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Chest of Hope Ch.3

Jim and Willie Price walked up the front walk of their four-bedroom house. Jim who was just short of six feet tall and on the thin side, had two sons, one fourteen and one six. Willie, a smaller version of his brother, had two daughters, thirteen and eleven. The brothers, with their wives and children, all went together in buying the house a little over three years back. The bank held the mortgage and at first, with all the adults working, the payments, utilities, food and clothing, was easy to afford. When the textile plant moved overseas, to China, Jim and Willie were forced to work as handy men. The money began to get tighter as the months went by. Jim's wife Cissy worked at the local market at the meat counter, and any other job to be done for the grocer Mister Goldberg. Willie's wife, Lotty, worked for some families in town as housekeeper.

As Jim opened the door, he saw his oldest son reading a National Geographic that one of his friends had loaned him. “Good news from the bank, I hope?” Adam asked. "Adam," Willie said with a broad grin on his face, "you're not gonna believe the news your daddy gonna tells ya'." With that Willie started to laugh aloud and filled the house with a sound that the children hadn't heard for sometime. The girls were in the kitchen fixing supper and the youngest boy was out back playing. They all came to see what was so funny. Simultaneously, Cissy and Lotty arrived home from work. "What's all this noise about?" Cissy asked as she laid down her purse and soiled apron. Lotty was about to speak when Willie ran over to her and picked her up over his head in his strong wiry arms. She almost hit her head on the ceiling and screamed for Willie to put her down. Jim remained silent for a moment. "Everyone to the table." Jim said, "Family business." With that, they all went to the dinning room table and took their places. After they sat and the youngsters settled down Jim looked at Willie. “Let's not get too silly, yet.” Jim said. Willie saw his older brother's eyes and calmed down a bit. "What's going on?" Cissy asked. "You two rob the bank?" Willie started to laugh again but one look from Jim stopped him quickly.

Jim started retelling the family of the day’s happenings. He stopped before he got to the conversation with Mister Odie outside the jewelry store. Cissy and Lotty regarded their husbands. "How much this Mister Odie gonna pays you to work for him?" Lotty asked. "We didn't talk about that with Mista Odie." Jim said in a soft voice studying the faces around the table with his somber brown eyes. "Mista Odie be an honest man." Jim said to his family. "If we work for him, he'll pay us what we be worth." "This Mister Odie is a whitey, and you know how they treat us!" Lotty said to Jim. "Ah’ know another whitey, and you do too, who treats us fair!" Jim said in a low tone. "Amen," Cissy said faintly and lowered her eyes to study her folded hands. “Asides that,” Jim said, “work is work.” "When do ya'll start this work? Is there enough for me?" Adam piped "Me and Willie start tomorrow at sunup. We don't know what Mista Odie will have us doing, but if I remember what the place looks like, there be enough work for all of us!" Jim said as a smile brightened his face and he beamed at his son. "What place you talk'n 'bout?" Lotty asked. Jim and Willie exchanged uneasy glances with each other. "Mista Odie just bought Grandpa Green's Farm." Willie answered thinking it best to get it out in the open. "Cousin Harold had no right to put that farm up for sale." Cissy said quietly. "That be true enough, but, done is done." Lotty and Willie spoke the last words in unison. "Well enough for now. We'll talk more later." Jim said. "Girl, is supper ready yet?" He addressed the oldest girl at the table with deep affection in his voice.

Jim loved all children without reserve and considered it his duty to look after them. He still remembered, with deep shame, the one day in his life that he couldn’t, and if it hadn’t been for the intervention of Matt Stone, he and his family would likely be dead. "Yesum, Uncle Jim. I be fetching it and the boys can set the table." Adam rose and told his brother to help with the silverware while he went for the plates and glasses. The meal was a simple and filling. This was one thing that all the Prices agreed on, that dinner should be eaten together as a family. Each child had a chance to talk about their day while the parents listened and helped where they could. After they ate, the children were busy cleaning the dishes and straightening the kitchen. At the table Jim was telling Cissy that Mister Odie said there were some changes coming to New Hope.

