The missing piece

September 27, 2008
There are many types of people in this world. Some are loud and obnoxious, and some like me are quiet and nearly invisible. I, for one, enjoy being the quiet child. I figure that the quieter child is more likely to have an interesting adventure than a loud and obnoxious one. Being quiet has its advantages. Soon you will learn what I mean.

My life is simple during the summer. My parents run off to work and I wander through town. (By town, I mean New York City. I have lived here for my entire life, and I cannot imagine living anywhere else.) Generally, I spend my time reading in the library on rainy days and roller-skating in Central Park. The fact that I am an only child helps because I do not have to worry about anyone besides myself.

Soon enough, summer fades to autumn, and I must return to the awful place called school. I go to a public, so you can only imagine what it is like there. I have taught myself to be unseen. No one in school acknowledges my existence, which is good because nobody tries to bully me. One day in November, after school was finished for the day, I decided to go to the public library. I needed to see if they had the book about the Harlem Renaissance that I had asked for. I needed this so I could complete my project on the 1920s. I just had to finish the arts of the Harlem Renaissance so I could get extra credit. I dashed straight to the library, hoping the book had not been checked out. The librarian recognized me and told me the book was now on the shelf. I made a beeline through the adult section straight to the history section. I searched for about five minutes, and then I grabbed the book. I checked it out along with a book on early cultures. I walked out the door of the library and into the sunlight.

I decided that I would walk home rather than take the subway that day. My apartment was on 6th Avenue and 38th. The library was on 6th and 45th. I did not mind the walk. When I got to 40th, there was a big stand with people trying to sell their stuff. They definitely not there for tourists, so I decided to spend some of my allowance there. It drives me crazy when people in the streets try to sell me stuff thinking I’m a tourist and they expect me to spend my money. Also, little old couples generally don’t like to stand in the street unless they absolutely have to.

A little old woman came from behind the table and said to me in a heavy accent that sounded like my Russian Grandmeimei’s (grandma’s) voice, “Vat vould you like?”

“What do you think would be of interest to me?” I responded politely.

“Vell…I sink you should get ze fine set of china on ze table,” she said, pointing to a beautiful set of silver silverware and a set of lovely dishes. “Ze cost for you vould be four-undred dallars. You vant?”

“Do you have anything for about twenty dollars?” I asked, griping my twenty-dollar bill in the pocket of my jeans.

“For you? Vell, since you seem nice and remind me of my granddaughter, zis picture, and frame for tventy dallars. You vant?”

I stared at the frame. It was beautiful. The picture that it had was a picture of a girl with smooth, blond hair. She looked beautiful, and she made my frizzy auburn hair look hideous.

“Zat picture is a portrait of me as a young girl. It was my eleventh birthday geeft. But now ven I look at it, it reminds me of my age and makes me feel old. You can have it for free.”

“I’ll take it!” I said. I gave her the twenty and I took the frame and picture along with my books and finished my walk home.

When my parents got home, I had finished my homework, so I sat down and ate with them. My mother said to me, “So, anything interesting happen to you today, Sarah?”

“You bet! I got the two books from the library on 45th. I also spent my allowance on something!” I was much more talkative at home than at school.

“What did you get? Was it valuable and nice looking?” My dad chimed in.

“You bet it was valuable! In fact, I’ll bring it into the kitchen to show you.” I got up and I left my seat.

I walked into my room and I pulled the picture and its frame out of my closet. I walked with it held behind me. The frame was about fourteen inches by nineteen inches. Boy, it was heavy! Then, I unveiled it to my parents.

“Lovely, sweetheart,” my mother said when she first saw it

“It’ll look great in the T.V. room with a picture of you in it,” my father added.

