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     The old man slipped away quietly in his sleep.  He had been resisting the inevitable for weeks, his heart finally failing after ninety-two years of life well lived.  The man had once been a virtual force of nature.  Physically imposing and a towering intellect, he was never one to suffer fools gladly, a trait that had become more pronounced during his later years.  This helped to explain in part the strained relationships he had with his three daughters, and in his opinion their useless husbands.  They had been hovering around for the last several days with their crocodile tears and eleventh hour expressions of affection.  Like vultures, he had thought, while I lay here circling the drain.  Well, he mused, they’re in for a big surprise.  

     His full name was Henry Randall Dickinson, and ever since he was a young man there had always been an air of mystery about him.  He was considered wealthy by all those who knew him, he had attended the best schools, was a member of prestigious private clubs, generously supported numerous charities and constantly travelled to the most exotic places on earth.  People assumed that he had bags of money.   But strangely, as far as anyone knew, he had never worked a day in his life.  Everyone surmised that it must be inherited money.  Even his beloved late wife never knew the whole story.  Certainly his entitled daughters had no clue about the family history.  They had always considered him to be an absentee father, and the familial bonds were tenuous at best.  It’s not that he wasn’t always generous with them.   Still, now upon his death, they were hoping to cash in big time.

     Dickinson’s lawyer was David Cruickshank of the firm Cruickshank & Rich.  He had always referred to them with amusement as Crooked and Rich.  Cruickshank now had the unenviable task of informing the family that none of them were in line to inherit.  His client had always lived by the maxim, I want to spend my last dollar the day before I die.  And somehow he had managed to do just that, between a lifetime of extravagance and the horrendous cost of round-the-clock nursing care during his final year.  The only remaining asset of note was the family home which had been sold discretely some months ago, with a provisional closing date thirty days after his death.  The considerable proceeds were to be endowed to a local hospital.

     Cruickshank had been given an additional task.  Apparently there were two great-grandsons, the extended issue from a brief fling Dickenson had with a girl during his teens.  He had subsequently left on an extended trip to the Northwest Territories without knowing she was pregnant.  Later when he had discovered what had happened, the girl by then was married to someone else.  Sadly, she had passed away some years ago, and Dickenson had never wanted to intrude on the lives of her family who were unaware of his fleeting role as their progenitor.  Out of curiosity though, he had observed from a distance and was particularly interested in the maturation of his two great-grandsons.  He had never tried to contact them, but had surreptitiously looked into their lives with the aid of a private investigator.  He had been impressed with what he learned.    

     Lawyer Cruickshank had been instructed to reach out to the two boys, young men really, and summon them to a meeting at his office.  He had a sealed envelope which was to be handed over to them jointly, along with a verbal explanation of the circumstances.  Dickinson had provided him with their contact information, and immediately after his death a registered letter had been dispatched.  In the letter he explained it was an important matter regarding a client’s estate, and that he wasn’t authorized to share any the details until he met them in person.  He urged them to treat this with utmost confidentiality, and not discuss it with anyone.  Cruickshank’s secretary would follow up to arrange a convenient appointment.

      Joe Lambert’s heart was beating a little faster as he signed for the registered letter.  “What on earth is this,” he murmured?  He’d never received a letter in this manner before.  He tore open the envelope and extracted a formal looking letter with the name of a well-known law firm embossed across the top.  Scanning the contents he picked up on the words estate and confidential, and that apparently his brother Paul was also involved.  What could it be, he wondered?  Did somebody die and leave them some money?  Huh, he could sure use it.  Joe tossed the letter aside and rushed from his dorm, seriously late for a class on Civil Procedure.  He would call his brother later and together they could puzzle over the letter.

     Paul Lambert was hammering a speed bag at Gleason’s Gym when a courier arrived with his letter.  At first he thought the guy was a process server and refused to accept it.  Finally, with some clarity he signed the delivery receipt and took the letter back to the locker room.  When he read the contents, a strange feeling came over him.  A sort of epiphany.  He thought to himself, this could be a game changer.  Paul tried to reach his brother on his cell, but the call went to message.  He decided to hit the showers and then head over to the University.  As he left the gym his phone buzzed.  It was his office.  Apparently an offer was coming in on one of his listings.  The letter now forgotten, he jumped in his car and headed downtown.



      Joe was a twenty-two year old first year law student who was burning with ambition, approaching his studies with a concentration that led his classmates to wonder if he had any life beyond the realm of academia.  His personal mantra was ‘do more than necessary, and keep on doing it.’ In many ways he was the polar opposite of his older brother Paul, who was athletic and outgoing and didn’t take life too seriously.  Joe was fit enough for a young man his age.  But, tall slim and bespectacled, he would never be mistaken for a member of the varsity football team.  Intellectually he had always been drawn to the law, and although he exhibited some mild elements of introversion, he had dreams of becoming a successful trial lawyer.

     Paul was two years older than his brother, and after graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree had decided to enter the business world.  He studied for his real estate licence and began working just as the economy tanked.  With little movement happening in the housing market, he was now struggling to make ends meet.  Still, he wore expensive suits and drove a flashy leased Mercedes.  His approach was to ‘fake it till you make it.’  Meantime, the lack of business activity gave him lots of time to work out a Gleason’s Gym.  At university he had been captain of the boxing team, and at 190 pounds was a talented heavyweight.  He still enjoyed sparring at the gym and worked hard at staying in top shape.  Although Paul had an active social life, he still considered his brother Joe to be his best friend.

