“We should bolt,” Lee said. “This isn’t worth it.”
They looked up and out the door at the shuffling of feet.
Thulani said from behind his pillar, “If you are to run away at this hour and they will surely catch you.”
“There’s no way to get up there,” Lee said. “Is there?”
No one answered him.
Lee continued. “We should give it up and go grab a beer.”
Maya said, “You obviously haven’t looked close enough. Pay better attention.”
“Mask on, kid,” Maya said, “Time to get down there.”
“You got it, girly,” Lee said.
“Don’t call me girly.”
“Don’t call me kid.”
“I’m not wearing that,” Lee said. “It’s ridiculous.”
From somewhere in a nook on the other mezzanine, Thulani’s laughed echoed out like a giddy little poor child who has discovered he will be sponsored for school and food and medicine. A laugh he’d laughed before. “If you so choose, my friend, but remember that if you move out of your balcony closet without a mask, you will most definitely get caught just as you fear.”
“Glasses?” Maya asked. “Seriously?”
“Can’t see without them,” Lee said.
Having shut the door and the light behind it, they made their way to the stair.
“Think I’m staying in the mezzanine,” Lee said.
“The mezza-who?” Thulani asked.
“Balcony,” Maya said. “No you’re not, Lee. Not unless you want to be stuck there when we set off the alarms.”
“When you what?” Lee asked.
“Set off the alarms,” Maya said. “We’re not going to get out quietly and we need to be quick about this — there’s only so much time before the response team gets here.
“Right after the sample,” Thulani said, “we’ll be going then.”
As they approached, Maya kept whispering to Lee, drawing connections between the waves of this painting and of other paintings he’d never seen. She told him of the young Thomas Hart Benton.
How he would spend time in his study…
…meditating on the geometric shapes of waves…
…and ways to incorporate them into his work.
She brought up ESP cards, how they used the symbol to mean active intellect, which was often drawn with three parallel lines. And how alchemists like Nicholas Flamel used the symbol to mean water of life that would come from the philosopher’s stone.
Lee really just used questions however he could to keep her whispering first to keep his mind off of what was actually happening — he was in the middle of a heist or something like it. A break-in. Or a break-out. Whatever it was. But the other reason?
The other reason was tethered to the moments she insisted on holding a flashlight or a piece of paper inside what he considered his personal space. He wanted to hear her voice and the strange secrets it protected. Professional secrets.
Masks on, lift collapsed, they exited the south door and the alarm at long last squealed out its delight, tattling on their crime and the secrets they had stolen.
brought to you by the Joplin Convention & Visitors Bureau
written & directed by Lance Schaubert
produced by Carrie Puffinbarger