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Chest of Hope Chapter 4

The sun was about to break the horizon when Jim and Willie arrived at the farm. This was to be their first full time job in over a year. What they saw, made them believe that they'd have this job for the next ten years. The farm was in a state of ruin, compared to what the Price brothers remembered of how it looked when Grandpa Green was alive. The house they saw needed not only wood and paint, but shingles, and blocks as well. Willie noticed that the lawn was about as pretty as when he'd played there as a child. Jim thought that odd until his eyes found the shapes of two large guard dogs in front of the porch. Jim looked closer at these, as he got nearer, and then saw they were Goats? Willie had spotted the figures also laying in the newly mown lawn. "I sure hope they doan bite us.” Willie said. "You'd better hope they don't kick or butt us!" Jim said. Willie glanced at his brother, then back to the dogs and watched them rise to their full height and stature. Then, he too could see these were goats, not dogs. "Where in all Louisiana, did Mista Odie get those things?" Willie asked Jim. "Probably the same place all that gold and chest of his come from." The brothers walked around the house and could not see any lights coming from within. "Do you think Mista Odie still be sleepin?" Willie asked. "Mista Odie says to be here at sunup. We're here, no matter if he be sleepin or wake.” Jim said. They heard a noise come from the barn. The sounds of clanging and banging became louder as the brothers approached the barn doors. "Mista Odie?” Jim called out loudly, "It's me and Willie. Is you in there?" The noise stopped abruptly, as the brothers backed about five feet from the barn doors. The rusty hinges screamed under the weight and speed as they were being opened. They saw the yellow glow from inside and then it disappeared with the frame of Mister Odhinsunar standing in the doorway. Jim and Willie, with their eyes wide and mouths opened, saw Mister Odie, as Margaret had seen him yesterday afternoon. "I sure is glad to see it was you standing there.” Jim said. "I was 'bout to run to town and not look back.” "I'd be waiting for you at home, in another second.” Willie chuckled. "Ready for work?” Mister Odie asked smiling. "Yes sir!” Both said in unison. "Are you good with wood?” Mister Odie began. "Jim is the best sawer and hammerer in these parts. I'm the best painter and plower.” Willie answered, and broke out in a boastful smile. "That's good, for the most part,” Mister Odie said, "who's the best with paper?" Mister Odie watched the brothers and saw the question was beyond them. "Writing down supplies, measurements, and other needs.” Mister Odie added. The brothers stared at one another and back at Mister Odie, both stayed silent. "Does either of you know a person who can meet this task?" Mister Odie asked. The brother’s faces lit, as if a light had come on. "Adam.” Jim said, and a pleased look came over their faces. "My eldest son, Mista Odie. He's good with book learning, and can write real good. He gets them A's, the school gives out, on them report cards they send us." "Can he work?" Mister Odie asked, while the sun was rising above the hedges next to the house and started to shine upon his fiery red hair. Jim and Willie could see even more muscles than before, as the daylight dawned on Mister Odie. "Yes sir. Adam is a fine boy and a hard worker.” Jim said with pride in his voice. "Then go, bring him here to work, and do not forget the paper. I'm going down to the tree stand, so start with the house until I return." "You be careful down there, Mista Odie.” Willie said softly, as he winced, recalling their last visit to the oaks. "What you talk'n 'bout?" Jim asked turning, to Willie. "There ain't nobody who could do that to that man!" "Brother,” Willie said to Jim, "even a pygmy can hurt an elephant." They gazed at the red-haired giant as he was half way across the unplowed field, knowing he was out of ear shot. What the brothers had no idea of, was that the big man had heard every word.

Jim and Willie started back to town to get Adam, they figured they'd be back by six-thirty. Plenty of time to get a good start on all the fixing up that the farm could stand. Mister Odhinsunar was standing at the edge of the tall oaks that were on the south end of the farm. He knew that with the house, barn, and fields, this stand went back almost another half mile. He walked along the edge toward the dirt road that lead to Taylor Lake. The man stopped in front of an old oak tree about one hundred yards off the road. His eyes went up one side and down the next, until they fell upon a large limb about nine feet off the ground. He walked up to this and saw in the middle of the branch a frayed piece of rope tightly bound with several wraps. "This will never do!" He said to himself, and possibly, to the old tree. If Jim or Willie had seen what Mister Odie did next, not even the pygmies would challenge him. With his left arm and hand braced against the old tree trunk, he grasped the base of the limb with his right hand, and with a mighty surge severed the branch from the trunk. The animals of the stand froze in place thinking another hunter had shot his rifle, from the sound that came from the brake. Mister Odie then placed the long branch over his shoulder and started back to the barn. Across the field he could see Jim and Willie walking from the house to the barn. As he got closer, he made out the form of a smaller copy of the brothers. He saw them stop by the chicken coop and walk apart. Between them, glistening in the sunlight, was a string of silver. Mister Odie came into the yard as Jim was saying numbers out loud. The boy repeated them, and was busily writing them down in a book he held. Jim and Willie glanced over to see Mister Odie as he dropped the branch. It made a large thud when it hit the ground. Adam jumped and turned to see what had made the crashing sound. His eyes leveled on a bright shinning disc that reflected the sunlight into his eyes. "We're back Mista Odie.” Jim said. "We is startin on this here coop. So, them chickens won't be bothering you no more." Adam stepped to the left and waited until the spots cleared from his eyes. He could hear footfalls coming up to where they were standing and could only make out a vague image coming closer. When he blinked his eyes shut, the sound stopped. Next, he heard the sound of distant thunder, forming words. "This must be your son, Adam. A fine looking lad!” Adam opened his eyes and looked up at the disc, which was suspended on the trunk of a huge tree. The disc had a strange design of spirals and curves. It also had a head of something at one end. "Mind your manner’s boy. Say hello to Mista Odie.” Jim said. "Where is he?" Adam asked. Mister Odhinsunar let out a laugh that sent Adam backward and into Willie's side. "Look way up yonder, if you want to see our new boss man.” Willie said. Adam stared at, what he could now see, were legs, and began tilting his head back. When he thought he would fall backwards again, he finally saw a mass of red hair with bright blue eyes looking right at him. "Can you see me down here?" Adam asked. Mister Odie laughed again. The sound hurt Adam's ears so much that he covered them with his hands. "Jim, you’re going to need tools for this work. Where is the smithy so that we may start?” Mister Odie said when he stopped laughing. Jim had heard his Grandfather use that term as a boy, but not for a long time since. "The hardware store, along with the lumber yard, won't be open for another two-hours, Mista Odie.” Jim said. A look of displeasure filled Mister Odie's face, but before he could say a word Willie said, "Mista Odie, have you had any breakfast?" "Willie.” Jim said, looking at his brother, "I swear, if'n you don't have food on your mind all the time, you’d be eating it." This changed the look on the big man's face, to a broad smile. "No, I have not eaten in sometime. Do you know where a good meal can be served?" "My wife Lotty, cooks and serves, the best food in all New Hope.” Willie said, smiling broadly. Jim nodded to that statement. "Come into the house while I put on my shirt.” Mister Odie said. As they