THE TENSION HEATS UP
In just ten minutes, the tickets to the concert were gone, except for a couple Phoebe kept in reserve. The backyard returned to normal, except now it was all about food and socializing, with soccer playing at a minimum. Only a few young children kicked a ball around. Eating and chatting people surrounded the tables.
Nico and Geo appeared, waiting for Phoebe’s instructions. “Where have you been?” she asked.
“Just wandering around,” replied Nico. “It’s different tonight.”
“What kind of different? People doing things they shouldn’t be doing? Things I wouldn’t want them to do?”
“I don’t know.” Nico had a serious look. “Maybe.”
“What’s maybe?” Phoebe asked. She could tell they had spotted something.
“Grown men standing by themselves with nothing to do,” Nico said. “Just watching.”
“Over there beyond the fence.”
“Okay,” Phoebe told them, “your job is to watch them from a distance without attracting attention. Tell me immediately if they do anything. Don’t approach them.”
The evening haze settled over the town. At a certain point Abby took Phoebe aside and said, “They’re here. But don’t do anything. I just want you to know.”
“Don’t look until I go back inside. Mitch Connelly’s brother and half-brother and some others. Even Bob Bentley’s out there. He’s got some nerve, that criminal. They’ll just watch until it’s time to leave. I’m going to need your help.”
“What about the police?
“That’s just a ruse, a way to smoke me out. They don’t want me talking to the police. They don’t want anyone knowing what this is all about, not even their own people.”
“So I just wait?” asked Phoebe.
“Exactly,” returned Abby. “And help Sammy. That’s where the police could do harm.”
The haze was turning to dark. The party went on. The watchers stayed at a distance. Nico and Geo appeared at Phoebe’s side. “Reporting for duty,” Nico said crisply with a salute. His brother laughed.
“What’s up?” asked Phoebe anxiously. This waiting game was getting on her nerves.
Nico came closer and spoke softly. “A kid appeared and talked to one of the grown men doing nothing. The man gave him a bag and said, ‘Scatter these around under tables. Don’t get caught. The money’s in there.'"
“What’s he look like?”
“Taller than me with a baseball cap and a strange coat, too big for him.”
“Fantastic work. I owe you. I’ll see you both get free food. Now go off duty and see the concert.”
“We like this better,” replied Nico. “We’ll find out more stuff.”
“I don’t know…” Phoebe was nervous. “You’re great at it, but it’s getting dangerous.”
Suddenly a few chords sounded from an electric guitar, and the conga drum laid out a rhythm. The crowd grew restless and swarmed over the area near the steps. Phoebe struggled to hold her post. In the excitement people became rude as she checked their tickets and admitted them. Nico pulled on her shirt and she looked down at him. “Here comes the kid,” he said. “Remember what I said?”
Phoebe looked up and saw someone approach from off the line and try to slip by her. She threw out her arm and caught him around the waist. In the jarring collision she heard the muffled clink of glass. ‘Bottles,’ she thought.
“Hey, get in line! Where’s your ticket?”
“I just want to see my friend. If I don’t I’ll get in trouble.”
“Sorry, can’t let you.”
The boy lowered his head and took a step away. In a second he turned and darted back under Phoebe’s arm, but she grabbed his jacket as he went by. They both fell, and as they stood up a small bottle of vodka fell onto the steps.
“I’d like to know who gave you that,” she said.
In a panic he looked wildly at the crowd around him and swung at Phoebe, hitting her hard, knuckles on the cheekbone, and flew off like a streak into the darkness. Stunned for a moment, Phoebe staggered. The crowd swarmed around her.
PHOEBE COMES HOME (Book I)
PHOEBE BREAKS THROUGH (Book II)
And The Upcoming...GHOST GIRL (Book III)
by John KixMiller
The Tension Heats Up illustration
by Carlos Uribe
Learn More About Phoebe And The Players In Middletown!