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Rated: 13+ · Novella · Thriller/Suspense · #2296295
Nolan explores the storage unit left to him by his grandfather.
Chapter 2 - The Letter

I stood in the dim storage unit and read Grandpa's letter.

"Dear Nolan,
If you are reading this it must be the year 2006 and you are now twenty-five years old."

Nope. Not even close. It's 1996 and I'm fifteen.

"Give Cynthia my regards. I hope she's doing well."

I don't think she is.

"The reason I had Cynthia take care of this is because your mother never approved of what I did. She vowed she would never take a dime of my money. She never considered what I did legitimate. The way I look at it, if you're willing to accept the risk and do the time, it's as legit as any Joe Schmo nine to five loser career."

"I hope you're not like your mother and you will consider taking what I have left you. Otherwise, my work will have had no purpose. Hopefully you are now settled into a job and can occasionally share some of this with your mother without her having to know where it came from."

"The bulk of my estate comes from the 1964 Binghamton Art Heist. I've also held on to some diamonds from a job we did in the 80's. Unfortunately, the only cash I'm holding amounts to a little over twenty grand."


Grandpa's letter droned on about details of the Art Heist and I skipped over all of that boring stuff to get to the part about the cash.

"You'll find the diamonds and cash in the middle drawer of the dresser beneath a false bottom."

I read no more and climbed over the table to the dresser. The middle drawer was stuffed with clothes. I pulled them out and studied the bottom.

I looked all along the edges and found a small slot. I reached in my pocket and used the key to pry beneath the bottom. Placing the false bottom aside, I examined what rested beneath it.

My eyes widened when I saw stacks of twenty-dollar bills bundled together by paper straps. I lifted one of the bundles and examined the thickness. I moved my thumb across the crisp bills and they made a light flipping sound. I felt faint and reclined against the bedframe with the stack of twenties in my lap.

I leaned forward and peered into the drawer and counted eleven stacks. I was overwhelmed. It was more money than I'd ever seen.

In the corner of the drawer was a small black velvet bag with a drawstring. I loosened the string and tilted about a dozen shiny diamonds into the palm of my hand. Two or three fell from my hand and rolled beneath the dresser. I recovered one but was afraid to stick my hand too far into the dark. There might be spiders.

I returned the diamonds to the drawer and contemplated my next move. I pulled out two twenties from the bundle and stared at them. I thought for a moment and pulled out two more.

I placed the bundle back in the drawer and was about to return the false bottom when I changed my mind and pulled out a few more twenties without counting them and stuffed all the bills into my pocket.

I returned Grandpa's letter to the briefcase and locked it. As I was exiting the storage unit, I nearly bumped into a man in the hallway holding a clipboard.

"Who are you?"

"I'm Nolan," I gasped. "I'm a friend of Cynthia."

The man looked at the unit number and studied his clipboard. "Cynthia Starr?" I nodded. "She wanted me to check on her stuff."

The man studied the padlock and replied, "I've never met her, but as long as you've got a key, I don't care who you are. Are you finished? We close early on Sunday."

The sun was low in the sky as I rode my bike out of Junction Heights. When I returned home, I spread out the crisp twenties on my bed. I counted $220 and thought of the endless possibilities of my newfound wealth.

Monday morning, I was up at six and out the door before Mama was awake. I reported to the chicken house as I always had and started my day shoveling chicken crap with a snow shovel. I always hated this part.

All I could think about was the $220 I had hidden in my sock drawer and the twenty grand I had hidden in Grampa's dresser. During the morning break, I had a heart-to-heart talk with my employer.

"I've been offered another job and I need to put in my notice."

He rubbed his cheek and replied, "You found someone who'll pay a fifteen-year-old fifty dollars a day?"

I shrugged and nodded.

"Well, good for you. You don't have to work a notice. I've got a boy who's been asking for a job and he'll work for thirty dollars a day. You've been a good worker, Nolan. I'll miss you."

As we shook hands, I realized I hadn't thought it through. I had plenty of money now, but what would I say to Mama when my clothes no longer smelled like chicken crap?

Tuesday morning, I was up at six and pretended to go to work. I rode my bicycle around until Mama left for work and I came home and crawled back into bed. I slept the entire day as the collective exhaustion of working six days a week for over a year caught up with me.

Wednesday morning, I went to the mall and bought a pair of Air Jordans and some new jeans. I also bought a dime bag of reefer and smoked a joint on a grassy knoll near the parking lot.

My story to Mama was that I got a job in the food court at the mall and no longer had to get up at six. I don't think she believed me, but I suppose she was too tired to confront me about it.

I continued to place forty dollars in the cookie jar each day and after a few weeks increased it to sixty.

"I got a raise, Mama."

"They gave you a raise at the mall?"

"Uh huh."

She shook her head wearily and went to bed.

The only truth to my story was that I did report to the mall each day. I watched early matinees at the theatre and waited for the high school kids to show up after school. We played video games in the arcade and hung out in the food court.

I visited the storage unit once a week and left with a stack of twenties. I had a different pair of Air Jordans for every day of the week and when I turned sixteen, I bought a used Honda Civic. Mama flipped out.


"I work in the mall. I've been saving it, Mama."

She stormed off to bed mad, and I suppose she had a right to, since I'd bought a car without having a driver's license. She disappeared down the hallway talking to herself, saying something about me being just like my grandpa.

The next day I met my boy for a dime bag and he had an interesting proposal. He recognized I had money and suggested I score a pound. It was cheaper buying it in quantity and I could make money breaking it up and selling it myself.

I'd gone through quite a bit of Grandpa's money and I knew it wouldn't last forever, so it made sense to come up with a way to generate my own income. We met in the parking lot to do the deal.

He sat in the front seat and pulled out a huge bag of reefer from inside his jacket. I handed him the money and he left. I studied the bag in amazement. I'd never seen that much dope at one time. It occurred to me that I needed to buy some scales to weigh it out into smaller quantities.

About that time, an unmarked police car pulled up behind me, blocking me in. Another patrol car joined him and turned on his blue lights. My face turned red and felt like the top of a thermostat about to blow.


End of chapter two.

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