HARDYS INN DANGER by Ann
CHAPTER TWENTY ONE
We watched as the thugs worked steadily. What was in those crates? Listening closely, conversation drifted to us as we stayed hidden.
“I can’t believe we’re picking up something legal in the middle of the night,” grumbled one of them. “How embarrassing. Probably detrimental to my psyche.”
“Whatever that means,” scoffed another one. “I figured it’d be more fun this way. Then we could pretend it was our usual shipments. And since it’s not as big, we don’t have to pay for any extra help.”
“The boss’ll be expecting us soon so more work, less stupid chatter,” the third one muttered. “Let’s move it.”
The three fell silent as they finished up. So who were they working for? And why did two of them look so much like gangsters from the 1920s and 30s? Why did they want Peter’s theater? We needed some answers to our growing list of questions.
Joe signed for us to go back to our car so we could follow them. Tony and I agreed. Soon we were sitting and waiting for the hoods’ truck to take off. We were situated so that we would see as soon as they pulled out from where they were.
I reached my phone over to Joe. “We can track the truck by the signals coming from it. I identified them and overlaid the simulation on the map. So just watch it and let me know which way to head. It’s the glowing green light.”
I hoped Tony didn’t wonder about why I just explained something to Joe that he would already know. As we traveled past warehouses and wharves, Tony spoke up.
“So who do you think it’s going to be? Anyone we know of?” he asked.
“Grant Notting. He just bought that big place about three blocks from here,” Joe said while intently watching the screen of my phone with an occasional glance outside.
“Say what?” Tony asked, not surprisingly.
“Joe’s talking about the mansion Grant Notting owned back in the 1920s.”
“Uh huh….Hey, you know, interesting you should mention the Notting family. A cousin of the gangster’s just bought Inn the Bay. Name’s Bruce Notting.”
Now it was Joe’s and my turn to exclaim, “Say what?!?”
“Yeah. I heard about that earlier. It was a really quiet sale, very hush-hush. But at least a few people still find out stuff like that. One of those people told my Dad about it. The new owners are the ones who paid for the hideous monstrosity, as Joe calls it, added on to the inn. Apparently, the previous owners owed a lot of money and this Notting cousin swooped in and bought it. Kinda weird and questionable, if you ask me. Well, even if you don’t ask me.”
“Hmmm, maybe that’s actually where we’re headed,” I said right after Joe told me they were turning left then shortly afterwards turned right again.
“Looks like it,” agreed Joe. “That is huge news, Tony. I think you discovered a significant piece of the puzzle.”
“Just being a wide-awake American, that’s all,” Tony stated with a grin.
Sure enough, the hoods went to Inn the Bay. So did we. Slipping into a spot where they couldn’t see us, we watched as they went inside.
“Should we check out the crates in the truck?” Tony asked.
“Probably. Although I really want to know who they’re meeting with.”
“How about you find that out while I check the truck?” Tony suggested.
“Okay, but be careful. I’ll call if they start to leave,” I said.
“Thanks, I’d appreciate that kind gesture,” Tony stated.
As Joe got out, Tony whispered to me, “Joe okay?”
“Yeah. It’s, uh, been a long day.” I wasn’t sure exactly what to say.
Joe and I hurried to the entrance of the inn. The hoods weren’t still in the lobby.
“You check out the elevators and I’ll question the guy behind the desk,” Joe suggested.
“Be careful what you say,” I warned.
“Trust me,” he told me with a grin.
I could hear the conversation as I checked on the elevators. Both were in use and no one else was in the lobby.
“Can I help you?” the desk clerk asked Joe in a snobby tone.
“We’d like two rooms, please,” Joe said as if fully expecting there to be rooms even though all them had been booked in advance.
“You may have noticed there’s an event going on, so we’re completely full and have been.”
“You may have noticed three guys just walked in here and they obviously just got here. What about them?”
“They must already have rooms.”
“Nope, they didn’t say they had rooms here,” Joe informed him.
“Well, I can’t help that,” the desk clerk snapped. “We’re full.”
Of it, I thought to myself.
Joe shrugged and turned to start walking toward the exit. He still had my phone and I saw him tapping the screen. Then the phone rang at the desk. The rude clerk answered it and his snippy tones were easily heard.
“Hello? What? No, ma’am, I’m afraid we have no vacancies.” He fell silent as he listened. Finally he said, “Oh? The press? Well, let me check.” The clerk tapped some keys. “We may be able to find you a room. Yes. I’m sure Mr. Notting would be pleased with the publicity. You’re right, I may get a bonus for thinking of this. Well, you obviously are one of the few people who know he plans to run for mayor. Thank you. Yes, now let me just get your information. Oh, all right. I’ll be waiting to hear from you.” The clerk hung up then glared at Joe. “Are you still here? Beat it!”
Joe just smiled and meandered outside. The clerk had forgotten about me, thankfully, so when the elevator opened, I got on. I wasn’t sure which floor and I didn’t have my phone. I’d just have to wing it.
It was getting pretty late, so there wasn’t much activity. The elevator doors slid open on the second floor and I got out. No one was in the hallways. So I went to the stairwell and walked up to the third floor. No one in sight there either. I wondered how Joe and Tony were doing.
Then I heard sounds of a commotion coming from around the corner on the fourth floor. It sounded distinctly like a fight. As I came into view of the situation, I noticed a male and female in an altercation with two guys.
Just as I reached them, the female sent a lightning quick kick to the dude she’d been fighting with then gave him a shove right toward where his pal was reeling from an hard uppercut presented to him by the female’s boyfriend. The two thugs crashed into each other and crumpled unceremoniously, with groans, to the carpeted floor.
“I guess you don’t need any help,” I commented with a grin.
The couple, namely Nancy Drew and Ned Nickerson, smiled back.