     Paul and Joe were three generations removed from Henry Dickinson through a line of female antecedents.  Remarkably, there were no other male descendants that could be traced back to him.  Other than a few cousins, their closest living relative was a grandmother on their father’s side, a woman who had raised them after their parents had died in a tragic car crash.  She had paid for Paul’s education, and was now covering Joe’s law school tuition.  Both boys had contributed with a series of part-time and summer jobs to help make ends meet.  Joe still worked three nights a week plus Saturdays at a local grocery.  Even so, he was basically just living from hand to mouth.  Paul wasn’t much better off.  Due to the lackluster real estate market he was now two payments behind on the Mercedes.

     They met later that day at a Starbucks near the University.  Looking over the lawyer’s letter, they sipped lattes and pondered over the possible implications.  Just then Joe’s phone lit up with an incoming call.  It was the lawyer’s secretary.  After a brief three-way discussion they agreed to meet at ten o’clock the following morning.  As they lingered, Paul shared his concern about the Mercedes.  He was worried that it might be repossessed any day now.  The offer on his real estate listing had provided a brief ray of hope, but it had so many conditions attached it was unlikely to be accepted.  Things were looking pretty grim.  Joe said, “I wish I could help.” But, he was barely keeping his own head above water.  Perhaps this thing with the lawyer would be a financial lifeline.

     The law office of Cruickshank & Rich was situated in one of the large downtown office towers.  When they entered the lobby on the 14th floor it had a clubby feel to it, complete with walnut wainscoting, deep carpets and subdued lighting.  It screamed of money and privilege. The matronly receptionist announced their arrival, and then ushered them into a comfortably appointed meeting room, at the end of a long corridor hung with portraits of the firm’s alumni.  There was a quiet hush as they were seated and they looked at each other with nervous anticipation.  When John Cruickshank entered the room he was the very image of a distinguished legal councillor.  Tall, gray haired and urbane with a pencil thin mustache, he smiled and extended his hand in welcome. 

     After the introductions were made, Cruickshank said, “I have something to share with you, and it will no doubt come as a surprise.” He went on to explain that he was representing the estate of the recently deceased Henry Randall Dickinson, who was actually their biological great-grandfather.  Cruickshank explained the history to them as he knew it, urging them to not make any judgements until they knew the whole story.  And yes, this was a certitude.  DNA testing had been completed, and he gave them a copy of the results.  It indicated there was a ninety-nine percent probability of paternity.  He said that his client had been a little underhanded in obtaining this information, but felt it was necessary for their benefit.

     Cruickshank handed them a buff envelope sealed with a red wax.  He said that his instructions were for them to take the letter away and to read it in private.  He was not privy to its contents.  Half an hour later they pulled up in front of Paul’s apartment and went inside.  They looked at each other from across the kitchen table and Paul said, “Go ahead Joe, open it up.”  Joe broke the seal and withdrew a single folded sheet.  Then a key fell out and clattered on the table top.  Paul came around and looked over Joe’s shoulder.  Together they read.

Dear Paul and Joseph,

If you are reading this letter you have already had a discussion with Mr. Cruickshank about our shared heritage.  Although this news may come as a shock to you, please be comforted by knowing that you are derived from a long line of distinguished gentlemen.

My grandfather first acquired our family fortune during the Klondike gold rush in the late 19th century.  Much of the details are recorded in his diary which was continued by my father and subsequently by myself.  This legacy is now entrusted to your care.  The diary, a map and some important instructions will be found in a safety deposit box at The Royal Bank of Canada, main office.  The enclosed key and court certified documents will give you access.

Not to sound paranoid, but I strongly urge you to not tell anyone about what you will learn.  Trust no one!  Not your family, your best friends or even a legal confidante like Mr. Cruickshank.  There are those who will go to any length to acquire what you will find.

In my experience, I have found that the measure of one’s existence is not its length, but its depth.  So please use the fortune you find to enrich both the quality of your lives and those you love.

In closing let me say that my greatest regret was never meeting with both of you personally.

Most Sincerely,



     After the brothers presented a power of attorney to the accounts manager, they were asked for ID and then to sign the visitor’s register.  Finally they were escorted to the bank vault.  When both keys were inserted, the door to Dickenson’s deposit box opened and the clerk removed a large metal tray.  She handed it to Paul and asked if they would like to make use of one of the private cubicles.  When they were alone, Paul flipped open the lid and they gaped with amazement at the contents.  There was a dog-eared diary as expected, but also a deadly looking pistol and two large bars of what appeared to be gold.  Joe said, “What the ….!” And Paul exclaimed, “This is unbelievable!”  He picked up one of the bars and hefted it in one hand.  He said, “This must weigh at least five pounds!” Then he added excitedly, “Joe, do you have any idea what this is worth?”

     They emptied out the tray and switched the contents to Joe’s backpack.  After signing out they left the bank as quickly as decorum would permit, both irrationally afraid that someone would stop them and say this was all a mistake.  On the return to Paul’s apartment they were mostly silent, each one trying to absorb the implications of their sudden change in circumstances.  Sitting once again at the kitchen table they began to talk.  Both admitted that they weren’t upset about Dickinson’s claim of paternity.  After all, they had never even met any of their mother’s relatives.  The important thing for now was deciding what to do with the gold bars.  They figured that reading the diary would be a sensible first step.  Meantime, they buried the gold bars in a bag of Robin Hood flour and stuck the pistol in Paul’s sock drawer.

