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XIX.  Family Demeaned

 

Driving in the driveway of his home was always a blessing.  He knew that June would be there.

 

Her greeting was almost like an out-of-the-body religious experience.  He would be watching from above as she greeted him by giving him a kiss and holding him in her arms as they walked to the house.

 

June truly was a helpmate to the inth degree as defined in Scripture.  In the corner of his eye he saw her coming, “Today would be no different.  Here she comes running out the front door.”

 

“Junior, glad to have you home.  How was your day?” June asked.

 

“Same-o same-o,” responded Junior.  “How about yours?”

 

“Oh just grocery shopping and I went to Kohl’s.  I had a coupon and with the Kohl’s credit card you get a percentage off.  By the time they take the percentage off for the coupon and then the credit card, they almost paid me to take the blouse.”

 

She declared “I think you will love it when you see it.  It’s beautiful.”

 

“Incidentally, I know I complained about the security force being with me when I leave the house as I thought it was going to be a nuisance – it’s not,” admitted June.  “They keep their distance and sometimes, you do not even know they are there.”

 

“Come on inside, and I will get you a drink.  You look like you might need one,” she exclaimed.

 

Junior walked inside his home and went to his recliner to relax.  He sat down while June went to get him a drink.  When she returned with his big Dr Pepper, she saw that he had fallen asleep.

 

“My, my, it must have really been a big day.  I will just let him sleep for awhile.  When I get dinner ready, I will wake him up,” she thought.

 

“He is going to be surprised when I tell him that his Mom and Dad are back in town.  And especially when I tell him that we are going to have dinner with them tomorrow night,” June smiled to herself.

 

Junior loved his Mom and Dad, but there were times he just wanted to be Junior.  There were times he wanted to just let them be Mom and Dad from afar like Italy or France – where they had been for almost 6 months.  Wouldn’t be that way this time, however, as they had returned from their getaway.

 

“Sam and Joan have so much to share and it will be so exciting,” thought June.  “He will be glad to hear about their trip.”

 

“I will remind him in the morning so he will not be so run down when he comes home tomorrow,” she thought.

 

Junior was coming in so much now totally worn out from his work.  She reasoned, “But he will want to share with Dad about the opening of the bank.”

 

June went about making dinner for them for the evening.  When it was prepared, she woke Junior for dinner.

 

June excitedly stated, “I’ve got some wonderful news to share with you.  Mom and Dad came in today from their trip.  They just slipped in without telling anyone.”

 

“Mom called me this afternoon and we made arrangements to get together tomorrow night for dinner,” continued June.

 

She said, “Dad did not want to do anything today, but rest.  He will sleep most of the day.”

 

Junior looked up bewildered from his nap, “Mom and Dad came in?  Today?”  Who knew – anybody?  We could have made arrangements to pick them up at the airport in Nashville,” inquired Junior.

 

“They did not want to bother anyone.  They just got one of those Uber cars and came in on their own,” said June.

 

“Wow, I am looking forward to seeing Dad and Mom.  Maybe he will come by the bank tomorrow.  I would love to show it to him,” exclaimed Junior.

 

“And I bet he is looking forward to seeing it,” concluded June. “Now eat your dinner, it is going to get cold.  Tomorrow is tomorrow not tonight.”  June always knew what to say to Junior to cheer him up.

 

The next day, Junior was up and ready to go at an early hour.  “Maybe I can run by Mom and Dad’s home on the way to the bank,” he thought.

 

“No, they are probably sleeping in.  Dad will come by the bank when he is up and around so I will just go to the bank and wait for him there.”  Junior knew his Dad would want to come to the bank.

 

As Junior drove in to the bank, he noticed a couple of government cars with government license plates.  They were parked in front of the bank.

 

“This is interesting,” he thought.  “I wonder who is here and what they want to see.”

 

Junior parked in his designated spot and went into the bank.  He noticed several men in the lobby that he did not know and two men with Carolyn.

 

“They must be waiting for me,” he calculated, “I might as well find out what is going on.”

 

He thought, “I knew that the banking commission was going to be upset when they saw the reports at the end of the month, but I had hoped to resolve some of this by then.  Hopefully the report would not be as glaring then about the loss of the three accounts.”

 

“Good morning, gentlemen,” announced Junior walking into Carolyn’s office.  Junior recognized one of the gentlemen, “Mr. Donald Sanders, with the State Banking Commission I assume.  How are you?”

 

Without waiting for an answer,” he asked, “What do I owe this prestigious visit from the state?”

 

“Yes, hello, Junior, you are looking fit and trim as always,” began Donald, “This is John Story.  He is with our State Auditing Division in Knoxville.”

 

“We just wanted to look in on you.  We wanted to check out these new concepts of banking that you have introduced,” acknowledged Donald.

 

“I trust that looking in is all you want to do,” laughed Junior a bit nervous and hoping no one would notice.  “I’m just kidding.  Come on in the office.”

 

“Carolyn, make sure we get them a cup of coffee, doughnut, or soft drink – maybe water if that is your choice?” instructed Junior.

 

Carolyn got Mr. Sanders a cup of coffee and Mr. Story a water.  She got Junior a cup of coffee and left the room closing the door.

 

Junior invited them to sit.  Donald and John sat across from Junior.

 

“Junior, tell us about these new banking ideas.  How they are working out?” asked Donald.

 

“Sure, be glad to.  We have put a lot of new ideas into practice and so far they have been accepted quite well.”

 

He explained, “Some of them are taking a little time to get off the ground.  But we planned for that – after all this is a new age in banking.”

 

For the next twenty minutes, Junior went through the process of his new banking concepts.  He covered the methods he was using without tellers – using tech assistants instead.

 

“Most interesting,” said John as he was taking notes.  Junior was always at ease talking about his bank techniques.  He was settling in to the conversation.

 

“What about your commercial contacts, Junior?” asked Donald.  “How are they accepting these new ideas?”

 

“Wham, right out of left field,” thought Junior, “So this was it.  They have heard about what happened Monday.”

 

“Our commercial accounts are good,” exclaimed Junior trying not to let on about the loss of his 3 biggest accounts – although he knew this is why they were there.

 

“Would it be fair,” asked Donald, “if I were to inquire as to say – your major commercial accounts.  How they have done since you opened?”

 

Junior felt compelled to tell Donald Sanders the issues he was facing with the commercial accounts.  It had to be told – they would find out anyway.  Better to hear it from him.

