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Chest of Hope Ch.6

The hour was now striking three, Friday morning. The courthouse, with only two remaining guards, sat quietly, after this day’s special session. They were making their rounds throughout the building. As they came to Judge Hart's study, they knocked and opened the door. After a wave from the Judge they went on to complete their routine. Seated at his desk, Judge Hart was listening intently to District Attorney, William Gentry. He had explained, to Mister Odhinsunar and his counselor, how the body of James 'Buddy' Taylor was found on his property. The medical examiner, Doctor Benjamin Holiday, was about to state his finding to young Paul when Mister Gentry addressed Mister Oh as Ambassador, drawing a curious look from the doctor to the Judge. "Ambassador, I hope this won't become an international incident. We only have one hotel, and it's small.” Doc Holiday mused. “What country do you represent, Russia?” "Icelandia.” Mister Odhinsunar answered proudly, “Iceland, it's now called. The land of fire and ice.”

Doc Holiday gazed at the man and remembered that during the war, he stopped there on his first ship, while in the Navy. The people he had met, during that week, were quite large, pleasant, but very quiet. They were fishermen for the most part. Some were even farmers. The doc was wondering which job would better fit this man.

"Did you find anything else to explain what happened?” The Judge asked. "Well, Judge. I went back over the body. The blood tests showed Taylor had been drinking. However, he wasn't drunk. Only things he wasn't born with, was a bullet wound to his leg. From that accident, about three years ago, you remember Judge?” "What accident was that Doc?” Paul asked. "The damndest thing I ever encountered. Seems that Taylor got himself shot while coon hunting, out by Taylor lake. The strangest thing.” "Why strange, Doctor Holiday?” Mister Oh asked. "Well, the story went that Taylor had been shot by Pastor Miller. Miller was shot by Taylor when they fell while crossing a fence. I treated them both after they were brought to my house.” "How did they get there from the lake?” Paul then asked, he had been away at law school in Atlanta, in the middle of his first busy year. "Sheriff Thomas brought them both over, he was with the hunting party also. The Judge and I thought it was a little odd that those three would be out together. The Judge and I play golf, sometimes we have Bill along. When we need a fourth, we get Robert Holmes from the bank. That's about the only thing we have in common. Maybe that's why those three were together.” Doc Holiday answered while scanning the faces. "I wonder what other interests they might have in common?” Mister Oh asked. "We must assume,” Gentry replied, "that Taylor was about to commit the crime of arson, with the evidence collected. However, we don't have a clue for his actions.” "To be a good counselor, you must also be a scholar, sleuth, and scaldi. You have heard parts of the whole, where do you look for the rest of the puzzle?” Mister Oh said peering at Paul. Paul thought for a moment and regarded the men gathered. As he analyzed all said, he let a small smile appear, then turned to Mister Oh and said, "Where does Taylor do his drinking?” "Very good, Paul.” Mister Oh replied. "We should see how the Sheriff is handling the investigation.” "What investigation?” Mister Oh asked with a frown. "The murder of Taylor, of course.” Doc Holiday replied. "Not yet Doc.” The D.A. said, "you placed the cause as unknown. To the law, that says no crime. Whatever Taylor was going to do, didn't happen.” The Judge looked at the Doctor and said, "It appears that we have another strange hunting accident, doesn't it? Anyway, it’s been a long day for all of us. I think we should wait and see how this will be handled by the Sheriff and the people of New Hope. Bill, I'll be back around one. I want to know all you can find out about Taylor and his friends, if any, we'll talk then. Mister Odhinsunar, I hope this matter can be dealt with here, I see no need for the State Department to get involved.” "I think, men of honor can solve much when they work together.” Mister Oh said rising. "I must now prepare for work myself. Paul, will you drive me to my farm?” Paul rose noticing the wall clock showed, three forty-five a.m. and displayed some surprise. "No problem, Mister Oh, ah, Mister Ambassador.” The gathering of men soon left the courthouse, Paul, with Mister Oh, drove south, while Doctor Holiday drove north. "Bill, I have a feeling things are going to heat up around here soon. I don't mean the temperature.” The Judge said, to Gentry as they stood on the courthouse steps. "Judge, if it's possible, there's more to this Mister Odhinsunar than he's telling us, or the Feds. I think, if anything is going to happen, that big guy will be right in the middle of it.” They said their goodbys and drove from the deserted town square.

