~A Little Hardys Adventure by Lily~
The Mystery at the Beach
We’re at the Beach!
The rumbling grew louder, the earth trembled worse than before, and that awful noise sounded once again!
Joe clamped his hands over his ears and Frank grabbed his elbow, guiding him to their parents who had only been a few steps behind. “Daddy!” Frank shouted in an attempt to be heard over all of the ruckus. “What’s that awful noise?!”
Fenton smiled gently and bent down in front of his sons. Laura had knelt beside Joe and placed her own hands over his to help protect his ears from the offending noise. Their dad yelled above the din, “It’s okay boys! It’s just a freight train! There must be tracks running directly behind those trees out back!”
“But why is it so LOUD?!” Frank asked with a frown of surprise on his little face.
“There must be two engines pulling it! Plus the type of train and condition of the gears can cause more noise like this! The horn is louder than the ones we’ve heard closer to home! And being outside, so close to it, makes it seem louder because it’s not being muffled by walls, buildings, or more trees!” his dad explained while Frank nodded, appreciating the additional information to help him understand why it was so different here.
“TRAIN!” Joe pulled his hands from his ears to point at his great discovery, not having heard a word his dad had just spoken.
Fenton laughed, “Yes, train!”
They watched through the small break in the trees to the right of the building until the locomotives and trailing cars had completely passed by. Then they got back into their car and headed down the road, once again on their way to the ocean’s side.
“Can you smell that, boys?” Fenton asked as he ran the car windows down to let in the fresh, clean scent of ocean air.
“Yeah!” the boys chorused from the backseat.
“I’m so glad we were able to get reservations at an oceanfront hotel this time, Fenton,” his wife spoke with pleasure on her face. “And we even have a beachfront room…with a balcony, no less!”
“Yes, it sure beats having to drive through traffic every day to get to the water!” he agreed. He turned the wheel to bring the car inline with the parking space at their hotel. “Now we’ll be able to just go down three floors to the lobby and out through the private entrance for the hotel’s guests…right onto the sand!”
“We’re at the beach!” Joe cheered and clapped his hands.
“Can we go to the beach now, Daddy?” Frank asked hopefully.
“No, not just yet, buddy,” Fenton gently broke the news to him. “We have to get the keys to our room, bring in our luggage, make sure everything’s okay with the room…and then we can go to the beach.”
After helping her sons out of the car, Laura knelt down and spoke to them as intelligent human beings, as she and Fenton always did…because they were! “There’re two choices on what we can do after we’re settled in. We can go out on the beach for a half an hour and then go eat lunch. Or we can eat lunch and then spend several hours on the beach without having to go back inside so soon. You two can decide which we’ll do, okay?”
The boys were delighted with this idea and heartily agreed to think it over. They immediately began discussing it between the two of them, figuring out the pros and cons of both possibilities. This kept them busy and the time went by much faster for them with such fun ideas to think on as their parents tended to the other things. About an hour later, the boys had made their decision, announced it, and were now getting anxious again.
“How about I take them down to the lobby to look at the postcards while you finish your ‘make it clean for real‘ sweep?” Fenton suggested, referring to Laura’s usual method of cleaning the rented accommodations herself to make sure they were 100% clean for her family. She smiled and nodded, appreciating the offer – now she would be able to get done much more quickly!
The three Hardy boys entered the hotel lobby and went over to the postcard racks near the front desk. Fenton began getting down one of each postcard that was too high up for the boys. Frank and Joe exclaimed with delight as they discovered postcards that they especially liked, showing them to their dad for comment. All three were enjoying this fun time, that is, they were enjoying it until…
“Awww, wook at da widdle fewwow! Isn’t he cuuuute!” a woman standing nearby in gaudy attire claimed loudly.
To Joe’s horror, he saw that she was referring to him! He gasped and tried to hide behind his father, but it didn’t work so well when his dad was wearing swim trunks instead of long pants!
The woman bent down closer to Joe’s level and continued the exaggerated baby talk, “Wook at dose biiiig bwooo eyes and sweet curwy bwond hair!”
Joe tried again to hide behind his dad, hoping the scary, loud woman would go away.
“Awww, is ums shyyyy?” she said with overdone sympathy in her voice as she came a little closer.
Frank, who had not yet learned that being honest didn’t necessarily mean you had to state everything, spoke up, “No, Ma’am. He’s not shy at all – I think you’re scaring him!”
The woman gasped and stood back up abruptly.
Though Fenton was already aware of the loud woman and was trying to think of a nice way to tell her to ‘bug off’, he had now become painfully aware of the whole realm of the situation.
Without caring to ask about the sudden look of pain on the man’s face, the overbearing woman complained, “Your older boy just accused me of scaring your smallest one! I was just being friendly and talking in his language! Are you going to let your son talk to an adult that way?! Why, it’s ridiculous to accuse me of scaring his brother!”
“Well, Ma’am,” Fenton spoke as he managed a pained smile, “There are four little fingers and one very strong thumb digging into the calf of my leg…I believe that would qualify as evidence to support my older son’s statement.”