     Joe took the diary back to his dorm and began to read.  The first entry was dated October 1, 1897.  The diarist was James Dickinson who apparently was Henry Dickinson’s grandfather.  He wrote that gold had been discovered a year earlier at Bonanza Creek in Canada’s Yukon Territory.  This news had sparked one of the biggest gold rushes in history.  Thousands of would be miners left their jobs, homes and families with a fevered dream of easy riches.  Dickinson had left his wife behind in Toronto and made his way to Vancouver where he boarded a steamer which carried him to Skagway, Alaska.  There he acquired supplies and bought a mule which he led along the Chilkoot Trail and eventually over White Pass to the Yukon.  After a desperate winter of suffering untold hardships, he rafted up the Yukon River to the Klondike goldfields.

     By the time he arrived all of the best claims were already staked.  So he joined thousands of other men who were panning the ice cold rivers, living in primitive conditions and trying to survive the harsh climatic extremes of the northern wilderness.  In a long series of entries Dickinson described the deprivations and heartache which finally led to his decision to give up the dream and return home.  By then he was flat broke and just finding enough food to eat was difficult.  He made his way to Dawson City, prepared to accept any job that would pay for the cost of a meal and put a roof over his head.  That’s when he lucked out.  He was hired on as a mule skinner by a mining company, and became part of a small team tasked with transporting smelted gold, three hundred miles south to the railhead at Whitehorse.

     Early on the fourth morning out of Dawson city, the group was gathered around a fire drinking coffee.  It was then when one of the armed guards pulled a pistol and in rapid succession shot his compatriot guard and the two mule skinners, including James Dickinson.  Sometime later Dickinson slowly regained consciousness, his head pounding like a drum.  The bullet had creased his temple, but other than leaving a bloody gash it hadn’t done any permanent damage.  He raised himself to a sitting position and looked around in astonishment at the carnage.  Then he noticed the perpetrator of this villainy writhing on the ground in agony.  Apparently when he had attempted to pack up the mules, one of them had kicked him and shattered his knee.  Sizing up the situation, Dickinson quickly disarmed the man and clubbed him with his own pistol.

     As the diary records, James Dickinson did some fast thinking and then made a monumental decision.  When he led three of the mules away from the campsite, one was loaded with camp equipment and fodder, the other two with heavy saddle bags full of gold bars.  He figured there must be three hundred pounds of the precious metal.  As he departed, the injured guard begged Dickinson to not leave him behind, but his pleas fell on deaf ears.  He felt that the man deserved whatever nasty outcome fate had in store for him.  For the next few days Dickinson continued south, and then one afternoon he discovered the perfect cave which was situated on a mountain side some distance from the established trail.  He cached most of the gold inside the cave and then spent a full day concealing its entrance.

     Before leaving he marked the way to the cave with a distinctive but inconspicuous array of rocks.  Then over several days, while travelling to Whitehorse, he recorded precise distances and features of the land that would be essential in leading him back to his hoard.  He couldn’t convert any of the gold in Whitehorse without attraction unwanted attention, so with money he had taken from the bodies of his murdered associates, he purchased a new set of clothes and a train ticket to Toronto.   Secure in his bag were eight gold bars and Colt-45 Peacemaker.  Dickinson returned to the cave on just one occasion many years later.  His son subsequently made the journey in 1947 with his grandson Henry Randall Dickinson.  They referred to the cave and its golden contents as The Mother Lode.  


     Paul entered the premises of J. Lavinski & Sons bullion dealers who were located in a heritage building at Church and Wellesley.  He didn’t like the vibe from the moment he walked through the door.  The man behind the counter looked like a character out of a 1930’s B-movie, with a bad comb over and an unlit cigar in his mouth.  When he looked up Paul said, “I have a gold bar that I might like to sell.”  The man said, “Let’s take a look.” When Paul showed him the bar and his eyes lit up.  He asked Paul if he had a Certificate of Authenticity.  Paul said, “No, I don’t.”  He then asked about the bar’s origin.  Paul didn’t have a very convincing answer and the man said, “Hmm, I wonder what this hallmark is?”  He held up a magnifying glass and they could clearly see 24K stamped on the bar.  He asked if Paul would consider leaving the bar overnight so it could be tested to determine its precise weight and quality.  He said, “If this is the real deal, I might be able to offer you $1,800 U.S. an ounce.”  Paul knew that the current market price was closer to $2,000.

     The bullion dealer asked Paul if he had any more gold.  Paul foolishly admitted, “Yes, I do.”  The dealer said he would talk to his partner and see if they could offer a more competitive price.  Paul said he was uncomfortable leaving the gold bar out of his sight, but to call him if they were able to come up with a better price.  He added, “I’m in a bit of a hurry, so if I don’t hear from you in the next 24 hours I’ll have to go elsewhere.”  With a parting nod, he dropped his business card on the counter and walked out.  Paul had just broken one of the cardinal rules outlined in Dickinson’s diary.  The one that said do not ever attempt to convert gold bars through a second rate or dubious bullion dealer.

     After Paul returned home he did some research and determined that the Royal Bank was a major player in the precious metals market.  He called the bank and after a lengthy discussion with their bullion specialist, made an appointment for Joe and himself for the following morning.  That’s when his doorbell rang.  When he opened the door he found two tough looking men standing in the foyer.  One of them asked, “Are you Paul Lambert?” Joe responded with, “Who are you?” The man ignored the question and asked, “Is anyone else at home?” Joe said, “Screw you” and went to close the door.  The man pulled a gun and said, “Back up, you fucking jerk.” Before he could thumb-off the safely, Joe hit him with a right cross that sent him crashing to the floor.  The other man pulled a knife and Joe quickly jabbed him with several hard punches that rearranged his face.  Both men backed away and then scurried down the hall.

