I had put the papers away, hoping that I could get some work done around the
house. I had checked the message on my machine, and Tracy had replied in the
negative: No, there was no Department of Money and Land Conservation. After
going shopping and starting dinner, my curiosity got hold of me. I sat down
while my pasta cooked and I took the envelope out of my pocket.
Okay, I thought to myself, these people don't exist. But then how did they
send this letter? I looked at the envelope. The address on the front was right,
and the stamp was there. Everything seemed perfectly normal... I turned the
envelope over to the back, then back to the front. And then I noticed the lack
of return address. I smiled to myself. These people were smart- Blu wouldn't
have noticed a trivialty such as a return address. They knew him pretty well.
Anyway, this confirmed that though the DMLC might exist, it was not the high-profile,
official department it claimed to be.
I opened the letter. I read and re-read it several times, and I found no clues.
Besides the fact that there were no individual names signing the paper, (which
was unusual considering this was supposed to be a legal document,) there was
nothing wrong with it. My attention moved, however, onto the date at the bottom.
The tenth of August... I couldn't think of anything big happening that day.
Perhaps it was another false lead. I put the letter away.
My attention turned to Blu himself. Pete Oswold was a well-loved Pet. His Art Centre was a real home for many people. It also kept a lot of punks off the
street. He was good-natured and trusting, though sometimes naive, and people
often tried to take advantage of him. As far as I knew, he had no enemies. Perhaps
whoever sent that letter was after the actual Centre, instead of destroying
Blu's legend? I shook away the idea. The Centre was a nice building, but there
were plenty of cheap, vacant buildings all over Neopia. This, I decided, was
a personal attack on Blu.
I called him up on my phone.
"Pete Oswold of the Art Centre speaking," he answered, without a hello. He
said this without his usual energy and pride.
"Hey, Blu, what's going on over there?"
"Oh, Cody, hello." He didn't seem surprised. "Not much, actually. I still haven't
told anyone. Thank god that everone who comes here is steadfastly opposed to
reading the newspaper."
"Well, whatever. So, Blu- do you have any enemies?" His stunned silence followed.
Real subtle, Cody, I thought to myself.
"Er, no, I don't think so, why do you ask?"
"Um.... college paper, nothing really." I covered.
"Well, if that's all you need..."
"Are you sure? There's no one you would regard as an enemy? No childhood bully,
no vicious politician? Nobody?"
"No, Cody. I'm sure." His tone held a strong sense of finality.
"All right then, bye." I hung up. This was going no where. Then, the phone
rang. Thinking it was Blu, I raced over and picked up.
"Uh, hey, is Cody there?" I sighed.
"Maleesa, you know I live alone."
"Hey, hey, just checking. I wouldn't want to start spilling some awful secret
to a stranger with your voice, now would I?" She laughed. I didn't.
"So, what are you calling me for?" In mock insult, she replied, "Oh, and since
when it is illegal to call you? I can hang up right now if you want."
"Naw. Just speak."
"Well, we were wondering bout you. You haven't been at the Centre for the past
few days. Has someone..." she paused for a moment. "Has someone died?"
I laughed. "No, no, I just have a lot of homework to do, that's all."
"Well, if that's all, you wanna come around today? There's this neat guy coming
in who's gonna show us tips and tricks for decoupaging glass." Apparently, none
of them did read the news paper.
"I'll be there."
"All right then, later chicka!"
"Bye," I sighed. I really did not have time for this, but I relented to go.
By the time I was ready, it was an hour later. As I walked through the Centre
doors, I saw the usual activities going on--drinking, drawing, writing, gossiping.
I sat down at a table with a bunch of my friends. Maleesa smiled a cheeky Kacheek
"I knew you couldn't resist decoupage!"
"Well, I tried, but gee. Decoupage is so exciting!" They missed my sarcasm.
As I rolled my eyes, I caught sight of a new figure. He had never been here
before. A small red Kacheek, he was wearing dark sunglasses, a purple beret,
and a paint splattered shirt. He had a short goatee. He fit right in, but something
didn't look right about him. He fit in too well; he was such a stereotypical
artist. I decided to let him be, however, and pulled my gaze back to the table.
"So. What's been going on lately?"
"Aw, nothing much," said a Floatsam we all called Shimo. We had forgotten
his real name a long time ago.
"Except that Blu's been moping around and looking depressed a lot." Vanny,
a Usul, made a face. "I think he ate some of those cinnamon buns or something."
Vanny totally agreed with Blu on the whole concept of coffee and sugar.
"Well, there's been some rumours about. And no, Shimo, I'm not going to tell
you, but I think you should cut him some slack." Shimo looked disappointed.
"Well, whatever you say, Code." Just then, Blu started making his way up to
the front of the room. Tapping his pen against a water jug, he got everyone's
"Everyone, I have an announcement to make!" Everyone fell silent, and three
hundred and fifty two pairs of eyes fell onto him.
Nervous, he adjusted his jacket. "Now, I know that you all have been here for
a long time. And this Art Centre might have become a second home to you all.
But, I'm afraid it's going to be closed down."
The audience reacted with feelings of disbelief and astonishment, "Oh my god!"
and "Blu, you're kidding, right?"
"Now, now, everyone, there is no one to blame here. But, everything must move
on at some point, and so must you. I will take the time now to answer any questions
you have, but after this, I request that you do not bother me with the issue
so that I may prepare for departure." His formal speech was a result of his
utter fear and worry about what their reaction would be.
After a few minutes of loud talking, arguing, and crying, the questions started.
A red Peophin, his name I did not know, asked, "Is there any chance that the
Centre might be able to stay open?" A chorus of Yeah!'s followed. Blu stood
up straight and said, quite blatantly, "No."
I forget the questions after that. Something about where they would go, another
about what the Centre would be used for. Both answers were, "I can't be sure."
I turned around and walked to Blu's office to wait for him there.
When he arrived, I said, "Nice job out there, Blu. It's good that everyone
"I would have told them later, but I wanted them to really cherish the last
few days they have left here." He stirred his herbal tea. "I hope whoever receives
this land doesn't destroy the building. It has such a long, interesting history."
I highly doubted it was interesting, but 'long' sounded about right. Just then,
I got an idea.
To be continued...