They called him “Frosty the Snowman”.  He didn’t know they called him this, and only a few people gave him this name.  Some of his micro-loans ended up in the income stream of low level cocaine or meth dealers, and these folks knew about this but they didn’t really care much one way or another.  Their business model involved a certain amount of cash flow, and they knew that he loaned money to people, who didn’t really use it for the reasons they gave to him in order to secure the loans.  So he had a small reputation held by only a few of those that used his services. 

Among the cocaine folks he was the snowman, because blow was sometimes called snow.  Among the meth folks the same words meant something different, in that some borrowers gave him a snow job in order to get their micro-loans.  The two ideas combined after a time, so among the lower level drug culture in his former home town, a culture he was only indirectly a part of, ... in that culture he was for a while called the Snowman, and then ultimately he was called Frosty.

So folks might say, when asked about payment obligations, “oh, I’m going to get a loan from “Frosty”, and everyone knew who was being talked about.  That wasn’t his real name, or even the name most people in town knew him by, ... it was just the cute name that got made up by people who didn’t know him personally.  Usually people got their loans too.  So if you said you were going to Frosty”, then your dealer might say: “okay, you can have a couple more days to take care of business.”.

Hardly anyone knew how Frosty got in the micro-loan business in the first place.  He had left this town when he was eighteen,  and joined the Air Force.  A couple of marriages and a half dozen children later, he was a old man living alone in a far away state, who won about $75 million in the lottery.  His girl friend at that time had just died, and he was at a loss about what to do next.  He was not close to his children, who mostly had needs for some of the lottery money, but their relations were cordial, if not intimate.

So he decided to try to do some good.

He moved back to the town in which he had been born, a place he had not been in for over 60 years.  Only a few people remembered him, and mostly they didn’t care.  That he had won this lottery money had never made the local News, and it was easy for him to sort of be a nobody in a way.

Except he had this idea.

He went to a lawyer, and discovered that it was possible to become a private bank.  No shareholders.  Just incorporate and file the right papers, and put his lottery money into the bank in the right way, and then he could loan money out.  His  bank wasn’t going to have any checking accounts, or savings accounts, nor did he plan to do any investing.  He actually wasn’t in this business to make money, for he already had money.  But he wanted to be legal, so he filed the papers and opened a small office, on a side street, near the main downtown area.

The door had a brass sign.  It said: “The Pharaoh Foundation: a private bank.”  Below that was a smaller wooden carved sign that gave business hours and days open and so forth, but also it said: “by appointment only".   Then he ran some classified ads in the local paper, three days a week, including Sunday, which said: “micro-loans, call the Pharaoh Foundation,” and gave a number.

The inside of the bank wasn’t fancy.  It had a waiting room, a few nice comfortable chairs, some magazines, which including hunting and boating and football and women’s stuff.  He figured his customers would be housewives and people maybe out of work.  People who wanted to start a small personal enterprise, and might need a sewing machine or some tools. 

Yes, he was an idealist and a bit of a fool.  There was also a secretary’s desk in the waiting room, and a nice flat screen TV, with cable, and even a refrigerator, a microwave, some coffee and tea machines - kind of like a continental breakfast room in a mid-sized motel.  And, he had a nice office for himself.  Not too big or fancy, but it had its own TV and other amenities, including a large sofa on which he could nap when there was no business.   He liked to read novels, so after a while there were bookcases with hardcover and paperback books collecting in them.

There were also two bathrooms, one for the public, and a nice one for his secretary and himself.  In addition a large closet or two, with space for a good copy machine.  Several computers too.

Nor was he stupid - foolish isn't stupid.  He sought out and hired a retired police detective who had worked in this town for decades, who then took up the role of looking into applications, and/or doing research on the Internet to find out stuff about the applicants.