They then went into a discussion about the stock market and the economy. They thought that I would not understand what they were talking about, so they told me to clean up my spot, and put a different a different picture in the frame. HA! If they had let me listen and join the conversation, they would have been stupefied by how much I already knew. I went into my room and I took out the picture of the girl. I put that under my bed and I was about to get the picture of me when I was entering school for the first time in first grade, when something caught my eye. There was this beautiful oil painting of people in a bar dancing and playing music. Everyone was African American in the picture. I looked at a signature painted in yellow at the bottom left hand corner. It read:

J. Thompson

No way! This was impossible! In my book, it said that many pieces his of artwork had been hidden and still had not been found. These are the exact words:

Many pieces of art have not been found from this era. Many sources say the artwork was scattered and lost. Only one piece of art has been found. Named James Thompson, Mr. Thompson has one beautiful creation called The Horn. Shown above, The Horn portrays a man playing the trumpet. It is now being displayed in Albany, New York. Created in 1928, The Horn is just one of what is to be said as one of many pictures he started in about 1921. His friends all claim that he had given away most of the pictures in his series by auctioning them. Most have not been seen since.

I knew it! I knew this was famous. But what would I do with it? If I turned it into the museums in New York, I would become instantly famous. I did not want that. If I kept it hidden, the housekeeper would find it, and my parents would ask me to explain, and since I am the worst liar ever, I would tell them the truth, and that would result in me becoming famous.

I decided I would tell the publisher of the New York City Kids Magazine, and I would tell her all about the picture, and she would publish it, and then she would give me a check for giving her something to write about for the kids in New York City. She would put ads in the newspapers for subscriptions and help. She would accept from five to twenty reporters. I was an avid sub scripter to the magazine, and I knew adults never read that magazine. My discovery would be a secret. She also pays highly to her reporters. This money would help me save for my next pay on my Metro Card. She only ran the magazine in the summer and for the holidays in December. I decided I would tell about it her for the winter edition. I could not wait!

Days moved on and I waited, patiently. Finally, it was December 1st. I could not wait for school to end. I dashed out of P.S. 183 my school to the NYCkids magazine office on 6th and 39th. I walked in and saw that the publisher had her own secretary and office, so I felt professional, like a real reporter. The publisher was known to be obnoxious so I was ready to dash out of that office like a hyena (I did a report on hyenas once, and they run fast). I knocked on the outside door. A quirky looking man came out and said with a high, squeaky voice, “Who are you and who are you looking for?”

“Keisty Landler. This is urgent and top secret for her magazine.” I said in a near whisper.

The quirky man took me up about two flights of stairs. He then said, “Good Luck. With Keisty, you need all the luck in the world.” He was definitely trying to make me nervous.

“Uh? Thank you?” I said. I knocked on the oak door. A girl who was about fifteen years old stuck her head out the door.

“You’re here to see Kristi, aren’t you?” She said.

“Kristi? Who’s Kristi? I’m looking for Keisty.”

“Oh. You see, Kristi is Keisty’s real name. She wants to be called Keisty. Any ways, I am her assistant, Amber. She is conferencing with the editorial board about if they should or should not include ads in the magazine, and if the magazine should be a newspaper. She is trying to explain that her father thinks that a newspaper is boring. There is going to be an opening for the editor of Keisty’s advice line by the end of the conference. Are you here to take the job?”

“No, I’m just here to give her a report.”

“She’ll be ready for you in about fifteen minutes. You will be going after Alex. Please be prepared with your information. If you have not already typed it in a computer or in a typewriter, you will be given one while Alex is going. He usually takes extra time because he has “great ideas.” Please be prepared. She will not accept your topic unless it has been typed up. Please seat in the waiting room to my right. However, before you do that, what is your name, age e-mail and address? We need this information to tell you if you are put in the magazine or not.” She talked so much I thought my ears were going to fall off.

I wrote down all of my information and I sat on the stool near the computer, I opened Word, and I started typing. I am a fast typer, so I was not slowed down when the boy next to me opened his mouth and said, “Isn’t Amber a chatterbox? I’m Alex. I usually have front page. I know you. No need to introduce yourself. You go to my school, P.S. 183. I know everybody there. You’re Sarah Brown. You’re the quietest girl in the school.”

I ignored him, knowing that he would eventually leave me alone. He didn’t, of course, but I heard a voice call out, “Alex! Get here NOW! I mean NOW!” He left the room. I finally had some quiet, and I finished my report five minutes after he left. I printed it, and I sat down and read the last edition of the NYCkid magazine, the magazine produced here. I couldn’t wait until Keisty heard about this story. Compared to the other stories I had read, mine would be the best of the best.

