In the Silence

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CHAPTER FIFTEEN

All day Thursday and Friday morning, decked out in his new suit, David went around to banks opening accounts by depositing small amounts of money. It seemed too simple. The suit and neatly trimmed beard not only built his own self esteem; it gained him respect from most of the bank personnel. He got all the account numbers to the banker in Aurora late Friday and by the middle of next week could close out those same accounts in the form of cashier checks payable to the holder.

Late Friday, in the solitude of  the motel room, David stretched out on the bed. Although he was settling the score with the Department for blowing up all his belongings, he felt strangely low. Maybe it was guilt. After all, the total of his assets only amounted to about $120,000 and he'd embezzled $650,000! Not having someone to share in his new found wealth was also depressing. Nonetheless, if Mr. Henderson didn't get wind of what he was doing by the end of next week, he'd be rich. 

Flying blind, David's plans changed day by day. In the back of his mind he knew he'd need to create a diversion on Monday, just in case Mr. Henderson checked his P.O. box in Pueblo and found a bank statement of the transfer. His current plan would required a four-wheel-drive to get back up on Mt. Antero. He also needed to write a computer virus to feed into the Department of Statistics and sidetrack them for awhile. With so much cash in the room, David was skittish about going out for dinner; for the fourth straight night he ordered room service. Even with the thousands he had already withdrawn, it didn't dispel the loneliness of the motel room. While eating, David considered calling Paul. If I pressure Paul, he'll give me the phone number where Marcea is staying. No, I'll wait. When Marcea sees all the new stuff I'm going to have, she'll be begging me to take her back.

Saturday morning David met up with an old computer hacker friend and between the two of them they compiled a computer virus. All David had to do now was to have someone at the Department copy the virus into the system. Once the virus was copied it should keep them off guard for a week or so. Each time someone pulled some information, everything would seem normal; but then when they would save that file back to the system it would be deleted automatically. It was simple, yet clever the way they wrote the virus: they merely renamed the SAVE command DELETE. And just to make things interesting they renamed the COPY command to ERASE and BACKUP command to LOW-FORMAT. When someone caught on to the fact that information was being deleted and tried to backup the hard drives, the computers would go into an uninterrupted low level format. Out of spite David ran a compiler program on the virus so nobody could read it, requiring some additional time for the Department to locate and remove it.

After testing the virus and loading it onto a floppy, David gave his hacker acquaintance a thousand dollars of hush money for his efforts and even took him out to dinner and a movie. Although this guy was a typical computer Neanderthal type, David wanted to get out of the motel room, since he had hidden most of the money earlier that day. After a somewhat boring evening David started entertaining a surprise trip to California.

  Sunday morning David called a taxi and got dropped off at the community church that Bill attended. The service had already started and big Bill stood out like a sore thumb. David found a seat right behind Bill and looked about, trying to determine if Bill was being watched. Bill's wife, Mary, glanced back. Noticing David, she nudged Bill who twisted, leaned back in his chair and whispered, "What the heck is going on, David?"

David leaned forward and whispered back, "Bill I'm not exactly sure. It all started that night Paul and I got stuck up on Mt. Antero. I tried to call for help, on what I thought was some wire service microwave lines but they turned out to be some data communications lines connected to the Department of Statistics."

Bill put his finger up to his lips for David to be quiet, not wanting Mary to hear and be implicated. Those men could be back to give her a polygraph test; plus he had noticed the tap on his home phone. "Meet me in the restroom," Bill said as he stood to leave. Mary glanced back over her shoulder and gave David a reassuring and trusting smile. David waited a few minutes, then left to meet Bill.

Bill was waiting and locked the restroom door. "David, I don't know what you are involved in, but the less I know the safer for everyone."

"That's probably best, Bill. These guys are serious. I had to get Marcea and the kids away. They were in danger."

"Me and the misses are thinking about getting away in the fifth-wheel ourselves. Those men confiscated my business and said that I might loose it under the federal forfeiture laws."

"How can they do that?" David asked, totally confounded.

"While they all were searching my shop they found a tape in your boombox back at your bench. They said it was key evidence that you were spying for a senator. That's all they told me and that's all I want to know."

David felt sick. Everything Bill worked for to retire on could be gone because of him. "I'm, sorry Bill."

"Don't fret over it. The good Lord will take care of us."

