The first 5 key letters are across from and inside the Sheraton, the next move is yours.
Henry closed the book and thought about the inscription. It was apparent that his next task was going to be finding the key to decode the journal. Leaning back on his chair he flipped through the pages one more time, hoping there might be a bit more. Mouse like steps crept down the stairs.
“Henry, am I bothering you?” said Luna, in a barely audible voice.
“Not at all, come on down.” Henry said with a smile. He knew that Luna was getting a case of cabin fever.
That combined with her constant worrying about her father were tarnishing her usually shiny personality.
“Is that a clue?” she said, as she sat on the stool on the other side of Henry’s workbench.
“Yes, I believe it is. I found it this morning at the home of one of your father’s clients.”
“May I see it?” she asked with a pleading look.
“Sure.” And Henry handed it to her. Perhaps if she felt like she was helping, it might make her feel a tiny bit better. Henry thought to himself, “It might be nice to have someone to bounce ideas off of.”
“How can something be across from and inside of, at the same time?” Luna asked.
“That is a good question; I was wondering the same thing.” Henry said.
“Perhaps the 5 letters are not in one place, but some are at the Sheraton and some are across the street from the Sheraton?” She theorized and did seem to brighten up a bit.
“It is a good place to start. I should probably head back into the city and check it out.
“Let’s go!” Luna jumped off the seat, excited about some adventure.
“I am not sure it is safe, you should…” Henry started to say, when Luna spun around and gave him a look that combined pleading and insisting in a way, which he was sure most men were powerless against. He knew that he was certainly unable to say ‘no’ to her.
“Ok, let’s go. But we are just going to look around. If things get hinky we are packing it in, ok?!” Henry said in his best, ‘I’m in charge’ voice. It was only moderately convincing.
On the drive in, Henry and Luna theorized about where one might find letters, and where they should look first. It was agreed that the clues must be in plain sight. Henry also suggested that they should look in the furniture, as that was where he found the journal.
The lobby was filled with well dressed people milling about. Henry and Luna felt a bit out of place, the Sheraton catered to the Affluent of the city, and Henry was thinking that it would be hard to look around much. They tried to be casual; Luna took a seat and snuck a peak into the table, while Henry did a lap around the lobby, expecting something to jump out at him. Everything was very leap free.
Luna got up and whispered, “I didn’t find anything, did you?”
Henry nodded his head ‘no’ and gave a nod towards the door. They walked out and looked across the street. There was a restaurant, ‘Fianchetto’s’, next to it was a bank, and on the other side was a flower shop. Since the bank and the flower shop were closed, Luna and Henry walked into the restaurant.
“A table for two Sir?” said a tall man in a dark suit, without looking up from his little reservation book.
Luna started to say “No, we were…”
“Yes, a table for two would fine.” Henry said, and added, “Don’t put us by the kitchen.” And he handed the man a fifty. It was a nice restaurant and they hadn’t eaten yet. The man snapped his fingers at a smartly dressed woman with a couple of menus and she took them to a nice table near the fish tank.
All around there were nice old paintings, scenes from Italy, and photos of famous chess players. Henry let Luna order and then he asked for a steak and a salad. After the waitress left Henry said, “This doesn’t look promising at all.”
“No, I don’t see anything that could be part of the key.” Luna said looking around, then added, “Thanks for dinner, it is nice to get out of the house. I have been feeling a bit cooped up.”
“You are welcome.” Henry said smiling. He grabbed a bread stick and started to nibble on it. He didn’t dine out much, and felt sure that this was a good time for chit and or chat. He was drawing a complete blank.
Sensing that they were on the cusp of a tsunami of an uncomfortable silence, Luna said, “Do you suppose we are just missing it?”
Henry was glad that they were back on the subject of clue hunting, “We must be, let me see, what could be across from and inside the Sheraton?”
His attention was drawn to the theme of the restaurant. Fianchetto means to place one’s bishop on the long diagonal. What about the people in the pictures? Henry recognized Staunton, Mason, and even The Turk, but he couldn’t see how any of the pictures helped him with the letters for the key. Maybe it is their initials?
Henry and Luna talked, he shared his idea about the initials, and while they ate, they tried to piece them together in such a way as to make sense. The steak was good and Luna seemed to enjoy her manicotti.
“I just don’t think that the initials are the answer. All the other clues have been done in such a way, as to be obvious to me.” Henry said, looking at the bill, and shaking his head.
As they walked through the restaurant, sure that the clue wasn’t to be found, Henry spotted a chess table. He stopped, and grabbed Luna by the arm. He nodded towards the table. “That is it.”
“The chess table? How do you know?” Luna said.
“That is not just any chess table. In the late 1700’s there was a great shift in American furniture design. The designs of George Hepplewhite, from London, were very popular, as was the designs of a famous artisan named George Sheraton.”
Her eyes lit up. An adorable little smile ran across her face and she said, “Let’s go look.”
Henry handed the coat check girl their ticket and as she went to get their coats he quickly opened the drawer. A small manila envelope, was resting under the black queen. Henry took it and slipped it into his pocket, just as the girl returned with their coats.
Luna linked her arm with Henry’s as they walked out of the restaurant and into the cool night. Neither of them said a word as they walked back to the car. The little adventure had done wonders for Luna. Henry was feeling pretty good too.
-- Brian Meeks, http://extremelyaverage.com