In the Silence

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CHAPTER FOURTEEN

The entire flight Marcea couldn't quit thinking about how David had reacted to what she was forced to do to save her children. What especially hurt was what he had said to her. Part of it had some merit to it, but this only compounded with the guilt of sharing the same bed with him for the past two years. Marcea felt used, like a whore. What seemed okay before now seemed so wrong. All the guilt of the last few years of her life was surfacing. While on the plane she made a commitment to herself. This will be my fresh start. No matter what, I will never dance nor live with someone again. David proved that to me. He's like all the rest; he was just using me. I will never be able to forgive myself for the way I have lived the last few years. David not believing me about those men forcing me to dance for them hurts so much. I was so foolish. I was actually praying that somehow me and David . . . but I could never forgive him now. It's just going to be my children from now on.

Marcea, Ann and Danny wandered, sat and slept around the airport for three hours, not sure of how to get their new lives started. Finally, Marcea apprehensively took out the paper from the envelope that the airplane ticket had been in and called the number. It was a monastery in Napa Valley. She asked for Father Miller. It took a long time before Paul came to the phone. "Hello, this is Father Miller."

"Father Miller, this is Marcea. Do you remember me?" she asked in a nervous broken voice.

"Marcea, how could I forget such a wonderful woman and her two beautiful children?" Paul said softly. His demeanor and pleasantness relaxed and comforted Marcea. She only told him part of what had transpired over the last few days. Paul did not pry; only assured her that everything would be okay and that it would take him about two hours to get to the airport.

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Everything David had worked for was gone in one huge flash. He was drained, depleted of any emotion. His whole body ached from the explosion. His ears had quit bleeding, but they couldn't escape the constant ringing. All he had to his name was a few hundred dollars in his wallet, his computer and the clothes on his back.

It was a struggle but he managed to get to the country store to call Bill for help. But there was no answer. David waited thirty minutes — still no answer. Exhausted, David ambulated across the road to the abandoned gas station, went around back and forced the rear door open. Inside, he collapsed on some cardboard boxes in the corner of the boarded up waiting room.

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Kirk reported to work a few hours late, tired from being up all night. He directly went to the third basement floor to be congratulated by Mr. Henderson for the great job he did. Entering the office, it was obvious by the expression on Mr. Henderson face, that no praise was forthcoming. "What the hell happened out there last night? The Bomb Squad and FBI has been called in. I thought it was just going to be a small structural fire."

"I didn't want any evidence." Kirk responded cowardly.

"Any evidence! They can't even locate a piece of a body. What do you think David will do when he reads about his home being blown up? He'll know that it's a setup. I'm making sure the story gets buried. If it gets out over the wire you're in big trouble. Now go get his place staked out. And you better catch him when he comes home. I don't care if you have to wait out there two weeks. Make sure he doesn't call Bill's Electronic Shop and get tipped off either. Now get out of here!

Kirk returned to the second floor; determined to trap David. Maybe he did overdo it with the dynamite, but it was worth it. He showed Marcea. Kirk contacted Henry and changed his stakeout from Scott's wife to where David's home used to be. Kirk knew that David would call again and get a disconnected phone, and that would cause him to cut his vacation short. The papers reporting the fire as a bombing was just an oversight. It was only a matter of time before Kirk would be back on the good side of Mr. Henderson — when David was dead.

Kirk had to cover all the bases, and this time before he left to pay Bill a visit he would first get Mr. Henderson's okay. Ever since their first encounter he was afraid of Bill so asked to take Scott along. Scott, however, was too busy suppressing the information about the explosion. Although Scott was sick to his stomach about the explosion, he diligently worked at his terminal, never even looking up. After all, next could be his family.

