HARDYS INN DANGER by Ann
“So what do you think?” I asked later after we’d finally eaten a delicious lunch. Tony had walked around, still looking, but then was back.
“Those weren’t props, that’s for sure,” Iola said.
“But the friendly guy said they were – don’t you think he’s honest and has an innocent looking face?” I asked, trying for a sincere expression.
She made a face at me and shook her head. “Not especially.”
“That police officer bought their story.” I shook my head.
“We need to find out why they have those ‘props’,” Tony said.
“Dad can check on the plates then we’ll know who owns the car,” I suggested.
Frank glanced over at me and gave me a look. “I think I recognized who it belongs to.”
“Who?” I asked, immediately sorting through a mental list of all the people we knew of who had a car like that. It was easy and didn’t take long at all. The answer: none.
“Mr. Grant Notting.” He looked at me like I should know who he was talking about.
I didn’t, though, so I looked back at him like, ‘I still don’t know who you’re talking about.’
“Oh. That clears everything up.” I tried to think if I knew of someone with that name. I was pretty sure I didn’t….wait, did my brother say “Notting”? Aka Ugly Notting? I had heard of him after all! A couple of years ago when I’d looked up about the different gangsters in the Bayport area. He was a serious loser into extortion, bribes, murder, booze, narcotics, etc., during the Prohibition Era. When he’d tried to move his crooked business activities from New York City to Bayport, he’d thankfully failed. In 1929, he was killed in a shootout with the police when he tried to escape while being transferred from one prison to another. He was not a nice guy. That’s why he had the nickname ‘Ugly’. It wasn’t his looks; it was his ugly personality.
“I can tell by your expression you know who I’m talking about now,” Frank stated.
I nodded. “So he owned that car, huh? Wonder who owns it now.” I speculated on the details I remember from reading up on the prior history of gangsters.
Frank raised an eyebrow again. “Probably him. Those two look like the type he’d hire.”
Now it was my turn to give Frank a look. I had to have heard him wrong. “How’s that possible?”
“How’s what possible?” my brother asked.
He has a great delivery, a witty sense of humor where he can say stuff with a very straight face. It really seemed like he didn’t know that I was asking him how someone killed in 1929 could own a car in 2015. Interesting trick.
“Funny.” I looked around at the cars we were walking past. They must have a section of even earlier vehicles in this area. So far I hadn’t seen anything beyond 1927. We were just about to the edge of the inn’s grounds. On the adjoining land is Bayport’s community basketball court and surrounding track field that gave way to one of the parks. This was where the rides and game booths were set up. “Wow, they really outdid themselves with all of this.”
“We have time before the film starts,” Callie noted after looking at a little watch-thing pinned to her blouse.
“Hey, I just saw someone I’d like to win a prize for from one of these booths.” Tony straightened his coat just right and made sure his hat was angled perfectly, his gaze on a female not far away.
“Maybe she’ll want to go to the movie with all of us,” Iola suggested.
“Great idea!” Tony exclaimed. “I’m not forgetting about the gangsters we need to bust. I’m going to be on the lookout and be ready if they take it on the lam.” With a big grin, he took off.
“Should we stakeout Ugly’s car?” I asked.
“If we meet up with him, I don’t think it would be wise to call him that,” Frank said.
Still with the jokes. Okay, I can do that, too. “Oh no, of course not.”
Frank looked relieved at my assurance.
I grinned. “I’ll be sure to call him Mr. Ugly.”
My brother sighed a little. Guess I won that one. I actually realized what he might mean was that someone was portraying that infamous person, complete with the bulletproof Cadillac. That seemed to be a popular, and with all of the crooked dealings, necessary feature on the gangsters’ expensive cars.
If that was the case, about someone pretending to be Ugly, hopefully they wouldn’t want to be like him by mimicking any of his crimes. Gangster posers could be just as dangerous and unstable.
“Let’s go on the Ferris Wheel and we can check out more of the area,” Callie suggested.
“Crackerjack of an idea!” Frank said.
I was pleased that I managed to hold back a snicker, because that sounded funny to me. I’d never heard him use that phrase before. We had looked online for phrases and slang from the 1920s. Plus, from watching a few of the movies made during that time period gave us an idea about how some people talked back then. I know not all books, songs, shows and movies reflect actual vernacular of today, so I figured that was true of then as well.
“What would you like to do, Iola?” I smiled at her.
“You know how I love carousels,” she said.
Absolutely and when I saw the one up ahead, I knew she’d want to ride on it. Saying ‘see you later’ to Frank and Callie, I clasped Iola’s hand and we hurried to the rotating musical ride.
It was a really cool one, with well-crafted horses and a few other animals. The calliope music filled the air and I enjoyed watching Iola watch the ride as we waited in line. Actually, I think, from the careful way she had her head tilted, she was watching me watch her watch the ride. Follow that?
There was a pretty long line, but it seemed to go quickly. Or maybe it was just because I was having a great time. Soon, I followed Iola as she looked at the different horses. I knew which one she’d go for. It was the magnificent chestnut up a few feet from us, along the inside row that had stopped almost to the highest point. I grinned.
Iola smiled and patted the horse, a shiny black stallion, next to the one she liked. “You like this one? Looks strong and brave like you.” She blushed prettily.
“Yep,” I said.
In moments, courtesy of her boyfriend, a smiling Joe Hardy, with hands around her waist, she was lifted up to the horse she’d chosen. After making sure she was secure, I swung up onto my steed.
With hands clasped, we felt the cool breeze on our faces, as the music and ride started up.