He asked one of the custodians for directions. There was an elevator at the rear, she told him. It was for the staff to come and go from their offices on the third and fourth floors, but it was also available for the use of anyone in need — and his friend in the wheelchair was certainly in need.
Travis pushed Nish down a long corridor, at the end of which were sliding doors and a single button. Travis pushed the button and the doors opened on an empty elevator.
“Lingerie, please.” Nish announced, as if he were addressing an elevator operator in a department store.
“You’re sick,” Travis said.
Nish grinned: “And proud of it.”
They rose to the second floor and the doors began to open.
Suddenly, both were blinded by a flash of light!
At first Travis couldn’t see, but as the flash faded from his eyes he could make out two bulky figures, one with a camera half-hidden in his opened coat.
The men seemed caught off guard. The man taking the pictures — dark, surly, with a scar down the side of his face as if he’d run into a skate — seemed to be trying to hide the camera. The other — tall, balding, but with a ponytail tied behind his head — seemed nervous.
“How ya doin’, boys?” the tall man asked.
“Okay,” Travis answered, unsure.
“We’re just taking some shots for a few renovations,” the man explained.
Travis pushed Nish past. It didn’t make any sense. The Hockey Hall of Fame was almost brand new. Why would it need fixing up already?
“What the heck’s with them?” Nish asked as they moved further down the corridor.
“I have no idea,” said Travis.
When they got to the Great Hall where the trophies were — a dazzle of lights on silver and glass, the Norris, the Calder, the Lady Byng, the Hart, the Vezina — several of the Screech Owls were already positioned in the designated area for taking their own photographs.
The scene made Travis even more suspicious of the men. If they had come in here with a camera, surely it was for this. Why would they want to take a picture of an elevator?
“There’s the Stanley Cup!” Nish shouted, pointing.
Derek and Willie were already there. The cup looked glorious. So shining, so rich, so remarkably familiar, even though none of them had ever seen it in real life before this moment.
“This isn’t the real one,” said Willie, who knew everything.
“Whadya mean?” Nish scowled, disbelieving.
Willie pointed back over his shoulder. “The real one, the original one that Lord Stanley gave back in 1893, is back over there in the vault. This building used to be a bank, you know. They keep it back there because it’s considered too fragile to present to the players, so they present this one — which in a way makes this one the real Stanley Cup as well.”
Travis looked to see what Willie was talking about. He could see another room back behind huge steel doors — “lord stanley’s vault,” the sign overhead said. There were more lights in there and what appeared to be another, smaller trophy.
And the two men were there, too!
The shorter, dark one had his camera out again. He was flashing pictures as fast as he could. But not of the cup, of everything else: the walls, the vault doors, the base the trophy stood on.
What were they up to?
“Wait here,” Travis said to Nish.
Nish turned back, hardly caring. He could get Data to push him if necessary. But anyway he wasn’t much interested in leaving the cup he was planning to carry around Maple Leaf Gardens.
Travis circled wide around the other trophies so he could come up on the entrance to the smaller room without being seen.
There was no one in the vault but the two men, still taking photographs. It made no sense.
Travis kept close to the wall and edged to the doorway. He could hear the taller man talking.
“It’s perfect,” he kept saying. “Perfect.”
“No one can see from any of the other areas. There’s only the one surveillance camera, the main alarm, and a secondary alarm on the display case. We plan it right and we can be in and out of here in less than thirty minutes.”
The man with the camera stopped and turned, scowling.
“Keep it down. You wanna tell the whole country?”
The tall one laughed. “The whole country will know soon enough — and they’ll pay whatever it takes to get this baby back, believe me.”
Travis could feel his legs shaking, and it wasn’t from the CN Tower run.