don't know what i thought i would find
 

Chapter VI: Dum-Dum-Ee-Doowee-Doo-Wop

February 9, 1957

Danny finished buttoning up his dress shirt and quickly looped his narrow tie around his neck. "I feel like I'm in a noose. I hoped we'd only have to wear this fancy stuff when we arrived."

"I comprehend my compatriot. But I believe Di's revelry is, to some extent, elaborate." Mart straightened his own tie. The bright blue of the narrow cloth contrasted with the stark white of his shirt.

"Didn't you say earlier today that it would be casual?" Harvey asked. He buttoned up the sleeves of his mint green shirt with the western-style trim.

Mart shook his head. "I believe that was Brian. In any case, that was before I saw the new dress and shoes Trixie is planning to wear. If Trixie is getting all dolled up, I figure Di will be likewise stylish."

"And I suppose Honey will still show up in dungarees?" Neil asked, teasing Mart.

Brian snorted. "No way. She'll be dressed up, too. I'm sure of it."

Danny snagged on to the mention of Honey to find out just what Brian thought of her. "You like Honey?" he asked Brian.

"What do you mean?" Brian answered. "Of course I like her. She's one of my best friends."

"But do you like her, like a girlfriend?" Harvey asked, not realizing he was helping Danny out.

Brian sighed. "No, not like a girlfriend. We're just friends."

Danny looked at him speculatively.

"Really," Brian insisted. "She's my sister's best friend and my best friend's sister. Not to mention that she's three years younger than me. How awkward would that be if we were going out? It's bad enough my sister and my best friend are falling all over each other." Brian reached for his navy blazer. "Are you bozos ready or not?"

"Not," Danny stated simply. He glanced in the mirror on the back of the guestroom door. He wondered briefly how he would look in a flat top, or maybe a crew cut like Mart's, and then shook his head, happy to leave his hair be. His thoughts turned back to Brian. If Brian wasn't interested in Honey, why the scowl in the stables earlier and the hovering at their elbows at Mr. Maypenny's?

In the reflection of the mirror, he saw Neil turn to the other Belden in the room. "And what about that little smooch on the cheek last night?" he asked Mart.

"Ah, the fair Diana. Yes, that kiss was delectable. And I aspire to procure a few more this evening," Mart admitted. He frowned momentarily. "Though I do think she may be quite out of my league. She's so beautiful. And rich. And—"

"And sweet and caring." Brian cut off Mart. "Diana is totally smitten with you. Don't worry. She thinks you're the smartest guy at school, and she likes that."

"I do believe one Miss Kevins is likewise knowledgeable, dazzling, sportive, and most important, charming," Mart told Brian, waggling his eyebrows. "Plus I hear she's a good cook."

Brian's cheeks flushed a deep red.

Danny quirked an eyebrow. "And who is this Miss Kevins?"

"Just this girl that Brian's been crushing on all year." Mart grinned at his brother's expense.

"Don't remind me." Brian sat down on the bed, putting his navy blue blazer down next to him.

"Why not?" Harvey asked. He pushed Dan away from the mirror and pulled a comb through his dark hair one more time, pushing the bangs out of his eyes and to the side. Satisfied, he placed the comb in his back pocket. "Does she already have a boyfriend or something?"

Brian shook his head at Harvey's question before turning back to his brother. "Can you just see the two of us walking down the halls together? What would people say?"

"Yes, and who cares?" Mart answered. "You two would be great together. As for other people, you know what Dad says: 'Let them talk'."

Brian groaned. "I know. But do you think she'll feel that way?"

"Loyola won't care what people say either. She's too intelligent for that. Take a chance, Brian." Mart reached for his own blazer.

Danny's dark eyes met Brian's lighter brown ones. "Loyola?" He repeated the name. "I take it Loyola's a Negro girl?"

Brian nodded.

