In a discreet corner of Dave Ruf's Greenhouse Garden Center Sunday, long-time friend, Carson resident and former college roommate Steve Lang handed the nursery proprietor a sealed white envelope.
The gentlemen shook hands and Lang, in a nod to the envelope, told his long-time friend to "handle it with care."
Then both men smiled.
Inside the envelope, an individual sheet lists enough clues to solve a locally themed puzzle created by Lang.
The winner will get 40 percent of the proceeds from the $10 entry fee, Lang said. But the real winner will be a recipient of a scholarship funded by the other 60 percent of the money raised.
"We haven't determined (who) will get the scholarship yet," Lang said. "But it will either be through Rotary or, if we raise enough money, it'll be it's own entity."
Lang, who two years ago orchestrated a citywide treasure hunt that raised some $3,000 for Carson City School District's GATE program, said he hoped he'd match that success with his latest puzzle.
"I think people like puzzles, especially if they're of interest to locals," he said. "I'm not a very good puzzle-solver myself, but I feel like I can put together a pretty good one."
Lang said his day job, creating legislative software for an Ireland-based company, gives him both the creative and technical know-how to put together a good puzzle.
But it wasn't until he embarked on a similar hunt with son Spencer, 8, a third grader at Fritsch Elementary, that his passion for puzzles came to life.
"It really is something we got into," Lang said. "And I thought 'hey - we need more of this in the community'."
Spencer was a little more reserved about touting his previous puzzle-solving efforts.
"My dad is really good," he said. "I think I'm OK. But sometimes, it's hard to understand."
A nod of appreciation from Dave Ruf brought home Spencer's point.
Ruf is Lang's sounding board, and even he has a hard time "getting" his friend's puzzles sometimes.
"For the most part it's one of those things, after you find out the answer it's 'ah - OK, I understand'," Ruf said. "But Steve does make some interesting connections."
One connection that shouldn't be tenuous is the benefit to one lucky scholarship winner.
"I'm not limiting the potential for (a scholarship) to just a high school student," Lang said. "It may go to a 37-year-old mother of three who wants to re-enroll at WNC and work towards getting her degree.
"It's one of those things; I'm lucky enough to have a great job and a great family and live in this community - and it's just a way for me to give back."
• Contact reporter Andrew Pridgen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1219.