 

“Mr. Sanders,” relented Junior, “I have a problem.  You don’t know a Mr. Clyde Bonner, here in Lebanon.  He is quite an influential man not so much in personality but in bullying.”

 

“At the beginning, he invested heavily in the bank by buying stock.  It was a mistake to let him in as I know now,” he conceded.

 

Junior explained, “I got the Home ReSources account with Mr. Bonner’s help and other leading businessmen who joined in with us.  They encouraged him to join with us through the bank of course and Mr. Meacham purchased stock in the bank.”

 

Going further, “Without going into the weeds as to how things happened – Home ReSources brought in the John Deere tractor account along with their sales and service.  That line was in direct competition with Tractor Supply located just down the road toward Nashville.”

 

Explaining, “Mr. Bonner did not like Home ReSources competing with Tractor Supply.  He tried to coerce Jack, the manager at Home ReSources – Jack Meacham – to drop the John Deere account and all that it entailed.”

 

“When Jack would not do it – he tried to blackmail Jack.  He used pictures taken when we transferred the stock trying to make it look like a quid pro quo,” submitted Junior.

“I sold Jack 500 shares of Mr. Bonner’s stock in the bank AFTER the account was secured by our lower interest rates for their interim loans.  Even though Community offered tax incentives, we beat them with the lesser interest rates.”

 

He went on, “The transfer was at Mr. Bonner’s direction and authorization.  I have full documentation of the transaction.  The funds from the sale of the stock were deposited in the bank in Mr. Bonner’s account.”

 

Going into the weeds after saying he would not, Junior continued, “Home ReSources brought in an internal affairs team and Jack was cleared.  Mr. Bonner assumed I had double-crossed him as he thought the stock was to be given as a gift to get the account and he demanded his investment back.”

 

Junior said, “I told him that it would take some time as it was a stock transaction.  I would have to present it to the stock holders to get their approval.  And that it would have to be approved by the board.”

 

Junior finished with, “And this is why you are here I am sure.  He has set out to destroy the bank.  He convinced three major accounts that invested with me in the beginning to pull out of the bank and go back with Uncle Steve at Community.”

 

He ended, “You know my Uncle Steve as I have seen you visit with him on numerous occasions.  I recognized you from those visits.”

 

Junior informed Donald, “Now if you are here because you have gotten word from someone that all my accounts are pulling out on me, to some degree that is right, however, I am taking legal action to stop this bank harassment and the suit should be filed this week.”

 

Again he finished, “I have already gotten a restraining order on Mr. Bonner and he cannot come within 500 feet of the bank or my home.  I have hired a security service to watch the bank and my home and to provide a body guard for my wife when she goes out.”

 

“Mr. Bonner has made one attempt by coming to my house with a chain and a rubber hose to do me harm.  He was stopped in his tracks by the security firm,” acknowledged Junior.

 

Further, “He now knows that if he cannot get to me any other way, he will try to destroy the bank using you.  That obviously is where we are today.”

 

Junior knew, “I can only assume that you have received a call from Mr. Bonner or someone he has commandeered to do his bidding who is giving you information concerning the bank.  And I know that the bank could be at risk in the community.”

 

Junior concluded, “In my defense, I have a tape of the conversations I have conducted with all 3 of the major accounts in question.  My lawyer is working with that tape for a bank harassment suit against Mr. Bonner.”

 

Junior willingly made an offer, “I can get you a copy of the tape and I am certain you will find it most interesting.  To each of the three accounts, he gave three different reasons why they should close their accounts.”

 

Advancing a theory, “More importantly, he convinced them that they were at risk if I had to close the bank.  Now you are here at the request of someone and it is your responsibility to look at closing the bank.”

 

Donald began solemnly, “Junior – may I call you Junior – you have painted an interesting situation.  I know your family and I knew when I got the call that there was more to it than just bad banking practices.”

 

Donald recounted, “But that IS why we are here.  We have got to protect the public and protect if we can – your bank.  I will meet with our team – if you have a conference room we can use – and see where we go from here.”

 

Donald asked, “Do you mind if I contact Steve at Community?  It would help us if we had collaboration on your details.  We would also like to talk with Mr. Jack Meacham at Home ReSources.  And I would like for John to have full access to your files.”

 

Junior was categorically cooperative, “I can accommodate you with anything you need.  I can set you up in one of our conference rooms with computer terminals.  Our techs can help you get into the encrypted files of the bank so you can see everything.”

 

Continuing in the same vein, “And yes, I invite you to talk with Uncle Steve.  He has never crossed us at any juncture even when we went up against each other with the Home ReSources account.”

 

Junior acknowledged, “He and his staff were very professional in their presentations.  They were above board in all their filings.”

 

Knowing Jack Meacham, said Junior, “Jack Meacham will be more than willing to talk with you after what Mr. Bonner put him through.  I can give you his cell phone number and you can set up the meeting apart from me to make sure of its exclusivity by your request.”

 

“Anything else I have or that is in the bank is at your disposal.  Even my Dad will be by here sometime this morning.  He and his wife just got in from an extended well earned vacation to Italy and France.  I think you know my Dad – Sam Johnson, Uncle Steve’s brother.”

 

Donald responded, “Yes, I know Sam – I look forward to seeing him again.  Thank you.”

 

Donald then instructed, “John, get set up in the conference room.  Bring in Jim and Mike from the lobby and get them involved as well.  I will go over and talk with Steve at Community.

 

He continued to explain his course of action, “On the way back, I will stop by Home ReSources.  Maybe I can find Jack Meacham there.  In the meantime, go through your standard protocols.  When I come back, we will make a recommendation on what our next step will be.”

 

“Done,” stated John as he left the office with Junior leading him to a secure conference room.  Donald went back to his car and had his driver take him to the Community Bank.

 

“Steve, how good to see you,” as Donald was ushered into Steve’s office by Sherry at Community Bank.  Donald passed on coffee as he said he was coffee’d out for the day.

 

Steve greeted Donald, “It’s good to see you.  What’s new in banking these days that brings you to Lebanon.”

 

“It’s hard to say, Steve,” started Donald getting right to the point, “We got a report on your nephew at the New Age Bank and thought it might be wise to drop in on him a little unexpected.”

 

“Nothing going on that is illegal mind you – just making sure the general public is protected.  You know politicians and all,” replied Donald.

