HARDYS INN DANGER by Ann
I woke up rested and laid in bed a few minutes before getting up. My room was definitely different in some respects. At least if I had time-traveled – yeah, that was my current crazy theory – I hadn’t gone back before electricity and indoor plumbing. I got up and stretched. It’s just that I really appreciate indoor plumbing. Of course, no matter if I traveled thousands of years, I would still have the essentials and that was most important.
It took a little longer than usual to get ready. Even though we were going into the city, we still had to wear 1920s clothes. Because for some weird reason, that’s all we had!
“Ready?” Frank asked.
“As I’ll ever be,” I said.
The uniqueness of wearing these clothes was appealing, like being in a movie, but in my little heart of hearts, I missed my jeans and short-sleeved shirts. I’m not big on ties. Mostly because I think they’re stupid. I mean, really, what’s the point?
“So, um, let’s go over what we know about this guy, Nehemiah,” I suggested as I finally got my tie just right. Or a close facsimile thereof.
Frank was regarding me with his concerned look again. I seem to be earning a lot of that in the past 24 hours.
“You don’t remember, do you?” he asked.
“‘Remember’? Wouldn’t I need to know something to start with before I could forget?”
I think that look might be going to stay on his face. Apparently I wasn’t doing anything to change that. I didn’t want to worry him; I honestly didn’t know. Even though I tried to be calm and make the best of it, I had to admit to being pretty concerned myself.
We were suddenly being called downstairs, so we had to take off. At breakfast, Aunt Trudy said she needed to go into the city, too, and could we take her along. She gave us a look like we’d be awful nephews if we didn’t take her.
“I won’t get in your way. You won’t even know I’m there. You can drop me off at a friend of mine’s and pick me up later.” She waited for us to say how much we’d love to do that. She also added bonus info to throw out any objections. “My friend doesn’t have the money to drive here, plus it would be wear and tear on their car.”
What could we do? I looked at Frank and he subtly nodded.
“Of course, you can come with us, Aunt Trudy.” I smiled. I wasn’t expecting or prepared for the response to that kind offer. Although it turns out the uproar was actually about me calling her ‘Aunt Trudy’. Frank looked surprised, too.
“‘Aunt Trudy’?!?” Aunt Trudy oddly exclaimed in a somewhat shrill tone. She repeated that several times. “Young man, I did not tell you that you could shorten my name like that!”
Actually she had. I blinked, unsure what to do. Thankfully, my brother came to my rescue, trying to jump in whenever she paused to take a breath from her tirade. I have to say, I admired how long she could go without taking a breath.
“He was trying to be friendly and all, Aunt Gertrude. He didn’t mean any offense.” Frank stood up from the table and surreptitiously motioned for me to follow. I jumped up – I didn’t need to be told twice!
“Yes. I’m sorry, Aunt Gertrude,” I apologized.
She sniffed and still looked very offended, but I got the feeling it was an act. Maybe she’d even decided she liked the sound of ‘Aunt Trudy’. I knew I wasn’t going to say it again, though, unless she said I could.
Once outside, I forgot about the upset seeing an awesome classic car that turned out to be the Hardy family sedan. Dad was returning the Duesenberg; Mom borrowed our car for a couple errands in downtown Bayport. The family car was a 1927 Chevrolet Capitol AA. I’d seen a couple at car shows before and of course in books as well as online.
“Wow! What a sweet ride!” I exclaimed.
I slowly circled the top selling American car of 1927. With its blue exterior, 103 inch wheelbase, 26 horsepower engine, standard equipment of air and oil filters, 3 speed sliding gear manual transmission, full crown fenders, bullet shaped headlights, and comfortable seats, this high quality, durable sedan rocked. A beauty.
Chevrolet was already known for having affordable, and much more reliable, products with higher performance, better features, updated tech, and modern styling than its rival. The Chevrolet Capitol AA was the car that drove the Model T the rest of the way off the road where it had broken down under the oppressive ways of its hateful owner.
So we rode in serious style. I was super-excited about that. Apparently, the Hardy family drives Chevrolet vehicles no matter what century.
By the time we got to New York City, dropped off Aunt Gertrude, and parked, we were almost late for the meeting, which was not cool. Frank didn’t have a whole lot of time to tell me about Nehemiah. I think he kept hoping something would jumpstart my memory.
Nehemiah owned a lucrative export business. Frank told me many believed it to be a front for the mob/mafia. We’d worked with Nehemiah before helping keep his streets clean. I’m not referring to litter. He basically looked after a number of streets, making sure it was free from extortion/protection rackets, gambling, murders, booze, drugs, prostitution, and bribes as much as possible. That meant he kept the mob out. Quite an accomplishment. His cover that was supposed to look legit, was actually his business on the level and where he got his money from legally. Only, he let people think, especially mob bosses, that his export business was his cover.
I was in for several more surprises. Having read about Automats, it was so cool to see one in person. We stepped from the sidewalk into a restaurant full of tables in the middle, surrounded by glistening glass and chrome compartments with food waiting in each one.
“This is awesome!” I exclaimed quietly, seeing people going along with a cafeteria style tray, stopping in front of one of the many little compartments and dropping coins, or a coin, into the slot. Then they’d open the small glass door and take out their dish of choice.
“There he is,” spoke Frank quietly.
I had been a little distracted by seeing an Automat in person, but not so much that I didn’t forget to observe everyone there automatically – get it? Anyway, the training from Dad made it second nature. I followed my brother’s gaze to a friendly looking man who beamed a smile at us and ushered us over with quick movements of his hand.
“Frank, Joe, so glad you came,” Nehemiah said. He shook our hands then gestured toward the other men at the table. “You remember my accountant, Milton?”
We shook hands with the nervous-looking red-haired man. “Hello, boys, good to see you. I hope you can help. I told Nehemiah there was going to be trouble.”
Nehemiah cleared his throat and went on, “Marv, my lawyer.”
Marv looked like a combo lawyer and muscle as he grunted a greeting while keeping a constant watch around even as he shook hands.
“Albert will be here shortly,” Nehemiah told us. We went and got our food and drink, which was pretty cool getting to see in person what we’d only seen in pictures before. Once we were sitting back down, Nehemiah chatted casually for a few minutes. Then with what seemed like an ever present pleasant smile on his face, he told us why he had called us.
“I believe someone wants to kill me or set me up.” He shrugged. “Probably both.”