     Paul picked up the hand gun from the floor and thought, I’m developing quite an arsenal here.  He had already put two and two together and figured out who had sent the thugs, and what they were after.  He felt stupid for having visited the sleazy bullion dealer in spite of advice to the contrary, and leaving his business card which made it easy for them to track him down.  Paul called his brother and said, “We may have a problem.” He suggested that they get together right away to talk things out and develop a firm plan.  It might be necessary to do some damage control, or at least put some safeguards in place for the future.  He now thought they should be expeditious in securing their legacy, before it was somehow taken from them. 

     The brothers decided to put their normal lives on hold and to focus on the opportunity that had been given to them.  Joe would leave law school and Paul the real estate business.  They had no idea how much gold still remained hidden in the cave.  Had it possibly been discovered by someone?  Could they even find the location?  And, are there malicious forces out there that might compete with them to obtain this fortune?  The last point was particularly worrisome after what had happened to Paul the previous night.  He had managed to handle the threat on that occasion, but next time the opposition would be forewarned.  They would have to be very careful.  Several men had already died in circumstances surrounding this treasure.  The lure of gold could lead men to take desperate measures.

     The next day they opened a joint account at the Royal Bank and arranged for one of the gold bars to be sold.  The net proceeds were $201,578 Canadian dollars.  They also arranged for a safety deposit box where they lodged the other gold bar.  The bank’s representative assured them that the Royal would be pleased to accommodate any future bullion sales on their behalf.  The next step was changing the terms on Paul’s auto lease and swapping the Mercedes for a Ram 1500 pick-up truck.  They had decided to drive out west, being uncertain how much weight they might be carrying on the return.  Then, there was the issue of the handguns.  Neither of them were licensed to carry these weapons.  Certainly, they couldn’t fly with them.  But, they just might come in handy.


     When Jacob Levinski called Emile Djordjevic, the ‘Big Serb’ was watching as one of his underlings twisted a man’s arm in an attempt to collect an overdue gambling debt.  When he heard what Levinski had to say, his antenna had gone up.  The two had worked together before, always with a profitable outcome.  It was usually an even split based on Levinski providing information on a potential mark, and Djordjevic applying the muscle.  Both were well established in their respective businesses, had good connections, and made the right payoffs to remain beneath the police radar.  Djordjevic’s modus operandi was ‘violence first, and violence last.’ He felt that you had to crack a few eggs to make an omelet.

     The Big Serb had sent two of his enforcers to pay a visit on the punk real estate agent who was flashing around the gold bar.  Their job was to simply rough the guy up and walk away with the gold.  But, somehow things had gone off the rails.  Amazingly, both of the tough guys had been punched out. One of them had a fractured jaw and the other now looked like ‘Mr. Potato.’  They even managed to lose a valuable Glock automatic during this shit show.  The Serb was wondering if he needed to get involved personally.  Usually he tried to stay at arms-length, but apparently this gold bar was worth a fortune and Levinski said there might be more than one.  He decided to swing by to see his friend and find out what was really going on.

     Djordjevic was given the nickname ‘Big Serb’ due to his immense height and equally impressive waist line.  Most of the members of his organization just referred to him as ‘The Boss.’ It was almost a given that he was a member of the Serbian Mafia, and whether this was true or not, his tentacles extended well beyond the city of Toronto.  He often cooperated with other bosses on a quid pro quo basis, their collective deep pockets buying them protection from overzealous prosecutors.  The Big Serb was one nasty SOB, and heaven help anyone who crossed him.  There were a long string of murders that potentially led to his door, not to mention rumors of suspected crimes against humanity committed during the Yugoslav wars.  His current criminal activities included drug trafficking, prostitution, illegal gambling and anything else that turned a buck.

     Jacob Levinski had placed a follow-up call to Paul Lambert who told him he had transacted the sale of the gold bar through a chartered bank.  When he tried to inquire further, the prick had said, “Don’t call me again,” and abruptly ended the call.  It sounded like a dead end.  Just then the Big Serb filled the doorframe with his ample bulk.  When Levinski recounted his conversation with Lambert, Djordjevic asked, “Do you think he has any more gold?” It was a good question.  Lambert had told him that he did, but there was no way of knowing for sure.  The Serb also wondered where the gold bar had come from in the first place.  And, how did a young guy like that get his hands on it?  The bullion dealer suggested that the Serb send out some more capable people this time to squeeze the truth from him.

     The two men huddled around a table in Levinski’s private office sipping whiskey.  The bullion dealer spun a tale about a shipment of gold that had gone missing back in the days of the Klondike gold rush.  The mystery had been kept alive as bars of gold bearing a certain inscription had surfaced from time to time.  He thought the gold bar that Lambert had might be another of them.  He’d examined it carefully and noted that the style of the 24K hallmark on the bar was exactly what mining companies had used in that era.  If this was one of the missing bars, there was a good chance that the kid could have more of them.  The missing shipment had consisted of sixty bars, and would have a worth of over twelve million dollars at current day prices.

     Late that night a team of the Big Serb’s men kicked in Paul Lambert’s door.  He wasn’t there, so they tore the place apart looking for clues to reveal more about his identity and possible whereabouts.  They discovered that he had a brother named Joe who was a local resident.  Also, that he had recently traded vehicles at a local car dealership.  Apparently his lawyer’s name was David Cruickshank.  Djordjevic called a private detective and instructed him to put the pieces of the puzzle together fast, and find out where Lambert was situated.  Twenty-four hours later the detective reported that a series of gasoline and restaurant charges had recently been debited to Lambert’s credit card.  The paper trail led from Toronto to Calgary, Alberta.

