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Jimmy L Holder

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Member Since: Dec, 2001

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Chasing Picasso
By Jimmy L Holder
Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Rated "PG" by the Author.

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We are all vulnerable to change, some of us more than others.


Chasing Picasso

By J. L. Holder


As Violet James glanced up at the puffy white and azure sky, she listened to the healing music of the rushing waves as they sang. She was sick with regret as she wondered when her prince whoever would come to liberate her. She needed something sure and pure to break the damned tranquility of paradise? And she needed it now.


Like so many disreputable thieves, she had endured many troubled hours here while pondering her shady past.

Violet sat on the edge of her designer round chair in the veranda of her timeless Spanish style villa, thinking constantly. She glimpsed an especially blue and impressive Caribbean sea and tried so hard to enjoy doing nothing.

Had she learned to love and appreciate this reclusive island’s incredible view? No! She had gotten all she ever wanted from life, and perhaps all she deserved, and now, she wondered why she was so damned confused by her own success. She was in an incredible paradise and she was in a baffling hell of her own wretched creating. Perhaps, it was the sticky string of damaged souls she had so casually left behind that tormented her. And perhaps, she had a soul after all.


These forsaken days were times of great reflection and of a forlorn serenity. In fact, they were the culmination of a gory past. She wondered if she should channel all her energies and absorb herself in her most pleasurable distraction - canvas painting. She wondered why she was listening to that damn Prince song on her stereo again - Call My Name for the millionth time. She wondered why she couldn’t forget her past, after all, she had defied time and bridged the gap between what she thought at the time was abject poverty and great riches. She was a winner, there was no doubt of that, she had won everything, well, perhaps not everything. But, she could now buy anything she wanted - anything except love, that is, and who needed that?

Twenty years ago Hattie Nelson was a freshman in Round Rock High School in south central Texas. Round Rock was a well-to-do predominantly white town about twenty miles north of Austin, Texas. It was a virtual paradise of white-collar families and middle-to-upper class living. Hattie’s family was close. They went to Divinity Church of God and Christ twice a week, and they enjoyed traveling along with many other leisure time activities common to upper middle income families. Texas, after all, was a good place to grow up.

She was a skinny little girl that was markedly smarter than all the other children, but nobody except her teachers noticed. Nobody noticed her cleverness either. Nor did anybody mention her wonderful sketches.

After her father’s accidental death at one of his construction sites, her mother had a nervous break down and had to be institutionalized in Austin’s mental hospital. It was at that point that Hattie’s life drastically changed. The darling of Round Rock was soon to become a military brat of Killeen, Texas. Her dreams weren’t dying, they were being killed by a consuming reality and the brutal hands of an almost poverty and horny-horned men. It was almost always an unnecessary reality and a pursuing poverty.

Hattie’s father, James Judson (JJ) Nelson had left the family $350,000 in cash benefits and a furnished, paid for $200,000 home in Round Rock in a very fancy neighborhood. During her mother’s break down, JJ’s younger brother Darrell, had offered to mange Tiaire Nelson’s finances. This would prove to be the family’s undoing. Hattie had felt a kind of emotional melt down when Darrell offered to assist. But her mother was in no condition to take care of herself and she was just 14 years old and too young. Soon, Darrell was in complete control of their finances. When Tiaire lost her day to day hold on life, Darrell had her institutionalized. That left Darrell alone with Hattie, who at the time was a naive little thing. Darrell decided Hattie was in the way of his spending (a witness) and arranged for Hattie to stay in Killeen, Texas about 50 miles north. She would live with Tiaire’s sister Kimberly. Darrell, a great pretender, paid $400 a month in child support and he also paid for Tiaire‘s treatment.

Kimberly Ann James was a Staff Sergeant and strict disciplinarian stationed at Ft. Hood, Texas - the largest military reservation in the world. She was a member of an elite Black Hawk helicopter 5-man crew that traveled frequently. She loved her niece tremendously, but her ... don’t ask, don’t tell lifestyle confused her tall, skinny niece. To Hattie, Kim seemed poor. She wasn’t poor, of course, at least not that poor compared to most of America, but Hattie didn’t know that. In fact, Kim was a true American heroine with unquestionable courage. Both desert Storm and Iraq had prove that repeatedly. She just didn’t understand kids.

