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Chest fo Hope Ch.13

Friday morning, Jim awoke, to the sound of the old wind up alarm clock, that sat next to his bed. Cissy stirred, and threw back the covers. “I'll put the coffee on. You check on Adam.” Cissy said, still half asleep. Her legs went to the side of the bed that had been theirs since their wedding night. Jim looked blankly at the clock face. Then, he too, found the coolness of the floor on the bottom of his feet, as he walked to Adam's room. As he opened the door, he saw Adam putting on his tee shirt over his jeans. Jim smiled, and thought to himself as he closed the door, it must be good to be that young. Wonder if I ever was that young? Jim made his way to the bathroom, and had to stop, as the door flew open and Willie emerged. “Sorry Jim, didn't think you'd be up yet.” Willie said, as he passed by on his way to the kitchen. Jim went in and stood in front of the mirror. I'm only thirty-two, so why do I look, fifty? He thought, as he turned on the shower. Jim toweled off and took another look. Well, that dropped me to forty-five, at least. He smiled, as he thought about today's work. By the time Jim entered the kitchen, coffee was waiting in his favorite cup, and the smell of frying eggs greeted him. Adam was setting the table, and Willie was eating a piece of toast. “Well, we made it to payday, Jim. What's we gonna do with our money?” Willie asked, as he wiped the crumbs of a pilfered piece of toast from his lips. “We best make the house payment first. After that, we'll see.” Jim answered, as he sat at the table. “I'm gonna buy me some new shoes with my money.” Adam announced, as he brought the first of the food trays to the table. “That’s be a good boy you got there, Jim. He doan thinks of toys and stuff. He thinks of things to get him better.” Willie's smile and twinkling eyes, even had Jim smiling with pride, as Cissy and Adam brought in the rest of the breakfast. “How's the food holdin out?” Jim asked Cissy, as she sat. “We still got plenty. Have to bring home some milk and eggs from the store today, but everything else is fine.” Cissy answered, and took a sip of her coffee. "Jim, you know me and Lotty can take care of the small bills and all. But we need to get that mortgage money back on track. I know you don't like taking no money from Mista Odie. Jim, all that food, ain't gonna do nobody any good, if'n we is all in the street.” Cissy said, with concern, shared by all at the table. “I'll talk to Mista Odie when he gets back today, and see if he can help with the bank.” Jim said, and regarded his plate solemnly. "Mista Odie will pay us for our work Jim. You doan have to ask about nothing.” Willie said. Jim dropped the piece of toast he held. Slowly raising the coffee cup, he pondering Willie’s words, before he spoke. “Brother, have you been out in the sun too long? Mista Odie's done paid us for our work. We been eaten on most near six hundred dollars of labor for over a week. How long it take us to make that kind of money lately?” Jim said, with their eyes locking. “I’s sorry Jim. My mind must of forgot 'bout that.” Willie said, and finished his food in silent thought. “Dad, it's different about food and all, when it comes to pay for work.” Adam said. “No, no difference at all. Money is money. I shouldn't have been so greedy, when Mista Odie offered to help.” Jim replied heavily. “Like, you had a choice, to say no to the man.” Willie muttered, under his breath. “What's bothering you, Jim?” Cissy asked, noticing his face. “Somthin that, Matt said to me before, keeps goin on in mah brain.” Jim answered, and stood from the table remembering the words, no difference. “Doan forget ya'lls lunch. It's on the counter.” Cissy said, as she drank her coffee.