     The Big Serb summoned his top lieutenant, Bogdan Divjak.  Divjak was a former operator in the Serbian 72nd Special Forces Brigade.  He was a stone cold killer.  Djordjevic briefed him on the situation, and told him to make the job of locating Lambert his top priority.  The objective was to track down Paul Lambert and find out everything he knew about the gold.  Any and all resources of the organization would be put at his disposal, including help from their criminal colleagues in Calgary.  The detective would also continue to monitor the credit card charges and keep him appraised.  The Serb warned him not to kill Lambert until he was absolutely certain he had extracted every bit of useful information from him about the gold.  He should also try to find a way to access the man’s bank account.  Then, you can kill him.


     Paul and Joe Lambert spent one night in Calgary and then began the long drive north to Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory.  They weren’t in a particular hurry, planning to take three days to reach their destination.  Up to that point there had been no reason to think they were being followed, although they had received a strange call from Mr. Cruickshank who warned that a hard looking man had come to his office asking questions about them.  When he refused to provide any information, the man become threatening and his secretary had to call security.  Paul called the manager of the real estate office, and got a similar story.  Apparently two men had come by and leaned on the poor woman, demanding to know Paul’s whereabouts.

     Both of them now were now experiencing serious doubts over what they had gotten themselves into.  Paul felt bad thinking he had probably triggered the whole thing by going to see that questionable bullion dealer.  Now, increasingly concerned, they made a few more calls and learned that Paul’s apartment had been broken into and vandalized, and their grandmother had received a call from a very insistent man who was looking for them.  They wondered how dedicated their pursuers might be.  Joe said, “There is potentially a ton of money at stake and we already have close to $200,000 in the joint bank account.”  Paul piped in, “Double that if we sell the gold bar in our safety deposit box, plus who knows how much from what might be in the cave.”  He added, “That’s a lot of motivation!”  

     They pulled into a lodge about three hours north of Edmonton.  By now they were deep in the boons, and the thought that someone might be following didn’t even occur to them.  Joe grabbed a six-pack from the chest freezer in the back of the truck, and they prepared to settle in for a relaxing evening.  An hour later they were munching on pizza in the lodge’s dining room when Joe’s phone lit up.  He checked the call display and said, “Hello.” It was a very distraught woman calling from the law firm of Cruickshank & Rich.  She tearfully informed Joe that Mr. Cruickshank had been murdered in his home the previous evening, and sadly his lovely wife Margaret had been killed as well.  When the police interviewed the firm’s employees, someone remembered that a belligerent man had been ejected from the office a few days earlier after inquiring about Paul and Joseph Lambert.

     The brothers were appalled by this shocking news.  They couldn’t believe that the gracious lawyer they had met just days ago had been killed, possibly over a matter relating to them.  The woman from Cruickshank’s office said she was really calling to alert them to their own possible danger.  She also mentioned that detectives from the Toronto Metropolitan Police were anxious to speak with them.  Paul had turned his cell phone off earlier.  Now he checked for messages.  There were three messages, all left by a Detective Burkhart, each one increasingly insistent that he call back.  Paul looked at Joe and asked, “What should we do?” They both agreed that talking to the police right now would just open up a big can of worms.  Besides, it might seem suspicious that they were half way across the country, right after the murders.  Joe urged, “Don’t call anyone until we think this through.”

     Two days later they pulled into Whitehorse and checked into a downtown hotel.  They both felt a sense of excitement knowing they were just a few hour’s drive from the location of the cave.  The original directions recorded in James Dickinson’s diary gave a detailed description of each landmark and waterway as he made his southerly journey from the cave to Whitehorse.  In 1947 when his son Robert and grandson Henry made the journey, they recorded the precise number of miles from Whitehorse to where you leave the Klondike Highway and begin to trek inland.  In preparation, Joe and Paul had stopped at Mountain Equipment Co-op in Calgary and purchased two backpacks, a lightweight tent, sleeping bags and other items that would be needed if they had to camp out for a night or two.  The also stopped at Home Hardware and bought a pick, two shovels and a crow bar.

     The next morning they gassed up and headed out of town.  Other than the occasional truck heading south to Whitehorse there was no traffic.  Two hours later when they had travelled the precise indicated distance, Paul pulled to the side of the highway.  There was nothing to distinguish this spot, so they could only have faith in the accuracy of the diary.  Paul made a wide right turn, crossed to the opposite side and edged into the trees.  He wound through a thick grown of pines, deep enough that the truck would be hidden from the eyes of passers-by.  They loaded their gear in the pack packs and prepared to set out.  Before he locked the truck, Paul debated whether or not to leave the Glock in the glove box.  Hmm, he thought, best to be prepared.  He tucked the weapon into his belt.  Joe led the way.  The instructions in the diary were to proceed through the forest until you reach the nearest mountain.

     Beyond the tree line their first landmark was in plain sight.  It was a needle like promontory about half a kilometer away.  Once they reached its’ base, they turned and walked along a gully until they came upon a small rock cairn.  It sat at the mouth of a narrow cleft which cut into the mountain side.  They followed this to where the passage was partially blocked by a rock slide.  According to the diary these rocks had been placed there at great effort to conceal the entrance to the cave.  Joe gave an excited whoop and they congratulated each other on their success in finding this place, literally in the middle of nowhere.  By then it was late afternoon, so they decided to find a level spot nearby to set up camp.  They would return in the morning to begin the excavation.


