Harry's Gambit

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Contest Portion of Harry Hid It Cancelled

When we decided to incorporate the Harry Hid It contest with the book, we did so with all good faith and intentions. We contracted with a third party to run the contest to stay out of the actual implementation of it and to keep it above board. Nobody wanted to see the prize winnings reach its upper limit more than us.

 However, the reality of it all set in as time went on. As it turns out, you can have a great book (and every formal review and reader response indicates Harry Hid It was exactly that), but if you do not have the money behind you, it is almost impossible to promote a book on the scale it needs to be a financial success. Unlike Harry in the story, we didn’t have the means to go out and take the money we needed for the full scale advertising needed in this day and age. We put Harry together on a shoestring budget and figured it would take off well enough to pay out the prize money. Since we were taking a dollar of every sale (book and e-book), we only needed to sell 5000 books to fund the prize money as well as meet all the writing, publishing, and advertising expenses.

We didn’t even get close. The contest even handicapped us with using some traditional publishers and advertisers. We completely understand your frustration and feel terrible that we had to cancel the contest. We worked so hard and invested every penny we have into this idea. Cancelling the contest was a very difficult decision for us to make. We are truly sorry to let down all our readers. Please accept our sincerest apologies.


The good news for fans of Harry Strickland is that his new adventures will be published in December 2017. The first chapter of the new book will be previewed here on June 19, 2017 and will include the solution of where Harry Strickland hid his loot from Harry Hid It

Top Fiction Books


The second book of the Harry Strickland series.

Here is the prologue, which answers the question of where "Harry Hid It" from the first book.

Pahaquarry Copper Mine

 

