Synopsis ~ An evening of relaxation changes speed in a hurry with a call for help from Joe’s girlfriend, Iola. Can Frank, Joe, and Iola evade and prevail over the dangerous intent of enemies or will the hours prove fatal? Read and find out!
Night of Danger
Two sleek motorcycles raced along the darkened roads. Both riders kept vigilant to avoid the dangerous patches of black ice beginning to make their treacherous appearance on the road surface. There were hardly any other travelers out right then, which helped in dealing with and navigating around any ice. Obviously most people preferred to stay inside, out of the howling winds that buffeted the two determined brothers as they swiftly covered ground. It was nine o’clock and pitch-black out. The three-quarter moon was hidden the majority of the time by persistent clouds but would make an occasional cameo, ever on the lookout for an opportunity to do so.
Prior to their arrival on the road, the brothers had been inside their home, warm and safe, but had been ready and willing when an urgent request drew them out into the cold night.
Two hours previous ~
“This movie is supposed to be real edge-of-your-seat stuff!” grinned Joe, seventeen, his blue eyes twinkling as he glanced over at his year older brother who was seated contentedly on the recliner. He himself was sprawled comfortably on the full-size couch, feet propped up on the padded armrest.
Frank nodded while plucking the remote off of the end table. “Sounds good.”
“Start up the movie, bro! I’m ready!”
“I can see that.” Frank snickered as he hit ‘play’. His brother had the food readily within reach on the oak coffee table. Large sandwiches, chips, nachos, pretzels, along with a soda for each of the brothers, were all spread out.
Joe had been a whirlwind, gathering the snacks in preparation for their movie, while Frank had built the sandwiches. Their plans to watch a movie and eat to their hearts’ content had been made during school that day. With their Aunt Gertrude on vacation, and their parents, Fenton and Laura, away for a couple of days, the boys had the place to themselves.
The movie, one they had both agreed on, was a suspense film that held the promise of much intrigue. It had finally aired on the channel of mystery and action movies and they had set up for it so they could watch it whenever they had time.
Joe was the pickier of the brothers on what movie to watch and Frank had no problem with letting him decide, knowing that Joe would select a good one, and he would be fine with it. The younger Hardy brother maintained he wasn’t picky, just discerning.
Since it was during the six o’clock hour in the wintertime it was already dark outside, a factor adding to the ambience of the movie. The light from the large LED flat panel TV flickered in the room, illuminating the brothers’ faces as the title and credits played. Then the opening scene began. The movie drew them into the intrigue right from the start. Shortly into the first scene, Joe began trying to help the likely victim, as he often did.
“Oh no, come on, you don’t want…..to go…in there……” Joe groaned as he watched the character in danger on the screen do exactly what he was trying to warn him against.
Frank glanced over at his brother, a grin on his face for a moment. The whole family got into the movies and TV shows whenever they had a chance to watch them together, but Joe was the most animated of the Hardys.
“Did you see that?!” Joe exclaimed, pointing at the screen at what happened next. The chips that had been on the way to his mouth stilled. His large blue eyes watched incredulously as the murderer stole back out into the night, having just slain their intended prey. The very one Joe had tried to warn.
“Yes, but apparently the victim didn’t see that coming.” Frank’s dark eyes intently took in the scene unfolding in front of them.
“They never listen to me!” Joe shook his head and rolled his eyes. “Hopefully the next possible victim will take my advice.”
Frank had no doubt that Joe would not cease his warnings. When they were little, he had asked his brother if he actually thought the person on the screen could hear him because Joe was always so sincere in his warnings. Joe had looked at Frank like he was seriously crazy. Frank chuckled quietly, remembering his little brother’s words in response to his question.
“How could they hear me, Frank? The music was louder than my voice!” Joe had then grinned and stuck his tongue out at his elder brother to show he was kidding.
As the scene changed, Frank reached for some pretzels while noting that the movie had only been playing for twelve minutes. He had the feeling there were going to be several twists and turns before the killer was caught. The camera work had been very careful to show only the outline of the murderer for a few moments so the viewer didn’t see who it was. That was perfect for detectives who liked to solve it themselves.
Although the mystery was highly suspenseful, the boys still found time to eat their thick sandwiches. Their mom had made sure there was plenty of food stocked up to feed her always hungry sons. She hoped there would be enough, anyway. She had given it a very good effort.
“Frank, you could work at Katz’s!” Joe stated after swallowing a big bite of the corned beef sandwich his brother had fixed. Katz’s Delicatessen was a favorite place to stop whenever they were in New York City.
“Thanks.” Frank grinned at the compliment. He was having no trouble making his disappear, either.
The brothers speculated as to who the murderer was, which gave way to an animated discussion on the suspects.
“It has to be that associate,” Joe stated stubbornly while Frank looked at his brother with faux exasperation. He agreed the woman was a suspect, but he had yet to see any absolute proof that she was the killer.
“Give me one reason as to why it has to be?”
“She has a motive. She was probably lying about her alibi. Probably paid off the witness.” Joe concluded his argument with, “Plus, even though she is pretty, she gives me the creeps.”
“Me, too, but that doesn’t exactly prove she’s the murderer,” Frank stated dryly.
“You asked for why I think she’s the murderer. And I told you. As a detective, I would get the additional proof, but I would search for the evidence on my instinct that it’s her.” Joe grinned at his brother. “I’ll just throw that back to you. Why can’t it be her? Can you tell me that?”
