Excitement. That’s what I needed. I’ve been married to Bill for over forty years. He’s a wonderful Christian man, but he’s dull. His idea of adventure is spending his denture cream coupons. I think he’s rubbed off on me, because almost anything that gets me out of the house is a thrill.
That’s why I couldn’t wait to leave. I waved good bye to Bill, and got in the car. My partner had explained we would be performing a very important function. Before I backed out, I grabbed my cell phone, and made The Call. The voice on the other end spoke softly, and I replied. “Let’s synchronize our watches. I should arrive at eight PM sharp.”
The sun was starting to fade. I put on my shades, anyway, because I felt more daring that way. Cars crept by me, but I clipped along, knowing my partner was counting on the appointed arrival time. Frequent glances in the rear view mirror assured me I wasn’t being followed. That is until I saw the flashing red and blue lights behind me. That’s when I realized I was going a little faster than I should have been. Okay, a lot faster. I pulled over, ready to take my punishment. At my age, batting my eyes at the young officer wasn’t going to do any good. Then the most fortunate thing happened. I realized he looked a lot like Brad Pitt, and told him so. He let me off with a warning.
My destination was a building that was old and large, a lot like me. I went to the back entrance as instructed. My partner was waiting.
She approached me, still speaking softly. “Hey Glenda, you’re late.”
“Yes Paula. I‘ve been cavorting with Brad Pitt.”
“What? Never mind, let’s go. I’ll have to show them my card and say you’re with me.”
I looked at her suspiciously. “You said this is charity-related.”
I followed her through the door where a tall gentleman was standing. Paula showed him a laminated card. He looked me over thoroughly and motioned us inside. “Please watch your step.”
I couldn’t see well because the room was dimly lit, although it could have been my new bifocals. I stumbled over a step and whacked my shin. I was beginning to wonder if this mission was worth it.
Inside were several rows of long tables. Paula went straight to the front, and we took our seats. She pointed to something. “This is vital. Keep your eye on it.”
It just looked like a square of cardboard to me, but I nodded solemnly. She had several in front of her. “Being new at this, I figured you would only want one for now.”
No sooner had she said this, than a portly gentleman walked by, looking at the cardboard squares. He stopped and focused on mine. His eyes grew wide and he became breathless. Color flooded his cheeks. In a split second, he had snatched up my cardboard square. “I must have this one. It’s the perfect number sequence. I’ll trade you.” He slapped another square down in front of me and hurried off.
Stunned, I stared after him. “What on earth?”
Paula shook her head. “I told you to keep your eyes on that.”
“What’s the difference? I do still have one.”
“If you do this very often, you’ll see. Oh look, we’re starting.”
Another gentleman addressed the group. “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome.”
I shifted in my seat and listened intently. He explained the formulas and asked if there were questions.
I confess to being a bit confused at how charity was going to tie into his odd instructions, but I trusted Paula.
The man standing in front of us cleared his throat. “Let’s begin.”
Paula handed me a highlighter. “It’s my favorite one. I want you to use it tonight.”
The gentleman began speaking in what sounded like code. He announced a series of numbers and letters, with fertile pauses in between. The tension in the group mounted. People were bent over the tables, intent on the cardboard squares in front of them. I even heard a few groans.
An unusually long pause made me look to the front. Just when I was about to nudge Paula and ask her what was happening, he announced, “B-5.”
I looked down at my card, and felt a rush of adrenaline. With a big smile on my face, I jumped out of my chair and yelled, “Bingo!”
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