Willie came in from the kitchen with a brown jug in his hand and two glasses. Willie set the jug between him and Jim, then placed the glasses before them. "I think we should celebrate our new fortune." Willie said with a grin. Jim looked at the jug and started to reach for it, then stopped short. "Mista Odie said to eat well and get rest," Jim said. "Sure doan wants to start out on Mista Odie's bad side," Willie agreed. "Truth is," Jim said with a half smile while he put his glass back on the table in front of him, "I doan thinks I'd want to either." The wives saw deep concern on their husbands’ faces. They had heard these brothers' tall tales of hunting and fishing trips in the bayou country before and had sized this Mister Odie talk to be much of the same. However, when Willie got up and took the jug off the table they wondered just how much of their story was true.

It was past 3:00 p.m. when the black Mercedes parked in front of The Barclays Bank of New Hope. Four men, in business suits, got out and opened the trunk of the car. One pulled a large case out and the others retrieved briefcases. The older of the men went to the front door and was followed inside by the others. Mrs. Holmes looked up from her desk where she had been studying the survey maps of the Green's farm as the four men entered. "May I help you gentlemen?" She asked in her best southern voice. "Where's Holmes?" The white haired man said as he scanned the bank's interior. Robert Holmes was coming from the rear of the bank. He had been there for about twenty minutes losing his lunch and eating a roll of antacids. "I'm Holmes." He said as he entered the lobby. "I'm White. We spoke on the phone." The man’s suit and manners were flawless. He came from generations of old money and it showed.

The man passed Robert without another word and unerring walked to the large desk, with the name plate President displayed on one corner. Mister White took a seat in Robert's high backed leather chair and motioned Robert to sit in one of the facing chairs. He then instructed the other men to move a large rectangular table from the side wall and place it next to the desk. "Inform your teller we're closed and have your secretary lock the front door on her way out." White said to Holmes in a voice that brooked no argument. Robert obediently left his seat and went to the teller window. He told Tamry that the bank was closing early and she should call in tomorrow morning before coming to work. He then walked her to the front door and locked it after she left. On his way back he saw Mister White scowling at Margaret. "Mister White this is my wife, Margaret Holmes." Mister White lifted one finely arched eyebrow to one of his assistants who stood beside him at the desk. "It's okay. We can proceed.” The man said, as he continued to lay out his tools. "Well, Mister Holmes, unless you've locked that customer up in your vault, I'd say this trip was for nothing." White paused as he regarded the bank's vault with an inquiring look on his face. “Ah, the customer had to leave but he left the tested gold bar here for safe keeping." Robert was hoping that would take the edge out of Mister White’s voice. "Well, that's something at least. Get it!" White lightened up just a little.

Robert went to the vault and opened the door with his passkey. He was carrying the gold ingot in both hands as he reappeared a few seconds later. He walked toward the desk when one man stopped him and took the ingot. Robert followed and took a seat on the edge of a chair next to his wife as she sat across from Mister White. “May I ask?” Robert began, but White waved his hand for silence. "After the tests are complete." Robert watched the three men move about the table. They had instruments, gauges, scales, tape measures, and a microscope neatly arranged on the table around the gold bar. "Give me the mass measure." The first man said. The second man started to give measurements in centimeters and millimeters of length, height, width and circumference of the gold bar. The first man was typing the figures on a small lap top computer. The third man placed the bar on a pad that displayed digital numbers as it registered the weight. "It's a few milligrams short. It must be because of the sample taken." The man turned the ingot on its side so he could examine the place where Matt had taken the sample. From where Robert and Margaret sat they could see the bottom with it's etching in full light. Robert gasped and Margaret caught her breath. “That's a Swastika!" Robert said sharply. "Quite right, Mister Holmes!" Mister White said. "And do you know where this gold came from?" Robert shook his head.

"Let me tell you a little war story, Mister Holmes. About three months after the Second World War the OSS, now the CIA, started hearing a story about Nazi Gold shipments to Switzerland. It seemed some of the Fatherlands great heros in the S.S. were hedging their bets on the outcome of the war. Anyway, as the story goes, a convoy of three large trucks, and their escorts, were taking gold ingots across Germany toward the Swiss Border. Now, this convoy just happened to take a wrong turn. They ended next to one of the hundreds of lakes in that region.” “Also, as fate would have it, a group of P-47 Thunderbolts was returning from a raid on a railroad depot some twenty miles away. The commander saw the trucks through the trees and had his group go in and use their remaining ammo on the convoy." "The attack didn't last long and the German officer in charge of the convoy decided to dump the gold in the lake. And make a run for the border. The crew did as ordered and placed the crated gold in a deep drop off next to the road. When their job was finished, the remaining trucks and escort vehicles started for the border.” White continued. “What the German Officer failed to consider were the speed and the distance that the Thunderbolts had to fly to rearm. The convoy was only five miles from the border when death rained from above. The P-47's were fully armed with rockets, bombs, and machine gun bullets. They made short work of the convoy." "Few of the survivors could remember where that lake was. Some, after the war, were said to have died searching the many Alpine Lakes, which are about thirty-two degrees at the surface and black as night twenty feet down. Most of the stories stopped around the middle sixties. However, occasionally it creeps back to the surface whenever a diver drowns, or a hunter is found dead in that region of the forest. The mass weight of these bars were controlled by the baker's bread pans. The mixing pot was from gold taken from P.O.W. and Slave camps."

