Jeff hosts a monthly meme where he puts a handful of photos up on his blog and invites us to create a story with them. I’ve been wanting to participate in this meme for a long time, but couldn’t find the time. Finally, Tuesday night, I started writing — and I am posting my story right at the edge of the deadline.
Hermina Romunda Guadalupe Lizet Villanueva has dreams as grand as her name. That’s why she was sitting in the Hydrangea bush beneath the Maitland’s dining room window. The Maitlands were thieves. Hermina knew it and she was going to prove it.
Saturday afternoon Mina had secretly followed her sister, Maria Celeste, to the Church Street Post Office. Celeste had told her parents she was going to the movies with her girlfriends, but she didn’t go anywhere near the mall. Instead, she pretended to post a letter, and “accidently” encountered Roger Finklemeyer outside his dad’s clothing store.
Roger worked for his dad on the weekends and was on his way to Burger King for lunch. Maria decided to join him. Mina was all set to take pictures of their rendezvous with the camera on her mother’s cell phone. That’s when the Maitland’s caught Mina’s eye. Mr. and Mrs. Maitland were standing in the the front window of LaVive Art Gallery where a huge painting depicting an old-fashioned horse and carriage complete with groom was on display. The Maitlands, however, were looking into Mrs. Maitland’s satchel. Mina heard Mrs. Maitland say, “I can’t believe we really did it.” and Mr. Maitland answer, “I think we should get it home and out of sight as quickly as possible.”
Whatever was in the bag, it must have been heavy — and very distracting. It took both of the Maitlands to carry it, and they walked right past Mina without even recognizing her! The old couple had no sooner disappeared than Mr. Finklemeyer came running out of his store yelling he’d been robbed. Roger jumped up out of the booth where he’d been playing footsie with Maria, and ran to his dad. The two of them disappeared into the store arguing about who was supposed to be watching the merchandise.
Mina was so busy trying to figure out what was going on, that she forgot to hide and was standing square in the middle of the sidewalk when Maria came out of the hamburger joint. Luckily Maria was staring after Roger. Mina hurried around the corner and hid behind a tombstone on the grounds of St. Anne’s Catholic Church. Mina wasn’t Catholic, but just the same she said a prayer for the person whose tombstone provided her cover. After a few minutes, Maria stomped by and Mina followed her home — keeping a safe distance of course.
That night at the dinner table Mina told her father that she thought the Maitlands were thieves. Her father told her not to go spreading tales like that without proof and gave her a lecture on “bearing false witness”. Mina didn’t quite understand what he meant because she hadn’t told any tales about bears, but she did understand that she would need proof if she wanted her parents to listen.
That’s how she ended up in the Hydrangea bush with her mother’s cell phone in her hand. She needed a picture of whatever it was the Maitlands stole — but she hadn’t stuck around outside the Finklemeyer’s store long enough to hear what had been stolen. She’d tried asking Maria, but Maria had just socked her in the shoulder and told her to keep her creepy, spying eyes away from Roger Finklemeyer.
Mina listened intently. The window above her head was open. She could hear a lawn mower down the block, cars passing out on the boulevard, the slight whisper of wind from the trees, but not a sound from the Maitlands. Their car was in the driveway so she knew they were home; what she didn’t know was where inside their house they might be.
Slowly Mina raised her hand until the camera lens of her mother’s cell phone cleared the window sill. She clicked a quick picture and jerked her hand down. There on the tiny cellular’s screen was Mrs. Maitland, looking right at the camera in obvious surprise. Mina erupted from the bush and ran for home without once looking back.
Her mother was waiting for her on the front porch. “Alright, young lady,”she said. “Give me my cell phone.”
Mina reluctantly handed it over.
Her mother opened the menu and scrolled straight to Mrs. Maitland’s photo. She shook her head and then shook her finger at her youngest daughter. “Edith called and said you were poking around in her bushes. I told her she must have you mistaken with some other girl. She was going to the window to look out and tell me what you were wearing, when you apparently popped up and took her photo. You nearly scared her to death. Exactly what were you up to?”
“You were playing spy again weren’t you?” Her mother demanded.
Mina looked at her shoes and didn’t answer.
“Very well,” her mother said, “You may play spy in your bedroom for the rest of the afternoon — and don’t come out before supper!”
Mina sat on the side of her bed dangling her feet. What kind of super spy got sent to her bedroom? What kind of a super spy even got caught? Mina puckered up her mouth and stuck out her chin. “I’ll show them,” she thought.
Maria sashayed into the room. “My little sister the spy,” she said, and rolled her eyes. She perched on the edge of Mina’s bed. “Can’t even watch two little old people without getting caught.”
“Well I watched you,” Mina said. “All gushy and big-eyed, ‘Oh, Roger,'” Mina mimicked her sister’s voice, ‘Fancy meeting you here.’ Like it was an accident when you’d been waiting for him right outside his father’s store for like a half hour.”
“Oh!” Maria let out a shriek, jumped up off the bed and grabbed Mina by both of her black, glossy pig-tails. “Listen, Brat-Child,” Maria said. “One word about Roger to Mom or Pop and you’ll regret it! I’m warning you!” She pulled on Mina’s pigtails until the girl was looking straight up at the ceiling, then gave them an extra tug for good measure and flounced from the room.
“Whatever,” Mina mumbled. but she made certain it was quiet enough that Maria didn’t hear.
Monday in school Ellie Haversol told Mina that a miniature carousel had been stolen from behind Finklemeyer’s store. She said it was about twelve feet in diameter, permanently mounted on a flatbed trailer and covered in hundreds of thousands of Austrian Crystals. Mina knew there was no way the Maitlands had that in their shopping satchel — so what did they have? While Ellie was going on about the carousel Mina was trying to remember what other stores were near Finklemeyer’s Clothing. There was the Post Office, Burger King, St. Anne’s Church, and Emmerson’s Gem Stone Emporium. Mina wondered of Emmerson’s was missing anything. She didn’t have to wonder how to find out. Tara Emmerson was in her 5th period class.
“Mina!” Ellie snapped impatiently, “Have you listened to a word I’ve said?”
“Yes, of course,” Mina answered. “You said Finklemeyer’s had a miniature carousel stolen from behind their store.”
“Oh!” Ellie stamped her foot. “I also told you that old man Finklemeyer, Roger’s father, is in jail. He is suspected of stealing it.”
Mina was confused. “Why would he report it stolen if he’d stolen it in the first place?” She asked.
“He didn’t steal it!” Ellie said. “He was watching it. The carousel was imported from Austria. Old man Finklemeyer’s cousin is some rich, muscle bound, movie-actor, Governor or something or other — I’m not quite sure about that part — and he had this carousel shipped in for his kid’s birthday party. The thing is supposedly decorated with thousands of dollars worth of Austrian crystal, brass, copper, and silver. Not only that, but the brass rings aren’t brass. They are solid gold — each one worth a fortune. Roger Finklemeyer said so.”
“Oh wow!” Mina snapped her fingers. “That’s it!” She sprinted for the door, calling back over her shoulder, “Thanks, Ellie! I gotta go!”
TO BE CONTINUED ……
The pictures in the meme come to you courtesy of Dr. John.