The sun was breaking the horizon when the work crew approached the police barricade tape. "Mista Odie? We is all here, can we go to work?” Jim stopped and called out. "All of you, come to the barn. Don't break the barrier, just follow it to the side.” Mister Odie called back from around the house. The men followed Mister Odie's directions and saw that it was only the front of the house was barricaded. Mister Odie started giving instructions when they reached the barn. "The barn must be completed today. Everyone will work here first. When the barn is finished, you will then remove the house. This too will be completed today.” "All right, you heard the boss man. Let's get this barn lookin brand spanking new.” Jim declared. The men went to work on restoring the support beams, roof beams, shingles, and building new stalls. Mister Odie had Jim follow him out to the field. When they were standing by the pile of debris, Mister Odie asked, "Jim, how long will it take the men to build a new house?” Jim turned and studied the farm, thought for a moment, then replied, "I think, with the weather being good, the supplies being delivered. I'd say three weeks to a month.” "I'm sure the weather will be good for the work. The supplies are already here. Let's say we start the house, Sunday morning.” "The supplies is here?” Jim asked tilting his head in confusion. Mister Odie raised his hand and pointed toward the woods. "Mista Odie, how is we gonna build a house from just trees?" Jim asked as his gaze followed Mister Odie's out stretched arm. "Trees, rocks, and even dirt, will do anything you tell them to do.” "Mista Odie, how does ya talk to trees?" "Before you talk to anything, you must first listen. To listen, you must be close enough to hear. By the time the sun sets today, the barn will be completed and the ground for the house will be cleared. I will show you all how to speak Sunday.” The giant answered as Jim shrugged. "Mista Odie, the men were talkin whilst we was comin to work today. They wanted me to ask you 'bout their pay. They all know it's not been a week yet, but they wanted ta know if'n they could get an advance, so's they could feed their families.”

Mister Odie motioned for Jim to follow and they walked to the barn. At the barn Jim gathered the crews together. When they were gathered, Mister Odie called Adam forward. "Adam, how goes the tally, of the men's work?” "I've been writing down everything I see, Mister Odie.” Adam replied. "Have the men given you a rate of payment for their labor?” Mister Odie asked. Adam turned page after page, looked at all the names and skills, but nowhere was a rate of payment, not even by the name Adam Price. He looked up and said, "No, Mister Odie. There's no rate at all.” Mister Odie looked at the crews, then back to Jim. "Foreman, have the scribe go from man to man, as they work, and receive their rates of payment. Do not receive this rate while any man is at rest, but in the midst of his labor. Upon the setting sun, and the completion of this days work, all will be paid their worth.” Mister Odie went into the house and in a short while he emerged carrying the axe. The men, who were outside on the barn roof stopped and stared, as their boss man passed under them on his way to the field. "First break, ten minutes.” Jim called out at nine a.m. As he rang a large bell. Some men drank water, some sodas, some smoked. However, when the ringing of steel could be heard coming across the field on the breeze, all the workers went to see where and what the sound was. What they saw made them stop in their tracks. "Do you see that?” One man yelled. In the next few minutes all the workers, including Adam, saw a sight they could not believe. Mister Odie was felling large oaks with three or four strikes. The axe was slicing the air with a haunting whistle. They watched, as one by one, the big man cleaved ten trees in the next five minutes. It was a fascinating sight. When Jim came to his senses, he called an end to the break. All the men were working and talking about the sight for the rest of the day. By mid day Adam had all the rates for every worker, save one, himself.

Adam had thought that placing a value on his work would be easy. After writing down these mens rates, he wondered what his worth would be. He did not work as hard as these men, who had families, and skills, that took years to learn. He was still pondering his dilemma when Jim called to him. "Adam, have you got your job done?” Adam went to his father and told him of his problem. "Son, that is all up to you. Remember this. Place yourself too high, and peoples think you bein uppity. Place yourself too low, and peoples think you ain't worth nothin.” "I understand, but I still don't know how much to put down." Adam replied, thinking this over. Jim smiled and put his hands up. "That be why most bosses set their pay for you. I ain't never had a job like this, course now, I ain't never had a boss man like Mista Odie neither.” Above all the other work sounds, Adam could still hear the sound of the axe. He noticed that it was steady, never stopping longer then to find another tree to sink its deadly bite. Adam stood and studied the woods. Slowly at first, he started walking straight for the sound coming from the oaks. Jim watched his son and thought, I sure hope that boy doan gets in the bosses way.

