The tour guide, a tired-looking bleach blond in an outfit best described as "durable", introduced herself as Yvonne and began to run through their itinerary.
Without pausing for breath, she jumped straight to her next rote script, laying down the basic rules of the game... stay with the group, don't touch the museum exhibits, watch out for pickpockets, etc, etc...
Then she ran through it all over again in French.
To Jack and his fellow Bible Study team, this was particularly redundant. They were fluent in both of those languages.
Much like the other travelers, they only half-listened to what she was saying as they tried to navigate the bus' narrow isle. Difficult on a good day - nearly impossible amid the chaos of thirty other people all trying to get baggage stowed and seats found.
In the first seat they passed, was their contact Howell along with another boy, whose name was presently unknown.
Sitting directly across from them were a pair of attractive young girls who, though also unknown, seemed like they belonged to his group as well.
"There's Howell." said Wendell, loudly, and pointing.
Everybody involved in the clandestine rendezvous did a face-palm.
"What?" asked Wendell as the Americans kept inching their way rearward.
Looking down at Misty's disgusted expression, he asked more emphatically, "What??"
"That was about the least stealthy move I've ever seen."
Her battered Hello Kitty cell phone rang at that very moment.
She flipped the cover open, but before she could speak a voice on the other end said, "Quite right, my little parakeet."
She was confused.
Jack nudged her and pointed. Looking in the direction the finger indicated, she saw Howell and his team laughing and waving.
"How did you do--" she called out, then realized what she was doing and spoke into the phone. "My number... How did you do that?"
"Captured your phone's routing signature as you walked past." His voice took on a droll tone, "A trifling trick. My, my, what they must teach you in the States. Well, tah." He hung up before she could form her rising anger into words.
"Clever." Observed Wendell.
"Not that clever." replied Jack. His face wore a mischievous grin.
He reached into the pocket of his leather flight jacked and withdrew a small metal box.
The container read "Altoids", but the buttons and controls poking out like electronic warts meant that it contained anything but candy. In fact, the gadget looked so cobbled-together that it bore the Dr Puttery trademark in spades.
Jack, still grinning, said, "I traced that call, so we got his number too!"
He flipped a switch labeled, "replay" and held it up for Misty to see. Flickering blue-green digits leapt to life on its tiny display.
At once Misty was furiously punching in numbers and brought the phone back to her ear.
On the third ring the other end answered.
"Hello? Scotland Yard 'otline. Please state the nature of your emergency."
Misty hung up quickly and blushed. "Cool trick."
"How do you suppose he did that?" said Jack, confounded.
"Was that long distance?" added Wendell.
They looked up at the sound of the other team roaring with laughter again.
"They're good." concluded Misty.
NEXT CHAPTER... COMING SOON!