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Glancing up at the large kitchen window, he peered out at the flickering streetlamp. I should be excited, Bryan told himself as he slowly swirled the spoon in his cereal bowl. So why do I have this nonstop ache in my stomach? “Good morning sleepyhead.” greeted Bryan’s mom as she entered the kitchen and sat down next to him at the table. “I know it’s early, but you and your dad need to leave by 6:00 to catch your flight.” Bryan quickly broke his gaze from the streetlamp, and noticed his mom place a small package wrapped in sparkling red paper on the table. “Huh? Oh, hi Mom. I'm not all that tired. It's just...” Bryan paused for a moment, thinking of the right words to use. "I'm a little... anxious about visiting Grandpa Willis by myself. Going to the college basketball tournament finals will be amazing, but I’m not sure about the rest of spring break.” “It’s all right to be anxious Bryan. Every new experience should have us on our toes a little. I know we don't see Grandpa Willis very often. Why, it’s been almost two years since he last visited, and the last time we all went to Boston you were a toddler. Attending the championship tournament is a wonderful opportunity, especially with a fan as big as your grandpa. Plus, your dad and I feel that twelve is a fine age for your first solo trip.” “Watching those games will be incredible,” agreed Bryan. “But Grandpa Willis… whenever he visits us he is always talking with you and Dad or working on those word puzzles. I hardly know him."
Bryan's mom smiled knowingly. “He sure does love puzzles. He has played and made those games since before I was your age. Words are his passion, Bryan. That’s why he’s such a great English professor. Your Grandpa’s word puzzle obsession is actually why I brought you this.” Bryan’s mom handed him the package. “This should help you feel a little less awkward during your grandpa’s daily morning puzzle sessions.” Bryan quickly unwrapped the crimson paper. “A new Sudoku book!" he beamed. Leafing through the pages of numerical puzzles, his eye caught something written inside the front cover. “What’s this?” “Oh, just a little puzzle of my own.” said Bryan’s mom with a gleam in her eye. “An extra challenge to keep you busy at Grandpa’s house.” Bryan carefully read the riddle: For an adventure that reveals a connection, find the Remote Cross. “What does this mean?” asked Bryan. “What on earth is a remote cross?” “If I told you, it wouldn’t be a challenge.” his mom replied with a satisfied grin.
Throughout the plane ride to Boston, Bryan divided his time between solving Sudoku puzzles and musing over his mom’s riddle. He was so interested in the mystery of the challenge, he almost forgot he was nervous.
His anxiety rushed back, however, with the first words Grandpa Willis spoke as they embraced at the airport. “It sure is great to see you, Scooter!” Bryan glanced around to see if anyone noticed. His face reddened slightly. Why did Grandpa have to call him “Scooter?” It had all started at one of Bryan’s basketball games during Grandpa’s last visit. At first, Bryan was elated that Grandpa Willis was going to watch him play. Then, soon after the game started, the embarrassment began. For some unknown reason, Grandpa Willis would shout out “Way to go Scooter!” Every time Bryan made a shot. By the end of the game, Bryan almost wished his grandpa hadn’t come. “Scooter” was such a babyish nickname. Bryan desperately hoped that he would escape it during this visit. Apparently his hopes were in vain. After picking up Bryan’s luggage, they walked to Grandpa’s car. On the back seat a bright blue package reflected the afternoon’s sunlight. “What have we here?” Grandpa asked with a smile as he opened the car door. “It looks like the Boston Welcoming Committee heard that you were coming. Go ahead and open it!” Bryan picked up the glittering package. He removed the paper to find a book of word puzzles. Bryan looked closely at the cover, and his eyes opened wide. “Grandpa, did you write this book? It says Charles Willis on the cover!” Grandpa Willis smiled broadly. “As a matter of fact, I did. I know that you prefer Sudoku puzzles, but I think you might enjoy solving these. Take a look, there’s a special puzzle for you inside the front cover.”
Bryan smiled. Two book cover puzzles in one day, he thought as he opened the book and gazed intently at the message. Dear Scooter, GoodWill is In your heart, open to Live By any joyous span. “I don’t get it.” Bryan mused. “Where’s the puzzle? All I see is this confusing sentence. It sounds like a fortune cookie” “The sentence is the puzzle.” replied Grandpa. “It’s an anagram.” “An anagram?” “Anagrams are word puzzles that involve scrambling letters to create a new word or message. Let me show you…” Grandpa Willis reached into his pocket and pulled out a felt-tip pen and a pad of sticky notes. Bryan watched carefully as his grandpa pulled a sticky note off of the pad, wrote the letter “B” on it, and stuck it onto the hood of his car. The “B” was quickly followed by the “ryan.” “We start with your name.” said Grandpa Willis while pointing at the line of sticky notes on the hood. “But with a little bit of imagination and concentration, the letters become something new.” Bryan’s grandpa lifted each sticky note, and placed it in a new position on the hood of his car. The phrase “ran By” now peered up at Bryan’s astonished face. “Cool!” exclaimed Bryan. “So the fortune cookie sentence is really another phrase, all scrambled up?” “Exactly.” said Grandpa Willis. “Hidden in that sentence is a message from me to you.”
