Thomas Calabrese — Alchemy is the medieval forerunner of chemistry and is based on the transformation of solid matter. It was concerned particularly with converting base metals into gold. The ancient alchemist’s efforts in making this valuable resource from other minerals has been an impossible dream that has been passed down from generation to generation. Chrysopoeia is the actual term for the artificial production of gold from lead. While some poor imitations of gold have been manufactured by nuclear reactors, the production costs were many times more expensive than the market price for this low quality of gold.
One of the most closely guarded secrets in history is that the formula to create gold was actually successfully developed in the late 1920’s in West Orange, New Jersey by Martin Garch, an associate and close friend of Thomas Edison with the help of an inspirational dream. Answers that had eluded the illustrious scientist during countless hours of painstaking research were now suddenly clear to him. There was no ambiguity in the warning that came with them. “With this discovery comes great risk and responsibility. Think carefully before proceeding further.”
Garch couldn’t wait to get to his laboratory early the next morning to find out if what he had been given was actually true or just a figment of an imagination fueled by years of desperation. He recalculated several components of his original theory and was encouraged by the initial results during the first stages of the process. Completely fatigued and unable to continue, Garch decided to walk home for a few hours rest then return later to complete the transformation. On the way he had a premonition that sent chills down his spine. Garch sat on a park bench, pulled out the notebook that he always carried with him and wrote the formula down. His next stop was the local post office where he bought an envelope and stamp. He put the formula with a small note inside it. The note said ‘Hold this for me, I’ll explain later,’ Love Marty. He mailed it to his widowed sister, Joceyln who lived on the other side of the country in Alameda, California.
On the hilly street next to Garch’s house, a truck’s brakes failed as it came down the incline. The driver did his best to regain control, but his load was too heavy. The ten ton vehicle jumped the curb and smashed into the pre-occupied scientist and he was killed instantly. Two days later, Joceyln received a telegram informing her about Marty’s death. Two weeks after that, she received the letter with the formula. Joceyln had no idea what it was, but it was valuable to her because it would be the last thing she would ever receive from her brother. She put it with her cherished mementos and forgot about it.
Bob Quinlan was a World War I combat veteran struggling to deal with his war time trauma. He barely supported himself by being a neighborhood handyman. Joceyln offered Bob a room at her house in return for helping to take care of her property and over time they developed a friendship. Joceyln died in her sleep, three years to the day that her brother passed away. In her will she left everything to her tenant and friend. There were many things that Bob had no use for, including women’s clothing and personal items so he planned on donating them to people that could use them. While going through the drawers he found the formula and it aroused his curiosity to the point that he couldn’t get it off his mind. Finally, Bob started going down to the local library on Lincoln Avenue to study chemistry so he could decipher the equations. It ended up being excellent therapy for him and in a few months Bob had the needed expertise to begin the transformation process.
When he was finished his first experiment, he had an idea what it was, but wanted to be sure. He took 16 ounces of the rare metal to the local jewelry story for an expert opinion. Paul Marr carefully examined it and responded, “This is the purest gold I’ve ever seen, where did you get it?”
Bob responded, “It was part of an inheritance.”
“I’ll give you market value for it,” Paul said.
Almost 90 years had passed and the formula still remained a well-guarded secret. Bill was the great-grandson of Bob Quinlan and currently held the title of the 24 Carat Man. He kept his pledge to his dying father to never tell anyone about the formula and that included his wife and daughters. If his family knew, it would definitely change their lifestyle and place them in extreme danger. He wanted his daughters to be successful without making them feel entitled and Bill was fortunate that his wife entrusted him to handle the finances without being too inquisitive. His father gave him some helpful tips on how to inconspicuously use the proceeds from the gold manufacturing without arousing suspicions. Bill’s first trick was to invest in high risk stocks and if he made a profit, he would transfer most of it to his wife and daughters’ accounts that were under their social security numbers. If he lost money, Bill would slowly replenish the main account from the sale of gold and repeat the process. He paid as many expenses as he could with either cash or money orders and routinely moved small amounts of money, less than $5,000 between a dozen different accounts in five different banks and three credit unions. He kept 30 pounds of gold, ten for his wife and ten each for his daughters in case something happened to him in three different safety deposit boxes. Bill also paid the premiums on three million dollar life insurance policies that had his family as beneficiaries.