David lowered his head in shame. "Bill, I'm so sorry. It's all my fault." David reached for the door, unable to make eye contact.

"David, you needed something. What was it?"

"I needed to borrow your four-wheel drive." 

Bill took the keys out of his pocket and handed them to David. "Here, y'all be careful. Me and the misses will hitch a ride home."  David looked at Bill, his huge outstretched hand handing over the keys. "Bill, how can you let me use me your truck, after I just closed down your business and all. Plus you will need it to pull your fifth-wheel."

"David," Bill said, reaching out and putting both hands on David's shoulder. "How could I not help you? God teaches to always help a friend in need. You are like a son to me. I couldn't go back out into church if I turned my back on you now."

David looked up at Bill and did something he never had. He put his arms around Bill and hugged him. Bill hugged him back. No more was said. Then David slipped out the back of the church, located Bill's truck in the lot and headed back to the motel. Bill went back to his place in church and asked Mary to pray for David -- as she had been  for years.

On the road before dawn David wanted to be on Mt. Antero by eight and ready to connect into D.O.S. Hopefully, his plan would start Mr. Henderson's week off in disarray, buying David the required two days before he could start closing out the ten accounts undetected. All he needed was for one person to copy his file on any terminal so that the virus could start erasing information and maybe format a drive or two. They would immediately realize what was happening before much information was lost and with any luck it would halt operations for a day or two, keeping Mr. Henderson preoccupied.

Pulling up to the gate, the sun was just peeking over the horizon, turning the sky brilliant orange and breathing light across the mountain tips. It was so peaceful and quiet. David visualized an image something like when Paul was standing there at the edge of the cliff praying. Drawn to the edge of the cliff, the image faded but David could feel a presence. A slight chill flowed through him and he gazed out upon the beauty below almost as though he could hear something in the silence.

David resisted the sensation to fall to his knees and give praise. God, for whatever reason I got involved with these people, I could use your help. Maybe taking the money is wrong but what they took from me was wrong. What I am about to do may cause a few people grief,  but I don't see another way out. I need to get them off my back for a few days and  make them realize who they are dealing with. I hope you can somehow help me. With the money  I can start a new life and be a better person. I  might even give some of the money to charity.

David turned to the left and went to the concrete bunker. What he saw  sent a chill down his spine: The lock had been shot off. They've been here! It's too risky. They could be watching this place right now. While running and then jumping into the truck, something seemed to be pushing at David. The next thing he knew he had the Clipper Chip hooked up and was typing in the message.



IS MR. HENDERSON THERE?



After working all night, Scott was just about to leave, when the message appeared on his screen. He immediately called upstairs. Kirk was gone staking out David's former home site. Scott called Mr. Henderson who, two seconds later, came barging out of his office. He rushed across the floor  and stood looking at the screen. "Answer back,  'Yes, I'm right here, ' " Mr. Henderson ordered Scott.



YES, MR. HENDERSON IS HERE.




David had prepared a long message hoping that its contents would catch somebody off guard. In the middle of the file he had hidden the virus. All he needed was for someone to copy the file and then the virus should start doing a little damage -- buying him needed time.  David loaded the file and hit the F2 key. Meanwhile, Scott was still sitting waiting for a response and Mr. Henderson, standing over him,  was also focused on the screen.



MR. HENDERSON, I WANT TO THANK YOU FOR BLOWING UP THAT TRAMP I WAS LIVING WITH AND HER CHILDREN. THERE IS NOW PURITY WHERE ONCE WAS PAIN. I  AM SO MUCH STRONGER THAN YOU AND THAT SKINNY, PONY-TAILED KIRK. HE DID DO A GREAT JOB WITH THE CASE OF DYNAMITE UNDER THE REAR PORCH, BUT I WOULD HAVE MADE THEM SUFFER MORE. HOW CAN YOU CONTROL THE WORLD IF YOU DON'T INFLICT PAIN IN YOUR VICTIMS FIRST? THERE HAS TO BE PAIN BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT WE USE TO MEASURE QUALITY OF LIFE. YOU SEE, MR. HENDERSON, YOU THINK THAT YOU ARE POWERFUL AND CONTROL THE MEDIA. *&^#- @= %^ &~~=&  %  $ =>=<^^~ ~ ~><4+_(*(  ^&% %# &.  THE SENATOR WAS A THREAT TO YOU SO YOU BLEW UP HIS PLANE. BIG DEAL! YOU HAVE MADE EVERY MOVE I WANTED. YOU ARE SO STUPID! A GREAT LEADER WOULD WASH HIS HANDS NOW. BUT YOU WILL CONTINUE TO HUNT ME DOWN. I PREDICT IT. YOU ARE DEALING WITH A FORCE MUCH MORE POWERFUL THAN YOUR OWN LITTLE MISSION AT THE DEPARTMENT OF STATISTICS. YOU MIGHT BE ABLE TO CHANGE A FEW FACTS AND RECORDS, BUT I KNOW THE TRUTH AND THE TRUTH WILLALWAYS PREVAIL. I WILL INFLICT GREAT PAIN INTO YOU AND EVERYONE INVOLVED, PAIN SO INTENSE THAT YOU WILL WISH FOR DEATH, HOPING FOR THE ABYSS THAT THERE WILL NOT BE.