Adam walked to the edge of the field. Before him lay the remains of a large oak's branches. The underbrush had been neatly gnawed to the ground by Mister Odie's rams. Adam could now see a stone wall. He climbed over it, making his way toward the heightening chopping sounds. As Adam came around an oak, he stopped and looked at the wall of a large old house. The sides had signs of a fire that had consumed the interior. His eyes went back and forth, up and down, staring at what must have once been a beautiful mansion. His head turned, and he caught the sight of a falling tree, heading straight for him. Adam stood in shock, not able to believe this large oak was going to fall on him. He closed his eyes and a small cry came from his lips. Adam heard the sound. His body felt the wind as it pushed him to the ground. Next, he heard the tree hit next to him. Adam's eyes were still closed tight when he heard Mister Odie's voice. "Are you safe?” Then the voice spoke again. "Stand if you can!” Adam opened his eyes slowly. Above him, he saw the face of Mister Odie, full of concern. "Mister Odie, that tree missed me?!” Adam exclaimed, as he got to his feet and peered around. What he saw brought a lump to his throat as a large gasp escaped from him. The large oak lay not more than three feet to his right, but as he looked left, the tree was also there. Adam stared down at the trunk and saw that the tree was split right down the middle. The halves lay about seven feet apart, at the base. The axe was buried deeply into the ground. He gazed up at Mister Odie with wonder. "Did you do that, for me?” Adam stared at his feet and let his gaze travel back to the axe. "I cannot have my only scribe suffering an injury. Not with so much work left to be done.” Mister Odie replied with twinkling eyes. "How?” Adam asked still dumbfounded. Mister Odie's smile slowly left his face, then in a low tone he replied, "Why ask how and not why?” Mister Odie turned and walked to the axe and with one jerk, freed the axe. "Mister Odie, I have to ask you something. How do you know what your worth is?” Mister Odie regarded Adam for a moment and sat on the side of the fallen oak tree. "A man's worth is determined by what he will sell himself for, or, by what he will not sell himself for.” "I don't understand.” "Adam, would you do my scribing for a hundred dollars a day?” "Yes Sir, Mister Odie!” Adam answered with his eyes wide. "Would you do my scribing, for nothing?” "Yes sir, I would.” Adam said as his face fell. Mister Odie regarded Adam solemnly and asked why. "Because you asked me to, Mister Odie.” "Yet, what would be better?” Mister Odie asked the youth, his eyes again twinkling. Adam thought for a few moments. "I think if you like what you do, the money don't matter so much.” Mister Odie's laugh took Adam by surprise and he stumbled backwards from the log. "True enough Adam. Men have to earn a wage to support themselves and their families. That's why men get paid for their labors. Now, I'll tell you. This is how you figure your worth. First, take your age and multiply it times your knowledge. Then divide that by hours you work. With that, you will know your worth.” Adam took out his paper and pencil and started writing. He looked at Mister Odie and said, "Is this what I'm worth?” Adam handed the paper to Mister Odie. The giant looked at the figures written: 14x7=98 divided by 12=eight. "Explain the meanings to me.” Adam climbed up next to Mister Odie. "Well, I just turned fourteen, and I just passed the seventh grade of school. I work twelve hours a day, sunup to sundown.” Mister Odie scrutinized Adam, then the paper. He shook his head. "You have your age right, but all else is wrong. Think more about everything, then do your sums again.” Adam regarded Mister Odie as he climbed down off the oak. Mister Odie handed Adam back the paper. "How is the work coming?” He asked Adam. "The men are starting to paint the sides of the barn and they are finishing the roof. Mister Odie, whose house was this?” "I do not know, but it will make a good start on the house I'm going to build. Anyway, I think we should have a little talk before we go back.” Mister Odie said gazing around the mansion, which now laid in ruin and neglect.