One of the men got up from the table and brought a roll of paper to Mister White. He studied the paper for several moments. "How is it confirmed?" He asked. "Calcium deposits." The man answered. "What is the count?" Mister White asked as he continued to read. "Between seventeen and nineteen carat weight, depending on the density. Mass weight and size are within acceptable parameters of the casting molds that they would have used." The man replied. "You both understand," Mister White paused and laid the paper on the desk, folded his hands and leaned forward as he leveled a steady gaze at the Holmes’ for emphasis, "that none of this will leave this bank!" Robert’s mouth went dry as he and Margaret nodded in mute unison. "Now then," Mister White said settling back in the leather chair, as the men were putting their equipment back in their cases, "tell me about this customer of yours. He doesn't look German, does he?" “Mister White," Robert swallowed, "Mister Odhinsunar, if you could see him now, he would look like the entire western half of that country, if you were unlucky enough to upset him." White glanced at Robert. "Go on." Robert Holmes gave Mister White the best description he could have of Mister Odhinsunar, and from time to time looked at Margaret for encouragement as she kept repeating, "That's right. That's right." "Anything else you would like to add Mrs. Holmes?" Mister White asked turning his attention on Margaret for the first time. "He just picked up all that gold in one hand!" She said flustered at being singled out. "Nobody," Mister White said smiling, "nobody has hands that large. No matter how tall they are.” Robert corrected Margaret and explained she meant that he had carried the gold in a suitcase by the handle in his right hand. Mister White turned his attention to the men standing at the table. One of them shook his head and the others concurred. Robert was quite annoyed by this. "I know what I saw!" Robert blurted, sharply. "Just what did you see?" Mister White asked in a low even voice that he used to encourage confidences in the board room and with his bigger clients. The people who worked for him would have recognized this voice and manner immediately and been on their guard, scurrying to please him in the quickest, and quietest, possible manner. "I saw the man come in carrying the suitcase. I saw him place the case on my desk and take out the gold bar. I saw him pick up the case and walk with it, in one hand, to where Stone was weighing it out on the floor. I also saw him carry it out the door." Robert had about as much of this he could stand. "Who weighed the bars?" Mister White asked after some moments thought. "Matt Stone, our local jeweler." "Did he test all the bars?" White asked. "No, just one. This one." Robert answered with a puzzled look on his face. “Common scam trick, bring in one real diamond among the glass. Get a price on all of it and skip out.” One of the men spoke from the table, where they were repacking their equipment.

Robert’s mouth dropped open as he stopped and thought hard for a moment. He ran a hand through his hair absently as he replayed the entire morning in his mind. "Even so, that's a lot of weight to carry around. Don't you think?" Margaret asked as she sat even straighter, her back was already ramrod straight. "The first bar is gold.” Another man from the table said. "It’s twenty pounds troy weight. The rest is aluminum, maybe even hollow. The whole case is forty pounds, tops. Easy for a big man to wave around." "That Son of A Bitch!" Robert cursed. The truth started to sink in, making Mister Holmes sicker by the minute, his stomach groaned in protest and his mouth went dry. As Mister White watched, a sick pallor came over his already florid face. "Who?" Mister White asked. "Matt-that-pirate-Stone!” Robert began an emotional tirade. “I'll bet the two of them planned the whole thing. That's why he gave me that outrageous bill for Emergency Mineral Assessment. It was for $150.00. I watched him talk to that big guy right after he was paid.” Robert felt another attack of stomach cramps coming on so reached in his shirt pocket for more antacids. "Just where is this Stone now?" Mister White asked Robert, who couldn't speak with a mouth full of antacids. "They have a shop," Margaret supplied, "down the street, to the right." White motioned to one of the men. Robert fished the keys from his trouser pocket and handed them to the man who left and was back in two minutes. Robert was drinking his second glass of tea and still looking consternated when the man returned. "The shop’s closed. Someone said they left about noon to go fishing." White was looking at Holmes as the man spoke. "That guy's always doing that. You'd think he'd had enough of that when he left Florida." "Florida?" White asked. "That's real close to South America." The other man said. "I wonder if it ties in?" "Could work in really well if the big guy's from Argentina?" "Where do you think the other is?" The man next to him asked. "He should be at that farm he almost conned me out of." Robert said as he recalled the big man's last, or almost last words. "If he even wanted it in the first place." "Robert, that makes no sense at all. Why would anyone want to buy property with gold then just leave?" Margaret said. "The reasons are simple Mrs. Holmes. Use the purchase to make money on the gold transfer. Even if they only get paid for one bar, they'd make a profit. You see, not everyone can have gold in this country, and this gold bar is tainted from its origins. The federal boys would come in here and take it right from your vault. Barclay's Bank would be placed in a very bad light if the press gets involved with this matter." White answered as he tapped his pen to the golden brick before him on the desk.

