An old beat up car pulled up in front of the First Bank of New Mexico. A well dressed man, clean shaven, with slicked back hair, carrying a black leather briefcase, got out of the car and walked up to the glass doors of the bank and entered.

“May I help you?” a professionally dressed young woman asked the man.

“Yes, you may!” the man replied, “I’d like to close an account I had set up here!”

“All right!” the woman replied, “I can help you on that. Please come into my office!”

The woman walked to the back of the bank, as the man followed. She sat behind an oak desk. The man sat in front.

“So, what account do you wish to close?” the woman asked.

“Its an account I had set up for my daughter several years ago,” the man replied, “I had originally set it up as a kind of trust fund. Where only she could have access to it once she turned eighteen. Well, since then, my wife and I have divorced, I’ve been awarded custody of my daughter, and I’m planning on moving down to Tampa, Florida, where we can start a new life!”

“Oh, I see,” the woman replied, “what’s the name on the account?”

“It’s set it up under the name, Clementine Phillips!” the man answered.

The woman typed into a terminal on her desk.

“And you say you’re her father?” she asked.

“Yes,” the man answered, “I’m Anthony Phillips!”

“Well, you’re correct, Mr. Phillips,” the woman said, “you did have it set up years ago, so that only your daughter could have access when she turned eighteen. Unless, of course, she elected to sign a waiver. How old is she now and is she here somewhere with you today?”

“She’s 15,” Anthony answered, “and she’s staying with my parents down in Tampa. The divorce still seems to upset her, so I figured she needed to get away for awhile. I do have a signed waiver, as well as, the divorce documents, a certificate granting me full custody of my daughter and power of attorney over all of her affairs!

I figured she’s just too young to face all this stress the divorce has brought about, so I should be the one to represent her in any of her business matters! As her father, I think that’s the least I could do for her!”

“Well,” the woman said, “it does seem you’re looking out for your daughter’s best interests. There’s so many parents these days, who just don’t care about the welfare of their children! You’re a really good father!”

Anthony smiled, “I try to be!”

Anthony took the waiver out his briefcase and gave it to the woman. She looked it over.

“Well,” she began, “I see it is the proper form. It states that your daughter has authorized you, Anthony Phillips, to be allowed access to said above account. It has both you and your daughter’s signatures and has been notarized by a notary public, who works for the very same law firm used by this very bank. Well, Mr. Phillips, it seems all the necessary documents are in order. So, you said you wish to close the account?”

“Yes,” Anthony answered, “oh, by the way, how much is exactly in the account?”

The woman checked on her terminal.

“As of today,’ she replied, “$52,815.42.”

“Okay,” Anthony smiled, “I’d like to withdraw the entire amount today, if I may!”

“Well, yes sir,” the woman replied, “you may, but wouldn’t you rather we transfer the funds into another account at another bank? Maybe one in Tampa?”

“No,” Anthony answered, “I need the funds right now. You know, to help pay moving expenses and buy a new house for me and my daughter!”

“Very well, Mr. Phillips,” the woman smiled, “I’ll make the arrangements. Of course, I’ll need to see a picture I.D..”

“No problem,” Anthony replied, pulling out a driver’s license and handing it to the woman.

“I’ll be right back,” she said, “would you prefer your balance be in the form of a check or cash?”

“Oh, cash would be fine!” Anthony replied.

The woman nodded, then left to arrange the paperwork.

As James Ford waited, he thought about the last few weeks.

He indeed was on the run, after escaping from prison in Australia! He needed cash and needed it fast. A few weeks ago, he had contacted Pebbles, looking for a “gig” to make some fast money. When she had told him she was in Albuquerque forming a “wire mob”, he had gotten the idea that he also needed to get access to that account he had set up years ago for Clementine.

He basically decided he would “kill two birds with one stone” so to speak, by working with Pebbles and her son for a few days, at a couple of conventions, to pick up some fast loot, while at the same time contacting Clementine, to try and figure out a way to obtain access to her account.

He hadn’t planned on Clementine following him to the hotel, then getting involved in a series of events that brought her to the attention of Pebbles.