The message stopped. Scott sat petrified. What kind of person would thank someone for killing a woman and her children.

Mr. Henderson was confused, not sure what it all meant. "Copy that message! I want a printout of it," he ordered Scott.

Scott copied the message and named it: THREAT. Then he tried to retrieve it, to print it. "It's gone!"

Mr. Henderson was not that familiar with computers but knew Scott had done everything right. He yelled out to the other employees at their terminals. "See if anyone can pull up the file named THREAT!"

Everyone started trying to pull up the file, which only accelerated the virus throughout the Department's computer system. The virus was even networked on to the tape back up system running up stairs. No one could pull up the file and when a few employees tried to backup their terminals they lost all information. Chaos  broke out as several screens went blank. David's virus was only intended to create a little disarray; instead it was spreading like the fog of death.

Mr. Henderson lost his breath; sweat dropped off his fat face. He realized he had been out played and just made the wrong move; for the first time he was the one being controlled. The pandemonium continued as the whole Department came to a stand still. Mr. Henderson ordered Scott to go find Kirk. Being on the defense scared him. Now to win; David had to die.

Disconnecting the Clipper Chip, David felt fairly certain that someone had copied the file since there was no response. He figured that it would take years for the virus to spread and cause any real damage and that would only happen if the virus went undetected. But David wrote the virus so that it would be detected as soon as someone tried to retrieve or print it, not knowing that Mr. Henderson had ordered it to be copied onto every terminal. David should have paid more attention to his own message. He was unaware of how much supernatural help he was getting. Leaving the concrete bunker with the laptop computer in hand, David stopped again at the edge of the cliff  to listen.

  On the way back, David stopped at the bank in Aurora to check to see how things had gone Friday. The banker only made eight of the ten $50,000 transfers because one bank was under reorganization and the other was not hooked up to the Inner-National Bank Transferal Service. The banker suggested another special account at his bank which included use of any automatic teller machine to retrieve his money. David liked the idea and used  $100,000 to set up that account. When the banker asked for an address to send the ATM card to, the only place David could think of was Bill's Electronic Shop.

As David drove away from the bank, he felt uneasy about implicating Bill even more by using his business address. But he didn't have a home any longer and knew that his mail had probably been stopped. Looking at Bill's keys in the ignition, David spotted the alarm key and rear door key to the shop. He made a mental note to take them off the key ring when he stopped. David turned up the radio, started tapping his hand on the steering wheel and sang to the music. In two days he would have over half a million dollars.

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Just past noon, Scott found Kirk staking out what was left of David's home. Parked a ways up the road and hiding in an old vacant barn, Kirk was watching with binoculars, expecting David anytime. Scott yelled from outside the barn, "Mr. Henderson sent me up here to get you! We've got a big problem at the Department."

"What kind of problem?" asked Kirk, still staring through the binoculars and angry that Scott found him so easily and was being so loud.

"Mr. Henderson just told me to tell you to come back down to the Department. Now! That's all I know."

Kirk was tired and impatient from being on the stakeout all night and was ready for a kill. He had a high power rifle with a night scope leaning against the wall. Picking up the rifle, he walked out of the barn and pointed it at Scott. "Now, why don't you tell me what fat old Mr. Henderson wants."

The rifle did not even faze Scott. Death would ease the blanket of guilt he couldn't escape. But then he thought of his family, Sue had mentioned that she thought somebody had been following her. Scott had to answer Kirk. "That computer hacker guy, David, was on my terminal again this morning."

