Opportunity Knox

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

Opportunity Knox

Vast wealth has temptations which fatally and surely undermine the moral structure of persons not habituated to its possession.” –Mark Twain

Cady drove her white van past the electric fence and shook her head.  It wasn’t enough to have twenty-thousand volts coursing through the metallic deterrent; the overzealous fools had felt the need to put endless coils of barbed wire atop the fence as well.  Trust the government to overdo things, she thought to herself.  Still, it wasn’t something that Cady needed to worry about.  She was merely the owner and operator of Cady’s Cleaners.

A helicopter flew right above her, but Cady paid it no mind.  They all recognized her van by now and gave her as much leeway as they could.  She had already gone through the customary stops.  She had pulled onto the off-ramp and seen the black SUV with tinted windows follow behind her.  That same SUV lingered as she pulled up to the road and parked her car.  Men with machine guns and large dogs went over every inch of her car and ran tests on the cleaning chemicals that were kept in the back of her vehicle.  Cady had learned after the first few trips to leave all the supplies that she didn’t absolutely need at home.  It wasn’t worth the hassle of waiting for the security detail to go through each and every container; better to reload the van when she got home.

After driving a long stretch of road, she saw two Humvees drive by on either side of her.  She had heard from one of the friendlier security guards that there were all sorts of scanning equipment contained within those military cars.  Cady tried to ignore the fear of being made sterile and instead waved to the men in their camouflage gear.  They glanced back at her, their eyes impenetrable through their steely expressions and their opaque sunglasses.

Cady drove around the massive building’s exterior until she came to the loading dock in the back.  An immense door, probably twelve feet thick of concrete and metal, slowly swung open to allow her admittance.  There, her car was stopped by another series of officials.  One man escorted her to an all-white room where she was searched more thoroughly than Cady ever preferred.  At least the guard had been handsome.  The last time she had been here an older man with wrinkly hands had been gruff and most unpleasant.

Her car was taken from her and parked in an underground lot where video cameras and automated weapons kept a vigilant eye out for any surprises.  The cleaning equipment had been removed by personnel and placed on a plastic cart made especially for her.  She rearranged the items on the cart for easier access, took her temporary ID badge that the guards printed for her, and nodded to the four men that surrounded her.

Everything about the building had an annoyingly “official” feel to it.  There were no decorations, no areas that had been “spruced up”.  The hallways were concrete gray with white areas of paint.  She long suspected that the white color was only there to maximize the efficiency of the harsh lights that glowed dimly from their perch on the ceiling behind grilled cages.  Cady always hoped that the lights would be upgraded to LED technology each time she came.  However she knew that the rare number of visitors the placed had meant the fortress didn’t really need to appear homey or inviting.  In fact, they certainly aimed for the opposite effect.

A familiar face in army fatigues and expertly shaven head nodded to Cady.  The man would have been a calming representative of power; his build was that of a hometown quarterback.  However the long scar that ran down the entirety of the man’s right cheek always made Cady wonder what he was capable of.

“General”, she said to the older man.”

“Ma’am”, the General replied with utter propriety.  “Shall we?”

“Of course, General”, Cady said.

The General took the lead, the four guards flanked Cady, and the cleaning woman pushed her cart down yet another long hallway.  It was during this roughly quarter-mile walk that Cady had time to think.  She had tried over and over to extract a conversation from these men, but she had rarely succeeded.  She thought of her own father who had once been stationed at this very installation.  She remembered her mother who had been an agent for the National Security Agency.  Cady had grown up around serious people with important jobs.  Cady wasn’t like that.

Cady liked people.  She liked conversations.  She enjoyed her occupation because it let her meet all kinds of people and helped create spaces where folks could congregate and socialize.  This industrial type, function-only building was not her ideal environment.  However the money was an amount which she couldn’t turn down and the government liked Cady’s clearance level.

There it is, Cady thought.  The vault door never ceased to amaze her.  It was ten-feet thick and made of what she assumed were the strongest metals on this earth.  She doubted if even a nuclear bomb could break through the hatch, though she was quite sure that was the idea.  Even with its astounding size, the door swung open quietly and easily on a single giant hinge.

Cady followed two guards inside while The General and two other guards joined those already positioned in their assigned spots.  Normally she would enjoy having twelve men huddle around her, keeping an eye out, but Cady had work to do.  The regular areas could be cleaned by standard government lackeys, but the area Cady was in required a higher level of clearance than most people could ever dream of.  Cady was a contract worker but everyone assumed she would be there until she retired.  The upper brass had no desire to go through the lengthy process of vetting someone else to do their cleaning.  So it was that Cady came out to Fort Knox three times a year to dust and clean the bars of gold.

Cady didn’t mind that she couldn’t tell anyone about her most profitable client.  She resisted the urge to share stories or take pictures of one of the most secure facilities in the world; a place that she had regular access to.  The one thing that bothered her was the joke that she just couldn’t seem to formulate.  She knew there was a good guffaw to be had from “cleaning money” or “laundering money” for the government.

Cady put her feather duster to the first pile of gold bars.  The nation’s wealth was right in front of her, but that perfect one-liner that would make the security guards break character and chuckle continued to be off-limits to her.

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About anecdotaltales
He's a simple enough fellow. He likes movies, comics, radio shows from the 40's, and books. He likes to write and wishes his cat wouldn't shed on his laptop.

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