The men, with their cases in hand, Mister White and the Holmes’ left the bank, loaded in cars, and began to drive south out of town to the old Green Farm. A black Mercedes and white BMW pulled to the side of the road facing the property. Robert eyed the place and saw that changes had been made in the few short hours since they had been there last. There was no paper or trash in the front yard, and no chickens running in and out of the broken fence. This struck him as odd. The men from the Mercedes were exiting as Margaret got out of her BMW. Robert was the last to enter the yard and the first to spot the two goats on the side of the house. Robert, even as a banker, had seen goats on farms in the area, but not the size of these. He thought at first they were mountain goats. Surely, even they don't grow that big, he thought. One was a prefect white and the other a perfect black. The horns curled into tight spirals on their heads. Robert could now understand where the term battering ram came from. The goats paid the people no mind as they went about their business of eating the overgrown lawn. Behind them the lawn was clipped as smooth as the greens on his favorite golf course. "Do you think he's in the house?" White's voice startled Robert for a moment. "Let's see." Margaret said and walked on the porch. The group entered by the front door and made their way to the dinning room area. In the center of the room sat the leather suitcase with the wooden chest on top of it. "Is that the case you saw Holmes?" Mister White asked. Robert nodded. Mister White motioned for the men to move the chest so that they could examine the case. "Do you think we should be doing that?" Margaret asked softly. "Did he sign the papers for this property?" White replied. Margaret shook her head. "Then the house is still bank property, and we can look at whatever we want."

White motioned again to the men. For the next few minutes all three men, then Mister White, and finally Robert tried to move the chest. They tried pushing, pulling, rocking, lifting, but the chest held fast to its position. With sweat pouring down White's face, he stopped. "This damn thing must weigh as much as my limousine." White swore. The other men were happy that Mister White had stopped first as they were close to exhaustion from the unaccustomed work. "Even the Price boys couldn't budge it at the bank but he raised it with one arm." Margaret said. "Nonsense, woman!" Mister White said heatedly. "Something’s going on in the barn." One of Mister White’s men said as he returned from his exploration of the perimeter of the house. Robert would have said that is where this man would be, but he was too tired and a bit scared at being there. The party moved out the back door and started for the barn. Robert heard clucking noises coming from behind the house. He turned toward an old broken down chicken-coop where a cluster of hens and a rooster were scratching and pecking at new seed corn. A chick ran out of the open fence and tried to get a bug off the ground. A flash of fur came from beside the coop, as a colorful coat of black, white, orange and brown came rushing by. Robert knew this cat was about to have its dinner.

What happened next, made Robert stop in his tracks and rub his eyes. The cat picked up the chick gently in its sharp teeth and took the chick back to the coop, then dropped it in front of a hen. Robert could have sworn he heard the cat growl at the hen. She started pecking the chick's back and herded it to the middle of the coop. "Are you coming?" White's voice cut the image out of Robert's mind. "Did you see that?" Robert asked no one in particular. The party stopped at the barn door. The noise that came from the barn sounded like rain and thunder. Robert was motioned by Mister White to call out. "Mister Odhinsunar?" Robert's voice croaked. Then a loud thud was heard followed by dull footfalls. Robert backed up several steps, to what he thought was an appropriate distance as Mister Odhinsunar emerged from the barn. He still had his work boots on and his belted pants but his upper body was bare, except all that red hair and beard. Mud and straw stuck to his skin in the heat and his boots were covered in the thick black dirt from the barn. From where Margaret stood, at the rear of the crowd, she could only see his shoulders and what she saw of that made her gasp. Mister Odhinnsunar's arms, shoulders, and chest were covered in enough muscle to have supplied eight men.

