there's a gleam in your eye

Chapter 1: New York City, Look At Me Now

August 10, 1957

"What can be keeping them?"  Fourteen year-old Harvey Diamond paced back and forth across the spacious living room in the Upper West Side apartment, stopping occasionally by a window to look at the street below them for signs of a large group of teenagers.

"They'll get here."  The mumbled reply came from behind Harvey.

Dan couldn't help but grin as Harvey glanced over at the speaker.  Neil was sitting on the deep red art-deco couch, guitar in hand.  There was no point in trying to talk to him; he was hard at work on a song.  He hadn't even looked up when he made his small comment, his dark head bent intently over the chords.  Still, he showed no annoyance at being interrupted by his younger brother's anxious pacing.

"They're not late yet.  Their friends may have had a delayed flight, or they could be stuck waiting for luggage," Dan Mangan commented.  He was standing by another window in the Wheelers' apartment, where he was studying the streets below.  He had never been so high up in his life.  He watched the cars inching along Central Park West.  "Or it could just be the traffic."

Although his last name was different, Dan was the middle brother to the two Diamond boys.  He wasn't officially adopted, but that didn't matter to the three of them; they were brothers in all the ways that counted.  The Diamond family, including Dan, lived in a modest home in Brighton Beach, far from the hustle and bustle of the Manhattan streets below.  But the area was still familiar to Dan.  He had grown up in Harlem, just a bus ride north of their current location.  Following the deaths of both of his parents, he had ended up heading south to join up with a gang that operated in the Bowery district.   The island of Manhattan still felt very much like home to Dan, and he had mixed feelings about being back.

Dan turned around again as he felt a hand on his shoulder.  His uncle, Bill Regan, looked past him and out at the park below.  Regan had seemed nervous in the elevator when they came up to the apartment, and even now, Dan thought he looked a bit green around the gills.  Of course, some of that may have been due to his wearing a suit and tie instead of his usual jeans and a checkered shirt.  "You okay, Uncle Bill?" he asked.  "Maybe you shouldn't be so close to the window."

"I'm fine.  Wouldn't want to miss the view from up here."  Regan peered cautiously out the window and then stepped quickly back.  "I do hope the others get here soon.  If only so we can get out of here and get back on solid ground."

Dan and Harvey both chuckled while Neil kept plunking away on his guitar, unaware of Regan's anxiety over heights.

The four of them were guests of the Wheelers for the coming week, and it was Mr. Wheeler's two children, Honey Wheeler and Jim Frayne, that they were expecting, along with the Wheelers' neighbors and friends in Sleepyside:  Brian, Mart, and Trixie Belden, and another neighbor, Diana Lynch.  The six teens from Sleepyside were collectively known as the Bob-Whites of the Glen, a semi-secret club they had formed the previous year.  In addition to the Sleepyside club members, three other young people were flying in from Iowa.  It was these three, Ned Schulz, Bob Hubbell, and his twin sister, Barbara Hubbell, that the Bob-Whites were meeting at the airport.  Regan, Neil, Dan, and Harvey had elected to go straight to the apartment building instead of meeting the Des Moines flight.

Just across the hall from them was another apartment which belonged to Mr. Whitney, a good friend of Mr. Wheeler's.  Mr. Whitney was lending his apartment to them since they would be a crowd of fourteen:  the twelve teens and two chaperones.  Miss Trask, the other chaperone, was also the Wheelers' estate manager, and she had gone to the airport with the Bob-Whites.

The buzzer next to the door sounded and Harvey stopped his pacing.  Regan went over to the intercom system and pushed the button.  "Wheeler residence."

An elderly voice crackled through the box.  "The rest of your party has arrived, sir.  They will be up shortly."

A few minutes later, Miss Trask opened the door and ushered an excited crowd of teens into the living room.  Introductions were jumbled, but eventually everyone knew each other's names.

