The note was written in a scrawl
Prologue.
The deck of life had nine cards
Love poker heart blood forgive abandon revenge
The truth card was lost
The last card was unknown maybe it was the future
The fate of each card was delivered in a handwritten note
You have a choice, but don't ignore the note

Chapter 19) The Poker card
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edited and spelchecked but chapter order incomplete
Problems threatened Maggie's town of Trinity.
If enough parrots want the same cracker then things change, and the banks wanted all the crackers.
Their money was coming to town. But in a bad way.

Joel Winston had a nice business with the feed store.
His son-in-law Howard Ray was a big asset. Business was good.
Except farmland was getting bought up by big landholders who were pushing off the sharecroppers, and replacing mules with tractors.

The Sears Roebuck build a huge parking lot in Abbeyville.
Cars and people wanted to drive there instead of going to Woolworth's on the Trinity town square.

It was a matter of time before the peaceful little town of Trinity would die.
The stores, little shops, farmers, repairmen, mothers and fathers and children would be rendered obsolete by the mechanized machines that invaded their paradise.

A note arrived for Joel. It was a curious thing. He found it on his desk one morning.
It was handwritten in brown ink. The words were sort of hard to read. And it changed slightly each time he read it. Except it got more interesting each time.
It didn't say much. The one word that stuck out was Marlboro.
He spent half the morning reading and re-reading the thing again.
What did it mean? And who put it on his desk?

Howard passed by his office, and Joel asked him if he dropped off a note?
Howard said, no, but ... oh ... that reminds me, we have an appointment with Monty Gephart at Statewide Bank tomorrow in Abbeyville.
Yes, I forgot too, said Joel. Good thing you stopped by.

Statewide Bank had gone national.
Monty Gephart was calling in small account holders, like Joel, and telling them that rates would go up, and minimums were getting increased.
The effect would force out small businesses in favor of larger ones that could buy in volume, and add new merchandise to their product mix. Which meant a larger parking lot and adaptation to the changes.
The bank was aware that the town of Trinity was doomed, and wanted to hasten the process so other business investments were more profitable.
Joel was unprepared. His family's future was in balance, and he almost forgot the appointment, except for asking Howard about a note he received.
By then the note was promptly forgotten and safely tucked into Joel's desk drawer.

The next day Joel drove to Abbeyville, and Howard decided last minute to go with him.
Howard was going to be a partner soon, and getting to know the bank manager was an important step.

The 30 mile drive was quick and the men talked about the new baby. However the trip seemed to be wasted when they got to the bank.
It was closed. There was a robbery attempt, so the front doors were locked.
A guard outside the bank recognized Joel and said, If you go around back, there is another entrance.
Joel said, thank you. Howard smiled and they walked around the back and entered the door.

There were several young women going up the stairs. They were bouncy and attractive and looked Howard up and down as they passed by. Howard smiled, and started following the girls up to the second floor.
Joel saw two businessmen going straight down the hallway, and said, I think it's down this way. Howard looked back and said, no, let's go up here. Joel went up while peering over the rail to see if he recognized anybody from the bank.

The secretaries went into an office with a sign that read, Jack Marlboro.
Two secretaries held the door open, and Howard and Joel went in and were greeted by another attractive lady. Several ladies were sitting at desks with phones and the latest office gadgets.
Joel asked, is this the bank? No, she answered, looking at Howard as if he asked the question instead of Joel. This is Jack Marlboro's office.
Joel excused himself and was turning to leave. Howard wanted to linger. Joel didn't notice since his life was cast in cement.

Jack Marlboro popped into the office from an adjoining hallway.
Hey, Joel Winston. It's been a long time.
Joel replied, oh, yes. Jack Marlboro. You worked for Blue Stripe. I remember you.

Yes, I'm with Big Harvester now.
Conversation continued. They went into Jack's personal office.
He was looking for distributors.
But not small operations like Joel's.
What struck him was Howard. Correct age, right look, right manners.

Jack laid it out.
He said, we're going big.
Parking lot. New products. More square footage. Farm machinery. Financing. He said, you understand, everything is handled by our office in Des Moines. They have 50 men that that take care of location, advertising, purchasing.
And see this, Big Harvester offers the farmer the best rates. We beat anybody.

Tell me, how'd you boys hear about us?
Joel said, well, somebody sent us a note yesterday.

In the back of his mind, he knew the old feed store had termites and needed heavy repairs. The expense was still a few years away, but he also saw business changing with bigger farms demanding low prices.
Howard was listening too. He understood the newer stores had parking lots and more products.

Jack asked, well how's business down there?
Joel was quick to answer and said, let me tell you, since Howard married my daughter and came to work at the store, business has been good.
How long's that been now?
Joel fudged a bit and said, about four years.

Jack Marlboro noticed it. He underestimated Joel's astute mind, but Howard was the future.
Then Jack added a bit of sobering news. The bank is going to raise your interest rate you know. They're doing it to all the businesses.
Joel instinctively knew it was true.

Jack reached out and slapped Howard's knee, and said, Howard, you're the man we're looking for here at Big Harvester.
Joel, I'm sorry to put it like this, but Howard's got what we need and you don't.
We might be able to make a deal if Howard is the main guy, and you step down a notch.