Bill loved his daughters too much not to help them when they needed it so he used the matching funds philosophy as a reasonable compromise to stimulate their work ethic, He said, “I’ll split everything with you 50-50, which means I’ll match you dollar for dollar.” It took a considerable amount of self- discipline for him to not give in, but Bill stayed strong and consistent throughout their formative years. By the time Zoey and Kayla graduated college and were on their own they were strong, independent and financially secure women. His wife Jennifer was a homecare nurse and traveled around San Diego County visiting her patients three days a week. It was during her work hours that Bill spent his time in his industrial space in the Pacific Ranch area of Oceanside. He kept two vintage automobiles in the building and used them as his excuse for being there, saying they were his hobby. Bill was retired from Camp Pendleton Marine Corps base after a 20 year career as a fuel truck driver and had a small pension and health benefits. He didn’t need it, but it was good to have some verifiable income for appearance sake.
The process to make two pounds of 24K gold cost $175 so there were some minor expenses involved. It took 3 hours of labor to transform six pounds of lead into four pounds of gold after the heating process. This usually amounted to $100,000 depending on the market price of gold at the time.
This was far too much for Bill to sell without arousing suspicion so after careful deliberation he came up with the amount of $10,000 per week as more than sufficient to take care of his family and cover operating expenses at his shop. This still left quite a bit left over to supplement his daughters’ investment portfolios and put in his safety deposit boxes.
Bill compiled a list of individuals and reputable charities that could use a little help and mailed them packages at unscheduled intervals. Inside these boxes and padded envelopes were various amount of gold ranging in size from 6 to 12 ounces. This amounted to almost $430,000 in donations every month! To those people who might have been unaware of the special gift they were receiving, a small note was enclosed with these few words: This is 24 Carat gold, use or save as you wish, Good luck.
Bill made another list of 25 post offices in the North San Diego County and would start at number one and go all the way to twenty-five before repeating the process so that he never became familiar to the postal clerks. Bill wore gloves when working on the packaging and wiped the gold with a special solvent to avoid leaving his fingerprints on anything. This may have been overkill, but Bill didn’t want anything leading back to him or his family so he never varied from his self-imposed security procedures. He maintained this routine for years.
After his daughters grew up, moved out and started their own careers, Bill and Jennifer downsized to a one story home in the Vista Del Viejo area of Oceanside. Their neighbors were the Winchesters. Dan was a retired Marine and current Oceanside Police officer, his wife Terry worked for a medical supply company in Peacock Hills. Their son Mike was currently serving in the Coast Guard as a rescue swimmer and stationed at Government Island in Oakland. Their daughter Katie was attending Palomar College and their youngest daughter, Keira was a junior at El Camino High School. The two families quickly became friends. Bill had a chance to meet Mike when he was home on leave and was impressed by the patriotic young man’s demeanor and dedication to his job and country.
As the years passed, Bill and Jennifer always remembered the Winchesters on their birthdays and Christmas with thoughtful gifts. Dan eventually commented, “You and your wife are far too generous to us.”
“Speaking for my wife and myself, we gave you those gifts because we value your friendship,” Bill said simply, “If they bring any amount of happiness to your family then they bring joy to us as well. You wouldn’t want to take that away from us…would you?”
The Winchesters accepted the gifts in the spirit in which they were given. Terry Winchester was an excellent cook and an even better baker and whenever she had some free time, she’d make a special entrée, a fruit pie or a cake and bring it over to the Quinlans to show her appreciation. Terry never cut any corners and took great pride in her culinary creations. Bill and Jennifer always felt they were getting her best effort and knew it was her way of expressing gratitude and friendship.
The issue that had been on Bill Quinlan’s mind for many years was what would happen to the formula when he was gone. He had not changed his decision about giving it to his daughters, it was too dangerous and the responsibility of maintaining the secret would be life altering for them. .
Mike Winchester was honorably discharged from the Coast Guard and returned to Oceanside. There was a welcome home party for him and Bill inquired, “What are your plans now?”