Mister White was caught off guard by the immense size of the man. He came into the yard and the sunlight glinted off of his massive amount of hair, made even more fiery, in the bright light, as it covered most of his upper body. The three men with him had backed up and stood respectfully behind their boss. Robert, in an act of bravery, or stupidity, walked up to Mister Odhinsunar. "Sir," Robert began, "my associates and I are here to ask you some, ah, questions about your gold." "The house!" Mister Odhinsunar said, looking down at the faces who were at least two feet below him. He started to walk toward the back door when he stopped at the coop. Mister Odhinsunar said something the party couldn't understand and in a moment a cat with a short stubby tail was chasing a hen out from under the house and back to the coop. "That's a bob cat!" Margaret cried amazed as the chicken entered the coop. The bob cat went over to the calico cat then sat. "You are quite right." Mister Odhinsunar said calmly as he went on to the back door. They all filed behind the big man and stood as a state of apprehension filled the dinning room. "Look here, Mister Odhinsunar, we are on to your game." Mister White said. "You may fool this country boy, but you don't fool me." "Go on." Mister Odhinsunar replied. Mr. White had this man's full attention. His gaze shifted to his three men, then back to Mister Odhinsunar.

"First off," Mister White started, "we know where that gold came from. Second, we have a good idea where you came from, and third, we know that Stone is mixed up in this scam to somehow cheat Barclay's Bank out of its money. Now, if you would be so kind as to unbolt that chest from the bottom of this house, my men here will look at your case of fools’ gold." "Do you still maintain my gold in your bank?" Mister Odhinsunar asked Robert. "Yes sir, I do." Mister Holmes replied quickly. "Do I still have your word on the $200,000.00 credit?" Robert had failed to give this detail to Mister White and now White turned his head sharply to see what Robert Holmes answer was. The air crackled with electricity as Robert felt this large room start to shrink and close in on him. He looked at White, then Margaret, then back to the man who was still waiting for his answer. "You have my word as President of New Hope's Barclay Bank." Robert breathed heavily as he realized that his fate too hung in the balance. The next words he heard sent a chill down his spine. "You're fired Holmes!" Mister White said loudly. "You can't fire Robert! He's under contract to the main branch in England!" Margaret cried.

Mister Odhinsunar for the first time, in what he thought was an eternity, laughed. It startled everyone there. He laughed so hard that the two goats rushed behind him and the calico cat ran to his feet. When he stopped, he had tears in his ice blue eyes. He took his left hand and wiped his face. "Fine," he said, "you want to see gold then look all you want! But first, move the chest!" Mister White was as red faced as ever. He didn't know of this contract business but he'd be sure to look into it when this other matter was settled to his satisfaction. "We've tried already. The thing won't budge an inch." Mister Holmes said gratefully to his wife for the reprieve. "Try again." Mister Odhinsunar said. He turned and said something to the goats and cat and the animals moved from the room in silence. Mister White motioned for the men to try again and move that damned chest. As before, even with Margaret's help the chest didn't move. After five minutes of groaning and swearing the big man came forward. "Enough!” He waited until they were back against the walls trying to catch their breath before he moved toward the chest. With only his right hand, he brought the chest up off the suitcase and gently placed it on the floor. He picked up the suitcase and went to the front yard. Mister White started to follow, but as he came up to the chest he kicked it. He cried out a few well-chosen curse words as the chest sat in place.

