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UNIT 5. THE VANDERBEEKERS OF 141st STREET

The Vanderbeekers decided to celebrate their last Christmas Eve in the brownstone with their neighbours, Miss Josie and Mr. Jeet. Auntie Harrigan and Uncle Arthur also joined them. 

While Laney was demonstrating Paganini's smartness with some tricks, the Vanderbeeker kids forgot threir troubles and joined the adults in loud applause and cheers. 

There was such terrific noise following Paganini's show that at firt no one noticed the persistent banging on the ceiling. Mama leaned over to Papa. "Do you hear that noise?" Papa, who was congratulating Mr. Jeet, paused to listen. The banging began again. "I think it's coming from upstairs," Mama said uneasily. 

Isa's good mood after Laney's bunny performance vanished. The twins glared at the ceiling as if they could beam lasers from their eyes. One by one, people began to glance upward. "What's that banging, Papa?" Laney asked. "I think it's Mr. Beiderman," Miss Josie said apologetically. "He does that sometimes when people come over. I think we get a little... loud for him."

Every single person in the room stared at her. "Did you say Beiderman?" asked Mr. Van Hooten. "He bang on your ceiling?" said Mama, shocked. "Down with the Beiderman!" shouted the brother. Miss Josie lifted her hands helplessly, as if apologizing. 

Isa shot out of her chair. She grabbed her violin from the console next to the front entrance, jarked the door open, and took the stairs two at a time up to the Beiderman's apartment. It opened with a terrific bang, as if the Beiderman had been waiting for Isa to arrive. "WHAT?" the Beiderman roared. His eyes flashed and he loomed above Isa in his midnight-black clothes. The wind howled around the brownstone. 

Isa pointed the tip of her violin bow one inch from the Beiderman's cold heart. "You." Isa spoke in a low, dangerous voice. "You are a terrible, grouchy, horrible person. You are mean to Miss Josie and Mr. Jeet. You are making us move for no reason. And now you are ruining our last Christmas here."

Isa pushed the hair off her shoulder and put her violin up and crashed her bow onto the strings. The piece was "Les Furies". She played because the Beiderman was cruel. She played because she had disappointed her parents and her siblings. She played because Benny hated her. She played because they had to move out of the home they loved. She played because she was fighting with her sister and her best friend, the person she loved most in the world. She played because their mission had failed, and now there was nothing else she could do. 

Isa's bow slowed as she came to the end of the piece, suspended over the last note. When Isa opened her eyes, she had forgotten where she was. The Beiderman stood in front of her. Isa took down her violin and found herself reaching out to touch his arm. The Beiderman stepped back and lifted his head to look at her with miserable, watery eyes. "I'm sorry," the Beiderman resped. He gazed at Isa and her violin for another long moment, Then he closed the door in her face. 

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