 

He continued, “Can I be a little candid with you AND you with me as well?  If we can – I think we can wrap this up quickly.  Seems three of his major accounts recently pulled their accounts and came back to you.  First, is that what happened?”

 

Steve stated, “Yes they came back.  I did not know there was a problem with the accounts.  Is something going on I need to know about?”

 

“Oh, there is no problem with them coming back to you,” said Donald, “and I don’t mean to imply that you might be involved with their switching back.  There are other eggs to fry here.”

 

“Are you familiar with a Mr. Clyde Bonner?” asked Donald.  “Seems his name keeps cropping up.”

 

“Am I familiar with him – you bet your bottom dollar I am.  Why?” inquired Steve.

 

“Well, I will share with you some very confidential information since you are in banking,” replied Donald, “It seems that Mr. Bonner is less than scrupulous when it comes to his business dealings.”

 

“Don’t I know it already,” came back Steve, “A few years back, he borrowed money on cattle that he did not own.  When we found out about it, he managed to come up with the money to pay us off and we let it go with that.”

 

“Since then he has been engaged in several illegal activities around the country including a feed mill debacle in Alabama,” added Steve.  “I stay away from him like he has the plague and he knows it.”

 

“Well, Junior, your nephew, would have done well to have done the same thing,” shared Donald, “He has gotten himself caught up in what looks like another scheme that Mr. Bonner is trying to pull off with Tractor Supply and Home ReSources.”

 

Donald explained, “Junior is not in legal trouble – mind you – but his bank could be in jeopardy.  If we need to, can you help him out to keep him afloat?”

 

Steve responded without even thinking, “Of course I can.  What do you think he will need?”

 

“Nothing,” came back Donald, “Except you guaranteeing that you will promise to keep the bank going until he can work out this problem with Clyde Bonner.”

 

Donald continued, “In all probability we will never call on you to do a thing.  We can keep auditors in the bank as if they were employees until we are assured that the bank is sound.”

 

He admitted, “As far as I know right now it is sound, but we do have auditors going over the books in one of his conference rooms.”

 

He shared, “Junior, by the way, is fully aware of what we are doing.  We have talked with him and he is cooperating fully with us.”

 

“I knew we could count on you and especially since it is family and we know what family means to the Johnsons,” acknowledged Donald.  “You have been very helpful for us trying to get a handle on Mr. Bonner.  That will help us with Junior also.”

 

“Look I have got to run,” stated Donald.  “I have another appointment this morning and then get back to Junior.  You take care now, you hear.” 

 

Donald got up slowly and steadied himself, before attempting to move, “This arthritis is killing me at times.  You probably know Steve.  You are getting up in age as well.”

 

Steve laughing with Donald, said, “I’m not there yet but sometimes in the mornings, I feel it.  So, yes, it is coming on.”

 

“Have a good day and thanks for helping Junior.”  Steve stated, “I would say keep me informed if you need something, but I know you will.  Sherry will see you out.”

 

Donald left to go to Home ReSources.  The plot was beginning to thicken.  It was obvious the goose was being cooked for Mr. Bonner.

 

Clyde drove by the New Age Bank.  He recognized the government vehicles parked in front of the bank.  He had seen so many of them at times – he did not want to remember.

 

“Well I got him.  Put a restraining order on me will you?” he laughed, “Cut me off from my money will you?  Just wait until the State Banking Commission takes over.  I will get my money then.”

 

Clyde felt good about what he had done.  “If there is one thing I cannot do when I take care of business like I do is to let anyone run over me.  If one person gets away with it I have lost all credibility with everyone else I do business with  “I just can’t let that happen.”

 

He contemplated, “I am going to have to get inside the bank somehow to see what is going on.  The suspense is killing me.”

 

“Maybe, I can get Murphy to go to the bank and sit at one of those machines and watch what is happening. It is worth a try,” he thought.

 

Clyde called Murphy on his cell phone, “Murphy I want you to get up here to the New Age Bank..  Go inside and get on one of those kiosk machines.  I don’t care what you do on the machine, just call me on your cell phone and tell me what is going on inside the bank.”

 

“They have government vehicles up here by the bazookas,” Clyde excitedly shouted.  “Something is bound to be going on inside with all of these government people.”

 

Murphy replied, “Boss, they are not machines.  They are computer terminals with monitors.”

 

Clyde shouted at Murphy, “OK, I don’t care what you call them.  Just get up here.”

 

Clyde decided he would go by the McDonald’s and get a soft drink while he was waiting.  They were selling any size Dr Peppers for a buck.  He would get the biggest Dr Pepper he could get.

 

Driving back to the lot across from the bank, he took a big swig from his Dr Pepper and settled in to wait for Murphy.  Surely he would be showing up soon.

 

Murphy drove up to the bank and went inside.  After about 20 minutes, Clyde was wondering if Murphy was ever going to call him.

 

Finally, he gave in to his curiosity and called Murphy.  “What are you doing?  What is going one in there?”

 

“Well, Boss,” explained Murphy, “you said to get on one of the kiosk terminals and there is not one available yet.  You have to get a number and then the monitor displays your number and the number of the kiosks you are to go to.”

 

Murphy explained, “It is kind of like getting a shower at a truck stop, Boss.  You get a number and wait for your number to come up and then you are assigned a shower.”

 

“You idiot, you are not taking a shower.  Get on one of those terminals before someone recognizes you and calls you out for being there,” shouted Clyde.

 

“I know I am not taking a shower, Boss,” again explained Murphy, “Besides, I don’t think they have showers here anyway.  That would be a new idea to have a shower in a bank … huh, Boss?”

 

“Boss … are you there?  Guess I have lost connection somehow … Boss?” Murphy called out.

 

“Murphy,” Clyde trying to be calm and direct said, “Murphy, … please … get on one of the machines – err terminals!”

 

Clyde instructed, “Watch what is going on and give me a call.  Gosh you have been in there long enough now to see what is going on.  What do you see happening?”

 

“Well, Boss,” started Murphy, “There are people getting coffee and snacks from the break room.  OK if I get a cup of coffee and a doughnut while I am waiting.  This is making me hungry?”

 

Clyde responded, “Murphy, you are always hungry.  That is why you weigh 300 pounds.”

 

A frustrated Clyde finished, “This is a lost cause.  Does it look like anyone is shutting down anything – how about those machines … err terminals?”

