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The Fugitive Flower by Mark Anthony Given



If you can't be a great artist, a great soldier, be the next best thing, 
be a great criminal. #FSCOTTFITZGERALD This Side of Paradise
            WHEN I WAS the Head Law Clerk at the federal correctional facility at FCI Seagoville dozens, hundreds of men came to me with problems big and small.  A United States Supreme Court decision back in the sixties requires jails and prisons to provide "Access to the courts," with either legal material or legal advice, i.e., paralegals.  The United States Bureau of Prisons being the Gold Standard of incarcerating people provides both.  I had a Legal Administrative Assistant, Associate of Applied Sciences two-year degree I obtained while out on parole working a full-time job and four nights a week for three years.  I was back on a parole violation for smoking pot and would be back out the door in twelve to sixteen months.  I just happen to have a photocopy of it when I went straight to the Administration building just as their previous head Clerk went to the hole for prostituting the law like it was his private bordello.  
                I HAD A FINE honest looking young man come to see me I had seen hanging around for weeks.   Have you ever met someone who looks just like you in almost every way?  It's horrifying but wears off real fast.  Mid-thirties, Don Johnson Standard Men's Haircut, slender like me, everything, we were fucking identical.  His name was J. C. Helms, and he ran a successful multi state marijuana transportation service for many years, and large quantities of marijuana generate large amounts of US Currency.  After years of this, he eventually got busted, and the government said he was an Organizer and Leader they charged him under the "King Pin," statute, and he would have received a life sentence but plead guilty.  Jimmy did something I never heard any mortal man do:  he Self Surrender to the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons to serve a TWENTY YEAR SENTENCE!  He would do a minimum of eighteen calendar years, and they promised him he would go to where we were, FCI Seagoville, just south of Fort Worth along a major interstate.  Took him three years:  they sent him to FCI La Tuna, St. Anthony, New Mexico along Interstate 10.  He said it was awful.  
              A LOT of serious men would hang around and watch me for months before talking to me and listen for scuttlebutt for my reputation, before approaching me.  Like George Kosko in "I'm Going to Turn a Toothpick Into a Lumber Yard," (link), I had a stellar reputation because I was the only guy there who actually sit in a class room for three years of night school while holding down a full-time job.  That and I read one-hundred and twenty volumes of United States Supreme Court cases while I was there and knew more about the law than anyone you ever heard of.  After I placed fellow prisoners in charge of every little single thing to do, I ran track, read, played Blackjack and talked to Jimmy.  
           J.C. HELM'S had almost three months to self-surrender to FCI La Tuna and had every facet of his life to go away for twenty-years, but he didn't plan on his wife wanting a divorce and now "Jimmy," to me, is in a pickle and he needs my help.  He knows I'm getting out soon and it seems he has buried two million dollars in two Blue Igloo Ice Cooler's full of shrink wrapped hundred dollar bills behind a certain Rest Area on a certain major Interstate,  and he wanted me to get that money for him....
                REST AREA along the woods on a lonely stretch of Interstate seventy-five in Tennessee heading south at the 127 Mile Marker was just like I remembered it.  We talked day and night for the next several months, and I could tell he was more than a little worried about telling anyone this, but he kind of had to trust somebody.  I knew I wanted to get there real late at night and just sit in the parking lot for hours just to get the feel of the place that seemed like the loneliest place ever and a perfect place to bury two 'four foot by eighteen inches lightweight Igloo Coolers slap full of money in the middle of the middle of the night.  
               JIMMY ONE TOLD me he got pulled over with a hundred pounds in the tool box of his pickup in the middle of the afternoon by a Texas Highway Patrol
Officer.  Jimmy said he was shitting in his pants and after the cop sniffed around and wrote him a warning citation he kicked his boot up on the back bumper and
leaned in and asked about that NASCAR sticker on the back window.
                     HOW MANY HUNDRED dollar bills does it take to fill up two one-hundred and two quarts Blue Igloo Coolers?  How thick is the shrink wrap?  It never occurred to me how I was going to get these two giant-ass coolers back to my van.  There they were.  Took me less than an hour and there were several small stones just like he said symbolizing and arrow, pointing the wrong way.  Ten paces the opposite direction and two feet deep I saw the bright white Igloo Cooler top and the shovel didn't hurt it a bit.  I sat down and just listened for impending doom and stared up at the stars that suddenly a lot brighter.  I finally got the nerve to stick my pocket knife in the band of silver duct tape all the way around sealing it shut tight and water proof.  Until I see that money nine of this is real, just a poor prisoners dream.  I tried to make sure none of the dirt fell in and just opened it enough to look in one end of it and BAM! There it was:  package after package of banned up hundred dollar bills I could see the giant gator lock one-gallon zip-lock bags.  Wow! That's all I need to see.  I reached in and slit open a package and fished out as many bands as would fit in my hand....