The trio went through the kitchen and out the back door. Down on East and Main, the crowd was growing slowly, as the sky showed signs of pale blue, yellow and red in the east. Jim called out, and the men started their walk to the farm. No cars were present, at a half past five this morning, so the men were stretched across and down the street. At the halfway point, the street lights ended, and the ones behind them were already flickering out, as the dawn was becoming brighter. The men made the turn on the dirt road, as Jim and Willie were stopped by Luke. “What you be wantin, Luke?” Jim asked. “Look around. Tell me what you see.” Luke replied, with a sly smile on his face. Jim and Willie turned to see the last of the crew walking down the dirt road. The crows were cawing and flying in and out of the trees, while the sound of some barking dogs, and the occasional rooster could be heard in the distance. Everything appeared to the brothers, to be the same as it had been since the first Wednesday, that they walked to the farm. “What's we supposed to be seein' Luke?” Jim questioned, as he took another turn. “You're not supposed to see anything. That's the problem!” Luke said, as he walked across the street. Jim and Willie followed, and when he stopped, they still had blank looks on their faces. “Take another look.” Luke said, in a whisper. Willie slowly turned completely around, but Jim only stood, closely regarding Luke. “What is yo' tryin to tell us?” Jim asked, with irritation in his voice. “Not that easy, you tell me.” Luke said, with his grin growing wider. Jim was on the verge of knocking that grin off Luke's face, until he saw a sparkle of light, coming through the trees behind Luke. “I think you're starting to see the light.” Luke replied, turning around. “What is it Jim?” Willie whispered, and then wondered why he was bothering with whispering. Jim walked around Luke and strained his eyes. Through the trees, he could hardly make out the shape of something dark blue in the morning light. “That the same truck?” Jim asked warily. “I'd say yes, but we need a closer look at it.” Luke answered, stepping off the road. Jim agreed, and the three men started walking through the underbrush and trees, toward the dark object. When they came to the clearing, they saw the truck. Its four tires flattened, and a jack was sitting under the front bumper. “This is Cooper's truck.” Willie said, as he went to the back, and saw the rebel flag, painted on the tailgate. “He’s always with that Jones boy, when they're up too no good.” Jim spoke softly. Luke pointed out the beer bottles on the ground, and the ones in the truck. “Must have come back, waited till we left, and then found out about the tires. See here. They backed up a little from here.” Luke said, as he pointed. More men joined them, and Luke pointed toward the farm. “With glasses, you can watch every move we make, without being seen.” Luke said, as he read Jim's face. “Now who do you suppose, would be that interested in an old farm, like that?” Luke asked, the brothers. However, the smile on his face, told them, he already knew. "We'd better get from here. They might be comin out to fix them tires.” Jim said, as he looked back at the truck. “You go ahead. I'll be over in a couple minutes.” Luke said, with a hard tone in his voice. “What's you gonna do?” Willie asked, but started walking, after seeing the crazy look in Luke's eyes. “Doan be long, and doan gets yourself caught neither.” Jim said, as he walked to catch up with his brother.

It was just around six, when Luke strolled into the yard. His clothing looked like he had been working for a day already. “What'd you do Luke?” Jim asked, softly when Luke came closer. “Let's just say. The tires are the least of their concern.” Luke stated, as he told Jim, about letting all the fluids out of the radiator, oil pan, transmission, rear end, and the brake lines. Jim viewed Luke as a man not to be taken lightly. “For the last straw, I put their tapes under the gas tank and punched a nice hole, so that it drained over them. You should see what gas does to plastic when it hits it.” Luke said, in a voice and with expressions that were getting Jim a bit nervous, when he saw the strange light in Luke’s eyes. “Okay, that's enough. I doan wants to hear no mo'. You go on and get the radios working.” Jim said, pointing to the sacks he and Willie, had brought from home.

