XVIII. Family Distraught
That night as Clyde sat in his den, he began to devise another even more devious plan. He had many ideas at his disposal and he could use them according to his needs as dictated by the events.
He preferred a strategy where he was personally involved, however, when the need arose – he would work through others. “No one was too smart to outsmart him,” he thought.
He would be to go to the major accounts and get them to withdraw their support from Junior’s bank. The bank would fold under its own weight. “Yep, come Monday morning, Junior goes down.”
He would tell Carl at the lumber mill that he is going to have to pull his account and give it back to Steve at Community Bank. “That would get the ball rolling.”
“Carl had no recourse, he would have to do it to keep the pictures from coming out. The ones of him with a hooker in Nashville,” calculated Clyde.
“And I can go to David and tell him to do the same. I’ll take away his outsourcing of the chicken litter if he doesn’t pull his account and go back to Community,” calculated Clyde.
Clyde continued with his method, “Then I’ll go to Ray and tell him that Carl and David are going back to Community. He might as well go with them because he would be the only big business account left that Junior had. The bank would be in trouble without the major accounts.”
He would even tell them that he was pulling out his funds. With Junior adding security staff like he is doing now, means evidently that he has something to hide.
All of them are going to be affected if they don’t pull out on Junior. The dominoes will start to fall and they will lose their money if Junior cannot make it strictly with Home ReSources.
Lebanon would be better off without Junior’s crazy ideas for banking. “Community is the old line established bank in Lebanon and had been for years. Stability comes with age not new age,” Clyde knew they would agree.
He reasoned, “I can’t tell them that I am taking his money to Community as they know Steve would not allow it. But it would be such a disaster for everyone to pull out that Junior would have to liquidate the New Age Bank.”
He considered, “The stock holders would only get a portion of their investment back. And it would take Junior down professionally if his friends turned against him. Yep, that’s it. It will work.”
“I will call Carl first thing Monday and get the ball rolling.” Clyde slept comfortably and at peace with himself that night.
He could just see now Junior crying in his beer how he lost his dream all in fell swoop. “Yep, I will stick a fork in you, Junior – you are done – Mr. Junior Johnson.”
Seldom did Clyde take a day off, but after his episode on Friday night and trying to get his head straightened out all day Saturday, he took Sunday to continue refining the details of his arrangement to take Junior down by destroying the very essence of Junior’s power – his friends.
“Junior prided himself in his friends. He had used them to help him break away from the Community Bank and start the New Age Bank. The term ‘used his friends’ is the operative term here,” rationalized Clyde to himself, “he could never have even considered starting his bank with Carl, David and Ray.”
Clyde was getting excited about, “I don’t know exactly where Sam – Junior’s dad – figures in this but I know that Sam does not have that much invested in the bank.”
He calculated, “He can’t have. Sam’s never had that much money in his life. I was the icing on the cake with my money and he used me and all of us.”
Again fuming, Clyde thought, “Now he has a restraining order that I cannot even come to the bank I funded? Me the one who helped him with my money?”
“If he thinks for one minute he is going to get away with this, he has another think coming. No, come to think of it, he may never have another think coming when I get through with him,” acknowledged Clyde.
It was playoff time for the NFL and Clyde scoffed at his not being able to enjoy his favorite team in the playoffs because of Junior Johnson. He had to put this out of his mind for the day anyway.
Getting two beers and setting them on the table next to his chair, he engulfed himself in the art of professional football on the TV. Watching the game, he almost downed the first beer with his first swallow. Soon he would have to go get more.
Clyde was up early Monday morning. When he had a bee in his bonnet, he would not let it go until he killed it.
He called David first at the poultry plant. “David, you up on Junior and what is going on at the bank?” asked Clyde. He knew he would need the group effort of the others before he could approach Carl.
“What’s up, I haven’t heard anything? What’s going on?” inquired David.
Clyde started, “Well to begin with I went to the bank the other day to talk to him about my investment and the bank’s direction. He flew off the handle and lambasted me about meddling in his banking affairs of which he says I know nothing about.”
“I took issue with that. I told him I wanted my money back and that he had until last Friday to come up with it,” replied Clyde.
Clyde laid out his plan to David, “Look, I needed to buy three more tractors and you know those things cost about a $100 grand each now. Instead of helping me out after I helped him out, he made some smart remark that he would loan me the money and put up my funds as collateral on the loan.”
Clyde exclaimed, “Can you imagine, loan me money with my money as collateral. Why would I want to do that?”
Clyde explained, “It’s my money and I don’t want to pay someone interest on my own money to buy tractors. That doesn’t make sense. I expressed my displeasure and told him that I wanted $300 grand in my hand by Friday.”
“Clyde, you don’t think he has a right to do that?” responded David. “You did buy stock in his bank with your investment.”
Clyde declared, “Oh no, I did not. I gave him the funds so he could meet the state examiners requirement for funding a new bank, but it was understood that if I wanted it back, I could get it if I had an emergency need for the money.”
He exclaimed, “I just lost a tractor a week back with a blown head in the engine. It is going to cost me several thousand to repair – not to mention the downtime of getting the parts and rebuilding the engine. I need the money and that was our agreement.”
David responded, “Well I got 500 shares of stock for my investment and I thought you did as well.”
“Yeah, he waved all that worthless paper in front of me. He said that he had to do that to make it look legit or something. I was not paying that much attention at that time,” admitted Clyde.
“Regardless of what he did then,” exclaimed Clyde, “he knew that if the time came, and I needed my money – he would need to get it to me. He never said that to get it, I would have to make a loan and pay interest to his bank to get it.”
David said, “Yeah it does sound a little weird when you put it that way. I wonder if something is going on?”
“Well let me tell you what he did next, “ stated Clyde, “As you know I get a little hot under the collar over things and I expressed my frustration. I gave him until Friday to get me my money in no uncertain terms.”
Continuing, “That afternoon, the Sheriff showed up at my doorstep with a restraining order. I cannot go near the bank or Junior’s house.”
“My God, David, we funded his bank – we got him started – and now he will not let us go near the bank when we need help,” shouted Clyde.
Clyde had set the trap, “And to top all of this off, he has gone out and hired a security service to watch the bank and his house. Even June can’t go out of the house unless she has a private body guard with her.”
