The next day about 3:45 pm in the afternoon, Hannibal pulled back up to Harry’s house with Dennis. They were laughing and smiling as they got out of the truck heading toward the house. Harry noticed their arrival and opened the door as they reached it. Reading their expressions, Harry declared, “It went well I see.”
Hannibal looked at Harry with a broad smile as he came in the house. “Absolutely,” he crowed. “You should have seen their faces! It was priceless! It was almost as good as when I got you with the cap gun last week.”
“And when he showed them the hologram, and then gave the projector to me, that was so cool,” Dennis chimed as he dropped his book bag down by the sofa.
“How did you explain the hologram?” Harry asked with some interest and concern.
“Fear not,” Hannibal replied. “I merely told them that I was a computer genius, and I’d made it. You should’ve seen the awe and fascination on their faces when I cranked it up. I do believe that we made some progress in getting them to respect Dennis. I also brought along some trinkets that I found while in the Andes. This is one of them.” Hannibal reached into his pocket and pulled out the Medallion he had found the previous evening and showed it to Harry. “They oohhed and ahhed over it as I told them how I found it,” he reported to Harry. “But I do believe that the hologram was the winner this afternoon.”
Dennis bubbled with excitement as Harry looked at the medallion. “It was great!” he crowed. “Just seeing their faces was enough. Maybe now they’ll be nicer to me.”
“Let’s hope so,” Hannibal agreed. “Otherwise, I might have to show up again and who knows what I might do then.” He laughed for a moment with a hint of mischief in his voice, but quickly became somber. “But now let’s get serious for a moment,” Hannibal said soberly. “Harry, there’s something I would like to show you. Would you come out to the truck for a moment?”
“Sure,” Harry said as he continued to be captivated by the Medallion.
They walked to Hannibal’s truck and Hannibal pulled out a five-gallon bucket with a top. It tore Harry’s attention away from the Medallion as Hannibal removed the top. “I found this in my house last night,” Hannibal reported. Harry looked into the bucket and saw a dead seven-foot black mamba in it. He jumped back in fright at the sight of such a large snake. “Worry not. It’s dead but someone left me a gift last night...a deadly gift,” Hannibal stated as he reached into the bucket, pulling the dead snake out.
Harry stared in fascination at the snake. “What kind is it?” he asked. “I’ve never seen that kind of snake before.”
“It’s a black mamba from the wilds of Africa,” Hannibal informed. He then proceeded to tell Harry about the strange incident the night before as he put the snake back into the bucket. He sealed the bucket and sat it back into the truck. Harry listened intently as Hannibal unfurled a story about the paranormal activity he experienced. As they started back to the house, Hannibal’s tale turned to the Medallion and the Relic. He had finished the tale by time they entered the house.
Harry looked again intently at the Medallion and then handed it back to Hannibal. “I knew there was something strange about this thing,” he declared. “It’s connected to the Relic somehow.”
“Apparently,” Hannibal agreed as they sat down. “What it is exactly I don’t rightly know.”
“Not to change the subject, but how did things go with the improvements for the Temple you talked about last night?” Harry inquired.
Hannibal thought for a moment, trying to remember what Harry was talking about. Suddenly, he remembered. “Oh, right,” Hannibal answered. “Everything went well. I ordered several months of supplies this morning. They should arrive in a couple of days at my house, at which time I’ll send it to the Temple through the portal. It beats having it sent air mail there.”
“Indeed,” Harry agreed. “What kind of things are you sending?”
“Well. The first thing we had to deal with was the food so I’ll sending a bunch of meat, mainly beef, and vegetables, both frozen and canned, and cooking supplies like oils, herbs, spices, etc…,” Hannibal explained. “Along with the food, I’m sending several industrial refrigeration units that can both refrigerate and freeze so we can keep the foodstuffs fresh. In addition to that, I’m sending a better cooking set up so the food can be prepared better. Basically, I’m setting the place up for a more permanent place to live because it’ll be years before we’re done in there. Good beds, chairs, and couches are going and I’m sending some extra personnel for security and food preparation. I want to make it as comfortable a place as I can because of the length of time I expect we’ll be there.”
“Man, that’s going to cost a mint,” Harry replied with an impressed grunt.
“Yeah, it costs a lot but money isn’t everything you know. I know people who can give me breaks on the prices of nearly everything I asked for,” Hannibal stated. “The only thing I had to pay full price for were the industrial refrigerators. That put me back a bit. But the guys I deal with don’t ask any questions because I pay for everything up front. As long as they get their money, they don’t ask any questions.”
“Very good,” Harry replied. “That’s the only way to deal with people if you have the money.”
“Yes, it is,” Hannibal agreed. As he spoke, Mary entered the living room with a couple of drinks. She offered one to Hannibal, and gave the other to Harry. “Thanks. This’ll hit the spot. I’m actually quite parched,” Hannibal said gratefully.
“You’re welcome. It looked like you needed a drink,” Mary answered humbly.
“So when are you going to send the supplies? Maybe I can help you send them,” Harry offered.
Hannibal sipped on his drink, considering the question. “The supplies will be here the day after tomorrow at lunch time and I certainly could use some help unloading the trucks. It’s going to be nearly five tractor trailer loads of material,” he answered. “Maybe you can bring Dennis along. He might be useful.”
“You want me to help? What can I do?” Dennis asked.
“Oh I think we’ll be able to find something for you to do. Not all of the stuff is big,” Hannibal returned with a smile.