"What?" yelled Kirk. "Don't lie to me." Furious, his finger tightened on the trigger.

"I'm telling the truth. This David guy is psycho. He thanked Mr. Henderson for killing his girlfriend and her children. He knows you have a ponytail and that you put the dynamite under his house and went on with some philosophical message about him inflicting pain. There was a line full of characters and graphics we could not read. And then he went on about the power of truth having so much force and what would happen to the Department. It even scared Mr. Henderson."

"You didn't copy it did you?" screamed Kirk

"Yes, I did.  Mr. Henderson ordered me to."

"David probably down-loaded a virus into your terminal." Kirk kicked at the old barn knocking some planks loose.

"He must have, because no one at the Department was able to pull up the message from any of the forty terminals after that," Scott said hiding his joy.

"No! No! No!" Kirk ran at full speed toward the car, throwing the rifle in the back seat and speeding off.

  Meandering toward his car, Scott glanced momentarily down the road at the blackened pile of rubble that was once David's home. I don't know who you are David, but something is just not right. Nobody would be happy about children dying in that terrible fire . . .  I'm so sorry for being part of that.  But I do pray that you, and whoever must be helping you, can destroy  Mr. Henderson and his evil comrades. Not sure of what would be left of the Department by morning, Scott drove straight home and picked up Sue and the children to take them out for dinner.

Sue knew something was wrong ever since that night Scott had come home beaten up. Again, she kept quiet, not wanting to ruin the meal, not really wanting to know. Scott suggested a movie afterward and Chad and Polly were elated. Throughout the movie Scott held Sue's hand. They got home and put the kids to bed. Nothing was said; it wasn't necessary. Like a night before a soldier goes off to do battle, they went into their bed and made love without saying a word. Arduously and silently they tried to pull a part of each other into themselves, wanting to savor a union that may never again be. Together, as one, they were fulfilled -- and if it were for the last time, they both could go on because their love would always be.

Scott woke early to go into work, unsure of what had transpired overnight. When the elevator doors opened  it was not business as usual. Some employees were sitting at their desks; others were milling around talking. Nobody was working; they couldn't. Kirk had given strict orders that if anybody touched a computer terminal they would be gone. Scott went to the breakroom to overhear the gossip. The word was that Mr. Henderson and Kirk had worked throughout the night and when they tried to do a backup, the computers went into a low level format. Some software experts were being called in from the East Coast and everything at the Department was on hold.

Scott moseyed back to his desk, thankful it had been Mr. Henderson's  instructions to try to copy David's message. There was nothing for him to do, no putting out false accusations of archbishops raping young men, not even a small Christian orphanage to destroy. Scott just sat at his desk thinking. Whoever this David is, I like him. He's one sharp computer hacker. I wonder what will happen if he and Mr. Henderson ever meet.

"Hey, Scott." Scott's daydreaming was halted by a fellow employee. "We just got the message. Everybody is to go home till they are called back. Rumor is it could be two days or two months."

In less than an hour, the whole third level basement floor was empty. Not even Mr. Henderson was in his office. Scott was third man in charge, or at least third man who really knew the true mission of the Department. He stayed, not wanting to jeopardize his family. Maybe this David sees some sick kind of purity in losing people close to him, but if anything happened to my family . . .  Scott pushed the thought from his mind by  organizing the personal things on and in his desk.

It was almost noon when the solitude was broken by the elevator doors opening. Mr. Henderson went straight into his office, acknowledging Scott's presence with one quick glance. It was only ten minutes later when Kirk emerged from the elevator and went right into Mr. Henderson's office without even shutting the door.

Scott listened to the screaming from his desk. "I hired you for security and your computer expertise and now one person has almost destroyed us. Millions of dollars on a bunch of computer equipment and in one day everything could be gone. All the information we use to blackmail politicians -- gone. All the true statistics -- gone. We won't even be able to tell the true facts from the false. If the press and news media start printing the truth, we're finished!"

"It's not my fault! You're the one who told Scott to copy the information into our system. I talked with other employees, they all confirmed that you ordered them to try to pull up that file David sent. That stupid move is what spread the computer virus!" Kirk stood his ground.

"Phew," breathed Scott at his desk, hearing their arguing and relived that they were blaming each other and not him.