entered by the back door, Adam exclaimed, "It'd take Charlotte and Amy a week to clean this kitchen" "That's my two girl children, Mista Odie." Willie explained as Mister Odie eyed both men. Mister Odie nodded and went into the dinning area, followed by Jim, Willie, and Adam. Mister Odie was contemplating the dinning room when Adam asked, "This your shirt Mister Odie?" The boy was next to the chest with the long purple shirt draped over it. "Yes Adam. Please bring it here.” Mister Odie said softly. Adam grabbed the shirt and started to walk to Mister Odie, not noticing the shirt sleeve was caught under the chest. "Be careful not to rip that shirt son.” Jim said, when he saw this. Adam looked down and, with his small hand, he tilted the chest on its side to free the shirt. Jim and Willie froze fast. They saw what Adam had done, but could not believe their eyes. "Mista Odie," Willie said, as Adam handed him the shirt, "Did you empty that chest of yours?" Mister Odie donned his shirt and tucked in the tail before answering. "That chest has not been opened yet." He smiled down at Adam and went to the front door, with Adam trying to keep close behind. Jim and Willie went to the chest and stared at it, really hard, and saw the leather straps tied in knots on the front. They examined the back and side handles. Everything was the same as it was at the bank. Jim nodded to Willie and both grabbed a handle and tried to lift it, as before the chest stayed on the floor. From outside the house Mister Odie's words found Jim and Willie still staring at the chest. "You men coming, or do we eat alone?" With that both Jim and Willie ran out of the house and down the road to catch up with the odd sized pair. As the group turned on East Avenue, Mister Odhinsunar drew stares from the people they were passing. Mister Odie didn't see the faces as much as he saw the condition of the houses and yards. He also started to notice an invisible barrier running down the center of this road. True, it could not be seen. It was more of a feeling to Mister Odie. He could see that the houses on both sides were in need of repair. Their yards also needed tending, but stranger still, were that to the right, there were only black people. To the left, only whites. The blacks were talking and laughing with each other. Mister Odie saw the whites doing the same. A couple of times a black woman or man would say howdy to Jim and Willie but just gazed in his direction and turn away. He saw several white men on the corner as they crossed, stand and stare at them until they passed. Mister Odie was deep in thought when Willie interrupted. "Home at last." They turned up the walk and Adam ran for the front door. He opened the door and entered the house leaving it ajar. Mister Odie viewed the house. He could see it was in better repair than its neighbors. Jim and Willie keep up with their own, was his thought, as he entered behind them. Inside, their home was spotless. No dust on the furniture or the window sills. Everything had a place, and it was in its place. Willie went to the kitchen and Jim showed Mister Odie the living room. It was of modest size, but as the rest, it was neat and clean. A fireplace, on one wall, was set apart, with a large marble mantle. Pictures filled it from side to side. In the middle was a picture of an old black couple, before this was a carved crucifix. Mister Odie moved to the mantle and picked up the object. "Our Grandfather carved that from one of those oaks on your farm.” Jim said. "It was the only thing left to us when he died a few years back." Mister Odie turned the carving around in his hand gently. He studied the details that were put into this after many hours of tedious work. When he went to replace it to the mantle, the figure fell to the floor. To Jim's amazement, Mister Odie caught the figure in midair. Then Mister Odie looked very hard at the shape and position it had landed in his hand. Jim came up to see if it was all right and noticed Mister Odie holding the figure upside-down. "It's okay Mista Odie.” Jim said, "Grandpa carved this thing in two pieces. He made the Christ first, then he carved the cross later." Mister Odie saw that the two woods were different and asked about it. "When Grandpa was young, he was a sailor, went all over the world, as the stories go.” Jim began, "That's where he found that wood in your hand. When he settled back here, he got the wood for this cross. He used to keep it up by his bed, I think. After his death, we figured it should be here." "Strange combination.” Mister Odie said. Jim asked about that. "Southern Oak, in conjunction with, Norwegian Spruce.” Mister Odie replied, when he heard a woman's voice gasp behind him. "You didn't tell me you was bringing white folk in this house.” Lotty hissed at Willie. "Mista Odie ain't like any other white man you know.” Jim said. "Sept, maybe one." This remark drew an odd look from Mister Odie, but Jim was heading for the dinning room. Mister Odie followed Jim into a large room with a long table and chairs at the center. As he got to the doorway a small boy ran up and bounced off his leg. Before the child could fall, Mister Odie scooped him up into his arms. Lotty let out a louder gasp. Willie just laughed. "It sure do take a while to get used to that man's size and speed.” He said. The small boy, who was face to face with the red-haired giant, buried his head in the man's shoulder, and began to shiver. Jim came to Mister Odie with his arms out for the boy. "Charles is not used to white folks.” Jim said. Mister Odie gently handed the child down to his father and nodded. "Pull up a chair. I'll get the coffee.” Willie said. "Water for me, if you don't mind.” Mister Odie asked. After Willie served the coffee and water, Lotty brought in platters of hot cakes, bacon and eggs, bowls of grits, and biscuits with gravy. When the meal was finished and Mister Odie had eaten his fill, he regarded Jim and Willie, to his sides then, Adam, Charles, Charlotte, Kim, and at last, Lotty. "Mrs. Price, that was a meal to be served to Kings and Queens alike.” Mister Odie praised. Mrs. Price, was a title Lotty had not been called since they went back to North Carolina, and had a family reunion at their church. Her face filled with pride for a moment. She turned to Willie and said, "Willie, come to the kitchen!" She rose and Willie went with her to the kitchen. Jim glanced at the children and instructed them to clean off the table and help Miss Lotty. The children got up and started to clear the dishes. Jim and Mister Odie went back to the living room. Jim was telling him about the prices of lumber and nails and for the paint. Mister Odie got a strange look on his face and his eyes narrowed dangerously, then his face turned red. "WHAT IS THIS?” Mister Odie roared, turning and striding away from Jim, who was trying to figure out what had just happened. Mister Odie entered the kitchen to see Willie taking Lotty in his arms. Tears were in Lotty's eyes. “What do you mean?” Mister Odie said loudly. "There is not food for another meal?" Willie beheld eyes that were gleaming just minutes before, but were now eyes that would back down an angry, grizzly bear. "How could he hear what I said to you?" Lotty asked her husband. Willie didn't have time to answer. "Woman, show me your cache.” The giant demanded. Lotty turned toward the big man. "Ya'll know, us doan has no cash!" Willie said tersely. "Your food cache!" Mister Odie corrected. Lotty thought for a moment and decided this man meant the pantry. She walked over and opened a door with bare shelves inside. "Show me your larder." This was a complete loss to Lotty, but Willie pointed at the refrigerator. She then opened their bare refrigerator to the man who was getting madder as his gaze moved from side to side. Jim entered the kitchen and the children poked their heads in to see what the shouting was about. "You bring a person into your house. Feed that person all your food, and then let your children go hungry? Is this the teachings of your faith?” Mister Odhinnsunar's voice was at a level that made the china cabinet in the dinning room start to shudder as he stared at the elder brother. Before Jim could answer, the ordering voice of Mister Odhinsunar shook the house, "COME!"