                                  Prologue
“Ooof.”
            Harry Strickland flew backwards and fell on his ass as the black Bouvier des Flandres hit him in the chest. At almost a hundred pounds while launching himself with the speed of a track star, the dog landed on Harry and started licking his face all over. The black dog leaped back and forth over the man as Harry tried to wrap his arms around the excited animal. The dog finally calmed down as Harry hugged him tight.
            “Max,” he said. “I’m fine. I missed you too, you big mutt.” Harry could feel his eyes water slightly. “Damn,” he thought, “I am out.”
            A shadow fell over the two on the ground. Harry heard a deep male voice say, “You know, if I wasn’t such a rough and tough ex-football player, this reunion would bring tears to my eyes.”
            Harry looked up as a baseball glove-sized hand reached down. Harry reached up and took it. Suddenly he was back on his feet as if his 6’2” 190-pound frame was nothing more than a sack of flour. He let out another “Ooof” as he found himself in a bear hug by the big black man.
            “Geez, Art, I don’t want to go from prison to the hospital in my first five minutes. This year sucked as it is. Let me breathe, man.” There was humor in his voice as Harry was happy to see his old friend.
            The proprietor of the tavern near Harry’s home let him go and held him at arm’s length. “You know, you look pretty good for a guy in the slammer for a year.”
            Harry gave a rueful grin. “I could have done a lot worse. These places are not the country club the news stories would have you believe, but it wasn’t like I was in solitary for a year. I used the gym, read, and was allowed to work on my paintings. Hell, I even did a portrait of the warden’s wife.”
            Art looked down at two canvases on the ground next to the small bag Harry was carrying when Max took him down. “I see you brought a couple with you.”
            Harry bent down and picked them up and showed them to Art. They were landscapes from the fall and winter of the same location. A stream meandered through a small valley of hills with trees all around. “There is a hell of a view from the south wall. They let me climb up there and paint a couple times.”
Harry looked around. “No, offense, Art. I love seeing you. Your joint was first on my list to visit when I got home. I thought Karyn was going to pick me up.”
            An uncomfortable frown passed over the big man’s face. “Yeah, I know. About three weeks ago, Karyn came in and asked if I could watch Max. She said she had to go out of town on an assignment. I haven’t seen her since or heard from her. I watched Max a couple times before when the FBI had her out of the area, but it was never more than a few days and she always called to check in.
           Harry gave a nod. That coincided with the last time Karyn visited him. She wrote often, but had heard nothing in three weeks.
           FBI Agent Karyn Dudek had visited him almost every week for the past year. It was a long drive from Long Island to Loretto, Pennsylvania where the federal prison Harry called home for 12 months was located. Together, he and Karyn had put a very bad mobster out of the picture and interrupted the drug traffic in the New York City area. In order that all bases were covered, Harry did a year in the federal pen for a weapon’s charge. It was bullshit, but needed to be done for everyone to emerge from that mess with their hands clean. In the process, he and Karyn fell into a relationship. They only had a chance to get into bed once before he had to enter the federal penitentiary system. Before he left, Harry let Karyn move into his small house and take care of Max.
            Harry sighed. “Let’s get back home. I am dying for one of your burgers.”
            Max, Art, and Harry went over to Art’s Ford Escape. When Harry buckled himself into the front seat, Max tried to sit on his lap. Harry pushed the dog in the back and kept his hand scratching the dog behind the ear. “I guess Max didn’t forget me.”
            Art let out a snort. “Are you kidding? I swear he was depressed the first three months you were gone. He took to Karyn and started perking up, but you could tell he was missing you. I didn’t even say your name when we started driving out here this morning, but he seemed to know. He was almost jumping out of the window as we pulled into the prison parking lot.”
            I’m glad to see him.” He smiled. “Karyn tried to bring him, but even her FBI status couldn’t pull that off.”
            They continued driving through the Pennsylvania countryside. Art eventually made it up to Route 80 and headed east. Harry had him roaring with laughter at some of his stories from prison, while Art caught him up on happenings on Long Island and the people they knew.
            As the car crossed the bridge going across the Delaware Water Gap into New Jersey, Harry gave a thoughtful look past Art as he looked north up the river. He felt his pulse quicken an hour later as he saw the New York City skyline for the first time in a year. When Art finally pulled into Harry’s driveway, Harry had to blink away some moistness he felt in his eyes. “Geez, twice in one day,” he thought. “Hope I’m not going soft.” Seeing his home made him feel as if the last weight he had on his shoulders fell away.
            It was now dark out after the six-hour return trip.  Art gave Harry the key he had kept for him. “Come over tomorrow evening for a welcome home meal. Jeannie is looking forward to seeing you.”
            “Yeah, I’ve missed her sarcastic mouth too,” said Harry. “Thanks for coming to get me.”
            “That’s what friends are for,” he said, as he climbed back into his vehicle and drove off.
             Max sat next to Harry as his master took in the view of his house and small yard. As he took a deep breath, Harry mumbled to himself, “I guess this is what freedom smells like.” Louder, he said to Max, “God, I’ve turned corny in prison. Let’s go inside, Max.”
             The dog beat him to the door. Harry turned the key and pushed. He found himself in very familiar surroundings. It didn’t look like Karyn had changed anything, even though he told her she could. He slowly walked around. The house had a sense of being empty for a while. The air smelled stale. Looking into the refrigerator, he didn’t find much. The small container of milk expired two weeks earlier.
            Harry worked his way upstairs. He found his bedroom and looked through the drawers and closets. He saw all his clothes. Well, one drawer was filled with frilly bras and panties, and he wondered where the woman was who wore them. Some of her clothes were in the closet, but not as much as he would have thought. He knew Karyn had totally moved into his place within a month of him being relocated to Pennsylvania.
            A constant concern in Harry’s mind was whether he lost any of his edge in prison. Not having a great deal to do for a year made him feel like he was rusting away his brains and instinct. Right now, those fears seemed to be confirmed. He didn’t know what to think. One thing Harry Strickland could always count on was never running out of ideas.