           IT NEVER OCCURRED to me how I was going to get these two giant-ass coolers back to my van, but there they were.  Took me less than an hour.  There were the several small stones in the shape of an arrow pointing the wrong direction.  Ten steps the other way and two-feet deep I saw the bright white cooler top and the shovel never hurt them a bit.  After I see the top of the cooler, I laid down on the ground and stared up at the sky where the stars suddenly looked a lot brighter and the quite of the night with the sound of big trucks on the interstate and Jake Brakes.  Laid there and rested and just listened for anyone walking up on me.  Rest Area's are a magnet for people walking their dogs or just hiking around and degenerates looking for some strangers dick to suck.  I hitch hiked across the country six or seven times and was the King of the Road in my little mine, so I know, see my Homeless in Heaven or The King of Montana Blogs (link below), some rest area's are disgusting, and others are tranquil travel stops.  I was afraid of just such a person and have to explain what the hell I was doing.  Especially employee's of the Rest Area.  I knew the other buried cooler was nearby.  Finally, after a long spell of just normal sounds in the night I took one last look at all that money, grabbed the big white handles on the end and went away with it; I could have dragged the sum bitch to the next town....
           BUSTED FIRST One Hundred Dollar Bill at the next exit at a Walmart Super Store at five-seventeen am where I bought fishing poles and camping equipment so these dirty Igloo Coolers wouldn't look out of place.   Standing there at the check out waiting my turn with the cash in my hand I looked around and everything seemed a little brighter, shiner and a tingling sensation in my body sparked a de ja vu moment where I could see myself in an instant at hundreds of checkouts busting hundred dollar bills buying everything imaginable, and when I snapped out of it, it felt like a good omen and when she slammed that register shut and tore that receipt off and swung around to hand it to me I felt like I was shot out of a cannon and everywhere I went people were smiling at me like my fly was open....
          JIMMY WANTED $300,000.00 paid to his lawyers, and it barely put a dent in either cooler.  I said fuck them bastards, your doing eighteen years in prison -- they don't expect to get paid.  Yes they do, I told them I would.  He could have easily received a life sentence without possibility of parole, and that's just the way he was.  I think he was related to one of them; I wouldn't pay them... I walked into the named partner of the firm's corner office over looking a busy downtown intersection, and I could tell he was nervous as soon as he seen that black backpack coming off.  He was leaning across his desk to shake hands, but I ignored him. 
            "Mr. Vaughn, I made an appointment with your secretary and gave her
a false name.  Unfortunately, I never showed up, and you never saw me." 
I extended the backpack over the desk and when I sit it down it exposed a lot of cash in bank bands.
           "J. C. Helms asked me to deliver this for you.  You have a nice day now, you hear?" 
            I turned around and left just like I got there.  The look on his face was priceless...

