At Providence's Gate
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Chapter Eleven


            While I was burying my treasure, John Boucher was getting away from the police dragnet that had been combing the area under and around Interstate 35 and St. Marys Street from Broadway on one end and San Pedro on the other.  Two helicopters had been enlisted in the search as had six dogs, four from the city and two from the Bexar County Sheriffs Department. 

            Despite their best efforts, Boucher slipped through their hands.  He arrived at the Pig Stand on Broadway at about the same time I was being hit by the pick up truck.  When he entered the famous 24-hour eatery, he turned right and went directly into the rest room.  John spent a few minutes making himself look as presentable as possible then came out into the dining area and found a booth as far away from the door as he could.

            Johns plan was to stay at the Pig Stand about an hour, observing and listening to any cops that came in.  The restaurant was an early morning Mecca for policemen working the graveyard shift.  When the waitress came around, he ordered eggs over easy, bacon, grits and toast.  She already brought his coffee.

            Not one cop had come in since John arrived and he wondered about the one he had assaulted earlier.  When his middle-aged motherly waitress arrived with his food he remarked, Kinda quiet this morning, isnt it?  Yeah Sweetie, she replied, A cop was killed over on St. Marys a while ago.  When the guys who were in here eating heard about it they ran outa here.  Havent seen one come back since.

            Musta been awful, John said.  Yeah, KTSA Radio news says he was a young guy, 24 years old, only a year on the force.  Had a new wife too, the motherly waitress said.  Too bad, was Johns simple but sufficiently sympathetically delivered statement.

            With the waitress gone, John started eating his breakfast and going over the events of the past few hours in his head.  The red Mustang was not a worry.  It was registered in the name of John Boucher at a fake address on Broadway, a house that now was home to a group of lawyers and a child psychologist.  His motel room should be safe, absolutely no one knew he lived there.

            He decided that at 5 am hed walk the five blocks or so to his motel, get cleaned up, put shorts and a tee-shirt on and go riding on his dirt bike.  Naturally hed head up to St. Marys, see if the cops were gone and retrieve the aluminum case from behind the dumpster where he had tossed it. Hed miss his flight to Mexico City, but that was okay.  If he got back to the scene of the crime while the cops were still there, they might get suspicious.

            John arrived at the dumpster before the sun was up.  He had already ridden his bicycle around the vicinity for about ten minutes before stopping and walking over to it.  The police were no where in sight and after two passes around the big green metal box, John realized neither was his case full of diamonds.  Maybe the police got them, he thought.  But then he found my sleeping bag and backpack.

            The would-be-master-criminal instinctively knew the cops did not have his diamonds.  If they had taken his case, he reasoned, they also would have grabbed the backpack.  Putting it over his shoulders, John hopped onto his bike and headed for the Shady Oak Motel.

            He closed and locked the door to his room and began taking things from the pack, looking for anything that could identify its owner.  Unfortunately, he didnt have to look very hard.  Within a few minutes, not only did John Boucher know who I was and where I had lived in Broownsville, he had a picture of me that had been taken less than a year before in Las Vegas.

            Now John Boucher began to formulate a plan to find me.  He was angry and barely able to contain his rage, yet he knew that he must be calm and cool because to be caught was literally a death sentence.

            While John was trying to figure out where I was, Chris Manning, who had bagged my personal effects was trying to figure out what a homeless bum was doing with one thousand dollars. He had seen the Key to the Treasure and was certain it had something to do with the money I had in my pocket.  Chris made a copy of the scrap of paper containing the cryptic note and placed the original with my belongings.

            I had been x-rayed and examined by 7 am and the young emergency room doctor in charge of my case came into the cubicle I was laying in and gave me the good news that nothing was broken.  Aside from a few bruises and abrasions, I was fit to be discharged.

            I obtained my property, was given a set of used clothing and was about to leave when young Chris Manning approached me.  He was wearing street clothes and told me his shift had just ended.  He then asked if he could drop me off anywhere.  Although he seemed to have a Dennis-the-Menace look to him, Chris seemed to be a clean-cut young man and genuinely friendly.  I told him I had no where to go and he said, But you have a lot of money, why dont I take you to a motel?  I agreed, as long as it was fairly inexpensive.

            I knew that the Yellow Rose Hotel in the downtown area was very cheap and asked Chris to drive me there.  We arrived at 8 am or so and before he departed, he asked if he could check on me now and then.  Chris said I reminded him of his dad who had passed away a couple of years earlier.  Although I didnt suspect that young Manning had any ulterior motives, I was not very trusting of anyone at this stage in my life, so I stayed fairly noncommittal about any future contact.

