The Simsville Inheritance
Copyright ©2006 Elizabeth G. Cox. All rights reserved.

Chapter 24 - Lock Down

Green busied herself in the kitchen, answering all questions from customers and staff with short, non-commital phrases or shrugs. The back room was mostly quiet as members of the Council straggled in. Asa and Jeffrey pulled their chairs together, whispered a few words to each other, then leaned back and waited, arms crossed. Green brought in a tray of sandwiches with the coffee and then sat near the door, listening to the murmur of voices from the main dining room. Business was picking back up as customers who'd finished their lunch drifted back in, curious and worried about whatever had happened down at the bank.

Silver came in and took his customary seat, chewing on his lip and thrumming a pencil against the table top, waiting in silence otherwise. Not much talking was going on when Jones and Johnson finally arrived together, serious if not grim looking expressions on both faces.

"Did he actually get the sheriff down here, Jones?" Green asked as she poured both men a cup of black coffee.

"No, I told him we'd handle things. He's had his men pack up their gear. They put up some traffic cones so people wouldn't walk too close to the building but that's just for show. There's not much of a mess, just a little smoke and water. It'll clean up easy enough. We got to decide where to go from here, though. Folks know the bank should have been open for business and they sure know nobody was inside." Jones rubbed the back of his neck, nodding his head a little toward the door.

"Most everybody that was on the street's out there in the saloon, wondering when somebody's going to explain. I guess one of us is going to have to do a speech in the next little while." He looked around the table. "Green? You can take care of that as well as the rest of us."

"I don't mind. Out with the stomach flu? That's been going around. How about an electrical short in a machine or something, for now?" She knew better than to go into any real story and certainly wouldn't be too free - or too definite - with any facts. Jones nodded an okay, seeing agreement around the table.

"Okay, here's what we know for sure. Our people are missing. All the cash drawers are empty. The stuff in the vault is intact. Nothing else seems disturbed. Anybody want to venture a guess?"

Everyone just sat there for a moment, then one by one began to express an opinion or pose a question. All minds seemed to be running in the same direction. Had anyone checked the computer system? Johnson would do that as soon as the fire chief left the scene. He would have already started but didn't want anyone looking over his shoulder while he did it. He'd be heading back over to his office in just a few minutes.

Were they going to call in SLED? What about the nearest FBI office, over in Sumter? The fire chief was leaving all that up to the Council for now but they didn't have long to decide on their next steps. Too much was at stake.

By the end of thirty minutes the group had agreed on one essential course of action. Simsville's information network would have to be locked down tight. A town meeting would be called within the hour and everyone given the scenario. No information about the bank situation could go out in the next 24 hours, not to friends, not to family, not to news media, not to anyone by phone, letter, e-mail, any method at all.

By then Asa and Jeffrey would have collected every bit of evidence possible from the old barn and grounds, Johnson would have completed his digital audit at the bank, and whoever official they'd decided to notify would be en route to Simsville.

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12 | Chapter 13 | Chapter 14 | Chapter 14 | Chapter 15 | Chapter 16 | Chapter 17 | Chapter 18 | Chapter 19 | Chapter 20 | Chapter 21 | Chapter 22 | Chapter 23