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The goat heist


Image by Ulli Hansmann from Pixabay

Nate Rayburn is a tool, of the highest degree. His recent crimes include three instances of being a dick and calling it ‘art’.


In this one, Nate thought it was a genius idea to dump my best-friend, Alexa, in front of the whole art class. He got her to sit for a portrait, then held it over a metal bin and set it on fire. Worse still, he got one of his equally obnoxious friends to film it, so Nate could submit the video in his portfolio.

(I don’t take art class, but I’ve seen the video …as have most of the Seniors at our school.)


Post flaming portrait, Nate kept some weird ass record – little chalk crosses, dots, and lines – on a big piece of black paper. It seemed to relate to where he and Alexa were positioned in the room – which way they were facing, what happened if he moved, or turned his back on her.

(That is creepery, not art. Alexa showed me a picture of it on her phone, while trying not to cry. She’d stopped making her own art too. Not good.)


Thinking himself ultra-smart, Nate announced that his final piece in the Seniors Art Show was going to be a take on ‘The Monty Hall Problem’. (Three doors, two goats, and a car. The rest of how this brain teaser works makes my head hurt. Choices. Probability. Google for further details.) For extra jerk points, Nate was going to be using a live goat, and taking over most of the art room.

(Of course he was. What a guy! And where was the Art Master, Mr Williams, in all this? Weak.)

So, yes, I staged an intervention. Let’s call it ‘The Goat Heist’…



This part was easy.

Alexa: (The Artist). Time to fight back and make her mark. This girl is super smart. (Except for occasional blips, like going out with Nate.) Deserves an A+ for her artwork, and for putting up with me since we were six.

Pratiti: (The Loyal). She may look tiny, but you always want her on your side. When she goes to war on something she NEVER gives up. She is the sweetest little scorpion.

Trey: (The Strong). Strong as in muscles. Strong as in principles. Lover of the environment, and animals, and even most people. A big guy, with an even bigger heart.

Me, Clarissa: (The Angry?) I was truly pissed off. If the Art Master, Mr Williams, was going to let this kind of shit fly, then somebody needed to step up and do something. A year ago, I would have just stormed into his office and tried a take down. But I have been working on myself, I swear. Hence assembling a team, getting Alexa’s input, and having an actual plan.


This part was semi-easy, semi-a-pain-in-the-ass.

The instruction was to meet on the bench outside the art block on Tuesday lunchtime.  By the time that I got out of double Spanish and raced to meet them, Trey was already installed on the bench eating a wrap, and Pratiti was perched on the arm at the other end, her feet on the bench, her hand stuffed into a crisp packet. They were chatting back and forth, happy as budgies. It warmed my cold heart.

“Ok, here’s what you need to know!” I said, skidding to a stop in front of them, and putting down the four carrier bags that had been wrapped around my wrists.  “Where’s Alexa? She’s not backing out!”

I texted her.

“She’ll be here. Did you get food?” Trey asked.

“No. These are disguises!” I said kicking at the carrier bags.

Trey and Pratiti both looked down at them.

“I meant, like, lunch for yourself?” He held out his half-eaten wrap. I could smell the garlic of the hummus. My stomach growled, but I was on a mission here. Pratiti held out her crisp packet and craned forward, from her perch. I shook my head.

“I’m good, I’m good. Where’s Alexa? She needs to be here. I’ve got the disguises, but she needs to brief us about the layout of the art room. We need a blueprint. A schema.”

“A what?” Pratiti said.

Before I could explain, Trey gestured to behind me, with his wrap. And there was Alexa, jogging towards us, red ponytail swinging, cheeks flushed.

“Sorry! Sorry!” she called as she approached.

“Na-ah! No more apologising, remember,” I said firmly. “Nate is the only one around here who should be apologising for anything. Shoulders back and let’s do this everyone.”

The next 20 minutes was a pain-in-the-ass part, I’m not going to lie. Alexa is the best, and I guess as an artist it’s good that she notices a bunch of things. But most of these things, I did not need to know! I needed the timings of the event. The layout of the rooms. Exactly what Nate was planning, logistically speaking. We got there, but it scraped away quite a few layers of my patience…

“So, the actual live goat will be behind the third door!” I said, with a little more force than I meant to.

Trey put a big finger to his chin and tipped his head to one side. Pratiti crumpled her crisp packet into a ball and tossed and caught it a couple of times.

“I guess?” Alexa said.

“That’s the room with the sink in it right? I.e., there’s nothing to destroy in there. The other two rooms have art supplies in them. Not even an idiot would risk a goat with those. So, they’ll be the doors that lead to the toy goat, and the fake cheque for a car.”

The team nodded dutifully, and I clapped my hands together with as much encouragement as I could manage.

“Ok, disguise time. I will give you some choices here.”  I was the leader, but I was not going to be a dictator. “I will go last. Just one more thing, do NOT, I repeat, DO NOT put the masks on now. We need the element of surprise on the night. And please do your very best to find a t-shirt and leggings to match your mask. Got it?”

“Can’t we just wear black?” Pratiti asked, raising her hand slowly as she spoke.

“No. We need to look like artists, not terrorists. I am not going to detention for this.”

I sighed and resisted the urge to just shove a bag at each person’s chest. I stood back and let the choosing begin.

ALEXA (made by all, against her will, to choose first): KERMIT THE FROG MASK. COLOUR, GREEN.