Luke walked away with an evil laugh that made Jim's skin crawl, as he started retrieving the radios and chargers, from the sacks. Scott Postan tapped Jim's shoulder and Jim jerked around. “Sorry Jim, but you need to realign the dish.” Scott pointed to the field as he spoke. “Do what?” Jim asked, as he tried to understand Scott's request. “The dish has got to point to the east. The suns coming up there.” Scott said. “I know where the sun rises. What is yo' talkin' bout the dish fo'?” Jim snarled. “Come with me, I'll show you what you have to do every morning. There's someone else you need to talk to also.” Scott answered, and walked to the field. Jim followed, and Adam came up holding the silver box. Scott introduced Jim, to Orin Michaels and told Jim, he was the youngest electrician at the mill, and they had let him go first when it was closing down. “Orin had been up north, but the lineman job was only temporary. He talked to me last night and he's here to work.” Scott said. “That's fine with me. Now what about this dish thing?” Jim asked. “Every morning, the dish or power plant, has to be turned to the sun, so it can power up.” Orin said. “It's like a sun flower. After you aline it, it will stay on track all day. Then you have to change it back the next morning.” Orin explained. “Can I do it today?” Adam asked, excitedly. “Push the green, then blue one.” Jim said. Adam pressed the blue button on the box. The solid half sphere clicked and whirled, then pivoted until it looked like a large spider web. It began its slow turn to the east. “I wondered how they were going to do that.” Scott said, with some surprise in his voice. “How'd they do what?” Jim asked. “Well, if that thing stayed together when it turned, you could blind people, with the reflection. I'd think that, at close range, you could even cook a person.” Scott said, and Orin nodded his head to the statement. “It would be like holding a magnifying glass on an ant hill at noon, if it didn't break up like that.” Orin added. The dish slowly turned around and stopped, when the direction was fixed. “Now the red one?” Adam asked. With a nod from Jim, Adam pressed the red button, and the web became solid again. “That way, it only points back at the sun. Like a mirror at a light. The only thing that it can reflect on, would be a plane. That would only be for a second, as it crossed in front of the beam.” Orin said, and Jim nodded to fact. “Then it ain't gonna hurt nobody.” Jim asked, as he looked away from the platform. “No one. Unless they get to close to it. There's still a lot of power in the bottom of that thing. The collectors, or batteries, can hold power for two days, for back up use, and for the drive motors. So, poking around that thing wouldn’t be wise for people.” Orin told Jim. Jim agreed with that logic also and told Willie to pass the word, that nobody was to get to close to it. Not that Jim thought that anybody would, but it was good to pass along common sense, sometimes. “What do you think, you could do with that thing out here?” Jim asked, Scott and Orin. “By just the size of the dish, that thing could supply most of New Hope with free power.” Orin speculated. “What you mean by, free power?” Jim asked. “Nobody is on the sun to receive monthly payments on electric bills.” Orin said smiling. “Still, Mista Odie musta had to pay for that thing in the first place.” Jim replied. “That's true, but after a few years, there’s no payments for a dish operating station, that works for over a hundred or two hundred years, with just a little money for repair. There's nothing to break down but the gears, and occasionally replace the connectors or batteries.” Orin explained. “If that's so, how come there's not more of those things around?” Adam queried. “Because of all the people that are getting money for fuel for the other power plants, and from the people who buy that power, for their homes.” Orin said. “Why do you think Mister Odie needs that much power out here, Pa?” Adam asked, intently studying the flat field. “I doan knows that Adam, you'd best ask him when he gets back here, from wherever he be gone off to.” Jim said, to Adam and then addressed Orin, “You give my son your name and stuff, pick a crew to work with. If there's gonna be any electric work later, I'll get you first off.” Jim finished, and heard Martin calling him on the radio.