The woman gave a ‘humph!’, pressed her lips tightly together as she stared at Fenton a moment, and then turned and stomped away…much to the relief of the three males standing there.
“Joe…son…she’s gone now…why don’t you let go of Daddy’s leg, okay?” Fenton asked as gently as he could at the moment.
Frank hurried to his dad’s rescue and pried Joe’s chubby little fingers loose from the strong grip they had on his dad’s leg. Fenton sighed with relief when Joe finally let go. Frank examined his dad’s leg and looked up to report, “No blood, Daddy.”
Fenton smiled and thanked Frank for the good news, ruffling his blue-black hair as he knelt down to talk with Joe. Placing a strong, gentle hand on Joe’s little shoulder he asked, “Are you okay now, Joe? She’s gone…and I don’t think she’s going to bother you again.”
Joe swallowed, peered past his dad for a moment, and then nodded his head as he looked back up answered, “Okeydokey.”
Fenton smiled and the three boys went back to looking at the picture postcards until Laura joined them a little while later.
Since Frank and Joe had decided they would rather eat lunch first so that they could spend more uninterrupted time on the beach, the Hardy family exited the hotel. They crossed the parking lot and carefully crossed the street to an outdoor café. Fenton laughed as he read out loud the sign they had spotted earlier when they first reached the area, “‘Beachwear Required for Service’…certainly sets the tone, doesn’t it?”
“Yes, it does,” Laura agreed with a gentle laugh of her own. “And the food smells delicious!”
“Mmmm, boy – yummy food!” Frank said excitedly as he licked his lips in anticipation.
“Food,” Joe echoed and rubbed his tummy.
Fenton selected a table against the back wall of the patio and set a booster seat for Joe in one of the chairs and placed him in it. Frank was climbing up into his own chair across from Joe, but his foot started to slip. His mom caught him and held onto him so he could finish the climb triumphantly. After seating Laura, Fenton sat down facing toward the street. A waiter, dressed in khaki shorts, a neon green shirt, and deck shoes came over to take their order.
“Afternoon!” he greeted his customers with a cheerful grin. “My name’s Pete and I’m here to serve you. Would you like to have the special of the day or would you like to take a look at our menu selection?”
“We’d like to see the menu, please,” Fenton requested with a smile. “Our boys enjoy hearing about all of the different choices almost as much as they enjoy eating!”
“Sure thing,” Pete replied cheerily and smoothly dealt out the menus he had with him. “I’ll be back in a few to take your order.”
After listening to the many choices available, Frank chose ‘seaside noodle soup’ while Joe decided he wanted a hot dog and fries.
As promised, Pete sauntered back over to the Hardy table a few minutes later, “Have any questions, need more time, or are you ready for me to take your order?”
“We’re ready,” Fenton answered. After ordering broiled chicken for Laura and the boys’ selections, Fenton added his own order for a foot long Hebrew National hot dog. “And we’d like the pitcher of root beer with that, please.”
“Sure thing! I’ll be back in about fifteen minutes with your order. Would you like your drinks before that?”
“No, not immediately…shortly before the food is ready, though, if you can.”
“Thank you!” Joe piped up as the waiter started toward the building.
Pete turned back, flashed a grin and replied, “You’re welcome, little surfer dude.”
Joe laughed with delight at the attention and friendliness of the waiter, feeling quite proud that he had gotten a response…sometimes adults didn’t pay much attention to him.
Even though the place was busy, it being lunchtime, their waiter returned ten minutes later with the pitcher of root beer and announced that their food would be ready in about five minutes.
“Hot dog!” Joe bounced in his booster seat so enthusiastically that it immediately resulted in a parental hand coming from the right and also from the left to make sure he didn’t bounce right out of it.
“Careful, Joe,” Laura admonished gently but firmly.
Joe took in his parents’ concerned expressions and calmed down a little…for the moment.
Fenton poured their drinks and helped Joe hold his slippery-cold glass. Laura kept an eye on Frank, but he was doing okay on his own. He carefully set his glass back down on the table, licked his lips and asked, “Soup?”
“Soon, darling,” Laura smiled.
Pete soon arrived with a large tray bearing their lunch. He expertly served up their dishes and told them, “I’ll be around, so let me know if you folks need anything. Otherwise I’ll leave you alone so you can enjoy your meal without interruption.”
All four members of the Hardy family thanked him as he left.
Joe started eating his fries as soon as Laura made sure there were some cooled off enough for him. She began cutting her chicken into bites as she reached over now and then to set out some more fries for Joe.
Fenton happily bit into his favorite brand of hot dog, savoring the flavor of good beef. He was about to take his second bite when Frank, who had been busily opening up a little package of crackers for his soup just moments ago, suddenly gasped! Fenton set his hot dog down and asked, “What’s wrong, son?”
“I thought I saw something in my soup!” Frank stated in alarm. He moved his spoon in the bowl as he looked within its shallow depths…and gasped again! “Daddy! There’s somethin’ creepy in my soup!”