there's a gleam in your eye
 

Chapter 18: Memories Won't Go

August 14, 1957

Tony grunted. "How is it you come mixed up in my business here? You not the type to be hanging with rich kids."

Dan didn't move. He continued to lie on the grass, trying to piece together what had happened. He felt someone's shoe push against him softly, but it couldn't be Tony's. Tony was standing at his head; the shoe had pushed against his leg.

The dark-haired man let out a sound like a growl. "You Mangans. You always get mixed up in my business."

Dan closed his eyes. What did his dad have to do with this man? Why was Tony after those papers? And what were those papers? Were they really just songs? Maybe he could get some answers.

"Wake up, Danny. I need you do something for me, yes? For old times." Tony was speaking to him as if they had been good friends. "Maybe the Mangans can help me for once?"

Dan would never help this man.

Tony spit on the ground near his face. "Your father, he took something from me. You can make up for that. Then I forgive you Mangans. We no need to be enemies." Tony bent over and peered into Dan's eyes. "Maybe you have what your father took?"

Dan looked back at him blankly.

"Or you have the key? Some papers? Yes?" Tony stared at him, his dark eyes narrowing suspiciously.

Dan closed his own eyes, afraid of giving anything anyway.

"What are you talkin' about, Tony?" The voice came from behind him. Dan guessed it might be the scar-faced man.

He felt Tony stand up again and slowly opened his eyes. The grass no longer felt cool; it was itchy and irritating, scratching against his cheek.

"Nuthin', Blinky. It don't concern you." Tony never took his eyes off him, even as he talked to his partner. He kicked Dan on the arm, not very hard, but just enough to shake him. "Do you have anything? Took something with you when you ran away? No?"

Dan schooled his face into a blank expression.

"It's been a long time. Must be lost, maybe destroyed." Tony seemed to be talking to himself.

"What's destroyed? What are you goin' on about? I thought we was here for the idol." Blinky sounded a bit impatient.

Tony laughed suddenly, and his mouth turned up at the corners in a smiling sort of grimace. "I'm sure your mommy and daddy didn't tell you nothin'. No. But you can still help me, yes?"

"Forget it, Tony. He's not going to help us." Blinky had come around to Tony's side and was staring at him, too. The man's scar was even uglier up close; the smooth pinkish line of skin contrasted with his olive complexion.

"Maybe." Tony bent his knees, squatting in front of Dan. "You know the curly blonde girl; she has something; it belongs to me. You can get it for me easy." Dan could feel the man's breath on him.

"Dan!! Where are you?!" The deep voice that had been calling him was closer, familiar.

"Maybe this girl, she and her friends are looking for you now?" Tony laughed again, a quiet little chuckle. He reached out and touched Dan's shoulder, shaking him.

Dan tried to move, but his head started pounding. He hadn't tripped. One of these guys had knocked him out.

"Come on, Tony. They're getting too close. And there's too many of them." Scar-Face, or Blinky, he supposed, was looking around, toward the voices calling his name.

"Donít be such a chicken, Blinky. They're just kids."

"Dan!!" It sounded like Brian. "Daannn!!"

Tony stood up. "You know what I want. You get it for me, yes?"

Dan wasn't sure if his voice would even work, but he had to try. "Over here!" His head really hurt now. He didn't know if it had been loud enough.

"Let's go, Tony. Now!" Blinky's voice was urgent as he gestured for the taller man to leave.

Dan heard the two thugs run off through the park.

"Daannn!" Brian called again. He was closer this time.

"Here!" Dan tried to call out again. "Brian!" He pulled himself up into a sitting position, and he immediately regretted it as the pounding in his head got worse and flashes of light danced in his eyes.

 

"Where is everyone?" Dan looked around the kitchen. Miss Trask was there, and the four girls, and, of course, Brian and Ned who had helped him home.

Miss Trask pushed a cup of warm liquid into his hands. "Out looking for you." It was said softly, not as an accusation or a complaint.

"What happened in the park?" Trixie's blue eyes scanned over him, studying him carefully for clues.

"I was on the ground," Dan spoke quietly. He glanced down at the greenish stain on his dress shirt. "Face down in the grass. They hit me on the head with something; knocked me out."

Brian looked concerned. "We really should take you to the hospital; make sure you don't have a concussion."

"I'll be fine. I've felt worse before. Where's Uncle Bill?" Dan wanted to talk to Regan—not about Tony, but about his outburst earlier. He knew his brothers understood, but he wasn't so sure his uncle did.