As soon as I was about to doze off, I heard a loud voice pierce the silence. “ALEX! You’ve told me this story five times already. If you ever come in this office again, you had better not have this horrible article in your hands, or at least not coming to tell me, you edited it so the plot is better! Get out of my sight NOW! Oh, and while you’re leaving, tell the next person to come in. Go now. You are wasting my time.”

So Alex came up to me with bright pink eyes, as if he was about to cry, and said, “Your turn.” So, I left.

From the outside, Keisty’s office looks tiny enough to be a supply closet. But, as I stepped inside, I found out that it was quite the opposite. Compared to my Dad’s office, hers was a continent, not an office.

I slowly walked in. Everyone who ever went in to submit an article, after he or she met her, that person would generally call her Feisty Keisty. As far as I knew, nobody would want, intentionally, to annoy her.

I looked around to see everything. The huge floor to ceiling windows, the wooden desk, the cushioned chairs, everything. I nearly jumped out of my socks when I heard a voice say, “WHO ARE YOU?”

I meekly replied, “Sarah Brown. I think I have a great report for the winter edition, and I really think you should read it.”

A thirteen-year-old girl popped up from behind Keisty’s desk and said in a very sharp voice, “Lemme see that. Now. I’m a very busy person and I haven’t got all day.”

I handed over the report. I was a little nervous about what Keisty was going to say, but then I reminded myself, the worst she can say is no. I sat up straight and watched her read my report. She was a bit pudgy. She had strawberry blond hair tied in an accented ponytail. She had ocean blue eyes. Today she was wearing a purple striped sweater and a purple skirt. She looked much more stylish than I did. I usually wear a plaid headband to keep my hair out of my face, a yellow sweater with a long-sleeved white button-up shirt with the collar sticking out of the top and a knee length brown skirt, and to top it off, a pair of penny loafers with knee-length socks. I was the average quiet girl, and she was the average trendsetter girl.

Towards the end of my report, I thought I saw her smile and nod. “Very interesting. I think that this would be great to put in the winter edition. At least your article is about something interesting, unlike Alex’s idea of ‘How to Get Rich Quick in NYC’. Yours is definitely going to be published. By the way, if any one asks where you are going to if you need to stop by, or if your parents ask you what you were doing today, tell them you were at a friend’s apartment. I like to keep my office top secret. If you have any other back up information on this subject, let me know A.S.A.P. See ya later.” What annoyed me was that she didn’t look at me once the whole time she spoke. Was she possibly jealous of my writing talents? Feisty Keisty, jealous of me? No, that would be highly unlikely.

I left the room and I walked through the waiting room. Amber smiled and nodded at me. I opened the oak door and I walked down the stairs, and the quirky-looking man smiled at me, recognizing who I was and he said, “How’d the top secret report go?”

I replied, “It’s top-secret. I’m not supposed to say a word.” I was happier now. I didn’t have to worry about Keisty rejecting me. I dashed down the street to my apartment’s building. My parents would not be home yet, so I had plenty of time to finish my homework, write in my diary, and cook something yummy for dinner. (My parents and I take turns cooking dinner.) I had just finished cooking the canned tomato soup and I was about to start cooking the filet mignon my parents had bought the other day when Dad came through the door. “What are you cooking?” he asked.

“Tomato soup and filet mignon. I made sure that I finished all my homework before I started to cook.”

“That’s my girl. Now, I’m going to go watch the Giant’s football game in the den. Call me if you need me. Mom won’t be home because she has a really long meeting today.”

I finished cooking and I watched a little bit, of the Giant’s playing the game. I am generally not a football (or any sport, for that matter) fan, but, I had an hour to kill. When we finally sat down for dinner, my mom came bursting through the door. “Ergh! That meeting wasted so much time. Now I’m up to my neck in work. Why don’t those people just shut their yaps, explain what they need to explain, and let us normal people get back to work? Oh! Hi pumpkin! What did you make us for dinner?”

“She made us tomato soup and filet mignon.” Said my father proudly, as though he knew everything in the world.

