A Small Place in the Woods

A Small Place in the Woods

Status: In Progress

Genre: Mystery and Crime



Status: In Progress

Genre: Mystery and Crime



The small place was only one room, a hunter’s cabin built years earlier, with a small foot bridge across a fish pond and porch. It was perfect for robert, he could pay cash for it with the money he saved while in the service and his separation pay.
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The small place was only one room, a hunter’s cabin built years earlier, with a small foot bridge across a fish pond and porch. It was perfect for robert, he could pay cash for it with the money he saved while in the service and his separation pay.

Chapter1 (v.1) - FINDING A HOME

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: April 12, 2017

Reads: 35

A A A | A A A

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: April 12, 2017



Robert had no family, raised in an orphanage and joined the army as soon as he was eighteen. Four years in Afghanistan left him scarred and bitter, he did not want to be around people. With a meager income from the government because of his disability, the loss of his left arm at the elbow, Robert needed a place to live. The VA Medical Center across the street from the Vanderbilt Clinic had been home for more than a year as he recovered. Now he was looking through the Nashville papers for anyplace that was quiet and remote.

A hunting cabin south of the city caught his eye. The small place was only one room, a hunter’s cabin built years earlier, with a small foot bridge across a fish pond and porch. It was perfect for Robert, he could pay cash for it with the money he saved while in the service and his separation pay. The monthly checks would enable him to buy food and pay the property taxes, but not much else.

He was given a last name of Jones in the orphanage, knowing that was not his real name and he had no idea who his father was, he always felt like an outsider and never really fit in. The service kept him out of trouble and gave him time to think about life, and death which was all around him. He had no direction in his life, no real skill to for a job and no motivation. The real estate sales office gave him the directions to the cabin, but did not have anyone available to take him out to see it. He guessed there was not enough money involved. He took a taxi and followed the directions out a dead end road, called Reeds Hollow and a trail leading off the road in about the right location. Bob paid the taxi driver and asked if he would pick him at the same location around this time the following day.

“Sure thing, you going to spend the night in the woods?”

“I’ve spent night in a lot worse places, no rain in the forecast, so it should be fine. If I find that hunters cabin, I will be fine.”

“Ok, see you tomorrow around noon.”

The trail was only a little more than an animal trail or maybe an over grown logging trail. The ad read “Remote hunting cabin in the middle of a ten acre wooded lot off Reeds Hollow Road.” After a while he came upon the smallest cabin he had ever seen. Bob spent the afternoon exploring the property and checking it out. He could see why it was so cheap, it really was just a hunter’s shack. The door was locked, but it did have a front porch, so Bob gathered up some leaves and made himself a place to sleep under the porch roof. The next morning. Bob decided he would buy the place.

Robert Jones did not even sound right when he said it, like it was someone else, someone he did not know. But it worked when he would walk to town once a month to pick up his government check and endorsed it at the bank. Coming home for Robert Jones meant finding a home. His duffle bag contain all his belongings and uniforms from the service.

Bob’s only friends were two large goldfish that lived in the pond in front of his cabin, placed there by the previous owners no doubt. They would come to the surface and beg for bread and Bob would sit on the porch and toss crumbs to them. He named them Ben and Bernice. Bernice had a swollen belly, full of fish eggs.

The cabin had no insulation with only a wood stove that served as cooking stove and heat during the winter. Fire wood was stacked high along the back of the cabin with the roof extending out over it the keep it dry. A small door allowed him to reach out and get wood during the night. The next day he would restack the wood so he could reach it again during the night.

Bob Jones was not a happy man, feeling defeated and always alone. He never shaved and seldom bathed. He would take short walks gathering firewood in the woods filling the sling he placed around his neck to carry the wood. Then he would sit on his small porch and watch the large goldfish swim around in the pond. At night he had to turn in early with no electricity and only a candle or light from the stove when he opened it up for more wood. There was no road near the cabin only a worn path through the woods from the paved road that led to town.

Susan at the post office was only one of two in town that knew Bob and she would try to speak to him when he would come in for his check. He didn’t even have an address or a PO Box the mail would just have his name and Brentwood TN[HC1] .

“Bob, you should at least have a P. O .Box for your mail.”


“It would make it a lot easier for you to get your mail and you would not have to wait in line.”

“Well Ok, what is my new address?”