Mister Odie made his way through the house with Jim and Willie, as close as they dared, behind him. He opened the front door and easily cleared the porch steps with one stride. They followed this walking giant down East Avenue to Main Street, and then up to Goldberg's Grocery. Mister Odie had to stop and wait for the doors to automatically open before he walked in. Upon his entrance, a cashier greeted him in a fashion he had become accustomed too sometime ago, she fainted. The brothers came through the doors and saw the big man standing next to the front of the market. Willie noticed the cardboard cut out of a large green giant next to Mister Odie. He smiled to himself, when he saw that it only came up to Mister Odie's chin. "Fill the carts!" Mister Odie roared. The cashier, who was just coming around, heard the ordering voice of the giant and fainted again. Willie grabbed one cart and headed for the produce section. Jim grabbed another cart and headed for the meat section, where Cissy worked. Mister Odie stood and watched Willie throwing all sorts of fruits and vegetables into the cart. When it was loaded, he parked it at a register, and with a nod from the big man, grabbed another cart and started filling it, also. Mister Odie saw Jim talking to a black woman in the back of the store while placing meats into his cart. He then saw an elderly man with his hands in the air heading to the front. The man was screaming in some desert dwellers tongue, and finally he broke into English. "Robbers, thieves, burglars!" He said, reaching for the phone on the wall. "Doing a little shopping today?" A low voice whispered to Mister Odhinsunar. He glanced down to see Tamry Greenwood standing beside him. She had stopped by to get some things for her lunch. She had been awakened earlier by a call from the bank asking her to come in. Tamry could see the Price brothers filling cart after cart and placing them at both check out counters. She could also hear Mister Goldberg yelling into the phone, first in Hebrew and then English, about ROBBERS! She turned and scrutinized the giant, with his arms folded before him. "Do you have any money, credit cards, checks?” She asked. Mister Odhinsunar looked blank for a moment. "No.” He replied, staring straight ahead. "I see.” Answered the small voice. "Let's see if I can help." Tamry walked over to Mister Goldberg and tried to talk to him. He kept turning side to side and kept shouting into the phone, while waving one or the other, then both hands in the air. Mister Odie watched Tamry give a pull to the box on the wall, then the old man was shouting "Hello, Hello!?". Tamry was saying something about a Millinery to him until he stopped shouting and gazed at her. Then Mister Odie heard what she was saying. "That big man is a Millionaire. He could buy the whole town, if he wanted to!" This gave Mister Goldberg a definite change of attitude. "Ring it up! Ring it up!" Mister Goldberg said, walking up to the cashiers. "What do you think I pay you for? Not just to stand around and look pretty." He then turned and addressed Mister Odhinsunar, "Whatever you want, whatever I have is yours. If you don't see it, I'll be happy to order it for you." Now Mister Odie heard another sound coming from his right side. It was the soft tapping of a shoe. The shoe was on Tamry's right foot. He glanced down at this small auburn haired young woman with deep brown eyes. It appeared she was waiting for something from Mister Odhinsunar. He thought for a moment, then unfolded his massive arms. "Thank you.” He said softly. "What was that?" Tamry asked, enjoying herself immensely. "THANK YOU!" He then said, so loud that the cashier stopped ringing up the food to turn and stare. "You're welcome, Mister Odhinsunar.” She replied, and started to walk away. "Mistress Greenwood." Mister Odhinnsunar's voice stopped her progress. "Will you be as helpful when the magistrate arrives?” "Magistrate?” Tamry thought a moment and said, "Police? What Police?" "Who do you think was on the other end of that box, the man was screaming into?" The answer came to their ears simultaneously. The sirens arrived at the front of Goldberg's store. A deputy entered, with a pistol in hand. Everyone was standing still, not moving a muscle. The deputy was surveying the faces and positions of everyone and thing in sight. That was when he noticed the two cutout pictures of Giants in the front. His trained mind couldn't place the red-haired one. He then noticed the eyes were looking back at him. "Oh my God!" Slowly slipped from his lips. "All right. What's all this screaming about?" This was the voice of Sheriff Jake Thomas, as he entered the store. "It's nothing, nothing at all. Just a little mistake.” Mister Goldberg came up saying. "Look here, Mister Goldberg. Nobody calls my deputies out for a little mistake!" The sheriff regarded the carts lined up at the counters and said, "Whew Dog! You having, a going out of business sale today?” "These fine people are shopping today.” Mister Goldberg said, glancing over to where Jim and Willie Price stood. "Just how are these boys going to pay for all this? With their looks?” The sheriff probed. "Oh, well. This gentleman is going to pay.” Mister Goldberg replied looking up and behind the sheriff. Jake Thomas turned to see what Mister Goldberg was watching. The grand scale of this man made Jake a little queasy at first. Mister Odhinsunar thought of Robert Holmes, as he studied the man in front of him, wearing a star. This is what Holmes thinks the law is? He wondered to himself. "Well High Pockets, do you have I.D. on you?" Sheriff Thomas asked, retreating a few steps. "No." "You got any money then?" "No." "What we have here,” Sheriff Thomas said slowly drawing out his pearl handled pistol, "is an e-tempted unarmed robbery, by some local black B...er, men and a vagrant." "He's not a vagrant. I can vouch for him.” Tamry said, as she approached the counters. "How do I know that their friends aren't holding your mother hostage, and making you a part of this?" The sheriff asked in a snide tone. "What's the total on that food so far?" He asked the cashier. "Six hundred ninety-two dollars and thirty-three cents, so far Sheriff.” The cashiers replied, after they added their two totals. "Well, High Pockets, how do you intend to pay for all of this?" "He doesn't have to.” Matt Stone said, having entered the store some minutes earlier, unnoticed by the group. Matt pulled out his wallet and handed a Gold Card to the cashier. He then said, "Ring it all up on this. If that's not enough, I've got two more cards here.” Turning to the Sheriff, Matt added, "I can also vouch for this man Sheriff. His name is Thorran Odhinsunar." "That sounds real foreign to me, Mister Stone. I guess he'd have to have one of them passports then.” The Sheriff then addressed Mister Odhinsunar, "Well High Pockets, you got one of them passports?” "No.” "Well then,” the sheriff smiled widely, showing off his gold capped teeth, "with the grocery bill taken care of, all we have now is an e-legal alien to deal with." “Now wait just a damn minute Sheriff.” Matt said, getting hot under the collar with this pompous ass. "Mister Stone, stand aside and let me do my duty. You don't want to be locked up for obstruction of justice, do you?" Matt was about to say, or do, something that was sure to get him at least thirty days in jail. "It is all right. I will go with you peacefully.” Mister Odhinsunar interrupted. "Don't just stand there! Cuff him!" The Sheriff said to the deputy, as Matt backed out of the way. The deputy produced a set of high chrome regulation hand cuffs and walked up to the giant. Mister Odhinsunar held his hands out in front of him, right about ear level of the deputy. The deputy then placed the cuffs on his wrists as his eyes shifted from the huge hands to the narrowed eyes. "Not that way, you rookie! They go in the back." Sheriff Thomas started to say something else to the deputy, when Mister Odhinsunar flexed his huge wrists. The chrome plated, high gauge, regulation hand cuffs, popped and broke into six pieces that fell to the floor. All the people in the market, including the Sheriff, watched Mister Odhinsunar slowly put his arms behind his back. "You mean this way?" Mister Odie asked with mock innocence, as he scanned his audience. Everybody’s mouths dropped open, as their eyes focused on the hand cuffs that lay in pieces on the floor, all except the man called Stone. Matt stared at him with a look of disapproval. The kind a father gives his son when both know what he did was wrong. Mister Odhinsunar thought to himself, Yes, I'll have to talk to this man, Stone. Soon. "Okay Boy! That trick is gonna cost you plenty. Now Move!" The Sheriff said, abruptly.