The boys who had just arrived took their bags across the hall to Mr. Whitney's apartment, where they were actually staying.  They had decided to split the group by gender, even though that meant nine people sleeping in one apartment and only five in the other.  After the bags had been dropped off in the various bedrooms of the neighboring suite, they went back across the hall to the Wheelers' apartment.

"This place is wonderful!" Barbara Hubbell, one of the Iowa teens, exclaimed from the window where Dan had stood earlier.  Her eyes moved around the room, drinking in the décor. The art-deco stylings of the furniture matched the building itself, and even the deep burgundy draperies that hung at the windows complemented the elegance of the room.  Then she looked beyond the curtains.  "Look at the views from here!  I can't believe we're right at the edge of Central Park."

"If you walk along that road there - " Di went over to her and pointed out the window, showing Barbara the 65th Street Transverse Road, " - you come out on Fifth Avenue on the other side of the park.  We'll have to explore all the fabulous department stores and boutiques along there, even if we can't actually buy anything."

Barbara's blue eyes widened.  "That sounds wonderful.  Imagine me going home with some fancy New York City outfit though.  I don't think I could wear anything from there at the next Four-H meeting."

Honey giggled.  "Maybe not.  But I could see you wearing a designer gown to your next school dance."

Dan looked admiringly at Honey's own attire.  The skirt of the light grey dress wasn't as full or wide as Barbara's, but it wasn't slim like Di's either.  The white belt at the waist and the trim white collar at the neck matched the gloves she was wearing.  Her light brown hair was pulled back from her head with a slim dark headband, and her black dress shoes completed the look.

He looked down at his own clothes, recently purchased just for this vacation despite his protests to Mama Rose.  But Mama had insisted he "dress up" for the Manhattan visit, and now he was glad she had.  The other boys were all wearing dress slacks and ties and he actually felt like he fit in, even if he wasn't quite comfortable in the suit.

"That's enough fashion talk, please," Brian interjected.  He sat down on the burgundy sofa next to Neil, loosening his tie slightly.  "You girls may want to explore Fifth Avenue, but I'd much rather go to Liberty Island or almost anywhere."

"Bedloe Island," Neil corrected, even though Brian had used the right name.  Bedloe Island had just recently been officially renamed to Liberty Island.  He reluctantly put his guitar away.  "It'll always be Bedloe to me."

"Say, Trix," Mart said, leaning against a bookshelf along the wall, "you never did tell us anything about your odd friend at the airport."

"What odd friend?" Dan asked.  He sat on one of the stairs leading to the bedrooms on the upper floor of the apartment.  The staircase was an open-slat design, turning at a slight angle near the bottom where the stairs opened into the living room.

"Well, she hasn't had a chance to tell you all about her," Honey explained.   "There was this old woman who seemed confused at the airport.  She thought she had missed her plane to Mexico City."  Honey turned to Trixie.  "I know she made her plane all right, but what was her trouble, Trixie?  Who was she?"

"A fortune teller," Trixie answered.  Her blue eyes gleamed as they often did when she knew she was on to something mysterious.  Her hands gripped the back of the chair where Honey sat.

Brian groaned.  "She claimed she was a fortune teller.  She was probably just a hustler."

Dan nodded in agreement.  "There are lots of those in the city, that's for sure."   And I used to be one of them.  He couldn't help thinking that he was, or at least had been, the kind of person the Bob-Whites would have shunned, and he hoped they never found out about his past.

"Well, I don't think she was really hustling anybody."  Trixie's blonde curls bounced with indignation.  "She said she had been visiting her cousin, and then the police came and arrested her, I guess.  She said they called her a crook and made her leave."

"Sounds like she was being deported," Harvey commented. He frowned slightly.  "That doesn't surprise me either.  She was probably in the country illegally."

"What, no 'innocent until proven guilty' from you?"  Neil smirked at his younger brother.

Harvey hoped to be a lawyer or even a judge some day.  He shook his head.  "I said probably.  I don't know the circumstances and I'd be happy to defend her right to stay."