“P.O. Box 1292, Brentwood, TN.”

Standing behind Bob was Jim Rye, waiting to purchase a mail box. Susan got the paper work mixed up and gave the same box to both men, who now had keys and received mail at the same box, not knowing each other.

The months went by, Bob picking up his check on the 1st of each month and Jim picking up an occasional package from the box.

Bob was a little late one month, when he opened the box, there was a package in the box. He took it out along with his check. There was no name on the package just the PO Box.

Bob did not bother opening the package until he got home, tearing open the package he was shocked, there was twenty large bills! Bob never knew that James Madison was on the $5,000 Dollar bill[HC2] . The next month as Bob walked into town he took one of the large bills with him, picking up his check as usual he went to the bank. Jane the teller knew Bob by now, she did not even have to look up to know it was Bob, she could smell him coming.

“Cashing your check again Bob?”

“Yes, and I would also like to break this bill down into smaller amounts.”

Jane marked the bill with a color pen, “Just a moment, Bob.”

Jane took the bill into her manager and showed it to him. “Ever see one of these?”

“Yea, about fifty years ago, we got them every now and then. The Fed were destroying them as we took them in, I understand that there are only a few hundred left in circulation. Go ahead and give him what he ask for and give me his name. Oh let him know that it is worth about $30,000 as a collector item, if we turn it in the government will destroy it. It is still legal tender!”

Jane came back, “How would you like it?”

“Can I get twenties?”

Jane studied him for a moment, “Bob, you really don’t know what this is worth do you?”

“Five thousand?”

“Bob, Take this over to Chadwick Drive and talk to the coin dealer there, I am sure he would be willing to loan you five thousand on this and even find a buyer for you.”

“Really, you mean this is a collector’s item?”

“Come back after you talk to him and I will set you up with an account.”

Bob met with Mike at the coin shop.

“You would like to borrow on this until we can find a buyer?”

“Yes, can I do that?”

“Where did you get this anyway?”

“I was going through some of my dad’s old stuff and came across a few of these.”

“Ok, these are very rare and I would not want to put more than one on auction at a time, as it would drive the price down. Our fee is 10% of what it brings at auction. Don’t bring another one in until I tell you that its ok, and I can loan you the face value until it is sold. Would you like to keep this as a private sale?”

“That’s a good idea.”

“Who should I make the check out to?”

“Robert Jones. What do you think it will bring?”

“I should be able to get between thirty and forty thousand for it. Do you have a number where I can reach you?”

“No, I don’t own a phone. I can stop by next month if that’s ok.”

“Here you are, see you next month.”

“Jane, thanks for the advice, can you cash this check?”

“Do you still want twenties?”

“That would be great.”

“Sure just a moment, while I go to the vault.”

Jane returned with 250 twenty dollar bills. Bob went shopping, buying a wagon to haul it all home. The little home in Reeds Hollow was going to look a lot better tonight, with a small generator and lights on the porch, he watched the goldfish with all their little ones swim after the bread crumbs he threw into the pond.

Bob half expected a visit from the police, but it was quiet the next few days.

“Jane, do you know Robert Jones?”

“Yes officer, he comes in every month to cash his government check, I don’t know how he makes it on that small amount.”

“I understand he had a little more last time?”

“Yes, he wanted change for a $5,000 dollar bill.”

“Was that the first time he has done that?”

“Is there anything wrong?”

“No laws broken, just very suspicious. Keep track of any other large bills he brings in, we are running a check on the serial number.”

Bob made more trips to the local Lowes and Home depot, carrying as much in his wagon as he could each trip. First he installed a pump and a small tank on the back roof over the wood pile. Running a water line into the cabin, he hook up a sink and ran the drain out the back downhill from the cabin.

On the next trip he picked up a waterless hot water heater, and ran another water line for hot water. Things were looking much better now, at night he could start up the generator and pump fresh water up into the tank, heat the water and clean up. He even thought about picking up a razor and shaving for a change.

So he would not draw attention to his prosperity, Robert decided to leave the outside of the cabin just as it was, only replacing boards when needed. But the inside was another story, he started thinking about what he could do in such a small space to make it a better place to live. He thought life must be better than just swimming around in a gold fish pond.


