“And here I thought it was anti-lock brakes and windshield wipers,” Jordan said.
“Get in a car on a cold day without these babies, you’ll learn to appreciate them.”
They drove slowly to Brian’s house. The storm gathered, getting worse. Visibility was poor and it took almost 10 minutes to drive the two blocks to the Casey’s house.
It was chilly in the house. Brian checked the thermostat and saw that it was around 65 degrees in the house. That didn’t make sense. The heat was on 71. A quick look around showed that the doors and windows were all closed. However, when Brian walked past the basement door, he felt a breeze. He and Heath went down together and found that the backdoor that Brian had helped repair, was open. The door at the top of the steps was closed and locked.
“That’s just weird,” Brian said. “I know Mr. Hamilton and I checked that and made sure it was locked and dead bolted. It hasn’t been tampered with, has it?”
“Not that I can tell,” Heath remarked, running his fingers over the latch. “Let’s put something against it until we can get the carpenter and a locksmith over here.”
They got the sofa from the rec room and shoved it in front of the door.
While they were downstairs, Jordan went to the office to look for the tapes. She looked through all the drawers and filing cabinets, even checking under the drawers. She was in the process of pulling out the books and flipping through them, when Brian and Heath joined her.
“Does your dad have a safe in here?” she asked.
“Wouldn’t put it past him. He’s kind of paranoid. He had odd little cubby holes all over the house. Most of them were here when it was built in 1850. The whole house is double walled, with a foot of air space between the inside and the outside walls. It’s like two feet thick altogether. Dad thought that it was possible that whoever built the house probably helped escaped slaves. We had a priest hole in the living room, but it was damaged and had to be taken out. They just expanded the room and made kind of a bookcase thing. We check every nook and cranny of the house. If we have to tap on every wall….” He snapped his fingers. “I just had an idea.” He ran out of the room and down to the basement. He came back a few minutes later with something that looked like a TV remote, only it was bright yellow and black. “Stud finder.”
“Do you know how to use it?” Heath asked.
“Of course I do, it’s mine.”
Brian went to the nearest wall and put the stud finder against it before turning it on. He moved it until it beeped. Going a few feet over, he repeated the process. Jordan watched him with interest.
“Why are you doing that?” she asked.
“Because, the studs should be fourteen and a half to twenty-four inches apart, depending on if it’s an insulated, structural wall or just finished for looks. Like this wall. It’s an inner wall, not insulated, so the studs are—aha! Twenty-two inches apart. Not sure why.” He frowned slightly. “But see? If we find an extra large gap, we know we’re in the right place.”
“Do you have more than one stud finder?” Jordan asked.
He handed her a second one from his pocket. It was older and more battered than his, but still worked. Jordan sensed this was his father’s. She took it from Brian and handed it to her father.
“Why don’t you help with this and I’ll keep doing what I’m doing.”
“Which is what, exactly?” Heath asked.
“Checking for hiding places in the books and shelves.”
“You’ve read too many mysteries, honey,” her father said.
Jordan picked up a book and it rattled. She opened it, finding a hollowed out area. The pages were stuck together, forming a box. Inside the box was a key. It looked like an old fashioned pressure key—one that would shove straight into a special slot and not turn. A red ribbon adorned one end. Jordan grinned at her father, holding up the book and key.
“Yeah. Reading a book doesn’t teach you a thing.” She smirked, waving the key at him.
“She’s going to be insufferable now,” Brian said as he examined the key.
“Now? She wasn’t before?” Heath teased his daughter.
“Well. Okay, more insufferable.”
Jordan swatted at him, but Brian dodged.
“No pillows in here, missy.”
“I’ll get you for that remark,” she warned. “Maybe not right away, but you’ll be near pillows sometime.”
© 2016 Dellani Oakes