     Lawyer David Cruickshank apparently had known more about Henry Dickinson’s personal affairs than he let on to Paul and Joe.  He had even found a way to read the contents of the sealed letter.  His justification for this ‘in his mind’ was to be better informed to carry out his fiduciary duties.    When Bogdan Divjak had begun to snip off his wife’s manicured toes, the lawyer sang like a bird.   When he left the Cruickshank residence, he was in possession of a lot of information.  The Big Serb wouldn’t be happy about the dead bodies, but he couldn’t resist killing that arrogant bastard.   The pretty wife was just collateral damage.  The following day he caught a flight to Whitehorse via Calgary.  Boss Djordjevic had contacted his counterpart in Calgary and arranged to have a handgun delivered to Divjak’s final destination.  Meantime, the private detective confirmed that the trail of credit card entries had ended with a gas station purchase in Whitehorse.

     When Divjak checked into the Westmark Hotel in Whitehorse, a package was waiting for him. He opened it and was pleased to find a Colt Python pistol and a box of .357 cartridges.  He checked the action and then placed the weapon in his day pack.  Next, he walked a few blocks from the hotel to a car rental agency and picked out a Jeep Cherokee.  The driver ID and credit card he presented were both issued in a false name.  His plan was to stake out the Klondike Highway north of Whitehorse and wait for the Lambert brothers to return from wherever they were.  Since there had been no credit card activity for the past two days, he figured they were somewhere between Whitehorse and Dawson City.  And, whatever they were doing probably had something to do with the gold.  He had obtained the make, colour and licence plate number on their truck from the dealership in Toronto.  Watching for them would just require patience.

     Divjak sat there like a spider for three days.  He had found a good spot a few miles outside of town where he parked the Jeep in a secluded grove of trees.  From this location he had a perfect view of the sparse southbound traffic advancing along the Klondike Highway.  He had purchased a pair of high powered binoculars which he focused on each approaching vehicle.  Three times each day he would return to the outskirts of Whitehorse to purchase fast food at Tim Hortons or the Burger King drive-through, all the while keeping an eye on the highway.  Once an RCMP patrol car stopped and the officer asked if he needed any help.  He said no he was doing a road survey, and that seemed to satisfy any concern.  His patience finally paid off when a black Ram pick-up with Ontario plates motored past.

     He started up the Jeep and spun the wheels as he pulled out of the secluded blind.  Now, hot on the tail of the pick-up truck, he had to remind himself to be smart and not follow too closely.  The Lamberts stopped at a gas bar at the edge of town, and then surprised him by taking the highway past Whitehorse and heading south.  He fell back and maintained a discreet distance, regretting now that he had picked a vehicle that was screaming cherry red.  As the hours passed, Divjak was glad his fuel tank had been topped up before beginning the pursuit.  He wondered, where the hell are they going? At dusk he became increasingly concerned about the possibility of hitting a wild animal.  That would certainly screw up his plans, an option that was unacceptable.  He shortened the distance between them, eyes fixed on their taillights.  By midnight, it looked as if they intended to drive all night.

     Divjak was bleary eyed and fighting to stay awake as the two vehicles approached Edmonton.  They had been driving steadily for two days, with only occasional pit stops to fuel up or use a restroom.  The two brothers had the luxury of taking turns at the wheel.  One would doze while the other was driving.  Where were they going in such a hurry?  He was half tempted to run them off the road and get it over with.  There was hardly any traffic.  There’d be no witnesses.  But no, he thought.  That’s not a sensible plan.  He would continue to be patient, knowing that the perfect opportunity would soon present itself.  Meanwhile, he wondered where they had been for the two days they were off the grid.  And, what might be hidden in the back of that truck?

     The cat and mouse continued all the way to Calgary.  By then Divjak was totally exhausted and felt like a zombie.  He followed the pick-up truck as it wound through the city streets and finally came to a halt outside of an ultra-secure self-storage compound.  The Lamberts went into the office and half an hour later came out and got back into their truck.  The razor wire topped gate to the compound opened and they drove inside.  Divjak was frustrated, but all he could do was wait for them to exit.   The gate opened again and they pulled out.  He followed them downtown until they entered the underground parking garage of the Hyatt Regency.  Rather than follow them, he left the Jeep in a nearby parking lot and walked into the lobby of the hotel.  

     Divjak hovered near reception as the Lamberts checked in.  The lobby was buzzing with activity, so his presence didn’t seem out of the ordinary.  He leaned against a pillar and pretended to read a newspaper while straining   his ears to hear the voices at the reception desk.  He marveled at the elegance of Calgary’s top rated hotel and thought, these boys aren’t on a budget.  As they walked towards the elevator he managed to slip in just ahead of them.  One of the young men pushed a button for the 19th floor.  He pushed the 20th.  In assessing them, he smiled to himself, this should be easy.  The one guy was pretty fit looking.  But, nothing he couldn’t handle.  When the elevator door opened, he waited until they stepped out.  Then he drew his gun and followed. 


     Paul and Joe found some reasonably level ground near the cave, then set about erecting the tent and settling in for the night.  There was no wood in the immediate vicinity, so there would be no cheery campfire.  They used a Jetboil propane stove to heat water to prepare a packet of freeze dried Irish stew.  It wasn’t the greatest, but in the circumstances they deemed it to be adequate.  After they finished the meal, it was time to lay out the sleeping bags and air mattresses.  By then it was ten o’clock at night, but darkness had not yet fallen over this northern land of the midnight sun.  Sleep eluded them as the fading light filtered through the roof of the tent.  Laying there, the brothers quietly speculated about what the morrow might bring.  They wondered, would they find more gold? If so, what should they do with it?  And more importantly, what sinister forces might now be aligned against them.

