"Easy." Nate pushed off the floor with one hand and turned an opened palm to Hajji. "This isn't a trick," he said, meeting the man's eyes. "I think it's what I've been looking for." He turned to study the wall with a giddy effervescent growing inside. "See, the stairs are just a decoy. This!" He aimed the flashlight at the crack in the wall. "This must be the real hiding place." He turned to Hajji with a big grin. "We should check it out."
Hajji moved his flashlight across the wall then nodded. "Perhaps fortune smiles on us."
"Yeah, come on." Nate pushed the wall until it turned inside the doorway and hung from its frame in the middle, splitting the entrance in half. He guided the beam to the floor and stepped inside. Nate couldn't imagine a more narrow space. He moved down so Hajji could enter.
Hajji stepped inside and turned his flashlight to the opening. He pushed the wall/door until it closed then studied it with, what felt to Nate, like tiresome attention to details.
"Here," Hajji said, shinning the light on a metal rod held in place by two clamps. "This goes into that hole. It's the lock."
"Lock it," Nate told him. "Let's see how this would have work."
They stepped sideways along the passage because it was impossible to walk normal.
"What place would this be inside the house, Nate Daniels?"
"I don't know," Nate said. "These must be the walls between two rooms."
They could see no more than a foot ahead and were squeeze between two plastered walls about eighteen inches apart. Overhead, the ceiling showed exposed beams and electrical w...
... middle of paper ...
...lanning for later.
"Okay, I try to check back in, but you should probably get some rest."
"Agreed," Hajji said then reached for Nate's hand. "Thank you, Nate Daniels."
"Sure," Nate said and pushed the closet wall into place. He returned the board that acted like a key to its home position, then stood and started to put things back in place. His mind swirled from everything that had happened. He stopped in the middle of returning some towels to their shelf when a light bulb of understanding turned on. This was what Great Gramps had been trying to say with the picture frame. Up-side-down were directions that led to the hiding place in the secret stairway and how to open the entrance inside the supply closet. All along, he had been giving directions. But he had been at it for years. Great Gramps wanted the hiding place found, and there had to be a reason.
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