Last weeks Chapter
“Okay so we have these pairs of numbers and somehow they fit into this chart.” Gary said tapping on the next piece of the puzzle, the board with five rows and seven columns laid out in a grid pattern.
“Well the first pair is 4 and 6.” Sharon said.
“Well if we are thinking right then that would put the first box filled in here.” With that Gary placed his finger in the appropriate box.
Andrew leaned looked over the rows of numbers “3 and 6”.
Gary used another finger and placed it on that box.
Sharon then called out, “1 and 6”.
Gary took his other hand and placed a finger in that block. Then he put his fingers down and stepped back shaking his head. “My fingers are not going to work for this lets get some paper.”
A half an hour later they had the boxes all marked out, and it made no sense that way. One box had seven marks in it, some had one, and a lot of blocks had nothing in them. The three of them passed around the sheet and admitted it made no sense to them.
“Come on guys think, we are close to solving this I can feel it,” Gary said looking at the sheet again “we just need to keep looking at it until we figure it out.
“What if this is some kind of grid system of the store, or maybe of the town?”
Andrew shot this down immediately, the town was unplanned, and having lived here his entire life and being a bit of a map guy he assured her it did not reflect anything he knew about the town, as for it being the comic book store he did not see how it could be, and besides the code obviously referred to the chart.
Gary started pacing, Sharon started re-doing the number again, this time in rows of five by seven, and Andrew went and poured himself some more soda.
“Anyone know anything about music.” Sharon said.
“Do you think it is a musical code?” Andrew said from across the room where he was wiping up a bit of soda that had splashed on the counter.
“No, it’s not musical guys; my father could not carry a tune in a bucket. When he tried to sing along to the radio he was out of tune and he could not even keep up with the beat. I would bet the store it has nothing to do with music.”
Sharon made an unhappy face and went back to scribbling on her notepad.
Andrew came back and sat down with both his feet up on another chair he grabbed one of the scrap pieces of paper with the list of numbers on it and started to look at it.
Gary was doing the same across the room, but he was standing up leaning over the table. He started saying the numbers out loud. Then he started tapping them out with his pen on the table to help him think. Tap, tap, tap, tap pause tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap.
Andrew looked up in shock. “Gary did you just tap out the first set of numbers?”
Gary looked up. “A yeah I am sorry did that bother you, I can stop, it was just helping me think.”
Andrew replied quickly. “No, no don’t stop, tap out the next set.”
Sharon replied quickly seeing Andrew getting an idea. “Just do it, tap out the next numbers.”
“Umm okay.” Tap, tap, and tap. Pause. Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap.
“That is it. It is the tap code.”
“The what code?” Gary said.
“The tap code, it was something prisoners of war used in Vietnam, heck maybe even before that.” He jumped up to the board, then he thought better of it and grabbed a piece of paper and drew lines representing the grid system. He then filled it in, but got stumped halfway thru. The other two had come along either side of him and watched him work. Andrew was halfway thru filling in the blanks when he stopped and slapped his forehead with his palm at the same time he ripped it up he said. “That is right, c and k are interchangeable.” He lined the paper again with the blocks and when the saw he get down to the letter z he paused. After a few second he exclaimed. “This must be the updated code with the numbers.” Andrew finished filling in all the blocks this time with numbers 1 thru 9 and a zero in the final box in the lowest right hand corner.
“I think I remember them talking about it in a war movie once.”
“Well I learned about it from an old Sergeant Major in the Army. You see when prisoners are not allowed to talk, like the early days of the Hanoi Hilton in Vietnam, they would send messages by tapping. It is very easy to learn and the guys made abbreviations for common phrases, I think John McCain stated once it sounded like a flock of demented wood peckers sometimes with all the messages going back and forth.” Andrew smiled at this. “Each set of taps referred to letter. Like say they wanted to say good night, they abbreviated it to two letters G and N. Which would sound like this.” Tap, tap, Andrew paused, then tap, tap. “That is the G.” Tap, tap, tap, then another pause, tap, tap, tap. “The N.”
He looked at the two and saw the lights go off in their eyes.
“By Jove I think he solved it.” Gary said grabbing the tap code sheet from Andrew, he then went to the board mounted on the wall and started to fill in the blanks.
a b c/k d e
f g h i j
l m n o p
q r s t u
v w x y z
1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 0
After Gary had filled out the chart, they each got a copy of the numbers and started working on them, each deciphering the code as fast as they could. Sharon got done first, she looked at the other two and realized they were not done yet and went back and started to double check her work.
“I am ready for the big reveal.”
Sharon chimed in last. “Let’s all look at each other’s work together. They each stood up and laid down their sheets next to one another. After one or two corrections on the guy’s sheets they all lined up to the exact same message and after putting spaces in logical positions it read: 431 South 11 Street JV 1868 3rd Edition Page 150 Red blue blue
“Well that is a first.” Sharon declared.
“What, this is not the first clue that lead us to still another clue, what the heck is JV, Junior Varsity?” Andrew sounding tired.
“No what she means is this is the first clue that lead us out of the store, 431 South 11 Street is someone over on campus.”
“Oh yeah that. In fact 431 South, should be on campus that is not your Dad’s office is it?”
“No my father’s office is on Tenth Street, Stright Hall.
Sharon had leaned back in her chair and closed her eyes. Then after a few seconds she leaned forward suddenly. “The library, is on 11th Street. I bet JV stands for a book or a title.”
“3rd Edition, does sound like a book, 1868 pretty old book, the next clue must be on page 150.” Gary said jumping up and rapping on the boards. “Pretty clever Dad, but I am going to find you.”
Sharon got up and went over and hugged Gary and they turned around and looked at the notes again, but with their arms still around each other’s waists.
“Okay so it is a book in the library, something starting or having ‘JV’ in the title, but what is this red, blue, blue about.”
“Maybe part of the way to decipher the next clue.” Sharon said.
Gary looked at his watch. “Guys tomorrow is New Year’s Eve, did you think the library will even be open?”
Sharon shook her head no.
Andrew shook his head no as well but then after a few seconds of silence in the room as they all sat there thinking Andrew held up his finger and started making a phone call. In fact he made three phone calls writing down the a new number each time. From listening to the conversation they figured out he was looking for someone named Bobbie, and by the third phone call he had found Bobbie and was pleading his case to be let into the library tomorrow. He finally negotiated that they would be there tomorrow at noon and he would bring some his mother’s cookies with him, peanut butter chip to be exact. Sharon and Gary were about to ask him some questions, but he started making another phone call as soon as he got off the phone with Bobbie.
“Mom I need at least a dozen of your peanut butter chip cookies tomorrow.”
A half an hour later the shop was back in order with the notes all gathered up and the bookshelf closed, a half an hour after that they shop was back in working order for the next day. They had decided to go upstairs and watch a movie or two, Sharon and Andrew would stay the night, in fact the three of them decided to stay together what with the ‘Creep’ still outside in his black mini-van, up the block.
Gary told Andrew he could stay in old Gary’s room, Sharon would stay in his father’s room and young Gary would stay where he had been staying, in the guest room. After they each got settled they met back up in the living room and planned the next day. Gary stated they would close the shop at 11:30 tomorrow, swing by Andrew’s house and pick up the cookies then go meet Bobbie at the library.
Andrew stopped him right there. “We should probably leave the store at 11, my mother is going to want to see you again Gary, and she has never met Sharon, so she is going to want to socialize.”
Gary chuckled. “Your mom wants to socialize and she will be meeting chatty Kathy here for the first time, maybe we should just not open up the shop at all tomorrow.” This got him a pillow in the face from both Andrew and Sharon.