Kirk showed up at Bill's Electronic Shop with two ATF agents and a bogus search warrant arranged by Mr. Henderson. Bill was unaware of what was going on and had nothing to hide. Kirk took delight in pulling open the filing cabinet drawers and dumping records on the floor. He found nothing, but was getting even for Bill having shoved him out the door the other day. Kirk questioned Bill, looking for a reason to haul him off. But after thirty minutes of searching, none of the three men found anything. Kirk took Bill into the small office and explained to Bill what would happen if he did not cooperate with helping them apprehend David.

It was obvious that Bill was not going to sell out David or buy Kirk's story. Bill picked up the phone to call the police but Kirk pushed the phone back down. Then Bill grabbed Kirk's skinny arm and bent it backward, creating a loud pop. Kirk yelled for help and the two ATF agents rushed into the office. It took both of them to get Bill to release his grip.

"You big Texan dope! You just made a big mistake," Kirk moaned out, while rubbing his now aching shoulder. Kirk wanted to kill Bill. . . and might have but knew there would be witnesses. Mr. Henderson just might consider that another screw up. "Keep your eye on him," Kirk ordered as he massaged his throbbing shoulder and left to walk off the pain.

In the back shop he noticed some pictures of Marcea and her children hanging on the wall and moved closer to see if David was in any of them. No David. There were some smaller wallet size photos taped to the front of a pink boombox but no David in them either. At least I can find out what kind of music this David listens to. I bet he is a Country Western type. Kirk hit PLAY on the boombox. Instantly, he recognized Mr. Henderson's voice of on the tape. With tape in hand, and a sick grin on his face he went back into the small office. "What do you know about this?"

"Nothing. That's David bench in the back. I don't go poking my nose into other folks stuff," Bill replied sharply.

Kirk knew that Bill was completely innocent but still wanted to kill him for just being bigger and stronger than him. "I need to make a private phone call. Take this overgrown ape out to the car," Kirk ordered the two thug-type agents.

When Kirk called the Department, Mr. Henderson was pleased he had found the tape and said he would take care of having the building secured. He then instructed Kirk to take Bill to Denver to the Bureau of Ammunition, Tobacco, and Firearms.

While the four men drove into Denver, Mr. Henderson called ahead to arrange a polygraph test. If Bill failed, Kirk would get his revenge. Mr. Henderson had many people at the ATF bureau in his back pocket and he could get them to do anything. He knew most the agents were a bunch of overpaid Rambo types with nothing to do, and he played them for idiots. Any mission or assignment broke up their boredom. The head agent in the ATF office in Denver, eager to help Mr. Henderson, agreed to send a team of his men to go back and seal off Bill's Electronic Shop.

Bill hadn't the slightest clue of what was going on. After three more hours of a grueling interrogation he was instructed not to talk or try to contact David and informed that his property was being seized by the Federal Government and that he would go to prison if he did not cooperate fully.

Bill was not even offered a ride back to Aurora. His wife had to pick him up and they drove home wondering what David had gotten them into. Their whole retirement plans would evaporate if they could not get their business back. They were furious! Their lives were turned upside down in just one afternoon. Although neither of them knew it, at least Bill had passed the polygraph test.

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When David came to, stiff from laying on the concrete floor of the abandoned gas station his ears were ringing, sore from the explosion, he checked his watch. It's past six. I've been out for over ten hours. David painstakingly went across the street to the country store and called the shop; the phone rang ten minutes. Bill must have already gone home for the evening. I'll try him at home. No answer there either. I need to put a plan together before I can go to the police. Marcea was right; those men are dangerous.

David tried to call several more times but finally gave up, hung up the phone and walked away from the store. Standing on the ramp onto Interstate 25, he hitched a ride north toward Denver to get a motel for the night.

Soaking his tired aching body in the tub, he dozed off and woke up hours later in cold water. He warmed up by running a hot shower. While he was drying off he switched on the motel room TV for the late night news. Not a word was said about his home being blown up. After trying another local channel he slipped on his shoes and went to buy the late Monday edition of the Denver newspaper. In the lobby he quickly scanned the front pages. Back in his motel room he laid the paper out on the small circular table and searched for a story. There was nothing about his house, not even in the Facts and Figures section under Fire Runs . David found the motel stationery and a pencil and started to write.