Danny thought about his father's friends. Prejudice ran rampant, even in the jazz clubs and music world he'd been a part of growing up in Harlem. It was not something either of his parents ever tolerated. "I'm with Mart. Who cares what people think? You like her, go for it."

Neil put his hand to his chin, one finger reaching up to his mouth in a pensive gesture. He gave a small nod, as if mulling over what he wanted to say. "Our parents always remind us not to judge. I think yours feel the same. If anyone can stand up to the bigots that might say anything, it's you."

Brian stood up, grabbing his blazer again. "You're right. And it is Valentine's weekend." He grinned and then shrugged. "I may as well try. Worst she can do is laugh in my face."

The other boys grabbed their jackets, except Danny. "Wait," he said.

Harvey turned around. "What now?"

"I like Honey." Danny blurted out. He watched Brian and Mart to see how they would react. Mart grinned. Brian showed no reaction. "Does she have a boyfriend?"

Brian shook his head.

"So, it's cool then?" Danny paused.

No one said anything.

Danny looked pointedly at Brian. "'Cause, you know, a few times today, you've made some obvious moves to keep us from being alone." Danny waited to see if Brian would acknowledge that statement. When no one responded, Danny continued. "If you tell me she's spoken for, I'll back off right now. Otherwise, well, I'm pretty keen on her." He imagined dancing with Honey, holding her close in his arms. He tried to hide the smile that automatically formed at the thought, worried he would look like a fool to the others.

Brian swallowed audibly. "Maybe I have been overly-protective of Honey. Just—well, I don't want her to get hurt."

Danny nodded in understanding.

 

The five boys were greeted at the door of the Lynch Mansion by a prim and proper butler. Danny felt a bit overwhelmed by that at first. Honey and Jim lived in a mansion, but their home seemed much more casual. The staff didn't hover at people's elbows, and the teens moved freely about from room to room within reason. Here, he felt like he was on a museum tour and would get reprimanded by Harrison if he stepped out of line. Fortunately, they soon reached a spacious room where other teens were gathered in groups around some buffet tables. Cellophane hearts hung decoratively from the chandelier and from wall sconces, and a Marty Robbins tune was playing softly in the background. Harrison allowed the boys to enter and then went back to the front entrance where another group of kids were most likely waiting.

The boys spotted Jim, Trixie, and Honey standing by a table covered with a red tablecloth decorated with small white and pink hearts. The table held all sorts of bowls and plates filled with potato chips and cookies and Valentine heart candies. Jim was pouring soda into cups for the two girls when Danny and the others reached them.

Jim winked at the quintet. "Glad you guys finally made it. I thought I'd have to keep the girls entertained all on my own."

Honey laughed lightly. "With this ratio, we girls should be able to have a guy on each arm now."

"It'll take two guys to keep me from tripping if I try to dance in these heels," Trixie commented, looking down at her green pumps. They matched perfectly with the trim on her white dress.

"You look fantastic," Harvey told her. "And so do you, Honey. Either of you care to dance?"

Honey did look fantastic, Danny thought. Although her dress was also white, it was very different from Trixie's. The all-over red polka-dot pattern was complemented with a wide red headband in her hair and red shoes with small bows on them.

"Sure," Honey and Trixie answered, grinning at each other. They put their drinks down on the table and then each looped an arm around one of Harvey's.

Neil quickly caught up with them and put his arm through Trixie's other one. "I think you said you wanted two guys, right?" Danny heard him say.

"Well, how do you like that? They just walked off with two of our girls." Brian shook his head but his eyes were sparkling merrily as he watched them move to the dance area. "I suppose we should join them."

"Yeah." Danny nodded, even though he didn't move. He watched Neil, Harvey, Honey, and Trixie dance to a rock-and-roll song and lost all the nerve he'd had in the spare room of Crabapple Farm when he was imagining dancing with Honey. He didn't know how to dance. How could he possibly dance with Honey all night? Or even once?

Mart shrugged, and then pointed to another group of teens. "Let them dance. I'm heading over to where Di is talking with Tad. They've become far too chummy lately." His voice held a note of determination.