            He stripped and went into the bathroom. He took the longest shower of his life as he washed away a wasted year stuck behind a fence. He toweled off and threw himself on his bed. He closed his eyes as he heard the thump of Max lay on the floor next to him.
            Harry’s eyes shot open. He saw it was 3:35 in the morning according to the clock on the nightstand. He was surprised he actually slept. Realizing a nagging feeling in his mind woke him up, Harry sprang into action. He threw on old comfortable jeans and a sweatshirt. Going to a closet, he found his old hiking boots and whistled to Max as he went downstairs.
            Karyn had left all his jackets hanging on a rack by the door. Finding the New Jersey Forest Service jacket and matching ballcap, he put them on and fished through a bowl of keys on a small table. He gave a grunt of satisfaction when he found the one he wanted.
            He and Max walked outside and he opened the garage door. He had a double garage and on one side was a Chevy Cruze while the other had an old Camero he had been restoring. They both ran well, but he took the more nondescript Chevy.
            Soon he and Max were zipping across the George Washington Bridge back into New Jersey. He retraced the route he and Art took the day before across Route 80. This time, though, he was not crossing back into Pennsylvania. Just as Harry was approaching the bridge leading over the Delaware Water Gap, he veered off at the last exit. He drove a little way until he came to a traffic light. He stopped at the red light and waited.
            It was an odd light, because it controlled traffic on a one lane road. Years before, the hillside had fallen down and turned a two-lane road into one. Now, you had to wait for all the traffic to come through the light before you could proceed.
            At this time of day, Harry just sat idly tapping the wheel as no vehicles were coming from the other direction. Finally, the light turned green and he stepped on the accelerator. He made his way down the one lane road until it opened up to its original size after a mile. Now he was travelling with the Delaware River on his left as he drove north.
            After almost half an hour he pulled into a clearing. Looking out as the sun began to shine on the river, Harry nodded to himself in satisfaction. This was one of the best landscapes he ever painted. It had a prominent place in his gallery room at the house. It was also one of the clues he left behind for his friend John, in case anything happened to him.
            Harry spent the few months before he went to prison raising money. He did it the old-fashioned way. He stole it. After taking some big chances stealing a few cars for a friend, Harry realized he didn’t want that life. He also didn’t want to be a career criminal. He set out doing big jobs that would bring a lot of cash into his pocket with minimal risk. Knowing that greed often led to a crook’s downfall, Harry had made a pact with his two friends, Ozzie and John, to sit on most of their loot for a couple of years until the heat was completely off them.
            As for the $5 million or so they got away with, Harry was the only person who knew where he hid it. He told John, who was as smart as Harry, that he would leave clues to figure out where the money was if something happened to Harry. Ozzie wouldn’t have been able to find the loot if Harry drew a map with a big “X” on it.
            Harry patted his heart and then pointed up to the sky in tribute to his friends. Harry survived; Ozzie and John died.
            Harry implied to Karyn that there were clues around. He thought about this as he trudged up the hill with Max at his heels. He was climbing up to the old Pahaquarry Copper Mines. The original mines were opened by Dutch settlers back in the 1700’s before the Revolutionary War. They didn’t find a lot of copper and it wasn’t worth continuing, but they did make some impressive holes in the side of the mountain.
             Harry had left a piece of copper ore he found at the site as well as some old mining reports and history of the area at his house. He figured with that and the landscape and the painting he did of a half-finished copper penny, John or Karyn’s wheels would begin to turn. He knew he could have confided in Karyn, but what would have been the fun in that!
             Not much had changed in a year. One reason Harry picked this area was because it wasn’t heavily travelled. He knew the trail eventually went up to the Appalachian Trail, but little used. Right now, he was passing the ruins of an old Boy Scout camp abandoned in the early 1970’s. Even after all this time, he could see where campsites had been laid out.
            Soon, he and Max came upon the first mine. The National Park Service had secured steal gates across the entrances so people couldn’t wander into the shafts. You could see in, but that was about it.  Harry passed the first mine and continued uphill for ten more minutes. He reflected what a bitch it was to lug money and jewels up to this place. Everything was in watertight plastic bins, but it took all his strength and endurance every time he bought a new cache of booty up to here.
             Finally, he turned off the main trail, and took a side path. It didn’t look like anyone hiked here recently. He felt good about that. Almost overgrown with bushes, he found the mine entrance he wanted. It looked like a cave set into the rock. He knew it went about thirty feet deep into the hillside, on a level plane.
             The heavy grate secured in the rock was wound tightly closed with a large chain and a padlock that would need a bazooka to blow it away. Harry noted with satisfaction that everything seemed to be just as he left it. He took a calculated gamble hiding everything here. As with everything, he had done his research. For decades, these old mines had been open to the public. This was the longest one, but it didn’t go in all that deep. All the mines were formed out of solid rock. People couldn’t get lost in them, and you had better odds to win the lottery than being buried in a cave-in.
             Harry had read the park service was chaining them up so people couldn’t party in them. People could still look through the grates to see what a 250-year copper mine looked like, but you pretty much saw all you needed by looking in the entrance. Harry hiked all over the area finding the right one to use. He had simply replaced the park service chain and lock with one of his own that was better and stronger.
              The key quickly opened the padlock and he took out a flashlight and entered. As he always used to do, Max sat down at the entrance. He looked like he was guarding it, but Harry knew the big wuss was afraid to go inside!
               Stooping down, Harry quickly went to the rear of the tunnel. There was a pile of large rocks leaning against the side wall. He moved them out of the way until he had an opening three feet square exposed. On the other side was a very small chamber that was big enough to hold the plastic containers that held cash, diamonds, and gems.
               Sticking his head in, Harry flashed his light around at the empty walls. There was nothing! Five million dollars was gone. This is where he hid it! Where the fuck was it?