there's a gleam in your eye
 

Chapter 17: Why Can't We Run?

August 14, 1957

The group exited the elevator on the 86th floor. Dan wanted to go outside with Honey, but first they needed to find Trixie and Di.

"They probably stayed in the enclosed area," Mart said. "I don't think Di would have gone to the outdoor deck."

But the girls weren't there. The group split up to look for them throughout the floor.

When they met back at the elevators, Jim looked disappointed. "They must have gone back downstairs already."

"Let's go, then," Miss Trask stated. "I just want to make sure they're safely with Regan in the lobby. That is where we told them to wait for us."

They all nodded and continued to the first floor. Dan could tell the Bob-Whites were really worried, but they probably were downstairs in the lobby with his uncle.

 

"I haven't seen them since you all went up together." Regan furrowed his brows in worry.

"I'll go back upstairs and check again," Mart volunteered.

"Take someone with you." Miss Trask sounded nervous. "Neil, could you go?"

Neil nodded and he and Mart headed back up the elevators.

Regan looked up and down the hall as if the girls would magically appear. "The rest of us should just wait here. They may just be in the elevators." He stared expectantly at the elevator doors, opening, closing, never revealing Trixie or Di.

Jim watched the doors, too. He started pacing, and then suddenly looked up. An expression of hope crossed his face. "Wasn't there a gift shop on the 80th floor?"

Harvey nodded. "Yes, there was. I can go up and look there."

"I'll go with you," Ned said quickly.

Miss Trask nodded, and two more of their group went up in the elevators once again.

"They probably are in the gift shop," Honey said. She put a hand on her brother's arm. "You know how Di likes to browse through items."

Jim smiled and nodded. "You're right. I'm probably worried over nothing."

Dan looked at his uncle. "Could she be scared to come down the elevator?"

Regan looked back at him, surprised. "Because of our fear of heights? I suppose so. Is the elevator scary?"

Dan shrugged. "I guess it could be. It goes pretty fast and she was complaining about her ears popping on the way up."

Miss Trask smiled. "A lot of us were complaining about that. I suppose that could be it, too. But if she doesn't come down the elevator, how will they get down?"

Brian joined Jim in pacing back and forth in front of the large elevator bank. Every time one of the doors opened, they'd look to see who was exiting.

The minutes ticked by, and there was still no sign of Trixie or Diana.

Another elevator door opened up. Ned and Harvey walked out, dejected. "No sign of them in the gift shop," Harvey said quietly.

"Where could they be?" Barbara's voice was high-pitched, again. Dan could tell she was very worried.

Honey put an arm around the dark-haired girl. "It's Trixie. They could be anywhere, but I'm sure they're okay."

Dan didn't think she sounded all that sure, but he knew she was trying to calm Barbara.

Time seemed to slow as everyone waited, but it was only a few minutes later that Dan heard footsteps pounding on the tiled floor; someone was running. He turned around and Trixie and Di were both racing toward them. Dan released his breath, only then noting that he had even been holding it.

Trixie ran straight toward Jim and he threw his arms around her and held her tightly. "I thought you were lost! Oh, Trixie, I didn't know what had happened to you!"

Trixie babbled incoherently about men chasing them on the stairs. Her words came out jumbled; no one could understand what she was trying to say.

Dan put a shoulder around Di, who was openly sobbing. "Shh," he said. "You're okay."

Honey held Di's hand, squeezing it to reassure the other girl.

"Where … where's Mart?" Di's eyes were still full of tears and she was still out of breath.

"Mart and Neil are both up on the 86th floor looking for you girls." Regan's hands were on his hips—his lecture pose—but his eyes were full of concern.

"Here they come now," Miss Trask said, as the two boys joined the others. "Let's go somewhere quiet and you can tell us what happened."

"I just want to get home," Di pleaded. "I have never been so scared in all my life."

Dan watched as Miss Trask and Neil went outside. They returned a moment later, announcing they had taxis waiting for the whole group. This time, Dan rode with Honey and Di, who still clutched his arm and Honey's hand, and continued to do so, without speaking, for the entire ride home.

 

Inside the Wheelers' apartment, everyone gathered in the living room. Di was now sitting in front of Mart, both of them on the floor; he leaned against the side of one of the armchairs, and had his arms wrapped around her. She seemed calmer with his solid presence at her back.

Dan was in the other arm-chair on the opposite side of the couch, sitting more on the arm than the chair itself, and Honey was squeezed in beside him. She was playing with her hair again, twirling it around her fingers, something he'd noticed her doing when she was nervous.

"It was just awful," Di said. She was clutching a warm cup of hot chocolate, even though it was a muggy night. Miss Trask had insisted she either have warm milk or tea to calm her nerves.

"Really, it was," Trixie agreed. She was seated in the chair above Mart and Di, her legs curled underneath her. "It was those same two men: the tall guy and the one with the scar."

"Tony," Mart said. "Isn't that the tall guy's name?"

Dan's stomach sank. He stole a glance at his uncle. Regan was standing in the doorway, leaning inside the frame. His face was stony, cold; his eyes had turned a pale green, not the vivid hue they usually were.

Trixie nodded. "They ran in front of the elevators, blocking our way. He kept asking me to give him the idol, but, remember, I gave it to Miss Trask for safe-keeping right before we went up."