Jim replied that he was on his way and waved to the others and headed toward the barn. “What's goin on with you today Martin?” Jim questioned, when he arrived, and found Martin studying the drawings again. “Looks like Mister Odie forgot something here.” Martin replied, pointing to the drawings. “I doan sees nothing there.” Jim said, eyeing the drawings. “That's the problem! See here. He’s got these timbers, six by six, eight on each side. Now here, he's got the planks, two by sixes, running on the outside and inside, all along the walls. The whole thing is eight yards high. Then he's got the rafters closing it in at the top. Simple ‘A’ frame design. Except this, right here.” Martin said, as his finger pointed at the wall section again. “I still doan understands what yo is trin' to say.” Jim said, raising his head from studying the plans. “What do we do for insulation?” Martin asked. Jim now saw, the gap Martin was pointing at, and saw no words or marks on the gap. “Is there supposed to be something there?” Jim questioned. “Unless you'd want the cold air to come and go as it pleases in the winter, and the bugs in the summer.” Martin said dryly. Jim was pondering this problem, when Ken and John Douglas came up. Jim nodded, and Ken spoke, as John studied the sketches Martin was going over. “If you could run some power out to the cemetery, I can finish those headstones today.” Jim thought a second and called out to Orin. Jim told Ken and Orin to work together on the power lines, and get the extra cables from the barn. “Why didn't I think of that!?” Martin cried out, suddenly. Jim turned, surprised to see a wide grin on Martins face, as he returned to the table holding the drawings. “What is yo yellin 'bout now?” He asked Martin. “Sand!” “Sand? What 'bout sand?” Jim questioned. “We can put the extra sand, from the mansion, between the walls for the insulation. That way, we use it and also, it will seat up against the planks.” John said. “The gypsum and lime, will keep it dry and fire resistant.” Martin added.

Jim gave his approval, to what he had little knowledge of. He thought it sounded reasonable, and told them to get started with building the house. They started talking again, and Martin directed the placements of the large six by six timbers, in the slabs of the foundation. John directed a crew of men to start bringing bags of sand to the foundation also. Jim viewed the yard, and was pleased, to see the men working together and moving about like a well oiled machine. Jim started to feel a throbbing pain in his temples, as a headache was forming from all the activity. “I'm goin to the lake for a little while.” He called to Willie. “Best you take your radio, so's we can talk to you if'n we needs to.” Willie called, back and held up a radio. Jim walked over and took his radio, nodded to Willie and started walking toward the road. As he turned the corner next to the wall, a pickup truck pulled up next to him and stopped. “Does the new management, allow for the wounded to go fishing?” The voice asked Jim. “Sure thing, Matt. You got an extra pole I can sit with?” Jim asked, walking around the front of the truck. “I think there's a couple of old cane poles back there, but I don't have any worms.” Matt answered, as Jim got in. They drove over to the lake and Matt noticed the large platform and dish across the field. “I didn't know it rained this week.” “Rained?” Jim echoed. “That thing grows by itself, without water?” Matt asked pointing. “Oh that, yeah it grew up there last evening. Army people brought it by with helicopters, and they built it in a couple of hours.” Jim said, as they arrived at the lake. Matt stopped by his favorite tree and got the fishing poles from the rear. “There's a shovel on your side and a can laying around back here somewhere.” Matt said to Jim, as he came to help. After they found a half dozen crawlers, they sat under the tree and put their lines out. “So, how's it going?” Matt asked, after he lit a cigarette. “I doan knows Matt. Things are working an' all, but somethin' be happenin 'round here, that I can’t get straight in mah mind.” Jim answered, staring intently at his red and while bobber. “How's the crew treating you?” “Oh, the men treat me good. But, they ask me all sorts of things, that I doan know nothin 'bout.” Jim answered, with concern. “That's why you're the supervisor. They all have ways of working alone. It’s your job, to keep it together for them. Don't worry about who knows what, worry about those who know nothing. Those are the ones that will get themselves hurt, and a good chance, hurt someone else too.” Matt said, as his bobber dipped under the surface. Jim thought this over as a good sized brim was lifted onto the bank by Matt's pole. The fish was placed on the stringer and placed back in the lake. “What do you think, Mista Odie wants with this ole farm anyway?” “It's like that bird over there.” Matt said, motioning to a Blue Heron, landing on the bank. “He was just flying by and looking down. He must have seen something, which peaked his interest. Now he'll stay awhile and look a little closer. He may stay all day or take off in another minute or so. The only one who knows what brought him here, is him, and maybe the fish or frog, that did something to get his attention.” Matt spoke softly, as the bird's beak lunged into the grass. They saw it come back with a snake, flipping around its head. With a short fast jerk, the bird turned the snake and swallowed it whole. “Mista Odie ain't no, pond bird.” Jim said, after the bird started walking down the bank. “Maybe not, but something got his attention around here, and he's going to stay, as long at that attraction continues. Once it's gone, so will Mister Odie. He may stop back now and then, but I don't think he's here to build a nest.” Matt said, and lit another cigarette. Jim was about to speak, but his bobber went down and the pole bent over. For over a minute, Jim fought with whatever he'd hooked, then with a pull, the bass came up on the bank. Both Matt, and the heron, came to look. “Must go about five pounds?” Matt said, with a grin. “I guess you could say. He’s got my attention, right now.” Jim said, with a laugh. “Don't laugh too loud. You have eaten on your mind. Let's hope, Mister Odie, just likes to look at the color of the scales.” Matt joked, and watched Jim's smile fade.