1. NEEDED HELP AND THOUGHT I TAPPED INTO A WIRE SERVICE WITH MY CLIPPER CHIP FROM MT. ANTERO.

2. THE FOLLOWING MONDAY WHILE SEEING PAUL OFF AT THE AIRPORT, I RAN INTO THE SENATOR WHO GAVE ME A TAPE OF HIM TALKING TO A MR. HENDERSON AT THE DEPARTMENT OF STATISTICS. THEN HIS PLANE BLEW UP ACCIDENTALLY FROM A FAULTY GAS LINE.

3. THAT SAME DAY I TAPPED BACK INTO THE WIRE SERVICE AND THEY TRIED TO HOLD ME ON LINE TO TRACE THE CALL.

4. WHEN I'M IN CALIFORNIA DANNY TRANSMITTED ME A MESSAGE VIA COMPUTER THAT MR. HENDERSON SENT OUT A GUY NAMED KIRK TO GET ME. KIRK HAS PONY TAIL AND DRIVES WHITE CAR.

5. RACED ACROSS THREE STATES TO GET HOME. MARCEA WAS VERY FRIGHTENED OF THESE MEN. I DIDN'T TAKE HER SERIOUSLY. I SHOULD HAVE!

6. TWO MEN (ONE WITH PONYTAIL) BLOW UP MY HOUSE AND NEITHER THE TV NEWS NOR THE PAPER HAS A WORD ABOUT IT.

David set the pencil down and started reading and rereading the six events. I've never heard of the Department of Statistics. Could they be some covert government department that controls all the statistics and facts? It almost seems that they have control over the news media. David finally set his notes in the center of the table. Suddenly it came to him. That's it! I bet they do change and control all the facts and statistics. Somehow up on Mt. Antero they change the facts and then put them out over the wire service. That's why my house exploding isn't in the paper. They suppressed that information. I bet the Senator's plane did blow up and they changed that story too. Somehow I've got to get proof. But look what happened to the Senator! Oh God, Marcea and the kids almost got blown up because they wanted to get to me.

Exhausted, tired, and alone David pulled back the covers and crawled into bed. No longer able to dwell on the past two weeks, he dozed off. While tossing and turning on the broken down motel mattress a vivid nightmare of Marcea and the children being in the mobile home when it blew up awoke him. In a cold sweat and trembling, David had to turn on the lights to make sure that it was a dream. After walking around the motel room, looking over what he had written and checking out the window, he got back into bed and again dozed off.

This time there was no nightmare, only a dream about Paul and himself when they were ten years old. They were camping outside in the tree fort they had spent all summer building. This was the day that they had put small cuts into the palms of their hands, before the solemn handshake — that would make them blood brothers. Later that warm August night, as they laid on their backs peering through an opening in the canopy of branches toward the heavens above, Paul asked David if he believed there was a God up in all those stars. With the philosophical response of a ten-year-old gazing into the vast awesomeness of the universe David said, "Yeah, I think there's a God up there. But I think He is more down here inside all of us. Just like all those stars, He is shining inside each and every person. Whenever I feel alone I always think of Him being right here inside me. It's easier than thinking about Him being way up there in heaven." David's words profoundly changed Paul's life. Then on that warm summer night, after giving witness to each other under the watchful eye of God, they fell asleep.

The dream somehow had a healing effect on David. He awoke well-rested and at ease. Everything he once owned or loved was gone, but somewhere deep inside him, just like in his dream he knew God was still there for him. After sitting for over an hour at the table trying to put together a plan, David left the motel to get some breakfast. While eating he scrutinized the Tuesday morning paper but could still not find one word about his home. While paying the waitress he took notice of how little cash he had left and knew Bill would advance him some money and put him up for awhile if need be. A couple more nights in a motel was about as long as David's money would stretch.