Frank made a face. “I can’t. I agree with you that it could be her, but I’d like some conclusive proof.” He watched the movie for a minute as the detective in the scene searched an office. “The friendly reporter also has a motive. Plus, he doesn’t have an alibi.”
“True that he also has a motive. But not having an alibi is just to make him look guilty. A bad guy would make sure to have an alibi….” Joe stopped for a moment, contemplating. “But that would be extra sneaky to be a murderer without an alibi….”
When the police detective made the arrest near the end of the movie, both brothers looked at each other and grinned. The detective didn’t make one arrest, but two. Frank and Joe were both right about the two suspects each having a part in the murder.
Right as the last of the credits were rolling on the screen, Joe’s phone started playing a particular ringtone, telling him exactly who was calling. His eyes sparkled as he reached over and picked it up off the end table where he had put it earlier after having taken it out of his jacket pocket.
“Hi, Iola!” he said, a happy smile instantly on his lips as he pictured his pretty girlfriend.
Frank had started gathering up the plates and stuff on the coffee table, but stopped when he heard the next words from his brother. Looking up, he noted a look of concern had replaced Joe’s smile.
“What? I’ll be right there. Stay inside, okay, Iola?” Joe continued to talk as he got up and went over to get his jacket. “Yeah, I’ll find it. Be there shortly, baby, okay?” He hit the ‘end’ button then looked over at his big brother.
“Iola needs me to come and get her. The car she borrowed broke down and now she’s stranded,” Joe said concisely, slipping on his jacket then reaching into his pocket for the keys to the Hardys’ van.
Frowning in concern, Frank asked, “Where is she? Is she inside the car?”
“At a diner out of town.” Joe started checking around, obviously still searching for the keys. His eyes scanned the living room for them as the feeling of worry persistently hit him, causing a sense of impatience when he couldn’t immediately find the keys.
Frank continued to listen quietly to his brother’s words while he stepped into the hall for a moment then returned.
Busy determining that the keys weren’t in the living room, Joe hadn’t seen his brother leave and had just decided to move his search elsewhere. Maybe Frank had spotted them and moved them. He was always doing that, deciding somewhere else was more convenient than where Joe had dropped them. That had to be it, because Joe was positive, since he had been the one driving earlier, he had left the keys in the living room.
“Frank, did you move-” Joe started to ask as he turned around, but stopped as his eyes then took in the keys being held in his brother’s hand for him to see. “Where were they?”
“On the table in the hall,” Frank replied. “Where we leave them.”
“You mean, where you leave them.” Joe reached out for the keys, but Frank closed his hand around them. “Hey!”
“I’m going with you and I’m going to drive.” Frank’s tone left no room for argument, but that didn’t stop Joe.
“Why? I can drive.” Joe had already figured Frank would want to come too, since the weather was not looking good, but he had planned on driving. In fact, Iola had told him she hoped Frank would come, too, worrying about Joe going too fast to get to her. His brother along would hopefully balance that out.
“True. I know you can drive,” Frank threw over his shoulder as he grabbed his coat and headed for the door. “But it won’t help Iola or yourself if you have a wreck rushing to get there. I’ll get us there quickly and safely.”
Joe decided to let Frank have that one, mostly because he didn’t want to waste any time getting to Iola. He was feeling very anxious to get there. She had quickly told him what had happened with the car. It had started making noises and she had been able to pull into the parking lot of a diner before it had completely quit on her, although it had been perfectly fine earlier. Joe already knew Iola had gone to a nearby town after school that day to visit a friend, Bethany, and to help make plans for a party. Iola had told Joe how she had tried calling Bethany after the car broke down, but there hadn’t been any answer.
The cold hit the brothers without apology as they left the house. Hurrying ahead, Joe jumped in the passenger seat of the van. He opened his mouth to holler for Frank to get a move on, since his brother had yet to get behind the wheel. With a glance through the windshield, Joe stopped when he saw Frank near the front of the vehicle, a frown on his face. A frown clearly indicating something wasn’t right.
Just as his brother moved from his view, Joe bolted out of the door and hurried to see what had captured the older Hardy brother’s attention. Whatever it was, Joe couldn’t have seen it yet since it was on the opposite side, but it had to be important enough to cause a delay.
Coming around beside Frank, who had moved down next to the vehicle, Joe no longer needed to ask what the problem was. His eyes gave him the answer. And his nose. Liquid was escaping from their van and pooling on the driveway. They could tell by the unique smell that it was anti-freeze, which meant they would have to take care of that before the van would work.
“Great,” Joe muttered in disgust. “We can’t take time to fix it. Let’s grab our bikes.”
Frank agreed, wondering at the leaking anti-freeze as they went to get their powerful motorcycles. While they automatically and efficiently went through their pre-ride check, the older Hardy brother continued to puzzle over what his eyes had told him. He hadn’t had time to examine it much, but he couldn’t help but speculate whether it had been done on purpose or not. Someone could have punctured the hose, but that couldn’t be determined until it was examined. It would have likely started leaking, with or without help, while the brothers were watching the movie, depending on the size of the opening. But who would do that, and just as importantly, why?
As the twin roars of the motorcycles sounded, an enemy’s plan which had already been set in motion to destroy the Hardys had just encountered an unexpected twist. Whether that twist resulted in the Hardys and Iola surviving the night or not remained to be seen. No matter what, every minute, every hour of the night, would present deadly danger for them before the appearance of the morning light would shine on the fact of whether or not they survived.