Jim put his hand on Mart's shoulder. "Relax. Di doesn't like Tad that way. She's just being nice." He followed Danny's stare at the foursome that had just left. "I hope Neil and Harvey aren't—"

"Nope. They're just having some fun at our expense," Danny said. He heard a romantic song start up on the record player. Slow dancing he could do; that seemed simple enough. "Let's get over there and cut those two clowns out before they start slow-dancing with them."

Jim looked at Danny in surprise. Then he smiled. "Good idea." He patted Mart on the shoulder. "May as well dance with Di, too, before Tad asks her," he whispered.

Mart needed no second warning. He took off with a quick step towards the other end of the buffet, and Danny and Jim walked a bit more slowly over to the two girls that held their interest. Danny glanced back toward Brian, and saw that he was headed over to another group of girls that had just arrived.

Next thing he knew, he was tapping Neil on the shoulder. Neil winked at him and moved out of the way, allowing Danny to cut in.

Danny's heart beat a little faster as he put one of his hands just above Honey's waist and the other on her shoulder. There was still a half a foot between their bodies, but it was close enough to smell the fruity scent of shampoo from her hair.

"Nice song," Honey murmured.

"Mmm hmm," Danny mumbled back. He barely heard the soft crooning of Sonny James coming from the record player, but he knew he didn't want it to end anytime soon.

Sadly, it did end. And someone was tapping him on the shoulder to take their turn to dance with Honey. He didn't recognize the boy and wanted to tell him to beat it, but thought better of it. At least the beat was picking up and it wouldn't be a close dance. "Save me another dance later?" he whispered to Honey before handing her over to the other teen.

"Of course," she answered. She turned to smile at the intruder. "Hi, Jamie. Nice to see you outside of school."

Danny wandered off, looking around the dance floor. More and more people had arrived, and everywhere he looked, girls in colorful skirts were swirling happily with their partners.

"Hey, there, stranger. Want to dance?"

Danny looked at the cute girl who had just cut in front of him. She was already moving her feet along with the music, causing her robin's-egg blue poodle-skirt to billow out a bit. Her light brown hair was pulled back into a pony-tail tied with a matching chiffon scarf. He smiled at her. "I'm not a very good dancer, but I'm willing to try if you are."

She smiled back at him as they stepped further into the dancing crowd. "My name's Jane. What's yours?"

"Dan," Danny answered.

"I haven't seen you around before," Jane commented.

"I don't go to school around here." Danny glanced back over to where he'd left Honey with Jamie, and then quickly turned back toward Jane, realizing it was kind of rude to be checking on Honey while dancing with another girl. He tried to move his feet the same way Jane was and felt foolish doing so. He tried to imagine the record player belting out a jazz tune instead of rock-n-roll. It didn't help much.

Jane laughed suddenly. "What are you dancing to?" she asked.

"Huh?" Danny blushed. "Sorry. I wish I knew how to dance to this stuff. Not very impressive, am I?"

"No, but you're cute." Jane smiled again, her pastel pink lipstick looked suddenly pale against the blush of her cheeks.

Danny suddenly felt like he was in hot water. He did not want to lead Jane on in the least. "I have a gi—, um, I'm ...."

Jane's mouth twitched down into a near frown. "Going steady with someone else? I knew it."

"Well, not yet. But for once I'd like to be. Um, with this other girl," Danny clarified quickly. "But since she's busy dancing with other people, I thought I would too." He shrugged.

Jane smiled again; a friendly, open smile. "Listen to the drum beat and move your feet to that. Here, like this." She showed him, alternately tapping her toes and heel to the beat of the music. "You'll never win her over the way you were dancing before."

Danny smiled back at Jane and tried the move. "Somehow, I don't think she's the type of girl who'd care how I dance. But I sure appreciate the tips." He glanced back over at Honey again.

"Is it Honey Wheeler?" Jane asked, following his eyes.