“And you expect me to solve this?” responded Bryan. “There are so many letters! I don’t even know where to begin.” Grandpa Willis looked Bryan straight in the eyes. “The first things you want to look for when solving a puzzle are the anomalies. That is, the parts of the puzzle that stick out somehow. Does anything in my puzzle stick out to you?” Bryan looked over the mysterious sentence. “Well, I notice that some of the letters are capitals.” “Exactly!” beamed Grandpa. “Those capital letters serve a special purpose in the message. Let’s start by taking a look at the L, G, and W. My message to you starts with ‘Dear Scooter.’ So, how should a message like that end?” Bryan slowly scratched his head. “I’ve got it!” he exclaimed. “It’s a note, so it ends with ‘Love, Grandpa Willis.’” “Nice work! Now you know where to place those 17 letters and the comma. We can work on the remaining 29 letters tomorrow.” “Thanks for the help, Grandpa.” said Bryan. “It’s my pleasure. Now let’s head to dinner. How do sandwiches sound?”
Late that evening, Bryan sat on the edge of his bed solving Sudoku puzzles by the dim light of the bedside lamp. He was exhausted, but his mind kept racing through the many events of the day. To his surprise, Bryan actually looked forward to working with his grandpa tomorrow to solve the special anagram puzzle. Special puzzle? Bryan suddenly realized that he had forgotten his mom’s puzzle. He quickly reread the riddle: For an adventure that reveals a
connection, find the Remote Cross. Bryan looked closely at the sentence, thinking about Grandpa’s hint with the anagram. Did this puzzle have any anomalies? Bryan rested his finger on Remote Cross. Both words were capitalized and underlined. Could that be some kind of clue? “Of course!” Bryan excitedly rose off the bed. “Remote Cross must be the title of a book that Grandpa has! I bet the secret to the puzzle is in that book.” It was late, but Bryan knew that he wouldn’t fall asleep until he looked for that book. Grandpa Willis Must be asleep by now, so Bryan would have to be very cautious. Bryan opened his door and walked down the short hallway to the living room. After feeling along the wall for a few moments, Bryan turned on the light and intently scanned the room. The only bookshelf was in the far corner. As Bryan slowly paced to the shelf, he wondered why someone who loved words so much wouldn’t have a larger collection of books. The shelf was tall and narrow, only about three feet wide but extending from the floor to the ceiling. Bryan started at the top carefully reading the title of each book. A little more than halfway down on the leftmost edge of the shelf, Bryan found it. The golden lettering sparkled like a fabled treasure as Bryan’s heartbeat quickened. He grasped the book to remove it from the shelf, but it didn’t move. The book was stuck. Bryan took a deep breath, wedged his fingers in between the book and the wall of the shelf, and pulled hard.
The book gave slightly and a sudden “click” filled the silence of the living room. At that same moment, the leftmost side of the shelf slowly drifted toward Bryan. “It’s a door!” Bryan gasped as light from behind the shelf revealed a small room lined with bookshelves. “Of course it is,” replied a voice from a corner in the new room. “It’s hard to get into a secret room without a door.” Bryan stepped through the bookshelf-door to see grandpa Willis seated in an overstuffed chair, a book resting in his lap. “Grandpa, this is amazing!” said Bryan as he looked around. The room was filled with books, a few comfortable chairs, and a small desk. “Welcome to my reading room, Bryan. It’s a tradition of mine to begin and end each day here. Your mother told me about her puzzle when I called to let her know you arrived safely. You solved it in record time!” “Thanks Grandpa. There’s still something I don’t get though. What is a remote cross? “It’s a puzzle, of course.” smiled Grandpa Willis. “Remote cross is an anagram for ‘secret rooms.’” “Rooms?” asked Bryan. Grandpa Willis rose out of the chair and strode to the far end of the reading room. “I have one secret room for each of my favorite hobbies. One for reading, and the other for basketball.” Grandpa Willis pulled on a book that released another bookshelf-door. Bryan entered the second secret room, which was considerably smaller than the reading room. The walls were covered with shelves holding trophies, signed basketball memorabilia, and framed newspaper articles.
Bryan noticed a framed black and white picture of a young man making a jump-shot. The headline above the picture announced “Scooter Willis leads Central High to State Championship.” “Grandpa!” gasped Bryan. “Your nickname was Scooter?” Grandpa Willis blushed slightly. “Indeed it was, Bryan. My father gave it to me after my first year on a team. You see, my father had a great love of words and puzzles. He nicknamed me Scooter because it was an anagram of the phrase “to score.” “To score,” whispered Bryan. Suddenly “Scooter” didn’t seem quite as babyish anymore. “That’s why I started calling you Scooter at that game of yours.” said Grandpa. “Watching you play reminded me of my days on the court long ago. You play spectacularly, Bryan. And, from the looks of your first day here, you are quite a puzzle solver as well. What do you say to shooting some hoops down at the park tomorrow?” Bryan smiled broadly. “I’d love to Grandpa. That is, after our morning puzzle solving session. I still have one puzzle from today left to solve.” Challenge: Can you solve the rest of the anagram that Grandpa Willis made for Bryan? If you have a guess, or would like a little more help in the clue department (after trying the clues on the next few pages), please send me a message at PuzzlingSituation@hotmail.com
See the next page for a few clues to solving the anagram
Hints: 1) The remaining portion of the puzzle is one complete eightword sentence. 2) The first word of the puzzle is “I” 3) The capital “B” does not stand for “Bryan” 4) The capital “B” Stands for a place in the story.
For even more help, go to the next page for a clue that shows the the length of the eight remaining words.
The anagram fits into this eight word frame:
_ _ _ _ _ _.
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