“I don’t know if he is feeling his oats with the Home ReSources account and doesn’t feel he needs us anymore or what. But I tell you something is going on and he does not want anyone to know what he is doing. The bank could be going broke for all we know,” Clyde thought as he pulled in the hook. “David was caught.”
David inquired, “What are you going to do about it now? Legally, he can stand his ground with the initial stock offering.”
“I need your help along with Carl and Ray. And we have got to help ourselves. We have got to teach Junior a lesson and do it now. If he gets the lead here, he will lord it over us from here on out,” said Clyde.
“A restraining order indeed,” he exclaimed. “How long do you think it will be before you need money and you have the same problems?” The hook, line, and sinker for his plan was set.
Clyde stated, “I say, you pull your account and take it back to Community. If you do it; Carl does it – and I am sure he will – Ray will follow. I’m certainly going to make my position known.”
Clyde was optimistic about his plan. He had David thinking his way, now to close the deal. “Look, I want to continue to work with you and help you keep the chicken litter outsourcing you have spent a decade developing.”
“David, you don’t even have to go to the bank to do this. Just call Community Bank and they will handle everything for you,” instructed Clyde.
He played on David’s former relationship with Steve, “That Steve Johnson is a right nice fellow and he has a competent staff to handle anything that comes up. You have never heard of him getting a restraining order on anyone have you?”
“I am going to do the same thing this morning myself,” Clyde lied. “I’ll show Junior what I think of his restraining order.”
He knew that he could not put money in Steve’s bank after the debacle they had several years ago over some cattle that he used as collateral for a loan. “But the others did not know that,” he smiled to himself.
Clyde tried to claim that he did not know half those calves had died when he made the loan. Steve did not buy it and kept saying that he misrepresented the size of his herd in the first place.
“Well I got by that one eventually by selling a tractor to pay off the loan. That was my favorite tractor too,” remembered Clyde.
He reminisced, “At least it kept Steve from coming after me for purposely committing fraud in borrowing the money from the bank. That was a close one since I never had the calves in the first place. I got by the loan, but not back with Steve after that. He wanted nothing to do with me.”
“No, I have not heard of Steve ever getting a restraining order,” responded David. “That’s a bit harsh no matter who does it if they do not have a good reason.”
David committed to Clyde’s ideas, “Alright, I will call Community and get this straightened out before it goes any further. I can always go back to Junior if he gets his act together. Thanks for keeping me informed, Clyde.”
“Great, I would like to stay with Junior myself, but if he continues in the vein, I have got to go too. Plus as you say, we can always come back to Junior if we have confidence in him at a later date again,” Clyde lied again.
David hung up and called the number for the Community Bank. It was still on his speed dial.
“Good morning. Community Bank, how may I direct your call?” came the greeting from the bank.
“I need to talk to – let’s see, Sam is gone, Junior is gone – who is working commercial accounts? How about Allison or Sharon – either one will work to get the ball rolling. Tell them it is David Leland with the poultry processing plant.”
The receptionists said to hold the line for one moment. She would connect him with Sharon.
“Good morning Mr. Leland. This is Sharon. How goes it. Are the chickens still leaving the roost every morning?”
“Typical Monday morning, Sharon,” answered David laughing with her over her chicken to roost comment. By the way your dad preached a great sermon yesterday. My wife and I discussed it all the way home and that is not normal for us. Not to say that he does not preach great sermons all the time, but that one particularly hit us. It was a great message.”
David began his instructions, “Look, I want to do something rather cataclysmic this morning. I want you to contact the New Age Bank and transfer my account back to the Community Bank.”
Sharon responded, “Thank you, for my Dad, and yes, I see that your account was transferred to the New Age Bank sometime back. I will be happy to handle it for you.”
Sharon, very professional, said, “I do have to ask you a couple of questions. These are just form questions not meant to confuse the issue. First, is there anything detrimental to your wanting to change banks this morning?”
“No, I just have done business with Steve for so many years and I feel more comfortable with him than I do with some of the new banking concepts that Junior is introducing over at the New Age Bank,” answered David. He did not want to go into what Clyde had told him about Junior and the restraining order.
“OK, secondly, and I know this question is horrible with you but again I have to ask, are you in default of any loans with New Age Bank?” asked Sharon.
“Yeah, Sharon,” laughed David, “I am trying to run out on a few hot checks over there before they hit the bank. No, just joking, I am good standing with the bank on all counts.”
“Lastly,” asked Sharon, “exactly what accounts do you want to bring to Community? I see from your past experience with us you had several accounts.”
“All of them. The standard run of the mill accounts, daily checking, payroll, and inventory,” answered David.
David explained, “We have not set up any current inventory accounts with Junior yet and I might need to meet with Jody pretty soon to establish buying grain futures.”
He continued, “You know Pilgrim went down last year by not investing in grain futures. They tried to expand beyond their ability and Wall Street.”
“For now, just the standard operating accounts we had before. Jody handles the commercial loans now doesn’t he?” asked David.
“Yes,” answered Sharon. “He makes all the final decisions, but I am going to be disappointed if you don’t work through me to get to him. We have a team over here now. Both Allison and I are Vice Presidents for Loan Development and Jody is the Senior Vice President of Loan Development Department.”
“Jody calls on us quite frequently for verifications of accounts prior to setting them up. But you know, Mr. Leland, he would never get in the way of one of your loans. I will be glad to help you,” replied Sharon.
Sharon instructed David, “I will set up the accounts this morning; get the drafts working with the New Age Bank; inform our payroll department; our accounts payable department; and inform Jody. We are so glad to have you back.”
“I will confirm all of this activity by email as soon as it is completed which will probably be by the first part of the afternoon. Thank you so much, and welcome back to Community,” responded Sharon.
“Thank you, Sharon. I look forward to seeing you in the bank soon.”
David hung up and text Clyde that the changeover was in process, “I have called Community and requested the return to Community. It will be handled today. I don’t want to get caught up in the middle of any of this period so keep me out of it.”
Then David left his office to go out the processing plant. There was a new breed of chicken coming in. He wanted to take a look at them before they started the processing. It was supposed to be a heavier chicken.
Clyde had now set the trap. Now all he needed was for everyone else to fall into it. He needed to go after Ray as the next target.
Calling Ray on his cell phone, Ray responded, “Good morning, Mr. Bonner. How are you this fine morning? Need a new truck?” Ray laughed as he answered the phone.
“No, I have more important things to talk to you about this morning. I just got a text from David. He is pulling his account from Junior and putting it back with Community.”
