There was a green army issue field jacket hanging on a hook facing Nigel, just inside the door. On the window stoop where the men had sat just a week before a bag. “There must be a million of those bags”, Nigel thought.
No there were not.
Nigel rose. He slowly reached out. He looked about to see if anyone had an eye on the jacket or might be watching him. Nobody noticed. Nobody cared. He lifted the exterior label to reveal the interior right pocket. C R E A G H. He looked down at the leather satchel. He had never really noticed the “C” that had been forcibly pressed into a monogram about the buckled latch. He reached and tipped the bag, unlatching it. He pushed the top apart like a surgeon opening a wound. It was cavernous and empty.
Nigel looked about hoping it was all an elaborate practical joke. Some sort of final test of trust. Surely the old man was hiding in some corner watching this whole play. He reminded himself of the incident where the old man had been in the Barbershop. "Yes. That must be it.” He thought.
He snatched up the bag with confidence, and ripped the coat from the rack.
“Excuse me.” A voice came from behind him. “You had the fish right?”, The barkeep. “Are you leaving? Those been there for like, two hours. Those yours?”
Nigel laughed as he sat back down, “Yes, yes they are, and no I’m not leaving.”
He collapsed as his soul shrunk and expanded at the same time. He thought, “That man was so smart. How will I ever do this without him?”
Deep inside him a voice spoke to Nigel’s heart. It wasn’t audible, but it wasn’t… not. He heard it.
“The only thing worse than a bad plan, is no plan”
Nigel poked at his food. It was good, but not great. The bitter, was bitter that day. There was nothing to do in London now. He thought perhaps he should stop at the bank and register his new identification, just in case. He stuffed him new coat into his new bag along with the leather accounting pouch and rolled up his duffel tightly and placed it inside. The color of the satchel remarkably matched his sheath and wallet in every way. He headed out.
He walked into the bustling bank uneventfully. Nigel went to the teller and asked what he should do about his identification. The teller had no answer other than “Do you want a transaction?”
“No I don’t need a transaction.” Nigel said.
Odd he thought, “What business does one do in a bank when one has no business to actually do, rob it?” He laughed himself. “The teller trying to be helpful spoke up, “Would you like an account balance, perhaps?” That seemed as good an idea as anything. “Sure, that’d be great.” He smiled. The teller reciprocated ,“Then, I’ll need to see your identification.”
Happy to oblige, Nigel handed the I.D. over to the teller who scratched some numbers on a scrap of paper and continued. “There you are. Anything else mate? You’re doing pretty well for a kid.”
Embarrassed after his eyes locked on the number, Nigel felt his head shrink into his neck like a turtle. “It’s not mine, it’s my Dad’s business". “Is that right?” the teller nodded, “Yeah your Dad’s doing good, wish he were my Dad.”
331,211L. It was an extraordinary amount of money. One could live forever with that much money. He turned back to the teller. “Excuse me. Could I get a look at the last six months balances?” The teller was not pleased by the request but answered. “Well you’ll need a manager for that.” Ian stood his ground.
The teller walked back to the manager and pointed telling the story. The manager looked up and waved him over behind the ropes. He met him at the crushed velvet rope and walked him back to the seat. “Good to see you, it’s Nigel right.” He knew his name. That was nice. “Yes, Nigel Creagh.”
The manager continued, “Yes, your Father was in yesterday. That cold he’s got is going to kill him, if he’s not careful.”
Nigel was taken aback “Yes, it’s quite a cough?”
The manager fumbled through a file and then opened a ledger sheet and turned it towards Nigel. He spoke matter-of-factly, “Let’s see you generally used to hover around 50 or 60, that’s thousand pounds and then in August you jumped to 80 and it has gone up, wow, quite dramatically since then up to… well yesterday. You have three-hundred, thirty thousand two hundred and eleven pounds, and twenty-seven pence. That’s good. You could buy a Rolls Royce or perhaps 25 of them should you like. Your father sure is a smart businessman.”
Nigel smiled and nodded slowly, “Yes, yes he is. Thank you. Have a good day… I guess I should let you know, he passed away this morning.”
