HARDYS INN DANGER by Ann
CHAPTER TWENTY SEVEN
Joe and I were really interested in the idea of a treasure map. At first I was skeptical as to its validity. The fact that it was in code however, intrigued us even more. Just so you know, it wasn’t upside down, it really was coded.
After studying it for a while and getting a start on decoding it, we left Peter’s with the map. Before heading for the event, we stopped by and bought Joe a new phone. I had checked online real quick earlier. He was pretty pleased with it. It didn’t take long to get it activated. While he looked at it, I made a call on mine to check on Nancy and them.
“Hi Frank!” she said as she answered. “This show is so cool!”
“Sure is. How’s the investigating going?”
“Not bad. There are actually several suspicious characters we’ve seen so far. Of course, with so many people, that’s going to happen. I have some pictures I’m sending to you and Joe.”
“Well, Joe just got a new phone so let me give you the number.” Which I did.
“Those guys the police arrested aren’t talking.” Nancy sighed. “The police think maybe it was random thieves. I don’t think that at all.”
“Me, neither. Definitely go with the assumption that it wasn’t and proceed with caution, okay?” I requested.
“Right. I don’t think you or Joe know what caution even means.”
“We know what it means, we just don’t practice it,” Nancy said with a laugh.
“Uh huh.” I shook my head, but grinned.
After ending the call and answering a couple of questions for Joe, I drove to the event’s parking area for non-show vehicles.
On the way, I asked Joe about when the whole family was having an almost-midnight snack and breakfast this morning. I’d noticed several times Joe looked puzzled, like he wanted to ask something.
“Oh,” Joe said, “I didn’t know why Aunt Gertrude looks different. But I guess it’s the different styles since somehow we’re in 2015 not 1927. But I have another question that I’ve been wanting to ask.”
In a very serious tone, he asked, “Why do we have a giant chalkboard in the living room?”
I bit back a smile. “It’s not a chalkboard; it’s a television.”
“Really?” he asked in amazement.
“Yeah. But let me be there when you turn it on.” I was glad he agreed, because there would be stuff, such as way-underdressed people on some shows that would shock his sensibilities. I knew it would because some of the stuff on TV shocks my 21st century sensibilities.
Once at the show, Joe took a little time checking out the ‘cars of the future’ aka anything past 1927. He took some pictures, too. Then we went and talked to Mom at the Duesenberg, telling her about Peter and showing her the map. Dad came shortly after that.
“Bruce Notting is definitely up to no good,” Dad informed us. “I’ve been asking around and looking into his holdings. Quite a few of them involved suspicious and hostile takeovers as well as not-even-close-to-legal acquisitions. I think he has some politicians in his pocket. He certainly is following his 1920s relative’s footsteps. Threats and pressure is how he first got the inn from the former owners.”
“Those guys pressuring Peter works for Notting,” Joe stated, his eyes sparking with anger. “He probably wants the Bijou, too.”
“I wouldn’t be surprised,” I said.
“Hey, we have something I set up the other night when we were here after following those thugs from the wharf.” Joe was grinning big. “Remember? I used your phone, Frank, and called Iola. Then I asked her to pretend to be a reporter and call the inn. By acting like she already knew, she bluffed the clerk into confirming Notting’s running for mayor as well as finding out there were rooms available for VIPs.” Joe looked at each of us. “We could set up an interview with Notting. Iola the reporter, Chet as cameraman since that’s his big new hobby.”
“Great idea!” I exclaimed. “We need to get to his files and I think I know how we can do that!” I turned to Dad. “How about an open connection to his computer through his phone during the interview? Phil could triangulate that as long as Notting likes the convenience of everything connected to his phone. If so, we’re in business.”
Dad nodded. “It would have to be quick so they wouldn’t pick up on it.”
“We’ll be able to tell from signals where his computer is,” I said.
We fine-tuned plans then met up with Callie and Iola. Dad is a master of disguise and he helped Iola and Chet with hiding their identities. Iola also suddenly had credentials offline and online, with the help of Mom and Phil. Calls were made and plans gone over.
Then it was showtime. Iola gave a great performance while Chet filmed it all. We worked behind the scenes as the interview took place. Joe and I both had some eye rolls at some of the things Notting said, whose words were pretty revealing.
“I’ve mostly created my empire, as I like to call it, with my own hard work, struggling with others’ failure to see my dream and help make it reality.” Notting looked quite proud of himself. He went on for several minutes listing his “wonderful achievements”.
“Some have accused you along the way of being greedy and ruthless with plans to destroy anyone who gets in your way of making more and more money.”
Notting cleared his throat. “Well, some people have to be moved aside when they are not interested in working with a winner.”
“How so?” Iola asked.
“Visions of profit can vary and we have to find ways to increase and grow companies.”
“Even at the expense of individual freedom and fair trade?”
“If a person has lost their business to someone with more money and power then that isn’t my problem,” Notting said without remorse.
“What about accusations of unethical and illegal practices, such as extortion?”
“My lawyers have responded to all of those.”
“What about various groups of concerned consumers who claim that you ignore health risks attributed to some of your products?”
Notting dismissed that with a scoffing sound. “My group of experts has presented their own findings to show they are safe, contrary to those other groups.”
“How do you respond to the people saying that your experts’ ‘findings’ are just paid reports full of lies and a blatant misrepresentation of the facts and actual data?”
“I say that they are idiots and they aren’t smart enough to know anything other than what I tell them!” Notting snarled, losing his faux warm demeanor and pounding the desk in front of him.
Beside me, Joe reacted instinctively, clenching his fists and wanting to go right to the office, where Iola was interviewing Notting, to protect her. We could see she was okay though and I put my hand on Joe’s arm to stop him.
“One more question,” Iola stated, very bravely staying calm after that crazed outburst from Notting. “You speak up against the use of utility vehicles, yet that’s exactly what you use. Doesn’t that send a mixed message that you don’t really care and that you believe rules are for everyone except yourself?”
“That’s my own personal decision. They don’t know what they’re talking about.”
The interview continued in calmer tones after that as he discussed plans for Bayport, or “new and improved Bayport”, as he nauseatingly kept repeating. After Iola and Chet left the office, they met up with us and got out of their disguises. We gleaned a lot of information off Notting’s phone and computer that would help with the case being put together against Notting’s empire. Then it was time for a break for food.
Later as we were walking around, while Mom and Dad stayed with the Duesenberg, Joe and I each got a text from our parents. They had completed our earlier work on decoding the map with Aunt Trudy stopping by and helping, too, making it a real family effort. Dad had snapped a picture and sent it.
The four of us inspected the first two lines of information.
Treasure is yours – follow this riff.
Choose a time without waves.
Then there was a series of not real clear drawings.
“I know where we’re going,” Callie stated with a smile.