Cut to the Chase Chapter Two

Cut to the Chase by Ann Chvq


   Over the phone, Frank urgently told his father what was going on.

   “I’ll be on the next flight available.” Fenton had just left a meeting where he had shared his findings with authorities he was working with there on a case involving security breaches. He paced the busy corridor as he got the news that his youngest was missing.

   “I’m going to track down the employee from the pictures,” Frank said. “Try to pick up Joe’s trail. From the pictures it didn’t seem he knew Joe had seen him and from Joe’s brief message, he was pretty sure he hadn’t been spotted.”

   “Why don’t you call Chet and the others; have some of them come help?” Fenton suggested, knowing that he would personally feel better for Frank not to be alone, since he himself wouldn’t be able to get there immediately due to flight availability. He had a feeling renting a car and driving up might end up taking less time in the long run.

   “I will,” Frank agreed quietly.

   “I’ll get there as soon as I can.” Fenton felt fear for both of his sons. “Please be careful, Frank.”

   “Okay, Dad. You, too.” Frank hit ‘end’ then quickly made the suggested calls to Bayport, each one willing to drop everything and come help search for Joe. Danger was something that came with the territory of the brothers being detectives, but that didn’t make it any less worrisome.


   At the deli, Frank finally got a chance to ask one of the busy workers behind the counter, “Did you see this guy come in here this afternoon?” He showed the man the picture of Joe from his phone. “Wearing a blue shirt, jeans.”

   The man behind the counter stared at Frank for a moment like he was crazy, his expression saying he was certain of it. “Do you think I remember every customer? Do you know how many people have come in here this afternoon?”

   “I know, but it’s important….”

   “Of course it’s important, why wouldn’t it be?” The man looked like he was about to start working again.

   “Please, do you remember?” Frank asked again.

   The deli man, Benjamin, started putting together another order as he said, “Do I look like I want to answer twenty questions?” For some reason though, the man glanced back up and saw the seriousness on Frank’s face, and the anguish and fear not hidden in his dark eyes. Benjamin realized the situation was a real one.

   “Let me see the picture again,” he said, wiping his hands on a towel. He hoped he would remember the guy, but like he’d said, he’d seen a lot of people.

   Looking at the photo a moment, he tried to picture each recent customer. Frank tried not to be discouraged when Benjamin started to shake his head.

   “I’m sorry…..,” he said. “Any other pictures?”

   Frank nodded. He had several he’d taken and quickly flicked to another. “He’s my younger brother.”

   “Hey, does he wear a ring?” Benjamin asked suddenly, spotting it in the picture but it was too far away to see the details of it.

   “Yes!” Frank answered.

   “Star with a heart wrapped around it?”

   “Exactly.” Back before that terrible day when a bomb had been detonated in their sedan, Iola had given Joe a ring.* Frank remembered when his brother had proudly shown him Iola’s gift. Iola had told Joe that their love would always be even brighter and more vibrant than the very stars in the sky.

   Benjamin nodded. “Yeah, I remember, I thought it was a really cool ring. Also remember thinking he looked a lot like my cousin, who lives in Elizabeth – Jersey.”

   “Was there anyone else with him?”

   “No, he got his order, couple of pastramis, sodas, fries, and left.”

   Frank nodded. “Do you remember what he got the second time he came and if he was still alone?” 

   The deli man shook his head. “He was only in here once, alone, in the last few hours. I’ve been here the whole time. I know because if I saw him again, I was going to ask him where he got the ring and also if he was related to my cousin.”

   “The ring was a gift from his girl,” Frank told him.

   “Hope you find him and he’s okay.” Benjamin looked compassionately at Frank. He was well aware of the heartaches and troubles in the world and hoped this story wouldn’t be a tragic one.

   “If I see him, you want for me to call you?”

   “Yes, please. And thank you.” Frank wrote down the number for Benjamin and handed it to him.

   Benjamin nodded and watched as the worried, lone brother left. His heart felt heavy and when the next customer started whining about something that was so infinitesimal in comparison to the brother’s worries, he found he had very little patience for such an attitude.

   “You should be thankful you don’t have real troubles. Now what do you want?” The gruffness covered the concern he felt for that brother searching for his little brother.