“Oh my Lord. I’m so sorry. I’m so so sorry. I didn’t mean when I said.” The manager sputtered.
Nigel soothed him. “You didn’t know. It’s been quite a surprise.”
Nigel walked out into the daylight. He saw a gaggle of schoolchildren in uniform crossing the street with their teacher on their way to Westminster Cathedral. He thought of his actual schoolmates on that same afternoon sitting in a class hearing some drudgery about mathematics or reading poetry or whatever children did in school.
He wasn’t going back…ever.
The train rolled into Leeds at about five-thirty and was loaded with commuters, businessmen that were working at jobs. He made guesses at what they did. “Were they barristers? Bankers? Stock Brokers? Company executives? What was there work like?” He thought. “They were all probably experts and he knew he knew little or nothing in comparison. So what?” He was just Nigel, which seemed like an okay thing to be for the first time ever.
As he walked into the warehouse, it was amazing. Vadim had orchestrated the hanging all of the tents, canvases and even the Big Top. All billows of colors and fabrics drying in the breeze that blew through the warehouse. It was like a ship in a bottle.
It struck him that this represented all he owned.
His entire future hung in the rafters.
Just like his past had so many years before.
Vadim’s eye caught Nigel coming towards him slowly. Nigel now had the army overcoat on and was carrying the bag. Vadim clearly done for the day had his big black trench coat on, and leaned on his golden gooseneck cane, ready to end the day himself.
“You are back Soon. Where’s Michael?”
“He’s dead.” Came the reply
Vadim looked into the sky, “Yeah. I Figured.”
“He toll me he vas going to kill himself. I vigured.”
Nigel dumbfounded. “You knew?”.
Vadim led Nigel on a stroll towards the loading dock as he spoke. The flat grey sky was turning dark blue and near the horizon the clouds came to a crisp edge where a golden pink light was stretching towards them from the west.
“Yeah, He vas very sick. He knew his time was short. You know when you have riches, when you have success, but you have no family. Life can be hard. Ver is love? Then you lose your health. The man had been trough so many battles. Seen so much death. So much suffering. No one who knows what suffering is, wants to suffer. You lose control of your life. You take control of your death. Many great men do this. He did not want to go with wimper. He go with bang.”
Vadim made a strong fist with a sense of pride that accompanied his last sentence. Then he smiled and winked at Nigel.
“Wow. You think that’s what he did?” Nigel was truly curious at this mans philosophy. He seemed amazingly intelligent about the topic.
“I know that’s what he did. We’re old men. That’s vat ve talk about. Death. Legacy. Family. Vere did he do it?”
“Room 19 at the Joshua Hotel.” Nigel replied.
The sun broke under the clouds and cast a long shadow of the men deep through the bay doors of the warehouse. The light splashed and brightened every color of the circus fabrics as the gently blowing wind made the fabrics dance.
Suddenly the Vadim the Roma King broke into that amazingly loud howling laugh. “Bwahahahaha”, his mouth agape to where Nigel thought he might see his soul.
It seemed so inappropriate, yet so typical.
“What is so funny?” Nigel was a bit alarmed.
“It’s not room 19 at da Joshvua Hotel”, he said gaining his composure. He looked Nigel in the eye. “It was his last message. A message for you my young general. It’s Joshvua 1.9.
“What’s Joshua 1-9?” Nigel begged.
Vadim reached into the interior of his jacket and produced a small black leather bound book with the same cross as his necklace and tattoo. He slapped the book into Nigel’s chest.
Nigel opened the Bible. He thumbed through it, not really knowing where to look. Vadim helped “It near vront, six book in.”
Nigel found Joshua. He had not opened a bible since he could remember.
Vadim had but one thing left to say, “He vas a smart man, you vriend, this General Major…for an idiot.”
Nigel found the passage. It was perfect.
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."- Joshua 1:9
*66) Invest in the business, starting with people, infrastructure and redundancy.
*67) There is something divine about your journey. Be strong and courageous. God is with you.