 

“No, Boss, everything is quite.  Almost like a library.  People are just going about their work on the machines – now you got me calling them machines – working on the terminals,” added Murphy.

 

“OK, tell you what, you hang around, I am going to lunch.  Call me if you hear anything or see anything.  I will not be far away.  I will just get something fast-food.”

 

“Hey, get me a couple of cheeseburgers and I will pay you.  Like I said, I am hungry,” unashamedly Murphy asked.

 

Clyde slammed the phone down.  “Where do I get such help?  This is ridicules.”  Picking it back up Clyde said, “OK I will get you a couple of hamburgers and come back.”

 

“I’ll call you when I get back.  You can come on out to the Wal-Mart parking lot.  You will see my car, and we will eat in the car.  And you can tell me what you saw.”

 

“Great day in the morning, you have to do paint by the numbers with some people,” thought Clyde.  He left to go back to McDonald’s to get the burgers.

 

Sam in the meantime took a leisurely drive through Lebanon looking things over.  “It was good to be home.”

 

He speculated, “Nothing seems to have changed.  But then, he had only been gone for a little over 6 months.”

 

“One thing is for sure,” thought Sam, “The company in Nashville better get my Harley back in town and get it back in town quick.”

 

He contemplated, “I am – what do you call it – paranoid about my Harley.  I just like to see my Harley every night before I go to bed.  That is why I fixed a way to keep it in the bedroom at night.”

 

Rounding the corner and approaching Wal-Mart, he noticed the completed building for the New Age Bank.”  Junior has done himself proud.

 

Sam thought, “I like the appearance and it looks like he is doing quite well.  Several cars were in the parking lot for this time of the day.”  Sam parked and glanced around the new surroundings continuing to admire what Junior had done.

 

“It certainly had a different look than the Community Bank that I was so accustomed to working for many years.  Wonder how all the landscaping I put in over there is faring?” he wondered.

 

Knowing Steve – if good will can come from flowers in the community then it has fared well and he is taking care of it.  I will have to make a point of going by on the way home after visiting with Junior.”

 

“Hmm … some of these cars are government cars.” Considered Sam.  “Wonder what that means?  At the Community Bank we never had this many government vehicles show up at one time ever.  Guess I will find out.”

 

Sam entered the bank and stopped for a moment to glance around at what Junior had done.  He had so much technology in place with techs working with people on the ATMs and the kiosks.

 

“No tellers.  I guess this is what he tried to explain to me that he was going to do,” reflected Sam.

 

“Uh oh, that’s Murphy Baker, Clyde Bonner’s man.  What’s he doing standing around?  It does not look like he is doing anything to do business with anyone.  It’s more like he is casing the joint.”

 

Sam laughed at his analogy of ‘the joint.’  “How many times,” Sam reminisced, “had he heard the story from his Dad about Bonnie and Clyde?  Well, if ‘casing the joint’ comes up; I will mention it to Junior.  Now where is Junior?”

 

Looking toward the back of the bank, he saw Carolyn and headed her way.  She could tell him where Junior was.

 

Carolyn noticed him coming and went to greet him, “Gosh, it’s good to see you Sam.  I did not know you were back in town.”

 

“We just got in a couple of days ago,” replied Sam.  “We had to take a couple of days to catch up on our rest – you know traveling.  Boy, Junior has really made some bold strides in banking.  How is it going over with the town?”

 

Carolyn said, “Great, but let Junior tell you all about it himself.  He is in his office.  Come on – I know he is going to want to see you right away.”

 

Sam followed Carolyn to Junior’s office.  The bank was something, but he wanted to see his Son.

 

Carolyn declared, “Guess who I have to see you Junior?  It’s a surprise.”

 

Without hesitation, Junior beamed, “Dad, I knew you were in.  June told me you were resting from your traveling.”

 

Carolyn interrupted, “Either of you want anything?  I can get you a cup of coffee, tea, soft drink or water – your choice.”

 

“How about some herbal tea?” answered Sam, “Joan has gotten me hooked on tea with our trip?”

 

“No problem, here at the New Age Bank, we are going more and more continental,” turning to Junior, “Junior …?”

 

“Nothing, thank you,” he replied.  “I’ve had 3 cups of coffee already this morning.”

 

Carolyn left the office to get Sam’s tea.  “I hoped you might come by today,” declared Junior.  “June told me we are supposed to get together tonight for dinner.”

 

“You know me, I can’t stay cooped up in a house very long at one time,” countered Sam, “and I wanted to see your bank.  This really seems to be something.  Are you having a great success with it?”

 

“Tell you what,” came back Junior, “let me take you on the 25 cent tour.  You can decide for yourself.”

 

Carolyn came in with Sam’s tea as Junior began to usher Sam through the lobby of the bank.  “Straight from the tea herbs.  I hope you will like it.  May not be continental enough for you.”

 

Sam took a sip and replied, “It is as good as any I had in Italy.  France maybe not, but Italy – yes.  Thank you.”  Laughing they left Carolyn for the tour.

 

Junior began, “You know I told you about the conference rooms – they have been a great addition.  People are coming in and scheduling the rooms for meetings all the time.  They are free of course if you have an account with the bank otherwise we have a nominal rental fee.”

 

“For that fee, they get snacks, drinks and our staff to serve them if they want.  We have gotten several business accounts who have joined us because to the conference rooms,” elaborated Junior.

 

Junior was excited to mention, “The kiosks are helping customers with their banking needs on line.  Our tech people work with them if they need help.”

 

“Plus – you will appreciate this – every time they enter their transaction it is recorded on the bank’s computer filing system as well. It does not require a second transaction on our part,” informed Junior.

 

“Same with taking pictures of checks that automatically become part of the bank’s filing system should the customer ever want copies for their records.  The customer takes the pictures, we don’t,” he added.

 

He continued, “The ATMs are like tellers but no tellers to operate them.  They require two pin numbers to avoid hacking so it is working great.”

 

Junior shared, “Of course the business man’s parlor has been a great success as well.  Many people just like to get away from their office and enjoy the camaraderie of other business people  The parlor gives them their networking.”

 

He added, “We furnish TVs mounted on each wall with all the different newscast and they can use headphones to keep from disturbing others in the room.”

 

“And,” he finished, “we our memberships include snacks and drinks year round.  It has gone over quite successfully.”

