8

“Hey, girlfriend!” Bryce said in a ridiculous voice as he entered Madison’s store. “It’s so dead in here.”

“It is. I’ve re-folded those sweaters about eighty times,” she replied. Her phone buzzed. She pulled it out to glance at it and then tucked it away.

Bryce raised his eyebrows. “What was that?”

“Oh my god. These texts to Judy’s old number. She’s in some kind of a group text thing now. It’s been non-stop all day!”

“Show me!” Bryce demanded.

Madison pulled out her phone, unlocked it, and handed it to her friend. Bryce opened the message app and scrolled up through the text messages. “What’s with all the colors?” he asked.

“Isn’t that weird? It’s like they are trying to arrange a time to get together. I’m thinking book club or something? Why else would old people get together? Anyway, but they refer to each other with code names. Mr. Blue, Ms. Red, Mr. Brown.”

“Like Reservoir Dogs,” Bryce observed.

“What’s that?”

“A movie. Guy puts together a crew and nobody knows anyone else’s name. They use colors just like that. And one tough guy gets Mr. Pink and he’s pissed,” Bryce explained.

“Oh. That’s funny. I haven’t heard of that movie before.”

Bryce made a horrified expression, “It’s super grim. You wouldn’t like it.”

“So do you think this might be more than a book club? If they are using code names, maybe it’s some kind of a caper!”

“A caper? What year is it, 1940?”

“I told you they were old! Maybe the old folks are getting ready to pull a caper! One last job. Pulled out of retirement to do the big heist!” Madison was bouncing on her toes.

“Your imagination is on overdrive, Mads. But I agree that everything about this group chat is weird. Haven’t they noticed that… what was the name of the lady who had this number?”

“Judy,” Madison said.

“Yeah, haven’t they noticed that Judy isn’t responding? What’s her color?”

“I think she’s Ms. Gold. Because someone asked if Ms. Gold was in the chat, and why hadn’t she checked in or something. It’s in there,” Madison said, pointing at the phone.

Bryce scrolled some more. “Yeah. I see that. So it’s tonight. At fucking IHOP?”

“Oh! Did they decide? I stopped reading the texts.”

“Yeah, they’re getting together at IHOP at eight. Damn, that’s awfully late for a bunch of olds, right?”

“I would expect it to be more early bird special, yeah,” Madison agreed.

“You should go!” Bryce suggested.

“Come with!” Madison replied.

“I can’t. My little bro has a game tonight. If I’m not there, my mom will be pissed. But you can go by yourself. It’s fucking IHOP.”

“Which one?”

“Sunrise Ave. Are you going?” he asked.

“I don’t know. Should I actually?”

“Come on Nancy Drew! You have to! These olds are doing a big caper. You have to solve the mystery of what it is!”

“Wanna mess with them?” Bryce asked. “Pretend you’re Ms. Gold and RSVP?”

Madison’s eyes grew wide. “Oh. I don’t think that’s a good idea. What if they ask a question I can’t answer? No, I’ll just show up. Get the lay of the land. See if I can figure out what this is all about.” She unfolded and refolded a sweater. “I bet it’s just a book club.”

“Don’t get yourself killed, Nancy Drew,” Bryce admonished.

“Oh, stop,” Madison replied with an eye roll.

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