By Ariana Patterson
Two men dressed in Boston’s finest uniforms arrived at the front employee entrance at The Gardener Museum. Mason wore an antique Bulova timepiece with a black face and band, gold frame, and dial. The hour hand was on the one; the minute hand was on the five. Both men loosened their holsters and gripped their pistols.
“Are you ready?” asked Mason.
“Yes,” said Bill. “Are you?”
Mason nodded, and Bill mashed the buzzer.
“Yes,” answered a voice through the intercom speaker.
“We’re with the Boston Police Department,” said Bill. “We’re responding to a disturbance call.”
“Okay, I’ll buzz you in.”
Mason charged in first, jolting his friend. The guard had no time to react before being ejected from his seat. Another guard emerged from the courtyard. Bill put him into a chokehold.
“W…What are you do—?” Bill covered the guard’s mouth with his left hand.
“Shut up, stop your whimpering,” said Bill. “Gentleman, this is a robbery.” Bill placed the gun on the side of the guard’s temple. “Do as we say, and no one will get hurt.” He nudged the guard’s back with his foot and slid the gun across the desk to his partner. “Take them to the basement. I’ll get started. Grab the duct tape sitting on that stand on your way—that ought to hold them—mouths and hands.” Mason jammed the guns in their backs, forcing them forward.
Bill explored the first gallery room. The sound of footsteps ricocheted off of the walls. He stopped, yanked the box cutter from his back pocket, and smirked. Protected by a wooden frame and glass, The Storm of the Sea of Galilee, called out to him. He smashed it against the wall, and shards dispersed. A tornado of dust flooded the air. He pulled off the cobwebs and jammed the box cutter in the back of the piece. “I’ve been searching for you, Beautiful.”
Mason entered the gallery with a box cutter in one hand and Glock in the other. His timepiece’s hour hand was on the one, minute hand on the seven.
“Watch your step,” said Bill.
“That seascape in your hands will make us a fortune.”
“There are three other paintings by Rembrandt—find them. Oh, and hand me my gun.” Mason handed Bill his weapon.
Bill holstered it.
Mason walked over to an etching entitled Self Portrait and lifted it off of the easel. “Wow, this guy etched a portrait of himself.”
“Of course, that’s why he titled it Self Portrait, you imbecile. You’re not the sharpest tool in the shed, are you?”
“I was just saying.”
“Think about what you say, and make sure it makes sense, or don’t say it at all. Move on to the painting. Stop lollygagging. We need as many items as we can get, especially that etching. That one’s for my baby girl. You know…they’re only giving her a month.”
“What?” asked Mason.
“Hallie, her heart is weak. All of my belongings, the house, my wife, my job—they’re all gone.” Bill is caught off guard by a mirror located on the wall across from him.
They share an admiration for art—Bill and his ten-year-old daughter. A year to this day, she won first prize in a national art competition. Her self-portrait was inspired by her favorite painter, Rembrandt.
Mason walked up to his partner and placed his hand on Bill’s shoulder, snapping him out of his daze. “That’s why I agreed to do this. We’ll get the money, bud. I’ve already arranged to meet a dealer tomorrow.” While Mason cut A Lady and Gentlemen in Black out of its frame, Bill strolled to the other side of the room and sat in a wooden chair positioned across from an easel. He lifted the bottom of his shirt to wiped the tears from his cherry red face.
“Vermeer,” said Bill.
“What?” asked Mason.
“Vermeer’s The Concert.
“Just grab the damn painting adjacent to you and be quiet.”
“This piece doesn’t have a name. Rembrandt didn’t craft this one.”
“Just take it. It is still worth something.”
Bill got up from the chair and picked up a Chinese beaker and the heavy, bird-shaped ornament next to it. He motioned his hand to get Mason’s attention. “Hey, Mason, come here.”
“Take these objects and those paintings and run them to the van. Be discreet.”
“What’s this heavy bird thing?”
“It’s a final. Stop asking questions and go.”
“Geez, stop rushing, we have all the time in the world. That’s why we chose graveyard shift.”
Mason exited the building. Bill focused his attention on the Degas collection.
“What now?” Mason asked, returning from the parking lot.
“Remove these five paintings,” said Bill. “There is a room over there I want to check out.”
Mason removed the paintings. His timepiece’s hour hand was on the one, minute hand on the nine. Bill walked over to an entranceway that had a gold-plated plaque on top of it. The plaque read, The Blue Room. A man sitting at a desk, dressed in all black, a top hat, ink pen and paper, grabbed his attention—Edouard Manet, Chez Tortoni. He removed it from the wall. An alarm sounded.
“That damn Abboth. Let’s get out of here,” said Bill.
“You’re the one that had the twenty-four-hour head start. What about Abboth and the other guard?” said Mason.
“Leave them,” said Bill.
“Are you certain Abboth won’t squeal?”
“He’s not that stupid. He won’t.
The thieves ran toward the exit.
“Hurry up,” said Mason. His timepiece’s hour hand was on the two, minute hand on the twelve. The two-time loser bolted to the exit and into the parking lot, which was hidden away from the main highway.
Lagging behind, Bill halted and turned around. There were so many more paintings left behind. “One day, baby girl. Daddy’s fighting for you, angel.” He turned and exited.