Mister Odie and Adam walked back to the farm. When they were on the field, Adam saw the bright red barn, as it shined in the midday sun. The sound from the bell caught his ear as his father's words came to him. "Second break, thirty minutes.” Mister Odie strode into the yard as the men were gathering to eat their lunch. The men’s eyes were upon the giant carrying the axe on his shoulder. "Mista Odie, the barn will be finished inside and out in the next hour. The men can bring down the house in about two more hours, but what about the front? That police tape is still up there. What's that all about?” Jim said as he approached Mister Odie. Mister Odie brought his axe down and, with a flip of his wrist, it sailed twenty feet in the air. Turning twice, and with a crack, it set into the chopping block next to the barn. As easy as throwing a piece of paper in the trash, Jim thought. "Well Jim, I'll tell you what happened. It seems. Some poor old boy was bringing up a house warming gift. He was struck down by pure shame because the gift wasn't worthy enough to be given.” It seemed, this was as much southernease, as anyone could handle. The work crew, Jim, and even Adam, rolled with laughter. Mister Odie smiled to himself then brought everyone back to earth with three words. "James 'Buddy' Taylor.” The workmen stared at one another and then back to Jim. "What happened to Taylor?” Mister Odie walked to the barn, he scrutinized the work that was almost complete. He could see this barn would stand for a long time to come. He went to the block and plucked the axe up with his right hand and walked back to the men. "Taylor, as he was called, was found dead yesterday evening at the front of the house. He had a bottle of gasoline with him.” The men stayed silent. "Did you kill him, Mister Odie?” Adam croaked. "Adam! That ain't no way to talk to Mista Odie.” Jim snapped at his son. "Jim, Adam has asked a fair question. He should be given a fair answer.” Mister Odie said then turned and addressed Adam. "Adam, no man killed the one, called Taylor. He had been dead for a long time, in his soul. His body didn't know it.” "Amen to that brother.” Two workers in the back said in unison. It seemed that not many people, other than the Knights, liked the man. The truth was, many Knights didn’t like Taylor, either. He was only good for the menial jobs.

Adam looked at his father, who shook his head telling his son to leave it be. Adam didn't say anymore. "That's a mighty fine axe you have there. Where'd you buy it?” One worker asked. "Mista Odie didn't buy that axe. He made it!” Jim said with pride in his voice, and happy to be getting away from all of this talk about dead people. "I've worked with forgers some, did my share of sharpening too. May I see your axe?” The worker asked coming up to Mister Odie. Mister Odie sized the man up before him, seeing the strong arms and rough hands. Mister Odie silently held out the axe. The man was forced to hold it with both arms, feeling the weight and remembering the savage swings, this man had given with it. He gazed at the blades and saw that they were the best honed edges he'd ever seen. Then he spied the handle. It was smooth oak, and he started noticing marks cut into the grains. The marks were strange to the man, until he saw the one that made him jump back, and drop the axe. Before the axe could strike the ground, Mister Odie snatched it in mid air. The workers hardly saw the man move, however, he had it in his hand. "It's not right to drop tools on the earth.” "I'm sorry boss! I saw that thing, and it startled me.” "What thing?” Jim asked.

The man pointed to the handle and Jim looked. Jim's eyes were going up and down, then he too saw the mark. "Mista Odie, why do you have one of them Swastika’s, on your’n axe?” "Why, what do you think the Swastika means?” Mister Odie turned the handle in his hand and regarded Jim. "Mista Odie, I know what it means. I’s lived my whole life knowin' what that mark means. It means that anybody who ain't white, needs to die or be a slave.” Mister Odhinsunar, tapping on the handle, surveyed the gathering. He saw in the black men's eyes that what Jim had said rung true. He saw among the whites nodding to each other in agreement. Yes, he thought, I have a job to do here. "Jim, is the cross of the desert dweller good or evil?” "Good, very good, Mista Odie.” "What about the electric chair? Or the guillotine, gas chamber or executioner's rope?” Mister Odie, questioned. "All them things is evil Mista Odie.” Jim replied. "Jim, if a man were to hurt Adam, and he was to die, what would you say if the law condemned that man to the chair?” Mister Odie again looked intently around at the gathering. Jim eyed his son and thought of what it would do to him, and his family, if anything were to happen to this child. "I think it'd be too good for that man.” Jim stated with venom. "Then Jim, the electric chair is not evil, if it does your bidding?” Mister Odie asked. "I doan knows 'bout all that.” Jim replied. Mister Odie spoke to the gathering, "A thing is neither good nor evil. Only the usage of man condemns such a thing. This is a symbol that men have twisted for their own use and was regarded even higher than the desert dwellers cross.” “The sun wheel,” Mister Odie said, pointing to the swastika, "is the mark of power under control, no more, no less. Only man gives to it more than that, and only man can take away from that.” “Don't be afraid of the holy symbols of man. Be afraid instead, of the holy symbol of the Gods. Only man can twist objects, symbols, and words to serve his needs. God does not need this trickery. He speaks only truth, but his words are almost never understood by man. The next time, any of you hear or reads the word of God, remember they have been written often, and in many tongues. Every time they were altered, just enough to give the meanings men needed to have their way with others. There comes a time when changing the mind is better than to break the body. Many years have passed since this began. You must hear the spirit yourself to know what it is saying to you. No words told to you will ever make sense, until you listen to the spirit of your heart.”

