Lighting in the art room was dim. The overpowering smell of oil paints radiated throughout the small room, but it didn’t seem to bother Sebastian.
He spent his time painting the hours away. He stared at the canvas. A small smile slowly shaped on the young man’s face as he scribbled some words on the bottom right of the canvas.
The door flung open. “Sebastian!” a middle-aged man called, “Do you realize what time it is?” he asked, pointing to his watch.
Sebastian looked at his cellphone, which read eleven forty-two at night. “I just wanted to finish the painting for you before tomorrow.”
“You don’t have to finish it,” Mr. Mertzil assured, “You just started yesterday.” Mr. Mertzil, a professor at the Art Center College of Design, was loved by students and faculty alike.
“Just clean up and you can go.” Mr. Mertzil sighed.
“I’m done with it,” Sebastian smiled, “Just before you walked in.”
Mr. Mertzil, thoroughly surprised by Sebastian’s statement, made his way to the easel. He couldn’t take his eyes off the painting, though. Sebastian stood quietly waiting for Mr. Mertzil to criticize his painting. “My boy,” the art professor exclaimed, “This is unbelievable! It looks like an exact replica of the original!”
Sebastian painted The Mulberry Tree, a piece of Van Gogh.
“Sebastian,” Mr. Mertzil still shocked by the painting, “I knew you were the right student for this.” Mr. Mertzil shook from his amazement, “You should really head back to your dorm though.” Sebastian collected his belongings and followed Mr. Mertzil to the door.
“When do I get my payment?” Sebastian requested.
Mr. Mertzil smirked, “Spoken like a true artist. You’ll get your money tomorrow morning. It’s in my office, but let us be going.”
“I need that money, Mr. Mertzil.” Sebastian pleaded with the art professor, “Please.”
“You’ll get your money.” Mr. Mertzil walked off into the darkness.
Sebastian’s phone went off.
“No, he didn’t pay me yet,” Sebastian said agitated, “He left. He said he’ll pay me tomorrow.” The voice on the other end talked back at Sebastian. “Hold on,” Sebastian thought, “I’ll check his office for the money.” He hung up.
Sebastian picked the lock of Mr. Mertzil’s office door and went inside. Papers were stacked on the wood desk, folders were thrown all over the floor, and his chair lay sideways by a bookcase. Sebastian rushed to the desk and searched frantically for his money. In the bottom left drawer he saw an envelope with his name on it. He placed the envelope in his backpack. While walking to the door he noticed a white sheet covering something behind another bookcase. He eyed the sheet trying to figure out what it could be. He went over to it and pulled off the sheet.
The Mulberry Tree stared Sebastian down. “What in the world?” Sebastian saw the hallway lights go on. He placed the sheet over the painting and ran out of the office.
“Sebastian!” Mr. Mertzil walked into Mr. Ross’ class, “Come with me now!” Sebastian followed Mr. Mertzil to his office. Mr. Mertzil picked up his chair, slid it over to his desk, and sat down. Sebastian stood in front of the desk with his hands in pockets, “What do you want?”
“How dare you ask me that,” Mr. Mertzil’s voice tensed, “I know you broke into my office.”
“I was just taking what was mine. I left everything the way it was.” Sebastian looked around the room, “You’re a messy person.”
Mr. Mertzil stood up, “You may leave now.”
Sebastian turned around and saw the sheet. “Mr. Mertzil, I have a question.” The art professor glared at Sebastian, “What’s under the sheet?”
“That’s none of your business.”
“Well, you see, it became my business when I came to your office last night.” Sebastian moved to the sheet. “And at first I thought it was one of your paintings; however, I erased that thought because why would you hide it? So last night, I lifted the sheet.” Sebastian took the sheet off. Van Gogh’s painting was still there. Mr. Mertzil hurriedly yanked the sheet from Sebastian and put it back on the painting.
“Why did you make me paint you the same painting?” Sebastian yelled, “What’s going on here?”
Mr. Mertzil walked over to his office phone.
“Really? You’re gonna tell on me for taking my money?”
Mr. Mertzil dialed some numbers, “Hello? Yes, my name is Mr. Nicolas Mertzil, I’m an art professor at Art Center College of Design, and I caught your art thief.” Sebastian froze. “We’re in my office at the college. Yes, thank-you.” he hung up. “Now it’s my business to see you locked up for stealing Van Gogh’s original painting from the Norton-Simon Museum.”
“Why did you do that? I didn’t steal anything!” Sebastian began to freak out.
“But you did. You hid the painting in my office last night when you broke in. How else could you get away with it?”
Sebastian stuttered over his words, “No, no…you stole it! That’s why you made me paint you the same painting! You wanted to blame me.”
Mr. Mertzil sat in his chair, “Who would believe you? I’m a decorated art professor and you…you’re just a student.”
Sirens could be heard now. Sebastian didn’t know what to do. He didn’t have any evidence that Mr. Mertzil did the crime. No one knew Sebastian painted Mr. Mertzil The Mulberry Tree. Sebastian clung to his backpack straps, “I’m not going to jail for what you did.”
“Police are coming.”
“Better not take the stairs then.” Sebastian eyed the big window placed behind Mr. Mertzil’s back. He went to the office door and started to run towards Mr. Mertzil, who ducked and started to yell. Sebastian jumped on the table and crashed through the window just as the police opened the office door.