Half a block from the restaurant was a bus stop. David checked the schedule. A bus to Aurora would be by in ten minutes. Waiting, David became anxious to tell Bill all about the Department of Statistics and to have him listen to the tape that the senator had given him. David needed to confide in someone, and if Bill didn't believe him . . . well, one trip out to where his house once was would convince anyone. David scratched at his face while he rode the bus. Not having shaved since the day he headed out for Oregon he now was sporting a full beard. The bus stopped two blocks from Bill's Electronic Shop and, almost at a run David headed toward the shop. Within a block he easily made out the yellow plastic crime scene ribbon contrasting against the blue building.

Casually strolling past the busybody neighbors that were peering in the windows, David went down a block into the corner convenience store and asked the clerk what had happened. All the clerk had to offer was that someone who worked at the repair shop was a spy and stole some computer chip from the government. At that moment David knew that they were hard on his trail. Once outside he dialed Bill's home phone number, his heart pounding when he detected a delay in the ringing sound. He knew what it meant. When Bill answered the phone David hung up, saying not a word. Someone was tapping the phone.

Back at the motel room David looked over his notes assessing things and working on a plan. He only had $275 but badly needed transportation and some special equipment. He had about $500 in his checking account — not nearly enough for a wireless remote recorder and a used car. He needed even more money so to do battle with the Department. Everything he owned was gone. David switched on the noon news and one of the reports gave him an idea. It was risky but he had no choice.

David left the motel and went out and bought some work clothes and an attaché type tool box to conceal his computer. It was an hour before closing before he walked through the glass doors of the First Interstate Bank of Denver, and he went directly to Mr. Johnson's office and knocked on the glass.

Mr. Johnson waved David in. "Could I help you?"

"I was just in the area, so I stopped by to make sure those phone lines I installed are okay," explained David.

"Oh. It's you, the repair guy. I hardly recognized you with that scruffy beard. Yeah, I think everything has been okay. What are you broke, and trying to hit us for another service charge?"

"No, this is no charge. I just wanted to check the lines again to make sure they are up to spec."

"Wait a second. Last time you were here there were some extra papers in the hopper of the new accounts verification machine. Somebody pulled the accounts on a Mr. Henderson. That guy is a real heavy weight down in Pueblo. Do you know anything about that?" asked Mr. Johnson.

David could feel his face turning red as fast as his throat was tightening. Trying his best to sound innocent, he replied, "Sounds like you got some noise on the line or something."

"Well, since you're here, maybe you should do a check. No charge, right? Matter of fact, I shouldn't have to pay for any of your incompetent work!"

"Let me check the lines. And if it is my fault, you don't have to pay anything on the first bill either."

"You wouldn't admit to it being your fault. But since you're here and it's no charge, you'd better check things out."

"I'll do that. I think the problem is on the terminal board in the phone equipment room. I'll need your key," David said as his voice started to flutter.

Reaching for his keys Mr. Johnson, was becoming suspicious. Instead of handing over the keys, he got up from his desk to unlock the phone equipment room himself. When he had the key in the door he figured out what David was up to, turned and looked David squarely. "How do you know the problem is back here in the phone room?"

David tensed up, again sensing his face burning; not realizing that his new beard concealed the redness and sweat. The confrontation was about to get ugly. He might have to force Mr. Johnson into the equipment room, then knock him out. He had to do something, but first tried another lie. "I noticed a loose connection the day I moved the line."

Mr. Johnson turned back toward the door and twisted the key. "See, I caught you. You should have done the job right the first time. If you knew there was a bad connection the other day you should have fixed it then."

Quickly glancing back down the hall, making sure nobody was watching, David prepared to use the attaché tool box as a club. Mr. Johnson had his back to David, still fiddling with the keys, when finally he got the door open. "I expect a big reduction on my bill. We have had many problems with that new communication line, and you just admitted it was a wire you knew was loose from the other day."

