Though Howell seemed to thrive on misinformation, there was no longer any doubt to the Moast group concerning who was part of his team and who was not.
The boy he had sat next to on the tour bus was a complete red herring. He
had somehow convinced the lone traveler that this was all some sort of ongoing
practical joke at the expense of Jack and his friends. (Which was
partially true, after all.) The other kid ate it up.
It didn't take long to expose this deception because, like Jack and his
friends, Howell's group was also supposed to be a trio.
With a little more digging they found out that the two girls across the isle
him on the bus were really named Lola and Irmingard Rabishaw, and not "Jane"
"Mary" as their nametags claimed.
It was Misty's idea. " 'Jane'? Seriously? Nobody would have names that
concluded. And she was proved right, (notwithstanding the muddy logic of
Over the miles, at various stops, the teams took turns testing eachother with
various exercises in the covert arts.
It was during one of these, that Jack and Wendell exchanged a wink and
switched to using Lola and Irmingard's real names. It was epic! The girls
flustered that they completely blew cover!
Score one point for the Yanks!
From the moment of Howell's phony phone call, pranks like were going on
Due to the fact that all luggage was kept out of sight
in the cargo compartment under the bus, one never knew what would be in their
bags when they arrived at their room for the night.
One time Wendell found that the entire contents of his toothpaste tube were
swapped with clotted-cream scone filling - a very British gag, as if the culprits were not already obvious.
Wendell, the walking stomache, thoroughly approved of the switch.
By the next morning somebody had added a photo-reactive agent
to Lola's makeup. The chemical was designed to change color when exposed to
On the bus, the
results were compounded when she fell asleep against
the window. The entire left side of her face turned fluorescent
Munich saw its first Oompa-Loompa tourist that day.
This one even earned Misty a high five from Lola's sister.
Soon, as the two groups became friends, the planned exercises became less of a
rivalry and more of a nuisance. They were more like a chapter of
elementary school math that the teacher wanted to get through before recess.
Even Misty, who adored the spy games, found that she would rather see the
One night the tour bus turned off European highway A-57 in Venice, but the
"budget tours" did not allow for an overnight stay in the islands.
Rather, they put into Marghera for the night.
Who came up with the idea, nobody could remember, but a rough tally of the
number of boys to beautiful girls led somebody to the idea of going out to a
nice restaurant for a triple-date.
Misty had no problems in the world if Howell wanted to ask her out, but their
surprising level of enthusiasm told her that Jack and Wendell were just
as taken with Lola and Irmingard.
The spy girls reciprocated their attraction in their own way. Although
according to the unofficial itinerary, they were supposed to poison the boys' meal that
night, they decided not to spoil the mood.
Long after the other patrons had left the restaurant, Howell, Misty, Jack, Lola,
Wendell, and Irmgard sat around the table laughing and talking.
"What time do you suppose they throw us out?" asked Jack to no one in
"Nah, not in a classy joint like this." said Wendell.
Howell smiled, "I wouldn't have said it as American-ish as that, but spot on, my
"I think I have just the thing." Lola was up in a flash and gone before
anybody could ask what she was up to.
Moments later she returned with a tea trolley following close at her heels. Atop, a beautiful silver tea set.
A waiter, who showed all the signs of wanting to go home. (even in a "classy joint"
like this) put out a place setting of small cups. Into each, he poured
hot liquid from a silver pot.
Lola nudged her sister and whispered, "I though we agreed not to --"
But Irmgard waved her off.
Once the waiter was done and on his way, Howell raised his ridiculously tiny
cup, pinki extended in proper fashion.
"To good friends!" he declared and lifted it even higher in toast.
"To friends!" all agreed and swigged back their drink unanimously.
"Chqqaqqq" gagged Wendell.
"Okay, 'zing!' " agreed Jack.
Misty merely covered her eyes to keep them from popping out and rolling away.
Irmingard laughed. "Cappuccino", she stated. "Can't go to Italy and
not try a cappuccino."
"Next time, warn a guy!" croaked Wendell. But he wasn't angry. He was
too busy smiling at her.
And she was too busy smiling back.
It was a good evening - the sort of evening that never really ends because it
lives on in your memory the rest of your life. Good friends and good fun.
The trip passed like in a happy dream.
But all that changed when they reached Bosnia.