A surprising turn of event on a spring break vacation.
Jason’s Great Adventure
Jason Blake was happy with his family’s spring break vacation so far. Except for the endless hours spent riding in the van, it had been a fun time away from home and school. He had a lot to tell his friends about when he got home. He hadn’t been very excited about the planned visit to Underground Atlanta. His history teacher had talked about it; it was interesting in class but seemed boring for vacation. Little did he know that this would be the most exciting and mysteriously rewarding part of his vacation.
While they were driving to downtown Atlanta, Jason explained what he knew about Underground Atlanta to Katy, his younger sister. He told her what his history teacher said about the old cobblestone streets really being underground because of a series of streets, bridges, and concrete viaducts built over them. The underground streets have sidewalks, street signs, and lampposts, but you can walk in the streets because there are no cars.
They entered the Underground through a long wide corridor. Except for the cobblestone street, it looked like a big shopping mall. There were people from many places around the world, some dressed in colorful costumes. There was a crowd gathered around a magician doing card tricks; nearby a lady was painting flower designs on the faces of young children. Jason and his dad watched the magician and his mom sat with Katy while she had a rose painted on her cheek.
Farther down the street, a man was playing a guitar and singing some old song. There was a person in front of a candle-making shop dressed in a black suit and white gloves. His face was painted white and he couldn’t talk. He was telling stories using his whole body to make funny signs. Jason’s mom said he was a Mime. Across the street, a clown was juggling large yellow rings.
At lunchtime, they stopped at the food court for hamburgers. Jason noticed an object at his feet under the table. He picked up what looked like a very expensive digital camera. It was made of shiny metal and seemed heavy for its size. The engraved letters on the back looked like some foreign language. Jason’s dad said they would take it to the lost and found office after having lunch.
While eating his hamburger, Jason looked around at the other customers in the food court. There were some people two tables over speaking Spanish. He recognized it as Spanish because there were some students from Mexico in his school. He remembered being annoyed when they had secret conversations in Spanish.
Jason finished his lunch and picked up the camera. He raised the viewfinder to his eye and looked around the court. The camera felt cool to his forehead. As the Mexicans came into view, he squeezed the button on the side as if the take a picture. Suddenly there was a whizzing sound and a bright flash of light in his head. He lowered the camera and saw the Mexicans looking at him. His forehead was tingling slightly where the camera had touched it.
Jason looked away from the Mexicans but he could hear them talking and strangely he understood what they were saying. He could understand Spanish!
Speaking in Spanish, he told Katy that he could understand and speak Spanish. She just looked at him. His mom told him, in a scolding tone, that he should not make fun of those people. Jason realized that somehow he had learned Spanish by taking a picture of the Mexicans with the strange camera.
On their way to the lost and found office Jason took a picture of the clown. Although he didn’t try it, Jason knew he could juggle those yellow rings as well as the clown. After snapping a picture of the magician, he knew the secrets to all of his card tricks.
Jason was surprised to see Chipper Jones of the Atlanta Braves standing near the “Gone with the Wind” shop. He quickly raised the camera and squeezed the button. By now, the flash of light and the tingling on his forehead no longer startled him. He was delighted that he had now added baseball to his new skills. What an exciting day!
As they approached the office, there was a very tall strangely dressed man standing in front. He looked straight at Jason and said, “Ah, I see you found my camera.” His heavy accent was obviously foreign and his movements were relaxed and playful.
He tilted his head, smiled, and spoke directly to Jason in Spanish saying, “please take one last picture Jason. Take it of me.”
Jason was a little frightened but raised the camera and squeezed the button. He was no longer frightened. He somehow knew that he could keep his new skills if he practiced and used them unselfishly. He also knew that by paying careful attention to others and listening to what they say he could learn many new skills.
The man reached out and took the camera from Jason’s hand, raised it to his forehead and took a picture of Jason and his family.
When he returned home, Jason told all his friends about his spring break vacation and Underground Atlanta but not a word about the strange and wonderfully special camera.