"Well, she didn't stay.  She bought a ticket back to Mexico City."  Trixie walked over to the couch and picked up a brightly colored purse she had dropped there earlier.  "Anyway, I helped her find the right gate for her plane, and in return she gave me this purse."

"It's perfectly perfect!" Barbara looked admiringly at her friend.  "Trixie, you're always doing nice things for other people."

"And collecting loot." Mart grinned.  "Trix, why didn't you tell her to fill the purse with gold?"

Trixie didn't answer.  Her face was thoughtful.

"Hey, come out of it, Trix.  Mart was just joking."  Brian got up from the couch and walked over to his sister, waving his hand in front of her face.

Dan glanced over at Regan. He was holding his head in his hands as if he had a headache.

Regan must have sensed someone was watching him.  He lifted his head up; his green eyes met Dan's.  "I know that look," he said simply.

Brian snapped his fingers at his sister.

Trixie shook her head vigorously, a broad smile on her face.  "I guess I did go off into outer space.  I'm sorry.  It's just... there was something very mysterious about that woman.  The way she looked at me when she left.  I wonder..."

"Oh, no!  Not on this vacation."  Miss Trask shook her finger firmly in the teen's direction, but her pale blue eyes sparkled all the same.

"So far, it doesn't sound mysterious at all.  Nothing to worry about, Miss Trask."  Di sounded like she was trying to convince herself.

Jim shook his head, giving an approving look to his favorite girl before he spoke.  "If Trixie thinks there was something more to it, then there probably is."

Honey nodded emphatically, agreeing with her brother.

"Not again!"  Ned groaned.

"The things that happen to Trixie are always the most spectacular!" Barbara said, so excited her voice ended in a thin squeak.

"Well, so far, it looks to me like the only thing that has happened is that Trixie helped someone, and that someone gave her a purse."  Regan spoke sternly, sounding older than his twenty-three years.  "Let's not borrow any trouble -- or mysteries -- okay?"

"Exactly."  Miss Trask briskly put an end to any talk of mysteries.  "It's a nice purse, Trixie, but that's the end of it.  Instead of thinking about that lady, who is well on her way to Mexico, why don't you think about what you want to do this evening?"

"Miss Trask, you know very well Trixie will think more about it," Mart said.  "But I am willing to move on to other topics of conversation.  For instance, I would like to know our dinner plans for the eventide."

Trixie stuck her tongue out at her brother.  Then her expression changed to one of intense concentration.  "You didn't see the way she looked at me when she left.  It was a queer, deep look."

Brian and Jim gave each other knowing glances.

Dan shrugged.  He hadn't been there.  Who was he to say whether the woman was mysterious or not?  "So, what are our plans for this evening?"

"I guess we'd better start the real sight-seeing in the morning," Jim replied.  He turned to the Iowans.  "What do you three want to do most of all?"

"Starting tomorrow morning?" Ned asked.

Barbara shook her black curls.  "I don't know.  I guess we could leave it up to Neil and Dan and Harvey.  After all, they live here in New York City."

"That suits me," Ned agreed.  "How about you, Bob?"

Bob nodded in response.  "That's okay with me, too.  Provided we go to the United Nations, the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, the Museum of Natural History, Central Park, Statue of Liberty -- "

Neil cut Bob off.  With a laugh, he pointed out the window.  "Central Park is easy.  Just step outside."

Harvey grinned.  "We'll do our best to show you everything.  At the very least we'll get you to the Statue of Liberty.  You have to see that while you're here."

"What about tonight, though?" Di asked.

"Perhaps you can have a nice dinner someplace, then maybe go to an early movie," Miss Trask suggested.  "I need to get some things ready to take to my sister, and I'll be spending the evening with her."

"Aren't you going to chaperone us at the movies?" Barbara asked, her eyes open wide.

Regan shook his head.  "I'll be the lone chaperone tonight.  Not that you kids really need a chaperone, do you?  Now, have you all unpacked yet?"