David walked directly to the terminal board and pretended to be inspecting some wires. Mr. Johnson returned to his office, smug that they hadn't been having any problems but was still going to get the bill reduced. David quickly opened the attaché case and connected the Clipper Chip. Hopefully, no one was using the machine out in the bank. An eternity passed before the screen flashed.

WELCOME TO INNER-NATIONAL ELECTRONIC BANK SERVICE.

NAME OF ACCOUNT TO VERIFY FUND

David typed in: Jack L. Henderson, Pueblo, Colorado, P.O. Box 66. The next message flashed up.

SELECT 1. FOR SIGNATURE VERIFICATION.

SELECT 2. FOR THIS BRANCH ACCOUNT TOTALS.

ENTER PASSWORD TO CHECK ACCOUNTS OR TRANSFER FUNDS TO OTHER SUBSCRIBING BANKS.

HIT ESCAPE TO EXIT.

David selected the first option and the signature of Jack Luther Henderson appeared on the computer screen. David had tracing paper in his case and took a piece and put it against his screen. He used a felt tip marker to trace the name; then took the paper away and compared the signatures. The middle name was hard to make out. He put another piece of paper on the screen and made a second tracing. It looked good. He hit the 2 key then copied down the account number at that branch with $680,000 in it.

Now David entered Mr. Johnson's password, the one he had lifted off the pad from the first call. His hands were shaking; in a few minutes he would be a rich man. David held his breath.

ACCOUNT NUMBER AND AMOUNT TO TRANSFER.

David entered the account number off the tracing paper, typed in $650,000 and hit the ENTER key.

FIRST, MIDDLE, AND LAST NAME OF AUTHORIZED BANK REPRESENTATIVE.

David didn't know Mr. Johnson's first name — let alone his middle — because he insisted everyone call him sir or Mr. Johnson. David left the phone room and walked down the hall. There it was: THEODORE M. JOHNSON written on the glass door to his office. Mr. Johnson looked up from his desk when David entered the office. "You're right, Mr. Johnson. I did make a mistake. I'm not going to charge you for some of my work."

"Good. How much longer? We close in ten minutes."

"I'll go pick my equipment right now," said David as he looked around for a paper or something in the office with Mr. Johnson's middle name on it. Disappointed David turned to leave. Then inspired, he turned back. "You know, we've got the same middle name - Michael."

"Wrong," replied Mr. Johnson. "It's Matthew."

Almost bolting out of the office and back in the phone equipment room David entered: THEODORE MATTHEW JOHNSON. The screen went blank for almost five minutes before another line appeared.

ENTER DESTINATION BANK NUMBER AND ACCOUNT NUMBER FOR FUND TRANSFER.

David hadn't planned on this. He could use his own account number off a deposit slip, and had one in his wallet, but the bank number was bar-coded. He was stuck and it was now past five. Mr. Johnson will never let me back in here tomorrow. I should have thought to open up a phony account at another bank to transfer the money to. Maybe I should leave something so I can get back in here. Reaching up to the unclip the computer David thought of one last thing. He pulled one wire out from the terminal block and tucked it behind the others. Folding up his computer, he then made a beeline down the hall, avoiding Mr. Johnson and kept his head low as he exited the bank.

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Back in the motel room, David opened the Yellow Pages to the listing for banks and copied down names and locations of ten banks in the Denver area. Then, getting out the tracing of Mr. Henderson's signature, he started practicing. After writing out the signature more than a hundred times, David left the room and went to the reservation desk. He arranged with the desk clerk for a courtesy ride to a bank in Aurora first thing in the morning then asked about a nearby men's clothing store.