Mister Odhinsunar followed the deputy to the car, while the cashiers were finishing out the food sales. "Just put them in my truck. I'll give you a ride home.” Matt said turning to the brothers. "Thanks Matt.” Jim said, "I figure we'll be needing one." "Sure was a short work day.” Willie said, when the trio arrived at the Price's home. "Where's Mister Odie?" Lotty asked Willie, after they got the groceries unloaded. "In the jail.” Willie replied softly. "Then who bought all this?" Lotty asked. "Matt did.” Jim said. "Well, I knew something was wrong with that Mister Odie of yours.” Lotty said, with a huff. "Woman, you don't understand anything!" Willie fired back at his wife. "What do you mean?" Lotty asked, glaring. "All of you inside.” Jim said, he wasn't much on telling the neighbors his business, and today wasn't going to be the start. "What you think they gonna do with Mister Odie?" Lotty asked, after Jim told her and the children what had happened at the grocery. "Mista Odie, now you say Mista Odie?" Willie said, while giving Lotty a look she didn't want now, or in the future, ever to see again. "Oh, shut up Willie, and let Matt talk." "On the one hand,” Matt said, holding up both hands, "if Mister Odhinsunar doesn't come up with some kind of papers, he could be in serious trouble. On the other hand, if Sheriff Thomas gets him mad, well, let's just say, CNN will have a new lead story for the next twenty four hours. Or, whenever they find the pieces." "What you mean by that?" Willie asked. "It was a joke, Willie.” Matt said, but Jim saw his face, and knew Matt wasn't joking. That made Jim really nervous, but Jim didn't know why.

Mister Odhinsunar, was sitting in one of New Hope's finest rooms, available for visiting foreign diplomats, without papers! That's the way Sheriff Thomas had put it when they placed him in this eight by nine-foot cell. The deputy had just walked up and was opening the cell door, as he instructed Mister Odhinsunar to accompany him. Mister Odhinsunar stood and the deputy backed up to what, he thought, was a safe distance. He looked at this man and now understood the laughs of the other guards when they sent him to escort this prisoner. What a way to start the first day on the job. He guided this man to an office and told him to take a seat. He added, Please, just for good P.R., in case anyone heard him. Mister Odhinsunar sat as the deputy stayed outside the door. The sergeant came up and entered without really looking at who was in the room. The sergeant started reading from a card in his hand. "You have the right to remain silent. If you give up that right, everything you say, can and will be, used against you in a court of law. Do you understand your rights, as I have explained them to you?" "Isn’t there something about an attorney?" Mister Odie asked in his low soft voice. "Yes. There’s a brief part about that, right here. Would you like to see it?" The sergeant said, glancing up from his card and for the first time, saw the prisoner. "No thank you, Sergeant, but if you would be so kind as to have the court appoint a lawyer for me. I would like to see that.” Mister Odie's tone never wavered a bit. "Yes sir. Right away, sir.” The Sergeant glanced at the deputy on his way out and the deputy understood his reaction. Mister Odie was sitting in this office for about thirty minutes when Sheriff Thomas, the District Attorney, a man named Gentry, and a young lawyer, named Paul Hart Jr. walked in. "Well High Pockets, here’s that lawyer you wanted.” The Sheriff stated with a smirk. "My name is Odhinsunar, Sheriff. Or is your backward little mind, too small to conceive of a name longer than Bubba." Mister Odie had just about enough out of this jerk. "Now let's be civil here. Sheriff, please take a seat while we start to get some facts.” The D.A. said. "Before my client answers any questions, I want to talk with him a moment, in private." Paul S. Hart Jr. spoke for the first time. Paul had just graduated Law School and was back to New Hope for only two reasons. One was to see his father, Judge Hart. The other was to see his sweetheart, Miss Tamry Greenwood. Even now, he wasn't sure which was first on his agenda. The D.A. got up and motioned for the Sheriff to follow him out. "Thirty minutes.” The D.A. said to Paul, "This is going to be easy." Paul sat across the table from his first client and got some pencils out of his new briefcase and a large legal note pad. Mister Odhinsunar sat patiently while Paul arranged all of his tools. "Name.” He started. "Odhinsunar.” He then spelled it out for the young man. "First name?" "Thorran." With that, Mister Odhinsunar thought back to the grocery store. Matt Stone said his name to the Sheriff when he came up. How did he know my first name? He wondered. His train of thought was broken when Paul Hart asked the next question, again, a little louder. "Place of birth?" “Scandia.” Mister Odhinsunar said, after a moment of thought. "Where?" Paul asked, regarding him curiously. "The Netherlands.” He tried next. "Place of residence?" He was given the address of the farm. "Occupation?" "Farmer. Now. I guess.” The big man said, with a smile. "Mister Odhinsunar, this is a serous charge against you. It's not something to smile about." Paul was putting forth his four years of class work and lectures that he had to listen to for long hours. Mister Odhinsunar stopped smiling. "You are right. Continue with your questions." Twenty minutes later, after all of his questions had been answered to his satisfaction, Paul felt he could go up against the D.A. He went to the door and told the deputy to get Mister Gentry. In less than a minute the D.A. entered the office followed by the Sheriff. "Does he have to be here?” Mister Odie asked Paul. Paul looked at the D.A. then to Sheriff Thomas. "There's got to be an officer of the law present.” Gentry replied. "Call in that deputy from outside.” Mister Odhinsunar said. "I’ll run my jail the way I see fit.” The Sheriff barked at Mister Odhinsunar. "Fine, no questions then." The big man turned toward Paul. Paul turned and looked at the D.A. "Now Sheriff Thomas, this is just a little back ground thing that lawyers do. You don't really need to be here.” The D.A. said. "Well, if you say you don't need me here, then I'll go, Mister Gentry.” Sheriff Thomas answered as he left. “You say,” the D.A. continued, after an hour of questioning, "your home, with all your papers, was destroyed, Mister Odhinsunar." "Yes." "Just how did that happen, fire, flood, earthquake?" "All of the above." That even drew a sharp look from the young Paul Hart. "I'm saddened, Mister Gentry. You see my home burned down in a fire caused by lava that came from a volcano, then the ice melted and flooded the property. The volcano erupted because of the earthquakes that were going on. After it