I brought out dinner, and everyone started to dig in. My parents ate and talked about their jobs, my mom complained about being an accountant, my dad talked about being a lawyer and how annoying the defendants of this big case were being, and how they kept screaming, “We are INNOCENT!” which gave dad a migraine.

My parents started to ignore my existence again, so I left the room. If anything, I wanted my parents to stay as far away from me as possible. If my mom started to talk to me, all she would be doing is complaining about her job. If my dad talked to me, he would only talk in grunts and half sentences. I would lose interest about anything in five seconds. So, I went to my computer and I played on a game for an hour or two. Then, I went to bed.

The day before holiday break, the magazine was distributed. I could tell as soon as I got to school because people were talking to me as if they had been friends my whole life. Something definitely was wrong. I walked to homeroom. Lizzy, the girl who sat next to me gave me a friendly wave.

I sat down next to her and I asked, “Why is everyone being so nice to me? I don’t even talk to anyone here. There has to be a logical explanation for this. I am pretty sure that you know the answer.”

“WHAT! You didn’t hear? The NYCkid winter edition of the magazine has just come out. Your name was on the cover! I read all about you finding the art. That was so totally awesome! Is it real or is it a rumor that you found it behind an antique frame?”

I answered everyone’s questions, and almost instantly, I had five friends. They were Lizzy, Jackie, Alyssa, Cassy and Allie. They swarmed around me as if I was the “It” girl of the school. Or, was it more as if I was a celebrity? Either way, I got loads of attention. “You should definitely get some clothes at the stores on Fifth Avenue. Why don’t you come with us?” asked Allie.

“When?” I asked.

“Friday, our shopping day!” said Lizzy.

“I could totally help you pick a great outfit with matching accessories,” added Jackie.

Alyssa and Cassy chorused, “We got these outfits from Saks Fifth Avenue.”

“Alright, I’ll come.” and we all started inexplicably laughing, although, Jackie, Alyssa and I started laughing as loud as we could. Lizzy, Cassy, and Allie giggled. It was like on television, where all the girls are laughing for no apparent reason.

So, throughout the rest of the year, we hung out. Jackie, Alyssa and I became close friends. Lizzy and the others eventually abandoned us, but we didn’t care. My parents were so thrilled I had new friends. I was so happy. We all realized that Lizzy only wanted to be my friend because I was famous for finding the art. Soon my attention died down, and she did not want to be friends with me anymore. Fortunately, Jackie and Alyssa decided to stay friends with me. We all had different interests, so that is why people found it weird we were still friends. Jackie was into sports, kung fu, and military combat. She was always trying to pick fights with others so she could improve on her skill, so we convinced her to fight us instead. I became pretty good at fighting after she taught me some skills to use. Alyssa was into theater, but she preferred to be part of lighting, sound effects, or stage crew. She hated acting, especially when her mom forced her to get an agent and audition for Broadway shows. As I said, we were completely different.

In about late June, shortly after Alyssa left for Performing Art’s camp, I got a call. I was hanging out with Jackie, who was completely mellow, after her wrestling match. We were lounging, waiting for something good to come on her television. We were watching the weatherman (vegetating) when my cell phone I had gotten for my twelfth birthday started to vibrate. Jackie jumped nearly two feet in the air. The phone scared her because it rang at the most random moment. I picked up the phone and listened to the familiar voice coming from the other end

“Hey Sarah! This is Keisty! You know that picture you found. I keep getting letters from my subscribers that they want to hear more about the picture. One, named Lizzy Coercion, says that the story about the picture is a lie, and she will tell everyone she knows that NYCkid magazine is all a lie unless we publish a picture of the picture in the next edition. Could you bring it over tomorrow?”

“Sure,” I mumbled.

“Great! See you tomorrow!” and with that she hung up.

The next morning, it was raining. It was one of those mid-June floods. I knew Keisty had a deadline, so I decided to go anyways. Just to be careful, I put the picture in an old, thin, moldy suitcase in the back of my closet. I put on my raincoat and my rain boots. I walked with the suitcase downstairs and walked outside.