Explaining, “Seems he has heard some things about something Junior is doing and he is a little concerned about his ability to handle his account.”
“Might be that Junior spends too much time with that Jack fellow at Home ReSources. It might be that he does not take care of his other accounts meaning mine, yours, and Carl’s,” recanted Clyde.
“For the time being I am going to follow his lead and pull my account as well. You might want to take yours also until this thing blows over – whatever it is.”
He instructed, “We can all go back to Junior if there is nothing to it. At least when we go back we will know our accounts are safe.”
“I’m not sure that Junior is a scoundrel, but I am not going to take a chance. Evidently David thinks so as well,” again acknowledging his lie.
“Thanks for letting me know. I will admit that Junior spends too much time with Home ReSources. It is as if that is the only account he has at the bank,” responded Ray.
Clyde had it going like he wanted, “If this keeps up, Home ReSources very well could be the only account he has. “Text me when you decide to let him go. I have got to run. My tractor that blew a head a couple of weeks back is causing me all kinds of problems,” replied Clyde.
“Hey, I can send over one of my diesel mechanics if needed. Just let me know if you want my help,” exclaimed Ray.
“No, we will get it – we are only having trouble getting the parts I need. They are due in today by FedEx. Maybe we will have it back up by the end of the week.”
Clyde was appreciative, “Thanks anyway, I’ll call you if we run into a problem. You do have the best diesel mechanics in town out there.”
Ray declared, “Well call me if you need me.” Ray hung up the phone.
“You know if David is taking his account away from Junior, this might be a big thing. I better call Steve at Community right now. At least I will get out of the middle of it and let someone else worry about it,” thought Ray.
Ray picked up his phone and called Community Bank. The receptionists answered, “Community Bank. How may I direct your call?”
Ray feeling a bit perky, said, “Hey darling, I need to talk to whoever is handling commercial accounts, even Steve if I have to. But I had much rather talk to that little girl with the real sweet voice who is in commercial banking.”
“Hold the line, sir. I will connect you,” came back the receptionists.
“Good morning, this is Allison. To whom am I speaking?” Allison asked politely.
“Darling, this is Ray at the Ford dealership. You and Jody came by my office a couple of months back and said that if I ever needed help to give you a call. Well I am calling,” started Ray.
“Oh yes, Mr. Miller. How are you doing this morning?” responded Allison.
“I will be doing great if you can do something for me. I want you to transfer my accounts from the New Age Bank back to your bank. Can you handle that?”
“Sure, no problem. What type of accounts are you currently working with at New Age Bank?” inquired Allison.
“The same as I had with you. You can look back at my account when I was with you and it is the same as then. There is nothing new to be concerned about but make sure everything gets transferred. I will email you an authorization confirmation,” answered Ray.
“Well, we are very familiar with your account and I will be happy to bring all your documentation back to our bank. We have missed you and look forward to serving you again.”
“Great. Thank you,” Ray responded.
“I will confirm by email to let you know when all the transactions are complete. We should have everything completed by early this afternoon,” concluded Allison, “And again, we are looking forward to serving you again. Is there anything else that you need?”
“No, that will take care of it – email is on its way. Thanks,” replied Ray.
Ray hung up the phone and wondered why he ever left Community. “They are so professional; no confusion; no outside influence; no complex issues to deal with – just down home banking. Why did I ever leave them?”
As he searched his memory, he forgot, “Junior was a classmate in high school. I just wanted to help him out.”
“Far too many situations with Junior,” he thought, “now all I see is all this impulsive activity of Clyde and David. I don’t want to be part of that either. I don’t want to be caught in the middle. Maybe this will finish it.”
Picking up the phone, he sent a text to Clyde that he had requested the return of his accounts back to Community. Now to get into the shop and see what they were doing to Mrs. Lipton’s Lincoln. She had been calling him for days wanting it back and the shop kept telling her it was not ready. “We have got to get this lady satisfied and do it today.” He thought.
Clyde got Ray’s text and now for the big fish. He clicked on his speed dial and called Carl. Carl answered the phone and before he could speak, Clyde declared excitedly, “Carl have you heard what is going on this morning?”
“No, I don’t know. Trees are falling; lumber is being cut; orders are being filled – what are you talking about?” asked Carl.
“Ray and David are pulling out of Junior’s bank,” said Clyde to set his trap for Carl, “Seems something is going on and I don’t know what, but both David and Ray have text me this morning saying they are pulling out.”
Clyde elaborated, “Ray said something about Junior spending all of his time with Home ReSources and not taking care of the ones who helped him get started.”
Continuing, “It sounds a little personal to me, but if they are pulling out – so am I. I can’t stand the risk of the bank failing and my funds tied up so I am following suit myself.”
Clyde explained, “I just thought you ought to know if you had not heard. The last thing Lebanon needs is for a bank to fail with everyone’s money tied up. You know those bank examiners will be here by the dozens if they are not here already. You might want to take your accounts back to Community at least until this thing blows over. We can always go back if it is nothing.”
He went further, “When people start pulling their accounts, it is not over nothing. Personally, I cannot take the chance and I don’t think you can either.”
“Well I can see the concern this might cause for everybody – especially his commercial accounts,” stated Carl, “and you say bank examiners are there already?”
“There is nothing about this on the news yet is it? We haven’t heard a word here this morning,” concluded Carl.
“Not to my knowledge but if the examiners are there already; then it is just a matter of time until it hits the news,” declared Clyde.
“Well if it has not hit yet, then I am pulling out until this gets resolved. It is tough enough having to run a mill period. Trying to buy timber to keep everything running without money to do it with adds to the pain. I’ll talk with you later.” Carl hung up the phone.
Carl called the Community Bank and was directed by the receptionists to Sharon. “Ma’am, I need for you to recall my accounts from the New Age Bank. Can you handle that quietly and not cause a ruckus with anyone?
“Yes, I can, Mr. Estes,” assured Sharon, “Is there a problem?”
“I guess if there is, it will become evident soon enough,” responded Carl. “I just do not care to be a part of it. Time is of the essence. Do you need anything else from me – authorization, account numbers? I can fax it over if you need anything.”
“No, I’m good. I will get right on this and it should be done by this afternoon. I will email you confirmation when it is completed.”
Sharon instructed, “If you still have your company checks that you had here when your account was here, they will be good now. The account numbers will remain the same so you can use the same checks you had before.”