   Joe struggled back to consciousness. His head was pounding as he wondered what had happened. Where’s Frank?, his mind stressed, trying to discern what was going on. Is he okay? Where am I? What happened?

   He listened before opening his eyes, hoping to gain some clues to his whereabouts. Silence. Like that was going to help him any. Okay, actually it could. That could tell him some places he wasn’t, such as any place noisy. He sensed he wasn’t alone, though. A man’s voice spoke, confirming that suspicion.

   “Open your eyes. We can tell you’re awake.”

   Refusing to obey, Joe’s eyes remained closed. He heard movement and almost jumped, but managed to refrain, when he felt the touch of cold on his arm.

   “I guess he needs another shot to resuscitate him.”

   Joe instinctively jerked his arm away and opened his eyes. Two men stared back at him impassively. The one holding the hypodermic nodded and took it away.

   “Joe, I’m Deputy U.S. Marshal Jeff Winston and this is Deputy U.S. Marshal Bart Chambers,” he introduced them, placing the hypodermic back in a case. Joe glanced around as his eyes focused. He was seated in a plush chair, in either a lavish apartment or hotel suite. The marshal doing the talking at the moment, Jeff Winston, was tall with auburn hair and blue eyes. Chambers was pretty much generic looking.

   “What’s going on?” asked Joe, as the two marshals showed him their badges. Well, they’re real or they stole the badges and forged very realistic looking IDs, Joe thought to himself.

   “Someone tried to kill you a few hours ago.” Marshal Winston looked solemnly at Joe. “If we hadn’t been on that guy’s trail and administered the antidote to the poison you’d been given, you would be dead right now.”


   Frank walked to Levinshefski’s, having called to meet with David and Golda, who appreciated the brothers’ help. The couple had heard about the Hardys’ sleuthing expertise from friends of theirs and was also impressed with their knowledge of diamonds. Working undercover at Levinshefski’s, the Hardy brothers intended on finding out who was responsible for committing the ongoing thefts of property.

   After hearing about Joe, the Levinshefskis expressed their own concern and promised to pray.

   “I pulled up all the info we have on him,” David said, referring to the employee in the photos Joe had taken.

   Accepting the print-out with thanks, Frank had some startling news for the couple.

   “I emailed another friend of mine earlier with the photos,” Frank told them, referring to Phil, who’d been working steadily on his laptop as Biff drove the Bayporters to the city. He had just called Frank back minutes ago. “The man’s name is actually Abdel.”

   “Are you sure?” Golda asked, shocked.

   Frank nodded. “Yeah, Phil has some really excellent resources and know-how.”

   “This Abdel came with references from a Florida diamond merchant,” David said. “Why lie?”

   “They might have been forged,” Frank suggested. “My brother got suspicious when he saw Abdel coming out of a fast-food place.”

   Abdel had been masquerading as a Chassid, an ultra-Orthodox Jew. Frank and Joe knew for a fact that while not all Jews kept kosher, all Chassidic Jews did. That was why Joe noticed and got suspicious.

   “I have a feeling Abdel is a very likely candidate for the thefts.” Frank told the Levinshefskis he’d let them know as soon as he found Joe.


   Frank went back to the hotel where he received a phone call from Fenton telling him in code that his dad was going to need to stay in D.C. longer with a potential lead on Joe.

   Just as he had finished talking with his dad, a knock sounded. Frank opened the door after verifying who was there. “Hey, guys, thanks for coming,” he said gratefully as he clapped Chet Morton on the shoulder as he went by, shook Phil Cohen’s hand, received a pat on the arm from Biff Hooper, exchanged a handshake with Tony Prito, then Callie Shaw, his girl, was there.

   He wasn’t surprised to see her, and while he was concerned about the danger, right then he just took her in his arms and held her. Her arms encircled his strong chest and they stayed like that for a few moments.

   Keeping his arm around her as he looked at each person’s face, he told them what all he’d found out so far. Fear for Joe didn’t lessen.


   “What guy? What trail? What poison? What antidote?” Joe tried to make sense of what the marshal had just told him with his head still feeling very groggy.

