Duncan: Out Of Exile
Copyright © 2020 Juju. All Rights Reserved.
Half a mile away we found a Target store so I bought all the stuff I needed to keep clean and an overnight duffel to carry my new clothes. We stopped at the electronics store and scored cables for my phone and laptop even though Dan wouldn’t let me spend my own money. Dan showed me the power supply in the trunk of the Charger with a bunch of USB ports to plug the cords into. After that we drove to the bank in our little village near my old house.
As we walked in the bank, Dan asked me to pull his back panel down so the Marshal insignia showed. The manager rushed over and asked if there was a problem. “None that I know of, Sir, we just need access to a deposit box.” The manager waved his assistant over and asked for the key. Dan held it out and the woman walked over and ran it under a bar code reader. “It’s an ‘A’ vault key, Sir,” she told her manager. “May I see your identification, Sir?” the manager asked. Dan showed him his credentials and told him the box was likely in my name. “Duncan Seward, Sir,” I held my library card and school I.D. card out to him. He passed them to his assistant. The manager suddenly remembered his manners and introduced himself, “I’m Dave Holland the bank manager. Marsha will get your signature card and confirm your identity, just a formality.”
Marsha returned with my key and another key ring and invited us to follow her. We passed through a security gate which she locked behind us and then into an anteroom just in front of the vault. “Duncan, if you would accompany me to the vault, we’ll get your box. The box was their largest and it was heavy enough that she needed help getting it on the cart, we returned to the cubicle and Marsha informed me that the box rental was about to expire. I told her we were moving and wouldn’t need it anymore. Something told me that telling them my mom was dead would cause problems. Marsha told us there were tote bags under the counter and to take as many as we needed; she excused herself and left us in peace.
I was a little nervous as I lifted the lid on the box. The top of the box contained a heavy duty envelope with wire closures. J. Worrell Project Xian Jiu written on the front told us that it was what we were there for. Dan opened it and verified it was full of flash drives. He spilled them out, counted them and then returned them to the envelope, sealing it with an evidence label. He wrote a description of the contents on the label and put it all in a plastic bag he pulled from his pocket. As I explored further, there was an envelope bearing Ken Bayard’s name and another for me. We found my father’s medals and some antique jewelry and then it got really interesting. There was a Colt Peacemaker revolver in a special wooden presentation box. The note indicated that it was his mom’s Great- Grandfather’s revolver from when he was a Texas Ranger. There was also a brand new Sig Sauer automatic in the box with a box of ammunition. Dan suggested we didn’t mention it to the bank. They might not have minded the antique colt but a modern pistol and ammo might upset them. I wondered aloud what happened to the guns at the house. Dan said he had news about that but he’d tell me in the car. Two more boxes held four more weapons. Cased Remington cap and ball .44 cal. revolvers with unusual C.S.A. proof marks, and a Confederate officer’s cap insignia. That prompted a whistle from Dan. A typed note indicated that the weapons had been surrendered by a Confederate captain to a relative that had been a Union major. Finally a matched set of cap and ball .50 cal. pistols from the war of 1812. Apparently our ancestor was on the other side of that one since the guns had a London makers mark.
Under the last box of guns was a dish towel and when I lifted it I almost freaked. One hundred thousand dollars in used hundred dollar bills, all neatly banded, presented themselves. You might not know but large collections of used bills tend to smell bad. They collect body oils from being handled and passed back and forth by people with dirty hands. Money is the dirtiest thing you can touch; forget about the men’s room door handle, the quarters in your pocket are teeming with bacteria. “Comforting yes?”
It took all my willpower to keep from asking what all that was doing in Mom’s deposit box. Instead I started putting the money in a tote bag along with the towel. Good old Doug Adams; a towel really is the single handiest thing in the universe. I put the box with the Colt on top of that and we spread the others over three other totes. Dan pushed the button and Marsha returned. She gave me a receipt for the key and my I.D. and wished us a good day. Mr. Holland walked to the door with us and we walked back to the Charger.