TREY (pinched by Praiti into choosing next): MISS PIGGY MASK. COLOUR, PINK

PRATITI (made by me to go next): BIG BIRD. COLOUR, YELLOW



My team did me proud with their costume efforts. Mine was probably the dodgiest. Colour is not my thing, but anything to help Alexa, and to follow my own orders. The best I could come up with was a pair of my Mum’s maroon leggings, and a tomato red sweatshirt from my Dad, turned inside out, so you couldn’t see the Guinness logo.

“Nice job, everyone,” I said, as we huddled around a corner, within earshot of the Art Show, but out of sight, for now. “Everyone clear?”

They all whispered their roles, like they were in a bad film, and had been drilled and drilled by their leader.

PRATITI: I need to volunteer as a contestant, who wants to pick a door to open. Then I play along with Nate, as he does his presenter part. I explain my bird outfit by saying that I’ve just come over from the theatre department, where I’m working on a show.

ME (CLARISSA): ….And the show is called…? Remember, Pratiti, details make things seem more truthful.

PRATITI: The show is called…Sunshine Birds to the Rescue.

I nodded and gestured to Alexa.

ALEXA: Once Pratiti is up there and Nate is distracted, I grab Nate’s mike from him, and turn to the audience, and start my own piece.

ME (CLARISSA): ….And your piece is called…?

ALEXA: My piece is called…ARTLESS OR HEARTLESS. I introduce it and Pratiti starts filming me.

TREY: And you and me, Clarissa, we gently bust that little goat out, and scoot it with us, over to the sports field.

He patted a pink bum bag that he was wearing. I knew from his texts that it was thoughtfully loaded with organic goat treats. He also had a velvet harness and leash (sewed by him), draped over his arm, having researched what would be strong, but comfy for the goat.

“You guys are the best,” I said, feeling my eyes water. I rolled my shoulders back. “Now, masks on, and think stealthy. No crashing in there, whooping like we’re animals.”

My team pulled their masks down over their faces, and nodded at me like a bunch of adorable goobers. A six-foot Miss Piggy. A tiny little Big Bird. And a shaking Kermit.

I punched Kermit lightly on the arm. “You’ve got this Alexa.”



Drilling my crew paid off. Trey and I stayed in the back while Pratiti, tiny little Big Bird, wended her way through all the clumps of students and parents, until she got right to the front. There stood Nate, in an ill-fitting tuxedo, gripping a handheld mike and gesturing to the three doors behind him.

“I want to play!” Pratiti yelled. And then totally sold everyone on her ‘theatre club’ excuse for being dressed like a yellow bird, complete with mask. Parents cooed and aahed around her, probably thinking that she was a cute little junior, not a loyal little scorpion in disguise.

And before Nate could twig that anything was up, a flailing Kermit Alexa took to the stage, grabbed the mike from him, and launched into the most perfect spoken word something about famous heists, and theft, and art, and hearts …and respect and…

Nate grabbed for the mike, but Pratiti was too fast for him, fending him off with swift little kicks, all the while still filming. What a legend.

Trey squeezed my elbow gently. “Time to go free the goat.”

My heart pounding, I followed him, edging through the parents until we were right in front of the third door. My hands were shaking so much that all I could do was hold the door open, while Trey dealt with catching and harnessing the little goat.

I felt frozen in the hubbub of noise and reactions, but Trey had clocked a rather irate Mr Williams, crossing towards us. Trey pointed, and muttered low, “Time to go boss.” Then he cleared his throat, and launched into a quite remarkable Miss Piggy impression…

“Ha-yah! Ha-yah!” He chopped the air in front of us with one hand, and led the goat gently with the other. The crowd parted in front of us as he did so, and we picked up speed.

Thankfully, the goat loved magic-handler Trey (and his treats) and trotted obligingly down the corridor, out the door, and across the field.  We didn’t stop until we reached the sports pavilion. I shoved my Elmo mask up onto my head, breathing heavily. Trey did the same with his Miss Piggy one. His big face was shining with sweat, and the biggest smile I’d ever seen.

“Good job, little goat,” Trey said, bending down to pet it. It licked his sweaty face. Gross.

“Good job, Clarissa,” Trey added, beaming, then stood up and gave me a sweaty hug. I shrugged him off, and swiped at my eyes.

“What’s up, Elmo? Elmo sad?” Trey said, returning to his Miss Piggy voice. It was doubly odd coming out of his human face.

“Elmo happy. Now f-off,” I said.

He gave me a thumbs up and we both checked our phones, waiting for Pratiti’s video to upload. Still nothing. Hell, if this all went wrong for Alexa, it was totally my fault. As if sensing my unease, Trey slung his hot arm around my neck.

“I am going to grill Nate about his care of this goat, don’t you worry. And if you ever decide you want to go steal a diamond, you call me, alright?” He squeezed me gently.

I jumped at the ping of my phone. It was a text from Alexa


I held the phone so Trey could see it. He grinned and cleared his throat, and announced across the empty field.

“Listen up Universe, Clarissa is the Greatest Of All Time.”

The real goat bleated, and I bent down to pet it. “Don’t lick me, ok,” I warned

It disobeyed me and licked my blushing face.

Week 9

I have been defaulting to pairs of characters. (Which clearly feels a bit more doable to my brain!) So this week I wanted to shake myself out of that, and play with a bigger cast. I made a quick crew, and set them to work in a mini heist.

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