Writing Catalog

David Kaufman

Grade: 12

University School - Hunting Valley

Instructor: Jim Garrett

Stolen History: The Heist

Short Story

Stolen History: The Heist

Crack, smash, bang! Those were the last sounds I remembered from the night before.

My college roommate Joey and I were students at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland, Ohio, not much to do there is what most people think and tell me when I tell them that's where I chose to attend school. How boring. It must be so cold. Every time, without a doubt, this is the response I receive from strangers when I tell them I go to college in Cleveland. However, for me it was perfect. I loved going to school at Case. Not so much being in Ohio, but Case was perfect.

I grew up in Savannah, Georgia, in a middle-class family. I was the youngest of three siblings and the only son of divorced parents. My siblings were much older than I was. There was an eleven-year gap between me and my oldest sister who was working for a large auction house in South Carolina. Due to this large gap in our ages, I was alone most of the time. I was a pretty good kid, though, only getting into trouble a handful of times. Most were small fights at school and stealing food from the gas station convenience store at the intersection three blocks from my house. Aside from these few instances, my childhood was great. I got good grades and studied hard in school. My middle school art teacher, Mrs. Shade, was the inspiration for my passion for art. I loved her class! Every time D-block came around in the schedule, my day brightened. She taught me to be creative and have fun, as well as the history and stories behind paintings and sculptures. Mrs. Shade was the reason I decided to study art in college and eventually pursue art as a career.

I was in my third year at Case as an art history major. I treasured art. Art was my life. Art could tell a story. The best part about studying art at Case was that one of the finest art museums in the country, The Cleveland Museum of Art, was across the street from my dorm room. This phenomenal museum was solid marble with glass window panels the size of semi-trucks at the front entrance. The marble was black with hints of white veins running through it and smooth to the touch. The glass at the entryway was crystal clear and the sun reflected in a straight beam pointing at the adjacent sidewalk. The glass gave the foyer a strange acoustic feeling when the noise bounced around the room. This building made a statement. It was no coincidence that I chose to study at Case. I purposely selected Case for its proximity to The Cleveland Museum of Art so that I could admire the artwork and sculptures every day after class.

It was late one Sunday night in November. Probably around 11:30pm. The snow was coming down heavily and it was a struggle to see out my window and across the street. The glass windowpane was icy cold and every breath I took fogged the window. The Museum was always closed on Sundays, but this night I could faintly see the headlights of a box truck backing-up to the side service door of the Museum. The back-up beep of the truck crept through my window. Beep, beep, beep. The beeping of the truck woke up Joey. We both stared out our window gazing at the piece being unloaded from the truck. It was a sculpture from the Romans. We had been studying this very piece the week before in our art history class. I never could have imagined it would end up in the United States, let alone Cleveland. It had been in a vault in Rome for the past 75 years. It must finally be rotating through the museums in the States. We were in shock and felt drawn to investigate.

Joey and I could not sit still in our room any longer. We grabbed our winter coats, gloves, and wool hats and headed down the stairs and across the street to the Museum, careful not to slip on the ice-covered sidewalks as we hurried along. The sculpture that was being unloaded was priceless. Joey and I were just two broke college students who wanted to take a look at the masterpiece before the public did. We wanted to see it in person that night.

It never crossed my mind that we would end up taking it. But in retrospect, I guess Joey had other ideas. He kept on bugging me about taking it and telling me how great it would be to be rich. Although I never agreed to steal it, I definitely wanted to look at it that night. Joey and I returned to our dorm room and planned out how we would get into the Museum. It was no easy task. Museum security was tight and left no room for errors. Cameras, motion sensors, silent alarms, weight sensors, infrared lasers, you name it, the Museum had it. After spending an hour working on a plan it was go time.

