By Mark Verve © 2010
Finding several million dollars is on the list of good problems to have. Drug money or not I could think of worse problems but it still was a problem. The main challenge is legitimizing some of the cash to make it more manageable in the governments eyes. I knew to avoid pretentious spending of the new found wealth. Years ago Steve Wynn's daughter was kidnapped in Las Vegas and held for ransom. Wynn got the money out of his casino and the exchange was made. One of the kidnappers then bought a European sports car for cash. They were arrested a few days later. I was not going to be making any large purchases. This needed to be handled on a low key basis.
The next day I went to the Walgreens pharmacy and paid full price for Lisa's meds. I had taken several of the hundreds with me. I gave two to the clerk and she looked surprised to see them. I had seen her around town with her girlfriend. Personally I prefer the lesbians that look like super models not Barney Rubble but I digress. She held one up to the light then the other squinting back and forth between the two. She said that she wasn't sure what to look for. Then an expression of an idea crossed her face and she opened the drawer next to the register. She took out the felt tipped security marker and stroked both bills. Satisfied she counted my change and I left. If nothing else I was reminded to check any bills I decide to spend. Don't need the Feds discovering my new stash because of a bad bill.
After thinking about it I decided not to tell Lisa about the money just yet. We weren't hurting financially so there was no immediate need to do so. After our parents' accident she and I inherited the house and a small stake. An annuity now covered most living expenses and a little more. She would benefit from the find after I converted it. That spared her the the worry I was sure she'd have over the situation. Lisa is an attractive woman with bipolar disorder. That combination had created endless relationship drama in her life including two failed marriages. She had been stable for some time now and seemed contented. No sense in disrupting things. She's worked at the local flower shop for several years. Her passion and talent for flower arranging were a welcomed discovery and I'm sure contribute to her health.
It was clear that I couldn't just walk into the bank and make a large cash deposit. Any amount over ten thousand must be reported. Making lots of deposits under ten thousand was also not realistic. It could attract the attention of local authorities and would definitely interest the IRS at tax time. I would deposit an odd two or three hundred every now and then to cover checks but that was it. Likewise putting it into a safe deposit box was not a realistic option. The sheer space the cash took up was too much. There had to be better ways to go about the conversion and I started researching it on the internet.
One answer was to buy gold coins. Larger cities have coin shops that sell all types of precious metals. Many of them will perform cash transactions with no I.D. required. I made a few calls and then made a road trip to Tucson, Phoenix, and Vegas. Over a week I visited six shops and converted cash into a total of six hundred one ounce gold coins. It was nerve racking traveling with that much cash but I was careful and there were no incidents. Coin shop owners are used to dealing in cash and no questions were ever asked. I made two visits to each shop spaced by at least a day. I did that route again several times in the next few weeks. Those purchases would cover about about half of the balance.
One day I decided to call Slick to see if he had any Bubba Kush available. I hadn't had the urge for a while but things were settling down now. The past four months had gone well and the process was almost over. It had been six months since I had talked to him although we were well acquainted in the past. His real name was John Every but since we were kids he was called Slick. I heard through the grapevine that he had come into a new connection and had quality on a regular basis. When I called him he gave me the usual superficial buddy buddy stuff that probably worked on some of his clientele. He said not to come over before two o'clock. Slick lived on the outskirts of town in one of those trailer parks where everyone had something to hide and nobody asked any questions. He'd survived for years supplying this corner of the desert.
The next morning I inventoried the remaining two bags before going to visit Slick. I found that all but nine hundred thousand had been converted. I felt good about the situation and was starting to relax. Half of it was now gold and the rest was in platinum bars and diamonds. All of it was located in safe deposit boxes in five different banks. I put Lisa on the contracts and amended my will. The diamonds had been tricky but I found what proved to be reliable sources in the downtown L.A. jewelry district. Knowing little about stones I had each lot independently appraised by two different vendors prior to purchase. I don't care for the politics of diamonds but the high concentration of value made them appealing. All three commodities could be sold quietly in the future through private parties on an as needed basis.
I had a late lunch and headed out to Slick's place after two. It was a twenty minute drive that I had done many times before. I parked in the empty dirt lot next to Slick's trailer. There was a dog chained to a motorcycle next door and it announced my arrival. It barked until Slick let me in and stopped as soon as the door closed. The room had an odor of bacon mixed with cigarette smoke. After some small talk he pointed me to a chair and asked how much I wanted. He went into the bedroom and I heard the rustling of plastic bags. I was anxious to leave as soon as possible. I noticed that Slick's trailer had not changed during the five years he'd lived there. The same furniture, pictures, and general clutter served as a familiar backdrop. His old style big screen TV was tuned to a baseball game and had that strange faded picture. He returned to the room and we made the transaction. As I was about to stand and leave the dog started barking. I looked out the window and a bolt of adrenaline shot through my spine.
A car had pulled into the lot and parked next to mine. It was a white 1970's Pontiac Trans Am. The driver got out and reached for a duffel bag from behind the front seat. He was Hispanic, mid twenties, and wearing a cowboy hat. Slick told me that it was OK and to be cool. I heard steps on the porch and Slick opened the door. I felt my anxiety level rising but told myself to relax. Could this car be the same one I passed immediately after I'd left the accident? As soon as the guy entered he shot a suspicious look in my direction. He pointed at my car and asked if it was mine saying he'd once owned the same model. He continued to stand even after Slick had pulled out a chair for him. I knew he was there to make a drop. Slick took the cue and they walked into the back room. I felt an overwhelming need to get out of there. I stood and told Slick I was leaving. The dog started barking again this time lunging and straining against the chain. As I was pulling out of the lot I saw the guy leaving the trailer. I headed back towards town but decided to take the longer route by making a right at the first intersection. I looked in my rear view and saw that the guy had joined me. I was almost sure he was not following me.
Click here to read Part 1 of The Find.
Mark Verve lives in Las Vegas, Nevada and writes for relaxation. He trades the stock markets for a living and plays poker for aggravation.