We stuck everything in the trunk and Dan asked me to put his panel back up on his coat. It’s held up with Velcro so it’s easy enough to stow. I may have patted it a little harder than I needed to and I think the giggling was a dead giveaway.
Dan pushed the hood on my jacket down and covered most of my face as he laughed. After we shucked our coats, we jumped in and warmed up the car. Dan made a phone call to the FBI Field Office and arranged to meet an agent and agreed on a time and place. Dan pulled out a card and dictated an address. When he hung up he asked if I needed a restroom or something to eat. I didn’t so he pulled out on the road and in the direction of my house. Dan began to tell me what had happened to our stuff when I wasn’t there.
“When Mr. Worrell’s people heard about Moira’s death they presumed wrongly that you were with her and had died as well. They brought in a team to search for the evidence we just picked up from the bank. They packed up all the household goods and moved them to a warehouse where they went through everything. They will ship it all to our house and you can go through it and decide what to keep. They will also write you a check for whatever didn’t survive the search. They pretty much destroyed the furniture and came up empty. They had already opened up the walls and pulled up flooring and such. They are paying a contractor to repair everything. The place is empty now but I thought you might like to go by and see it.”
I thought about it and said, “Yeah, maybe I should.”
We continued east until we came to our road and headed south. From the outside the house looked the same. We walked up onto the porch and looked in. I tried the knob and the door opened.
“Mr. Worrell told me he had a contractor repairing the damage and it looks like they’ve been busy,” Dan said.
We walked through the house and found fresh plaster repairs and fresh paint in some rooms. Light fixtures lay on a few boxes and work lights were everywhere. The wood floors were brand new and the kitchen had been completely updated. There was unfinished tile work to be done but it looked nice.
“It’s not our home anymore,” I said absently.
Dan put his arm around my shoulder.
“Can I go look in the garage?” I asked.
“Sure, why not,” Dan replied.
The garage was full of building materials and tools but nothing of ours. “What about Mom’s pick up, did they tear that up too?” I asked.
“No, it’s in storage with your stuff.” Dan answered.
I left the garage and walked around behind it. Between the propane tank and the wall, I found the stick with Whisker’s collar hanging from a nail. I picked up the collar and put it in my pocket; I pulled the stick from the ground and said “Goodbye, Whiskers,” and walked back to where Dan was standing.
“Are you okay Duncan?” he asked.
“Yeah, I was just saying bye to Whiskers, he was such a cool cat,” I almost whispered.
“Oh yeah, I remember him, the only cat I ever met that liked avocado. He was very cool,” Dan mused.
We walked back in the house and found a guy in white overalls. “Who are you?” the guy asked.
“I live here, or I did. I was just looking around. It looks good,” I commented idly.
“It was a lot of work; it looked like some punks got in here and busted the place up. We’ve got most of it done. Are you going to move back in?” he asked.
“No, I’m living somewhere else now. Thanks for doing such a nice job,” I finished and walked toward the door.
Dan told the guy thanks as well, and followed me out.
I shucked off my coat and climbed back in the car, as I put my coat in the back the collar fell out of the pocket. I sat there and stared at it. I felt sad but I couldn’t seem to cry. I thought I might need to call Karen sooner than I planned.
I asked Dan about the money we found. He said as far as he was concerned it was mine and he would get me a deposit box when we got to Gardnerville. He would hold it for me until I decided what I wanted to do with it. He reckoned the new pistol and the money together was probably an insurance policy of sorts, just in case she had to take you and go underground if the Chinese found out she was on to them. It was just a guess but he was sure there was nothing sinister about the cash. He told me my Mom was beyond reproach, but she wouldn’t hesitate to take someone out if I was threatened. I had to think about that, he meant my mom would put holes in somebody if they messed with me and it didn’t fit my image of her. Damn!