            I really had no reason not to trust Chris, but he didnt seem like the social worker type to me and I certainly didnt believe that tale about me reminding him of his dearly departed daddy.  But having few friends in San Antonio, in fact actually having no real friends at all, I could always use one, especially one with a car.

            Abe Walstein awoke before the sun that Wednesday morning, excited about the new direction his business was taking.  After 49 years of being strictly a supplier of loose diamonds to jewelers and jewelry makers, the San Antonio Diamond Exchange would be making high fashion custom designed diamond jewelry that would be worn by some of the most discriminating and wealthy women in the world.

            Ina awoke with an equal amount of great anticipation.  She had not felt this alive in years and after allowing her artistic talent to atrophy for so long, she silently dreamed that her name would become as famous as Tiffanys.

            Father and daughter sat down to a hearty breakfast he prepared while Ina was dressing.  The two new jewelers would be arriving at 10 am.  Before they would begin working, John would have them fill out all of their personnel forms, Abe told Ina.

            This never would have happened without John, would it have, Daddy? Ina asked. It never would have happened without you, dear, her father corrected, You and your magnificent designs.  They continued to discuss which pieces to create first and which of the two new jewelers was the best until it was 8:30 am and time to leave for the exchange.

            At 8:30 am, John was clearing out of his room at the Shady Oak Motel, having spent the past hour packing furiously.  A cab was waiting to take him to his new digs, chosen the week before, just in case.  He was changing his name again after having destroyed anything that had John Bouchers name on it.  From this moment forward he was Jeff Begley, the name of a two year old infant who had died in 1980 in a tragic apartment complex fire near Fort Sam Houston in 1982.  Little Jeff Begleys father and mother also lost their lives in the fire, according to the old San Antonio Light obituary he found while researching at the central library.

            The obituary and accompanying news story of the fire said the Begleys were from Iron Mountain, Georgia.  John had tried to locate family members there but was unsuccessful.  Baby Begley had been born at Brooke Army Medical Center so John was able to obtain the infants birth certificate from the county and get another social security card.  With those documents and 15,000 dollars in the bank, he was able to apply for and receive  VISA, Mastercard, Discover and American Express Cards.

            The taxi the new Jeff Begley had ordered honked its horn.  Jeff signaled the driver that he was on his way.  It took three trips to load all of his belongings into the taxis trunk and back seat.  Then Jeff jumped in front and told the driver, Stonegate Inn, please.  The Stonegate was a fairly new but economical motel on the far north side of San Antonio.  He chose it because of its distance from John Bouchers old stomping grounds.  As soon as he settled he planned to go out and rent a car for a month and then begin the search for me in earnest.

            I was resting in my room at the Yellow Rose Hotel at 8:30 am.  It had been a pain-filled and sleepless night.  I had nearly 700 dollars in my pocket and lots more where that came from and this new wealth gave me a fresh outlook on life.  I made plans to go out and buy some decent clothes and perhaps even get a job.  The job part was Chris Mannings idea actually, but one which I agreed with.  I didnt want anyone to know about my treasure.

            I didnt realize it at the time, but my life, along with the lives of everyone who came in contact with John Boucher, was about to change drastically.  Of course, Boucher had directly or indirectly changed several lives already:  Officer Jaime Bravos, Abe and Ina Wallsteins; Frank Carr and Al Bateman had all gone through changes, some permanent, because of Bouchers greed.

            The police were already looking for John Boucher, having run a motor vehicle check on the red Mustang he had crashed into the bridge abutment.  But when a patrol car was sent to his last known address, it turned out to be a converted home that was now a child psychologists and lawyers offices. There was no other information on any database the SAPD had access to.

            Tuesday, H-Day, was gone and a dismal failure, Jeff acknowledged to himself.  But he meant to correct the mistakes of the previous day and come out smelling like a rose and he would do it alone. But first he would have to disguise himself.

            A few weeks before, John Boucher had purchased a blonde wig fashioned of shoulder length human hair.  He also went to a theatrical supply store and bought several very natural-looking goatees, moustaches and spirit gum.  When he left the Stonegate Inn later in the day, it would be as an effeminate blonde guy named Jeff Begley.  Horn rimmed glasses with pink tinged lenses added to the disguise and persona.  Jeff didnt know how long it would take to get the diamonds back so he also began growing his own moustache and goatee.