So there were three of them.  Him, the secretary, and the detective.  He had a bank and they had salaries with nice benefits.  The detective worked from home.  People started coming in.  They would call the number at all hours, and leave messages and the secretary would come in on weekdays and set up appointments.  People would show up, fill out an application, and he would interview them.  They then had to wait three days before the loan decision would be made, so that the detective could look into their situation a little.  They were not told about the detective.

He did not deal in cash.  He had another account in a regular bank, and people could go there and cash the checks he wrote for them, after they had signed the papers, and after the three day period of fact checking.  The loans were nearly interest free, only 2.3% annually.   Payment schedule’s varied according to need.  

Most people were decent, and had troubles, which  he tried to help them with.  People who wanted bigger loans, because of insane medical demands or home loan debacles, he did not help, unless they wanted to file for bankruptcy and start over again.  Then he would loan money for the bankruptcy and support the start over plan.

His accountant said he was losing money.  Local bankers knew of his business, and since they were not competing for customers, they ignored him.  For the most part no one knew about the lottery money that stood behind the whole enterprise, for he lived modestly, although he had acquired a taste for the affections of women his age and perhaps a bit younger. 

He told the women right from the start that he was going to have multiple girlfriends, if he had any girlfriends at all, and that they should just get used to it.  He’d had his fill of the emotional work required to maintain a relationship, so sorry no thanks.  He joined a local country club to have a place to take his “dates”, and he was not a bad lover.  He’d learned a lot over the years.

Through conversations with the detective, he came to understand that he was also supporting, through some false loan applications, certain members of the drug underclass of the town.   The detective advised caution, and our lottery winner, having seen some interesting movies, had decided that he needed an exit plan, just in case something went suddenly south.  The movies in various ways had shown that when times looked particularly ready to go way out of control, it was wise to just be able to walk away at a moments notice.

So he devised his plan, and included some severance packages for the secretary and the detective, if he were to suddenly disappear.  Mostly he thought of this plan as a kind of fantasy, but one never really knew.  His main foolish mistake turned out to trust those closest to him.

The detective ran up some gambling debts, and the secretary acquired a boyfriend who liked cocaine.  The detective and the secretary, who didn’t really know how much was in the bank - they never saw the details of those accounts, did conspire with members of the drug underclass to get him to write a bunch of loans that were fake right from the start.  The total amounts got a bit large, even for the low level dealers, and someone higher up in the food chain took an interest.

The result was a visit one day from some very bad men who made some very clear threats.  They wanted to go so far as to take over the bank in some way.  Like a lot of criminals they hadn’t thought the thing through, or really looked into the man from whom they were trying to steal.
He left his office allegedly to get some cash to show good faith, and to start to be their victim. They followed him in a separate car.  He went into an office building that had a bank on the lower floor, whose entrance was inside the building’s first floor.  They did not notice that he did not go into the bank, but out the back door of the office building, through a parking lot there, and then into an alley.  Halfway down the alley was a small locked garage, and he had the key for the lock.

He entered the garage, and closed the door.  In the car, which was a bit old and rusty looking, was a change of clothes, a passport and other materials that he had set aside for his escape, should it be necessary.  In a few minutes he drove out of the garage, in disguise, and drove five hours to the Canadian border, where he easily entered, telling the guards a kind of truth, which was that he was facing death and wanted to visit the Canadian Rockies, a place he knew from his youth, one last time.

His money was easily moved to Canada, and he decided that he had had it with the banking business, although finding a way to continue to discover the delights of widows and recently divorced women was a hobby he could pursue easily in some of the larger retirement communities.  His money helped him change  his name, and lose his prior identity.

In the town he had just left, while it took a few days to be noticed, it became clear to those who had wanted him as their prey, that Frosty the Snowman had melted completely away.  Various ladies received nice gifts, and a lawyer came to see the detective and the secretary, but of the man, nothing more was heard, and he eventually died of old age, in the bed he was regularly sharing with a well endowed widow, and two divorced sisters, sometimes all three at the same time.  Frosty had never really been frosty at all.