It took the pair about an hour to catch enough fish for the Price family. Matt loaded the truck, and told Jim he'd drop them off on his way back to town. As the truck pulled away from the farm, Jim saw that the house was coming along rapidly. The four sides, were up to five feet, and the roof support beams, were being put into place. The crew had another forty logs stacked, and out on the field, the men were bringing more with the sleds. The saws and planers were whirling at high speed, with sawdust covering the surrounding ground. Jim took out his pocket watch and walked over to the bell. He rang it three times, as the men started coming and getting out their lunches. Jim thought back to the bass as he opened his brown bag and took out his roast beef sandwich. When the lunch break was over, the work proceeded on the house. The carpenters laid the flooring, just as designed, and it took two hours, for them to place the joiners for the loft placement. By five that afternoon, the only thing left was to place the roofing planks and install the window panes. “Jim, where is the glass, we gonna fit them holes we got?” Willie asked. Jim walked over to the drawings, and scanned all the plans. Nowhere, on the papers, was glass noted. Martin came up and he too, could find no mention of what type of glass, would be used for the windows. “We just gonna have to wait for Mista Odie. He's due back shortly and he'll choose this himself.” Jim said, as he scratched the back of his neck. “Be sure and find out about these holes also.” Martin said, as he pointed to the roofing plans. “I'd say they are for sky lights, but everything else here is made with old fashion forms. The use of sky lighting is a relatively new form of building.” Jim studied the plans for the roof closer, and noted the eight holes across the top of the roof plans, and a wedge cut in one side wall. “What's this here cut out place fo'?” Jim asked. “If it were square, I'd say, it's for a fireplace. Still, I’ve never seen a forty-five-degree fireplace before.” Martin continued. Jim had to agree with Martin, he had never seen one either, but then, Jim had never seen an A-framed house before.

The workers stopped and Jim looked up from the plans, when the car horn blasted, as the silver Subaru pulled into the yard. Paul Hart Jr. and Mister Odie, exited the car, and from the back seat Mister Odie lifted the old wooden chest. “We sho' is glad to see you, Mista Odie!” Willie called out. “ADAM!” Mister Odie's thunderous roar erupted, as he scanned the men, looking for Adam. The workers could have sworn, that even the birds stopped singing, when the sound passed over the farm. Adam, in a dead run, appeared in front of the giant. “Yes sir, Mister Odie, I'm right here.” Adam said, breathlessly. “Where is your scribe book? Today is payment day.” The eyes of the big man gazed down upon the boy, as the soft voice fell in his ears. Adam nodded his head and ran to the side, of the partially finished house. Paul went to his trunk and came back with his briefcase, and a large metal box. As he walked to Mister Odie's side, Adam came running back and stopped in front of the men. “All work stops! Come forward, when you name is called.” Mister Odie's voice rang out again. Adam opened his ledger and Mister Odie cast his eyes on the first names. “Jim and Willie Price.” His voice commanded. Jim walked forward and was joined by his brother in front of Mister Odie. Jim felt the staunch seriousness in Mister Odie's manner. “Scribe, what is you quote for these men's labors.” Mister Odie asked. Adam did his tally for the weeks labor, and added to the rest. “Three hundred and twenty-six dollars, for Jim Price. Two hundred and eighty-five dollars for, Willie Price.” Adam announced, proudly. “Counselor, pay these men their worth.” Mister Odie said, without looking in Paul's direction.