The 6:00 AM wake up call wasn't necessary. David had been up since five, running the plan over and over in his head. He showered, and instead of shaving, trimmed his scraggly two-week old beard. Never sporting a beard before, he was quite surprised how distinguished it made him look; plus, it was a good disguise. Pulling his new suit off the hanger and the new clothes out of the boxes, David dressed and checked himself out in the mirror. Boy, I look sharp. I hope I look important enough to pull this off. Putting some papers inside the attaché case, he headed down to the lobby where a young driver for the motel was ready to take him to a small bank in Aurora, that advertised electronic banking. David hoped his hunch was right; he didn't recall seeing the Bank of the Rocky Mountains as a bank listed on the printouts or off the screen that Mr. Henderson had an account at.

As soon as they unlocked the doors at the Aurora bank David stepped out of the green motel courtesy van and entered. The dark sunglasses and new suit made him look sophisticated; the attaché case added a nice touch. Strutting up to the counter David asked for the person in charge. There were no excuses on his part or questions as to who he was. The teller immediately led David to the small office.

"Could I help you?" asked the bank president.

"Yes, my name in Jack Henderson and I would like to start doing business with your bank. I'm not pleased with the service I am getting from my bank in Denver. You see, I have money invested in many different studies and organizations. I'm a philanthropist and like to keep my accounts private."

"Any business you do with us will always be kept confidential," affirmed the banker.

"Good, this is what I would like to do. If you can help me, I might consider doing all my banking with you."

"Anything to please our customers," reaffirmed the banker.

David carefully opened his attaché case, not letting the banker see there was nothing in it except a few papers and his computer. He took out one paper and slid it across the banker's desk. "What I would like you to do, is to transfer $50,000 into each bank listed by tomorrow. I will transfer $650,000 into your bank by noon today. Can you do that for me?" asked David with demanding authority.

The bank president struggled to hold his composure, wanting the business yet not exactly sure of who he was dealing with. "I think we can do that for you. But I will need some identification."

"Well then, hurry up, before I try another bank." David shut the attaché case, stood, took a pen and forged Jack Luther Henderson's name on the paper he had laid on the desk. "Here is my full name. Don't you have some machine that can verify my signature?"

After going out to the lobby and signing on to Inner-National bank service, the bank president returned with a pleasant yet almost sickening kiss-up attitude. When he compared the signature on the paper against the one on the screen he also looked through some of the miscellaneous accounts, they all had Mr. Henderson recorded as trustee; he was worth millions. The signatures matched and he wanted his bank listed amongst the others he saw large accounts at. Not wanting to detain David. "We would like to have your business. I would be more than happy to do all the transfers to these here listed banks, but we have to put a two-business day hold on all electronic transfers. You can still draw up to ten percent against your deposit at any of our branches. If that is okay with you, Mr. Henderson, here is your new account number." As the banker was writing it down he continued, "The bank transferring the $650,000 to us will have our bank number. The soonest I could do the other transfers would be Friday late afternoon and I would need the account numbers at each of these ten banks in order to transfer the money there."

"Okay, I'll have the money transferred by noon to you. Then by three I will check at one of your branches to see if you set everything up right. Then I will get you all the account numbers. Now, I have an important meeting to get to."

David walked out of the office around the corner and directly up to the teller window. "I just opened an account here. I'll need some self addressed deposit envelopes."

"Here you go, sir," said the teller as she handed David a handful of deposit envelopes.

Glancing at the self printed address that was a P.O. box David said, "I want to make sure my deposits always come to this branch."

"Well then, sir, just write our bank number on the lower left corner on the envelopes. It's 7009."

"Just write the number 7009 and it will get here?"

"Yes sir, that is our bank number."

"Thank you," said David, walking toward the exit memorizing, 7009, 7009, 7009.

The bank president sat in his office feeling somewhat intimidated but mostly awkward. He should have gotten the new accounts form completely filled out and signed, but he did not want to hold up Mr. Henderson or lose the account. Besides, he had a paper with Jack Luther Henderson's signature. If the funds show up by noon he could do that later.

David handed the motel driver his last two twenties, asking him to hurry and drive him to the First Interstate Bank of Denver. While changing in the back of the van, David instructed the driver to leave his suit at the front counter back at the motel. David jumped from the sliding door of the van with the attaché case in hand and ran toward the bank.