The rain came down like hail. The wind tried to knock me into the streets. I had to dance like a lunatic to stay on the sidewalk. Fortunately, I was only one block away from her office. I decided to take a peak at the picture, just to make sure that it was still intact. It was, and it almost seemed more priceless than before. I had already seen it before I put it in the bag, but I was worried the rain had leaked through the bag and onto the picture.

I decided to keep it out, walking next to a huge puddle, and I kept out the picture anyway.

Soon, when I was very close to her office, (in fact, right across from Jackie’s apartment,) a black hummer came speeding down the road. I did not hear it because I was wondering why New York City looked so gray when it was raining, whereas in Florida, where my Grandmeimei (my Grandma) lives, it is only gray when a hurricane hits.

Soon, a yellow hummer came speeding down the road. In a flash, it roared by me.
Soon, KER-SPLASH! The yellow hummer had splashed me, leaving me and the picture, still in the partway-open bag, soaked.

No! Keisty would kill me if this painting were ruined! I looked at the picture hopefully, but it was very soggy. I wasn’t sure if it would be able to hold together for much longer. This reminded me of the time I went to school for the first time in first grade, the place where I decided to become the shy, quiet girl. Before I became quiet, I was a chatterbox. I volunteered to bring the library books to the library for the rest of the class (she was giving out jobs to the class like line leader, money counter, Pledge of Allegiance leader, library book returner, et cetera, et cetera). During the second week of school, she asked me to run down an important note to the librarian about when our next class down there would be. The school was having a leakage problem because the boy’s bathroom had flooded again. I was walking down the hall, and the window was open. A breeze flew in, and the paper was soaked in toilet water. I went back to class and told my teacher, and she wrote another slip and replaced me with an undersized boy. After that, she mostly ignored me during class, and pointed out all my mistakes on my work as loud as she possibly could, so that the whole class could hear, and no one wanted to sit next to me anymore in class. Therefore, I decided to become quieter.

Jackie was taking a taxi home from kung fu class when she saw me sobbing in the street. The canvas was so soggy. I would disappoint Keisty. She would treat me like Alex. Lizzy would call me a liar, and she would turn the whole school against me. This was the end of everything. My quiet girl cover and my new average-girl-who-blends-into-the-background cover would be blown too.

Jackie told the driver that it was her stop, she paid him the fee, and she stepped into the rain and knelt down next to me.

“Are you okay?” She asked gently, in a tone I thought she was physically incapable of doing. I took in her sympathy.

Through muffled sobs I said a gurgley voice “Yes, no, maybe?”

“Come with me to my apartment. I’ll get you some tea and out of this rain!”

Later, sipping tea at Jackie’s apartment, I spilled out everything, from first grade to the puddle fiasco, sipping tea between sobs.

Finally, when I calmed down from my panic attack, she said, “I’m sure the damage is nothing a little oil paint and turpentine can’t fix. Have I ever told you that I’m interested in ballroom dancing? Well, I am. That is where I was coming from when I saw you. I only take Kung Fu so people think I’m tough, not a wimp.”

As we painted the damaged parts over with her mom’s art set, she told me her deepest secrets, how Lizzy found out, and how Lizzy could expose her secret to the entire school.

We finished about ten minutes later. We waited one hour, waiting for the rain to clear up. We watched the weatherman and his phony predictions, and we played board games. Finally, I walked with her down the street to Keisty’s office.

We ignored the quirky man and walked straight to her office. I wasn’t afraid of Keisty anymore. She didn’t intimidate me anymore. I wasn’t afraid. I walked into her office. In a huffy tone, Amber said, “You’re late. Keisty isn’t happy. She’s moody today, and being late will make her penalize you in her magazine. She probably won’t even put you on the cover, or even worse, she might only give you a small column and treat you as a reject like Alex. Then she’ll-”

“Amber, do you EVER stop talking?” I asked (even though it was a rhetorical question.) In Keisty’s world, she was the queen bee, and everyone was the wanna bee. In this case, Alex and Amber were her number one wannabe’s, like The Cat in the Hat’s Thing 1 and Thing 2. In her world, the world revolved around her.

“No, she doesn’t. She must be a motor mouth. Her mouth has enough energy to run a lawn mower- no, wait scratch that, it has enough energy to run a car’s engine,” snickered Jackie.

