"Sarah, this is a wonderful little place. How did you find it?" Lauren asked.
"By doing exactly what we've been doing today: shopping. Can't go wrong with a Sweet Shoppe," Sarah replied. "Speaking of 'can't go wrong'--don't look--but I think we're being watched."
Lauren took a sip of her soda. "By who?"
Sarah nodded her head to her left. "The boys at that table over there."
"How can you tell?" Lauren asked.
"Well, for starters, the one with the cap has been staring at you for about, oh, the last ten minutes," Sarah said.
"Staring at me?" Lauren repeated, then smiled. "How about you?"
"I think the other four are taking turns," Sarah responded.
Lauren frowned. "Sure, four for you, one for me. That's fair." She rolled her eyes.
"Who says anyone is going to act on this? Let them enjoy themselves staring at us," Sarah said.
"What if one of them comes over here, though? What then?" Lauren asked, then took another sip of her soda.
"There's two of them and five of us," Chuck pointed out.
"So, we'll flip a coin," Slip said.
"Anyone have a five-sided coin?" Butch asked.
"Shuddup," Slip said, then looked at Sach. "Hey, don't stare at 'em. You'll scare 'em away."
"I think the one on the left likes me. She keeps lookin' at me," Sach responded, continuing to stare.
"Then go over and say hi or somethin'," Whitey urged.
"No way, I'm not good at talkin' to girls," Sach said.
"That never stopped ya from makin' a fool of yourself before," Slip said.
"I wonder what they're talking aout over there," Lauren said.
"I wouldn't be surprised if they're trying to talk that one into coming over here and talk to you," Sarah said.
"Maybe," Lauren said, "but..."
"But nothing. I would put money on it that that is exactly what those boys are doing," Sarah said. "Why don't *you* go over and say 'hi'. Show some interest and spare the poor guy the torture his friends are putting him through." She smiled.
"I don't know..." Lauren said, unsure.
"It's up to you, I won't push you," Sarah said, then paused. "I think I'll go powder my nose real quick and let you decide." She got up and left for the ladies' room.
"She's alone. Now's your chance," Chuck said.
"Yeah, just do som'en before boids mistake ya for a statue," Slip said.
"I don't wanna," Sach said. "What if she don't like me?"
"The problem with that is?" Slip asked. "Now, be a--I'm gonna regret sayin' this--man and go talk to 'er!"
Sach shook his head. "Nope."
"All right," Slip said, then pulled Sach out of his chair and shoved him over to the girls' table. "Nutin' to it."
Despite the shove, Sach managed to stumble
his way directly into a chair at the girls' table. "Oop... the chief
gets a little pushy sometimes."
Lauren smiled. "I noticed. I'm Lauren."
"Horace DeBussy Jones, at your service," Sach said. "My friends over there call me Sach."
"She hasn't slugged him yet," Whitey commented, surprised.
"Then, obliviously, there must be som'en wrong wit' the poor goil. Sach prob'ly scared her when I t'rew 'im over there," Slip said.
Sarah walked up to the boys' table. "There's nothing wrong with her." The guys turned to her.
"Well, to what do we owe this pleasure?" Slip asked.
"My friend, Lauren, over there, is rather shy and I've been trying to set her up with someone for years. Who knew it would be this easy? I would never expect a Sweet Shoppe, that's for sure," Sarah said.
"I'd never expect it either," Chuck commented.
"I'd never expect it to be Sach," Butch added.
"What about you? You lookin' for someone?" Slip asked, then smiled at her.
"Cute," Sarah said. "Maybe I am, but since there's four of you and only one of me, I'll let you fellas decide, okay?" She smiled.
"Sounds fair," Whitey said.
"'Course it's fair!" Slip said. "I'm Slip, this here's Whitey, Butch, and Chuck. And that's Sach over there makin' a fool of himself, as usual."
"I'm Sarah. Nice to meet you guys," she said.
"Pleased to make your acquisition," Slip said, then added, "So, you're sayin' the both of ya are available cuz she's kinda shy?"
