and would want to just hide from them, too." She paused, and then added quickly, "Not that you were scared. You were really brave."

He was sure she wouldn't be scared; she never seemed scared of anything or anyone. Maybe she was just saying that to reassure him, to let him know she wasn't upset with him. He certainly hadn't been brave.

He could barely hear the others ahead of them anymore. All he could hear was the pounding in his chest. He turned toward her. Her hair was pulled back in a pony tail; an attempt to keep cool in the hot and humid August weather. A few strands had gotten loose, falling on her cheek. Her lips were a reddish shade of pink that reminded him of watermelon. With his free hand he brushed the hair away from her face. "May I?" he whispered, dropping his head close to hers.

Honey closed her eyes. Nervously, he pulled her in closer to him and put his lips on hers. It was a quick brush of the lips, too quick, but it was a moment he would never forget.

He had kissed other girls before – open-mouthed French kisses, even – but he had never felt like this before. That little peck on the lips, and he hadn't dared do more, was much more emotionally charged than anything he had experienced in the past.

He opened his eyes and saw that Honey's were still closed. He leaned in and kissed her again, letting it last a little bit longer. He could swear he felt the tingle of her lips on his all the way down to his toes.

He wanted to keep kissing her, and to deepen those kisses, but, when he glanced ahead, their entire group was out of sight. He licked his lips and the taste was both salty and sweet. Reluctantly, he turned and started walking again. "We should probably catch up to the rest of them."

Honey bit her lip. "I suppose so." She looked at him and smiled timidly.

He gave her another quick kiss on her lips while they were walking, and smiled back. "I've wanted to kiss you since the first day I met you, you know?"

"Really?" She seemed surprised. "I didn't think you liked me. I mean, not like that. I know you like me, I just wasn't sure if you liked me that way." She giggled nervously.

"I definitely like you that way." Dan grinned widely. "I just wasn't sure if you liked me that way." He tightened his hold on her hand again.

They walked quietly for a minute or two. He was content just to hold her hand as they walked. Although he was tempted to stop and kiss her again, he didn't want to push it. His heart was still beating loudly in his chest, and he felt a kind of ache he had never before felt.

"There you guys are." Regan was waiting for the lagging pair, his hands on his hips, his voice stern. "What kept you?"

Honey tried to take her hand out of Dan's before Regan could see, but Dan held her even tighter, unwilling to relinquish her touch. "Had to tie my shoe," he lied.

Regan stared at their hands. "Is that what they call it these days?" He shook his head, but didn't say anything about the hand-holding. "Come on, then. Keep up with us from now on." He waited for Dan and Honey to get in front of him; Dan guessed that was so his uncle could keep an eye on them.

 

The walk to Rockefeller Center only took about twenty minutes. Honey took Barbara's arm and Di was on the other side of the Iowa girl. Dan could hear them talking about how fabulous Rockefeller Center was during the holidays and how they wished she could come back in December. He thought back to the last time he had seen the holiday tree and skated on the rink, now closed during the summer months. There was always something so peaceful and comforting about it.

"Are we allowed to go up to the rooftop?" Ned asked, pointing to a sign advertising the entrance to the observation deck.

"Of course!" Brian exclaimed. "The views from up there are fantastic, and you can see in every direction."

Bob's head was straight back as he tried to see the top of the building. "How high up is it?"

"Seventy floors, I think." Jim walked toward the entrance to see if he could find out more information.

"Seventy?" Regan turned pale. "You kids go on ahead. I'll wait down here. Just stick together."

"I'll wait with you, if that's okay," Di said. "I don't think I want to go up that high."

"Oh, please, Di. You have to come!" Trixie pleaded with her good friend. "It's not that bad, really. It's so big up there, it's just like being at a park."

Di shook her head, her violet eyes wide with fear over the height. "But there's so much artwork down here. I'd rather just stay and look at all these marvelous sculptures," she reasoned.

"I'll stay and keep you company, too," Honey said. "I've been up there plenty of times, and I never do get to see all the statues, or the murals in the lobby. Di, you've got to see those."

That sealed it for Dan. "I'll stay, too."

"Nuh-uh." Regan shook his head. "I'll keep an eye on these two girls. You go ahead with the others."