Danny blushed. "Yeah. It is."

"Jeepers. She's, well, yeah ... you're right, she wouldn't care how you dance. If only because she wouldn't notice you at all." Jane glared in Honey's direction.

Danny stopped dancing. "What the hell does that mean?" he asked, forgetting his resolve not to swear.

"She acts nice, but her and that clique of hers, they don't care much for outsiders." Jane frowned again.

"Isn't Di part of that clique? And didn't Di invite you here?" Danny asked, anger in his voice.

Jane shrugged her shoulders again. "That doesn't mean anything. Di invited everyone just so she could look popular."

Danny's voice was cold. "I don't know what kind of chip you have on your shoulder, but Di and Honey are both nice. Genuinely. Unlike you." Danny turned and walked away, nearly running into Mart and Di in his haste to get away from her.

"You okay?" Mart asked. He looked behind Danny where Jane was moving back through the crowd, apparently unscathed by Dan's abrupt departure. "You were dancing with Jane. What happened?"

"You know Jane?" Danny asked, anger still tingeing his tone.

Di started twirling a finger around a lock of her hair nervously. "Sure I know her. She's in some of my classes. What mean thing did she say now?"

Mart snickered. "She can be nice, sometimes, Di."

"Only to boys," Di said, sticking out her tongue. "Never to other girls."

Danny started laughing. "Is that it? Classic girl jealousy?"

Di grinned. "Come on, I'm dying to know what she said to get you mad. You don't seem like you lose your temper that easily."

"I don't. But she indicated you and Honey were snobs. And that you only invited everyone to look popular." Danny shook his head sadly.

"You didn't believe her, natch," Mart replied.

"Oh, you don't really think people think that, do you?" Di seemed genuinely worried. She twisted her hair some more and started biting her lower lip. "I just didn't want anyone to feel left out."

Mart put an arm around her shoulder. "We all know you want everyone to be welcome. It's in your nature to include everyone. So, don't you give a second thought about what Jane Morgan thinks."

"I've only known you for a little over a day and I know you're not like that." Danny did his best to reassure her. "I can't believe anyone from your school would think anything like that either."

Di smiled up at Danny. "Thanks." She hooked her arm through his. "Come on. We'll find you some nice girls to dance with."

Danny blushed. He looked around the room and noticed Honey had left Jamie and was walking toward them. "That's okay. I already know exactly who I want to dance with." He pulled his arm out of Di's and headed toward Honey.

In a few more steps, Honey was smiling at him and he forgot all about Jane. "Care for another dance?" he asked her.

Honey shook her head. "I'm danced out for now. I was just on my way to freshen up."

"Can I get you a soda or something?" Danny asked.

Honey nodded. "That would be great. I'll meet you over by the refreshments in a few minutes."

"Okay." Danny watched her walk away and then turned to head toward the refreshment table. Once there, he grabbed a couple of grape sodas and also filled a paper plate with a few cookies and some potato chips. Spotting a bowl of candy hearts, he dumped a few of those on the plate as well. Then he looked around the room for a place the two of them could sit down. He found a couple of chairs nearby and went over, placing the two sodas and the plate of goodies on the small table between the two chairs.

Looking around the room, he spotted Jim and Trixie huddled together near a large window, looking cozy. Danny grinned as he sat down, hoping he and Honey could look that comfortable together some day.

Looking the other way, out toward the dance floor, he spotted Harvey dancing the bop with a colored girl, and the two of them were starting to draw a crowd around them. Mart, Neil, Brian, and Di were part of that crowd watching Harvey and his partner and cheering them on. He wondered briefly if that was Loyola. Brian didn't look especially jealous though, so maybe it wasn't. He got so engrossed watching Harvey and the other girl from his vantage point that he didn't even notice Honey walk up.

"Perfect!" she exclaimed, sitting down and reaching for one of the grape sodas. "Grape is my favorite."