Obviously, Kim was a lesbian and she never talked or explained her lifestyle to an obviously straight niece. Kim’s relationship with her life partner Connie would have been looked at with disdain fifty miles away in Round Rock. But, those forty or fifty miles might as well be a million. Killeen was an army town and it was different from most Texas cities. Different, but the same in some important ways.

 

 

Hattie liked boys, and she had known three boyfriends in the past - no sex. Actually, she liked sports more than boys back then. Boys were just something all the other girls were into at the time. Now, she was in an environment with many young soldier boys/men who were very worldly. She was confused and they were aggressive.

There were so many of them, and she was still 15 and still growing. Soon, Hattie noticed she was developing little breast, late, but still developing - and they just kept growing over the next year until she reached a full C-Cup bra. She had transformed in a very short time from a stick into a white swan and this had added to her confusion. In short, she had her mother’s looks. At 16, she was still a virgin. But, unfortunately, an older, more experienced group of men (soldiers) had noticed her and she had definitely noticed them. Now, seventeen, these men, who had once avoided her like she was poison, now they started to woo her. She would be 18 in six months and possibly off to college somewhere.

Kim had a small two bed room apartment near down town Killeen. It was within easy walking distance of everything and near the BINGO halls - all four of them located in the same small area. The bus and police stations were close, and so were three motels. Motels, apartment buildings, car lots, and many fast food restaurants were common here. Over the last two and a half years, Hattie had learned many new things. Alone a lot, and without supervision, she had lost her virginity, and naivety months ago.

After that, she went completely wild. Her pranks were no longer childish, they were just plain dangerous. She had brought many of her new friends over to her aunt’s apartment when she was out of town and partied on many occasions unsupervised. Drugs were like candy to Hattie, but she was not greedy for them. Nor was she greedy for men. They were both just things to break the boredom. Cocaine was her favorite “lets-forget-everything” for a while friend.

The only hindrance to her partying was her aunt’s Black girl friend, Connie, who frequently checked up on Hattie. Connie had to be at work at 6 AM and normally came to check on Hattie early in the afternoon. This schedule was convenient to Hattie although she suspected Connie knew what she was doing. Connie was kool. They were friends but Hattie didn’t understand lesbians. She had nothing against them, but how could they do without men? Killeen was a place of many nationalities and many different lifestyles. Once this town, Killeen, didn’t allow Blacks to live here. Now it was probably 40% Black. Blacks lived everywhere Whites lived. In just one year, Hattie had changed completely. Her grades, surprisingly, never did. She had never made a single B. She was smart alright, perhaps too smart for her own good and much too energetic and clever.

One day while driving her aunt’s 2002 Toyota Jeep Grand AM near a park on Terrace Street, she notice a gathering of somewhat young people in a park. She was drawn to this event somehow and decided that she and her good friend Loretta should investigate. This single act would change her life forever. It was a picnic sponsored by a retiring Army Senior Master Sergeant named James (Jim) Wells. Sergeant Wells was now 41 and had spent his entire adult life in the army. At the party was sergeant Wells’ brother Troy Wells. He was something to Hattie - something pretty and something wild. Troy was handsome, 34, well-dressed and drove a 2005, blazing green Aston Martin V12 sports car. When their eyes met, Hattie’s life changed. Troy was a true player and a con man. College was out, and learning a new trade was in - the art of cheating people.

For nearly ten years Hattie, now Violet James worked the game with Troy- her lover and mentor. They even worked in Europe for a while. Troy was the best of the best and had also learned from the legendary Vincent Mandrel who many considered to be the worlds best con man. They had made three big scores over the years and made over 10 million dollars apiece. Troy, now 44, wanted kids. Hattie was nearing 29 years of age and was considered prime beef in the con game. She had become a worldly, clever, fine, manipulative bitch who only cared about winning and scoring. The thrill of the game forced her to forget her past and concentrate on business. Vincent had always told Troy, always follow your instincts and quit while you are ahead and if you don’t feel right - drop a score immediately. Troy had always listened. He was the king of cons now and he wanted to settle down and raise kids with Violet. There was only one problem. Violet didn’t want to retire at age 29. To her, life was just beginning, it was just starting to become interesting. Then lightening struck - Vincent called Troy for one last super score.

Violet/Hattie remembered their last score with much fondness, and much regret, like it was yesterday.