Dennis’ eyes lit up with anticipation as he blurted out, “Do I get to stay home from school too?”
Harry looked at Hannibal, and then at Dennis. “I guess so,” Harry replied. “You’re not going to be any help at school.”
Dennis beamed with delight. “All right!” he exclaimed.
“So then,” Harry began. “When is the mission a go?”
“Soon...very soon,” Hannibal returned. “But it’s going to be at least two weeks. A few more things have to be done first. Supplies have to be gathered along with intelligence on the area before we can go to initiate.”
Harry nodded. “All right; that’s good,” he stated. “That’ll give me time to get my stuff straightened out and get ready.” Then a thought occurred to him. “What’re Mary and Dennis going to do for money while we’re gone? I’m the only paycheck here,” he asked.
Hannibal smiled broadly. “I’ve already taken care of that problem. I’ve set up a special bank account just for her with enough money in it to last her the rest of her life if need be. If, Lord forbid, something should happen to us and we don’t come back, Dan will be responsible for hers and Dennis’ welfare, so money to live off isn’t a problem. I can’t say for sure that we’ll come back, but my gut level feeling seems to say that we will and my instinct is seldom wrong,” Hannibal stated as he continued to sip on his drink.
“Good,” Harry returned. “That’s a load off my mind. It kind of bothered me that Mary and Dennis weren’t going to have any financial support.”
“Harry…you ought to know better than that!” Hannibal retorted. “I’d never leave them without any way to pay the bills or buy food. I have it wired. The day before we leave, we’ll go to the bank and I’ll set it up so she can get anything she needs. I’ll even have a special checkbook made just for her. The only people that’ll be allowed to get into that account will be her and me. I’ll make it so that Dan can keep check on it, just in case. He’ll be responsible for the rest of my accounts.”
“I should have known you were on top of this all long. Sorry,” Harry said, blushing slightly.
“That’s okay,” Hannibal said, accepting the apology. “You were right to be concerned. After all, this is a very serious business venture we’re about to engage in.”
“How much money do you have, Hannibal?” Dennis asked innocently after hearing the exchange.
“Dennis,” Harry scolded. “You shouldn’t ask him that! It’s not polite.”
“It’s okay, Harry,” Hannibal stated, smiling wryly. “I’m one of the richest men in the world, Dennis. I have approximately ten billion dollars in assets scattered around the world in various holdings. The account I’m setting up for you and your mother will have ten million in cash and forty million in solid tax-free assets so you and your mom will not ever have to worry about money.”
“Wow,” Dennis chimed. “You’re like Uncle Scrooge in the cartoons.”
Hannibal chuckled. “Not quite,” he replied. “I don’t have three cubic acres of cash, but I’m getting close with what we found in the treasure cave at the Temple. Also, I’m not nearly as big a tightwad as Uncle Scrooge.”
Both Harry’s and Mary’s jaws dropped in astonishment. “Oh my Lord,” Mary cried. “I had no idea you were worth so much. Why would you give us so much money?”
Hannibal looked Mary in the eye and said without wavering, “Because of what you and your family have done for me. I wanted to make sure you never had any need of anything in case the worst were to happen on this expedition. I do this without hesitation because I love you. You’re family.”
“I don’t know what to say,” Harry murmured, stunned by the gift.
“Just accept the gift,” Hannibal replied softly. “It’s a done deal. You can’t say no and besides, you’re going to earn every penny of it on this expedition. I know it. Just consider it an advance.”
Harry shook his head and smiled. “I guess I will,” he stated. “I really appreciate you doing this for us. How can I ever repay you?”
“Just being my friend and family is all I ever wanted from you, Harry,” Hannibal stated. “Like the scarab, this is just another way I can say thank you for putting up with me. Besides, I kind of see it as a form of penance for my dark days when I made most of this money. By sharing it with my friends without hesitation, it makes me feel that I’m making up for all that time I squandered as a wizard assassin for the masters of the universe. Money just isn’t that important to me now that I’m on the Lord’s side. He showed me a much better way to live.” He took another swallow from his glass, draining it as he looked at his watch. “I’d better get going. I still have plenty to do today. Thanks for the drink,” he said gratefully.
“You’re welcome,” Mary answered, taking the glass as Hannibal rose from his seat. “And thank you for your amazingly generous gift. I promise we won’t squander it.”
“I know you won’t,” Hannibal said, smiling.
“Oh, I almost forgot. I have the pictures printed out,” Harry told Hannibal as he rose from his seat as well. “Give me a minute and I’ll get them.”
“All right,” Hannibal returned as Harry disappeared into the house. A couple of minutes later, he returned with a folder full of pictures.
“I made enough copies for everyone,” Harry said.
Hannibal accepted the folder and quickly scanned the pictures. “These turned out pretty good,” he commended. “Thanks. I’ll be sure that everyone gets a copy.” He shook Harry’s hand, saying, “I’ll see you in a couple of days. Show up around 10:30 so we’ll be ready to unload when the supplies arrive. I’ll see if I can rent a fork lift to make the unloading go quicker.”
good idea. The less of the big stuff we have to handle by hand the better,”
Harry replied as Hannibal gave Dennis a brief hug before walking out the door.
Hannibal got in his truck and waved as he started it. Harry and Dennis waved
back, watching Hannibal drive away as quickly as he came. Harry turned and went
back into the house, closing the door.