Mister Odhinsunar regarded Jim and walked to the bell. He tapped it once lightly and said, “Back to work. We still have enough sunlight to complete all the work for this day.” The big man left the workers and went back to his own tasks. After the sun was low in the sky he returned to find the barn, coop, and all but the porch, was complete. The debris was stacked in a large pile in the field. As he approached, he noticed Jim talking to a deputy. The deputy was removing the barricade tape from the front. "Is there any reason why I cannot remove the porch now?” Mister Odie asked the deputy. "No sir. Sheriff Thomas said the investigation was closed.” "Did he now? That was very short. What were the sheriff's findings?” Mister Odie asked. "I don't know that sir. I was told to come by and get the police property back. That's all sir.” The deputy replied and hurried his work. Mister Odie then noticed that the deputy was the same one that had replaced the sheriff when the interview was held at the jail. Deputy Carter nodded as he walked to his car, thankful to be putting distance between himself and the man holding the largest axe he’d ever saw. "This is the last of today's work.” Mister Odie said, calling the workers together. "When this is taken to the pile, it will be time for your pay.” "Mister Odie, it will take us another two or three hours to get the porch out to the field.” Jim said watching the deputy drive off. "It's almost sundown now, and the men need their pay for food.” "Stand back, and be ready to form a chain.” Mister Odie instructed. As Jim relayed this message, Mister Odie brought the axe up to his shoulder, with the first swing the axe shattered the corner post of the porch. The next five minutes passed with the haunting whistles of the crashing axe.

When the noise stopped, all that was left, was the outline on the lawn, where the porch had been. Mister Odie motioned for them to start carrying the debris to the pile. Within half an hour, the last of the wood was placed on the collection of trash. The ground was raked, and where the house had stood now only a barren plot remained. The men gathered and Mister Odie called Adam to the front. Mister Odie had Adam call out the men’s names, hours, rate of payment, and the total. The first name was his father, Jim Price. The total was only $180.00. "How much of this do you want in advance?” Mister Odie asked. "Mista Odie, me and Willie has already had our fair share and then some. What with this job and the food, we doan wants no more for now.” Mister Odie smiled and addressed the group, "You know of the market keeper Goldberg? You will go there now with Jim and Willie. Collect all the food your family will need for a week.” “Place your marks on the tickets and give them to Adam. The food will be placed on your tallies.” This announcement was greeted by great cheering and clapping. Some couldn't believe what they heard. They were called to silence by Mister Odie. "No one,” Mister Odie said, "will leave the market until all have finished. You will then help each other to your homes. I will see all of you, with your families, tomorrow evening at sun set.” The men talked to themselves and stared at each other. "Mista Odie, is we gonna work Saturday night and has Sunday off?” Willie voiced the question of the workers. "Any man who does not come tomorrow, and then again Sunday, need not come back Monday. Your tallies will be turned in and your help will no longer be needed. Now, go and feed your families. Rest well, for tomorrow you will be happy and your families welcome. Do not bring tools, only bring those things that will make you comfortable and at rest.”

Mister Odie motioned for them to leave, he nodded to Jim and Willie. The men did as they were told. Mister Goldberg was so happy with the greatest sales his store had ever seen that he told his employees that they would close the store the following morning. It was a sight. All twenty-two men and one small boy, walked the long line of carts down the east-side walkways. Everyone watched out their windows, and wondered how it could have happened. Whites and blacks were helping each other, unloading food at each house, and every family met each man. The evening was a combination of joy and confusion. Before ten p.m., every household on the east-side was crossing that invisible line. Neighbors were talking and laughing. Jim and Willie were talking to the men. That had come over with questions, about the work, the long hours, and how the new farmer was to work for. The men were finding it hard to believe the things Jim and Willie were relating. Yet as ever more of the workmen confirmed the stories of the giant, and the axe, they slowly began to believe. "It's gettin late. We needs to rest and get ready for tomorrow evening.” Jim said to the workmen. "I say we meet here at five and go together. I think Mista Odie be likin to see that.” The men all agreed and started for their homes. "How can I get a job with you?” One man on the sidewalk called out to Jim. "Next workday is sunup Sunday. You want to work, be there and ask.” Jim called back. "You mean Monday!” The man on the sidewalk called to Jim. "I said Sunday, and I means Sunday! Now it's up to you.” The man turned away and thought all the way to his house about the stranger. The work, and how the people of the east-side, were beginning to change.