"But, Uncle Bill, I don't mind staying behind." Dan looked over at Honey and Di; the two of them were whispering quietly to each other.

"You'll have plenty of time with Honey, later. Much later. Like in ten years or so …." His uncle's tone was teasing, but he was serious about not letting Dan stay behind with Honey, even if they weren't going to be completely alone. "Go. Enjoy. Okay?"

"Okay." Dan reluctantly agreed. He never had been to the roof-top observation deck.

As he jogged to catch up with the rest of the group, he thought he saw someone duck out of sight around a corner. He turned to follow the guy, but when he reached the corner, all he saw was a crowd of other tourists. He shrugged his shoulders and went back to the others, but stayed wary all the same. He really hoped today would be a day free from Tony and his pals.

"Where did you run off to?" Neil gestured with his chin to the direction from which Dan had just come.

"I thought I saw someone." Dan frowned. "But I can't be sure."

"Let's hope you didn't." Neil clapped a hand on Dan's back. "Have you ever been up there?" He glanced up toward the top of the building.

Dan shook his head. "Nope. You?"

"Nope."

 

The roof-top was like a terrace; brick paving surrounded a group of patio chairs placed back-to-back in the middle. Around the edges, iron railing was placed between decorative concrete walls. The railing was high, but not so high that you couldn't lean over and look down at the ground below. Low bushes grew along the wall at some parts, and telescope viewers were situated at strategic spots for tourists to view the city's sights.

Dan started walking along the perimeter of the rooftop, starting at the north end, and Harvey and Bob joined him.

"The views from here are just fantastic!" Bob pointed to Central Park and some of the buildings lining its outer edge. He had to shout for Dan and Harvey to hear him, even though he was standing only a few feet from them. The wind was very strong on the rooftop, whipping the sound of the other boy's voice away, although they hadn't felt any breeze at all on the ground.

"Is that really our apartment building there?" Bob asked, as Dan and Harvey came up to him. "It looks almost short from up here."

Harvey chuckled. "I believe it is." He started walking further ahead and then turned around, his face pale. "Hey, Dan!" He waited until Dan was next to him and then continued in a lower voice. He pointed, hiding the gesture with his other hand, to a bench at the edge of the stairs, near the middle of the rooftop deck. "Isn't that Scar Face?"

Dan glanced over and quickly looked away, not wanting to alert the thief that they were on to him. He made a barely perceptible nod and motioned for the other two boys to follow him. The man in question very likely was Tony's scar-faced friend. He was sitting on the bench with some kind of tourist's brochure in front of his face, but it was obvious from Dan's angle that he was not looking at it. It appeared he was watching someone over on the opposite side of the deck from Dan. The scar that ran along his left cheek was barely visible, and Dan couldn't even be sure it was him, but he followed the man's gaze, as best he could, and saw Trixie and Jim leaning against the railing looking out at the Empire State Building.

Bob and Harvey tried their best to walk nonchalantly toward Trixie and Jim to warn them, and Dan wasn't sure if he should do the same, or try to get Brian and Mart's attention and tackle the man in question. He decided on the latter, and walked over to where the two Belden brothers were taking turns looking through one of the telescopes.

"Mart, Brian," he whispered, once he approached them. "Get a load of that guy on the bench, there. I think it's Tony's pal."

Mart turned. "How can you tell from here?"

"From here, I can't. But from where I was, I thought I saw a scar on his face." Dan traced a line on his own cheek to indicate the scar's placement.

Brian shook his head. "I can't tell from here either, but if you think it's him, I'll bet it is."

Dan started walking back toward the stranger. "If he's alone, we should be able to take him."

The other two boys followed him. From the opposite end of the deck, Trixie and Jim turned away from their view and started heading back to the middle of the roof. The man on the bench closed the brochure, and then slowly got up and stretched.

Dan saw Bob and Harvey quicken their pace to reach Trixie, and he did likewise. The man, meanwhile, started walking directly towards the teenage couple. His pace was slow, casual, as if he were just another tourist on the deck.

Harvey's mouth opened and Dan knew he was calling out Trixie's name, but he couldn't hear it. The wind at this height must have carried his voice the other direction, or at least he hoped it had. But Trixie didn't seem to hear it, either. The man bumped into her directly, making it seem like an accident. He reached out, as if to keep her from falling, and grabbed her purse.