I was putting of this moment as far of as I could. But, it was time to do the inevitable. I had to deal with Feisty Keisty. This would put my newfound courage to the task. I walked into her room, without Amber telling me I could. I took the picture and I gripped it in my hands. This was it.

I flung the door open. This time I wasn’t going to run out of there like a hyena. I was going to run out like a tortoise. I wouldn’t leave until I had won this battle. Feisty Keisty wasn’t going to be feisty after what would happen. At least that is what I hoped.

I walked into her office. I saw exactly the same furniture, although the poster on which she placed on her wall that showed all of the members of her editorial board was different t from last time. I recognized a few kids. Becky, Julia, and Heather Jones, the triplets who were the cheerleading captains of our school, (They were in charge of the gossip column, advice column, and embarrassing moments column. Go figure.) There was Alex, the assistant editor, who edited everything so that all the columns were the way Keisty wanted them, and he was the weather forecaster. Amber was the secretary, treasurer, and substitute for anyone who was absent from their meetings. Keisty, predictably, was the publisher, and manager. Lizzy was the assistant manager and assistant publisher. Like I said, queen bee and wanna bees.

Suddenly, a loud voice belonging to Lizzy pierced the silence. “What are you doing here? Keisty has already decided not to put you in the magazine, and tell everyone you lied about the artwork. Nobody will want to be your friend now. I bet that Jackie and Alyssa will come crawling back to me, begging to be my friends again. And I will turn them down. Face it, Sarah, you loser. You ruined it for everyone.” I could almost see her sneering at me.

“Two things,” I said, not sure where I should speak to, “One, never, ever, EVER, start a sentence with and. It is improper grammar.”

“Who are you, my English teacher?” she came out from a small supply closet, holding a clipboard. “Obviously, you didn’t come here to give me grammar lessons, so spit it out. Tell me what you want me to hear. By the way, Keisty has the flu today, so I’ll be taking over.”

Speaking directly to her, I told Lizzy, “First, put down the clipboard. NOW.” after she did, I continued. “Now, you didn’t let me finish what I had to say. Secondly, to what you had said about my friends, I highly doubt they’d want to be friends with you again. They’ve learned their lesson. With friends like you, Elizabeth Coercion, who needs enemies? I mean, nobody in the world could have a worse person to be friends with than you. I already know who spread the rumor about Cassy’s mother going bankrupt and them having to move into a lousy apartment in downtown NYC. You lied because she wouldn’t let you borrow the extraordinary designer’s dress that had been created that had gotten her the trophy for “Best dressed at the graduation” in sixth grade. I can’t wait to see her again. Oh, and let’s not forget about the secret you revealed about Allie having to get invisible braces. That went around the school at least twice. Even me, the nobody at the time, heard about her braces. Poor Allie, she was mortified and embarrassed. I could make a list on the cruel things you’ve done to your “friends.” Would you like me to continue?”

“No,” she said firmly. “I am dismissing you. That means you must leave. Now.” She made it sound like I was dumb.

“Who put the snapping turtle in your undies this morning? No, I do not HAVE to leave now, and I have no intention of anything related to that matter, until I have my column published. I can stay here all day if I chose to. You have no control over me any more. You never will. You are not the boss of me. Nor any of my friends, your “friends” as soon as I see them again, or any one in the school once I tell them that you spread rumors about everyone who doesn’t do exactly as what you want. You are a spoiled brat, and you will never treat others wrong again.”

I sat down, panting. She looked smug. “I was hoping you’d be like that. Keisty told me what to do when something got out of hand. This has gotten out of hand.”

She pushed the button on Keisty’s desk. “Marcus, I need you upstairs right away. This is u
urgent. I need you to dispose of a nasty creature in this office. Level 12. Suite 12d. Thanks.”

A few minutes later, the quirky-looking man that was downstairs came up. He was holding a net and panting. I was sure that he had run upstairs using the staircase, rather than just taking the elevator. I would have been panting to, if I had run up twelve flights of stairs.

