They marched to the lobby, leaving Baker safely ensconsced in his room. The manager blinked at them as they emerged from the elevator. May I help you gentlemen?
May we have a word with you in private? Mike asked, his voice deceptively calm.
Of course, he said, gesturing to his office. The Monkees filed in, each one unconsciously tensing as he crossed the threshold.
The manager settled himself behind his desk. So. Tell me whats on your mind.
Micky and Davy moved to stand in front of the door. Mike leaned on the desk. Not much. Just why you sent five huge guys up to chase Mr. Baker outta his room.
His eyes widened, but his voice was calm. We need the room for our paying customers.
Is there any particular reason why you couldnt wait a few more hours for Mr. Baker to get his money? Peter asked. There was no reason to tell the manager that Bakers backer had backed down.
I have a customer who wants that room. Now.
You know what? Micky said. He cant have it.
Mike chewed his lip. They were justified, but in the eyes of the law they were now trespassers. This was suddenly getting far more complicated than hed anticipated.
The manager met his eyes. You have no say in how I run my hotel.
You dont own this place, Micky said. Youre just a paper pusher!
Micky, cool it, right now, Mike ordered.
The man leaned back. Unless you have the money to counter my guests.
Davy made a disgusted sound. Man, thats what all this is about, isnt it? The money! Like that money from Nahudi youve been having poured into your lap!
The manager paled milky-white. Hey guys? Mike said casually. I think we stumbled onto somethin here. Somethin our good manager friend dont want us to know. He smiled, enjoying the sight of the managers adams apple bobbing in a convulsive swallow. Heres the deal, he said, his voice softening dangerously. You leave Bakerand usalone, and the outside world need never know about whatever shady deal you got goin on.
B . . . but the room . . .
You have about a hundred rooms in this hotel, Mike said, standing up. Find another one.
The manager shook his head. Y-you dont understand
I understand just fine, Mike said. Either find him another room or we hit the town and find the first reporter we can lay our hands on.
Youll cause an international incident!
Mike spread his hands. That wont be my problem, now will it?
He hung his head, giving a deep sigh. Look. My hands are tied. The ambassador wants that man gone from here.
Ambassador? Peter said. Ah . . . another piece of the puzzle reveals itself.
The manager dropped his head into his hands with the groan of one whos said too much. Davy suppressed a giggle. What do you want from me? My hands are tied, the manager said with a weary sigh.
Mike leaned over the desk, giving the manager a good look at the bruise on his cheek. Untie them, he rumbled.
The manager closed his eyes and spoke so softly they almost didnt hear him. The Nahudi ambassador. He wants Baker out of here and his play never produced.
Hes part of the royal family, and used to getting what he wants. Thats all I know.
Where can we find this ambassador? Peter asked.
At the Waldorf Astoria.
Cmon, Mike, Peter said. Theres bound to be a listing in the phone book and Baker can show us the way there.
The managers hand slowly began to reach for the phone. Micky darted to the side and grabbed the phone cord, giving it a swift yank. The phone leaped off the desk and sailed through the air, landing neatly in Mickys outstretched arms. A barely audible yawp was all the manager could produce.
Good phone, Micky said, petting it. Nice phone.
The manager paled further. Now look . . . you cant just go barging in and He gulped, and his eyes shone with realizationthat was exactly what they planned to do. He looked at the phone and his shoulders sagged. There was nothing he could do. What are you going to do with me? he asked, his voice deeper with defeat.
Nothing, Mike said, sliding off the desk. This is just a warning. Well chase off anyone else you send up there. Got it? He turned, gestured for others to follow. Micky took the phone with him.
Micky, Mike said. Leave the phone, huh?
He shrugged and threw it in a hallway trash can without missing a step. Peter snickered.
Micky dusted his hands. Soto the Waldorf?
Mike nodded. Yeah. Right now. He paused. You think a couple of us should stay here and keep an eye out for Baker?