          ON A BACKSTREET in any little town anywhere in America, one person with a strong desire to help others and probably homeless themselves at one time began women and children in crises center or a food pantry in a local nondenominational small church or a homeless shelter for the down and out.  The Helm's Homeless Shelter in Jimmy's hometown was begun by one of his relatives Jenny; there were sixty-two 'Helms, listed in the phone book of a community of less than two-thousand.  I sat in the back of the Piggly Wiggly grocery store on the main drag of the small town and could see her when she pulled up in an old beater and made her way to the front door where she always reached into the big commercial size mail box knowing someday the big donation was at hand.  She did get a five-hundred dollar check from a local church the first year she opened when she was twenty-nine in 1978.  All these years later always in the red, she was now $62,859 in debt right now and hadn't had a good night's sleep in years, but that was about to change.  Poor people could be seen coming and going at a country pace; Jimmy told me he used to ride by there with that trusty tool-box in his bright red pick-up truck he had had for years slap full of money and didn't know how to help her.  If he walked up and handed her cash it was like admitting he was a marijuana dealer, he couldn't do that then, but now he could.
         I WATCHED HER fish out the small box just big enough to hold a hundred-thousand dollars in hundred dollar bills wrapped in bright money-green Christmas paper, she paused just long enough to read the card, "FROM JCHELMS Love-Jimmy," ripped open the cheap paper and immediately leap straight in the air like a teenager like her ass was on fire and began running around the parking lot like a crazy woman, suddenly stopping to look in the box and start all over again...
        THE HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY JAIL in Tampa, Florida was the last place I expected to find Cheri Helms, doing day twenty-seven of a thirty-day sentence for her third DUI.  When I checked in I found out I could pay seventy-five dollar a day for the remaining days she had, and she could leave with me, I paid it and found this drop dead brunette gorgeous woman even without makeup, Jimmy's age, but looked nineteen even with her roots showing and fading tan.  I found her sitting behind thick safety-glass with a big clumsy black phone she looked all of one hundred pounds ambushed by fate and in need of protection but had a fierce independent look about her.  I was her only visit, and she was surprised to see me and even shocked for a moment.  "Who the fuck are you?"  She had the thickest country accent you ever heard.
      "I'm the guy Jimmy sent to make sure you are alright, how you were doing."
      "I'm just fucking dandy, can't you tell?  Where's Jimmy?"  There's Notice's everywhere showing you these conversations are monitored.
      "He's on an extended vacation.  What are you doing when you get out of here?" 
      "My mom is supposed to send me a money order so I can get back up there, but I haven't got yet and we been talking about it since I got in here."
        "What is it you want to do?"
       "I just want to get out of here, and I'll deal with all that then, I'm not stressing all that now." 
 After a few moments, 
"You scared the hell out of me, I thought you were Jimmy, and I was in a dream for an instant.  Anybody tell you you look just like "Jimmy?" 
            They called her name over the public address system telling her to report to Booking and Discharge and bring all her property, and her eyes lit up like a little kid and started bouncing around overjoyed and happy to be getting out.   
      "Did you do this? Why didn't you tell me."  
      She started crying and fell forward balling with the phone in her ear, I said.
       "I'll see you outside." 
And left her there to compose herself.
         LESS THAN an hour later she jumped in my old pick-up truck her eyes alight and sparkling, and she was hyperventilating she was so excited.  First thing out of her mouth again was, 
      "You know you look just 'Jimmy, don't you?  
    I thought I was having a flashback thing when I saw you.  What are you doing here?  Where's Jimmy? 
       "Jimmy's doing twenty years in a federal prison in Texas.  He met me in the law library; we became friends, he asked me to look after a few things."
"This ain't about no Blue Igloo's is it?"
           Her eyes lit up again like this was the Price is Right, and I was supposed to finish the sentence with some good news. 
        "Because that would be some really good news right about now."
        "I'm afraid it is," I said solemnly,  I don't think she heard me because she just carried on like she was talking to her self,
     "I saw him downtown...In that little town were from?  One Sunday morning at the only stop sign.  I drove right through and stopped door to door and I saw them in that red pick-up truck he was always in?' I asked him,
    'What's that?  
He waited for a second and then said, 
"There ain't no Shrimp around here, Jimmy!"
"There ain't that damn many fish around here."  
He waited again and said,
"Alright, it's full of money, I'm going to go bury it.
"Yeah right!"
"You asked.." 'and he drove off, and I didn't see him in town for a few days after that.  He told me he made a fortune out of that damn tool box in the back of his truck.  Until the Fed's took everything, we had it all.  He gave away bands of money away at Christmas, never no gifts.  I'd like to have some of that damn money now!"
      "What would you do with it?"
         She thought for just a moment and looked at me in earnest and said,
 "I'd like to go into rehab.  I can't live like this anymore!  This is my third DUI!  Next time I go to real prison!"  She paused an again after looking around at all the comings and goings of a big city county jail and looked directly at me again, "I'm broken.  I need to talk to somebody.  My life spun out of control after Jimmy got locked up."  
Again, after a short pause, she exclaimed, 
"Hell, I want a drink again right now!" 
"Fuck that! I can't be around drinking, 
but I can get you into rehab....
"Really?  Because I have nowhere to go, I don't want to start dancing again.  That's the worst environment to be around if you don't want to drink.  If I have to go live with my mother again, I will just die."
"Well alright, just remember, anything I do for you is from Jimmy, I don't got nothing neither......
I'm just 'Jimmy's Ghost...
               JIMMY'S TWO kids were at the foster parents of Joe and Linda McDuggan in the little town of _____.  I had Cherie wait in the car way out on the side of the road I walked up the three hundred foot driveway in the bright, beautiful sunny day with children playing in the front yard and they saw me first when the dogs started barking and running toward me.  I saw the saw their mother in the passenger seat of the car along the road with the window down.  I passed a couple broke down cars and old lawn mowers in need of repair, they all stopped and were watching me swinging my arms like I was playing so as not to alarm them.  The front door swung open before I got to it and Linda McLuhan was ready to do battle for them, children.  Big Bill right behind her for back-up they were disarmed by me smiling like Publisher's Clearing House just showed up.  I step up two small stairs high enough to hand her two small Green Christmas wrapped packages with each of the children's names on little cards and looked a lot like bundles of money. 