The plan was to find some pretty young thing, from the modeling agency at the fashion show, to join their team and be trained. Ford didn’t realize, at the time, that “pretty young thing” was going to turn out to be his own daughter! But Pebbles took a liking to Clementine and what Pebbles usually wants, Pebbles usually gets!

That evening, when he had driven Clementine home and she had told him about her signed forged permission slips, the idea came to him that if he could get a copy of a signed slip, then he could have her signature forged (by Bam, with a promise of a ten percent cut from the account) onto a waiver document, giving Ford permission to access her account. When she forgot to take her copy of the signed slip that night, well, everything just seemed to fall into place!

‘Thank you, Lord!’ Ford thought, smiling.

So he and Clementine both joined the wire mob and, as they say, the rest was history.

But Ford still needed an escape plan. Pebbles had mentioned about the “wire mob squads”, who were coming to the convention, so that gave him an idea for his ticket out!

Ford hired some guys he knew, to pose as “Federal agents” and “arrest” him!

So he got to keep the take from the conventions, that he kept stashed in that money belt, had tricked Pebbles, Bam, and Clementine, into thinking he had been made, then arrested, and most important of all, he had gotten away with it! Now, to top it off, he was within minutes of getting the $50,000 plus!

‘Not a bad “short con,”’ he thought to himself.

However, what Ford hadn’t counted on was his own emotional reaction, when he saw Clementine cry, as he was being “taken away.” It really had bothered him.

‘She’s a good kid,’ he thought, ‘she deserves a much better father than I could ever be! Aw, hell, this was a good lesson for her! Seeing her dad “arrested”! It’ll teach her not to follow in my path. I really didn’t want her becoming a criminal anyway, even if she seemed to be such a natural.’

Ford made a promise to himself, that when things settled down, whenever that would be, he’d make it up to Clementine. He’d pay her back the money. Somehow. Somewhere. Sometime.

And though he had the best of intentions, when he set up that account for her years ago, right now, he needed that money more then she did!

The bank woman came back, along with two other gentlemen. Ford figured they were bank Vice-presidents, who had to oversee the closing of the account and the cash transfer.

“So, you are Anthony Phillips?” the one man asked.

Ford nodded.

Suddenly, the other man came around behind Ford and slapped some cuffs on his wrists!

“HEY!” Ford yelled, “what in the hell is this all about??!!”

“We’re FBI,” the first man answered, “and you’re under arrest, Mr. James Ford!”

“Son of a Bitch!” Ford mumbled.

After he was read his rights, the FBI agent asked the bank woman to tell Ford about his daughter.

“What about my daughter?!” Ford grumbled.

You’ll see!” the agent replied.

“Well,” the woman began, “the other day, a young girl came by the bank in the afternoon to speak with me. She said her name was Clementine Phillips. She provided me with a student picture I.D. and her Social Security card, confirming she was who she said she was.

She said her dad had come into town, looked her up, and told her about a $50,000 account he had set up years ago, in which only she would have access to when she turned 18. She said she had never met her dad before, until he showed up a few days ago, and was suspicious because he was a “con” man.

Now, apparently he hadn’t told her what bank the account was set up in, so she had called all the banks in the Albuquerque area, asking about an account under her name, until she found out that an account did indeed exist and it was at our bank.

So she gave us a picture of you, she had taken from her mom, and said that if you should ever come around, no matter what you said, or what papers or signatures you provided, she hadn’t given you any permission to access her account and for us to just call the police.

Oh, she also asked us to check with the police to see if there was any kind of reward she could receive for your capture because she figured you were probably wanted by the police for something.”

“Smart girl you have there, Mr. Ford!” the FBI agent said.

“Well,” Ford answered, “she’s more of a smart a…!!!… she’s a smart girl!”

With that said, Ford was lead away by the FBI agents to a waiting car. It would take awhile for all this to sink in but he now realized all those suspicions he had in the back of his mind about Clementine had turned out to be right.

For Clementine was indeed a smart girl, who made sure all her bases were covered, and James Ford was somewhat angry for letting his guard down and allowing himself to be set up by his own daughter. However, he had to admit, he was also somewhat proud of her.

‘Clementine,’ he thought, ‘intentionally or not, you sure pulled off one hell of a short con!’

Next: Chap. 26 “Epilogue”

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