     They finally slept, and early the next morning they made coffee before returning to the cave’s entrance to begin the excavation.  There was a ton of rubble blocking the narrow passageway in front of the cave.  It almost appeared as if someone had once created a rock slide from above.  There was no way this much rock could have been placed by hand.  Joe clambered up to the top of the pile and with the pick began to dislodge individual rocks.  As they rolled down the slight slope, Paul tossed them aside into a separate pile.  After about an hour’s work a small opening was cleared, and as the rubble was further cleared away the breadth of the cave’s entrance was revealed.  Joe gave a whoop of excitement and the two boys redoubled their efforts until a secure access had been created.  Finally they peered eagerly into the cave, but couldn’t see anything in the gloomy unlit interior.  Joe rushed back to their campsite to fetch a flashlight.

     As the beam of the flashlight penetrated the darkness, Joe and Paul edged through the narrow opening and were at once astounded by the expansive size of the cave.  They proceeded several steps, cautious not to bang their heads on the jagged ceiling.  Joe swept the beam back and forth across the floor, passing once over an odd huddled object.  When he refocused the light to examine the anomaly, they both cried out, “Jesus Christ!”  Laying before them were human remains, the jaws of the skull twisted in a horrible rictus smile.  Looking closer, they could see bits of rotted clothing that still clung to the skeleton, and a hole in the skull which erased any doubt as to the cause of death.  In a hushed voice Paul said, “What the bloody hell is this?”
There was no mention of a body in Dickenson’s diary.  They both wondered how many people had died on account of this gold.

     They stepped carefully around the remains and near the far end of the cave found a pile of rotted harness and miscellaneous objects, as well as two double saddlebags.  “This could be it,” said Paul.  Joe focused the flashlight as Paul opened the flap on one of the bags and reached inside.  “Nothing” he cried with disappointment.  The opposite side was empty as well.  Now deflated, he shifted to the second pair of saddlebags.  He tried to draw them towards him, but the weight was too much.  They wouldn’t budge.  The leather around the buckles was rotted and just disintegrated as he tried to open up the bag.  Yanking on it, Paul lifted the flap and shouted excitedly as he withdrew a heavy gold bar.  He handed the bar to Joe who with reverent awe whispered, “This is the mother Lode.”

     It took three trips back and forth to carry the gold from the cave into the light of day.  There were thirty bars in total, each weighing five pounds.  Joe did a quick calculation and said, “This is worth about six million dollars!” Paul responded, “Unbelievable!”  I wonder why the Dickinson’s left it here.”  It seemed a mystery.  Was it the weight?  Maybe they only took what they needed.  Hmm?  But, why run the risk of someone else discovering the hoard?  The brothers re-entered the cave and gave it a thorough search.  They found nothing of further interest, or any clue to help solve the mystery of the skeletal remains.  Now it was a matter of humping the gold back through the forest to the truck.  They figured it would take at least two trips to carry out 150 pounds of gold.  They were eager to get started, but it was already mid-afternoon.  Paul suggested that they stay and camp for the night, and start out early the next day.  In the meantime, they could fill in the entrance to the cave and seal off its grisly contents.

     The next morning they trekked out to the highway, each carrying a rucksack filled with forty pounds of gold bars.  It was a two hour slog through the dense forest and they were exhausted by the time they reached the truck.  Rather than leaving the gold in the truck, as a precaution, they carefully hid the bars nearby under a pile of leaves.  Then after a short rest, they headed back to secure the remainder of the treasure.  Before loading up for a second time, they collapsed the tent and buried it along with the other camping equipment under a pile of rocks.  Later when they reached the truck, they loaded the gold and then pulled out onto the Klondike Highway.  Driving carefully within the speed limit, they headed south towards Whitehorse.  Joe and Paul had a lot of important issues to talk about.  

     Two hours later they pulled into a gas bar on the outskirts of Whitehorse.  Joe had noticed the red Cherokee almost immediately in the rear view mirror, alerted by squealing tires as it ripped out of the grove of trees.  The driver did a sharp U-turn and began to follow them.  Now the Cherokee was pulled up near the variety store a short distance from the pumps.  While Paul filled the tank, Joe walked into the store to purchase bottled water and some snacks.  As he passed the Cherokee, the driver looked discretely away.  But not before Joe caught a glimpse of his facial profile.  He appeared to be a large man, with a shaved head and a thick mustache.  When he returned to the truck, the red Cherokee was idling at the far side of the lot.  Joe and Paul exited the gas bar and took the southbound ramp leading towards Edmonton.  A few moments later the Cherokee followed.



     As the Lamberts entered the elevator at the Hyatt Regency, Bogdan Divjak was already on board, his face hidden behind the pages of the Calgary Harald.  When the doors opened on the 19th floor, the boys stepped out and followed the signage pointing the way to their room.  There were one or two other hotel patrons in the hallway, and a Filipino woman was bustling around a housekeeping cart.  After entering the room Paul closed the door and flipped the security latch.  The next order of business was to retrieve a couple of beers from the minibar.  The boys cracked the beers and sat down in the seating area of the handsomely appointed suite.  To get a little more comfortable, Paul withdrew the Glock from around his waist and placed it on the coffee table.