   “An Assassin,” Marshal Chambers said, handing Joe a picture of a decidedly unfriendly looking individual.

   “Hadn’t come across him before today,” Joe noted, frowning.

   “Well, he recognized you and that’s why he tried to kill you. As far as we know, you weren’t why he was in New York. He’s connected to some of the ones you and your brother have stopped,” Winston said. “You two have been very busy and successful.”

   “For amateurs,” commented Chambers.

   Winston didn’t agree with that assessment. “For anyone,” he corrected matter-of-factly. “Joe, we currently have the Assassin who tried to kill you in custody.”

   “Well, you’re going to have a problem getting him to trial because they tend to like killing themselves,” Joe told him, rubbing a hand over his face.

   “We know.” Chambers sat down on the chair across from Joe. “We’re keeping an eye on him. As far as his group knows, he was successful in killing you. Right before we arrested him, he’d just made a call to his leader. And they think he was killed while talking to them.”

   Joe frowned and leveled a look at the marshal. “So?”

   “If we can keep you hidden and alive, you can testify against him.”

   “I’m not going to let my family and friends think I’m not alive.”

   “If you love them, you will.” Winston’s voice was quiet and definite. “They would all be safer that way.”

   Joe jumped to his feet. Too quickly. In his anxiousness, his speed was his downfall. Literally. The room tilted on him and he closed his eyes. His knees gave out and he collapsed back onto the soft chair.

   “Hey, take it easy!” Winston exclaimed in surprise and concern. Throwing a glance over at Chambers, he asked, “Are you sure we shouldn’t take him to the hospital?”

   “I’m sure. The antidote was checked out and would have counteracted the poison.”

   “Probably got up too fast,” Winston noted.

   Winston and Chambers voices were blending together to Joe and he couldn’t quite discern what they were saying as he worked his way through the dizziness.

   Marshal Winston took his pulse as he told Joe, “I was a Navy Corpsman before I joined the Marshal Service.” He frowned slightly at Joe’s pulse but decided that keeping an eye on him would be sufficient. Joe still wasn’t looking in the best of health.

   “Why don’t you rest and look over these papers?” Winston suggested, indicating legal forms and documents that would make it all happen. Joe nodded then waited for Winston and Chambers to leave the room.

   Sighing, Joe tried unsuccessfully to find his phone. Spotting one across the room on the table, he got up slowly, and made his way over to it. Reaching it, he sank down on one of the chairs. Closing his eyes a moment, he then opened them to find things a little more in focus. He wasn’t entirely surprised when he found there was no dial tone for the phone.

   Using the table as leverage, he stood up again then walked over to the sliding glass doors that led to a small balcony. He recognized they were still in New York, but definitely not in the same area. Joe’s intensely blue eyes searched for landmarks to let him know where his brother would be.

   The lump in Joe’s throat didn’t dissipate as his mind processed all the things he’d been told and the knowledge of how much danger his loved ones would be in because of who had been after him.

   Frank, I know what I have to do, but how can I? Joe leaned his head against the glass. The tear that left his eye was the result of knowing what he was going to be required to do, because he loved his family.

   He looked over toward the east, seeking his brother.


   Right then his brother was fighting – traffic. The mess of every kind of vehicle merging this way and that, most without any thought of courtesy to their fellow travelers, added to Frank’s headache. The van was at a standstill at the moment. Tony sat in the passenger seat, trying to see any break in traffic. Phil would occasionally tell them traffic updates as he received them on his laptop while continuing to work on what they knew so far.

   Frank’s scowl deepened as he sensed Joe getting further away, although, unknown to him, he was actually going toward where Joe was right then. What is happening with my little brother? His dark eyes became even more determined, if that were possible.

   “Detour ahead,” Tony said as he spotted the sign that had just been put up.

   “Great,” muttered Frank, stepping on the gas and shooting forward when a brief window of opportunity presented itself.

   On the detour there were still plenty of vehicles but they were able to pick up speed slightly as the traffic flow moved a little faster. Normally that would be a good thing, except all of a sudden there was a loud noise and the van swerved wildly. Frank fought to keep it under control, hoping to avoid a collision. Surrounded by vehicles, that looked to be an impossible mission.