A number of the teens shook their heads or mumbled no.

"Why don't you all unpack first, maybe freshen up a bit after the long plane ride, and then meet back here?" Miss Trask suggested.

"Great idea," Di agreed.

Dan stood up to follow the other boys to the apartment across the hall.  He was still feeling overwhelmed at being back in Manhattan. Equally overwhelming was the extravagance of the two apartments on the thirtieth floor, as well as Mr. Wheeler's and Mr. Whitney's generosity.

"It sure was nice of Mr. Whitney to let us stay in his apartment," Jim acknowledged, almost as if he were reading Dan's mind.

"It sure was!" Harvey exclaimed.  "He doesn't even know us."

"I can't imagine anyone letting a bunch of teenage boys borrow their apartment, let alone a fancy two-story in a high rise like this."  Dan looked around the second apartment again, admiring the decor of rich blues and greens accented with silver touches throughout.  Mr. Whitney's apartment was even larger than the Wheelers', and it included an outdoor terrace overlooking the park.  "How does he know we won't trash the place?  Or steal from him?"

Ned stared at Dan, clearly puzzled at the question.  "Why would any of us steal from him?"

Unwittingly, Bob came to Dan's rescue.  "Well, we wouldn't, but Danny has a point.  Mr. Whitney doesn't know us, and not all kids can be trusted the way we can."

"Very true," Mart added.  "I know some kids at our school would be taking advantage of this.  But Mr. Wheeler vouched for our characters."

"You're a good bunch of kids," Regan agreed.  "Now, go unpack and we can meet the girls and get to dinner and a movie."

Jim, Brian, Mart, Bob, and Ned all trooped upstairs to get their things in order.  Harvey, Neil, Dan, and Regan had taken care of their belongings much earlier.

"I don't suppose we'll go somewhere kosher for dinner, will we?" Harvey was already heading to the kitchen as he asked the question.

"I doubt it," Neil answered.

"I didn't think so. I'm going to warm up some of that chicken casserole Mrs. Armen gave us." The Armens were close family friends of the Diamonds. "Do you want some, Neil?"

Neil shook his head. "Nah, I'm good." He was still carrying his guitar, packed neatly in its case, and headed upstairs with it.

Dan wandered over to one of the windows, once again looking out at the city below him. Being able to see so much of the street all at once made him feel more secure.

"Dan," Regan called to Dan after a few minutes.

Dan turned around.  "Yeah, Uncle Bill?"

"You think we can work in a side trip up to Washington Heights this week?" Regan asked from the armchair he had claimed.

"Sure."  Dan swallowed.  He didn't particularly want to go up to his old neighborhood.  But he knew why his uncle was asking.  "We can go up to Trinity Cemetery and visit Mom's grave.  That's actually on the very northern edge of Harlem, just bordering on Washington Heights."

"I wouldn't mind seeing where you grew up, either.  Didn't you used to live in Harlem?"  Regan's gaze softened.

Dan turned back toward the window.  "Yeah, I guess so."  He worried about going back, but it'd been so long, surely the Cowhands wouldn't be looking for him around there anymore, especially since it was so far out of their territory.  He guessed it would be safe enough.  "Yeah," he repeated, looking down at the streets below.

"You sound reluctant," Regan commented from behind him.

"Bad memories," Dan answered simply.

He sensed Regan's quiet affirmation in his response.  "We'll see how the week plays out."

"We will go up to Trinity though.  I promise."

"Thank you."  Regan's words were heavy with sympathy and understanding.

Dan turned around again to face him and gave him a quick smile of acknowledgement.

"What's Trinity?" Brian asked quietly from the bottom of the stairs.

It was Neil who answered from behind him.  "Graveyard.  Dan's mom."

"Oh."  Brian seemed to realized what had been discussed.

"Why so glum in the room?" Mart asked as he bounded down the stairs, almost running into Neil.