 

“Junior,” Sam interrupted, “You see that man standing over there by himself.  You know who that is?  It is Murphy Baker, Clyde Bonner’s right hand man.”

 

“He was there when I came in doing the same thing he is doing now – nothing – just standing there.  Obviously he is watching something.  You have a problem with Clyde?” Sam asked.

 

“Yes, I can tell you about it over lunch.  You do have time to go to lunch with me later – right?”

 

“Sure,” replied Sam, “No problem.  I have been missing good ole Lebanon food.  What about Murphy?”

 

“I am glad you pointed Murphy out to me,” declared Junior, “I will call security and have him escorted out of the bank.  I had not noticed him there before.  You are right.  He is doing nothing but watching.”

 

Junior pressed a device on his belt.  Immediately two security guards were at his side.

 

Junior whispered in the ear of one of the guards concerning Murphy.  They went immediately to him and asked him to leave the bank.  Murphy started to protest, but two against one – it was not his odds.

 

“Security works pretty good … huh?” stated Junior, “I guess since Clyde can’t get in – he sends his man-child to do his dirty work.”

 

“Look, let’s go to lunch now.  I just need to step in here for a moment and let these men know what I am doing,” announced Junior, “then we can get out of here.”

 

Junior stepped in the conference room with the investigators and told them he was going to lunch.  Junior signaled Carolyn he was going to lunch and he and Sam left the bank.

 

On the way to the club, Junior began to detail all the events that had occurred with Clyde while Sam was out of town.  Even how Clyde had pressured his three major accounts to pull away from him and go back to Uncle Steve.

 

Sam asked, “Was Steve part of this in any way?  You know he was probably real upset when the final hammer came down with me leaving and your quitting to start your own bank.”

 

Answering, Junior said, “No, according to everyone who has talked to Uncle Steve, he has been very cooperative and congenial about the entire situation.”

 

He explained, “Supposedly he did not know what was going on until the accounts started coming back to Community.  Even when the accounts pulled out, he did not get overly upset according to Carl, David, and Ray.”

 

They arrived at the club and got a table.  The waiter was glad to see Sam back in town and asked if he wanted his usual.  Sam said, “Yes and thank you for remembering.  Junior will have a Coors.”

 

They ordered lunch.  While they were waiting for their food, Junior shared the details about the bank examiners at the bank now.

 

“I had noticed the government vehicles in the parking lot when I drove up.  I figured something must be going on,” concluded Sam.

 

“Yeah, I don’t think Sanders, with the commission, will give me too much trouble just yet.  He is aware of the problem we are having with Clyde,” acknowledged Junior.

 

Bringing Sam up to date on Clyde, he said, “I have filed a restraining order against him.  He can’t come with 500 feet of the bank or my home.”

 

Explaining, “That is probably why the man from Clyde’s office was here this morning.  Trying to find out what is happening for Clyde.  I suspect his curiosity is killing him.”

 

He continued, “Warner thinks he can buy me some time with the lawsuit.  We are filing a business harassment suit against Clyde.”

 

He told Sam, “I have taped conversations from Carl, David, and Ray.  That should just about do him in legally.”

 

Confirming, “We are not sure about the amount we are going to sue for yet.  But I have his money locked up with the stock purchase and he can’t get it back.”

 

He added, “Plus Warner has it sewed up so that Clyde cannot sell the stock to someone else either until the suit is resolved.  So it is on to court.”

 

“Sounds good, Son,” exclaimed Sam, “That Clyde fellow is one low life sneaky sun of a gun.  It will be good to get rid of him completely.”

 

Their orders came and they both indulged themselves in their food.  Sam interjected during lunch, “Steve put his foot down on Clyde and would not even let him in the bank period.”

 

Sam conceded, “Not that you did not need a restraining order, but Clyde knew that a Steve did not need a restraining order to keep him out.”

 

“They pretty much were on opposite sides of the fence and Clyde knew it.  Plus Steve closed his entire account to him with one cashier’s check and told him to get out,” he explained.

 

Finishing their lunch, Junior said, “I need to get back to the bank.  I want to hear how Sanders made out with Jack at Home ReSources.”

 

“And even more if any decision has been made by the auditors concerning the bank?”  There was a certain amount of uncertainty although Junior felt it would work out for now.

 

Junior stated, “Dad, if it is alright with you, I can drop you off at your car.  I might be tied up with the auditors for awhile.”

 

Junior continued, “June and I will see you later this evening for dinner.  I can call you know when the commission makes their decision and give you a heads up.”

 

“That’s fine, no problem with me.” Sam added, “I think I will go home and get a nap this afternoon and get ready for a great evening with you and June.”

 

Junior arrived at the bank and dropped Sam off at his car.  Saying their goodbyes until later, Junior parked and entered the bank.

 

Wanting to cover all of his bases, Donald drove onto the Home ReSources parking lot after leaving Junior at the bank.  “Home Resources had done themselves proud,” he thought as he parked.

 

Regardless how the meeting with this Jack Meacham fellow, Donald was still concerned about the possible action they might need to make.  “It had been years since they had to close a bank immediately and it was a travesty for that community.”

 

Leaving his team, in the conference room, they would be able to come to a conclusion regarding the bank.  He did not want to influence their decision with his presence or anything he might say pro or con.

 

Turning his attention to Home ReSources, “They indeed had a big selection of John Deere tractors for sale plus all the farm implements.  Home ReSources was definitely branching out especially in small rural communities like Lebanon.  The tractors seemed a good match.”

 

Donald calculated, “There would not be a need for this type of sales in large metropolitan areas.  But here in Lebanon – maybe.”

 

He went into the store and a greeter pointed him toward the center of the store near Customer Service where the offices were located.

 

“He could find Mr. Meacham there now.”  The greeter said, “I just saw him go into the office.”

 

Donald hurried over to the Customer Service Department and inquired about meeting with Mr. Jack Meacham.  The lady at the desk said, “Just a moment.  Can I tell him who you are?”

 

“Yes, I am Donald Sanders with the State Banking Commission out of Knoxville.  I don’t have an appointment, but it would be very helpful if he could work me in,” he answered.

 

“It is near lunch time.  But I think he is still here,” said the customer rep, “Let me check.”

 

She went over to the office door which was open and said, “Yes, Mr. Sanders, he is here.  Please come in.”

 

Jack looked up from his ledger and noticed a stranger entering his office.  “Yes sir, can I help you?” Jack asked.