was all over, I boarded a ship and went from one place to the next. I have always paid in gold. This is the first time anyone ever asked about papers." The D.A. regarded Paul. They looked at the man sitting there with a poor, pitiful look on his face. "You say you pay for everything you get with gold?" The D.A. went back to his notes. "Yes. In fact, if you call the bank they can speak for me.” Mister Odie was on a roll. "Wait here.” The D.A. rose and walked out of the office. "How are we doing, young man?" Mister Odie asked Paul. "Not out of the woods yet!" Paul said in a dry tone. Three minutes later the D.A., along with the Sheriff, walked into the room. "The Sheriff would like to apologize for his actions this morning Mister Odhinsunar. Mister Holmes vouched for your character, and your financial backing. I hope this has not been too much of a bother for you.” The D.A. was holding out his hand to the man he had just found out was a millionaire, twice over. Mister Odie and Paul stood up. Mister Odie shook the D.A.'s hand, then waited. "Your client is free to go.” The D.A. said looking at Paul. Paul regarded the man towering over him and then the Sheriff. "My client and I, are waiting for the Sheriff's apology.” Paul proclaimed. William Gentry turned and looked at Sheriff Thomas. The Sheriff was staring at the floor when he mumbled softly, I'm sorry, that was barely heard in the small room. "The officer of the law, in the back of the room, didn't hear that Sheriff Thomas.” Paul spoke up loudly. "I'M SORRY!" Thomas said, and stalked out the door. "Now, let's see some daylight.” Mister Odie said, as he lightly slapped Paul on the back.

Outside, on the steps of the Sheriff's office, Mister Odie glanced down at the young Paul Hart. Mister Odie was amused by the boyish face as Paul observed the town square. First to the courthouse, then over to the bank. "Please come with me.” Mister Odie said. "I'll see that your fees will be paid.” "You owe me nothing, Mister Odhinsunar. I was your appointed lawyer, by the court.” "Who appointed you to stand for me?” "My father, the Judge.” Paul spoke softly, gazing back at the courthouse. “I appreciate seeing that someone in this town is of sound judgment.” Mister Odie replied. Catching the tone of that announcement, Paul looked up at Mister Odie and began smiling, slow at first, then the compliment set in. Paul began to beam. "I will need a good councilor to represent my holdings while I'm here. Do you know of one that I can depend on?" Mister Odie asked, while viewing the Elms in the town square, and Paul could just make out an impish grin through his beard. "I will be of service to you for as long as you need me.” Paul declared. Mister Odie scrutinized the youth and saw honesty coming through his bright green eyes. "Good.” Mister Odie said, "Now follow me to the bank, and I will pay you a retainer for your work." "That's all right.” Paul said already half way down the stairs. "I was going to the bank anyway, Mister Odhinsunar." Mister Odie saw a different look on the young man's face with that statement. They came up to the bank, and Paul noticed the For Sale sign, on Mister Holmes’ GMC. He also noticed the Closed sign, on the front door of the bank. Both signs confused Paul until he saw Mister Odie knock on the front door. The power and force that hit the doors almost brought them off their hinges. "Excuse me. Post jail nerves.” Mister Odie said sheepishly. Mister Odie was about to knock again when the door opened and Tamry was standing there. "I thought that was your knock. Come in.” She then saw Paul. Her face changed from a scowl to a smile. "I didn't know you were back in town.” Paul was about to speak but Mister Odie's large right hand was on his back pushing him into the bank. Paul noticed stacks of papers covering almost every desk and tabletop. "I got back late last night.” Paul said, gazing raptly at Tamry, "I called this morning, but your mother said you had already left for work. What's going on here?” "Mister Holmes called me at seven this morning and asked me to come in and help him take care of urgent business. I see you have met the newest member of New Hope society." Tamry spared a glance at Mister Odhinsunar as he was standing in front of Robert's desk. "Oh yes! I had the pleasure for the last hour and a half.” Paul stated. "He was my first case, the rest have got to get easier.” Paul replied grinning at Tamry. "He's a strange one.” Tamry said. "You don't know the half of it. Got any coffee?" They walked to the back room and closed the door. Robert Holmes looked up from his typewriter as he heard those footfalls approaching. He wondered if the man had changed his mind. He knew that possibility could only go one way. "May I help you, Mister Odhinsunar?" Mister Odie scrutinized the stack of papers and saw, A through G piles, were closed with addressed envelopes attached. Give this man incentive and he can do much. Mister Odie thought. "You can stop what you're doing for now, pick up that instrument, and contact every store, shop, and company in this town and start my line of credit. You may also tell them that the Price brothers are my agents, and all respect due to me will be shown to them. Do I make myself clear?" "Very clear, sir. I'll start immediately.” Robert said, already picking up the phone and began pressing the numbers. "Another thing. Find the cost of the food purchased by Mister Stone at the grocers. Have his accounts credited from mine." "Yes sir. Will there be anything else I can do?" Robert felt his stomach twitch when he heard the big man say that he would let him know as he headed for the door. "Will you be needing me today, Mister Odhinsunar?" Paul called out as he opened the door of the coffee room. Mister Odie stopped, turned, and saw Paul's face. He noticed the side of his cheek was discolored. He then noticed the same hue of color on Tamry’s lips and broke into a smile. "Not until the morning. We'll have some property deeds to look over." Turning he continued, "Holmes, transfer five thousand dollars to this man's name on your books. He is my new counsel." With that Mister Odie started to leave again, but was halted by Paul standing in front of him. "Mister Oh, I'll speak with my father. I have most of the information needed about you. I believe I can obtain a visa for you. What I need now, is your birth date." "How old do you believe I am?" Mister Odie asked, regarding Paul intently. "I'd guess,” Paul started, studying the man's hair, beard, face, and eyes, "about mid forties, maybe early fifties." Mister Odie's laughter filled the bank. "A good lad! Go back fifty years to March twenty-first. I've always liked the first day of spring." With that Mister Odie slipped past Paul and broke into more laughter outside the bank as he headed for Jim and Willies' house.

