“Can I talk with you?” Peter asked. “Privately?”
“How private?” Sal asked. “I don’t think there’s anyone else around.”
“I want to make sure that no one can hear us and that no one will walk in on us,” Peter said.
“Oh, dear,” said Sal. “This doesn’t sound good.” She thought a moment. “Let’s go up to my room. Everyone should be working and I’ll tell Nancy not to disturb us. She’s the only one who would walk in if the door was closed.”
They found Nancy in the kitchen and she agreed to make sure no one disturbed them. “Good thing that I know that you’re not interested in men,” she said.
“Okay,” Sal said when they were alone in her room. “What’s this all about?”
Peter pulled out a copy of the Wall Beast Journal. He pointed to the picture on the front page. “Does this guy look familiar?”
Sal stared at the picture for a minute. Suddenly she gasped. “That’s Dazzle!”
“I told you that I thought he looked familiar for some reason,” Peter said.
“Doug Danford Disappearance Perplexes Police,” Sal read. “Oh my goodness. What’s he wanted for?”
“Apparently there’s a whole bunch of money missing from the firm he worked for. There are rumors that he’s skipped the country. He’s been gone for almost a month now.”
“Wait,” Sal said. “It says that he was known on Madison Avenue as Doug Dazzle. That’s exactly what he told us. And he gave us his real name when he started here.”
“Yeah,” Peter said. “That is puzzling.”
The next day there was a very private meeting in the back house. Sal, Dan, Luna, Peter, George, and Fred were there and Dazzle was invited.
“I’m here,” he said as he entered. “But I’m not sure why.”
Peter handed him the paper.
“What the…” Dazzle scanned the article. “I don’t believe this!”
“You want to tell us what happened?” Peter asked.
“I don’t know anything about this money,” Dazzle said. “I left the firm less than a month ago. I just had a big, and I mean big, argument with my boss. I told him, ‘I’m out of here and I’m not coming back,’ and I left.
“I had had it with the Gigantic Apple and all the craziness that it represents. I was complaining to my friend Alex and he mentioned this commune up north that his cousin lived in. I said, ‘I didn’t think there were any communes any more,’ and he said, ‘Oh yeah, there’s a bunch of them around. Candy really likes the place.’ So I figured I’d check it out and now I’m here. It’s been great. It’s been just what I needed. And now it looks like the craziness has followed me up here.”
“What are you going to do?” George asked.
“Go back there, I guess,” Dazzle said. “I’ve got to get this straightened out.”
“I think it’s probably the best thing to do,” Fred said.
“Stupid cops,” Dazzle said. “I can’t believe that they couldn’t find me up here. It’s not like I left the country.”