   “Hold on!” Frank yelled.

  Click Here for Chapter Three!

* Casefile #4 The Lazarus Plot – It was noted that sometime before the explosion at the mall, Iola had given Joe a ring and he’d give her earrings. The book didn’t give descriptions so I used my imagination.


22 thoughts on “Cut to the Chase Chapter Two

    • 😀 Cool – thank you so very much, Kristy! 🙂 Next one today! 🙂 It varies when I get them posted and it’s been pretty busy here. I’m honestly not being mean when it takes a while to get the next one posted! 😉 😛 I now have saved drafts on here for upcoming ones and then Word Warrior (who edits the blog for me :cool:) would post the next one regardless – after giving everyone a chance to read the newest chapter. Then maybe you guys wouldn’t have to wait so long! 😛

  1. Real. That is what you write, Ann. 🙂 That phone conversation between Fenton and Frank at the start of the chapter is exactly what is real in that situation. The words, the various emotions, the way each one is handling the situation – it is all true to their characters as is their naturally-meshing plans to solve this scary mystery! 😎

    I love the conversation between Frank and the deli artist, Benjamin! 😀 See, this is yet another Ann Chvq writing trait: you keep in mind that each individual is exactly that – an individual. 😎 You show things from Frank’s perspective as the deeply concerned brother and you show things from the perspective of Benjamin, the very busy, meets-all-kinds, compassionate and helpful deli man. 😎 He remembered some things that stood out to him uniquely. Benjamin is a chararcter you could meet in any such deli as the one you have depicted here – in other words: he is real. 😎 And, reading your Hardy knowledge galore on your blog here, I am certain that it is no coincidence that you had the wise deli man’s cousin’s location be the same as the original area where Hardy Boys creator Edward Stratemeyer resided! 😉 😀 That is so cool, Ann!! 😀

    Excellent instincts on Joe’s part! 😎 U.S. Marshal Jeff Winston seems really cool, capable. 🙂 I love your descriptions for the two apparently very different marshals! 😉 😛 Ann, your writing is always very fresh and real; it is so enjoyable to read! 😎

    Excellent work by Frank and by Phil – enroute to New York City from Bayport, New York, with a great support team for Frank! 😀 I enjoy reading your factual detecting; it is always nice to see that an author cares enough to write what is real instead of just winging it or relying on general knowledge that can often be incorrect. You have integrity; I see it in your posts and in your stories. 🙂 This is priceless; I can enjoy a book best when I know the author cares about what is real and true. 😎

    It is great to see Chet, Phil, Biff, Tony, and Callie are there with Frank now! 😎 Excellent and natural way of bringing each character in, Ann. 🙂 Nice, neat work with words that bring the story off of the page into 360 reality, engaging all of the senses. 😎

    Yes, I do like this Marshal Winston fellow! 🙂 Joe is very intelligent and despite the struggle against the troubles caused from the poison, he is putting things together well. His heartbreaking anguish is accurate for what this Hardy had been asked to do.

    Ann, you do an excellent job of informing your readers clearly while also allowing us to put things together, too. 🙂 Like: Joe had looked toward the east to where his brother was working, which tells me I was correct in my clue-gathering that the brothers diamond case is on the East Side. 😉 And now, Frank is sensing that Joe is getting farther away from him – even though he is physically closer now. That must mean that Frank is sensing Joe’s turmoil – Joe is seriously contemplating disappearing to try to protect his beloved family – emotionally and mentally now farther away from his brother. Deep writing, Ann. 😎 All of this and humor, too! 😀 But there is nothing humorous at the moment! 😮 A van full of Bayporters is on the verge of a drastic collision! 😮

    Chapter three, please make your appearance soon! 😉 😀 Callie

    • Thank you so very much, Callie! 🙂 That’s what I like reading, so that’s what I want to write. 🙂

      Oh, love that “deli artist” – nice description! 🙂 Thank you, Callie, your words really mean a lot. 🙂 😎 Benjamin is a favorite character. 🙂 You’re an excellent detective, Callie, and absolutely correct – no coincidence, yep, that’s where Edward Stratemeyer was born. 🙂 😎 Thanks! 🙂

