Hallowe’en 1996: The Case of the Sixth Spice Girl

Kelly opened the door to the Spice Girls and quietly sighed as she joined them. Under the costumes were her five best friends. They had tried to come up with a group costume for six for the Hallowe’en party, but the Spice Girls idea was too awesome to pass up, and Kelly drew the short straw.

“Oh cool, are you like, our manager or something?” Baby Spice (her friend Natalie) asked. Kelly rolled her eyes. None of her family members had figured out who she was either. She thought it was obvious. Plaid skirt, loafers, cashmere sweater, headband. And what made it the most obvious was the thing that inspired the whole costume, the magnifying glass necklace she found at the thrift store.

 

The girls knocked on the odd door here and there on their way to the party. They knew by now who gave out the good candy and who would yell at them for being too old to be trick-or-treating. They were almost there when they decided to go to Miss Josie’s house. She volunteered at the school library, and everyone thought she was awesome. The boys all had crushes on her and the girls all wanted to be her. She opened the door and beamed at them. Her wild curly hair was wrapped up in a scarf and she was wearing a long flowing dress. A large necklace with an amulet hung around her neck. Her nose ring perfectly complemented the fortune teller look.

“You guys look great!” she said, giving everyone some candy. A chorus of “Thanks Miss Josie!” rang out. As she put a chocolate bar into Kelly’s bag, Miss Josie said “Hey Kelly, I have a quick question for you. Can you hang on a sec?”

Kelly nodded and watched as her friends continued on without her. Miss Josie reemerged from her house with a Discman. “My boyfriend bought me this contraption, but I can’t get it to work! She shrugged. “You know how I am with technology!”

Kelly smiled. Miss Josie was notorious for guarding the obsolete card catalog with her life.

“No problem! Let me see it.” As soon as she took it, she laughed. “Your headphones aren’t plugged all the way in. Here we go,” she said as she seated the plug properly. “That should do it!”

Miss Josie giggled as she listened for a minute to whatever was playing. “Thank you! You are such a perfect Nancy Drew!”

Kelly was so happy someone finally knew who she was that she felt a little faint, and she thought she saw Miss Josie’s amulet pulse slightly. She shook her head to clear the fog.

“You better be on your way, Nancy!” said Miss Josie.

Kelly turned and walked down the walkway. George and Bess and the others were a couple blocks ahead of her. What on earth were they wearing? Then she remembered. The case! The details of their plan to catch the smugglers came back to her. As they arrived at the party and everyone headed downstairs, Kelly snuck down the hall, opening doors as she went. She found a small office at the end of the hall. Hidden under a pile of papers in the desk drawer was a small notebook full of numbers and drawings in a tight scrawl. Examining them with her magnifying glass, Kelly realized they were the smugglers’ plans. This must be a code to tell each other where to meet! The clues all clicked into place in her mind. She slipped the notebook in her pocket just as she heard footsteps coming down the hallway. She tried frantically to open the window but the door opened and a man came in the room before she could get out.

“What do you think you’re doing in here? What did you see?” Kelly bolted in desperation and tried to get past the man, but he grabbed her before she could get through the doorway. “I’m calling your parents!” He fumbled for the phone on the desk and Kelly took the opportunity to wiggle away. She ran out the front door but her foot caught on the pumpkin on the porch and she tumbled down the stairs. As everything faded to black, she wondered who would stop the smugglers now.

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