 

“Yes you can if I can have a minute of your time.  My name is Donald Sanders – here is my card.”  Donald handed Jack one of his business cards. 

 

Donald began, “I am with the State Banking Commission out of Knoxville and we come down ever so often to look in on our local banks in the community.  You know trying to protect the depositors and the community.”

 

“I understand,” answered Jack.  “I am Jack Meacham, the local manger here at Home ReSources.  Good to meet you.  Have a seat.”

 

“Great, you are just the man I need to see,” replied Donald, “We are doing some oversight with the New Age Bank and I understand that you do business with them.  Is that correct?”

 

“Much more than just do business with them,” declared Jack, “Junior is a personal friend whom I met when we came to town.  He has been a God-Send for our company in helping us to get established here.  He is almost like an employee that I do not have to pay.”

 

“Oh and how so?  If I might be so bold as to ask?” added Donald.

 

“Junior – Mr. Johnson – set us up with our interim loans and oversaw our contractors making sure they met the contractual agreements for construction.  It was like he became our onsite construction manager – dollars and all,” answered Jack.

 

He added, “It afforded me the time to take care of incoming shipments, inventory and staffing.  He truly was a God-send for me during that time.”

 

Donald was surprised, “My, my, my … we don’t usually get these glowing reports of service from our banks that are just starting up.  I am sure that Junior did a good job for you.

 

Donald had to get to the hard questions, “Would you say that the competition – when you came to town for your business – was conducted by the Community Bank and the New Age Bank on a level playing field?”

 

“Mr. Sanders, let’s cut to the chase.  Are you asking if I personally or if the company gained from our doing banking business with Junior in Lebanon?” interjected Jack.

 

Before Donald could answer, Jack went on, “Mr. Sanders, there is a man in town who tried to throw a monkey wrench into everything Junior did for us up to and accusing me of personal gain from our professional relationship.”

 

Jack continued, “It is not necessary for you to know who the man is but to know that Home ReSources brought an internal affairs team down here to flush out the accusations made by this man.  They did and they left town giving me and Junior a clean bill of health.”

 

Jack was getting excited, “What this man wanted was the John Deere tractors off our yard – so much that he tried to blackmail me.  He wanted me to perform such poor warranty service that John Deere would pull their contract with Home ReSources.”

 

“That was supposed to open the door for Tractor Supply to locate here in Lebanon.  When I refused – he went out of control trying to destroy me,” he explained.

 

Continuing, Jack elaborated, “This same man – now I don’t know what his connection is with the Tractor Supply west of here on I-40 – but I can tell you that if they are working together somehow – they are in his pockets already.”

 

Jack divulged even more for Donald, “I even understand that he is creating havoc with Junior over at the bank.  That is the probably the reason you are here.”

 

“You have guessed right on several accounts,” admitted Donald, “But one more question from a banking standpoint.  Did Junior do anything in the competition to get your account over Community Bank that would be considered a conflict of interest on his part or the relationship of the bank?”

 

“Too that,” fired back Jack, “I can unequivocally state no!  He was above board from the get go.”

 

Jack shared, “Community could only get us 7 years of tax incentives that Junior could not match – so he in turn – matched it with his lesser interest rates to accommodate us up front.”

 

“Using the lesser rates,  we would not have to deal with politicians later on.  Had we gone the incentives route, the city council could have changed their minds with a change in their agenda or ideology.”

 

Jack finished, “As stated, our team from internal affairs agreed that I made a right decision with Junior.  I also understand your examiners went over the details of the loans when they were overseeing Junior on a regular basis and found everything proper.”

 

Jack concluded, “And quite honestly; Junior has given us far more than we could have ever gotten from Community by being our onsite manager.  So as far as I am concerned – Home ReSources came out better and I came out better by having time to perform my other duties in getting the store up and going.”

 

“Well, you have certainly been up front and candid with me on the details,” said Donald, “We will take all of this into consideration in working with Junior.  Thank you for your time.”

 

Donald finished, “I if I might say so, this Home ReSources store is really nice.  I don’t think the ones we have in Knoxville can meet your cleanliness and professional approach you get here when you enter the door.”

 

“Knoxville might learn something if they would come down here and see what you’ve done.  Again, thank you for your time,” said Donald.

 

“No problem, come again when you have more time and I will give you a full tour.  Good to meet you,” declared Jack.

 

Donald left the office quite impressed with Jack and he could easily identify how Jack and Junior could work so well together.  They were both up and coming young professional men with a lot to give to new marketing ideas.

 

Clyde got his hamburgers and return to the Wal-Mart parking lot across from the bank.  The smell of the hamburgers in the car was getting to him.  He reached for his phone to call Murphy to tell him to come on over when … Bang, bang, bang, … someone was bumping his passenger window.

 

Looking he saw Murphy wanting to get in.  Clyde unlocked the doors and Murphy climbed into the passenger seat sitting on one of the hamburgers as he got in.

 

Embarrassed, Murphy said, “Mmph … I did not see that one.  Don’t worry I will eat it.”

 

“And eat it, you will,” declared Clyde, “I am not going to eat something you sat on and smashed it.”

 

“It will taste the same, just mashed,” stated Murphy.  He laughed at his comment.

 

“What are you doing here in the parking lot?” inquired Clyde between bites of his burger, “you are supposed to be in the bank watching what is going on.”

 

Murphy un-wrapped the smashed burger and began to consume it.  “I was until these two security guards came over and started questioning me as to what I was doing.  I could not think of a reason so they told me to move it on.”

 

Murphy expressed fear, “Boss, these guys mean business.  One of them had his hand on a baton and, honestly, I think had I hesitated one step, he would have hit me with it.”

 

“I practically ran getting out of there.  I then came over here to wait for you and the hamburgers.  I was hungry.”  Un-wrapping his other burger – Murphy pushed it deep into his mouth and began to chomp down.  Two hefty bites and it was gone.

 

“That is all you think about is eating,” scolded Clyde.  “Well we are through here so we might as well go back to the office.”

 

“How am I going to get my car back?  Boss, I have to go on the bank parking lot to get my car and they might see me,” a concerned Murphy said.

 

“You idiot, why did you not drive it over here when you left?  Now it is where you left it,” stated an enraged Clyde.

 

“You kidding, Boss,” excitedly Murphy answered taking a large swallow of his drink.  “I was not going to take a chance with those fellows.  I did not want to get hit on the noggin.”