"He and Jim went somewhere together." Honey spoke timidly, and he could feel her staring at him intently. "Regan said he might know where you were headed."

"Mart and Neil went out, too. They said they were going to go back to where you went last night." Di sounded upset, and Dan couldn't be sure if it was from her ordeal earlier or if it was because of him.

Dan put the cup of tea on the table, not even sipping it. He looked down at the floor. The dirt from his shoes had left tracks on the otherwise clean tiles.

"Bob and Harvey are also out looking," Barbara said quietly.

Dan glanced up at her. Her brown eyes were wide, and she was gazing at him sympathetically. He put his elbows on the table and rested his head in his hands. "I'm sorry, everyone. I shouldn't have lost it like that."

"No, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have mouthed off like that." Ned did look sorry. "I don't know anything about what you've been through. You had a right to get angry. I thought … I don't know what I thought."

Dan looked at the boy who had set him off, not quite ready to forgive. "Yeah. You really have no idea. But I shouldn't have lost my temper. And I shouldn't have run off."

Ned let out a soft grunt. "I thought you were going to hit me square in the jaw. Honest. I would've deserved it, too."

"So what happened in the park exactly?" Trixie repeated the question. "Who hit you on the head?"

Dan groaned. "Tony. And his buddy, Scar-Face. Or 'Blinky' as he called him."

"Blinky? That's an unusual name, even for a nickname." Honey's voice came from the chair across from him, but Dan was afraid to face her.

"Probably because of his scar," Brian guessed. "It does seem to run through one eye."

"Oh my gosh, Trixie. The prophecy!" Barbara nearly pounced on the other girl.

Dan watched as the two girls ran to the living room to retrieve Trixie's purse and the notes within.

"See here!" Barbara bounced back into the kitchen triumphantly holding the waitress' tabs, but then handed the papers to Trixie to read. She pointed excitedly to the lines she had remembered.

"'Hard-headed man lying mouth down, a rock flashes brilliantly behind the eye.'" Trixie regarded him pointedly.

"What?" Dan sat up, putting his arms on the table. "You think I'm the hard-headed man?" He slumped his shoulders as he answered his own question. "Okay, maybe I am a bit hard-headed."

"Just a bit." Brian winked. "In more ways than one."

"Right. And I was laying face down when I woke up on the grass. I thought I had tripped …." Dan paused, trying to remember. "I bet one of those two did trip me while the other one hit me over the head with something. It was something shiny, I think."

"Something shiny?" Honey repeated.

Dan nodded. "I remember seeing something shiny moving, and the next thing I know I was sprawled on the grass."

"A shiny rock? As in a rock flashing brilliantly?" Barbara asked eagerly.

"That hit you on your head right behind your eye?" Trixie was speculating.

"That's a bit of a stretch. But I suppose it could be." Dan shrugged. "Or, maybe, when I came to and first sat up, I was literally seeing stars. Could it be that the word Yomo translated as rock could also refer to those flashes of light you see when you get hit on the head too hard?"

Miss Trask cleared her throat. "A person can twist words to get almost any meaning out of them he wants." She spoke sternly to the girls and boys. "I really think that's enough talk about this prophecy. I wish you had never gotten it translated."

The front door opened and then the kitchen door. "We walked all around the neighborhood," Bob announced. Harvey was right behind him.

"Dan! You're here." Harvey went up to Dan and clapped him on the back. "Welcome home, again." The last word was said with some emphasis; Harvey had a history of having to welcome Dan into his home whether he had wanted to or not.

"Yep, Harv. You're still stuck with me." Dan turned up one corner of his mouth in a half-grin. "I'm sorry you guys had to go out looking for me." He frowned again. "Really sorry."

Dan looked over at Di. Her head was falling forward and her eyes were closed. "Di?"

No answer came from her chair.

"I guess we should get her to bed." Honey nudged the girl gently. "Di?"

"She's had a long day." Miss Trask looked at the girl. "I'll get her settled."

"I'll help." Barbara yawned. "I'm pretty tired myself, anyway."

"We boys should get going, too," Harvey said.

Bob frowned slightly. "Hey! We just got here. I want to know what happened." He sat down at the table near Dan. "Where did you go?"

"He ran off into the park" Trixie's eyes were glimmering with excitement as she spoke. "And then he got hit on the head ... by Tony and Blinky!"

"Blinky?" Harvey tilted his head slightly as he peered back at Trixie.

"Scar-Face," Dan supplied.

Miss Trask glanced at the clock above the kitchen table. "It's pretty late. You boys should go to the other apartment, and you girls need to get to bed."