The Museum was doing construction on the northeast corner of the second-floor Egyptian exhibit hall. That was our entry point, our way in. Every other possible way was too heavily guarded. We hoped that security would be weaker at this point and we were right. After scaling the tall marble wall, we made it to the roof landing. Weaving through construction fencing, scaffolding, and various tools, we finally reached our entry point. We found a frozen hammer left on the roof from the construction and figured we'd use it to break the glass. I let Joey do the honors. I handed him the hammer he took two deep breaths and struck the glass without a second thought! Crash! The glass instantly shattered. We busted through, and there were shards of glass scattered everywhere. Tiny crystals sat on the floor reflecting the moonlight. We were in! Aside from the broken glass everywhere we had success in breaching the security. We were standing on the second-floor balcony. We could not believe how easy it was. How could the Museum have forgotten to secure that point? But we did not really care. We were in! All alone in the Museum.

The lights were off except for a few emergency lights. Cameras covered the area rotating every 26 seconds. That was our window to make a dash for the sculpture. We could see it resting on a pedestal at the opposite end of the hallway on the floor below. It was behind more glass and situated in the corner of the atrium with lasers protecting it.

Joey and I carefully crawled across the floor towards the sculpture. We were meticulous in making sure we avoided the cameras and sensors. We did not want to be caught. We just wanted to see the sculpture. Suddenly, we heard the jiggling and clashing of keys. Our hearts sank. It was a security guard making his rounds. We were near the knight room when I had the idea to hide in the armor. Joey agreed and we briskly made our way into the knight armor, being careful not to make too much noise. Luckily, the security guard passed us, and we were safe to continue our journey to the sculpture.

Our next task was to make it downstairs where the sculpture was. To do this we had to go down an escalator and through the café. Joey led the way and I followed him across the balcony and down the escalator, one step at a time. On the way down I accidently bumped into a table in the café and a glass that was left on the table hit the floor and shattered. Strike Two! One more chance! Luckily no one was around or heard it crack, but our luck was running out. Security was tight and there was no room for error. We had no strikes left. We had one last shot to get to the sculpture and get out undetected.

Joey and I kept going back and forth on how we would make our dash to the sculpture while avoiding the cameras. We decided to ditch our coats in the trash can to lighten our load so we could crawl faster. We got on our stomachs and slowly inched our way to the sculpture. On the way there, Joey kept trying to pressure me into stealing the sculpture.

"We could just take it back to our dorm for the night", he suggested.

"What if we just borrow it? What if we just…" Joey said before I interrupted him.

"What if nothing," I said. "We can't steal the most coveted and expensive sculpture in the entire world," I argued.

Joey didn't respond. After about six and half minutes of crawling, we made it to the base of the sculpture undetected. Wow! We were speechless. The sculpture sat high on its pedestal and looked spectacular. It was marvelous! We could hardly believe that we were staring at the same piece that we had studied in class. After gazing at the piece for several minutes, I thought that we should get out quickly before we were caught. I turned to speak with Joey, but he was nowhere to be seen. I began to panic. All of a sudden, I saw him out of the corner of my eye pressing buttons on a panel. Joey was trying to steal the sculpture! He was a computer science minor and therefore knew how to reverse the security that was protecting the statue. To my disbelief, the glass popped open, and Joey grabbed the sculpture and put it over his shoulder. I was at a loss for words.

"What the hell are you doing?" I shouted. "You can't just take this. It's a piece of history," I said.

Before I could get another word out, Joey was running with the sculpture. The alarms began sounding and blaring all across the Museum. Lights flashed and security guards came running. Not knowing what to do I dashed after Joey. I followed him up the escalator, back through the Egyptian wing and out the broken glass panel on the roof.

"Stop, stop!" I yelled at Joey.

He ignored me and kept running with the sculpture. Security was closing in on us. "Stop!" they demanded.

To our luck we escaped. Before I knew it, we were back in our dorm with the most expensive and sought-after piece of art in the world.