"Keen. I wasn't sure." Danny pointed through the crowd to Harvey and the girl. The song had ended and other people were starting to dance around them again. "I had no idea Harvey was such a good dancer. I should ask him for lessons, maybe."

Honey giggled. "I should ask him for lessons, too. I learned a lot of things between boarding school and camp, but dancing to rock-n-roll was not one of them."

"Boarding school?" Danny asked.

"Yes. Before we moved here I had to go to boarding school. It was awful." Honey picked up one of the cookies from the plate. "Thanks for getting us some food."

"No problem." Danny answered, grabbing some chips. "So you go to the local high school, now?"

"Sleepyside Junior-Senior High," she affirmed. "We're such a small town, they do six grades in one school. It's nice, because that means we're all in the same school." Honey took another cookie and then a sip of soda. "Enjoying the party?" she asked after a moment of silence.

"I guess. Parties aren't really my thing. But I liked dancing with you." He looked over at her to see her reaction, and noticed again how pretty she was when her cheeks were red, only this time from her blushing instead of from the cold.

"Really? I mean, you don't go to parties a lot in the city?" Honey fidgeted a bit. "I would think there's lots more dances and parties and things like that there. I know when I was in boarding school, the older girls were always sneaking out to go to parties and dances."

She was talking quickly and Danny thought it was cute. He grinned at her. "You never snuck out."

Honey shook her head. "I was too scared and too shy," she admitted.

Danny looked at her curiously. "Really? You don't strike me as being shy or of being scared of much at all. I mean, I don't know you that well yet, but you just seem really sure of yourself. I like that."

"Oh, you should have met me before I met Trixie. I was scared of everything. I was scared to walk in the preserve because of snakes and spiders and bobcats. I thought I saw ghosts everywhere. I used to have nightmares all the time, too. It was awful." Honey stopped talking and stared out at the crowd dancing.

"And then you met Trixie?" Danny prompted when she remained quiet.

"Yes. Somehow being around Trixie I had to be confident. All the scrapes she's dragged me into in just a few short months—"

Danny interrupted her, somewhat surprised. "You've only known Trixie a few months? I thought you all have been friends for years. You act like you've grown up together."

"Nope. We only met in June last year. So, I guess it's been more than a few months, but still less than a year." Honey grinned, her eyes regaining some of their earlier sparkle. "We became best friends almost instantly. And it's been so good for me to know someone like her."

"So, what kind of scrapes does she drag you into?" Danny asked, curious.

"Well," Honey started ticking things off on her fingers, "there were the trailer thieves who almost kidnapped us when we were looking for Jim who had run away again, then the pickpocket who stole that diamond and then came to work for us." Danny noticed how her eyes lit up when she started talking about the adventures. Honey tapped on her third finger, still counting. "And then there was Di's phony uncle that kidnapped Trixie and Mart, and then," she started laughing before she could finish the sentence, "there was that time she thought Mr. Maypenny was a poacher. And now that we're in the middle of working on this antique show to raise money for UNICEF, we've already had that lap desk stolen from us ...." She trailed off and looked at Danny.

Danny's eyes were wide with both surprise and admiration. His mouth hung open just a bit. "I see now why my uncle thought she had something to do with me coming here. Jeepers."

"Or 'Gleeps!' as Trixie would say." Honey laughed.

"I think all that would give you nightmares, not help make them go away." Danny shook his head in wonder. He wanted to hear more about each of those events.

"Yes, you might think so. But instead, I found out that all those awful things happening in real life aren't nearly as bad as when I imagined all those awful things happening." Honey frowned briefly, as if remembering how scared she used to be, and then smiled again, looking just over Danny's shoulder. "Hi, guys," Honey said in greeting.

Danny turned around to see Mart and Diana standing there. "Hey, you two," Danny joined her in greeting the pair.

"We were just going to step out on the terrace for some fresh air," Mart told them. "Why don't you join us?"

"Sounds like a plan," Honey replied.