“Thank you. As I stated, I will email you confirmation when it is complete. We are glad to have you back.”
Carl felt relieved knowing that his funds would not be caught up in some legal battle with bank examiners. “That is all he would need to slow him down if he was not able to pay his employees or buy timber,” he thought.
“If it is not one thing it is something else. I have got to get out of this mad house somehow one of these days. Retirement is looking better every day,” he rationalized.
Carl figured, “Well, I am going to text everyone else and tell them what I have done. With them pulling their accounts, this thing will blow up rapidly – that’s for sure even if nothing is going on. We have lit the fuse and now all we have to do is wait for Junior to hit the ceiling.”
Wondering out loud, he thought, “And hit the ceiling Junior will do even if he is under some kind of investigation. He will see this as us abandoning him in the midst of his crisis.”
“Junior just has to understand that this is bigger than him or just his bank,” calculated Carl. “It is our livelihood; our families; and the community.”
Carl clicked on the message app on his iPhone and text Ray, David, and Clyde what he had done. He asked them to keep him informed what was going on.
Clyde received the text messages from Carl, Ray and David. He had done it. He had scored a victory against Junior that he just knew Junior would never be able to recover. “What happens now?” he wondered.
“Surely,” he thought, “Junior was being informed that his three major accounts were pulling out on him. I would love to be a fly on the wall and see the expression on his face as he sees his bank going down the tubes.”
Clyde laughed at his success, “I just bet little Junior is going to be wailing all over the bank lobby. That will teach him to mess with me. I always have an ace up my sleeve.”
Unbeknownst to Sam and Joan, they arrived back in town on the day Clyde was pulling off the Junior banking demise. They returned from their extended visit to Italy and France. The home place looked beautiful to Sam as they drove in from Nashville.
Sam had made arrangements for the lawn to be kept and the landscaping to be manicured while they were away. He had even made arrangements for a maid to come in once a month to clean the dust from the house.
He and Joan got out of the Uber car together and both walked arm in arm up to the front door. The driver brought the luggage. Sam had disarmed the alarm system in the home prior to getting out of the car.
Sam laughed and said, “I ought to carry you over the threshold since we are coming in from our long awaited honeymoon. But if I try, I don’t think I would make it in with my back.”
Joan agreed and declared, “It is just good to be home. We got to see so many places that I have always wanted to see. I’m thinking that I am ready to settle down for awhile and let the air in Lebanon get back in my lungs.”
Sam submitted, “I don’t think I want to hear from anyone today. Just get a cup of coffee and relax in my recliner until dinner. Why don’t we order in? Pizza sounds fine with me tonight.”
“I’m tired, but you know I would love to cook dinner for you after all you have done for me on this trip. I’ll call the butcher shop and order a couple of those great steaks you like and I’ll cook them for you,” conceded Joan. “I will have them delivered in so you don’t have to go out.”
“No you won’t – if you are going to order in steaks, I am going to cook them on the grill and you can prepare the rest. We’ll both join in together to make our homecoming meal great,” shared Sam.
“If you did not know it, you would think that Sam and I are newlyweds right out of school,” Joan thought as she reminisced about that day.
For just a moment she reflected on not getting her long awaited wedding that she had dreamed about, but then she bounced back to their homecoming and gave Sam a kiss on the cheek.
Sam said, “You go on in and make some coffee. I will help the driver with the luggage and then it is to my recliner and the coffee.”
Jody called Sherry to see if Steve was available. “Yes he is, I’ll tell him you are coming over,” she replied.
Jody left his desk and rushed over to Steve’s office. Passing by Sherry’s desk, he barely mumbled a greeting.
“Why go right in,” Sherry in her most curtly manner instructed him as he sped past her desk. “Wow must be important.”
Jody was excited and almost shouted, “Steve, something is going on this morning that you need to know about. We have just got instructions from the mill, the poultry plant and Ford to request their accounts be drawn from the New Age Bank back to our bank.”
“It’s all three of the major accounts that Junior took with him when he left the bank,” exclaimed Jody. “What do you make of it?”
Jody was excited, “Have you heard anything happening; rumors; dissatisfaction on the horizon …?”
“Slow down, Jody, you will have a heart attack. Tell me again what you just said,” inquired Steve.
“Carl, Ray, and David have all three called in this morning asking that their accounts be transferred back to our bank. Is there something strange going on that I need to know about?”
“Wow,” declared Steve. Now he was getting excited. “All three of them at the same time.”
“No, I have not heard anything. Huh … certainly does sound as if there is discord in Junior’s chicken house,” surmised Steve.
“I wonder if I should give him a call to find out what is going on? You are sure you have not heard anything?” questioned Steve rhetorically.
Before Jody could answer, he calculated, “No, I would not want him to know that I think something is going on. He might think I have something to do with it.”
He instructed, “We sit tight for the moment. If we do talk – he has to call me – if I call; it will lead to questions that I don’t have answers and I don’t want that.”
Steve instructed, “Jody, be discreet and see if you can get any ideas of what is happening. Drive by over there and see if there are any strange cars from out of town. You know a fleet of black SUVs with dark tinted windows. See if the bank doors are open with people going in and out. Don’t stop or ask anyone, just observe from a distance.”
“Got it,” declared Jody, “I will call you when I see what is happening.”
“Good,” replied Steve. “I will tell Sherry to put you through immediately regardless of who is in my office.”
Jody left Steve’s office. This time he properly addressed Sherry as he went out the side entrance.
At the New Age Bank, Carolyn had received word from the accounting department that David Leland, with the poultry processing plant, had requested that his accounts be sent to Community Bank. She assumed, “There must be a disagreement with Junior and Mr. Leland is expressing his dissatisfaction. Surely it is nothing to be concerned about.”
She OK’d the transaction and went on with her work knowing that she would inform Junior when he came into the bank. Then the accounting department called back about 30 minutes later telling her that Ray Miller with Ford had requested his accounts be forwarded to Community as well.
“What’s going on, Carolyn? This is strange,” the Account Manager said.
“I do not know,” answered Carolyn, “I will call Junior on his cell phone and see if he is aware of this. You have to run it through since they have requested it so it is approved.”
Carolyn called Junior’s number, but no answer. She then text him with the message, “911 – urgent call office.” Waiting for Junior to call, again the accounting office called with another request.