Panting, Marcus said, “I came here as soon as I could. Got caught up at the seventh floor when a woman started shrieking about a loose tarantula in her office. I promised I come back to her as soon as I helped you. Now then, where’s the vermin?”

“It’s sitting in the leather chair behind you. Dispose of it. I never want to see the likes of it again. If I do, then that will be the end of your job. Now go.”

He turned around and saw me. He looked into my face and recognized me. There was a moment of silence. Nobody spoke. Nobody moved. It was as if we had been on a DVD and someone had pressed the pause button to get more snacks. Then, slowly, Marcus turned around.

“No. I refuse to trap that girl.” He spoke very firmly.

“Why ever not? After all, it is your job to do what the residents tell you. I could make you lose your job here permanently, and make it so that you wouldn’t be able to get a job anywhere in NYC.”

“I don’t care. She was the only person in my entire career not to ignore me or treat me like a street bum, or even completely ignore me. You, on the other hand, have threatened my career so you could have your way. I refuse to listen to you. Good day madam.” And with that, he left.

I picked up my painting. “I think it’s time for me to go. Jackie’s probably angered Amber, and if we’re lucky, Amber’s not physically hurt from their catfight. Toodles!” I picked up my picture and was about to leave.

“Wait. Three things I have to say before you leave. One. How did you know that Jackie and Amber had a catfight?”

“Easy,” I said to Lizzy, “I could hear them through the walls when Marcus came up.”

“Two. Why don’t you leave this painting here overnight so I can bring it to Keisty tomorrow?”

“Because you’ll dispose of this picture just like you were planning to dispose of me.”

“Lastly, are you really going to tell every one of what I did? You can’t be that mean, can you? If you do that, you’ll regret it.”

“Maybe I will, and maybe I won’t.” I sounded very mysterious as I left the room.

I walked into the “Lobby” of Keisty’s office and I saw Amber, putting a bandage on her arm. I managed to hear her mumble, “That friend of yours has some arm. Wonder how she got to be so violent.”

“Oh, she has a soft side, too, you know.” I whispered.

“That’s hard to believe.” She said. I then followed Jackie out of the office.

We walked out the door and closed the door so that it clicked shut. Then we walked to the elevator and we waited for it to come. While we waited, Jackie said, “This was all just Lizzy tricking us. I bet it was just Keisty’s day off. Lizzy must have joined the board under a pseudonym. She probably wanted to prove you were lying in December. Good comebacks, by the way. I could hear you through the wall. That dumb Amber heard them too. She made a comment about how wimpy and stupid they were. I pounced on her and told her to take that back. She said never, and we started to fight. That lobby man stopped us just before I could try my new head lock.”

We got into the elevator and my phone started to beep. I had just gotten a text message from somebody.
It was Keisty. It said, “Lizzy told me that u 2 had a fight
please see me @ star bucks on sixth st. tom @ 2 pm
bring the picture 2. I wanna c it
thanks in advance
Keisty Landler
Head publisher and director of NYCkids magazine
Office Phone: 1 212 555 9842
Cell Phone: 1 913 555 6284

Wow. Keisty can be so rude. Tomorrow was the day that Alyssa, and Jackie, and I were going to take a cruise from Florida (the port near my Grandmeimei’s house) to the Caribbean islands. I couldn’t go! How would I be able to explain this to Keisty? She was probably mad at me already. I couldn’t deny either. We had saved up so much money to go. Alyssa’s mother had to pay extra just so she could leave her summer camp early. I froze up as I looked at the screen, hoping some miracle would happen that would make it impossible for me to go to Florida, or that Keisty would change her mind. Nothing changed. I had a feeling nothing would.

Jackie woke me up from my trance when the elevator opened at the bottom floor. “Are you okay, Sarah? You look pale. Are you zoning out again? Hello? Earth to Sarah.”

“Huh? Oh, oh yeah. I have a major conflict right now. Can you hold on for about two minutes and fifty-five seconds? I need to talk to someone.” I prayed her phone number was still recorded. Phew. Now I just had to call.