"Sure," Danny agreed. He stood up, and held a hand out to Honey. "And then maybe another dance?"

"Yeah, okay." Honey took his hand.

They left the partially filled plate of chips and candies on the table, as well as the two half-drunk bottles of soda. Danny wondered if they should toss them away first, but quickly forgot about them as he walked hand-in-hand with Honey behind Mart and Di. His palms started sweating. He wanted to wipe them on his pants but he didn't want to let go of her hand.

Danny felt some relief when they reached the terrace and stepped out into the cold night air. The terrace was a half-story off the ground due to the slope of the land. A fancy iron railing encircled the tiled outdoor area, and wrought-iron patio furniture was available for seating.

Di went over to the edge of the terrace and rested her arms on the rail while Mart stood next to her. Honey, still holding Danny's hand, walked over to Di, pulling Danny along with her. When they got to the rail, Danny reluctantly let go of her and leaned his elbows on the rail also. The view was beautiful, full of trees glistening with ice in the bright moonlight. Honey shivered slightly next to him, and rubbed her hands over her bare arms. Danny quickly removed his tan sport coat and placed it over her shoulders. He was rewarded with a grateful smile.

The balcony door opened again with a hurried force, and Brian poked his head through. "Come quick! Jim and Trixie took off for the clubhouse muttering something about Regan. Something must have happened!" Brian shouted the words out hurriedly before quickly turning around to head through the crowded room to the front door.

Danny rushed out the door after him, and Mart showed no hesitation in following. Danny heard Di and Honey's hurried footsteps right behind them. Neil and Harvey were already with Brian, and soon the seven of them were outside, followed by some of the other guests from the party. They ran quickly down the Lynch driveway and then a short distance down Glen Road. Danny spotted Regan standing there talking with Trixie and Jim and the relief poured out of him. He collapsed into a sitting position on the ground, heedless of the cold snow seeping through his good trousers as he held his head between his knees. Honey came up behind him quickly, and stopped, panting a bit from the run. "Are you okay?" she asked solicitously.

Danny took a few more deep breaths before answering. "Yeah. Yeah, I'm fine. I just thought ... when he said Regan ... I'm fine." He couldn't put words to the fear that had entered him.

"Oh," Honey said simply, but her eyes showed her understanding. "Regan's okay. It's probably our clubhouse that's not."

Danny stood up again. "Clubhouse?"

"Come on; let's go see." She grabbed his hand and the two of them jogged the short distance to the rest of the crowd.

Honey led him to a small wooden two-room cabin-like building. Inside, the space was filled with a jumble of sports equipment and furniture, all tumbled together. Rags were scattered among the mess. Danny thought that was odd until he caught a whiff of a familiar odor.

"Gasoline," Danny said, picking up one of the rags. "Someone was going to set fire to this place."

"Yeah, I already noticed that," Trixie said from the doorway.

Mart and one of the other teens from the party started gathering the gas-soaked rags into a pile away from the clubhouse. Danny and Honey stepped outside together, and Danny walked over to Regan. Far away, police sirens screamed, gradually becoming louder as they came closer.

"Police are on their way," someone stated.

It seemed odd to Danny that he didn't feel a need to run away from the blaring sirens.

Mart and Brian walked up to where he, Regan, and Honey were still standing. "The samurai swords are missing. Everything else is still there," Brian reported.

Mart was angry. "Everything else may be there, but a lot of stuff is damaged. There are scratches on the cherry gate-leg tables and the gasoline ruined the finish on some of the other pieces."

Nothing the two boys said made much sense to Danny. He barely noticed anything around him. He kept repeating in his head, "Regan's alright." Someone touched his hand, shaking him out of his stupor. Honey was standing beside him. He gripped her hand tightly, as if holding on to everything at once. Looking into her tear-filled eyes, he realized the little building was special to her somehow. "Your clubhouse will be fine," he told her. "I'll help in any way I can."


chapter vii: don't ya ask me