This time it was Carl Estes with the lumber mill accounts who had pulled out. “I am totally lost as to what is going on. I have called Junior and I have text him, but he has not returned my call as of yet.”
Carolyn was confused, “I thought your call might be him – regarding the mill, again you can only follow the demands of the client so I approve it also. Maybe when Junior gets these messages, he will get back with me. I will let him know what is happening.”
She hung up with accounting. Her cell phone rang. Junior was on the line, “What’s urgent?”
“Junior, we just lost three of our major accounts,” shared Carolyn. “The mill, the Ford dealership, and the poultry processing plant have all requested their accounts be transferred back to Community.”
She explained, “Coming from the client; I had to OK the request. I thought you might know what is going on?”
Junior went silent causing Carolyn to wonder if they had lost contact. She asked, “Junior, are you still there?”
“Yes, I’m still here. I don’t know what is happening, but I will get to the bottom of this. We could have stonewalled this for a while making the transfer, but you have done right by sending the request on through. It was their request and we honor that.”
“It is up to me to find out what is going on?: stated Junior. “I am going over right now to talk with Carl. Just see that the bank runs smoothly and tell everyone that has a need to know not to worry, I will get to the bottom of this.”
Junior drove out to the mill. He parked in front of the office.
Carl saw him pull up and thought, “Oh boy here it comes. The man himself!”
Carl overheard Junior coming in and he sounded pleasant enough as he inquired about meeting with him through the receptionists. She directed him to Carl’s secretary.
Carl watched as Junior came to his secretary’s desk and he could tell that he was asking to see him. His secretary came in and closed the door informing him that Mr. Johnson needed to see him and it was important.
Carl replied, “Sure send him in.” In his mind, he was thinking, “This has got to dealt with sometime – now is as good a time as any.”
As his secretary turned to leave the office, Carl abruptly stopped her and instructed her, “Have security stand by. Don’t ask any questions – just have them in your office.”
The secretary nodded, opened the door, and invited Junior to come in. As Junior entered the office, she closed the door, and called security on her inner office phone and requested they come to her office immediately.
Junior came in. Carl invited him to have a seat and he plumped down. Carl could tell he was upset but was trying to be calm. He might as well go for the jugular, “What can I do for you this morning, Junior? My secretary said you said it was important.”
“Carl, you know why I am here. I thought you were friends. I have been informed you have pulled your account from the bank. What I do not know – is why?”
He inquired, “Can you tell me what’s going on? Before you answer I want to record this conversation to make sure I get it right should I need it further down the road.”
Carl, at first thought about objected to the recording but relented, “I have done nothing wrong so I do not have anything to cover for. Sure you can record it.”
Carl began sheepishly, “Junior, I received word this morning that your bank might be in trouble. I heard from a very reliable source that you had a parking lot full of bank examiners there and they were going to close your bank.”
Explaining, “To protect my interest and the interest of all the people working for me not to mention the community, I thought it best to transfer my funds back to the Community Bank. When this thing smoothes over – whatever the thing is – we can look at coming back to you.”
Junior was shocked, “Bank examiners? I don’t have any bank examiners or banking investigators of any kind at the bank. Where did you hear this information? Can you share that with me. Who is this reliable source and what did he or she tell you?”
“I guess it does not hurt to tell you who told me, it was Clyde Bonner. You know he has done a lot of work with your bank as all of us have and when he told me, I immediately thought it must be the gospel,” shared Carl.
“The gospel, Carl, it was you who told me to take everything he said with a grain of salt. Now you tell me you listened to everything he said as ‘the gospel’?”
Junior began to raise his voice at the absurdity of what had just heard. “Come on Carl, how hard would it have been to pick up the phone and call me to find out the truth.”
Carl, becoming a little irritated that Junior was not seeing the seriousness of this, said, “Junior, don’t get riled up at me. I did what I thought best for the mill and its people. We cannot take a hit of any kind right now.”
He reasoned, “When I heard this come up, I said OK transfer the accounts back. Maybe we could look at it again in a few months after the dust settles.”
“I warned you about Clyde in the beginning and evidently you did not heed my warning. That is on you – not me,” a belligerent Carl answered.
“Alright, Carl,” Junior lamented, “You are right, it is not your problem. It is my problem.”
“Evidently my problem is with Clyde,” stated Junior. “Thanks for being candid with me. I’ll keep you posted on what happens.”
“When the dust does settle,” declared Junior, “and it will settle, I would love for you to take me back into your confidence. We would love to work with you at the bank. Good day.”
Junior got up and left the office. He saw two men in the adjacent office who were not there before watching his every move.
Carl let out a sigh. “It was not as tough as he thought it might have been.”
Junior then drove to David’s office at the processing plant. Parking in front of the office, he saw David out by a truck discussing a load of chickens.
He walked over to him and waited until David was finished. The two of them found a shade under a nearby tree.
Junior began, “David, I’m coming from Carl’s office concerning his pulling his accounts from the bank. And I know that you likewise have pulled your accounts as well.”
“Carl told me that Clyde had informed him that we had a parking lot full of bank examiners,” began Junior. “They were going to close the bank. Did you get a similar message from Clyde?”
“No, he did not mention that you might have bank examiners going over your books,” David recounted. “He just said that you had gone berserk. You took out a restraining order against him that kept him from getting to the bank or your house.”
“He said he helped you get started. Now you have blocked him from even getting to the bank with a restraining order,” related David. “I did not want any part of it period and chose to get out.”
“Did he by chance tell you why I got a restraining order?” asked Junior. “You know David; you can’t just go down and get a restraining order without reason. You have to show probable cause.”
“He accosted me in the parking lot demanding that I give him his money back. When I told him it would have to be approved by the board and the stock holders, he went berserk,” recanted Junior.
“All of us put money in the bank when we started and we in turn got stock certificates for our investment,” stated Junior. “He never understood that evidently and he just wanted his money back. Well before I could buy his stock back, I would have to have the approval of the stock holders – you being one – to make that decision.”
explained, “I told him it would take time to do that. He gave me until Friday or else. It was his ‘or else’ that got the
restraining order. Look I am not going
to belabor the point; you have pulled your account. You might just have to show up in court and
tell the court why you did.
“David; I have recorded this conversation so you will want to keep your stories straight when you show up in court. I have got to protect myself.”
“You can’t use a recording of a conversation that I did not agree to,” blurted David. “That recording is useless.”