Paul opened the metal box and thumbed through the stack of envelopes. He handed two white envelopes, and a light blue one, to Mister Odie. The white envelopes were handed out, and then Mister Odie handed Jim, the light blue one. Jim opened the white one first, along with Willie. The brother’s eyes went wide, as the saw the amount embossed on the checks. “Mista Odie these can’t be right, yo' musta made a mistake.” Jim said, as his eyes remained on the check, for twelve hundred dollars. Willie just stared at his, for a thousand dollars, and couldn't find his tongue. “If I thought I had made a mistake, you would not be standing here.” Mister Odie's tone was still strong but soft as he spoke. Jim opened the blue envelope, and noticed it was a tri-fold document. “Willie, oh my. Willie!” Jim cried, as he beheld the writing on the paper. Willie looked and tears filled the brother’s eyes. “How can we ever repay yo' Mista Odie?” Jim said, as his voice choked out of his throat. “Keep learning, and use what you learn. That will be suitable payment, for my needs.” “Pa, what is it?” Adam asked. “Our home Adam, it's our home!” Willie finally spoke. “The deed to the house, son.” Jim said, and clutched his brother's arm. “Adam Price.” Mister Odie's voice, filled the yard. Adam stepped in front of him, and held his head high, to see the eyes that bore down on him. Paul handed one white envelope and a yellow one to Mister Odie. As Adam opened the first, he saw the amount of five hundred dollars. “Is this my worth Mister Odie?” Adam asked, raising his head. The blue eyes twinkled and the soft voice replied, “No Adam, its not even close. Call it a down payment on your possibilities.” Adam then opened the yellow envelope and looked up to Mister Odie. “I don't understand the words, Mister Odie.” Adam said. “You will, when you are older. Show your father and Uncle the parchment, then Mister Hart will keep it safe, until its time has come.” Mister Odie answered. Jim and Willie viewed the paper and they too, were a bit confused. “The parchment, is a grant, for any college Adam chooses. In the future, for since he wants to learn, it’s for anything he wants to study.” Paul announced to the crowd.

The workers applauded for over a minute, and well wishes were voiced to the boy and his father. The next hours went by, as the original twenty-two workers, were handed checks for amounts between eight hundred to one thousand dollars accompanied with deeds for properties. The remaining workers were handed checks, from five hundred dollars and a strange token. The token bore the same symbol, on one side, as the Douglas brothers had placed on the headstones. The other side had the design of Mister Odie's belt buckle. “Now for some words of understanding.” Mister Odie called out, and the crowd settled down. “First to the matter of the tokens. Each man may either hold on to his token or, at anytime, present it to Mister Goldberg for payment of your food. There is no limit to what you may receive for this token, but, it’s for your families use. You will receive what you need, and you must never waste it.” Mister Odie spoke, as his eyes toured the men's faces before him. The men wondered what would happen, if they were to be wasteful, however not one had the nerve to speak it or the wish to know the penalty for doing so. “Next are the deeds of your homesteads. All of you may hold your properties, and stay for as long as you wish, or you may sell your holdings and go somewhere else, you think better. The last choice will be up to you, and your families. You may sell your steads, and with your wealth, build new homes around the lake.” “If this is what you decide, the land will be granted to the family. If in the future, you wish to leave, do so. However, the stead will remain here, for others to come and take your place. Now go to your families and talk of these things with them. Remember, even the youngest of your stead has a voice in the future.” Mister Odie finished, and with Paul, walked to the barn as the men stood dumfounded. “Quitn’ time! Be here sunrise Sunday! Doan be late!” Jim shouted. Mister Odie and Paul came to the barn and the chest was placed on the chopping block. “How many do you think will come out?” Paul asked. “It does not matter. The offer was made. That’s what matters.” Mister Odie answered quietly. “Mista Odie.” Jim said, coming into the dim barn, “I has some questions for you, if'n yo wants to answer them.” Jim