Mike responded simply, “I’m going be working with Project Dynamo.”
Before he could elaborate, Mike rejoined the festivities and after returning home later that evening, Bill did some research on Project Dynamo. He found out some very impressive information about the organization. It was an umbrella term that encompassed two operations, Digital Dunkirk and Dynamo II. Both efforts were conducted by extraordinary civilians and former military personnel doing the extremely difficult under seemingly impossible conditions. These individuals went into dangerous war zones and devastated areas caused by natural catastrophes to help people in need.
Bill found the video created by noted filmmaker William Goins called ‘The Grey Space’ and watched it several times. It moved him to the point that he added the Project Dynamo to his list of charities and began contributing $50,000 a month to them. He also had the opportunity to witness firsthand the commitment Mike had for the organization. Rather than take a full-time job and then have to tell his employer that he needed a few weeks off for a rescue mission, Mike became an Uber driver. When he wasn’t working at different times of the day and night, Mike trained with former Navy Seals, Army Rangers and Marines. He had been a Coast Guard rescue swimmer so his combat skills were below average for an operative going into a hostile environment so Mike developed those particular tools.
At any given time, Mike would pack up and depart for Ukraine, Florida, Africa, South America or wherever people were in trouble. When he returned to Oceanside, he moved back into his parents’ home and picked up where he left off. Always humble and hesitant to talk about his personal accomplishments and acts of bravery. Mike would simply say, “It’s a good organization and I’m honored to work with people of integrity,” and leave it at that.
Bill looked for every opportunity and sometimes even created one when they didn’t exist to hire Mike to do work around his house then overpay him. Mike would respond, “This is too much for what I did.”
Bill would shrug, “I don’t think so, but if you feel that way, you can always give it to Project Dynamo.”
After a particularly harrowing rescue mission in Nigeria, Mike was thoroughly exhausted, emotionally and physically when he came home this time. When Bill saw him planting flowers at his parents’ home, Bill asked, “Shouldn’t you be resting?”
Mike smiled, “I got a few hours of sleep, any more than that and I start feeling lethargic.”
Without thinking, Bill said, “In case I haven’t told you and even if I have, it’s still worth repeating, I’m proud to know you.”
Mike didn’t hesitate to return the compliment, “I’m proud to know you too.”
A week later, Bill saw Mike placing the trash cans out for pick-up and called to him, “Hey Mike, when you have some time, I’d like to talk with you.”
“Absolutely, I’ll get the rest of the containers out and then I’ll come over.”
The door was open when Mike arrived and Bill said, “C’mon in…have a seat.”
Mike entered and sat down in the living room across from Bill who started the conversation, “My wife is at work so we have the house to ourselves. I have something very important to tell you. I need you to keep it strictly between us…share it with no one.”
Mike hesitated for a moment, “Is it illegal?”
“Like Project Dynamo, I operate in the Grey Space…Its probably better if I show you rather than tell you.”
When they arrived at the industrial space, Bill led Mike past the old cars to the laboratory in the back of the building and said simply, “This is where I make gold.”
Mike joked, “That’s a relief, I thought making that you were making marijuana brownies.”
It took about an hour for Bill to explain what he had been doing and finished with these statements, “With a great gift comes great responsibility. In all the years that I’ve been doing this, you are the first person that I’ve ever met that I felt comfortable telling this to.” Mike sat quietly for a long time until Bill finally asked, “So, what you do think?”
“Sounds like you’ve had an interesting past and helped a lot of people along the way,” Mike then said, “Thank you for your efforts on behalf of the needy.”
Bill said, “I didn’t bring you here because I needed someone to thank me. I brought you here because I want you to learn these special skills and carry on the legacy when I’m gone. It’s a major commitment so I need your word that you won’t abuse it.”
“I’ll give you something better than my word, I’ll give you my solemn oath.”