“And you know this how, David?” asked Junior. “I did not know you were a lawyer too.”
“Its common knowledge, everyone knows that,” says David. “Both parties have to agree to do the recording.”
“Well then how do they get away with videotaping conversations, and recording conversations and playing them in court?” asked Junior, “Even if a lawyer gets the tape thrown out, we still have you on tape testifying.”
“This will be a civil trial, David, not a criminal trial,” stated Junior. “It will not be held to the same standards as a criminal trial.”
“You will be held to the truth and the truth only. You can’t take a fifth in a civil case. Now am I crazy or going berserk if I want to protect my interest and yours as well. You still have stock in the bank, you know.”
“Well, y’all go do what you got to do,” replied David, “The tapes OK with me, just keep me out of it. I don’t know how I allowed myself to get involved in the first place.”
“I’ll keep you informed, David. Thanks for the information,” Junior acknowledged.
Junior left David out by the tree and had one more visit to make. “That one, I am not sure of – and by now – it could be that Clyde has gotten wind of what I am doing and he has reached Ray already,” thought Junior.
“Ray may not even see me. I have to take the chance that the others are ‘fed up with it’ and want to put it behind them,” he reasoned.
Junior drove up to Ray Miler’s Ford dealership. Ray was out showing a truck to a customer.
Junior determined it would be better to just wait until the customer leaves, “If I get a chance to talk to him, it would be better if it was after he finished. If he is going to avoid me, I will know it soon enough.”
At that point the customer shook hands with Ray and walked away. Ray turned toward Junior and started walking over.
Junior thought, “Now was the opportunity or if not, maybe Ray would see me at a later date.” Ray seemed pleasant enough though as he walked over.
Ray had seen Junior drive up. And he knew that he would have to address Junior at some point. If so, maybe out on the sales lot would be the better place. He waved at Junior and headed toward him.
Junior reached up into this shirt pocket and turned on his recording app that was part of his iPhone.
“Junior, I know why you are here and I am happy to talk with you about it,” said Ray. “It was not my idea to pull my account from you, but I got ‘horn swaggled’ into doing it.”
“Clyde called me and told me that he and David were pulling their accounts. I might want to consider doing it,” exclaimed Ray.
“I don’t know what is going on, but I thought it best for the time being to get out. I could always come back when things eased up.”
“Did he give you a reason?” asked Junior. “No, other than David thinks you might be spending too much time with Home ReSources and not watching after our accounts like you ought to do,” related Ray.
“I thought it was strange for David to be concerned about something like that. But what do I know, I just sell cars and trucks.”
“So he told you that David instigated this whole thing. And he laid the entire blame on David?” asked Junior.
“What if I told you that he told Carl that I have a lot full of bank examiners and that they were going to close down the bank,” said Junior.
“Or that I have gone crazy like he told David? Ray, he has gone out here and manufactured reasons for you, David and Carl to pull your accounts away from me. And none of the reasons are the same for any of you,” informed Junior.
Junior continued, “It is Clyde being Clyde and you know it. He is upset that I wanted him go through a ‘due process’ to get his money back to him. He was not going to wait or allow you or any of the others to make decisions for him. Like I say it was Clyde being Clyde.”
“Look I have recorded our conversation and it might come up in a court,” explained Junior. “All you would have to do is to verify that it is you and that we did have this conversation this morning.”
“The battle is going to be between me and Clyde. Thank you for your time. And if we can get this settled, I sure would like to do business with you again,” finished Junior. “You are a true long time friend going back to high school.”
Ray hung his head down as he shook Junior’s hand. He thought, “That last comment stung me. Junior and I had been friends since high school and something like this should never have come between us.”
“It will take time to undo what has been done, but if I have anything, I have time,” thought Ray. He wanted to reach out to Junior and ask his forgiveness, but Junior was already headed toward his car.
“Another day,” thought Ray, “another day. There is always time.”
Junior got back in his car and drove off the sales lot at Ray’s. He stopped a block down underneath a big old oak tree and called Warner.
When connected to Warner, Junior began, “I got some information for you to listen to and see where we go next on the Clyde Bonner thing. I am out and about now, is it possible for me to come by and let you hear my tapes.”
“Yes, by all means do that, Junior,” answered Warner. “I’ll be waiting.”
“I’m on my way now. I should be there in 15 minutes,” concluded Junior as he dropped his phone on the seat next to him and drove toward Warner’s office.
Arriving at Warner’s office, Junior immediately went inside. The first person he saw was Sue, Warner’s legal secretary.
“Mr. Johnson, how good to see you. Mr. Warner is expecting you. Would you like a cup of coffee or water maybe?”
Junior had been out for quite a time and developed a thirst. “Water will be fine, thank you,” answered Junior.
“Water it is then,” said Sue, “Go right in – he’s waiting.”
“Junior, it is good to see you, my boy. What have you got for me to hear?” asked Warner.
“This morning, Ray Miller, with the Ford Dealership, David Leland, with the poultry processing plant, and Carl Estes, with the mill all pulled their accounts from my bank and took them back to Uncle Steve’s bank.”
“Hold it right there. We have got to be careful of the conflict of interest thing we discussed,” said Warner.
“I am not contesting their actions. Only their reasons for requesting the transfers,” Junior emphatically stated.
“And I am not concerned that it was Uncle Steve’s bank or the ‘tom, dick, and harry bank’ – that is not the issue so I think we are on safe ground,” explained Junior.
“What I am concerned about is the method that Clyde used to get these men to pull their accounts. I want to know if there are any legal ramifications that we can bring to bear on Clyde Bonner for his actions,” submitted Junior.
“I have visited with each man individually and they have all given me three different reasons for why they did what they did. All of it was done at the request of Clyde who engineered the complete scheme. Here is my iPhone with the recorded messages – let me play them for you.”
Warner listened to the tape and leaning back a scowl came across his brow. This indeed was damaging and to think that Clyde would do this all in one morning without spreading it over a period of time.
That’s the Clyde Bonner way for sure. When God passed out brains, Clyde must have thought he said rain and he ran for cover. “This was absolutely stupid,” said Warner.
“Yes, we have a case,” began Warner, “I want to think about it this week. Let me discuss it with some of our lawyers here. To bring down this man is going to take all of us. That is even with his demonstrated stupidity with such carelessness.”