Jim and Willie were sitting in the living room. Both were contemplating their grandfather’s picture. "How are we gonna pay back Mister Stone for all those groceries?” Lotty was asking. "Mister Odie done got himself thrown in jail. That sheriff will never let him go.” Willie lamented, shaking his head and cradling it in his hands. "The banks gonna take back the house, and we'll be on the street come the end of next week. We were all so happy at sunrise. Look at us now." "Mista Odie got a lot of gold in that bank, you know!" Jim said. "You know how much stock people put in that sort of thing. Mista Odie gonna be all right.” "But what about us?" Lotty wailed. "Sure, a rich white man can come and go as he pleases, but you know after you two did nothing to help, he won't be bothering with us any more." Jim was about to speak when the sound of Mister Odie's voice filled the house. "Do you two think that I will pay you for not being at your work?" "Mista Odie!” Willie cried as he leapt from the couch and ran for the door with a broad grin on his face. "Mista Odie, I just knew you'd come back!" Mister Odie looked dryly at Willie. "I thought you said that the sheriff would never let me go.” Jim came up behind Willie and noticed his brother's posture sink about two inches. Willie looked at Mister Odie and thought, How's does he do that? "We are wasting the good sun’s light. Go to the stores and pick out your tools!” "Is they gonna let us jest pick out what we want?" Jim asked and Mister Odie smiled a strange smile. "They will. Jim, take your son Adam to make a tally of what you receive and the marked price on each item. Let me know, at the farm, if you have any ah, trouble.” "Yes sir, Mista Odie.” Jim said. Jim called out for Adam, who’s thudding footsteps could be heard through the house as he came running. "Mista Odie!" Willie called to the man on the walk. "We got something to ask you." Mister Odie stopped and waited until the three were standing by him. Willie looked at Jim and nodded his head toward Mister Odie. Jim drew in a deep breath and began, "Mista Odie, sir. Our wives were wondering how much you gonna pay me and Willie for our work?” Both brothers hung their heads and stared at the ground. "Your wives want to know?” "Well, sir,” Willie began, "it did kinda cross our minds too." "What of you, Adam?" "I think any money I earn is better than what I’ve got now.” Adam replied as he gazed steadily at Mister Odie. He couldn't believe anyone was really asking him what he thought about anything. Mister Odie smiled at Adam. "You will start a ledger today. You will write all your tasks completed for that day. I will judge the worth of your time, labor, and skill. Payments will be at sunset, Friday.” Adam was busy writing word for word what Mister Odie was saying. He reread the words and looked up at his father. “Remember, six days a week, off on Saturday." "We have to work Sunday?" He asked. "You heard Mista Odie, didn't you?" Jim said to his son. "But, what about church?" Adam asked, starting to say more, but Mister Odie cut him off. "Anyone, who does not come to work at sunup Sunday, need not return Monday." Jim and Willie nodded their heads in understanding and Adam made sure to write down Mister Odie's words in the front of his book. "Now, go and get started. I'll see you at the farm." Mister Odie left them standing together as he headed to the south.

The Price brothers, and son, went from store to store. At first, they carried the tools and supplies. Willie saw a wheel barrow. They loaded it and went on. By the time they arrived at the lumber yard, they looked like tools that had sprouted feet. "Pa, won't these stores deliver all this stuff, if we ask them?" Jim stopped and stared at Willie. The brothers slapped each others shoulders and started laughing. Jim finally looked at Adam and then to Willie. "That's my child, what said that!” Then the brothers laughed again. At the lumber yard, Jim had a truck loaded with all different sizes of boards and other supplies. They were about to get on the back when Willie asked, "Do you think we need to get some of that barbed wire for the old fence around the field?” Jim thought about this for a minute and remembered the first time he and his grandfather had walked that fence. He was about Adam's age and it felt to him that he had walked around the world. "How much wire you think it'll be, Willie?” Willie shrugged his shoulders and said, "I guess us gonna have to walk it off to find out.” Jim thought that was a good idea until he remembered the fence went to the side and back behind the tree stand. "We'll have to ask Mista Odie how far he wants his fence placed when we get back to the farm.” Willie now saw his brothers face and could guess about the tree stand himself. They piled up on the back of the truck and the driver started for the farm. "I'm going to need gas to get this truck back from this run.” The driver said to the guard, as he pulled up to the gate of the lumber yard. The guard handed the driver a card and clipboard. He signed the book and drove away. They had ridden about a mile before the truck slowed and turned into a service station. The truck stopped and the driver got out. A man appeared in the doorway and the driver yelled a greeting to him. "It's a fill up, on the company card. How's it going Buddy?” The man standing at the door was James 'Buddy' Taylor. He pulled a ring of keys out of his pocket for the pumps and limped over to the truck. Jim and Willie were watching as the two men started talking as the tank was being filled. When the tank was full, the driver replaced the hose and saw Buddy looking at the supplies, and the Price brothers. "I didn't know your boss hired these two for steppin and fetching.” Buddy said with a sneer in his voice. "Oh, no Buddy. They’re just taking these supplies out to the Green's Farm, for their new boss, a Mister Offinhimer." The driver was looking at the sales ticket as he replied. "You mean the Taylor Plantation!” Buddy snapped. "Whatever you want to call it Buddy. I've got to be going." The driver got back into the truck and started the engine. Buddy stared hard at the brothers and they turned away. The truck left and went straight to the farm. At the farm, the men unloaded the truck next to the barn. When the truck pulled off, Jim and Willie heard clanging coming from the barn. Jim, with Willie and Adam, entered the shadowy barn as another loud clang rang out. Willie saw something sail through the air and again a loud clang rang out. Jim, after his eyes got accustomed to the darkness, saw the next object fly, and realized it was a horse shoe. Again, they heard the clang of metal on metal. Jim then noticed a faint glow of fire in the rear of the barn. He knew that was where the foundry stood and wondered why it was lit. "That's some pitchin, Mista Odie.” Willie said, as he backed away and was peering up at the loft. In the loft, Mister Odie was collecting and throwing all of the odd used scraps of metal that he had found into a large iron cauldron sitting atop the stone foundry. Adam judged the distance was a good seventy-five feet and added another fifteen for the height of the loft. "You ever play basketball Mister Odie?" Adam asked. "Boy, he be a pitchin shoe, as anyone can see.” Willie said as another horseshoe sailed to its target. "You must be the best player around Mista Odie.” Jim said. "I learned to do this in England, but it was harder then.” He said as he climbed down from the loft. "How can that be, Mista Odie?" Willie asked. "Because in England, the shoes still had horses and knights attached to them.” Mister Odie replied, when he was on the ground. Both brothers burst out laughing, but Adam just stared up and could believe