Vincent Mandrel had listened to his adopted daughter, Violet James, tell of her peaceful days in Round Rock, Texas. She told of her real father working his construction gigs, the scenic picnics, and her mother’s BINGO and he too wanted the simple life. Five years ago Vincent retire permanently at the age of 61. He had made some $43 million dollars and still possessed most of that acquired fortune. Since he didn’t want anyone to find him, he had bought a conservative house in Hattie’s old Round Rock neighborhood. He had adapted to the local lifestyle very well and had dated some of the finer Texas treasures in the local community. He had developed a reputation as a ladies man and the ladies loved him. He treated each of them like national treasures. One of his lady friends had introduced Vincent to Texas BINGO. Since that night, three years ago, he had become a regular. Often, he traveled to Austin, the state’s capital to play at their various BINGO palaces.

Over the years, he had noted several irregularities in the games, well, some occasional cheating amongst the employees and selected customers. But, still all in all, the game was OK to him. One night however, about a year ago, he notice an oriental employee signaling certain patrons to call BINGO based on predetermined signals from the Oriental lady. At first, he wondered what was going on, and then, he discovered that they were teaching a Black man a lesson about Texas Justice in a completely unrelated matter. For a long time he had heard of Texas anger and racism, but had never once seen it in practice. Being a man of the world, he wondered if Whites, Orientals, and Mexicans were ever cheated in this Mexican dominated environment. Somehow, without any evidence, he doubted it. This was enough to get his superior mind churning overtime.

For the next 13 months he played BINGO mostly in Austin near the state lottery commission. He was now dating a pretty and young 43 year old employee of the lottery commission. He was finding out everything he needed to know about the commission - how they hired its employees, how they transferred money, even their schedules. As a bonus, he took a job as a janitor with the company that held the cleaning contract. All his paperwork was forged including his social security number. He was the best, no one would catch on. He didn’t really plan to rob the state of Texas himself. He was just drawing up the plans for some experienced crew to do it for him. The prize - perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars.

When Violet and Troy heard Vincent’s plans, immediately they were amazed. It would take a crew of two women and three men, including Vincent. Vincent chose Sam Terrell and Georgina (Gina) Wisdom to complete the team. Sam was the best computer technician available. He had the coolness and skills to complete the transaction and could be trusted. Gina would be used to get close to the banker who would actually be making the wire transfer. She would of course seduce her mark and was fully equipped to do so. She was a genius at working men. They would rob the state when the Texas lottery winnings were at its highest. Vincent would lead the game. Simply put, they would work themselves into a position to intercept the transfer of electronic funds being transferred to Texas Banner Bank. Banner Bank was the official bank of the Texas State Lottery.

Troy was bright eyed at the thought of doubling his retirement money. Vincent just wanted to teach the state a lesson. Besides, these last few years were too easy, he had grown old and bored. Violet, was concerned. She had felt uneasy about the whole affair. She was from Texas and she knew the people of this state were friendly unforgiving. Texas was hard on crime - very hard. If a single person died during the robbery, they could all face the death penalty. Texas didn’t play. On the other hand, she would be in Austin where her mother and new husband lived. Her mother had spent five years in the state hospital. There she had met a kind doctor who took great care of her. The day after she was released, she married this man. Although still in her child bearing years, they had no children. Last year, the doctor had died and her mother was alone once again. Vincent had kept tabs on her mother for Violet. Her mother lived in a nice neighborhood, but was alone. Vincent had even dated Tiaire for almost three month until the present time. Violet never knew, and Vincent saw no reason to tell her until now.

When Violet arrived in DFW her blood ran completely cold. She had always avoided this airport and this state. Now, for the first time in a long time, she was home - visiting in Texas. Sure, she didn’t know the place anymore, but somehow, nothing had changed. She felt the warm Texas sun on her bare shoulders, and perhaps, a tear fell to her equally open breast. When she left with Troy, she was a girl, now she was a savvy woman. What was she doing here she wondered? No one can go home, she thought to herself. No one. It was an emotional reunion, but she wanted to shut these thoughts out. She had to get to her next gate so she could fly to Austin where Troy and Vincent would meet her. When she arrived, they were both in disguise. They were professionals and knew the airports had cameras. They didn’t want to be seen together in public. Nothing to tie them together. Vincent’s house would be the staging area. Nothing to tie any of them to a hotel.