Brian and Neil walked further into the room, making room for Mart, and Bob and Ned behind him.

Regan looked at the boys and forced a smile.  "Never mind that.  Have you thought about where you want to eat?"

"A deli!" Bob shouted.  "A real New York deli."

"That sounds more like lunch fare," Mart commented.  "I want more to eat than just a sandwich."

"We know lots of good delis around here," Neil told Bob.  "Kosher ones, too."  He glanced toward the kitchen where Harvey had just started eating.

The double doors that led to the kitchen were wide open, making it seem like the kitchen was part of the spacious living and dining area.  Harvey looked up from his dinner.  "Did I hear we're going somewhere kosher for dinner?"

"No, probably not tonight," Jim answered.   "We were talking about maybe a kosher deli for lunch tomorrow."

Dan and the other boys moved closer to the kitchen, enabling Harvey to be part of the conversation.

"All right, then.  I was worried I warmed up this chicken casserole for no reason."  Harvey grinned.  "I'm all in for a deli for lunch tomorrow."

"What does kosher mean?" Bob asked.  He rubbed a hand through his dark hair, trying to smooth out an errant wave.

"Neil and Harvey are Jewish.  Harvey tries very hard to only eat food that is kosher," Brian answered.

"But that doesn't explain what kosher is," Ned pointed out.  He and Bob both looked confused.

Neil was about to answer but Dan knew he'd go into some complicated explanation about rabbis and cloven hooves and rumination.  He spoke up before the other boy could.   "It just means the food has to be stored and prepared in certain ways, and meat and dairy products can't ever be mixed.  Oh, and only certain kinds of meat are allowed.  No shellfish, no pork, no rabbit."

Neil smirked.  He counted off on his fingers as he spoke.  "No snails, turtles, alligators, and no camel either."

Bob looked like he had just lost his appetite.  "Who would want to eat those foods anyway?"

Jim looked thoughtful for a moment.  "Actually, snails and turtle are served at lots of fancy restaurants around here.  I've only been to the city a couple of times with the Wheelers, but almost every restaurant they've taken Honey and me to had those on the menu."

"I remember that one time we were here with you," Mart said.  "And I made the mistake of ordering escargot.  Ugh."  He shivered in remembrance.

"So that limits our choices for dinner then, right?"  Ned looked around for confirmation.  "Are there any kosher restaurants around here for dinner?"

"There's quite a few along West 72nd," Neil replied.  "And I know of a lot more over in Brooklyn."

"Brooklyn.  That's another place I want to go."  Bob grinned.

"We'll add it to your growing list of must-see places," Brian teased.

"How long are you all here for again?  I think you'll need more than a week."  Harvey winked from his seat at the table.  "But to answer your question, no, I don't expect you guys to go out for kosher dinners every night.  That's why I brought my own."  He pointed to the faded red refrigerator that looked out of place in the contemporary kitchen.  The three foot tall fridge hummed loudly from where it had been pushed into a corner, blocking a few of the cupboards.

Dan snickered as he remembered Neil and Judge Armen managing to fit the short refrigerator into the trunk of the Armen's car, at least a foot of it sticking out.  They had all tied it down with ropes and the judge had driven very slowly for the twenty blocks from his home on West 74th Street to the Wheeler's residence on Central Park West.  Neil and the judge had also done most of the work in carrying the appliance from the Armen's car to the elevator; Harvey just directed them.

"No, Mameleh and Mrs. Judge brought you your own dinners."  Neil often addressed Judge Armen's wife as Mrs. Judge instead of Mrs. Armen.  "And I choose not to worry about it."

"So, are we still undecided on a restaurant after all this talk?" Mart asked, rubbing his stomach.  He gazed at Harvey, and everyone could tell he was tempted to join the other boy in the kitchen and eat now.  And eat again at dinner.

"We are," Jim confirmed.  "Let's go across the hall and see if the girls are ready.  Honey probably has some ideas."

chapter 2: is it worth what i paid?