Jim, Willie, and their family went inside and sat around the dinner table. "Well Jim, it's good to have food in the house. But, what about the money for the house payments, and for the electric bill?” Cissy asked. Jim thought about his wife's question. "I don't understand why you were only getting $180.00 for your work.” Adam said, "Mister Odie told me a way of making your rate. Mine came out to eight dollars an hour. I thought you would be getting a lot more than me.” Jim looked at Adam. After Adam had explained to him, the formula, Jim had Adam compute what he thought it should be. The sum came to twenty-three dollars an hour, which would total $839.88 for just three day. Jim slapped his forehead and just stared at Adam's figures. "See what I tol' you, they's all the same. Just work us as hard as they want, and then pays us nothing at all. It's always going to be that way!” Lotty said as she stood. She was about to say more, but Jim cut her off as he stood quickly, and stared hard at her. "Woman, you doan knows what you's takin' bout! Mista Odie tol' us all to set our own pay. I just thought five dollars an hour was right for me. As ya'll know, cept for that railroad job, I ain't never got no more than four dollars in my life. It was my own damn fault for not making more money, not Mista Odie's.” "Yeah,” Lotty said, glaring back at Jim, "you think your Mista Odie would really pay you, or anyone else, that kind of money to do his work?” The argument went on for about another hour. Not even the passage of two tractor trailers, headed south, drew notice from anyone at the table. "You can all think what you want,” Jim finally said, "and if you have any mo' doubts about Mista Odie, you can ask him all the questions you want tomorrow at sunset. Now, I'm goin to bed. I’m tired from work and from all this.” Jim turned and walked to the bedroom with Cissy following, trying to talk to him, as he closed the door in her face. "You sure have a way with Jim, doan you?” Willie said, looking at Lotty. "We were happy a little while ago, and then you gets us all riled up with your money talk.” Lotty was still full of steam as she launched into Willie. "It seems to me that without me and Cissy, this family would have been in the poor house long ago. Now with the Holmes’ moving out, I'm not sure we can make the bills. And if my money talk gets you and your brother so mad, well pardon me for worrying where my chilren' go to bed next week!”