The next morning, we woke up in shock. What had happened? How did we steal the most coveted piece of ancient Roman history in all of existence? Neither Joey nor I knew what to say or do. We went about our day as usual like nothing had happened the previous night, all while the sculpture rested on my nightside table. I grabbed my porcelain bowl from the cupboard, poured in a hearty amount of cheerios and then some milk, and ate breakfast while I pondered my thoughts. Joey was still lying in his bed. He turned on the local news. The weather was predicting a sunny day with a few clouds in the early afternoon. Suddenly a breaking news animation appeared and interrupted the weather programing. The typical suspenseful music began, and the anchor said: "We have breaking news this morning. Last night the Cleveland Museum of Art reported that an ancient Roman sculpture was stolen." Joey and I locked eyes. Our hearts sank to the floor and neither of us spoke. We could hear the sirens and see the red and blue lights of the police cars outside our window as they reached the museum.

"I never agreed that we would steal this; what on earth were you thinking?" I asked him.

Joey calmy responded: "It's fine. Nothing is going to happen. They have no idea that we have it."

"Wrong," I said. "They are going to check the security cameras and test for fingerprints."

"Why would you do this?" I asked him.

"I don't know" Joey responded. "Something just made me do it."

"Well, now what are we supposed to do?" I asked him.

Joey didn't respond.

"Art is not meant to be stolen. It is meant to be viewed by the public, that is why there are museums in the first place. We both love art, that is why we chose to study it in college. Remember back in Mrs. Shades' class when we took field trips to the art museum in Savannah? Remember how much we and our classmates enjoyed looking at the art? Why should we take that privilege away from others? Plus, not to mention that this is highly illegal, and we are now criminals. What are we going to do, Joey?"

Knock, knock. Someone was knocking on our door. Joey and I did not know what to do. We were frighted by the noise because we rarely had visitors.

"Should we answer it?" I asked.

"I don't know, who do you think it could be?" Joey responded.

"There's no way they were able to identify us. We had our faces covered and avoided the security cameras for the most part," he said.

"What should we do?" I asked him again.

Knock, knock. The pounding on our door started again.

"What if it's not the police?" Joey suggested. "What if it's just someone visiting us?"

"Who on earth would be visiting us?" I asked.

"Well, I saw that Mrs. Shade is a guest speaker this week. Maybe she found out our dorm number and is coming by to say hello?" he suggested.

"I suppose that could be true. I did see that on the website earlier this week," I replied.

Joey sighed. He turned and faced the corner of the room.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"Last night after you went to bed, I called my friend who is an art appraiser. I wanted to get his opinion on what the sculpture is worth and how we could sell it," Joey admitted.

"WHAT!" I shouted.

Knock, knock. Again, the incessant knocking on our door.

I was furious. I never agreed to steal the sculpture and now Joey went behind my back and inquired about selling it.

Knock, knock, the knocking would not stop.

I told Joey we needed to answer the door. What if it was only Mrs. Shade and not the police? Or what if it was the art appraiser?

We had to find out.

Joey jumped up on the windowsill ready to make a dash for it if it was the police.

I placed my hand on the doorknob and begun to turn it to the left. Creak. Creak. The door slowly opened and revealed who was there.

Joey and I locked eyes and were in complete and utter shock.

Together at Home


Together at Home

Together a family, we are a band.
Huddled so tight in the midst of the night.
Together we cheer, as fans in the stand.
United as one, we will never fight.

Just one large family hoping to win.
Watching the ball as it soars o'er the fence.
Swift as a tornado crushing a tin,
Making the loud fans grow even more tense.

Raucous cheers erupt in heightened disbelief.
Crackling and a boom is heard in the air,
The sound of fireworks left them with no beef.
No one would say that the game was not fair.

On the 4th of July as one they stood.
Uniting together just like they should.

Without a Spark


Without a Spark

All alone, in the dark
The floor creeks, as I try to depart.
Trying my best to leave this place, without a spark.

With no luck, I shall refrain
Although soon I must embark.
All alone, in the dark

How could I possibly obtain?
Quickly I need to restart
Trying my best to leave this place, without a spark.

I soon shall gain
A plan from which I will start
All alone, in the dark

All without inflicting pain
The knife however must go through the heart
Trying my best to leave this place, without a spark.

I know it will soon rain
At this point, I will have done my part
All alone, in the dark
Trying my best to leave this place, without a spark.