"What's our next move?" asked Mr. Henderson in a quieter voice.

Having to strain to hear, Scott cupped his hand behind his ear.

Kirk also lowered his voice. "We need to find David McIntosh and get him to tell us what kind of virus he wrote. If we stay off line we won't lose anymore data. I've got some computer experts flying in from the East Coast. They might be able to help, but the real way to make sure is to find David."

"How do you suggest we do that?" asked Mr. Henderson. "He knows about his house. He thanks us for killing his girlfriend. And now shuts the whole Department down." .

"Get Scott to figure something out. He's really the brains here. Look at what he did with the metric system scam, and how he has beat the Christians back with all that divisive information.

"Scott, get in here," Mr. Henderson yelled  out the opened door.

Slowly walking toward the office, Scott decided that he would not help, especially now that he saw the total picture. No longer would he be part of it. All he had to do was lay low and wait for David to finish them off. "Yes?" Scott said, standing next to the big red steel office door.

"Scott, I need you to concentrate on nothing else but a plan to help us corner this computer hacker. The Department cannot function till we get a hold of David. We have to find out about that computer virus you copied into our system. I want you to work around the clock with Kirk!"

"Okay," Scott said, all the while thinking, What a jerk, Mr. Henderson is already blaming me. I will not help them catch this David guy.  The Department will be history in a couple of months without my help . . . 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

On Wednesday David had eight cashiers checks for $45,000 each. Leaving $5,000 in each of the eight banks saved the hassle of closing the three-day old accounts. Then, over the weekend, he moved out of the motel into an apartment and spent a couple more days on a shopping spree, purchasing a large screen television and some state-of-the-art home entertainment equipment. He had a genuine leather sofa delivered along with a matching tan recliner. The things he bought were so much better than what he had lost in the fire. Money was no longer a problem. His new possessions made him feel good. He could buy anything that he wanted and eat at any restaurant he chose.

Just before noon Thursday David got out of bed. It was time to cash one of the week-old cashiers checks. Today was the day he would treat himself to a dream come true. Before he knew it, he was standing on the showroom of a motorcycle dealership. The feeling was beyond ecstasy -- any bike he wanted he could have, any option, not a financial considerations. His eyes spotted the 1340cc block head, with the EVO designed motor. The black paint with gold metal flakes sparkled under the showroom lights. The triple-chrome plating was contrasted with some gold plating, just enough not to be tacky. The bike looked awesome, flawless, so much better than his old one. The tag said $20,000.

David swung his leg over the seat and leaned the bike off its kickstand. The balance and feel was perfect Harley. He imagined the ride, gliding and carving up a winding mountain road. David wanted it, wanted to try to tame its grueling power, maybe even ride to California to show it to Marcea. It wasn't a dream. This Harley was meant for him.

"Can I help you?" asked the salesman.

"Yeah, I want to buy this bike."

"Everyone wants to buy this Harley. Please be careful, it's a Limited Edition. There are only a thousand of these. We've got some Japanese bikes for a lot less," offered the salesman.

David pulled one of the $45,000 cashiers checks and handed it to the salesman. "Can you make change out of that?"

The salesman took the check to call the bank. Returning with a different attitude, he said. "Your cashiers check is good, payable to the holder, no questions asked. I don't have the $25,000.00 difference in cash. Would you let me cut you a business check?"

"Sure, no problem," said David with a smile.

"All I need is your drivers license to confirm insurance and you can drive it off the showroom floor."

Now straddling the Harley, David reached into his back pocket, pulled out his wallet and handed over his drivers license. He leaned the bike back onto the stand and followed the salesman into the sales office. The salesmen dialed the Department of Motor Vehicles to get a confirmation on insurance coverage. "Yeah, okay I'll do that," said the salesman, then hung up. "I've got to check on one thing," he said to David and stood, then left the office hurriedly.

The LINE 2 light on the phone came on and suspecting something  was amiss, David picked up the phone and covered the mouth piece. He heard a woman's voice. "9-1-1. Do you have an emergency?"

"Yes, this is Clyde, at Denver Two Wheel Motor Sports. I just called the DMV for an insurance verification on a David McIntosh and they said there is an All Points Bulletin out on this guy. You'd better get over here; he's sitting in my office right now." Click. The salesman had hung up.