      🙂 Yep, I like reading about that in the books. 🙂 Thank you! 🙂

      I really appreciate that – thanks! 🙂 I definitely care about what is real and true without a doubt! 🙂

      Couldn’t leave them out! 😉 😛 Cool – thank you! 🙂

      🙂 Thanks! 🙂 Joe’s strong and brave. 😎

      Yep, Sleuth Callie, you’re correct with the location of the diamond case. 😉 You got it exactly about Joe and Frank and what’s going on – I’m so happy that you can see all of that because that is what I was trying to show. 😎 Thank you! 🙂 Ah, gotta have humor – levity in life is essential! 😉 Nope, that’s pretty serious.

      Lol, no worries, posting today after I reply to everyone. 🙂

      • You are welcome, Ann. 🙂 I am glad for that! 😉 😀 😎

        Thank you for the compliments and calling me “Sleuth Callie!” 😀 I enjoyed reading your response to my review and please forgive me for not answering it paragraph by paragraph as I usually do. You see, I am very aware of the fact that chapter three of this really cool story I am reading is now available and I can hardly wait to see what happens next!! 😉 So….got to go read that straightaway! 😀 Callie

  2. Supercool story, Ann! 😀 😎 This chapter is sooooo cool! 😀 😎 You get so much into each chapter yet it isn’t too much & I’m never ready for the chapter to end!!!!!

    It’s cool to see Fenton & reassuring as well. 😎 Laura is going to have a hard time with this news, even with her being as resilient as she is, having been through many dire situations with her detecting family so many times before. Some things you can’t get used to.

    Nice shout-out to Elizabeth, New Jersey! 😀 😎 Stratemeyer would surely love this story, Ann. 🙂

    That’s right, Benjamin: perspective is important. 😎 Annoyances are…..annoying ( 😛 ), but it doesn’t make sense to act like a minor thing is a major thing. Appreciating each good thing in our lives can help us to also appreciate not having more bad things to deal with than we do. 😎

    Frank & Joe are doing great, drawing on their excellent detective skills! 😀 😎 Joe is very good & I admire Winston, also. 😀 😎 Callie & the guys coming to help Frank is very good – impetuous, good-hearted Joe isn’t going to be easy to find – especially when it appears that he is planning to go to great lengths to stay out of sight! 😮

    Drastic situation to stop the chapter at, Ann!!!!! 😮 (We don’t call you Cliffhanger Ann for no reason, do we? 😉 ) Even with your love for cliffhanging chapter endings :P, I will still say now 🙂 : thank you, Ann; I appreciate getting to read your good writing! 😀

    Appreciating the good things,

    • Thank you so very much, Lily! 🙂 😎 I’m glad you want it to keep going! 😎

      I always like seeing Fenton – he’s cool. 🙂 Yep, like you said, Laura is resilient. 😎 She’s cool, too – she and Fenton make a great couple. 😎 Very true.

      Thank you! 🙂 And thank you for such a great compliment! 🙂

      Yep, very. Exactly. That’s right, Lily, and you help your friends see how important it is “appreciating the good things”. 🙂 😎 You help all of us a lot. 🙂 Your words there helped me just now – thank you so much. 🙂

      🙂 Thanks. 🙂 I felt like they really needed to be there for Frank. 🙂 Yep, and Joe is very hard-headed – but then again so is Frank! 😉 They’re both determined and talented which would make their goals a challenge for them! 😉

      Hmmm, my bad. 😛 😆 I love cliffhangers! 😀 Thank you, Lily! 🙂

      • You’re welcome, Ann! 🙂 😎 🙂

        Yep! 😀 – they sure do! 😀 😎

        Welcomes ( 😉 ), Ann. 🙂

        😎 Thanks! 🙂 I’m so happy to know that 😀 – thanks for telling me! 😀 😎

        Welcome. 🙂 You’re right! 🙂 😎 True & true! 😀 😀 😎 😎

        Yes, quite. 😛 I know! 🙄 😉 😛 You’re welcome, Ann. 🙂

        Appreciating the good things,

  3. This story has a proper casefile feel. It is almost like I am getting a chance to read one of them after ages! 🙂 Thanks, Ann. 🙂

    I just love the way you write the characters. I find myself feeling for each one of them! I even end up liking the bad ones! 😮 😛 Not saying I approve what they do, of course!