     They had been aware of being followed by the red Cherokee during the drive all the way from Whitehorse to Calgary.  When Paul walked aggressively towards the vehicle outside of the self-storage facility, the driver had just roared off.  Later, as they approached the hotel, Joe had spotted the tail again, a few cars back in the traffic.  They wondered, who the hell in this guy?  And what was his connection to the sleazy bullion dealer, or heaven forbid the murder of the Cruickshank’s.  This was going to be a problem.  Even though the gold had been temporarily secured in storage, it now seemed as if they couldn’t make a move without being followed.  The man was obviously after the gold bars, and it was scary to think of what lengths he might go to get his hands on them.

     As the boys sat there talking, there was an unexpected knock on the door.  Paul walked over and peered through the peephole, but could see nothing except the blank wall across the corridor.  That’s when he made a big mistake.  When he cautiously cracked open the door, Bogdan Divjak kicked it in and burst through with a pistol in his hand.  Paul recovered quickly and responded with a powerful punch which staggered the man.  Then he moved in fast with a flurry of blows to the intruder’s body which drove him back against the closed door.  The pistol slipped from his fingers and clattered across the floor.  Just for a moment the two men were locked together, and then Paul gasped and slipped to his knees.  Divjak pushed him away and turned to face Joe with a bloody knife in his hand.  When Joe fired the Glock, Divjak jerked like a puppet on a string.

     Joe rushed over to where Paul lay curled in the fetal position.  As he turned him over, Paul smiled just as the light dimmed in his eyes.  He was dead.  Divjak had jammed the knife right up into his heart.  Suddenly there was an urgent knock on the door.  Gathering his wits, Joe pocketed the pistol and opened up to face the concerned housekeeper.  He said, “Sorry, we turned on the TV and the volume was turned up to the max.” Thus assured, the woman left to resume here duties.  Joe closed the door and went over to his brother’s body.  He stood there for a moment in shock.  Then he checked for a pulse, still unable to believe that Paul was dead.  It was then that the intruder made an awful gurgling sound.  Joe looked over at him as the man pulled himself up to a sitting positon against the wall.

     The man was gut shot, and based on the dark color of the blood spreading across the floor the bullet had probably passed through his liver.  He was as good as dead, but it would take a while and the wait wouldn’t be much fun.  As Joe approached him, the man chuckled and said, “The Big Serb won’t like this.” Joe pointed the Glock at him, but then thought we don’t want any more loud noises.  Gasping for air, the man once again said something about the Big Serb.  Joe looked at him with hatred.  Then he snarled, “Who sent you, you basterd?  Why have you been following us?”  The man looked up and with a thick Eastern European accent said, “I tell you nothing.”  Joe picked up the razor sharp knife and said, “We’ll see about that.”

     When Joe left the hotel later that night be wore a baseball cap pulled low over his eyes.  He carried a day pack containing the knife, handguns and the wallets of the two men left behind in the room.  He had wiped the room clean of fingerprints and left the DO NOT DISTURB sign on the door.  Joe was reluctant to leave his brother’s body behind, but at this point the police would be asking too many questions.  They would undoubtedly connect the mayhem in the hotel room to the Cruickshank murders.  This would further implicate the two brothers, and he knew that legally he was on thin ice.  Although Paul had used his credit card at check-in, Joe’s face would also show up on the Hyatt’s closed-circuit TV cameras.  And, he knew that in spite of his efforts, forensics would probably place him at the murder scene.  It was time to disappear.

     When the Royal Bank opened the next morning, Joe withdrew a substantial amount of cash from the joint account.  Then he drove Paul’s truck to a secluded spot along the Bow River and tossed in the two handguns and the knife.  He dropped off the truck at a long term parking garage and paid for a full year in advance.  At the Calgary International Airport he purchased a business class ticket to Toronto with cash, using Divjak’s fake ID.  When he arrived Joe was still wearing his baseball cap.  He figured between the hat and two weeks of new facial growth, it would be hard to pick him out on CCTV.  In any case, he tried to keep his head lowered.  Joe ubered downtown to a third rate hotel and checked in under an assumed name.  He paid cash up front for the first week, and the man at the desk was happy to forgo the usual formalities.  Once in his room, Joe set up his new laptop.  Then he took a deep dive into the dark web to learn everything possible about burner phones, buying a fake ID, and setting up an offshore banking account.


     Herbert Dickinson aka Joe lambert sipped a Corona as he stretched out on a lounger at the Nassau Beach Hotel.  The sun was shining and life was a beach.  Except it wasn’t.  Since his return to Toronto six months earlier, Joe had put a number of initiatives in motion.  First he had retrieved the gold from Calgary and converted the bullion to cash.  This was transferred to his new offshore account in Belize and invested in a portfolio of high quality securities.  A complete new identity including a passport had been arranged through an anonymous contact on the dark web.  Joe Lambert had been reborn, although the Toronto and Calgary police still considered his previous rendition to be a person of interest.  Mr. Jacob Levinski was no longer in the bullion business.  Joe had paid Lavinski a visit late one night and they had a nice talk about the Big Serb before the encounter had ended badly for him.

     Emil Djordjeviv was a more difficult target.  Heavily guarded, it took Joe several weeks to find a flaw in his security.  In the end though, Joe was able to explain that he was the one who had eliminated Bogdan Divjak, and was now there to offer the Big Serb the same service.  Djordjevic and begged for his life, but the former law student had become a vengeful killer.

     So, now he sat around the pool basking in his new identity.  The sun was shining, but his beloved brother was dead.  His dream of one day becoming a trial lawyer was gone, and he had no friend that he could share his story with.  The lure of gold had brought with it a terrible curse.  Joe thought sadly of the biblical quotation: 

‘For what shall it profit a man,

if he should gain the whole world,

but lose his soul.’

By Michael Barlett


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