said, as a mater of fact. “I will answer as much as I can, Jim.” Mister Odie replied. “Why is yo here?” “Easy enough. I am here, because I was told to come here.” Mister Odie said flatly. Jim drew a breath and wondered, who could tell this man to do anything, but those thoughts never took the form of words. “Why is that thing out in the field?” Jim asked next. “It is needed for the embassy. I did not need it, but others will come, and they will need its help.” Mister Odie fielded this one with ease also. “What kind of windows’ yo want for your'n house?” Jim asked, after he pondered on the word embassy for a moment. “I have no house that needs windows. If you refer to that structure that the crew is building, then the windows should be of high quality, and of strength. You should ask Martin to check around for the best, and then you will make the purchase.” Mister Odie answered, and waited. Jim gazed to Paul, and thought of the last question that he dared to ask, and drew in a deep breath. “What happened, to the Taylor mansion?” Jim watched the big man's eyes narrow for a moment and then grow full, as they appeared to go through him. “For a time, it served a purpose, that no one challenged. After it fell, it sat in ruin and neglect, but not forgotten. It served another purpose, of vile deeds and for criminal creeds. Now it serves, as it was deemed, for foundations of strength and the holding of dreams.” Mister Odie smiled, as he found himself enjoying the poem that broke forth. Jim knew that the answer given, was as close as Mister Odie was going to tell. Jim thanked him, and walked away from the barn.

He walked to the road and thought of going back to tell Mister Odie of the truck, but he wondered if the giant-of-a-man would really care about it tonight, or in the morning. “You could be a lawyer, with a little more training Mister Oh.” Paul said, with a large grin. Mister Oh snapped a hard look at Paul, then chuckled roughly. “How was the visit to your friend?” Paul asked, deciding to change the subject. “Madam Shadowmäker was most pleasant. The years have treated her well.” Mister Oh answered, as he gazed toward the field that was becoming grey with the setting sun. “How old is she now?” Paul asked, nonchalantly. “Around mid-eighties, I think.” Mister Oh answered without a thought. “Eighty years old! Then how is it possible, for you to have rescued her on a mountain as a girl?” Paul jumped on the question, as a Harvard law student would, when finding a flaw in his professor's text. Mister Odie turned slowly, and the look upon his face told Paul, that he was not on a witness stand. Paul swallowed hard, and stepped blindly into the Abyss, with his next word, “Well?” Mister Oh rose to his full height, and glared at the youth by his feet. He saw the green eyes never waver from his gaze. He could even see the tension in Paul's neck, as he held his head back, waiting for his answer. Mister Oh though, courage of the innocents, is stronger than five warriors of pay. “I recited a tale of a girl found by a man. Never, did I ever say or claim to be that man. Nor, did I say, that Madam was the girl.” Mister Oh spoke steadily. Paul dropped his gaze slowly and the words came out in a whisper, “Damn. You already are a good lawyer. You don't need any training.” Paul was startled by the roar of laughter that boomed down from above. “Do not put yourself out of the game so easily, Paul. Remember your age. You still have time to hone your skills. Your mind is already quick, and your heart is full of honor.” Mister Oh said, after his laughter. “May I ask you another question?” Paul said, sheepishly. “You may ask, one question, that will be answered yes or no. That will be the last on the matter. Agreed?” Mister Oh replied. “Was it, the story of your first meeting with Madam President?” Paul asked. Mister Oh let a smile come to his lips, as the memory was recalled, and he nodded. “But . . . ?” Paul shuddered, and started to say more, until a large hand covered his mouth. “The bargain was struck, live with the agreement. Now, don't you have a date that is awaiting you?” Mister Oh spoke as his hand came away. “You're right on both counts Mister Oh, I should have known better than to pry into things, that I can't understand right now.” Paul answered. Mister Oh bid him goodnight, and Paul drives off to town with more questions going around and around in his mind.

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