"Well, that, and she sorta has money," Sarah said.
"Money?" Whitey, Chuck, and Butch echoed.
"Don't mind there three, they haven't officially been interjected to the stuff," Slip said.
Sarah smiled. "Oh... Anyway, she's gone with a few boys who just wanted the money so she gets wary of new guys." She looked over at the other table, then finished, "Although, she seems to have taken an immediate liking to your friend."
"Oh, a college girl!" Sach said.
"Sure! What about you?" Lauren said.
"Well, I got kicked out of four," he replied, "but Slip over there's been tossed outta about seven."
"Really? That must be a record," she said.
"Not for the Bowery," Sach said.
"Ahem. Pardon the perusion..." Slip began, after coming over to the table.
"Tsk, tsk, Chief, you're always gettin' in the way," Sach said, wagging an index finger at him.
"You're lucky these two lovelies are here or else I'd belt ya so hard, you'd feel it yesterday!" Slip said.
Sarah joined them. "Lauren, we've got to get going."
"Okay," Lauren said, standing, "but we're coming back tomorrow. You'll be here, right, Sach?"
"Of course. Where else would I go?" Sach said.
"I know one place..." Slip muttered.
"See you guys tomorrow, then," Sarah said.
"We'll be back," Lauren said, and the two girls left.
"College girl," Sach said.
"Brains and money, that makes for quite interestin' confliction," Slip commented.
"You're just jealous," Sach said.
They joined the other three attheir table.
"I wonder what they were doing here in the Bowery if they've got money," Chuck said.
"We'll just have to ask 'em tomorrow, then, won't we?" Slip said.
"Alright, Sarah, what did you say to those guys?" Lauren asked.
"Nothing!" Sarah replied, quickly.
"You told them I'm rich, didn't you?" Lauren said.
"Maybe I did," Sarah said.
"Wonderful," Lauren said, unhappily.
"Boss, there's those two girls."
"I see them. They came out of the Sweet Shoppe."
"Do we grab 'em now, Boss?"
"Not yet. We wait, it'd be too obvious, now."
"Will you boys go home?! I've gotta close up and get home to Mama," Louie said.
"Calm down, Louie. Don't get so hyper-vented," Slip said.
"Yeah, what he said!" Sach added.
One of the doors flew open and Lauren ran in.
"My girl!" Sach said.
She ran over to their table. "Sarah... these guys... I... need water..."
"What's she tryin' to say?" Whitey asked.
"Louis, get my girl some water!" Sach said.
"Aright, anything to get you out of here," Louie said, then went behind the counter. He got a glass of water and handed it over to Chuck, who passed it to Butch, who passed it to Whitey, who passed it to Sach.
"Took ya long enough. Here ya go," Sach said, then finally gave her the water.
Lauren took a drink.
"Now, what's goin' on?" Slip asked.
"These two guys, looked like gangsters, they jumped Sarah and me. I got away, but they got her," Lauren explained, then sighed. "Now, I've probably got you fellas into this, too."
"This? What's *this*?" Slip asked.
"Well, it's a long story..." Lauren began.
"Leave first, then tell it. I gotta get home to Mama!" Louie said.
"Alright, alright. Don't get so pushy, Louie. Just gimme the key and we'll lock up for ya," Slip said.
"Givin' the key to you is like givin' dynamite to an arson," Louie argued.
"Yeah it blows up in your face," Sach said, then turned back to Lauren. "You were sayin'?"
Lauren sighed. "My family is on the level. However, my uncle loved betting and playing the numbers. My dad, thinking that he was in financial trouble for *other* reasons, laoned him money. My uncle got caught and blamed everything on my dad. Anyway, apparently those thugs must have thought they'd be more likely to get money out of *me*. They've probably been following Sarah and me, but were waiting forthe right moment... and they grabbed her."
"That stinks," Sach commented.
"Stinks? That's down right stupid," Slip added. "Any idea of where they took 'er?"