She walked over to Di's chair and put a hand on the sleeping girl's shoulder. Barbara stood up as well. The two of them helped Di stand and then guided the half-sleeping girl out of the room.

Bob stood up again and pushed his chair back under the table. "I guess we should go. But you'll tell us everything later, right?"

Ned nodded. "I'll fill you in." He followed Bob and Harvey back out of the room.

"I'll be right behind you," Brian announced.

"You're tired too, aren't you, Trixie?" Honey caught the other girl yawning. "After that scare in the stairwell, you should be."

Trixie shook her head, denying it. "I'm fine." But she ended up yawning again. "Okay, I'll get to bed." She winked at Honey. "And I suppose you're staying up just a little longer?"

Honey's cheeks flushed lightly. "I'll be there soon."

Dan looked over at Brian, wondering if he'd give him a few minutes alone with Honey.

Brian stared back at him, then at Honey, then back at him. "Fine." He rolled his eyes and scooted his chair back. "Just don't stay long," he admonished, heading out the door.

Dan gazed at Honey. He didn't know what to say to her. Apologies didn't seem adequate but they were all he had. "I'm so sorry, Honey. I didn't mean to shrug you away or to ignore you."

Honey stared back at him, her hazel eyes wide, her expression understanding. "Please, stop apologizing. I'm not upset with you. I don't think anybody is. And, well …." She paused, her eyes brimming with tears. "I'm sorry you had to go through all that," she finally said.

Dan managed a small grin. "I thought we weren't supposed to be apologizing."

"You scared me." Honey bit her lip. "I tried to understand, but … you … it all just scared me. One minute we were all talking, and then you …." She sighed. "It's like you weren't you anymore."

Dan felt his stomach turn and his palms started to sweat. It was that same feeling that caused him to turn around and run instead of just hitting Ned. "I … I'm … That's why I left. I realized I was scaring you, and I hated doing that more than anything."

She fidgeted nervously, wringing her hands together. "I don't like being scared, and I've been scared of so many things most of my life." Honey smiled at him again, that friendly open smile that always made his heart melt. "Miss Trask and I talked about it after you left, and I think I understand. For someone to say that the horrible things you had to go through were somehow fun and exciting." She shook her head. "I'm just … really sorry you had to live … like that."

"Thank you." Dan didn't think the words were sufficient.

"For what?" Honey looked confused.

He gazed at her in wonder. "For understanding. For accepting me. For not hating me for what I've been, what I've done."

She shrugged, still looking confused by his answer. "How can I be upset with you for not giving in to your anger? I'm really super glad you didn't hit Ned." She paused, and then started to blush. "From what you've mentioned before, I think you used to get into lots of fights. But, on the subway, you avoided fighting with your old gang. And you didn't hit Ned tonight." She gazed at him thoughtfully. "You seem to be trying to put the gang, and anything you were or did then, behind you."

"I am." He swallowed. He really was. "But it seems to all be catching up with me this week."

"And losing your temper like that; it did scare me. But I think, well, I should say Miss Trask, and Regan, and Neil, and even Jim … they all made meólots of us, reallyórealize why you lost your temper like that." She smiled at him.

He definitely owed everyone an apology and his gratitude. He was a bit surprised to hear that Miss Trask and Jim had both come to his defense.

The two of them sat there quietly for a bit, but Dan kept thinking about something Honey had brought up earlier. He kept mulling it over in his mind, partly because he hated the idea that she would ever be scared of him, even though that was his own fault. But it wasn't just that she was scared of him, and she had mentioned being afraid before. "Honey, what things have you been so scared of?" He tried to hold her gaze but she lowered her head.

"The ordinary stuff, I guess. Bees, spiders, snakes, things like that." She stared down at the table.

Dan sighed. He was sure there was more to it than that.

"Of being accepted and being liked," she added suddenly.

He couldn't imagine anyone not liking Honey. "Who didn't accept you or like you?"

Honey frowned. "Before I met Trixie? Hardly anyone did."

"They're idiots, whoever they are." Dan smiled at her and reached across the table for one of her hands. "I like you plenty."

"I …." She sighed before continuing. "I used to be so shy and quiet. You don't know how much knowing Trixie has changed me. I really doubt you would've liked the old me at all."

"Maybe. Maybe I would have." He didn't think that shy and quiet was a bad thing. "What's so bad about being shy?"

She shook her head, leaving his question unanswered for a bit. "It was more than just being shy."

"Oh." He waited for her to explain, but she didn't.