Mister Odhinsunar effortlessly walked with the case out in the late afternoon sun. Outside, Mister Odhinsunar placed the case on the ground and opened the lid. Robert, Margaret, the three other men, and even Mister White thought a cloud was blocking the sun. The brilliant glow of the gold, at this close range, was working its charm on their eyes. It took them a few moments for their eyes to become adjusted to the radiance. Mister White limped up and told his men to get their equipment from the car. He looked over at Mister Odhinsunar then bent down to pick up a gold bar. The weight of the bar he selected felt as heavy as the one at the bank. He turned it over and studied markings and date. The men were gathering around, like a swarm of bees to their queen. They were setting up their testing devices and were about to begin. "For each bar tested," Mister Odhinsunar spoke to Mister Holmes, "the credit increases another Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dollars. They test it. You buy it!" Robert was about to agree. "Only if it's real!" Mister White yelled out. Robert glanced to his wife and wondered if White could be serious about melting down and recasting the gold? They spoke of this on the way here and the man said it would be the only sure way to keep Barcley's from embarassment. Robert turn to the giant with a nod. "Fair enough." He said. The men again, measured, weighed, probed, and tested in every way possible to learn that the gold bar was surely real. Mister White, determined to find a false gold bar selected the next one for testing. That bar, too, tested positive. "That's Five Hundred Thousand." Mister Odhinsunar called out to Robert. Robert was a little pale and his stomach was sending its own messages to his brain. "One Million Two-Hundred Thousand!" After the fourth bar was tested, the words came in waves so hard, that Robert sat on the grass hard, not caring anymore for his four hundred dollar Brooks Brothers Suit. After the sixth bar also tested positive, Mister White got up and walked to his car. The men looked toward the car for guidance, but White was looking down the old dirt road in bewilderment. One man addressed Robert who still sitting on the grass, "What should we do?" "In for a penny, in for a pound." Robert said staring at the brilliant blue sky with a vacant look on his face. The final bar was tested, and it too, was real. "Two Million Four Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dollars." Mister Odhinsunar stated matter-of-factly as Robert got to his feet and walked, with some effort, toward him. "Yes sir, that's my tote also." Robert said.

The men were putting away their instruments and closing their cases as Mister White shook himself from his stupor and approached. "We will be leaving now," Mister White said to Mister Holmes, "however, I'm sure the Federal Boys will be stopping by in the morning. Mind telling me where you got this gold?" "No," Mister Odhinsunar said, "you will not be going anywhere, unless it's back to the New Hope Bank. I think we should do an audit for my new line of credit, and I want to see the findings you did five years ago." The two men stared at each other with their agape mouths, then back at the big man. "Now see here. You can't order me around like that!" Mister White responded. Mister Odhinsunar narrowed his eyes at Mister White. "If you don't want phones ringing all the way back to London, you will meet me at the bank in one hour’s time." White thought that over in a millisecond and agreed to return to the bank.

The ride into town had White speaking on his cell phone to New Oleans. Robert rode with his wife as she questioned him on what was to happen with the gold and to them. White smiled to his companion as the phone was placed to the seat. "This is turning out to be a good banking day after all." White said with a slight grin. "Sir, you just turned over two million dollars." The man answered softly. "Did I? I believe I assumed property for credits. Those credits won't be needed if someone ends up in prison. As soon as we arrive at the bank, place nine bars in the trunk and go straight to my office. We'll leave the giant one bar for save keeping here, and also for evidents of his guilt. yes, all in all, a good day of banking" White said as he settled in the leather seat. As they entered the bank, Robert locked the front door and drew the window blinds. The three men then made themselves busy taking the gold bars to the vault. White's companion paced in and out of the bank as he carried his breif case under one arm. Margaret went to the back and started making coffee, iced tea, and getting the largest pitcher she had filled with ice water ready for the long night that she was surely was ahead of them.

The court house clock had just chimed seven p.m. and the sun was getting low in the sky. Frogs out in the bayou had started to chirp and lighting bugs were flying around the town square. He directed his men to start bringing out the account files and stack them on the desks and tables. The men had removed their coats, rolled up shirt sleeves and loosened ties in preparation to start their work when Mister Odhinsunar appeared. Mister Odhinsunar had taken the time to brush and pull back his fiery hair in a leather holder and had also tended his beard making it neat and tidy, although Margaret for the life of her couldn’t understand how a beard, that hung half way down a man’s chest could appear tidy, but it did. He was also wearing worn but clean jeans and work shirt. Margaret was still amazed at the immense power that this man exuded even while he appeared calm and restrained. When all was done, only six accounts were as they should be. Mister Odhinsunar scanned the small list of names and his eyes stopped on the next to the last, Stone. He pointed to the name and lifted his eyebrows to Robert, and was told how a small mistake was spotted by Mrs. Stone, and after a tiff with Margaret, they decided to neglect that account in the future. This spurred White on about the other accounts. "Did these others find faults also?" White asked. "No," Robert began, "Goldberg is the local market owner. He is so adept at record keeping we thought he should be left out from the beginning. Also, for about the same reason were Hart and Holiday. They married the Steven’s twins. Those girls owned the local tax service and were CPA's. Besides Hart is the Mayor/Judge and Holiday is our only Doctor. Judge Hart's wife died a few years back." "Doc Holiday!?" White said to Robert. Mister Odhinsunar didn't understand the remark and let it pass. "Yes, that is his real name," Robert answered. "The rumor around is, that he's a direct decedent." Mister Odhinsunar still looked puzzled at this remark and for the next few minutes Mister White brought him up on the History of the Old West. Then Robert finished on the accounts of Thomas the Sheriff and Miller the local Pastor of the New Hope Church. Mister Odhinsunar was surprised by Holmes answer as to why they didn’t bother with them. "Thomas is the law and Miller is a man of God!" Robert answered. How, Robert wondered to himself, how could he find all those precisely hidden bank records of accounts paid and received.

