CHAPTER FIVE HUNDRED AND NINETY-FIVE
“There’s another crate of swords,” Sandy said.
The woman looked searched until Tanesha found another crate. Strong as Tanesha was, she was unable to pick up this crate. She shook her head.
“Odd,” Perses said. “Let me.”
Perses touched the crate. He shook his head.
“You’re saying that a human touched the swords in this crate,” Perses said.
“He wore leather gloves,” Sandy said. “He said it was to keep from being cut.”
Perses shook his head.
“What is it, Papa?” Hecate asked.
“I haven’t felt that since…” Perses looked from one woman to the next, finally settling in Sandy. “Tell me again how these things got into your mine. And it’s your mine?”
“Uh…” Sandy said.
“I need the entire story,” Perses said. “I’m sorry, I know it’s an invasion of your privacy. I can just take it from you but my daughter, Candy, says that’s very rude.”
“She’s right,” Sandy said. “Thank you for asking.”
Perses rolled his hand over for her to move on.
“I was used as a prostitute as a child,” Sandy said in an even, unemotional voice. “My ‘father’ would give me a portion of the profits in Krugerrands. Gold coins. He would say that it was my college fund. Sometimes, he would say that he gave me the profit because he was ‘fair.’”
Hecate put her hand on Sandy’s shoulder for support ,and Perses’s eyes reflected the horror of her plain words.
“I have jars of Krugerrands,” Sandy said.
“Pickle jars,” Tanesha said, gesturing to the size of the jars.
“They smell like pickles when you open them,” Sandy said, still nodding. “I need to… Uh…”
“She needs to clean the money,” Heather said.
“Ah, yes,” Perses said. “This is an issue for my daughter and myself, as well. Live a long time, you end up with money that needs to be cleaned.”
Hecate nodded. From Perses’s shoulder, Cleo the cat meowed in agreement.
“Seth and Bernie have been helping me exchange these coins for something worthwhile,” Sandy said. “Bernie was approached by the son of the woman, the writer, who’d owned the mine. We bought his mother’s journal and eventually bought the land that his family had owned for a hundred years or more. It’s taken us years to put it all together.”
“Did you know these items would be there?” Perses asked.
“No,” Sandy said with a shake of her head. “We’d hoped that her second and possibly third novel would be in the mine. The journal referenced friends showing her their work, so we knew that it was possible that there was more in the mine.”
“I did most of the research into the writer,” Heather said. “We knew that she knew a lot of artists and authors. We didn’t expect this.”
“No,” Sandy said with a shake of her head. “Never.”
“That explains why you are ambivalent about keeping the art,” Perses said.
“Ill-gotten gains,” Sandy said.
“I understand, now,” Perses said. He gestured to the crate. “You wanted me here because your friend Pierre was acting weird?”
“I wanted to see if there was something in these swords that might cause him to change so dramatically,” Heather said.
“Change how?” Perses asked.
Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…
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