Old Man continued. "We called it Operation Ostrich, because of the notion of ostriches hiding their heads in the sand when they're in danger. It turns out they don't do that at all, but that was an irrelevant detail to the case at hand."
Athena shook her head and wondered if Old Man had been a teacher once. He had a habit of throwing things out there that most people wouldn't bother to mention at all.
"This is a small, nothing town. Unless you've gotten a speeding ticket driving through here, you never even remember the name. No one comes here on purpose. It was the perfect place to hide people. So one night, we sent these moving vans to all these houses, including yours. We made the movers look like government workers who were pretending to be movers."
"If we just had regular movers, then do doubt someone would call the police or FBI or some other government agency. These were the families of men who were now famous for being on trial. If the family tried to sneak out, they might get arrested too. We didn't know how bad this could get. But if it looked like it was the government itself that was moving these people, then no one would say a word. Ostriches. Let's pretend nothing's happening, and then we'll be safe." He started to get up again, but Athena glared at him and he sat back down.
"We moved everyone the same night. By morning, they were all on their way here or they'd arrived."
"But how do you just move a bunch of families? Where do you put them?"
"That part wasn't hard at all. The economy was bad. There had been a nasty union strike, and families that had both parents working at the factory lost their houses because they couldn't pay the mortgage. Other families had their houses foreclosed just for the heck of it, from what I've heard. No one had bothered to freeze the bank accounts ahead of time, so through some third party stuff that I won't go into, they bought the houses."
Now Old Man looked tired. Athena got up to leave, and thanked him, putting the piece of macrame in her pocket.
"What?" Athena stopped.
"That's my name. Wayne Rafferty. Not Old Man." Athena blushed, opened her mouth, and closed it again. She nodded at Mr. Rafferty and left.