 

“Well, you are going to take a chance now, because, I am going to drive along the outside curb and drop you off at your car and then hightail it out of there,” explained Clyde.  “It’ll be up to you to get your car and leave.”

 

“Boss, my car is on the inside row up near the building,” explained Murphy, “How am I going to do that without being seen?”

 

“You mean you parked your car up next to the building when you got here this morning.  It has been there all this time?” asked Clyde.

 

“Well … yes, Boss, that was the only spot available.  I did not want to park in a handicap spot,” said Murphy.

 

“I don’t’ know why not,” concluded Clyde, “You are handicapped in the brain.”

 

“That might be true, Boss, but you have to have one of those little ‘hangy’ things on your mirror or a special license plate and I don’t have either one,” Murphy wanted to make his point of being a good citizen.

 

“Well, I am still going to drop you at the curb,” added Clyde, “It will be up to you to get to your car before they get you.  Wow, where do I find such good help?”

 

As Clyde was speaking he was coming alongside the curb and stopping.  “Thanks, Boss, for the compliment.  I try hard to do a good job for you and it’s good to hear that I am appreciated.”

 

“Get out of here and get your car, Murphy,” shouted an exasperated Clyde.  “And don’t get caught.”

 

Murphy, instead of walking to his car; literally ran to his car as fast as he could.  Getting in and starting the engine – he backed out.  He made it just before the security guards could catch up to him.

 

They wrote down the license number to make sure the person was not stealing a car.  One guard went back to his car to call it in while the other went back inside the bank.

 

The security guard came back and had a picture of the owner and they both agreed it was the person they had ushered out earlier.  He was probably just picking up his car.  It was registered in his name.

 

It was well after lunch hour when Junior returned to the bank.  He noticed that all the inspectors were in the conference room and just sitting back and talking.

 

They had ordered food in and Donald was in there with them.  Their sitting back could be both good and disturbing.  Good if they had found nothing and disturbing if with their numbers – they had determined that the bank might be approaching a risk factor.

 

Junior would not know until Donald came out and met with him.  Until then, he could only wait.

 

Junior decided to go to his office and see if anything was going on anywhere that needed his attention.  At least he could give the appearance that the bank was up and running as it should be.

 

Carolyn met him as he got to the executive suites.  She told Junior, “Mr. Sanders wants me to inform him when you come in.  He wants to be sure you are free to meet with him.  There is nothing else on the desk at the moment; you want to get this over with?”

 

“By all means,” answered Junior, “Let’s get with it.  Call him and tell them I am available.”

 

Carolyn called Mr. Sanders on his cell phone while Junior went into his office.  “Junior,” exclaimed Carolyn, “They want you to come over to their conference room instead of meeting in the office.”

 

“OK, tell him,” instructed Junior, “I am on my way.”  Now is the time.

 

Junior looked about the bank as he walked the short distance to the conference room set up for the examiners.  “Everyone is right,” he thought, “This indeed a new concept in banking, but it might be a new concept in banking that never gets off the floor after this meeting.”

 

“Junior, come on in,” John was standing and smiling.  “We are ready with our decision.”

 

“Smiling is a good sign, I hope,” thought Junior.  “You just never know until you hear the verdict.  Sometime examiners smile when they think they have caught a rat.”

 

  “Have a seat in our home away from home,” said Donald.  The other examiners were smiling at this point as well – either with the findings or at Donald’s remark.

 

Junior could not readily tell which.  But it would come soon enough now.

 

“Junior, I am going to get right to the point.  We found some things terribly disturbing for the moment, but not completely un-resolvable,” began Donald.

 

“Yes, you have lost three major accounts for reasons you should not have.  We think in a court; with due process; there will be some relief come from that,” added Donald.

 

“We are going to write our recommendation that you remain open for business until the civil suit is resolved,” he stated, “then we will take another look at it then.”

 

Continuing, “For now, with the increase in personal accounts that you have established; you have offset some of the loss from the major accounts.  Not all of it of course – and maybe in due time – even if you still do not recover the major accounts, you can weather the storm quite well.”

 

“However, we are going to start sending in examiners each month until we see you have righted the ship.  Is that OK with you?” asked Donald.

 

“Is that alright with me?” Junior was both relieved and elated.  “Yes, thank you.  I felt all along this would be your decision, but a person needs to hear it.  It is good news.  Again, thank you.”  Donald thanked Junior for his cooperation and for the accommodations.

 

Junior agreed that it was OK with him.  He invited the team to stay over for the evening and he could take them to dinner.

 

Donald declined, “Too many questions come from that, and we don’t want to stir up any more cans of worms for you, young man.”

 

“Maybe another time when things are under different circumstances.  I would love to try your cuisine here in Lebanon.  I have heard great stories about your food here,” acknowledged Donald.

 

Junior walked them to their cars and shook hands with them as they loaded to leave.  He had missed yet another one of Clyde’s bullets.

 

He wanted to tell his Dad the final disposition but decided he would wait until dinner with his Dad, Joan and June to share the good news.  It would be the perfect time to set the family back in order.

 

On the way back to Knoxville, Donald said, “John, we have that FBI man.  The one that we have used several times for instances like this.  This little community should not be at the whims of such a horrible actor as this Clyde Bonner,” warned Donald.

 

“I want you to contact the FBI investigator in the morning and tell him what we know and let him decide if there is reason for further investigation,” added Donald.

 

Donald instructed John, “Give him the name of the man from Tractor Supply who called us.  I have a feeling if he was not smart enough to not give us a fictitious name; there might be something there..  I suspect this goes beyond the city limits of Lebanon.”

 

Donald was upset that someone tried to use his agency, “Get me a complete dossier on this Clyde Bonner; where he lives; where he sleeps; where he eats; what he has done his entire life.  I want to know who this fellow is.  I suspect we are going to want to bring the State Attorney General in on this as well and the IRS on a federal level with the FBI.”

 

“Quite honestly, in this small community; this sounds very much like a form of RICO racketeering with charges for wire fraud, bribery, and this is not one for the books – flat out bullying.”  The others laughed at the ‘bullying’ charge.

 

Donald continued, “Junior is going to file a business harassment suit that will keep him busy for a few weeks while our people do their investigation.”