that this man could do exactly what he'd said. "Did you have any problems with the supplies?" Mister Odie asked as he walked to the foundry. "No sir.” The brothers replied in unison. They looked into the cauldron and saw all sorts of things. Nuts, bolts, tools, saw blades, shears, broken chains, and the like, topped off by several old horse shoes. "What you gonna do with all this stuff, Mista Odie?" Willie asked, still looking at the pile. "You will see for yourself Thursday. Now, show me the goods you collected.” Mister Odie said as he walked away from the foundry. Outside, Mister Odie watched Jim and Willie sort all the supplies while carrying them into the barn. Mister Odie was getting a running tote from Adam on the costs as they were marked on each item, or the price on the bin they were taken from. Mister Odie was checking sales slips and purchase orders for a price change, if any were any to be found. Everything was in order until Adam called out the price of one axe. "Fifteen Dollars and ninety-seven cents.” Adam waited for Mister Odie's nod to continue, when he saw the man's eyes narrow. "Read the price again, Adam.” Mister Odie said softly his eyes on the sales slip. "One axe, $15.97, plus tax.” Was Adam's reply. "How much tax is on a dollar, Adam?” "Six cents on the dollar, Mister Odie.” "Can a store change that amount?” "No sir, Mister Odie. That tax is from the state capital. Nobody can change that but them.” Adam said. He had received an A on a report for school before summer vacation. "Then, you would say, by your figures, this axe should cost $16.92?" Mister Odie asked Adam. By now Jim and Willie had stopped their work and were listing to their conversation. "It would be close to that, Mister Odie. I can figure it out for you, if you want.” Adam replied. "That won't be necessary, Adam. Did your father buy another axe at the hardware store?” Adam read his book again, then turned to his father. Jim and Willie both shook their heads. "No sir, Mista Odie. This is the only axe we got and it's the only axe we brought to you!” Jim said as he picked the axe up and handed it to Mister Odie. "Is this thing made of any rare metals?” Mister Odie asked studying the axe closely. "Na, Mista Odie. It's just, a plain ole axe. Why do you ask that?” Willie asked. "Because, you and I were charged One Thousand Six Hundred and Ninety-two Dollars, for this fine axe in my hand.” Mister Odie replied with a half smile on his face. "What's you gonna do, Mista Odie?" Jim asked nervously. "I'm going to return this expensive piece of art work and receive payment due!” Mister Odie said still looking at the axe he held in his huge hands. "Mista Odie, it's just about five, and the hardware store closes at five thirty. Even you would have to hurry if you gonna catch Mista Johnson 'fore he leaves.” Jim said gazing up at the sun and thinking he'd have to get by Matt's to get his watch fixed.

Jim had lifted out his pocket watch to see how much time had passed since Mister Odie was led away by the Police. The watch face told the time as eight minutes past twelve. Jim stared at his watch, hard, and noticed the second hand was right at the top, not moving at all. "Matt, what time you got?" Jim asked. "Zero nine thirty.” Matt replied, looking at his divers watch. "What's going on with your watch Jim?" Willie asked, as he glanced at the watch Jim was holding in his hand. "Just stopped, I guess?" Jim said. Willie looked at the watch, stood straight up, and walked to the mantle. He then started rubbing the crucifix and muttering. "Oh my, Oh me. What's we done now?" "What's got you all excited Willie?" Jim asked. "That's the time.” Willie said, turning to Jim, "I told Mista Odie it was yesterday. And he said, I was wrong. It was daytime. You remember Jim!" Jim remembered alright, he remembered every word that came from the man, named Odie-something. "We'll know something by One.” Matt said, rising from the couch, "That's when the newspaper comes out, and you know in this small town news travels fast." Matt started to leave and as he went outside, he called back to Jim. "Drop that watch by and I'll fix it for no charge." Then he got in the pickup and drove off.

Jim had been so lost in thought that the sound of a car horn brought him back abruptly. Paul Hart Jr. had just arrived and was getting out of his new silver Subaru. "Mister Odhinsunar.” Paul said as the crowd came up. "I've got good news. I explained your, ah, circumstances to the Judge and he granted a temporary State I.D. card. However, the condition is that you don't leave this parish. Also, Miss Greenwood said that your requests are being carried out by Mrs. Holmes, as we speak. She didn't tell me say more then that.” Paul handed the man the card and looked puzzled by his last statement. Mister Odie smiled at Paul and thought of Margaret going house to house, door to door, spreading peace and joy to all of New Hope. About the same way a man named Kringle did in the old days. "Can you take me to Johnson's Hardware store in this thing?” Mister Odie asked bending over to gauge the fit. "Sure thing, Mister Oh. I’ll have to lower the top.” Paul said. "It's quite small already and . . . " Mister Odie was about to say something about the seat when Paul hit a switch and the seat moved back. The roof started to fold back into the trunk and Mister Oh folded himself into the car. "It's gettin close to sunset.” Willie said to Jim. "Do you think we should be headin home?” "I think.” Jim said as he scanned the supplies that remained on the ground. "We wasted much of that sun's free light. I think it only proper to work till we get done.” He turned to Adam and said, "Adam clear off a space so we can build a fire.” "Why don't we just turn on the lights?” Adam asked his father. "You go ahead and try the switch. Then, clear a place for the fire.” Adam went to the porch and flicked the switch two or three times. The bulb on the front porch remained unlit. Adam thought that it was burned out and went into the house. After a couple of minutes he came out and started clearing an area and filling it with dead wood he found laying around the barn. "Mista Odie doan pay for what comes free.” Jim said as they gathered the next load of supplies. Jim and Willie glanced at one another and chuckled. Adam thought of his fathers words when he remembered the oak that Mister Odie had carried in this morning. When Jim and Willie came out saw Adam as he stood by it and stared down. "What is you doin now Adam?" Willie asked as the brothers walked to where Adam was standing. "I was just lookin at this tree Mister Odie brought back this morning. If we had that axe now, we could burn it most all night.” Adam said. "That's not a tree son. That's just a branch.” Willie walked the length of the branch while Jim was talking to Adam. When his eyes fell on the coils of rope he let out a scream. "Jim!" He cried sharply. Jim hurried to his side and looked at what Willie pointed to. "Looks like where some kids hung a tire swing.” Adam said coming to his father. "Get back to the barn!” Jim shouted at Adam. Adam froze. He then turned and did what his father had instructed. Willie looked to Jim’s stricken face. "How? How did he know, Jim? With all them trees out yonder how'd he pick this one and why do you suppose he wants it?" Jim stared down the field at the tree stand. He saw where the big man's feet had walked out, and where they walked back. He did not, however, see any trace or tracks that this branch should have made on the way back. "I doan know brother, but it be best if we doan touch it. This is Mista Odie's doins an we sure doan want to mess around here.” The two men went back to the barn and continued their work without speaking. Mister