Warner explained, “At best there is the racketeering RICO act defined as the commission of at least two identified criminal offenses within a 10-year period.”
He continued, “The Federal Government convicted him on charges based on the illegality of the feed mill operations in southern Alabama. It was a violation of Interstate Commerce code. That was only 3 years ago.”
“And now we have a continuation of those violations with the sole intent to destroy your bank, your credibility, and your personal reputation through a conspiracy,” stated Warner.
Warner went further, “In order for an individual or organization to be convicted of racketeering under the RICO Act, there must be proof of a ‘pattern’ of illegal offenses.”
He continued, “RICO defines racketeering in an extremely broad manner and includes many offenses that ordinarily violate federal statutes, such as any act or threat involving murder, kidnapping, gambling, arson, robbery, bribery, extortion, or dealing in narcotics or other dangerous drugs.”
Continuing, “I am sure before we get through with him we can get him on several of these counts. I have a man in the FBI that I think I can discuss this case with and find out what we are up against with your tapes.”
Warner asked, “Junior, I don’t know if you know this or not, but sound reasonable business men do not allow themselves to get caught up in this unless they are coerced into it. Do you have any proof that Clyde has exerted any force or conspiratorial activity, bribery, and or pictures with anyone – especially these 3 men – to your knowledge?”
Junior recounted, “Carl at the lumber mill says that he has to go along with Clyde, but he will not tell me why. He only implies it is coercion and bribery without identifying it.”
“Jack was almost forced out of his job with Home ReSources because Clyde took pictures of him getting stock from me and portraying it as free stock for me to get his account when in essence Jack paid for it. Jack was exonerated by his internal affairs team,” stated Junior.
“Jack did say at one point to buy lumber from Carl locally, he would have to buy it through Clyde, but it would be for the same price had Carl sold it,” exclaimed Junior.
“After the debacle with the internal affairs team, that all changed. Jack and I figured that Clyde was going to take a cut from the sales from Carl. But if Carl was willing to do it there had to be a reason. Now I am not so sure that reason was legal,” figured Junior.
“I can’t go very far on this, but Clyde had a strong interest in getting Tractor Supply in here. It could have been that he was going to take a commission off their sales as well. But getting Tractor Supply to spill the beans is probably not going to happen,” declared Junior.
“Well,” concluded Warner, “We can’t act on innuendo. It has to be facts like you have on this tape. Let me think on this and talk to my friend with the FBI and I will get back in touch with you.”
Warner continued, “Next question, what is this going to do with you and the banking commission? His intent is to bring you down. Will this do it or will they give you time to build your case?”
“That’s a good question,” stated Junior. “I still have his invested funds and that helps and I have the loan from my Dad. With Dad’s and Clyde’s money and our legal action spelling out what Clyde was trying to do, I might buy some time. We are still very solvent. Of course it will be up to the commission.”
“Good, I might be able to help you there with some legal mumbo jumbo to tie them up for a while,” said Warner, “I will get back to you when I decide the best course of action for them.”
“Thank you again and thank you for your support, Warner. It means a lot to me to have you on my side,” conceded Junior.
With that Junior finished the last of his water and got up to leave. As he got to the door, Sue was there opening it for him and ushered him out of the office.
“How did she know at that precise moment I would reach the door?” thought Junior, “Maybe it was a timed visit and my time was up or maybe Warner has a button under his desk to get her when he needs her.”
“Who knows; I have other things to think about,” considered Junior, “and Clyde Bonner is number one. No one else.”
Junior was done in more ways than one. Done for the day and done physically not to mention his brain was in overdrive and casing him to be extremely tired.
His stamina was not the same as it had been in the past. Maybe it was the strain he had been under getting the bank up and running; taking care of Home ReSources; and now this with Clyde Bonner. “One thing for sure, having things to worry about are not few and far between in the banking business,” he thought.
Clyde was going for broke. He had one more trick up his sleeve, but he could not make that call as it would be traced back to him. “It will be overkill, but then overkill with Junior Johnson is what I want,” thought Clyde. “I want to make it so he never gets back up.”
He thought, “But I do not want this to come back to my door. If there is anything I do not want – it is Federal or State agencies coming after me.”
“That group from Home ReSources was bad enough – coming in here on the pretense of being from Home ReSources – when in essence they represented the Justice Department and the IRS. Wow that was a close one,” Clyde was still reeling over that meeting.
“I know, I will get Dan Wilkins at Tractor Supply to make the call. That way they cannot trace it back to me. That will be the last nail in the coffin for Junior.”
Before calling Dan, Clyde had Murphy pull up the state agencies in Knoxville. He wanted the name and number of the State Banking Commission and the head of the commission.
Murphy passed the information back to him. Clyde then went to his phone and called Dan.
“Dan, the man, how are you this afternoon?” Dan responded, “Clyde, it’s been awhile since I have heard from you. The question is how are you doing this afternoon? You are still getting our checks every month according to plan – right?”
“Yeah, went by the post office yesterday and picked one up. Thanks. Looks like business is picking up for you guys,” said Clyde.
“I can’t complain,” replied Dan. “I don’t like that new development in Lebanon though with Home ReSources.”
Dan informed Clyde, “We are going to have to drop Lebanon for a consideration for now on a future location. With Home ReSources coming in and pulling what they did with John Deere, that takes us out of the market for now.”
“What’s up with you?” asked Dan. “You don’t call me just to shoot the breeze.”
“Well,” started Clyde, “I want to talk with you about the Tractor Supply business here. We have this little smart banker – Junior Johnson – who messed up the whole deal up here with Home ReSources.”
“He is backing them with whatever they want without any concern for the well being of our folks here in Lebanon. That is why Home ReSources went with the John Deere tractor consignment. It was all his doing.”
Clyde explained, “He just started a brand new bank here – the New Age Bank – and used his influence as a banker to get several business men to back him. Now it seems he has gone off the deep end and who knows what he might do next.”
“The business men – who backed him – have all pulled out and gone back to the Community Bank. It could leave him high and dry if you know what I mean,” stated Clyde.
Clyde began to share his idea with Dan. “Now if the banking commission in Knoxville were to get wind of this information, they might come over here and shut the bank down.”
“That would leave Home ReSources in jeopardy and who knows what after that with John Deere. I understand John Deere has an ‘out’ if they want to pull away from Home ReSources,” assured Clyde.
