Ralph was scared, four days ago he had overheard something he wasn’t supposed to hear. Two days ago he had run for his life. His contact had thought he had gone from their usual meeting place, he hadn’t.
The young man had walked to the back for his coat, and overheard the Pick Axe man talking to his partner. “Is the Boss and the Frenchman right about all this being a waste of time?” “Who knows, but if Strand is on the way out, they’ll clean house.”
“Meaning the kid will go back to being a nobody.” “Meaning he’ll be cut loose of his meal ticket, if he plays nice.” “He’ll go along, it’s keeps him alive.” “Maybe, I say get rid of him now. He hasn’t given us one piece of useful information in weeks.”
Ralph wasn’t sure if they were right or not, but he was afraid enough not to sleep that night. The next morning, he went to work, thinking the jail was safe. Then he asked himself how many more guys here work for the Pick Axe men?
At the end of his shift, he rushed home, and packed a bag. He didn’t know where he was going, or how he would get there, but he ran. He made it to the next town, then bought a ticket aboard ship with his last few dollars. The trip was cold, and lonely.
Fortunately an elderly woman took pity on him, and fed him. Later, she hired him to be her servant. Minerva Piper was around 80, physically weak, but mentally as sharp as they came. She was still very intent on planning for the future of her family.
One night at dinner they discussed them. “Yes Ralph, I have two nephews. They’re grown now, but I still think of them as my little ones. They’re my heirs you know, not that they need the money. My sister taught them how to make money, and they learned the lesson well.”
“So you’re leaving them your fortune too?” “Yes, but my legacy isn’t just money.” It was the first time he saw it. The elderly woman suddenly had a cold, hard, dangerous look in her eyes. ‘This woman had been dangerous at one time.’ Ralph thought.
He would find out that she was still very much so. “I’m leaving them power. You see, we’re going to Florida and Boston to secure their future. My acquaintances don’t know it, but their contributions will be necessary. They won’t like It, but my Dad raised three fiery boys, and two determined girls.”
“Mr Piper must have been something.” “Oh he was, my nephews take after their Grandfather. Yes, I think Dad would be very proud of the two Strand boys. My sister and I saw to their education very well. Dear Artemis and Wynton are very big men, and will be much bigger one day soon. I’ll see to that.”
Ralph broke out in a cold sweat. He hadn’t escaped at all. Strand was Sanders’ Boss, nobody thought Ralph knew either of them. He listened, he watched, and picked up things. Ralph prided himself on knowing things he shouldn’t.
He wished tonight that he hadn’t, maybe he could have slept easier without the knowledge. Knowing that in the next room, slept the woman who planned to fuel his worst nightmare. She was paying him to help her. Ralph knew now, there was no escape from the Strands.