The two men and shook hands and the alliance was created. Over the few first months, Mike learned everything that he needed to be an expert Goldmaker. The difficult part was how Mike was going to help his family when his father handled all the finances and not arouse their suspicions. He approached his father and told him, he was going to be a day trader to supplement his income when he wasn’t working with Project Dynamo. Bill helped him created a profitable stock portfolio that justified a steady income stream. Mike eventually had enough money to build a granny flat in the backyard then paid his parents $2000 a month to live in it. He also started investment accounts for his sisters.
Dan said to his son, “You’re doing really well at day trading.”
“I guess you could say that. Who would ever thought I had a knack for the stock market,” Mike said, doing his best to keep a straight face, “Of course, it’s probably more luck than skill, but I’ll ride the wave until it I wipe out.”
“You know that you don’t have to pay to live here, your mom and I are happy to have you home.”
Mike replied, “I know that, but it makes me feel better if I’m contributing. Besides you spent a lot of money taking care of me when I was growing up. It’s my time now. Besides, I’d be spending at least the same amount or more if I was living on my own. Simply put, I like my famil and enjoy being here.”
“If you weren’t my son, you’re the kind of man I would be grateful to have as my friend.” Dan said and tried not to get too emotional.
A year passed. Bill and Mike worked together to help a lot of people with their gold making operation. It wasn’t Mike’s style to sit back and let someone else do the dangerous and dirty work even if he had this gold making opportunity so whenever Project Dynamo called, he didn’t hesitate to pack his gear and leave. He didn’t have a narcissistic cell in his body so it was just his nature to put the welfare of others above his own. That was just one reason that he was a great rescue swimmer. He was literally fearless when it came to doing his duty. Bill never had a second thought about bringing Mike into his ‘so called’ business.
A new report released by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee found that as many as 9,000 Americans were left in Afghanistan during the Biden Administration’s decision to withdraw American forces. Nick Benjamin was a Delta Force operative who spent six tours in the war torn country. He received word that a civilian military contractor and Afghan interpreter and his family were hiding from Taliban forces and were doing their best to escape the country. Since the United States left behind billions of dollars in high tech military equipment, any mission to rescue them would be extremely dangerous. Nick approached the leadership of Project Dynamo and asked them for permission to conduct a rescue. They deemed it too dangerous and expensive.
When Nick called Mike to tell him the bad news, Mike commented, “How about if we did the rescue on our own?”
“Nothing I would like better, I owe my life to Alex Nolan and the interpreter saved a lot of American lives, but I don’t see how we make it happen.”
“I know an anonymous benefactor. You put the mission together and I’ll get it funded,” Mike said.
“Thanks Mike,” Nick said.
Mike brought up the subject to Bill who responded, “Do you have a definite cost yet?”
“My friend is putting it together as we speak,” Mike said.
Bill thought about the situation for a few seconds then said, “We could increase production and temporarily divert some of our other donations, that’s not the issue. The problem is selling a larger amount of gold without arousing suspicion. I’ve been doing business with this one jeweler for quite a while, I might have to give him a pretty good deal to accept a larger amount.”
“How good?” Mike asked.
Bill said, “I’ll give him a call and find out.”
Thirty minutes later, Bill contacted Herman Stolte with the possible scenario, “I might have to deal with a family emergency, I’m waiting for more details. How much gold can you take?”
“Since you’re a long time customer….I’ll give $200 per ounce below current market value and I’ll take everything you have as long it’s the same quality as you’ve been bringing in.”
“Thanks Herman, I’ll be in touch,” Bill said.
Nick contacted Mike with the cost of the rescue. “$830,000.”
Mike and Bill made 55 pounds of 24K gold and brought it to Herman. He examined it and said, “Looks good…where do you want the money sent?”
Bill handed Herman a sheet of paper, “Here’s the routing and bank account number. It’s in Switzerland.”
“It will be there before end of business,” Herman promised.
The rescue team consisted of Mike Winchester, Nick Benjamin, Mason Noone, Ed Magellan, Jerry Riordan, Greg Carlson and Ken Cameron. The intelligence and drone operator was Dana Slater and William Goins was going along to film the mission. The Gulfstream 200 landed at a private airfield in Turkmenistan where three off road vehicles were waiting for them. Nick spoke in Turkmen to a black marketer for a couple minutes and handed him an envelope filled with cash then turned back to the group, “His men will guard the jet. We’ve got until tomorrow at 1700 hours to be back, the pilots will only wait that long.”
