I hand the paper to Jess so that she can read what is written in French. She reads the words aloud, “Appeler ce nombre pour trouver vos amis.” the again still in French,” Appeler ce nombre pour trouver vos amis.” then finally and slowly in English.
“Call this number to find your friends.”
We are all still frozen, as if we are waiting for her to tell us what the note really says. Then we move from pause to fast forward and frantically reach for our phones, we use mine because we don’t want them to know we are all together. This way they may think it is just me. We’ve seen enough television to know that that is important.
The ringing of the phone on the other end seems eternal; someone answers and calls me by name.
“Hello Alex, I’ve been waiting for your call.”
“Who is this? What do you want?”
“Calm down. Your friends are fine, for now. I will give you one clue per phone call and this will be a short call. The more you talk, the less likely I will talk or stay on the line long enough to give you a clue. Got it?”
“This clue is Aphrodite.” His last word is followed by a click.
Immediately after we finish, everyone else starts, “What did he say?” ”What’s going on?” “Who was it?”
I reply, “He said Aphrodite?”
Michelle, alone this time, “What? Is that all?”
“Well he said he would give me clues, my friends are fine – for now, short calls and very few of them.”
Jess, “Call him back!!”
“I don’t know.”
“Not from your phone!” but I am too late, she has already called.
“The number has been disconnected.”
“The Louvre!!” shouts Mark.
“Aphrodite is at the Louvre!” he confirms.
“Guess that is our only option.” Resolves Michelle
Jess asks, “Shouldn’t we call someone else or get help on this?”
“I don’t think so, this guy sounded serious.”
Mark wonders, “Ya, how did he sound? Accent?”
“No, not really, northeastern US if anything.”
Everyone seems perplexed, as am I but I know we should swing by the hotel to see who, if anyone has made it there. Maybe we can eliminate who it is we are looking for in particular. I tell the group this and they agree.
Drew is waiting for us inside the hotel lobby. Relieved, he elaborates on a similar version of my story. He did not remember how he ended up where he woke up or much else really. In contrast, he did have trip details saved in notes on his phone. Drew had used those notes to get to here and check-in. After cleaning up and waiting for us, he started to worry. He was unable to reach Liz or Brian and was just about to try us.
“Well that answers that.” Resolves Mark.
“What? What happened to Liz & Brian?”
Mark leads, “Y’all go on to the room and get what you need. Alex, you shower and change. Let’s meet back here in 15; I’ll catch Drew up in the mean time.”