HARDYS INN DANGER by Ann
CHAPTER TWENTY TWO
Nehemiah continued in explanation after just telling us someone wanted to frame him, kill him, or both. He gestured to Milton. “Give them the file.”
Looking like he was sweating even more, Milton pushed a file toward us. He mopped his brow as he glanced around.
“Do you need something cold to drink?” I asked. “I can get it for you.”
Milton looked surprised. “Oh. Why, that’s very kind of you. But I’m alright.”
“He’s nervous enough for ten people,” stated Nehemiah with a chuckle.
“That’s because you don’t worry enough!” Milton retorted.
Nehemiah responded with a wave of his hand. “Worry, schmorry. That’s not going to help me. Ah, here’s Albert now.”
He waved to a tall man who’d just arrived at the Automat. Once he came over, Nehemiah spoke again. “You remember Frank and Joe Hardy, don’t you? They’re going to help us with that little issue.” Nehemiah smiled at us. For some reason, I just knew it was bad news if he stopped smiling at a person. I almost started feeling like Milton.
Albert greeted us in a distracted, but friendly enough manner. He seemed to have a lot on his mind. “How are you, boys? It certainly would prove helpful if you could do something about ‘that little issue’.” He looked at Nehemiah as if to say he thought it was a little more than just a ‘little issue’. Albert had an accent I couldn’t quite place, but it sounded cool.
“Frank, Joe, you remember how I told you about growing up in my neighborhood and hating all the crime and the ugly results of extortion, murders, narcotics, and protection rackets around? And how a group of us did something about it? By starting an import business while still in college, making some money and buying up places on my street. Then moving the troublemakers out. Maybe even encouraging them with a little show of force. Then I expanded beyond my street.”
“Sounds like an even better idea than cleaning up garbage off the highways,” I remarked.
Nehemiah laughed in delight. “Exactly! We took out the garbage! And all completely legal, too. Well, our problem is this: some of my rivals aren’t too happy and want a part of our thriving community.”
“What would you like us to do?” Frank asked.
“In this folder,” Nehemiah explained as he pointed to the file laying on the table, “you will find information we have gathered on the main person we suspect of being behind this. You may have heard of him. Sadly, he has moved to your hometown of Bayport. Grant Notting.”
“Ugly Notting!” I exclaimed.
Frank nudged my foot with his. He was probably a little concerned that I might blurt out something someone from 1927 wouldn’t have information about – you know, since it hadn’t happened yet. So I didn’t say anything else.
Marv gave a snort of laughter. “I love that he has that nickname. We went to school together and he thinks he’s quite something with the ladies.”
“Not with ladies who care about whether a person’s character is ugly or not,” I said. I’d heard what true ladies like Mom, Iola, Callie, and Aunt Trudy/Gertrude think after seeing the jerk’s picture. Iola had said that looks can’t make up for such serious character flaws.
“That’s true,” Albert agreed with a nod. Frank and the others added their agreement.
“Operative word being that Notting ‘thinks’ all the ladies love him,” Marv commented.
Albert tapped the file on the table with a long finger. “We want you to use this information we’ve gathered on Notting and do your own investigation to get enough real evidence to put him away.”
Frank took the file and flipped through it, his dark eyes taking in some of the details. We’d study it more later.
After glancing at me for my answer, Frank said, “We’ll be glad to help.”
“Sounds like it will help everybody,” I stated. “Kinda like an offer we can’t refuse. A great deal you just can’t pass up.”
Frank and the others nodded in understanding. Then we chatted as we ate. I was so enthralled with eating at an Automat that I decided to have another piece of cake for dessert. I slipped a coin in the slot then opened the now-unlocked little glass door. There was the dish with a piece of cake sitting there waiting for me. I guess it’s kinda like a mini-microwave except that it’s already there and prepared.
Another of Nehemiah’s employees came by and spoke quietly. Nehemiah nodded then told us, “Mac tells me it is still clear.”
Mac’s Bronx accent was strong and clear as he said, “We’ve been keeping a lookout for trouble. With Notting gunning for us, we gotta be ready.”
Once we were finished eating, we told Nehemiah and his guys we would call them with updates and told them to keep safe. He thanked us and told us to do the same. Milton told us again what a ruthless killer Notting was. I think he was worried for us.
Heading back to our car, we were soon on our way to pick up Aunt Trudy, er, Aunt Gertrude. We helped her carry her packages to the car and as we were loading them in, we heard a shout.
“Watch out! He has a knife!” a police officer yelled.
We immediately guessed that the person he was referring to was the one who’d just pushed past some people on the sidewalk. What can I say, we’re detectives; we notice if nutty-knife-wielding-individual-with-an-angry-look-on-his-face is running down the sidewalk.
Aunt Gertrude had bought an umbrella, so I grabbed it and lunged forward to trip the guy who was still a little bit away. In my peripheral I saw objects also airborne. One was going even faster than me and connected with the knife-dude’s forehead. Several smaller objects flew underneath the guy’s feet as I stretched out and caught him with the umbrella. The small objects that looked curiously like coffee beans rolled under his feet. That combined effort had a definite impact. Bam! He went down hard.
The police officer who’d yelled the warning came running up. He was tall and slim with dark hair. “Great job! This guy’s been on the wanted list of deadliest saboteurs and instigators.” He bent down and yanked the dude’s disguise off which consisted of a wig and glasses among other cosmetic changes.
“I recognize him,” Frank said. “Someone who would kill if an individual trying to stop him was within reach.”
My brother looked at me like maybe we would have a discussion later. I gave him a but-I-had-an-umbrella-so-I-didn’t-take-as-much-chance-as-sometimes look.
It ended up being a Hardy family capture, with my umbrella trick, Frank’s perfect pitch of a container of garlic, and Aunt Gertrude’s well-aimed coffee bean toss. Instead of waking him up, the coffee helped knock him out.
The policeman, Officer Leonard, had suspected the guy and was following him. With the police officer’s instincts being correct, the saboteur was apprehended before he managed to do more damage.
We found out later that he was part of a group of what was called fifth columnists, who were out to destroy freedom. They failed, thankfully.
It was good to get back to Bayport. We had some cleaning up to do, though, with Notting there wanting to poison where we call home.
We weren’t going to accept his plans.