Dan saw that he had started to open it, but Jim quickly snatched the purse back, shutting it again before the thief could have taken anything. Dan shook his head and couldn't help the word that came to his lips. "Amateur."

Jim must have recognized the assailant, because the older man quickly turned and fled, nearly colliding into Harvey and Bob on his way to the stairs.

Dan and the others with him hurried to the scene. Neil had started running across the roof, also, and was already heading down the stairs with Ned right behind him. Barbara must have been with them, since she was also running, but she didn't follow the others down the stairs.

The group, minus Neil and Ned, all met at the same bench where the man had been sitting at the start.

"What happened? Oh, what happened?" Barbara sounded almost hysterical.

"It's okay, Babs," Bob told his twin sister. "At least, you are okay, aren't you, Trixie?"

Trixie smiled uncertainly. "I'd be a lot better if we could have nabbed that guy. I sure hope Neil and Ned catch him."

Jim's green eyes were dark with anger. "The nerve of him, trying to pretend he bumped into you so he could grab your purse."

"I saw the way you grabbed it back from him. Good thing, too." Harvey looked at the colorful purse Trixie still insisted on using. "Is the statue still inside?"

Trixie nodded, her curls bouncing in disarray. She opened the purse to confirm. "Yes, the idol is still in here, and the prophecy, and the translation, too." She shut the purse again. "I just wish I knew why they wanted it so badly."

"Let's see it, Trix," Jim requested. He held his hands out for the statue.

Trixie pulled it back out of her purse and handed it to him. "We've all been over it many times. There's nothing peculiar about it except the thing itself. It's just a piece of solid wood. It doesn't seem to open or anything."

Jim nodded and handed it back to Trixie. "It certainly doesn't seem worth the time of professional gangsters like those fellows seem to be."

"Hey, what was that you muttered on our way over here?" Brian looked at Dan curiously.

"What?" Dan shook his head, unsure what Brian was referring to.

Mart chuckled. "You said 'amateur'. I was right next to you and I heard it distinctly." He raised his eyebrows and his blue eyes twinkled. "Methinks you have some prior knowledge of just how to appropriate someone's belongings."

Dan felt his cheeks warm. He shrugged. "Yeah, maybe." He looked down at the ground.

"Sometimes you just have to do things to survive, even if you don't like doing them." Jim seemed to be speaking from personal knowledge as well.

"Wait, does that mean maybe these criminals we're dealing with aren't professional?" Barbara looked relieved, almost hopeful.

"I wouldn't be so quick to think that," Dan replied hastily. "Those guys are dangerous. They may not be used to doing petty stuff like stealing purses, but they are serious about getting a hold of that little wooden idol. Or the prophecy. Or both."

"The prophecy?" Trixie wrinkled her nose in puzzlement. "Why would they want that?"

Dan shrugged again. "I don't know. I'm just saying we still aren't sure they are after the idol. Maybe it's even the purse itself that is their prize."

"But the guy at the United Nations was very intent on taking the idol. Remember?" Trixie looked at Jim, and then back at Dan.

Neil and Ned came running back up the stairs, out of breath. "It … was … no … use …." Neil panted. He waited a few seconds for his breathing to come back to normal. "He got away, again."

Brian suddenly looked as if he'd just remembered something. "We better not let Regan know you ran after him. Remember how he lectured us after we ran after this same guy in Battery Park?"

Neil nodded. "Right. Let's nobody say anything … not about that part."

"He is fast." Ned looked back down at the stairs regretfully. "I can't believe we couldn't keep up with him."

"We will tell him the guy was up here though, right?" Trixie looked at the others. "I don't like to keep secrets—"

Mart cut her off with a laugh. "Since when? You always like to keep secrets."

Trixie's face turned red. "I do not." She suddenly laughed with him. "Okay, often I do. But I'd feel bad not letting Regan know about this. He is our chaperone, after all. And I'm too likely to let it slip if we talk about the case."

"As I'm sure we will." Jim grabbed Trixie's hand and led her down the stairs. "I think I've seen enough of this rooftop. Let's head over to Lionel Trains."


chapter 16: it's a wondrous sight to see