Copyright© 2011 by vlfouquet
A Blind Angel With A Cane
Honestare monitus non ubi cura inimici tui moriar
Around noon the next day, two big trucks, a small rock grinder and a big drill rig navigated the one lane trail to the lode site. Colossal, a very short guy, who acted as Tiny's second in command, was with them.
"Cassie! Tiny told me to get our instructions from you when we found you."
"Colossal, it's going to be pretty simple." She turned and pointed at the color marker waving in the breeze. "Build me a ten foot high cache of rocks there. Make sure they're rocks with no gold content."
"Before you top it off, we want to put this metal box at the top. It contains the location points of this claim and the name of the company claiming it. That makes it official that this is our claim. If you look a little ways to both the southeast and southwest you will see two more markers. Put another stack of rocks at each. I would dump some concrete over all these rock markers."
"Now I have not marked the other two corners but here are the GPS coordinates of where those corners have to be." She handed him a piece of paper with those coordinates.
"Then in a straight line from those northern corners to the southern corners put up a cache of rocks every 200 feet. That will make it almost impossible for someone to not know they were trespassing."
"Next start an exploration hole just below the main marker. Go down about thirty feet. This is quartz rock and it can be very fragile so we need to put in a lot of shoring."
"Cassie, shoring can get expensive real fast."
"Yeah, Tiny has told me that. Before we get too far into digging, we need to excavate some rocks over where that rivulet flows. As you can see those southern markers place that within our claim." She turned and walked toward the place in question. She slowly lowered herself into the water and climbed up the flow until she could reach into the crack from which the water flowed.
When Cassie pulled her hand out of the water she was clutching a piece of rock about ten inches long and five inches wide. Standing up, she rotated the rock until the underside was in the sunlight.
"God almighty! Is that what I think it is?" Colossal asked.
"If you are thinking that it's about a pound or pound and half of gold, then yes."
"We need to excavate this whole outcropping, crush the rock and extract the gold. I am thinking any refiner would pay us about 1,100 dollars an ounce. That one piece is about 14-16 troy ounces."
"Colossal, your job will be to figure how to get this all done as fast as possible and extract as much of the gold as you can."
"Cassie, this could become very dangerous for you. I mean, I have worked with these guys for years and I don't know if I could trust them with this much money involved."
"Colossal, that's one of the reason we filed claims for all the men along the creeks and stream. That's why it's being worked as one Employee Enterprise. That way, none of them could be jealous of what their friends are getting. I've got more than $600,000 worth of gold under my bed right now that belongs to the men. From this point down to the creek is a new placer claim. All the loose quartz will belong to them."
"I'm not much of a Christian but my family has always taken that one piece of instruction from the bible to heart.
"Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain," and "The worker deserves his wages."
"So, let the men know what we are doing. When this job is done there will be some pretty nice payouts."
He stood there with his mouth gaping. Unnoticed by either, Wesley was close enough to over hear them. He made a decision right then that he would have a talk with all the men in the crew.
Cassie climbed out of the water with the rock in her hand. Returning to Bertha she got a hammer and her pan and went back outside where she found a big rock. She began to beat that quartz with the hammer.
She treated it like it was a rough diamond and she was a gemologist. A hit at the right place and a sliver of quartz broke free and fell to the ground. With thirty minutes of work she had cleaned over 90% of the quartz from the high grade ore. One by one the men on site made a trip past her to observe what she was doing.
'Yeah, the fighting blind Angel is smashing gold out of rock.' They shook their head as they wandered away.
The prospect hole began to grow as three men went to work on it, filling one of the truck beds with waste rock.
At the rivulet, five men went above the broken quartz outcropping and within an hour or so, they diverted the rivulet over and around where the quartz lay.
Then working as a team the men began to reduce the rocks to manageable size. Once reduced this way they were able to move them up to the truck. It was a long distance but soon the truck bed was full.
One of the men took off, driving to where the rock crusher had been set up. The driver dumped the quartz into the feed bed of the crusher then drove the truck back to the rivulet. A sudden loud grinding noise filled the previously pristine air when one of the men working the prospect hole went over and started the rock crusher.
With the noise, Cassie remembered she had not faxed the claims information to the required destinations. Cassie hurried to Big Bertha and entered her office area. She began to fill out the information on the lode claim forms. All the others had been previously filled out. Once she finished the lode claim forms she scanned them into her computer. From there she activated her fax software and copies of the claim forms were routed to the multiple offices.
The next day her sat phone began to ring.
"Yes, dad those claims are right. We made multiple claims in the crew's names and formed an association to mine them. There are a total of five associations as eight mines per association are all that is allowed. At the end of six months, the associations will sell all their claims to "We Find IT"."
"The men have pooled all their panning results into one fund collection and it will be sold and, the funds will be distributed among them when the association is dissolved."
"The company is holding all the gold for the associations. As of this morning I figure it's worth more than $750,000. Yes, Dad, up until now the association has actually collected more value than our company. An hour before you called, the company had over 1,000 troy ounces of high grade. So Dad, make sure that we are fully legal."