“Hello baby,” smiled a handsome 45 year old man.

“Wow, old man, you look great,” offered Violet.

“I just keep getting old and better,” smiled a confident Troy.

“Hello daughter,” smiled Vincent kissing Violet on the lips.

Troy was wearing a gray wig, mustache, and dark-tinted sunglasses and this view of her future looked great. Vincent was wearing a burnet wig and had a fake brown mustache. He looked at least 15 years younger. He too was a handsome charmer and Violet knew these two men were something else. She was the first to admit that these two men could be dangerous too, when cornered or double crossed. She suddenly flashed back to Tony Meyers who tried to cheat them. Rumor was that they both buried him in the desert outside of Las Vegas for trying to rob them after they had robbed a rich mark. She believe it too, although she had never asked them about it. She knew better. She knew what both men were like in the light and in total darkness.

The con had gone well so far. Violet had a lesser, but still very important role in the con. Her role was coordinator. She manned an electronic communications room which connected the crew together using state-of-the-art earphones. When one person spoke, everyone heard. Troy and Vincent worked the state’s lottery commission setting up hidden video cameras, door locks, phone scrambling equipment, and an hot-wiring an electronic fire alarm. Vincent’s plan was a thing of beauty. With the proper coordination, and split second timing, manipulation of course, and luck, it would all be over within 90 minutes. Troy, of course, depending on your viewpoint, had the hardest role, setting off the state lottery’s fire alarm, getting everyone to vacate the building as a state fire Captain, and helping Vincent switch the lottery officials computer terminal in three minutes. Their plan was to have the lottery official put the bank account number into “their” intercept terminal and thus transfer the money to their accounts. From their bogus accounts, Violet would disperse the money in equal deposits to five overseas hidden bank accounts. Violet would control all the money at one point. But, both Vincent and Troy entirely trusted her. Gina and Sam knew Violet’s mother was nearby, so she would be trusted more than anyone else. Con men have this thing, never trust anyone with money. Never.

“Violet,” it is start time ordered Vincent. He had helped train this woman when she was a child.

Vincent was in the lottery building close to the fire alarm. He set off the alarm. Just as he had planned it, the lottery funds manager left his office as did all employees. Earlier it was impossible to replace the funds manager’s PC due to the nighttime security measures. Vincent confidently flashed his fire badge and everyone obeyed his instructions. Then he preceded to the store room to set an actual fire. It would be a slow burning non-intrusive fire by design. Meanwhile, Vincent moved to the funds manager’s office with a cleaning cart. Hidden in the cart was a custom made computer which would resemble the funds manager’s but do something completely different … something sinister in fact. Vincent had previously set a camera behind the funds manager’s desk and had discovered his logon password. The team would have to be quick, but Sam had coached them well. Sam wasn’t the best, but close enough.

“Hurry Troy,” directed Vincent. “Finish plugging in the computer cables. We don’t have long.”

“I got it … just a couple more seconds.”

“Troy, the fire wagon is here,” advised Violet on the intercom system. They had arrived two minutes early.

“Vincent! I didn’t get a chance to connect the printer cable and the modem re-router box,” screeched Troy. “I need one more minute.”

“Connect the cable box, I’ll stall them.”

Vincent was instantly out the door. As the firemen approached, Vincent started his act:

“Hurry! Hurry please!” screamed Vincent in his most convincing panicky voice. “The fire is down the hall in the equipment office!”

“Where?” asked the lead fireman, not seeing any smoke.

Vincent hurried down the hall as Troy completed the modem cable. Hopefully, the funds manager wouldn’t notice the printer cable.

Meanwhile, Gina Wisdom was standing by outside of the bank manager’s building. She was gorgeous in her blond wig and tailored skirt and totally in character. She had been seen with the manager several times. Her timing would be perfect of course, assisted by Violet. She would step into her lover’s office at just the right moment. Sam was also there as a back up. Her job was to distract the bank manager so that he would not notice that the transaction he was receiving was bogus. Basically, he would receive a phony transaction, while the crooks rerouted the real transaction. If he immediately realized the transaction was phony, Vincent, and possibly Troy would not have enough time to escape.

“Cable connection established,” insisted Troy. He hurried toward the exit.