Odhinsunar like the way the wind blew his hair back, it also took the heat away from his beard, as Paul drove over the speed limit. "What's with the axe, Mister Oh?" Paul asked. "Too rich for my taste, Paul.” Mister Oh replied with a smile. Paul slowed the car to a stop at the railroad crossing as a freight train passed. "Too rich, sir? You have over two million dollars. How could a twenty-dollar axe be too rich?” Paul turned and stared at Mister Oh. "Well now, what we have here, is a sixteen hundred-dollar axe. Can't you tell the difference in quality?” Mister Oh replied, laughing after trying out his southernease. "Say what?” "Look for yourself, Mister Hart. This is the tally sheet. There’s Mister Johnson's mark at the bottom.” Mister Oh handed the paper to Paul and held the axe in his other hand. Paul looked the invoice over and handed it back. "Clearly, a clerical error.” “What is the law, Mister Hart? Would I have to pay for this merchandise if it were to be damaged or lost in transient?” Paul thought for a long moment as the freight train pulled through the crossing. "I'm afraid you would, Mister Oh. You could fight it in court. However, it would cost you three times that figure in court costs and time lost. Not to mention lawyer’s fees.” Paul saw the man's eyes twinkle, then came the laughter. "Then young Paul, make us fly like the wind!” Mister Oh said when the way was clear. Paul stepped on the accelerator and the car went to sixty-five m.p.h., in less than nine seconds. They pulled up to Johnson's Hardware Store in just three minutes. Paul glanced at his watch, the digital numbers showed it was ten after five. He thought of what his father would have said if a local deputy would have issued him a citation. That made Paul wince. He jumped a little when Mister Oh addressed him. "Counselor, come with me.” They entered the store. The man behind the counter looked up at Mister Oh, as he wielded the axe, like a high school baton twirler. "Good afternoon, Mister Johnson.” Paul said. "My client would like a refund for this axe you sold him earlier today.” Mister Johnson recognized Judge Hart's boy Paul. "What's the problem? We can exchange it if it's chipped or broken.” Mister Johnson said as he watched the big man twirl the axe so fast he could barely see the head. "Not damaged at all.” Mister Oh answered. "Just cost more than I'm willin to part with today.” He was enjoying this southernease immensely. Mister Oh stopped the axe in a dead twirl and brought it down with a bang. The axe blade landed only a scant inch from Mister Johnson's finger tips. Johnson jumped back and stammered, "Be careful with that thing!” "Oh, I am so sorry sir. May I have my money, please?” Mister Johnson knew he had only one stock of axes in the store, and he knew the exact cost. He rung the register and placed $16.92 in front of the big man. "I think you’re a little short.” Mister Oh said eyeing the money. "Next to you fellah, everyone's a little short.” Mister Johnson said staring up to the man. Mister Oh smiled, this man had a sense of humor. "What Mister Odhinsunar means is the money exchange, Mister Johnson. The price you charged his agent was $1,692.00, as stated and signed by you on this invoice.” Mister Oh held up the paper in Mister Johnson's face. When he brought it down, he saw that the man's sense of humor had vanished. "That was just a calculation error.” Mister Johnson said regarding both men. "Well then, it won't be a problem to refund his money.” "But, that was a credit sale.” Mister Johnson protested. "Under the law Mister Johnson, any form of sale, can be tended in cash, property, goods, or services, upon demand. I don't see a sign anywhere saying that you don't give cash refunds.” Mister Oh enjoyed the way Paul could turn a phrase. "I'm not going to refund sixteen hundred dollars, in cash, for this axe.” Mister Johnson stated. "Then sir, tomorrow morning I'll have the sheriff and his deputies serve you a restraining order, and have your business license revoked.” Mister Oh was really enjoying the bardic lyrics Paul was chanting in his ears. Mister Johnson's face went from a deep red flush to almost purple in a choked rage. "Mister Odhinsunar how do you wish payment of your refund?” "Cash will fit real good in my high pockets.” Mister Oh was now getting the knack for this language of song. Mister Johnson went to the safe behind the counter. He took several minutes to count out the amount stated on the bill. He recounted the amount and placed it on the counter between the men. "Take this Paul.” Mister Oh said covering the amount with his large hand and sliding it across the counter to Paul. "Buy that young woman of yours something pretty.” "That's a great deal of money, Mister Oh.” Mister Oh smiled and pushed the money toward him saying. ”Only to those who worship it.” "You haven't heard the last of this, you young pup!" Mister Johnson said to Paul. Mister Oh stared down at Mister Johnson. In a low thundering tone announced, "If the pup hears. The Pack will also hear, and respond.” Mister Johnson looked into a hard pair of ice blue eyes and sat abruptly in the chair behind the counter. Paul and Mister Oh were laughing when they pulled up to the farm. Mister Oh asked Paul as he stood next to the car, "What will you buy Mistress Greenwood?" "The Stones’ jewelry store use to have a gold necklace, with a heart shaped pendent, adorned with diamonds. If it’s still there, I could give it to her tomorrow night over dinner.” "Ask Mister Stone to drop by Friday, if he's not busy going fishing or something.” Paul agreed and backed out of the driveway with a wave. His headlights reflected off the ashes by the side of the barn. He watched for a moment as Mister Oh stop and kick them a little with his boot. Mister Oh turned and waved, then went inside the barn. After Paul's car was on the road, Paul thought of his new client. Objective Lesson? He wondered. Mister Johnson would be strapped until the credit charges cleared the bank. Not the best way to make friends in this town. Good way to end up missing, or worse. Paul wondered how long Mister Oh would be needing his counsel?

Mister Oh pulled his shirt off and went to the foundry. The coals were nearly out, but with fresh tender, Mister Odie had its fire roaring in no time. Through the night Mister Odie fed the fire with the limbs of the branch. When the branch was stripped, he severed it in half, with a blow from his right hand. The outer half was then fed to the fire after the bark was removed. He then smoothed out a handle from the core to serve his purpose. With only his nails and the palms of his strong hands, he sanded and shaped what was left of the oak into a shaft six feet long and six inches thick. When he was satisfied with his work he dug a space in the ground. Then he used the shovel that the Price brothers had brought to finish his task. The caldron was red hot at the bottom as he stirred the liquid metal. Lifting the caldron with his bare hands, he poured the contents into the hole which was next to the barn. The earth became dry around the molten metal. Mister Odie then sat and waited for it to cool. Just before sun up, Mister Odie dug up the metal and attached the handle. With the files that he found in the supply of tools, he honed the twin blades of his creation to a keen knife edge. He then took sand from the yard and polished the metal to a burnished steel shine. He twirled his creation until it formed whirlwinds around his feet from the ashes of Jim's long dead fire and stopped as he heard Jim and Willie coming down the road and noticed the sun breaking the horizon. He thought, Thor’s-Day, what a good day to start work.

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