The receptionist rang Mr. Johnson. David was still trying to catch his breath when Mr. Johnson stormed out from his office. "Where the hell have you been? I have called Bill's Electronic Shop and there is nobody there. We have been open two hours. The Inner National-Accounts machine is not working at all now!"

"That's why I'm here. I needed a part to finish the repair last night. I've been searching all over Denver this morning to find a new high tension connector," David said while moving toward the rear hall of the bank.

"Forget it! I called somebody else. I can't afford your incompetence. You're fired!"

"Mr. Johnson, you can do whatever you want. But I am not incompetent. I didn't have the part last night. I can have you back on line in five minutes."

There was a long stillness in the lobby as everyone watched the two stare each other down. "You've got five minutes." Mr. Johnson walked down the hall and unlocked the door.

David waited to make sure he wasn't being watched, then slipped the wire back onto the terminal clip. Mr. Johnson had not even had a chance to sit at his desk when David was at his door. "Why don't you check the machine now?"

Mr. Johnson hurried out of his office. David followed him out into the lobby and when he signed on, everything worked. "You're lucky. I could have sued you for all the business we lost."

"I'm sorry. I just need five more minutes to finish. Then I will be out of here."

"Sorry doesn't cut it. I'm running a bank here. Something a person like yourself can't understand." Mr. Johnson then walked off without saying another word.

Back in the phone equipment room, David was connected, ready to transfer $650,000 of Mr. Henderson's money from that bank to the Bank of the Rocky Mountains in Aurora. This time he had all the information: Mr. Johnson's full name and password. The old and new account numbers and, hopefully the correct bank number. 7,0,0,9 were the last entries David made. Hands shaking and holding his breath, David hit the ENTER key. The screen went blank. Please let this work. Don't ask me for anymore information. Please work, Pleess . . . se. The screen flashed:

LEGAL TENDERED TRANSFERRED.

It was like just hitting a lottery! Only instinct enabled David to unhook the Clipper Chip, fold up the case and walk out of the phone equipment room.

In the lobby Mr. Johnson confronted him. "Is the Inner-National Bank service back on line, for good this time?"

"Yes, it's working just fine," David replied still in a daze.

"Good! I might not fire you. Especially if you make sure I don't get charged," Mr. Johnson said wanting to be overheard.

"Hey, don't worry about firing me. I quit. You're a jerk!" Mr. Johnson's mouth dropped as others grinned. David exited and just started walking. Five blocks away in a small coffee shop he had to sit down in order to pull himself together. The caffeine from three cups of coffee only compounded his nervousness — in two hours he would be a rich man.

David needed a private place to practice and found the public library. At a back table he pulled out the tracing of Mr. Henderson's signature and wrote Jack Luther Henderson at least five hundred times before he glanced up at the school-style clock on the wall. It was past three — time to find out if the plan worked. At the checkout desk he asked the librarian for directions to the closest branch of the Bank of the Rocky Mountains.

David strolled up and down the block in front of the bank's main door, four times, before he finally went in. At the oak counter he filled out a withdrawal slip for $50,000 and signed it David J. McIntosh, then waded it up and threw it in the garbage can and filled out another and signed it Jack Luther Henderson. This looks good, but if I try to withdraw too much money they might have to tell the IRS or make me fill out forms. He made out another withdrawal slip and got in line.

"You're next, sir," said the teller.

As if his legs were frozen, it took all David's effort to move to the teller window. "This is a new account I transferred money into this morning." David voice shaking as he handed her the slip.

The teller typed in his name at a small terminal. "Yes Mr. Henderson, we just received that transfer this afternoon. I will have to get an approval to make a withdrawal this soon."

"I was told that I could withdraw up to ten percent against the funds transferred. This is for way less, not even for two percent."

