The Yellow Paint Mystery

By Linda Porter Carlyle

MacKenzie Isabelle Evans was the first one out of the car. She slammed the door and stood tapping her foot as Joseph and Trevor climbed out of the backseat. “You guys are slow as slugs,” she commented.

“That’s not a very nice thing to say to a grandmother,” G.M. said, straightening up and shutting her door.

“No!” Mac gasped. “I wasn’t talking to you! Really, I wasn’t! I wouldn’t ever say anything like that to a grown-up! I always try to be a very polite person. Well, polite to everybody except boys sometimes,” she added truthfully.

G.M. laughed. She patted Mac’s cheek. “I knew you weren’t talking to me,” she admitted. “I was teasing you.”

Joseph ran ahead and held open the heavy glass door to the paint store. “I’m polite to everybody!” he hissed in Mac’s ear as she followed G.M. into the store.

Mac ignored him.

G.M. led the way to the counter past displays of paint brushes of all sizes and tall towers of paint cans.

Mr. Davis looked up and saw them coming. A jolly smile spread over his face. “Ah! The young painters!” he exclaimed. “I’ve been expecting you.”

Mr. Davis bent down. His face disappeared behind the counter. When he stood up, he had two big paint cans in his hands. “You said you wanted a nice light gray color, right?” he asked G.M.

“Gray?” Joseph asked in dismay. “We’re going to paint the Mother’s Room walls gray?

G.M. laughed. “Not dark gray,” she said. “A very fine light shade of gray. The wall will look almost like a huge sheet of paper when we begin to paint our mural.”

“OK,” Joseph said.

“Look at this!” Mac exclaimed, studying a display of different colored paints. “Did you know there were this many colors in the whole world?”

“I think we should get yellow,” Trevor suggested. “Yellow is a nice, cheery color. I’m sure the babies would like yellow walls.”

“Well, the mothers I talked to asked for something soothing,” G.M. put in. “Yellow is a beautiful color, but I don’t think I’d call it soothing.”

“Speaking of yellow,” Mr. Davis said. His head disappeared down behind the counter again. He came up with another can of paint that he set on the counter along with the other two. “I happen to have an extra can of ‘sunshine yellow.’ And it is bright! A customer ordered more paint than he needed for his particular project. He asked if I would take this can back. I don’t usually do that when I have mixed a special color for someone. But I knew you kids were planning a mural. I figured you would need yellow somewhere in it. So I’m going to give you this can of yellow as a gift.”

Mac, Joseph, and Trevor each lugged a heavy gallon can of paint to the car. Mac and Joseph carried the light gray paint. Trevor happily packed the yellow. G.M. took the bag filled with fuzzy paint rollers, brushes, and shiny flat silver pans to pour the paint into.

“I didn’t know paint was so heavy!” Trevor puffed.

“It looks like Mrs. Anderson is here too,” G.M. commented as she parked outside the church’s Fireside Room door. “She must finally be cleaning the stove like she said she wanted to.”

The kids grabbed their paint cans and tramped up the steps.

The door opened before they reached it. “Saw you coming,” Mrs. Anderson explained.

“Thank you,” G.M. said as she stepped into the church.

It was rather chilly in the new Mother’s Room. Mac and Joseph and Trevor put their paint cans down in the middle of the floor. They shivered.

“Well,” G.M. said with a grin, “I guess we’ll have to paint fast to keep warm. And I’ll see about turning up the heat.” She pried the lid off one of the cans of light gray paint, carefully tipped the can, and poured some paint into one of the silver pans. She picked up a roller. “It’s nice that we don’t have to be careful about the floor,” she said. “Any paint we spill will be covered up later on by the carpet. But you still should try to be careful as you work. Don’t get too sloppy.”

G.M. showed the children how to put the paint on the roller and then how to wipe off the extra paint on the slanted side of the pan. She showed them how to roll the paint onto the wall.

“This is so easy! And it’s really fun!” Mac exclaimed, rolling paint up and down, up and down across the longest wall.

“Are those mountains you’re drawing?” Joseph asked.

“No! They’re M’s!” Mac explained. “Lots and lots of connected M’s.”

“I knew that!” G.M. said. Her eyes twinkled.

Two hours later, the walls were finished. “We did a good job!” Mac sighed.

Trevor sniffed. “Yellow walls would be prettier,” he said stubbornly.

“Bring your rollers and your pans,” G.M. said. She led the way to the big sink in the kitchen. “Did you realize that the three of you look like you’re related now?” she asked over her shoulder.

Joseph, Mac, and Trevor looked at each other. Mac was the first one to burst out laughing. “We are all freckled now!” she said. “Not just me!”

Joseph giggled. “You have two colors of freckles!” he said. “And Trevor’s got freckled hair!”

“We need to come back tomorrow afternoon and give the walls a second coat,” G.M. said. She handed each of the children a plastic bag. “If we cover our rollers carefully and put them in the freezer,” she explained, “we can use them again without having to wash them between times. So, who wants to come back with me tomorrow and paint some more?”

“I do!” Joseph shouted.

“I do!” Mac exclaimed.

“Me too!” Trevor agreed.

The next afternoon G.M. again parked Mac’s mom’s car outside the Fireside Room of the church. Joseph, Mac, and Trevor tumbled out. G.M. fitted the key in the lock and opened the door. The children dashed ahead of her to the new Mother’s Room.

“Hey!” Mac hollered.

“What happened?” Joseph shouted.

G.M. rushed down the hall. She stopped and stared at the Mother’s Room walls. The light gray walls of yesterday had all turned bright yellow. “Sunshine yellow” to be exact. G.M. looked at the children. They looked back at her.

Suddenly Mac turned to Trevor. “What did you do?” she asked, pointing her finger at his face. “What did you do?”

Me?” Trevor squeaked. “I didn’t do anything!

Continued next week

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