Vincent had stayed with the firemen to report their movements. Within thirty minutes, the bank manager began the transfer. He never noticed the cable or that this wasn’t his terminal. At least, he never notice enough to do anything about it. He did touch the terminal several times sensing something was different. Luckily, Vincent had been smart enough to use the same keyboard.

“Go Gina go!” ordered Violet.

As Gina was off, suddenly, Violet’s mind lost concentration. She suddenly felt her mother and she was sick with worry. Had something happened to Tiaire?

Next, Troy’s voice was heard, “How’s it going baby?”

“Everyone, all appears to be on schedule,” assured Violet. “I’m transferring the money to our separate accounts now! Troy, go back in the bank and check on Vincent, he hasn’t exited yet.”

“Roger, I will,“ immediately assured Troy moving toward the entrance hastily now.

At that moment, Troy saw his old mentor being escorted from the building. As fate sometimes has it, a Texas Ranger was near and had order Vincent’s detainment. For a moment, Troy had thoughts of forcefully helping his old friend, and almost father, but Vincent signaled him off. He had never disobeyed Vincent in the past, but maybe now was the time to start. He couldn’t think, so he did what Vincent had always told him, work the problem from a different angle. He approached one of the policemen flashing his fireman’s badge and asked about the janitor in a subtle way.

“Its just Texas Ranger procedure to detain all witnesses in such cases,” assured the patrolman. “Nothing special, unless of course, they think he or someone started the fire.”

“Troy, Troy get out of there!” ordered Violet. “Get out now!”

That afternoon, the crew left Texas in an unmarked car. in one hour, they had completely cleaned Vincent’s house leaving no clues. Good thing too, twenty minutes later Round Rock police arrived at Vincent’s house with a search warrant. Had they not stopped for a search warrant, they would have captured the whole crew. Later that week, they had heard that Vincent had been arrested for the robbery of the Texas state gambling commission for over $215 million dollars. They revealed that a Mr. Vincent Mandrel, an international con man was arrested for the theft of over $200 million dollars.

Six months later, 61 year old Vincent Mandrel was sentenced to 15 years in a Texas federal prison. No clues about the money’s location were ever found. Vincent had great lawyers, and since the evidence was thin. He had his sentence reduced to six to eight years on appeal. He was rich, so he bought the best treatment he could in prison. At least he was fairly safe. Money could by a lot, but it couldn’t buy everything.

Sam and Gina disappeared forever with their money.

Troy returned to Texas. He visited his friend every month. Texas state officials knew Troy must have been involved, but they never had any proof. After 18 months, Troy married a sweet young Mexican girl of 19 years of age. Three years later, he had three kids and a house in an Austin suburb. He opened his own Texas real estate business, and was actually making large sums of legal money. He was happy.

Tiaire Nelson Mays, Violet’s mother never saw her daughter while she was in Texas. Violet had seen her mother every day from a safe distance. Earlier the same day as the robbery, Tiaire had experienced a severe case of indigestion which everyone had considered a mild heart attack.

Violet felt, it would possibly hurt her mother emotionally to see her daughter. Perhaps, it would hurt Violet too. Violet had Troy buy Tiaire a very nice home complete with personal assistant, masseur, maids, cooks, drivers, sauna, swimming pool, and a black 2005 Mercedes V12 convertible.

It had been four years since the robbery and Violet had experience all the ecstasies money can buy. Still, though, she was alone.

That night, Violet James finished her painting. She had become an accomplished artist. The next morning, she boarded a flight for Texas. She wasted no time finding her mother. From that point on, Hattie James was never alone.

Four years later, sixty-nine year old Vincent Mandrel was released from prison. Vincent moved to Austin where he lived out the remainder of his life near his friends, Troy, Violet, Tiaire, six God children, and Violet’s plumber husband, Billy Jones. Violet was pregnant with her third child, and everyone wondered, boy or girl. Violet was creating another Picasso. Wild right?







Copyright .Jimmy L. Holder (ShyPoet1) Dec 2004 and may not be used or reproduced without written permission from the author.

 
 
 
 


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Reviewed by A Serviceable Villain 2/14/2005
'Shy',

Great title and a most definitive, extra well-done write - Bravo!!


Best regards,

Robert


Books by
Jimmy L Holder



Heartbeats & Musical Tears of Man

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