Officer Brown was at the post office on the first of the month to meet the one arm stranger who came into town each month. Susan motioned to Brown when Bob came in, beard almost to his waist, clothes dirty and worn with holes, old army boots that were about to give out. Brown watch closely as Bob inserted his key and took out the single envelope with his check and relocked the box.

“Susan, do you know him?”

“I only know that his name is Robert Jones and he gets only one piece of mail a month from the government. I talked him into getting a box several months ago.”

“What is the name on the box?”

“I assume it is his, we turn all that information over to the postal office and it is classified, I only remember that a couple of request for boxes were made that day, I turned in the paperwork and gave out keys for two at the same time. We can ask in the back if they recall what gets placed in that box.”

“Jim, Officer Brown is checking out something and would like to know if you recall what mail you placed into Box 1292?”

“That’s easy, it is marked ‘no junk mail’ so only mail with that P. O. Box number goes into it, and that is only once or twice a month, at least on the first of each month I put one envelope in, then on rare occasions I will place a large envelope in.”

“Did you notice the return address on the larger one?”

“Some initials and an Alabama post mark is all I recall.”

“Make a note or take a picture of the next large envelope that goes into Box 1292, can you do that?”

“Against the rules, but for you I can do that.”

“Thanks, it may be nothing, but you never know.”

Officer Brown, placed a wireless camera across from the box and put the recorder under Susan’s counter where he could come by each week and exchange the flash drive.

“Call me if you see any activity at the box, see you next week.”

Officer Brown noticed on his camera that two men were picking up mail at Box 1292, one he did not know and the other was Bob, now shaven and looking a lot better with new clothes. He talked to the Post Master about how two keys could be issued for the same box. He said it was not possible and that someone may have had a key made. Officer Brown decided to have a talk with Robert Jones.

According the court records the property that Mr. Jones owned was in Reeds Hollow, on the map, there were no roads to the property.  Officer Brown drove along Reeds Hollow Rd, until he thought he was close to the property, took his map and started walking looking for land marks, or a trail that might lead to the cabin. Unable to find it he gave up and walked back to the car.

“Would have to wait until he came back into town.” He thought.


Jim Rye was worried, the Alabama Education Association (AEA), had sent him $700,000 dollars’ worth of collector five thousand dollar bills to spend on Campaign Ads, and the money did not arrive, was it lost in the mail? Did someone steal it? He could not report it lost or stolen, they were trying to keep the source a secret. Before the Fed started burning the big bills, it was the best way to transport large sums of money, after 1969 it became even a better way, as the value of the large bills kept rising each time the federal government burned what was collected. The AEA was deep in financial trouble borrowing to spend on advertising for legislative candidates in Alabama. Jim had to leave the union job in Alabama over the bankruptcy and had taken a similar job in Tennessee with the TEA. Unable to get the right people into office to support the teachers union, many were leaving the union and funds here were also running low. He would only check the P. O. Box when he knew funds were coming in, and none had failed to come through before.

The next big drop was from a Middle East benefactor to run ads to keep those in power that would not oppose the Islamic books in the middle school classes. Rocky Top Politics reported, “Tipsters have told us that it’s not just the textbooks. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) a pro-Islam group with ties to terrorist organizations, apparently has been directly sending teachers and other educators study guides and suggested readings via the internet, asking them to copy and distribute the propaganda to their fellow teachers.”

Jim stopped by the Brentwood Post Office each evening on his way home from Nashville to Franklin.

Officer Brown was waiting at the Post Office near closing time hoping to find Robert Jones coming in for his monthly check. He was shocked when the unknown stranger came in and opened the box and pulled out a large envelope.

“Excuse me sir,” as Officer Brown glanced down at the envelope addressed only to P. O. Box 1292, Brentwood TN., “We have had some attempted break-ins of the boxes here  and noticed the scratches on your box, have you been missing any mail?”

“Uh, no,” Jim, caught off guard by the question and wondering if it had anything to do with his missing money.

The next day Bob came by to get his check.

“Excuse me sir,” as Officer Brown again noticed that the government envelope was also addressed to Robert Brown,  P. O. Box 1292, Brentwood TN., “We have had some attempted break-ins of the boxes here and noticed the scratches on your box, have you been missing any mail?”

“No Officer, they were there when I rented the box. But someone did send me a large sum of money, don’t know who, but it sure did come in handy.”

“Was there a return address on the envelope?”