    “Someone tried to kill you a few hours ago.” Marshal Winston looked solemnly at Joe.

    😮 Is that the truth? That was poison? 😯

    Those photos sure helped a lot! Joe was able to do some really good detective work before..well, before he was..shot. Love that you have included all of their friends, too! 🙂 At least, Frank is not alone now. 🙂 Knowing what had happened, I am fearing for him too.

    Oh, just thought of something, what kind of Marshals are these that they let a pickpocketer pick their pocket? 😛 Or was it deliberate?

    Ok, this story has taken quite an interesting turn. Could not have thought that it is going to take that direction in this way, and now I am very curious to see how things will unfold! I can see why Joe needed to think about going into hiding. Not so sure, though, if there is no other way out of this. Oh well, Joe is safe at least. 🙂 Still, feeling very bad and sad for him, his family and friends.

    Those last paragraphs with, actually both of these chapters are just Wow! 😎 🙂

    Next chapter, please! Quickly! Very quickly! 😛

    Hold on, Frank!!!

    • 🙂 You’re welcome! 🙂

      Thank you so very much, Ritu! 🙂 Glad you clarified that you don’t approve of what the bad ones do! 😉 😛 I know you don’t. 🙂

      Yep, Marshal Winston was telling Joe the truth – it was poison. 😮

      Yep, what was meant to help with one case actually helped with the most recent one as well. 🙂 Had to include all the friends! 🙂 Probably a good idea that you’re fearing for Frank, too. 😉

      😆 Well, I can probably say this without giving anything away – just a couple of facts – pickpockets can be really, really good, marshals are human, and can be distracted. That’s all I’m saying about that at this point. 😉 😛

      Well, Joe’s thinking it all through, but his main focus will be on what he feels will keep his family/friends safest and you know that’s what he will choose. 🙂 😎 Oh, is Joe safe now? 😉 Yep, me, too.

      Thank you, Ritu! 🙂

      Posting today. 🙂

      • 🙂

        You are welcome, Ann! 🙂 Lol. It was important to clarify. 😉 🙂 🙂

        Hmm.. and he was just trying to follow a suspect! Well, this suspect seems to have quite ‘strong’ connections! Or was it random?

        Right. 🙂 Sure glad of their presence! 🙂 Hmm.. with what we find out in the very next chapter..

        Yeah, anyway, it seemed that it was all in a day’s work for Henry to find things. 🙄 😛

        Right. 🙂 Well, he is under care and supervision of two capable Marshals and you are hinting at the possibility that he might not be safe? 😮 😛 😉

        You are welcome! 🙂

        • Probably a good idea – yep! 😛

          The answer can be found in upcoming chapters. 😉

          Faithful friends are so important. 😎

          Yep, Henry has a slight problem with that. 😛

          That’s exactly what I’m hinting at! 😉


  4. Love seeing Fenton, Chet, Phil, Biff, Tony, and Callie! 😀

    Lazarus Plot has my absolute favorite Casefile quote:
    Joe Hardy said “Iola is alive, I can feel it. I couldn’t feel this strongly about someone who was dead.”
    “Then I won’t tell you to give up hope,” Frank said softly. (From Casefile #4 The Lazarus Plot)

    Back to Cut to the Chase: Scary with the poison!!! The mystery continues! 😮

    Benjamin, David and Golda Levinshefski are very real and cool and so are the Hardy characters! 🙂

    And this time I need to say: FRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 😮 AND I’m still saying: JOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 😮 He’s thinking about disappearing and still in danger, too! 😮

    • They’re cool characters! 😎

      Definitely – best Casefile quote ever! And everyone who reads the main series and gathers the details as well as checking out the publication dates in the books can see that Joe’s right! 😉 😎


      Thank you so much, Hardy Sleuth! 🙂

      Hang on! 😉 Chapter 3 posting today! 🙂

      • Whenever anyone mentions Lazarus Plot, I immediately think of that quote. 8) Actually also when anyone mentions the Casefiles. That just really stands out to me. You’re welcome, Ritu. 🙂

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