We both laughed. I had spent almost all of my freshman year with a mad crush on Sheila. She resolutely kept me at arm’s length, despite the obvious attraction between us. Well, obvious to me, at least. Once I accepted her decision, we became solid friends. We could flirt, and laugh at ourselves.
“You’re good.” I said.
– “C’mon: tell me one secret. I’ll tell you one in return.”
– “Deal.” I said. This is exactly how these games work. You have to trade information to gain information. But which clue to give her? “How about this: there was a plot afoot, to rescue Redbeard.”
Sheila made a face. “Already knew that. Were you a member of Redbeard’s crew?” she asked, suddenly.
Shit – could she be the Falcon? I didn’t know whether to trust her or not. So I answered a question with a question with a question. “Are you?”
– “I asked you first. Oh, c’mon. Give me something, Colin.”
– “I know one of the letters in the code for the treasure map.” I said.
– “So do I.” she admitted. “But I’m not sure if I’m ready to trade that.”
– “OK.” I told her. “Here you go: The Falcon is aboard. One of Redbeard’s old lieutenants.”
Sheila mulled that over for a moment. “That’s fair. Are you the Falcon?”
– “No. Are you?”
– “No.” she laughed. “All right, you actually gave me something. Not much, but something. You can have this in return: the Scar is also aboard.”
I decided to play dumb. “Who is the Scar?”
– “You don’t know? The Scar is another of Redbeard’s lieutenants.” she said.
– “Oh. So we have a ship full of his former crew. Are you the Scar?” I asked.
– “That’s a separate question.” she replied, with a grin. “What will give me for the answer?”
– “A kiss?” What the hell; it was worth a shot.
Sheila laughed. “Nice try. You can get me a drink, though.” She held up her empty wine glass.
– “Am I allowed to go upstairs yet? I don’t think it’s been half an hour yet.”
– “So crack open another bottle.” she said. “They’re right behind you.”
We drank some more, and she fenced with me, alternating between flirty and coy. We also discussed the other players, and aired our suspicions of who was the most likely murderer. After a while, I decided to gamble. I showed her the pirate recognition signal.
– “What is that for?” she asked, intrigued.
– “The recognition signal for Redbeard’s crew. It’s how they’ll know each other.”
– “So you’re one of them?” said Sheila.
– “Craig showed it to me earlier, and told me what it was.” I answered. This way, Sheila could not be sure: she might think that I was not a pirate. But I could tell that she was very pleased with that piece of information. For one thing, she asked me to show her the signal again.
– “Alright, then. I’ll give you something in exchange.” she said. “If you’re looking for the treasure, there are twelve letters to find.”
That was very useful. I had assumed that since I had one letter, that everyone else had one, too. Eleven of us. So there was an extra letter.
– “You still don’t want to trade letters.” I asked.
– “Not yet, Colin. I still don’t know whose side you’re on. But if I want to trade, I’ll find you.”
Both of us were caught by surprise when we heard the bell ring. Four times.
– “That was an hour?” I said.
– “An hour well spent.” said Sheila. She gave me a kiss on the cheek. Then we went off to our next stations. I was supposed to be in the crow’s nest – the deck outside the kitchen, overlooking the patio.