“No, but you are welcome to look at it, I have it at home.”

“Would you mind? I can give you a ride home.”

“That might be hard to do, you see there is no road to my house.”

“Would we have to walk far?”

“No, I’ll show you the way, wouldn’t hurt if someone knew where I lived, just in case I didn’t pick up my government check one month.”

Bob joined Officer Brown in the police car and they drove out to Reeds Hollow. A couple of miles from the main road, Bob said, “Pull over here.” Pointing to a wide spot in the road.

Bob led Officer Brown down to what looked like a deer trail through the woods. Down the Hollow about a quarter mile, they came to the cabin.

“It was a hunters cabin, I got it for a good price, come on in and I’ll start up the generator.”

Officer Brown was in shock as he entered to small one room cabin. Bob pushed a button on the wall and the lights came on, there was only one chair, so Bob brought in the one off the porch. “Don’t get much company, have a seat.”

As he looked around, he asked, “Where do you sleep?”

Bob reached over the sink for a short rope, “Watch your head! It also works as a lock for the door.” Pulling down the bunk which slid tightly against the door holding it tightly closed, resting on the sink and counter.” It took up one wall, on the other wall was the stove, a small table and now only room for the two to sit and talk.

“Wow, talk about living in a tiny place. What’s that small door for over there?”

“That’s where I get the fire wood, I stack the wood out back and reach it through there. When it gets too far back I restack it closer to the door.”

“Where are you getting your power?”

“I have a small rock house out back with the quiet Honda generator running. Got tired of the noise and sealed it in, I only start it at night and morning to heat the wash water through my tank less water heater and to read by till bed time. Oh, here is that envelope. No return address just an Alabama post mark.”

“Do you mind if I ask how much was in it?”

“You promise not to tell anyone, I sure wouldn’t want anyone coming out here to rob me.”

“I promise to keep it to myself, would not want to cause you any trouble.”

“It was $100,000 dollars in very large bills, 20 of them all $5,000 each with a picture of James Madison.”

“Did you, by chance write down the serial numbers?”

“Why I did, they were in sequential order, got it here somewhere.” As he shuffled through a bunch of papers on the table. “Here you are.”

“Mind if I check if this is reported as stolen money?”

“Go right ahead, I wondered about that myself.”

“You know you should put that money in a bank don’t you?”

“It’s safer where I have it, don’t trust banks.”

“Ok, it’s getting dark, do you mind showing me how to get out of here?”

“Not at all let me put the bunk back up and shut down the generator. Stay seated and let your eyes adjust to the dark for a few minutes, we can set out on the porch, and the moon should be out.”

“What’s the bread for?”

“I need to feed my fish out front.”

“They sat there for about fifteen minutes listening to a hoot owl in the woods and the fish splashing for the bread.”

Bob led him back to the car quickly in the dark, he knew every inch of the way, even in the dark.

“How did you lose your arm?”

“A trip wire in Afghanistan, messed me up in more ways than one, I’m getting better now, even nice having a friend or two.”

“And who might that be?”

“Well, you, Susan at the Post Office and Jane at the bank.”

“That’s it? Well I’m happy to be included as one of your friends. Thanks for showing me the way, I’ll let you know what I find out about the bills.”

As Officer Brown drove off, Bob slowly walked back to his cabin, feeling better about getting the money off his chest. And ready to accept whatever Officer Brown found out.

 [HC1]A PAC affiliated with the Alabama Education Association, that state’s largest teachers union, last year sent nearly $1.8 million last year to a post office box in Brentwood, Tennessee.

Postal officials won’t identify the owner of the mailbox — No. 1292 — but he or she is affiliated with an organization known as the National Research Services LLC, according to records with the Alabama’s Secretary of State’s Office.


 [HC2]Largest bills in circulation after 1969 is the $100.00 bill

Wrapped in Mustard colored wrappers.

1934 $5,000 bills were printed for all twelve Federal Reserves banks except for Minneapolis.  There were just over 51,000 1934 $5,000 Federal Reserve notes printed.  We currently know that around one hundred of those have not been redeemed.  As with most high denomination notes, those that have survived tend to be mostly available in about uncirculated grades or higher.

1934 $5,000 bill in a heavily circulated grade would be worth $30,000 and prices go up from there depending on condition, district, and serial number. Use 20 bills valued at 25K each.

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