HARDYS INN DANGER by Ann
CHAPTER TWENTY EIGHT
Stone steps leading below the hangar were illuminated by our flashlights. So cool! The air seemed somewhat stale but not too bad.
“I’ll go first,” Frank said.
I stopped him by grabbing his arm. “Sure it’s safe? Not being impulsive, are you?”
He grinned. “I’m just not as impulsive as you. I’ll look just a little then come back up. You three keep watch.”
Not exactly thrilled with the situation, I reluctantly agreed as did Iola and Callie. I listened for any sounds to indicate someone approaching while also being focused and ready should my brother need help. We watched as he disappeared from view. Every little bit Callie would check with him by asking if he was okay.
“Frank?” Callie spoke quietly, but while leaning down so it would travel in the tunnel.
When she didn’t get a response, we knew either he just hadn’t heard or he was in trouble. I wasn’t taking any chances. I hurried over and started down the steps.
“Oh, please be careful, Joe!” Iola said with fear in her tone.
Callie started to follow me, but I stopped, blocking her way.
“I might need help, but let me see what is going on first, alright? You two’ll be ready, but since we don’t know what happened, we shouldn’t risk it. And we have to be ready to stall someone coming, too. We need two people up here, okay?” I talked firmly and quickly. Then I hurried down the steps. Frank hadn’t called for help, but it had been several minutes without communication and he knew we were waiting.
The solid-looking passageway was plenty high enough for someone six feet tall like myself. It didn’t take me long to get to my brother. He was slumped against the wall with his back to it. Fear encircled my insides, but faith broke through and my silent prayer continued.
“Frank?” I called, trying to rouse him.
It appeared that he’d been walking back toward the steps. What….suddenly I sensed someone from behind and I quickly turned. A fist, along with the person it came with, flashed out at me. Simultaneously, I kinda tripped over my prone brother. The punch glanced off my jaw, but had enough power to daze me. If I’d gotten the full force, I’d have been knocked unconscious immediately with that. I recovered quickly though, helped by the fact I didn’t want, literally, to kick Frank while he was down.
With desire to protect my brother, Iola and Callie, energized with the result of my prayers, I lit into the dude with fists flying. A few Krav Maga moves later and the hood was out like a light. I tied him up as quickly as possible with my belt and suit jacket with glances over at my brother, checking on him. Much to my relief, Frank was starting to stir.
“Watch out,” he mumbled.
“Don’t worry. I saw him. You okay?” I asked, looking at my brother with concern as I knelt down next to him.
“M’kay,” he said.
I called up to the girls that Frank was okay and that we’d be there in a few minutes. Then I checked his vitals and asked him about how he felt, before finding out what had happened.
“Dude snuck up behind you, didn’t he?” I asked.
“I had started back then heard something, turned around. Bam. Lucky punch.”
“Yeah, he almost got me with that, too, but then I sorta tripped on you and that actually moved me a little bit away and lessened the blow.”
“You’re welcome,” Frank said with a slight smile.
“Awake or unconscious, you’re a threat to bad guys, Frank.”
“You guys alright?” Callie called.
We yelled yes, but that wasn’t good enough. In seconds, she had climbed down the stone steps and came hurrying to us. Quickly assuring her that he was fine, Frank told her what had happened while I checked on the thug. He was still out, I noted with satisfaction.
I decided to go check on Iola real quick and maybe find a police officer for the thug. At the same time, I wanted to find out where this tunnel went.
“Everything okay?” Iola asked as soon as she could see me.
“Yep. Just chillin’,” I joked.
“Oh, is it cold down there for some reason?” she asked in surprise and threw her arms around me.
“What? Oh, uh, no, I just meant taking it easy, relaxing. I was kidding.” I smiled at her. “I like the hug a lot, though.”
She blushed and to my chagrin, stepped back, taking her nice hug with her. I told her what had happened and we discussed getting a police officer. I was pleased to find out she agreed about the pros and cons.
“Hey, what’s going on in here?”
Startled, we looked over at the doorway where a shadow now filled the entrance. I reached over and took Iola’s hand, trying to come up with a number of options then decide the best course of action. The opening for the tunnel was in pretty obvious view. Great. That distinctly limited our options. Also, a lot depended on whether this was a good person coming or not.
“Well?” The shadow stepped into the hangar. I could now see the person was Officer Marvin, the cheerful and seemingly concerned policeman from the other evening. “Oh, Joe Hardy? I recognize you. Everything all right?” He smiled in a friendly appearing manner.
“Um, funny you should ask.” My brain was busy calculating some things.
If I had my phone right now sure would be nice. Wait, there was an old-fashioned one complete with the unique-looking earpiece attached to the side. Let’s see if I could operate the thing. I walked as I talked, still holding Iola’s hand. With my other hand I picked up the phone. Who to call? No one was home. And no one had phones with them! I didn’t know the number of any of the places here, but I couldn’t look it up on the internet, because there wasn’t such a thing yet! I had something better than the world wide web, though. My girlfriend.
Officer Marvin was walking closer, still with the smile. “Why’s that?”
“Well, my girlfriend needs to use the phone. We see this one, so since it’s an emergency, we figured we could use it.” I handed the telephone to Iola.
“Anything I can help you with?” Officer Marvin asked.
He had to have seen the opening in the floor, even though we had attempted to draw his attention away from that area.
“Her parents want her to call,” I said, without telling a lie. In a situation like this, her parents would definitely want her to phone them. I just didn’t mention whether or not they were whom she was calling.
“Ah. Time get away from you two?” he asked.
“You know how it is. We were having a lot of fun at the show.”
By this time Iola had dialed someone and was talking quietly.
“Funny.” Officer Marvin scratched his head like he was thinking. “It seems like I saw Mr. and Mrs. Morton not too long ago.”
“They were going to go home for a short while to check on the farm.” Another truth.
“Oh.” Officer Marvin nodded then looked at me. “Where’s your brother?”
“Not sure.” Yet again, another truth. I didn’t know for a fact that he and Callie were still exactly where I’d last seen them.
“What do you make of this opening over here?”
“I assure you we didn’t do it. We try to never damage personal property.” I smiled helpfully.
We were at a standoff. Then another person entered the picture. The rich dude who’d gotten Lou to pick pockets.
“What’s going on?” he demanded.
Officer Marvin smiled, but not friendly. “I think we found two snoopers who are too smart for their own good.”
Iola slipped her hand back in mine and tapped on my palm who she’d called. No matter what century, Morse code can be used to silently communicate. While holding Iola’s hand, I had tapped a message on her palm. I determined, even though I’m from the 21st century, that I would try to not be too dependent on technology. No substitute for using my brain. After all, there was technology in 1927, but that wasn’t going to solve everything either. Gut instinct doesn’t require batteries.