Howar Murad was the not-so-silent partner in the conspiracy created by Peter Janich. It was the worst mistake of his life.
What was a drowning in a polluted river of three angels by comparison? The thought brought more pain and tears. Murad’s normally plastered comb-over was in shambles; his round middle jiggled with every wave of hysterics.
The import business that Murad had run with his wife had been very lucrative. In his grief, he could not remember how he had gotten involved in this nasty side business. The proposition his old school friend Peter Janich had brought to him, exactly one year earlier, was made of so much vapor.
Murad blew his nose and tried to focus. He wanted go back in time to a place before any of this had happened, before he had heard the story that Peter had so expertly told on that August morning. But the memory was involuntary, as vivid as the sight of the rotting bananas.
"The war, it was coming. FDR knew it," Peter had told his friend that day.
"It was impossible, Janich," Murad retained a slight Turkish accent, although he had lived in the United States since his late teens. "No one knew. Most thought the Nazis were the saviors of a broken Europe in 1933, a bulwark against the Bolsheviks."
Peter scoffed, "That’s the faulty history we are taught in schools, the revisionism of the winners. But Roosevelt knew differently. A powerful Germany was always a threat. A mechanized Germany would always fuel war. He needed only look back a couple of years for proof."
There was confidence, cockiness, in the commodities executive that made him only palatable to Murad in small doses.
"Think of what was happening here at home. The economy was being held together with make-work projects and financial sleight of hand. We were about to come off the gold standard, fiat money for the first time in history," Peter’s excitement grew with every sentence. "Imagine that, Murad! We were about to base trade on a whim, a prayer, and a promise. What would the world think? The great American dollar, as substantial as a butter sandwich against the mighty British pound sterling. This was an incredible gamble, Murad. And FDR was no gambler unless he was the house."
Trying to shake off the memory of that meeting, Murad unconsciously rubbed the black armband, "Janich gone. My beautiful Genevieve, gone."
It was a simple idea, Janich had said in what seemed an eternity ago, an eternity that had begun the collapse of Murad’s life.
The thought of his daughters struggling at the bottom of the Calumet River while the filthy water of the industrial tributary flooded the Jaguar was too much to bear. Murad’s sobs grew violent. He threw everything he could from the perfectly appointed kitchen, breaking as much as he could without giving a thought to the priceless items being destroyed. They meant nothing anymore.
Fatigue finally ended his rage. Murad settled at the base of his wide, spiral stairs and began thinking the unthinkable. Echoes of Peter and the deadly curse returned.
"Now, I can’t tell you how I found out. Well, I could, but I’d have to kill you," Peter had paused with no hint of levity. "When FDR removed the country from the gold standard, he also outlawed a right most Americans should have fought to retain. As of April 1933, gold became contraband and the dollar dropped in value by nearly half. The country was already in such desperate straits that almost no one noticed. The coin of the realm was no more. Or was it?"