It had taken Robert and Margaret two years to play their game on the town's population and no one had ever said a word about bank charges, interest rates, or late fees. He remembered what Mister White had said, This could get you both more than twenty years apiece at the state prison. White also thought of his own plans and how this would cover his actions even better. Holmes would never breath a word about the gold. It would be the giants word against the Bank's. He then remembered the following words from Mister Odhinsunar, which won't solve the people of New Hope's problems. Better that we should solve it here and now. Your law only takes care of words, I believe this time we should take care of justice. Then the deal was made. Margaret started to sob softly and was told by White, "Either we do it this way or you'll be sharing a cell with three other women and only one throne, until you turn old and gray." In the end, all his options either rejected or refused, the final count was made. The house, cars, and boat would be sold. The Holmes's bank account would be liquidated. Robert would be transferred to the New Orleans Branch, where half his yearly salary would be placed in trust for the town's charity. Margaret would hold the job of his secretary and would receive minimum wages for the time of his contract with Barclays. All monies from the sales of the Holmes’ property would be used to bring the accounts of the people back to where they would be compensated for their losses. "How will we live?" Margaret cried and burst into fresh tears. Mister Odhinnsunar's look stopped her crying. "Just like you had the east end people live, through your own greed, one day at a time." Mister Odhinsunar replied coldly. "Remind me," White said to Mister Odhinsunar, "never to sit at a bargaining table with you." "If your dealings are with honor, you will never have cause for concern." The big man replied. Mister White nodded, and thought that there were a few things that he should change while he had the chance. He dictated a form letter to the sniffling Margaret and read it twice until he and Mister Odhinsunar were satisfied. Those letters would be handed out by Margaret, personally, the next day until everyone in New Hope was served. It was three a.m. on the court house clock when the black Mercedes pulled away from the bank. The white BMW was next to leave. On the steps a pale Robert Holmes was standing next to Mister Odhinsunar. "I'm so sorry, so sorry, but it was business." Robert said to Mister Odhinsunar. "This is not how honest men do business." Mister Odhinsunar said to Robert. "If I were to do business the way I believe, there would be not a banker, tax collector, or money changer on this world. The morning will see the beginning of a change in New Hope."

The big man turned to the right and walked off to the south. Robert thought to himself of the chances a mugger, or a group of muggers would have with this man. In his mind the banker calculated the odds and came up with slim to none, the scales dipping further to the none-side. He reached into his pockets for the keys to his new red 4x4. He thought of later today, when he would have to put the For Sale sign in the window. Robert looked back for the big man and wondered how he could move so fast as he was nowhere to be seen, nor were there any sounds of his footfalls. As Robert started the engine of the 4x4, he wondered what kind of job was he going to do in the New Orleans bank, and what kind of apartment he and Margaret going to be able to afford. He shrugged and remembered the alternative of spending his life in prison. He drove the short distance to his house in silent contemplation. Ten miles away from New Hope the Black Mercedes made a swirve to afford hitting a deer on the roadway. The right front tire sounded as it histed from a puncher. The driver slowed to the side and went to the trunk for the spare tire and jack. His gasps and rummaging though the trunk alerted mister White that something was wrong. "It's not here! It's not here?" The man stated as White stepped behind the vehicle. "That's fine, I can call for a tow trunk to bring out another tire." White siad as he opened his phone. "No Sir! The Gold! It's not here?" The man erupted as he started tossing out the trunks carpet to the ground.