"Jimmy told me to bring ya'll this." 

I turned around and started back bit stopped and whipped out my iPhone and pretended to look at Google Maps while filming the children in HD with them knowing it.

It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God. -Mark 10:25

         ONE HUNDRED and twenty pounds of one hundred dollar bills equals two million dollars, plus or minus a couple of hundred grand.  The two big ass blue Igloo coolers stuck out like a sore thumb everywhere we went.  Even with all the fishing gear they looked ominously just big enough to hold a body and reeked of possibility and danger.  I didn't have a plan of what I would do with that much money because I never allowed myself to believe it would be there.  I had heard and read of so many cases involving buried money, it wasn't out the range of possibilities, but I didn't want to jinx it, either....
      THE FIRST TIME I approached an old beater in the Wallyworld parking lot I could see kids and puppies and old blankets and beat up shoes.  People and kids sleeping every which way making no effort to shield the world from their impoverished state.  I remember when I was a kid in the same situation my alcoholic parents dragged us through.  My dad was sick of stopping for the dogs to pee and once in the middle of the night my dad driving I got the small puppy to actually piss in a plastic bowl with the dexterity of hand surgeon operating at sixty miles an hour.  I think I was day dreaming about telling all my family what great hand I was when I slid the window open to throw the pee out, and it went right back in the car all over everyone!  I think they were debating burying me at the next rest area they so pissed off...

 I WASN'T sure what I was going to when I got up to the passenger side of the old station wagon and would just knock on the window softly if I had too.  There were six or seven likely candidates for charity at any Wallyworld on the outskirts of any town in America.  They allow overnight parking but will kick you out pretty quick I've heard.  In the quiet of the night with no one around the best charity is laid, I just started to tap on the passenger side window where an adult was sleeping in a ball, I look down and see a small kid's face lit up by a handheld video device.  We see each other at the same time, and both kinda froze eye contact he was seeing me like in a dream I slid three stacks of five thousand one hundred dollar bills.  They fell through and landed right on his chest I see a big grin come across his face...  I turned around and disappeared like a fugitive flower on his appointed rounds.

LAST SEEN heading South possibly in a blacked out jacked up 2017 Ford F-250 after passing out hundred dollar bills like penny candy at local homeless shelters and community centers. Suspect FLOWER'S is wanted for causing a sixteen-mile traffic standstill after lifting the lid on one of the giant two blue igloo coolers and letting brand new hundred dollar bills blow out for a file mile streak along Interstate 90. Portions of the interstate were closed for three days removing abandoned vehicles. Authorities haven't identified a particular statute to charge SUSPECT FLOWER'S with but he's believed to in a "lot of trouble."

     MARY NEEDED MONEY.  The government paperwork required a full-time specialist just to keep on top of the numerous and constant filings' homeless shelters have to submit.  Eighty percent of every dollar in the door was spent on just staying afloat.  When she was eighteen years old, her parents threw her out of the house.  In a back ally abandoned garage in the pouring rain and the middle of the night, she swore to GOD that if HE would help her just this one last time, when she got back on her feet she would dedicate her life to helping young girls with nowhere to go... And that's what she did.  
        THE FUGITIVE FLOWER found her like a goat looking for water in the Wilderness:  A little luck, a lot of work and the Grace of God.  The Talmud says that money is to charity what salt is to meat.  And that if there were no poor among us, there would be no opportunity to do good.  Mary's Prayer was about to be answered....
 I COULDN'T DECIDE how much money I was supposed to hand out so however many bundles of hundred dollar bills in ten thousand dollar bands would fit in my hand, sounded like a good round number.  I never counted it. It was somewhere around fifty grand in brand new hundred dollar bills.  Second Chance's was just a few blocks from the center of town surrounded by ancient oak trees smothered in moss smelling like a cross between the Atlantic Ocean and mildew.   
        I DIDN'T HAVE a plan on how to give her fifty or sixty grand, and I didn't want to give her a heart attack.  

The series continues.

Copyright 2015 by Mark Anthony Given
 All Rights Reserved 28 USC 1746, Invoking 90 Stat. 2541 and
Article 2(4) of the Berne Convention for the Protection
of Literary and Artistic Works
11:42 AM 3/10/2015

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