Cassie finally gave up and left Bertha. She needed a secretary! Scanning around her, she moved east away from their claim. Just to the side of the claim the land dropped downhill where it flattened out and spread open before her. Down the creek she found the bulldozer working its way up Bertha trail. Taking out her CB radio, which was much more efficient in the wilderness then cell phones, she contacted Tiny.
"Tiny can you get us another bulldozer from Bonners Ferry."
"Yes mistress, but I may need to get it from Coeur d'Alene anything else I can do for you?"
"Oh I'm sorry Tiny, I am standing here and seeing where one of the dozers is right now and the other is still widening the road down below but I need another one somewhere else. I have been on the sat-phone all morning answering question from Dad! I need a secretary and I need another bulldozer. We need more men. Dad says there are a lot of rats running in circles trying to find out what we are doing."
"Wait a moment. I got a truck with four men I don't recognize coming up from the ford."
"Cassie, Cassie slow down, I will take care of about half the things you need. Those four should be our first contingency of security. A Clint Wilson is in charge. Talk to him. He will teach all of you about guns and safety. Okay Cassie?"
She paused and took a deep breath. "Sorry, Tiny, it just got overwhelming there for a minute. My Dad is asking me for advice Tiny. Is the world going crazy? Why is my Dad asking me?"
"It's the price you pay for not only being competent but for being over competent. Your Dad has found out that not only can you do a job but you can do better at that job than anyone else."
"Cassie, I need either Wesley or Colossal back to our home site. I've got to go to town. I think the lawyer has become a rat. Oh, I got a package for you, Fed Ex, from your Dad. Do you want me to send it up there?"
"YES! Get that to me. If nobody is heading this way send someone."
"Okay I will send you four more men. You can decide which one of my supervisors you send back. I will be gone tomorrow before they make it here."
"Okay, bye; I've got to run then."
Cassie put the CB away just as she saw what she had been unconsciously looking for. To the side of the flatten land was a dip into a narrow gulch leading away from the creek which would be perfect for a mill site and all downhill from their claim. This area would be perfect for a Mill Site.
Once more she got on the CB, "Wesley, come downhill from the prospect hole, I am about 800 feet from there. Bring my GPS and recorder."
"Mister Wilson can you hear me?"
She saw a man in the vehicle do a double take then reach for his mike. "This is Wilson, I can hear you. Who is this?"
"I'm Cassie Howard. I am about 800 feet east of our camp if you can find me. I will be here for a while."
"What's the terrain like from the ford to where you are Ms. Howard?"
"Lots of scrub brush. There is enough opening between saplings that one of our 4x4s could make it through to me. I am northwest by north from the ford."
"Miss Cassie," Wesley had found her, she reached for the GPS. "Mr. Wilson you got a GPS there?"
"Yes I do."
"That is good; mine just arrived so listen to it."
She held the mike open as she pressed the GPS audio button and then listened as it told where she was standing.
"Did you get that Mr. Wilson?"
"I have got it; be there in about thirty minutes." She could see the vehicle turn and cut off into the brush.
Cassie turned to Wesley and handed him her GPS and recorder. Then she waved around at the country side. "I think this would be a perfect place to set up our mill claim, or at least one of them. We would want this whole dip and that gulch. This flat land would be the processing area and those low lying areas could be used for tailings and waste holding. Since we're downhill from the lode, we could probably set up a sluice and let the ore just slide down here."
He stood there for a minute looking around. "Perfect, but what a waste. It's really beautiful."
"I know Wesley. We have set up a trust in which 10% of our revenue will go to reclaim the land afterwards. I've got an idea that most of the materials can be made into solids like bricks for storage. They would not be prone to dissolving into the ground and water."
"I need you to stake out the claim. It can only be 5 acres, but we can have more than one claim for a mill. So stake out what we need. It cannot be on mineral land. So if you have questions call me. Leave the equipment inside Bertha when you are through.
Do we have transportation back to the home site? Tiny needs you."
"Yes Miss Cassie, a truck brought up some supplies I can take it back down."
"Okay, get me my mill site and leave the GPS coordinates for the corners so I can file the claim or claims."
She turned to face the direction from which Wilson was coming. Cassie wondered what he was like and if he could instruct and still maintain good relations with her crew.
Cassie tilted her head as she heard engine noise approaching. Out of the brush popped a Land Rover. It was big, sturdy and very reliable. A man stepped out of the passenger side of the door less vehicle before it was fully stopped.
"If you are going to be here for any amount of time you will have to start calling me Cassie, so let's start that way, Clint." Cassie said.
She snapped her cane out to its full 36 inches and watched as all four men's eyes widened. Clint looked around seeking a companion. "You are blind? Where is your partner?"
"I don't have a partner except Tiny back in our home site."
"Wesley is over to the east sitting up claim stakes for our mill site. He got here just before you."
"Tiny told me you are in charge out here?"
"That is right; I'm the one that spots the minerals so I'm the one that tells them where to put our claim notices."
"You spot the minerals?"