Lotty was getting ready to go into round three when the girls and boys left the table. Adam went into the living room and sat on the couch. He gazed toward the mantle and on the carved crucifix. As he sat, he thought back to the talk he'd had with Mister Odie, after the tree had almost killed him. Adam rose and walked to the mantle. He picked up the crucifix and the peg next to it. He sat on the couch and placed the peg into the hole on the cross, then he placed the figure onto the peg. He observed the crucifix, as Willie came in. "What's you two up with that?” "Mister Odie said I should fix this and make it right.” Adam replied. Willie sat next to Adam and took the crucifix, turning it all around. Willie had always been puzzled by his grandfather's carving. It was good carving, no doubt, but when it came to putting it together, Grandpa ran a little short. Everyone, except the youngest, had wondered why the cross had no head piece. What also didn't fit, was the figure, when the peg was in place. "Grandpa Green carved this thing a long time ago. You remember how it's always been up in his room somewhere. I still doan knows why it doan fit right together.” Willie said to Adam. Adam stared at the two pieces of string hanging from the cross and said, "I don't think it's supposed to stand. I think you hang it on the wall. See here. The string is broke.” Willie saw this and wondered. "I’s got some string in the kitchen. I'll get a nail, too. Mayhaps, you're right, maybe that's the way Grandpa made it.” Willie returned from the kitchen with the string, nail, and hammer. As Willie placed the nail into the wall, Adam tied the cross with the string. He went to Willie and handed it to him. Willie could see the thing just didn't look right. The head sat too high, and the legs didn't look like the big one in the North Church. As both watched, the figure started to fall to the right, slowly at first. Then as the head was tilted about forty degrees, the whole thing went upside down. "It still be broke.” Willie said, and glanced down to Adam. Adam observed the cross. He then saw, how the feet fit snugly in the top of the cross. He was about to tell Willie, when Lotty came in. She had heard the hammering and came to see what they were up to. She entered and eyed Adam, who was looking behind her. As she turned and spotted what the other two were staring at, she screamed. "Oh God! What's that doing there?” Her shout caught Willie off guard and he stared at his wife, as she stood transfixed on the object that was on the wall. Jim and Cissy entered the room, and Jim asked, "What's Lotty so upset about now?” Willie pointed to the wall. Jim saw the crucifix, and remembered that this was the way he had found it in his grandfathers room. "It's just broke, that's all. That’s why I put it on the mantle.” Jim said. "It ain't broke.” Lotty said, in a low voice. "It's just the way it is in the book. I'll show ya.” Lotty slowly left the room to get a book that Maureen Stone had sold her, after one of the meetings, she went to every Thursday evening. "It be broke fo' sure. The cross’s head piece is broke off, too.” Willie said, as he looked at Cissy. Jim stood closer and stared at the crucifix. He could see there were no breaks to the wooden cross. It had been carved without a head piece. This also made Jim wonder at his grandfather's workmanship. Lotty came back into the room and sat on the couch. She opened a large paperback book in front of her, and started turning the pages. Cissy came over and scrutinized the pictures that Lotty was flipping passed. "Lotty, what kind of book is this?” Lotty, still searching for the right page, answered, "It's a book ‘bout fortune telling and the cards." Cissy stared down at her and tried to understand why her sister-in-law would have that kind of book. Jim reached up and turned the figure around. It stayed that way, because he held it in place. "Now it's all right. All we got to do is glue it.” He said. "No, it ain't. It’s upside down.” Lotty looked up from the page she found and said. "Not now. It's right side up.” Lotty got up holding the book out and said, "No, now it is upside down. The feet go to the top. It's the Hanged Man. Look here.” Jim let go of the figure and looked at the picture Lotty pointed to. Jim turned and stared back at the wall, just in time to see the figure twist in the opposite direction, with its head resting at the bottom. "Now, it's right side up.” Lotty said. “Lotty, what's this all about?” Jim asked. Cissy and Jim walked over and sat on the couch. Lotty placed the book on the table, while Adam and Willie took their place in the chairs. "The Hanged man,” Lotty began, "is a card from a Tarot Deck of telling cards. It's the twelfth card in a deck of seventy-eight." "What is all that got to do with this?" Jim interrupted. Lotty glared at Jim and said, "If you doan mind, I'm tryin to tell you. Now, the book says, The Hanged Man means: voluntary sacrifice for a belief or an ideal; giving to receive; exchanging material comforts for spiritual advancement.” She stopped and viewed the wall again. Jim eyed Cissy who was still puzzled by all of this. “Aunt Lotty, does the book say any more?” Adam asked. Lotty read further and as she read to herself, she gasped out loud, "My OH my! That’s just what's been happening round here.” “What's been happenin around here?” Jim asked nervously. “What are you talkin bouts?” "The book says here . . . The reversed meaning, is punishment. Hmm, pain, loss, selfishness; placing too much emphasis upon material things; fear of progress.” Lotty read aloud, and then closed the book. She rose and went to the wall, then turned. "Before Grandpa Green died, we all had good jobs, and we took care of each other. We even cared for our neighbors, and were always willin to help peoples. Since those men done kilt Grandpa Green, we just do for ourselves, and that be that.” "But, this is what Papa Green had in the house. Why didn't he have a crucifix like the one at church?” Adam asked. "Grandpa never seen that cross at the church, Adam. He went to the old church, by the lake. When the preacher died, Grandpa never went to the new church.” Jim answered. "He'd always said, it was too far or he'd rather be fishin’ on Sunday morning.” Willie, Cissy, and Lotty remembered back over the years, and how Grandpa Green never did come to the North Church. "Jim, when did you put that on the mantle?” Willie asked. "The day we buried Grandpa.” Jim thought back, and getting more nervous, answered. "That's the same day the textile plant closed, and all our troubles began.” Lotty said. They stared at one another, then over to the wall. They were trying to understand what their grandfather was doing with this object. "How did he know it was wrong?” Adam asked. "Who Adam?” Jim replied. "Mister Odie.” Adam said in a whisper.

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