Wow. A new store? At his age? Howard wasn't even a partner yet. But Joel was shrewd enough to observe that younger men liked to do business with Howard. Plus Howard liked the store. He wasn't dreaming of a different job.
The pieces fit.
Howard was all smiles. A smart young secretary walked in gleaming at Howard. Jack said, let's go to lunch.
Several secretaries joined them.
The lunch counter had it all. Young businessmen, lawyers and women. Music.
Joel hardly recognized his own son-in-law, a decent fine man, having fun and talking to those secretaries with all that sex coming out of the jukebox.

Joel looked at Howard. Howard thought of his wife at home, and smiled. Maybe he should go fishing instead, and catch Ol' Sporty. Jack watched both men during the exchange. He could see they had a solid partnership.
Jack reached across the table shook hands with Joel first and then Howard. It was the correct order. The deal was done. The men walked back to the office and left the secretaries at the restaurant.
Jack said paperwork would take a week or so. We'll have the men look over the books, and if everything's right, the surveyors can get started within a month. We want to move fast. Can you boys handle that?
Joel and Howard agreed. We're ready.
They were part of the Big Harvester family now.

Business concluded, and agreement made, Joel and Howard walked back to the car disbelieving what they had just done. Joel was shaking his head smiling. Howard was bent over laughing, and then they both started laughing and yelling.
What are we going to tell our wives? I don't know. We're going to be rich? Followed by more laughing.
It took ten minutes to get back to the car, and they still couldn't stop laughing.
At last, they both reached a breath and rolled down the window.
Whew. That was something.
Joel said, that Jack Marlboro is a great guy. I remember him getting started with Blue Stripe, and look at him now with that big office and working for Harvester.

They pulled out and started driving back to Trinity. We have to find a way to tell our wives. That started them laughing again. Then Howard said, I don't even know why that's funny, causing them to laugh harder.

No more than a mile outside of Abbeyville, a big blue DeSoto rolled past at high-speed.
The girl in the passenger seat turned around.
Howard said that looks like Jody.
No it looked like her but that's not their car. And Bob wouldn't drive like that.
Yeah, you're right.

Another car came over the hill behind them.
Howard turned around and saw a large heavy Negro at the wheel.
The big Buick passed them just as fast as the DeSoto.
Did you see that?
There was a Negro driving that car.
Joel said yeah.
He must've robbed the bank.
Yeah that's the guy.
Why's he chasing the other car?
I dunno?

And do you believe that? He stole the car.
I don't recognize the car, wonder who stole it from?
I don't know that car either.

A few seconds later, a third car, a big Oldsmobile passed them at high-speed.
Was that a Negro too? No he was white.
Can you believe this? Maybe we should pull off. The people today drive too fast.
No let's keep going, maybe we'll see them up ahead.
They better catch that Negro.

Five minutes later a police car came up with lights and siren and passed them.
Look, he's not going as fast.
No he's not going to catch that Negro.

What can we do?
We should catch up and tell him that we saw a Negro driving that car.
No, the police know what they're doing. They'll catch him. Then he'll learn.

They should teach that boy a lesson for stealing somebody's car driving like that.
Yeah.
I'm glad there's no problems like that in Trinity.
I don't think anybody stole a car there.
Well I can tell you this, the new store's not going to have any Negroes.
That's right we don't need those problems.

Three miles later they saw the police car stopped. They slowed down and saw Bob standing outside the wrecked DeSoto.
Is that Bob? Yes. Well stop the car.
Joel was panicked about Joddie being in that car and almost tipped his car over the shoulder.
Howard said, hey hey, back up a bit.
They got out and ran over to see Bob. Joddie wasn't there and Bob said nobody was with him.
Joel said, we saw Joddie in the car. No, Bob said.
Why's the passenger door open?
I guess it popped open.
Joel was around on the other side looking for somebody in the car.
Where is she?
She's at home.
Who was that Negro?
I didn't see a Negro.
Joel said, there were two cars chasing you and one of them had a Negro driving.
The police were listening. What did that Negro look like?
He was big. He was driving a Buick.
And there was an Oldsmobile with a white guy.
What year Buick was that?

But Joddie was in the car. We saw her. What happened to her?
Bob the gambler said, it was probably a reflection off the glass. Joddie's at home.
Where is she?
We live over in Lewiston now, on Maple street. She went to the IGA, and probably back by now.
Why were those cars chasing you?
I didn't see anybody.
Did one of them pick up Joddie?
I didn't see anyone.
The conversation continued. Joel was angry. Howard wanted to punch him and get the truth. But Bob gave up nothing.
The police were baffled.

Bob's car was torn up on the bottom after he lost control of the car.
After the wreck, Boy Johnson screeched to a stop, grabbed Bob by the hair and punched him while Joddie got in Johnson's Buick.
Big Mak was already there and trying to get Joddie out of the Johnson's car to go with him.
Johnson let go of Bob and went after Big Mak.
Mak backed away and had a tire iron.
Boy Johnson slammed the door and screeched off with Maggie.
Mak wanted to go after Bob with the tire iron but the police siren was coming so he left.
Big Mak was driving Bob's Oldsmobile.

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