They drove in the direction of the designated meeting point while the drone flew overhead to relay video information of any Taliban activities. They were two clicks (one click equals one thousand meters) away from the rendezvous location when they spotted a Taliban patrol. Nick Benjamin manned the automatic grenade launcher and the other men had their weapons at the ready when the terrorists walked into the ambush.
When it was over, Mike commented, “We better get moving…somebody could have heard the shots. “
The civilian contractor, the interpreter and his family of four were hidden among the rocks when the team arrived. They rushed out and got in the vehicles.
While rushing to return to the jet, Dana monitored Taliban pursuit on her laptop from the drone flying overhead, “We’ve got five bogeys closing in fast.”
“How far?” Mike asked.
“Quarter mile,” Dana replied.
The three vehicles stopped and the team got out and quickly planted three Claymore mines on each side of the road. With the Taliban rapidly approaching, the team pulled ahead and waited. When the Taliban reached the’ kill zone’, Mike detonated the mines and the pursuit was immediately terminated.
When they got back to the jet, there wasn’t enough room for everyone on board. Mike and Nick volunteered to stay behind.
Mike asked, “What’s next for you?”
Alex Nolan answered, “I’ve got a villa outside Cassino, Italy. The interpreter and his family can stay there. He speaks and writes in five different languages and will be a valuable asset to my company. I owe you for coming to get us.”
“You would have done the same for me,” Nick smiled.
Mike suggested, “You better get on board.”
Alex Nolan promised, “Anytime Project Dynamo needs another volunteer, you know how to reach me.”
Mike and Nick watched the jet take off then left with the black marketer and his men. It took a week of hard traveling before Mike finally made it back to San Diego. Bill was waiting outside the airport terminal when Mike exited.
“How did it go?” Bill asked.
“We got what we went for,” Mike responded modestly then added, “A hot shower, a few hours’ sleep and I’ll be ready to get back to work.”
Right about that time, Mike’s phone rang. He answered it, listened for a moment then responded, “I’m on my way.”
“Let me guess, that was Project Dynamo,” Bill said.
Mike smiled, “The good news is that I’m already at the airport.”
Bill and Mike were the 24 Carat Men and they set the Gold Standard on so many levels.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, business, events and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
The Veterans Writing Group of San Diego County invites all writers to join us at our monthly meetings. Veterans and Non-Veterans are equally welcome For more information go to our website: www.veteranswritinggroup.org
That’s a feel good story. I enjoyed reading.
Tom…I bet this was fun to put together. It was a lot of fun to read and I was worried that maybe there would be no Marines, but I should have known better…even if he were a USMC civilian! Alchemy, eh!? A very dynamic story!
Another great read. Most enjoyable
Interesting out of the box story. He had the ability to influence the world’s economy and politicians.
I wasn’t sure where this story was going when I started, but I was pleasantly surprised and was not disappointed by how it turned out.
Thanks for another good story
Amazing and more than a hint of truth to this Sunday Story in the Vista Press by none other than the great story teller and writer Mr. Thomas Calabrese for this Sunday morning’s entertainment.
Project Dynamo does exist and both men and woman are part of this great project. They are not your typical commando group of delta Force, or Special Operatives like Seals and other great groups you heard of but they do accomplish clandestine missions an rescue people in trouble. I am still investigating if Mr. Calabrease has a formula to manufacture gold. From what I understand he does not live an opulent life style and he is and his family are
comfortable, but is benevolent and supports worthy causes, especially those involving his beloved Canines.
Another great story to capture the minds of your readers, Thank you.
I enjoyed the story very much.
My imagination was running wild with this story. I looked up Project Dynamo and they do really good work.
Great story! Tough getting wiped out so young as did my sister, Jocelyn also. Nice way to get rich.
You entertained and informed me. Thanks.
Tom, when it comes to storytelling, you still have that Midas touch!
Wowww, Tom!!!! I loved how you tied your story together, piece by piece, up until the very end!!! A+ my dear friend!
This was a very enjoyable story. I’d love to have some 24k gold!