 

“And, he reflected, “get with this Jeff Warner, attorney, Junior’s attorney, and swear him to secrecy.  I want a copy of those tapes.  The FBI will find them quite interesting.  They are damaging information from a small time hick trying to be a big time Mafia racketeer.”

 

He finished, “I think it is time we put him in his place – the Federal prison ‘place’ in Nashville.”

 

“Will get right on it,” agreed John.  “I love it when a plan comes together to help the small man.”

 

  The last 50 miles of the journey back to Knoxville was spent in rain from a tropical storm on the gulf.  They had to watch the traffic to keep from having an accident.

 

There was even the likelihood of running up on an accident without seeing it until it was too late.  People drive terrible in rain.

 

Junior went back to his office.  He sat down.  A big load had been lifted from his shoulders.  Yes, he had a path to travel yet with the state as they were going to start sending in examiners each month again.  But he was still in business.

 

A strange sensation came over him as he sat quietly in his office.  It was a feeling that he had never experienced before.  The strangeness was that he did not seem to have any symptoms such as pain, but it was so strange it gave him reservations about his health.

 

He had always heard that when you have a heart attack, you would know it.  Well he did not know it, and his left arm felt fine.   There was no pain in his chest.

 

Again, he had always heard that your left arm would become numb at the outset of a heart attack.  “Why if I am not having a heart attack since I don’t know I am having a heart attack – and my left arm is fine - why am I still so concerned about having a heart attack?”

 

Is that what they mean by you will know you are having a heart attack when you are concerned you are having a heart attack?”  Junior was bewildered.

 

He thought about calling Carolyn, but he did not want to cause a clamor about his health until he knew more about what was going on.  And as quickly as the strange feelings came, they vanished.

 

“Wow that was something.  On my next visit with my PCP, I am going to request an EKG,” thought Junior.

 

“Better safe than sorry.  They say that they can even read the history of your heart with an EKG.  If something was going on now, they could read it then.” Acknowledged Junior.

 

Relieved, “Probably it is the stress I have been under lately with this entire Clyde thing; the accounts pulling out; and the bank examiners – not to mention all that happened with Home ReSources.”

 

“Wow,” he thought, “I have been though enough to have four heart attacks – that is for sure.  But I don’t want the first one.”

 

Junior left instructions on Carolyn’s desk.  She had gone out for a moment.  The note said he would be at home if she needed him.

 

He left the bank to go home to lie down for awhile.  June was out shopping when he got home.  Security had text him that they had a guard with her.  He went straight to his recliner and laid back.  Soon he was fast asleep.

 

Junior woke up from his nap at the same time that June came in with the groceries for the evening dinner.  He helped her get them in and went to the kitchen to get a drink of water.

 

Time was moving on when Sam and Joan were coming over.  He was going to grill the steaks for June and he had to get them ready to gill.

 

Ordinarily he loved to grill the steaks.  But again what had transpired earlier in the office was still troublesome to him.

 

Junior knew that everyone would expect him to prepare the steaks.  He turned his attention to getting the grill ready for the occasion.

 

While he was outside grilling the steaks, he got a beer and after a few swallows, the liquid began to do its magic.  His feelings returned to normal.

 

He looked forward to a great evening with his Mom and Dad.  “To get to see them and spend some time with them just relaxing would be great.”

 

“Then there was the good news about the banking commission.   “They will be glad to hear that,” Junior knew his Dad would be pleased.

 

Sam and Joan came over at exactly at 6 PM.  For the next few minutes, they hugged; shared greetings that they were glad to see everyone; and that everyone looked great.  Their little family was intact again.

 

The sun in Italy and France must have been great.  Both Sam and Joan seemed to have great tans.  Sam did not mention that he kept Joan on the motorcycle just about all the time traveling the back roads in both countries.

 

When the steaks and the rest of the dinner was ready, they all sat around the table and began to eat.  Junior felt now would be the time to share the good news about the bank.

 

“Well, we got a clean bill of health this afternoon.  Everything is as it should be and we will open the doors in the morning as usual,” shared Junior.

 

“What … ?  I did not know there was a question about whether you would open the doors or not?  What was going on?” asked June.

 

“Nothing, it is just an expression, honey.  Everything is fine.”  Junior winked at Sam and they agreed with their looks that they would discuss the details later out on the patio away from the girls.

 

Joan had a complete album of pictures for them to see.  She pointed out all the places of interest and what they were doing when they were there.

 

Sam said, “You know women, never a dull moment, nor a thing you can’t take a picture of.  We must have thousands of pictures.  These are just a portion of them.  The rest are back at home.”

 

Sam laughingly admitted, “You will get your fill every time you come over from now on looking at another part of our vacation.”

 

“Oh, Sam, you are such a spoil sport,” said Joan, “Of course they want to see our pictures.  We had such a great time.  Here June, let me show you this picture.”

 

Junior got up and got another drink from his liquor cabinet and waved at Sam who nodded, “Yes.”  Then Junior waved toward the patio and both of them got up and left the discussion.

 

Joan was so into her description of what was being shown and talking about it.  She did not even notice that Sam and Junior had left the room.

 

Outside, Sam sat down next to the patio table.  He placed his drink on the table.

 

Junior sat across from him.  “Dad, I have skipped by this time from a Clyde Bonner disaster.  They are going to keep tabs on me again each month for awhile.”

 

Recounting, “Remember in the beginning when we first opened, they came every month.  That’s what they are going back to until we weather this storm.”

 

Explaining, “There does not seem to be much interest at the present to try and reel me in or change anything I am doing.  But I have skipped by once again,” admitted Junior.

 

Junior shared, “They are aware that I have Warner on the case and that we are filing a business harassment suit against Clyde.  They are very much interested in that and want to see how that turns out.  Warner will be able to buy me some time there with the legal system.”

 

Junior did have a concern, “The question is what Clyde will do when he gets served with the lawsuit.  If he goes public with it that could hurt the bank.”

 

“Oh, I don’t know too much about that, Son.  Most folks know what Clyde Bonner is like and they will just think so what,” calculated Sam.

 

“Clyde is not much of a public person.  He likes behind the scenes to do his dirty work,” he added.

 

 “I don’t think that with the crowd I saw at your bank today, they will even care what Clyde Bonner thinks or does.  They are too much into what they are doing at the bank to worry about someone else.”

 

“You might be right,” said Junior, “At least I hope you are.  At least I have people on my side who aren’t demeaning me.”

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