Miss Trask frowned, deep wrinkles appearing in her forehead. "And I'm not sure now if I'm glad of that. If you had had it to give to them, maybe they would have just left you alone."

Trixie clenched her fists and her eyes flashed defiantly. "I wouldn't have given it to them, anyway. It's just as well you had it."

"Gosh, what did you do? How did you get away?" Bob looked worried for them. He, his sister, and Brian were all sitting cross-legged in front of Trixie, Di, and Mart on the plush carpeting.

"I noticed the stairway entrance. We ducked in there and started down the stairs." Trixie bit her lip. "But they were right behind us."

"You ran down eighty-six flights of stairs?!" Regan's voice boomed inside the room.

Trixie shook her head. "No, we couldn't, of course."

Di nodded. "Trixie might have been able to, but I couldn't." Di sniffed, tears threatening to fall again. "It was so scary. I kept hearing those men's footsteps. I thought they were going to catch us at any minute."

Trixie shifted in her seat. "I did, too. But I knew I couldn't let that happen. I just had to keep going."

"I was getting too tired. So Trixie pulled me through a doorway and then we ran down a hall." Di glanced up at Trixie gratefully.

Trixie continued the story. "I spotted an open office door and ran in. There were some cleaning ladies there, and they helped us. One of them got one of the maintenance men to bring us down in a service elevator."

"That's where you came from," Brian stated. "I was wondering how you had gotten downstairs."

Trixie nodded. "But none of them actually believed that anyone was following us. Tony and the scar-faced man got away." Her outrage at those two slipping through their grasp once again was obvious. "Since the workers didn't see them, they all thought we were just fooling around."

Jim clenched and then unclenched his fists. "But they did bring you downstairs safely." He was standing also, and pacing at times, behind Trixie's chair.

Trixie nodded again. She looked around at her friends. "So many things have happened to spoil everything for you. Now, tonight was the worst of all."

"What do you mean?" Bob protested. "Our vacation isn't spoiled. It's kind of neat to be involved in one of your mysteries."

"I'll say," Ned agreed. He, Neil, and Harvey were seated on the couch. Ned went on, excitedly. "I only wish I could have been with you and Di up there when you ran into those gangsters."

"You could have substituted for me. Welcome to it." Di shivered. "I don't enjoy Trixie's narrow escapes."

"I don't either." Miss Trask frowned. She had brought a chair over from the dining room to sit on, after making sure everyone else was comfortably settled. "I should telephone Mr. Wheeler immediately."

"Daddy is in Washington," Honey reminded her.

"And I have his office number there," Miss Trask replied sternly. "Even if he isn't able to fly back immediately, he'll at least know what's going on."

"And he'll make everyone go home. Oh, please, Miss Trask, can't you give it one more day?" Trixie pleaded with the older chaperone.

"No. I'm with Margery on this one." Regan shook his head. "It's gone too far already. That Tony fellow is dangerous. I would never have been able to forgive myself if something happened to you two girls, or to any of you for that matter."

"How is it you know Tony, anyway?" Brian asked, looking over at Dan. "We never did get to hear that story."

Dan swallowed silently. Honey angled herself to be able to look at Dan as he spoke. But he didn't say anything.

Regan frowned. "I don't know how that's important right now."

"Shucks. I was looking forward to a story about your days in the gang. You must have had a wonderful life, turned loose in New York." Ned spoke with obvious envy.

Dan felt his cheeks flaming and his hands formed into fists automatically as Ned spoke.

Neil reached over and hit Ned on the back of the head, hard. "You are such an idiot, Ned Schulz."

Someone in the room gasped; Dan thought it might have been Barbara.

Ned rubbed the back of his head, trying to soothe the ache he must have felt.

"You have no idea how horrible it was, do you?" Dan felt someone grab his clenched fist as he spoke, trying to open it, trying to hold his hand. He tried to breathe, to calm himself, but he couldn't seem to abate his anger. He narrowed his eyes, trying to focus on Ned. "You want to know what life was like? You really want to know how wonderful it was living on the streets?! You try figuring out where to shower to stay clean. You try finding ways to stay warm in the winter."

Dan got up from the chair, tears stinging his eyes, his fists still clenched. He stepped menacingly toward Ned. The boy's face looked pale; his eyes were wide with fright. Good. "You think it's fun figuring out who to steal from so you can get your next meal? You think it's great to get beat up by other gang members, and not always a rival gang?"

Dan became vaguely aware of someone, of Honey, grabbing his arm and saying his name, her voice filled with tears.

Something broke in him. He turned and ran out of the room, out of the apartment, and down the thirty flights of stairs all the way to the lobby. It didn't even tire him. The night doorman tried to reach the doors before he did, but Dan pushed through them out into the street, and ran into the park.

 

"Dan!!"

"Danny!!"

Dan heard them calling him. He knew he should go back. Running wasn't the answer. But he wasn't running anymore. He lay sprawling on the grass from where he had tripped, digging his fingers into the wet sod. The smell of dirt filled his nostrils and the grass felt cool on his cheek. He started wondering just what he had tripped on when he heard someone laugh.

"Danny Mangan? Tim and Sarah's boy, right? I know I knows you from somewhere." Tony's accent had diminished, but Dan definitely knew it was him.


chapter 18: memories won't go