"Not really, but considering my uncle was into gambling and those guys were probably gangsters..." Lauren said.
Sach grabbed hold of the lapels of Slip's jacket. "Now, listen here, see..." he began, trying to sound like Cagney, "we gotta help my girl, here..."
Slip belted Sach with his hat. "That wasn't a good importation!"
"Never did like my Cagney," Sach said, rubbing his head.
"Com'on, let's get lookin' for her," Slip said.
"Where're we goin'?" Whitey asked
"Well, uh..." Slip began.
The door flew open and Gabe ran in.
"Oy, I'll never get home to Mama!" Louie exclaimed.
"Fellas, you'll never believe what I saw!" Gabe said.
"Try us," Slip urged.
"I was comin' out of the tailor's and I spotted these two girls. I was about to go over and introduce myself when these two mugs came up to them and grabbed one of 'em!" Gabe explained.
"You saw it?!" Lauren said, surprised.
"Yeah," Gabe said, then finally looked at her. "Hey, you're..."
"My girl!" Sach said, proudly.
"Did you see where they took her? Or atleast what direction they went in?" Lauren asked.
"Looked like maybe they were headed for 37th Street," Gabe replied.
"Alright, let's contemplate and see if we come up wit' a plan of action," Slip said.
"How about a mixture of routine six and routine three, with a bit of routine eleven on the side?" Sach suggested.
"For once, the moron makes sense. We'll save that for when we find those guys. Now, we have to figure how to actually find them. 37th Street ain't much to go by," Slip said.
"If the mooks are after money..." Chuck began, "they might send a ransom note or som'en."
"Or hold her to get Lauren," Butch said, then gave her a sympathetic look.
"Don't talk about my girl that way!" Sach said.
"The thing is, he's probably right," Lauren conceded.
A paper airplane flew through the open door and landed on the floor.
"Gabe, grab that will ya? That could be our lead," Slip said.
Gabe went over and picked it up.
Sach followed. "Lemme see it." He grabbed the paper and looked at it, then turned it 180º, then 90º to the right, then 180º again.
Slip joined them. "Gimme that thing before ya strain yourself." He took the paper and read it. "This is quite the conformative clue we've been wantin'."
Slip stopped the jalopy outside the hotel
on 37th Street. "Now, here's what we're gonna do: Butch and Chuck take
the first three floors, Gabe and Whitey, the second three floors,
"My girl comes with us, Chief," Sach interrupted.
"Fine, she comes wit' us," Slip agreed.
The group entered the lobby, then split up.
"This'll be like tryin' to find a girl in a haystack," Sach commented.
"Don't tell me you've tried that," Lauren said.
"Naw, why would a girl wanna hide in a haystack?" Sach replied.
Slip went ahead of them. "These two are already gettin' on my nerves." he stopped at the elevator and hit the up button. "You think you can go seven flights wit'out gettin' a nosebleed?"
"I haven't had a nosebleed in eight months!" Sach said.
"We'll see," Slip said.
The elevator doors opened and they stepped in. Slip hit hte seven button.
"If those creeps did anything to Sarah, I'll..." Lauren started.
"If she ain't okay, we'll make them wish they never grabber 'er to start wit'," Slip said.
The elevator stopped at the seventh floor and they got out.
"You two go down that way, I'll go this way," SLip said, then started down the hall.
"Chief, you didn't even gimme a chance to argue!" Sach called after him.
Lauren laughed, then paused. "Sach, what do we do if we find her?"
"Yell for the Chief," Sach replied.
"Why? What about the routines?" Lauren asked.
"I kinda forgot what they are," Sach replied.
"What are you planning on doing when my friends come looking for me, huh?" Sarah asked.
"Not much, but enough to get that money your friend's father owes us," one of them said.
"It isn't her father's debt!" Sarah argued.
The phone rang and the guy picked it up. "Yeah, this is Tony? Thanks," he said, then hung up. He turned to the other guy. "They're here already. Scott, set up a little welcoming party for our guests."