David grabbed his drivers license and the cashiers check and rushed out of the dealership. He was only three blocks away when he heard sirens converging on the cycle shop. David ran for a bus just pulling up to a stop. He slumped in the bus seat as siren approached from behind and then whizzed by. David was now a wanted man -- on the run. I better start using an alias. I'll start using the name Paul Miller. After all, Paul used my name at the AIDS clinic.

Back in his new apartment, David felt isolated. He had money but could not even buy a new bike, let alone a car or home. He was a prisoner and Mr. Henderson held the keys to his freedom.  David needed transportation. If they found out he was using Bill's truck, there would be an all points bulletin out on it. David leaned back in his recliner all alone, depressed and trapped -- not what he expected, as a rich man. 

Waking around 4AM Friday, and still in the new tan leather recliner, David groggily started putting a plan together. A good used vehicle with current plates purchased from private party would be the first thing on his agenda. Driving Bill's truck around the outskirts of Denver, David spotted a red four-wheel drive parked in a grocery lot with a FOR SALE sign in the window. There was also a matching red painted dirt bike chained in the bed of the truck. David called the phone number from a restaurant across the street and ate breakfast while watching out the window for the owner to appear. A teenage boy showed up and started looking around. David left ten dollars on the table and headed across the street. "Are you the person I called on the phone?" asked David as he approached.

  "Yes, that was me. Are you only interested in the truck?" eagerly asked the teenager.

"Just the truck," replied David. "Do you have a clear title for it?"

"Yes, right here, sir," said the teenager, pulling two titles from his shirt pocket.

"How does it run? And why are you selling it?" asked David.

"The truck runs great, sir. I'm selling it because I got my girlfriend pregnant and we'll need the money to get married and for our new baby." 

"You don't have to call me sir," David said, wondering if he would have sold his things if Marcea had gotten pregnant. He looked at this young kid that was hardly old enough to shave and asked. "How much for  the truck?"

"I would take seven thousand. The dirt bike is almost brand new and I got over ten thousand into my truck. I'd take eight thousand for both."

"Let me look at the titles," David said. Both titles were clear. "You got a sale, kid. And I will take care of transferring the titles to save you some money."

"Great!" said the  boy,  handing David two sets of keys.

"Get in. I want to see how this truck runs. And if everything works we'll need to go to a bank so I can get your money." David drove for about five miles, saying that the truck ran rough. When he pulled into a bank he checked the turn signals, stop lights and other equipment, making sure everything worked. David presented one of the $45,000 certified checks. The bank did not have enough cash on hand to break it. After some quick mental calculating, David had them issue two new checks, one for $10,000 the other for $30,000 and took the balance in cash.

  The young man stood quiet as the teller cut the two new checks and then counted out the cash. He knew David's scam: to offer him $5,000 for both his truck and cycle. He wished his dad were there, but knew what he'd say: "If you're old enough to make babies, you're old enough to make this decision." He needed the money, he'd have to take the cash.

David piled up the cash, put one check on top and stuffed it into his coat pocket. Then he handed the kid the $10,000 bank check and said, "Here kid, and good luck."

The young man looked at the check. "Sir, I told you seven thousand for both. I said I had over ten thousand into the truck."

"I heard you. The extra is just a little wedding present. It might help out with that new baby," David said, extending his hand.

The teenager grabbed David's hand and shook. "Thank you, sir."

"I hope you can get a ride home from here. And I told you, don't call me sir." Smiled David, letting loose of his hand to leave.

"Son, maybe you would like to open an account?" offered the teller politely. Not sure of all that happened but picking up on David's cue to help.

"Yes, I would like to open an account. But I would like to call my girlfriend so she can be on the account too."

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Halfway back to his apartment David pulled down the sun visor and a photo fell down. It was a senior prom picture of two young and innocent children soon to be parents. David thought about how money was so important for a family just starting out and thought about how little Marcea had when he had rescued her from the night club. Back then she hardly had enough money for food and was living day to day. She was never able to give her children anything extra. Danny really appreciated that beat up old computer he had given him and Ann so cherished the toy horses Marcea would pick up at rummage sales.

On Saturday David woke up early and decided to try out the dirt bike. He went up toward the mountains and unloaded it from the back of the red pickup truck. The bike was like new and David rode for about an hour before running out of gas. He packed up the bike and headed to a Department store to buy a gas can, a helmet and whatever else he felt like. The mall was packed. It was a typical Saturday crowd and David got caught up in the spending frenzy staying till all the stores closed.