I picked up the phone and clicked on the phone number that Keisty had called from. It had to be her home phone, because her cell phone and office phone numbers were different from this one. I clicked on it. The phone dialed her number and it started to ring. A few minutes later, the answering machine picked up. It said in a deep voice that had to be her father’s, “Hello,” Then a voice that sounded like Keisty’s, only a little more like an older teenage girl, “You just missed the Landlers!” Then Keisty, “Please leave your name, message, and number!” Then two younger boys, “Leave your message AFTER the beep.” Then a full grown woman’s voice yelled, “Thank y’all! Bye!” I hung up before the beep.

I quickly dialed Keisty’s cell phone. I hoped that it was still on. I heard three rings until Keisty picked up and said, “Hello?”

“Hi Keisty. I need to speak to you about our meeting tomorrow.”

“Oh. That. Don’t worry; I’ll only have one museum owner and one television station there tomorrow so the press doesn’t scare you too much. Sometimes they can get a bit over whelming.”

“No. It isn’t about the press. I can’t go tomorrow. I have to be somewhere tomorrow. I’m going somewhere on vacation. I can’t make any changes in my schedule. Can you change the meeting?”

“Fine. I’ll change the date to today at four sharp. Same place. I can probably get the people there today, unless you don’t mind being on a television show that is well-known throughout the tri-state area.”

“I do mind.”

“Great. I’ll get them right away and cancel on the others. You’re welcome,” and with that she hung up.

I walked over to Jackie and told her, “We’re going to go to Starbucks. Now. We are scheduled to be meeting someone about the painting at four o’clock. It’s three thirty. Come on. We are going shopping.”

We spent all day finding two pairs of shoes, and two whole outfits with matching accessories. When I had found everything on my list, and Jackie had gotten tired from buying so many things to wear, we went strait to my apartment to get changed and then we went to Starbucks.

Everything seemed normal about Starbucks. Keisty wasn’t there, which made me worry. It was exactly four o’clock. Where was she? If she was not there, something was wrong.

Jackie and I waited patiently with the painting. Around four fifteen, we were getting up to leave when Keisty strolled in with a man who looked like he was in his early seventies. We sat back down, and Keisty casually strolled over.

She sat down and said, “Sorry we’re late. Our taxi broke down. This is my Grandpa, who is the main historian in a museum in Albany. He had just come to visit us, and he would like to hear about this painting. Why don’t you tell him about it?”

So, I sat down and explained to him about how I found the picture, and he listened. After I had finished about gently fixing the picture up, he said in a small, sad voice, “May I see it? James Thompson had a very specific way of painting, and he used very specific styles when it came to painting. I shall study it for only but a minute.”

As he was looking at the artwork, I whispered to Keisty, “Where is the TV station? You said they’d be here.”

“They wouldn’t believe me, so I have a reporter for the New York Times outside. He said he was highly interested. I know him because he went to college with my parents. My father is best friends with him. Why don’t you talk to him while my Grandpa decides whether the art is real or not, and whether they can keep it in the museum next to “The Horn”? Come with me.

I picked up my frappucino and walked outside. A man about my father’s age said, “Kristi, come sit down on this bench here.”

So he asked me all about the picture, where I had found it, why I had decided to take it to Keisty, where will it be placed, et cetera, et cetera. I answered them all by myself, patiently, without giving too much personal information, as in my name, where I live, how old I am, when my birthday is, or where I go to school. He snapped a picture of Keisty and I and we went inside where he interviewed Jackie, Mr. Landler, and took a picture of the picture.

The next months went by fast. Many changes took place. Yes, Alyssa, Jackie, and I got to go on the cruise. We got back home just in time to find out that Keisty had permanently stopped circulating NYCkid magazine. Soon, in late August, when the article had finally gotten out, and my dad had read it, my parents decided to spend more time with me. My mom changed her full time job into a part-time job, and she made sure I was safe and sound.

School started yet again. Lizzy had a new group of friends, but they were all sixth graders.
Around my birthday, Keisty Landler was kicked out of her private school. She had started a
Catfight with a girl who was rude to her about closing down NYCkids magazine. So she came to
P.S. 183 as Kristi, and was enrolled into the eighth grade. She also was forced to attend manners
school. No more Feisty Keisty. Everything was the way it should be; and I, Sarah Brown, for once in my life, was a louder child.

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