"I still need to get an approval, sir." The teller called over her supervisor and she looked at the terminal and then the signature. "What is your middle name, Lucifer?" the supervisor asked.

"No my middle name is Luther," David replied firmly.

Embarrassed, the supervisor initialed the withdrawal slip, put it in the cash drawer then asked, "How would you like the money, Mr. Henderson?"

"Hundreds would be fine."

"I'll be back in a minute." Going into the vault, she returned with one wrapped stack of hundred dollar bills, counted out nine piles with ten bills in each. Without saying a word, David picked up the money, opened his attaché case and put the $9,000 inside. "I'm sorry about the slip with your middle name," she said.

David smiled. "That's okay. I know it was an honest mistake."

When David exited the bank he walked five blocks without even looking back, expecting someone to come running after him yelling the signatures didn't match or something. After ten blocks the tension and fear started to fade and he could think. That was easy. But now I have to wait till Friday before I can get to the bulk of the money. If Mr. Henderson gets a bank statement or is tipped off he'll put a stop to this and I could get caught. Tomorrow, I will withdraw as much money as I can. Then late Friday, after the two day hold I can have $50,000 transferred to the ten different banks. But then there will be another two day hold on that money. I need to cause some diversion by Monday to keep them off guard.

David flagged a taxi to take him back to his motel. Once there he handed the driver a hundred and told him to keep the change. Inside the motel room he closed the drapes, threw the hundreds all over the bed and dove into the middle of it. Rolling around on the money, he could hardly wait till tomorrow, when he would have more. In a week he'd be rich.

David's ecstatic state was deflated by a knock on the motel room door. He quickly pulled the bedspread back over all the bills, then tipped-toed to look through the peep hole. It was just the bellhop with his suit. Relived, David opened the door, took his suit and ordered a prime rib dinner and a bottle of fine wine. He then gathered up the money and kept counting and stacking it in the attaché case. He slid the money under the bed when room service called with his dinner. David gave the bellhop a hundred and told him to keep the change.

After gorging himself and polishing off half a bottle of wine, David wanted to share his new wealth. His thoughts turned toward Marcea, wishing she were there to celebrate and spend the night with him. The wine was a well deserved relaxant for all that David had been through. Without even giving it a thought of how late it was, he decided to call the monastery.

The wine did more than relax David. He had to dial the number three times before he got it right. "The Monastery of Napa Valley. Could I help you?"

"Yes, I would like to talk to Paul."

"Do you mean Father Miller?" asked the meek male voice.

"Yes, is he there?"

"One moment please. I believe he has retired for the evening." David almost hung up when he heard the phone being set down but decided to wait. After almost ten minutes Paul came on the line. "Hello, this is Father Miller."

"Hey Paul, this is David. How are things going?"

"Just fine, but what happened to you? I tried to call your home and the phone has been disconnected. Marcea filled me in a little about those men."

"Those men aren't that tough. They goofed around with my house a little, but soon I'm getting the money for the damage they did. They don't know who they're dealing with."

"Are you sure you're okay? What these men put Marcea through sounded terrifying. They sound like real evil people."

"You know women, Paul. Marcea just exaggerated a little. That's why I called I want to talk to her."

"David, they are staying at an old convent in Sonoma with two sisters. Ann and Danny are having the time of their lives. Marcea is helping at a small day school the sisters run."

"It sounds like they feel right at home," David said, not quite so cocky and with even a little resentment to his voice.

"Marcea is in much pain right now. Helping the nuns is the best thing for her. I hope to get her to a healing service soon. Before she will forgive you, she needs to forgive herself."

"Paul, that's why I called. I want to get a hold of her, so I can explain things."

There was a long pause before Paul spoke again. "David, Marcea asked me not to give you the phone number or address if you called. She just said to let you know that she is fine and to thank you for taking care of her and her children. David, I'm sorry. I will tell her you called."

Stunned David was only able to say, "Good-bye."

"Good-bye, David. All of us, are praying for you."

 

 

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