  Sunday morning David had to return Bills four-wheel-drive. Being in a church two Sundays in a month was a new record for David. Up till age twelve he attended the Episcopal Church regularly with his mother but hadn't been back except for an occasional Christmas or Easter Service. Sitting in the back, he enjoyed the family feeling of the Community Church Bill and his wife attended. One man approached, remembering him from the other week, welcoming him back. If more churches were so friendly, maybe I'd start attending more often.

The pastor gave an excellent sermon. It's message was that the greatest gift one can give his fellow man is to offer up one's life. He spoke about soldiers in all  the countries throughout the world who laid down their lives for freedom. Paying the ultimate sacrifice so that we could say, could write, and practice any belief or faith freely without fear of persecution. Jesus gave up his earthly life for eternal freedom for everyone. After the sermon all David could think was, Wow.

A greeting followed and everyone in the congregation hugged and or shook hands with those people around them. David did not participate, wishing to avoid Bill or his wife spotting him in the back of the church. It was too risky, someone could be watching. He was sure no one was following him driving Bill's truck to the church, but they could be watching Bill. David stayed in the back during the collection and  remained undetected.

This was a special Sunday service because they were taking up the pledges to build a new church. Bill's wife, Mary, had been one of the first people to pledge $1,000. Bill matched her pledge with another $1,000 But with their business being seized by the government they were not sure of their financial situation now. When the basket was being passed around Bill looked over at his wife and she just nodded. Bill went ahead and wrote out a check for $1350, all that they could now afford. It was money that they now needed. The church would have understood if it didn't receive even one dollar of their former pledge, but Bill and his wife had prayed over this decision and decided to put it in God's hands. 

The ushers collected the offering and carried the baskets up front. The service was just about to conclude and David needed to leave to avoid being spotted by Bill or Mary. When an usher came to the back of the church, David handed him a white envelope and Bill's truck keys. "Could you make sure my friend Bill, the big Texan up there, gets this envelope and his truck keys?"

"Sure thing," whispered the usher.

The service concluded and when the usher handed Bill his keys and the white envelope, Bill looked all around for David. The congregation visited and there was a small ceremony of coloring in the graph of the church building fund. The church was over halfway to its goal of breaking ground. Bill put his massive arm around Mary and pulled her against him, glad that they made their contribution. "Can I spend a little more money and take my little lady out for brunch?" asked Bill. 

Bill and Mary enjoyed a delicious brunch. They were drinking a last cup of coffee and the plan was for Mary to drop Bill back off at the church to pick up his truck. "Oh, I almost forgot." Bill reached in his jacket and took out the white envelope. "The usher gave this to me along with my keys." Unable to read without his glasses he slid the envelope across the table to Mary.

She opened it and quietly read it to Bill.
"Dear Bill and Mary, I'm sorry that I somehow got you two involved. I cannot tell you anymore because it could implicate you. Both of you have always treated me like a son, offering to sell me the business and always trusting in me. Now I have to ask you to do another thing for me. In Bill's truck is a brand new computer for Danny and some Breyer play horses and cash for Ann. I would like you to deliver these things to them in California. When you get to Napa Valley, phone Paul my priest friend at 555-2028. He will help you get in touch with them. Bill, could you help Danny set up his new computer and  find some place to get Ann some horse riding lessons? Mary, I know that this next part will be hard for you but you have to believe me like a mother believes in her children. These three cashiers checks rightfully belong to you and Bill. Some people illegally confiscated your business. All I've done is gotten them to advance me your money. When I get you back your business, you can then give back the money. Soplease use it till I get things straightened out. I need the both of you to just trust in me. Love, David."

Mary slid the three checks across the table while she read the postscript to herself:

P.S. Mary, if you could somehow get Marcea to talk to me again I would appreciate it. Tell her that I do miss her and think about her always. Would you please make sure she gets the letter in the box.

Bill was flabbergasted. Even without his glasses he was sure each check read: PAY TO THE BEARER $45,000. After a few minutes he asked, "Mary what do you think we should do?"

Reaching across the table she put her hands over Bill's. "Let's honor our son's, I mean David's wish, and head for California tomorrow."

 

 

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