64

“Monkeys?” Bryce asked, sitting on the floor of Madison’s room.

“That’s what he said. He said Reagan was an actor who worked with a monkey. I looked it up, and it was actually a chimpanzee.”

“Is that different from a monkey?” Bryce asked.

“No idea. Anyway, so I guess he used to be an actor, and then he was the President. And when he was president, he pushed through this space laser thing that everyone called Star Wars.”

“Huh. So you think maybe in one of their meetings, they were talking about that and Mr. Black got Star Wars on the brain and started drawing stuff from the movie?”

Madison nodded. “That’s my theory, yeah.”

“Gimme the book,” Bryce said.

Madison looked at him confused. “Book?”

“His notebook,” Bryce clarified.

Madison retrieved Mr. Black’s notebook from her desk and handed it to Bryce. He started flipping through the pages. “Some of these doodles are pretty amazing,” he said.

“Right? A lot of plant themes in there. Vines and leaves and stuff.”

“Okay, I found the Star Wars doodles.” Bryce ran his hand over the page slowly, then turned to the next page. “Isn’t this from Star Trek?” he asked, showing Madison the page.

She tilted her head to the side. “It looks like it. That arrowhead… No, wait.” Madison took out her phone and searched the web. She showed Bryce the result, “It’s the NASA logo. I think I read once that the Star Trek logo was a rip-off of the original NASA logo.”

Bryce took Madison’s phone and compared the image she found to the doodle. “Yeah, you’re right.” He handed her the phone back. “Actually, the letters NASA are here. They’re just obscured. Look.”

Madison took the notebook and examined it. “Totally. Okay, so on one page he has Star Wars, and on the next page he has NASA. That can’t be a coincidence, right? What do those two things have in common?”

Bryce made a face, “Space. Duh.”

“Well, obviously,” Madison said. “I mean beyond that. Remember, we’re talking about Star Wars the strategic defense thing, not Star Wars the movie franchise.”

“Oh, right,” Bryce said. “Does NASA work with the military?”

“I think of astronauts as being in the Air Force,” Madison said. “Like, the guy in I Dream of Jeannie was an Air Force colonel.”

“What guy in what? What are you talking about?” Bryce asked.

“It was a TV show from the sixties. I used to watch it after school when I was little. Never mind. I’ll look it up.” Madison searched on her phone. “Okay, it says here that NASA is a civilian agency, so while a lot of astronauts come from the service, they go off active duty while they are being astronauts.”

“So there is a connection, but NASA isn’t military,” Bryce said.

“Yeah. It says here that NASA was the successor to NACA which made airplanes in World War Two.”

“It makes sense there’d be a connection to Star Wars, though,” Bryce said. “I mean, think about it—the military is trying to make space lasers, they need to get stuff into space. NASA has all the rockets.”

Madison shrugged, while she worked with her phone. “Beats me. I’m searching for a connection and not finding anything. I should ask Cindy to help. I always thought I was pretty good at finding stuff on the web before I met her. She works on a whole different level.”

“But I’m still your favorite, right?” Bryce asked.

“Obviously,” Madison said. “You’re the one who found the NASA logo! If I didn’t have you, I would be out of leads, trying to solve this perplexity.”

“Perplexity? What’s that mean?” Bryce asked.

“Yeah, Mr. Black used that word when we were talking. I looked it up after. It’s like a thing that’s all tangled up and confused. He was talking about how hard it is to write good environmental regulations. But I think it applies to this mystery we’re solving. Don’t you?”

“I guess,” Bryce said. “Couldn’t you just say mystery, though?”

“Why use a good word when you could use a great one!” Madison replied.

Bryce shook his head. “If you say so.”

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