The two of them sat there silently for a while. It was very quiet in the apartment; the only sound to be heard was the hum of the refrigerator. Honey rested her head on her arm and started to drift off to sleep.

After some time, Dan thought he heard footsteps in the hallway. It sounded like the door to the other apartment had opened and shut, and then silence again.

Dan reluctantly let go of her hand. "You'd better get to bed," he whispered.

"Mmm-hmmm," she mumbled in reply.

Dan got up and moved around the table. He nudged her gently. "Come on, sleepyhead."

Wearily, Honey stood up. She stretched and yawned. "Did the other boys ever come back?"

Dan nodded. "I think they went straight to the other apartment."

 

Dan entered Mr. Whitney's apartment quietly, hoping to just tiptoe up to bed, but the number of lights still on in the home, the sounds from the living room, and the voices coming from the kitchen put an end to that thought.

On the couch, guitar in hand, Neil was strumming out a tune. No, that wasn't Neil's dark head bent over the instrument; Neil was sitting in a wooden chair, watching the other guitar player. Dan walked over to the two boys. "I didn't know you played, Bob."

Bob smiled up at Dan. "Just a little. Barbara's actually better than me." He went back to playing. The tune sounded familiar.

"I was telling Bob about how Pete Seeger was at summer camp last year, and that's when I first started thinking about playing guitar," Neil explained.

"I can't believe he not only met one of The Weavers, but actually talked to Pete and played his guitar." Bob was somewhat star-struck.

Dan grinned. "I'm more impressed that he met Brian. Brian wasn't even at his camp."

Neil laughed. The kitchen doors opened, and Regan, Jim, and Mart came into the room.

"Glad you made it home," Jim said.

"Huh. Glad we made it home," Regan retorted from behind him.

Dan raised an eyebrow. "What happened to you guys?"

Jim's face flushed red. "We got … lost."

Mart snickered. "Woods, yes." He nodded his head up and down. "City, no." He shook his head for "no". "Those two do not belong in the city, especially not wandering around by themselves."

"It's true. I may have lived here as a little kid, but I am not a city person." Regan shook his head.

Dan sat down on the couch next to Bob. The other three also settled down where they could in the room. "So, where did you go?" Dan was pretty sure he already knew the answer, but what he really wanted was to find out how much Jim now knew about his old apartment. That verse from the prophecy was still getting under his skin.

"Tried to find your old home up in Harlem." Regan settled back in the tan recliner. "I remembered the general direction, but do you know how many streets in that neighborhood we walked up and down before I recognized your building?"

Jim laughed. "But we did eventually find it. Then he saw the screen was still on the window, so he knew you wouldn't be there."

"You didn't go in and check?" Dan tried to phrase the question in a teasing manner but didn't quite pull it off.

Regan shook his head again. With his eyes, he let Dan know his secret was safe. "No. I was pretty sure the window would have been open if you had gone inside."

One of Neil's bushy eyebrows rose in curiosity. "Why would you go to your old neighborhood? And inside your old house? Wouldn't someone else be living there now?"

"Frankly, I wondered the same." Jim's green eyes stared intensely at Dan.

Dan ignored the questions and turned to Bob. "What is that song you keep playing? It sounds really familiar."

Bob looked up from the guitar. "Just an old Weavers song." He started from the beginning, playing a few notes, and then started singing along with the music.

"When I was a young man and never been kissed
I got to thinking it over what I had missed.
I got me a girl, I kissed her and then
Oh Lord, I kissed her again."

Neil and Mart both joined in for the chorus.

"Oh, kisses sweeter than wine,
Oh, kisses sweeter than wine."

Dan remembered. "Mom used to sing that," he said quietly.

He pictured her in the kitchen, cooking dinner. It was after his father had left for Korea. His mom was humming and singing softly while chopping vegetables, a pot simmering on the stove. Her back was to him as she leaned over the counter. The tan skirt and white blouse she wore were from her uniform at the A&P. The little window over the sink was open, and the blue checkered curtains were flowing back and forth with the breeze. It must have been early in the fall, shortly after school had started. Dan was at the little blue and gray Formica table trying to figure out his homework assignment. The math book was open, and he was staring at it while bouncing his pencil on the table, the new eraser on the end giving it a nice rebound. The sound of the bounce was in tune with the gentle chopping sound from the cutting board, making a kind of background music to his mom's singing. It was a good memory.

"Do you want me to stop?" Bob asked.

"No." Dan shook his head and actually smiled. "Keep playing, please. It's a nice song."


chapter 19: when questions asked are unreplied