“I can handle it.” Sebastian spoke softly into a payphone as he hung up. He browsed the busy downtown streets and blended into the crowd. The night sky made him look invisible. TV reporters, radio broadcasters, and people on the streets talked about Sebastian’s fake crime like it was part of everyday life. He had nowhere and no one to turn to prove Mr. Mertzil’s crime.
Sebastian checked his watch. 11:57 p.m. He saw a payphone on the other side of the street and rushed over. He inserted his last pocket chain and dialed. “Here’s the plan,” Sebastian browsed around for cops, “In order for it to work you have to follow through each step carefully.”
“9-1-1, is this an emergency?” an emergency dispatcher said into her headset.
“No, not really,” the voice said.
“You know it’s a crime to prank call this number, right?”
“Then I’ve committed two crimes in less than forty-eight hours.”
The woman sat up in her chair, fully attentive, “Sir, what crimes have you committed? Has anyone been hurt? Are you hurt?” The man laughed into the phone, “Whoa, too many questions at once,” he cleared his throat, “Listen, I can tell you this. Send the cops over to Art Center College of Design and have Mr. Mertzil arrested.”
“Sir, we can’t arrest just anyone you like. There’s a few people I wouldn’t mind arresting myself, but that’s against the law.”
“That’s sweet of you. But bring some handcuffs for myself.” He went silent. The woman began to call for the police when the man said, “You see, I’m Sebastian Myers, the art thief.”
“What’s going on here?” Mr. Mertzil asked the policemen piling into his office.
Policemen were around Mr. Mertzil’s office, walking and searching around for evidence. “What’s the nonsense for?” Mr. Mertzil interrogated.
A familiar voice echoed through the halls, “Mr. Mertzil, you didn’t think I wouldn’t go to jail without you, did you?” Sebastian stood handcuffed with two officers behind him.
“He said he has evidence of your involvement,” a scruffy-bearded policeman said, “We take these accusations seriously.” He looked over at Sebastian. “Dude, I know you do.” Sebastian rolled his eyes and inspected the office, “You still haven’t cleaned up your mess.”
Chief of police entered the office. He stood right in front of Sebastian, breathing down on his face, “Where’s this evidence? I hope you didn’t drag my men out here for no good.” Sebastian calmed the Chief down, “Sir, my evidence is behind the sheet by the bookcase.” A policeman, Officer Richards, walked over to the bookcase. He threw off the sheet and The Mulberry Tree stared at everyone.
“This is the painting we’re looking for,” a policeman said, “Why’s it here?”
“If you knew anything about art, you would know every artist leaves their signature, or some sort of mark to identify himself.” The art professor sat up in the chair, “And look at the bottom right corner. You would see that Sebastian’s signature is on there.”
Officer Richards checked the painting’s bottom right corner, “He’s right, Chief. The boy’s signature is here. But why did he paint the painting that was stolen?”
“Excellent question,” Sebastian smiled and walked over to the art professor, “Why would an art professor ask his student to paint the very same painting that was stolen?”
“Why would I ask you to paint that painting?” Mr. Mertzil asked.
“Because you did!” Sebastian yelled. Two policemen grabbed Sebastian’s arms restraining him away from Mr. Mertzil.
“We’re taking these two to the station. Now!” the chief yelled.
The group marched out of the building. Officers were writing reports, taping the scene, and communicating via walkie talkie to those who were still in the building searching Mr. Mertzil’s office. The officer’s escorting Sebastian took him to the first squad car they walked by and placed him in it. Mr. Mertzil was placed in the squad car next to Sebastian.
“Chief,” Officer Richards said, “Why did the professor have Sebastian’s painting?”
“I’m guessing the professor told the student they could get away with the crime as long as the student painted the same painting. The professor went rouge and tried to blame the student for the entire crime. But the student just couldn’t go to jail alone.”
“But Sir, where’s the original painting?”
“The new kid found it at the professor’s house. Evans!” The Chief called.
A scrawny young man ran over to the Chief and Officer Richards.
“This boy found the painting?” Officer Richards said displeased, “How’d you find it?”
“By looking in the right places. You should try it.” Officer Evans taunted.
The Chief waved his hands in front of the two Officers, “Okay, men, cool off. Evans, take Mr. Myers back to the station. Richards, you take Mr. Mertzil and we can get everything settled.”
Officer Evans got in his car. He buckled his seatbelt and fixed his mirror on Sebastian, “Sir, I didn’t think your plan would work.”
Sebastian laughed, “Agent Keats, why do you always doubt my plans?”
Agent Keats rolled his eyes, “Because your back story was deeper than I’ve encountered before.” Keats started the car and drove out on the roads. “It’s taken us four years to capture this thief.”
Sebastian crossed his arms, “Yeah, too long, but we had to have concrete evidence. You found all the paintings at his house, correct?”
“Yes, Sir. The other policemen with me already contacted our Chief to tell them the good news.”
They drove for a mile south away from the college. Keats pulled into an ally and turned the car off as his phone went off.
“Hello? Hi, Chief. Yes, hold on.” Keats put his phone on speaker.
“Agents Keats and Allen,” The chief said, “Thank-you for all your hard work to capture one of the most notorious art thieves around the world. Agent Allen, one of your best cases yet.”
“How was it being in college again?”
Agent Allen smirked at Keats, “It was quite a mess.”
I am a beginning freelance writer trying to start my writing career. I took many writing classes in college, figuring out what type of writing style is mine. I enjoy writing short stories and poems. I started writing at an early age. I would write every thought that came to my mind and every story I could imagine. My family and life experiences are my inspiration for my stories and poems.