“Oh, I get the picture,” replied Dan, “You want me to call the banking commission in Knoxville. Spill the beans as an outside observer that cannot come back to haunt you – is that it?”
“I always said you were one smart cookie, Dan,” exclaimed Clyde. “That is exactly what I want you to do.”
“And you know the theft of that tractor that we sold from my feed lot – the fact that you got your cut from the sale is always on my mind as well. What do you think?”
“Hey what have I got to lose?” said Dan. “I might even win back the Lebanon business. Knowing you, you have the number and the man I talk to – right?”
“Yeah, I will text it to you on your cell phone. You should get it right away and thanks, Dan. I think in the end we both will all benefit from this,” acknowledged Clyde.
“Text me back when you talk to them,” instructed Clyde. “Take care and keep those checks coming.”
“Sure,” said Dan. “I have never seen a man cover all his bases with all the details when it is to their benefit as you do.”
“Got to stay on top of it,” concluded Clyde. “Or it gets away from you.”
Dan walked out to his car when he got the text with the information. He wanted to be alone when he made the call. Dialing, a recording began to play with all the options.
He listened to the options. When it got to the State Banking Commission, he punched in that number.
“State Banking Commission. How may I help you?” responded this real pretty voice.
Dan laughingly said, “Oh there are a lot of ways you could help me but today, I’m just Dan Wilkins. I would like to speak to a Mr. Donald Sanders. I believe he is the head of your agency.”
The receptionists asked, “May I say what the call is about?” That was standard policy with phone calls.
“Well ma’am, it’s personal and confidential,” responded Dan in his most congenial voice. “Would it be too much of a bother to connect me with him without me having to tell you what it is about? I certainly don’t want to upset such a pretty voice.”
“Why thank you, most kind sir,” answered the receptionists. “I will connect you now.”
Dan thought to himself as he waited for Mr. Sanders, “I can charm the coat right off a penguin in the middle of winter. Too bad I don’t live in Knoxville. I bet I could take her out.”
A gruffly sound replaced the sweet voice of the receptionists, “This is Donald Sanders, what can I do for you, Mr. Wilkins?”
“Sir, thank you for taking my call,” began Dan. “I am aware of some strange happenings over in Lebanon that you might need to know about.”
Dan began to explain; “Now I am with the Tractor Supply just east of Nashville on I-40 and we serve the I-40 corridor plus the north and south regions east of Nashville including Lebanon. Several folks who are our clients here at Tractor Supply are from Lebanon.”
“Let me tell you first that I do have a conflict of interest with this call since I am with Tractor Supply – if you want to call it that – but I see it more as a concerned citizen looking out for my clients and their interests,” Dan was trying to sound like a concerned citizen.
Explaining further, “Here is what I hear. Some folks want to buy our product, but the New Age Bank has some kind of interest in the Home ReSources there in Lebanon. The head of the bank, a Mr. Junior Johnson, tries to push the client away from us to Home ReSources.”
Dan finished, “They used the loan as leverage to get them to buy Home ReSources. And Home ReSources is selling John Deere tractors now as you might have heard.”
Dan was almost laughing as he informed Donald, “Now I wasn’t born yesterday and I know business is business. All of us have our burdens to bear when it comes to being ethical in business.”
“But sir, something is going on in Lebanon regarding that bank that is not business as usual. Personally, I don’t like what they are doing with us but it goes even farther,” shared Dan.
He explained, “My clients are telling me that several of the major accounts with the bank are pulling away from the New Age Bank and Mr. Johnson. They do not like his methods. They want to make their own decisions where they do business and not be governed by Mr. Johnson’s loans.”
“Mr. Sanders, does that make sense to you as heading up the banking commission?” asked Dan. “Can a bank – or better yet – is a bank allowed to do that?”
“Mr. Wilkins, that is your name right – Wilkins – here at the State Banking Commission,” started Donald, “We try to stay aloof of the everyday workings of local banks.”
Donald said, “They have enough problems staying in business as it is and especially with Mr. Johnson. His is a brand new bank with brand new banking methods.”
“Our concern instead is to keep our eyes on the ability of banks to stay afloat without any financial challenges that could cause them to fail. We look after the interests of the citizens,” stated Donald.
“With that in mind – it could be worth our time to drop in on Mr. Johnson at the New Age Bank. It certainly would not hurt to have a little talk with him,” said Donald.
“The one thing you said that does interest me. You say that several major accounts have pulled their accounts,” said Donald. “When major accounts start pulling their business – that is a red flag for us.”
“We have a great relationship with Mr. Steve Johnson – who is Mr. Junior Johnson’s uncle. If there is anything amiss in Lebanon, Mr. Steve Johnson will know about it as well,” concluded Donald.
“Mr. Steve Johnson has headed up the Community Bank under his dad and now is the President. He is also the Chairman of the Board of Community.”
“We thought this was an interesting scenario in the beginning. Now it seems to be drawing into what some might say was expected,” declared Donald.
“We are due an inspection in Lebanon soon, so we will look into your concerns,” guaranteed Donald. “I can’t promise you that we will alleviate all that you are facing on the local level. But we will look into it”
“Some would call it standard banking as banking goes, but we can make sure the policies and practices are on solid ground. Is there anything else Mr. Wilkins – you did say Wilkins – right?”
“Right, Wilkins. No all we want is a fair shake at the market,” said Dan, “And if what they are doing is according to Hoyle, then so be it. We can’t ask for more than that.”
“Thank you, Mr. Sanders. Have a good day.” Dan hung up his cell phone and laughed to himself, “If I had not been the commissioner, I would have jumped on the case just based on my concerns alone.”
Dan text Clyde, “Done and done – Commissioner will come down. Let me know what happens?”
Meanwhile, Junior called Carolyn at the bank. “Look, I have been out and about all day. Has anything else developed today? Have we lost anymore accounts?”
Carolyn answered, “No, just those three. It seems to have settled with just them.”
“Are you alright? You sound tired,” asked a concerned Carolyn.
“And for good reason,” came back Junior. ”I am tired. I’m going home for the rest of the day. I will see you in the morning.”
“Fine,” Carolyn agreed, “I will take care of everything. The day is about over anyway. Not much can happen now.”
Junior turned his car in the direction of his home. He looked forward to getting home to June and relaxing.
“I really have to rest more now than I used to. My old body is writing checks it cannot cash. Maybe a short nap and I will be ready for dinner,” he thought.