"Yes, I've got Blind Sight, which makes me acutely aware of density which is like having a magnet to pull me to dense mineral, like gold."
"I've never heard that."
"Neither had I. I went blind about 3 years ago. Then around a year ago, I started feeling and sensing things around me. It was really freaky. Then I found out about the psychological phenomena called 'Blind Sight'. Cassie explained the Blind Sight phenomenon to him.
"Well, Wesley will be awhile so can you please give me a lift to our working site." She climbed into the rear of the land rover.
Clint looked around with a keen ability to see a lot in one glance. Everybody was working hard. He saw nothing that looked like goofing off. When they stopped, everybody in sight stopped and watched Cassie get out of the vehicle. She swept her head around and gave a slight nod. All the men went right back to work.
That was something to think about. It was obvious that Cassie Howard was in charge. Nobody on this site disputed that. A short stocky man rushed up. "Cassie, the prospect hole is down almost thirty feet."
"Good, let me think." She stood there for a minute. Anybody else would have thought she was looking off in the distance.
She grinned and turned to the short man. "Colossal, about two more inches and you will hit the vein."
"Great! I never doubted you Cassie, but to see it with my own eyes, yeah that's what I need."
Cassie motioned for Clint and his men to follow her as she led them to Big Bertha.
"Wow." One of his men murmured. Another asked him a question and Clint heard the answer.
"That's an MRAP. One of them saved my life in Iraq. That's what you want to be in if you hit an IED."
Clint took a closer look. He had never seen one but had heard a lot about them. He knelt down so he could see underneath the vehicle. The v-shape armor was obvious and it was just as obvious how it worked. Wow, he thought, why did she need a monster like this?
He got up and watched her climb into the driving compartment as easily as any Tanker he had ever seen. "Come on in, all of you."
They followed her and the last man closed and locked the door. Security was only as good as the people that practiced it.
She walked into an office enclosure and sat down. There was a couch against one wall and two office chairs in front of her desk. "Have a seat."
"You are to be in charge of security, Clint?"
"As I understand it I will teach your people how to handle guns and gun safety. I will evaluate your security needs and make recommendation. I am not to be your security."
"Oh, I must have gotten a mixed message then."
"Okay, security evaluation first; do you know what we are doing up here?"
Cassie turned and opened a cabinet door under a counter behind her. She pulled out a couple of heavy boxes and set them on her desk.
"Some kind of mining startup?"
"Yes." She opened the boxes and started setting chunks of yellow metal on her desk. "This is over a million dollars worth of gold that we have taken out in three days. I've got another $800,000 in placer gold that belongs to our crew in my bedroom. We have been up here and active for less the three weeks. Most of that time we have just been building that road you came up. Tiny, is going to try to get us another bulldozer to speed things up. Now my question is, how safe is this gold right now, and how can I make it safer?"
The men were all sitting on the edges of their seats staring at all the gold. Clint looked at Cassie and his eyes narrowed to pinpoints.
"Are you crazy? You don't know me or my men. We could kill you right now and grab that gold and get out of here. That's almost half a million each for us!"
"You and your men have been vetted already. I was to tell you one thing: George Howard. Does that make a difference?"
Cassie watched as Clint turned to face his men. Two of them relaxed while the third one still sat staring at the gold. The two who had relaxed glanced at Clint and then back at the one still staring? Clint looked at the two relaxed men and nodded. He turned back to Cassie. "Okay, that means you are George's daughter?"
"Yes, do you know our family motto?"
"Hell yeah, I thought it was a joke the first time I heard it. But after all this time, I raise my hand against your family right after I cut my own throat." A strange look came over his face and the finger of his hand started moving.
"You! You are only thirteen! I got a cousin in the Texas Rangers he told me about you. Wait!"
Turning back to his men he spoke. "Joe, you're out. None of us could trust you from now on. You will be escorted back to Spokane, Washington and put on a plane. When you get to Chicago your paycheck will be waiting and along with a Severance package. You have signed a non-disclosure agreement and we will hold you to it. We will give you a recommendation for normal security detail. We will not recommend you for any financial security. That gold fascinated you too much."
"But, but why?"
The other two stood up and gripped Joe by his upper arms as they turned to leave. As both of them looked at her, the one on the left said, "Give fair warning..." the one on the right finished it. "Worry not where your enemies will die."
"Yeah, we know your father!"
They escorted the third man out of Bertha and were gone. "I take it you do know my Dad."
"Yes and among those with the knowledge it's a known fact you don't mess with Texas or George Howard."
"So you are Cassandra Howly Howard? It is a deep pleasure to meet you. And you really do need a lot of security here. One good thing is that you are out here in the sticks. Nobody can easily slip up on you. How trust worthy are your men?"
"Most of them have worked together off and on for almost twenty years. It's a rough, tough life and they have to trust the man next to them for their safety. You can also see that they trust me. They trust me to be there when they are in trouble: when it's up to their knees and getting deeper. So I have to be able to look myself in the face, figurely speaking. I've got to live up to that trust also."
"I see! I even understand it as I've seen that same trust in military outfits."