Davy shook his head. I think Baker can take care of himself. We cowed that bully so badly I doubt hell go after him again.
All right, Mike said. Personally he was a little more confident now that they were all going together.
As the map in the lobby of the Merriweather showed, the Waldorf Astoria was only two blocks from their hotel. Do we walk? Peter asked.
Yeah. Cant afford a taxi anyway.
As one they headed out, barely paying attention to the surrounding city as they moved to the ritzy hotel and up to the registration desk. May I help you gentlemen? the woman behind the desk asked in a slightly bored voice.
We came to see the Nahudi ambassador, Mike said, standing up straight. Its a matter of utmost importance. A dark-haired woman walked up as the woman behind the desk said, Sir, I cant just let anyone off the street in to see the Nahudi ambassador.
You wish to see the ambassador? the newcomers accented voice asked. Why?
It concerns a Mr. McKinley Baker, Mike said evenly as he faded the regal figure. She was shrouded in soft lavender, a small, ornate gold crown framing her black hair.
Her eyes widened. The playwright?
Why would you wish to see my uncle regarding the playwright?
Because were the musicians he chose to star in his musical. So you seewe kinda have an interest in his affairs. Mike said the words as coolly as possible, but the edge to his voice was unmistakable.
She nodded slowly. Just a moment, Ill arrange it. She turned, smiling at Davy sweetly, and then left them.
Micky rolled his eyes. Another one. Davy, what IS it with you and chicks?
Davy shrugged, grinning. Fellas, can I help it if women find me irresistible?
Yes! all three bellowed at him.
Mike leaned on the counter, waiting for the woman to return. He kept his stance loose and relaxed but his eyes cautiously flicked from left to right, searching for any possible attack.
The dark-haired woman returned. Follow me, please.
Cmon guys. Mike fell into step behind her.
She led them down a long hall to a massive set of double doors, placing her palms on two long brass handles and pushing them open. The ambassador. Richly patterned oriental rugs were placed throughout, multicolored throw pillows scattered around a huge mahogany desk. A man somewhere between thirty and forty, wearing a traditional black veil over a dark blue suit, sat behind the desk. He rose as they entered. You are Bakers stars?
Yes sir, Mike said, bowing slightly at the waist. Even if the man was a crook and a villain it didnt necessarily preclude having good manners.
I do apologize . . . you came all the way out here for nothing.
I beg to differ, Mike said after sharing a quick glance with Peter. Its not nothing. We came all the way across the continent for a job only to have the job yanked out from under us.
Ah, yes . . . that job will never materialize. And for that, I am sorry.
Why? Micky demanded.
Your Mr. Baker owes me money.
How much? Davy asked.
Ten thousand dollars. Until I get it, his play will never be made.
Ten thousand . . . Mike trailed off, looking at his bandmates. No matter how much they might have liked Baker, it would take the sale of the Monkeemobile and their instruments to gather that kind of money. It was simply beyond their reach.
The woman looked at them, then back at the ambassador. Perhaps I can help?
How? Micky blurted out.
I am the princess of Nahudi. He is under my direction.
Mickys and Davys jaws dropped. Peters eyes widened. Mike managed to keep an outward sense of calm even as his throat constricted. The PRINCESS?
Am I to understand he has been using his influence in an untoward manner? she asked, nodding toward the ambassador.
Im afraid I dont understand, maam, I mean your highness, I mean . . . Mike stammered.
He has been interfering with Mister Baker?
As a matter of fact he has, Peter said.
Over money? she glared at the ambassador.
Thats usually it, Mike said.
The ambassador lurched to his feet, snarling. He shrieked something in a language the Monkees did not know and slammed his hand down on the desk. Portals opened in the walls and men with swords lunged out. Moving as one, the Monkees closed ranks around the Princess, their backs to her. Fists raised, they faced the armed men.
On to Chapter Five
Back to Chapter Three
Back to Secrets and Lies Index