Copyright© 2013 by Refusenik
Scott beat the sun out of Levall. He wanted to be in Midland before lunch and home to Fort Stockton by early afternoon. The GPS in the Jeep said it was a three-hundred mile trip, but for Scott it was like running downhill, effortless as he sped toward home. West of Abilene he picked up Interstate 20 and hit cruise control.
He hit Midland shortly before ten. Midland was a city that drifted from boom to bust with the energy sector, oil in particular, and times were good once again.
His destination was a building downtown that looked out of place among the 1970s modern, glass and steel structures built during the good times. Four decades later, there were a few newer additions, but next to the Western Group's building, they looked cheap. The Western Group was an old school investment bank, housed in a five-story building with late 1880s sensibility. It's grand stone dressing and tile accents spoke to a time when men built buildings worth remembering.
The first time he visited the Western Group, he'd still been in high school and accompanied by his lawyer, Honour Black. They'd come seeking someone to guard Scott's settlement money extracted from the Carson family fortune. He hadn't expected to find a friend and confidant, but Everett Wahl was that and more.
Scott stepped off the elevator on the top floor and turned left. The top floor executives each had corner office fiefs, controlled by an ever efficient executive assistant. Karen, Everett Wahl's girl Friday, jumped to her feet and smiled.
"Welcome home, Scott."
He gave her a quick hug, "It's good to be back. How are you?"
"I'm good," she said. "He'll be pleased you're early."
"How is he?"
"Excited. You remember that Marine Corps coffee mug you sent? He won't drink from anything else."
Scott followed Karen into the inner sanctum. One of the things he appreciated about the Western Group was their enduring stability. They'd been around for over a century. The Midland offices were a perfect representation of that history. Aside from thinner and larger computer monitors, the stately décor had changed little since his first visit nearly five years earlier. Everett Wahl's office suite featured dark woods and leather with warm lighting. Western ranch chic was how Scott thought of it. He liked it, liked the smells and the patina of old money. It wasn't brash and didn't scream at you for attention. Comfort was king.
Everett Wahl was a man in his sixties, with hair like a television announcer and a penchant for cowboy boots. He could be comfortable meeting with Wall Street titans or serving barbecue at the company picnic.
"You made good time," Everett said.
"I did," Scott said. "Good to see you."
They shook hands.
"Sit and tell me what you've been up to." Everett dragged him toward a pair of deep leather chairs arranged near one of the windows.
Karen bustled in with coffee and winked at Scott as she handed her boss the Marine Corps mug with its familiar logo and gold gilded rim.
Scott told his banker about the trip from California and visiting the NTSU campus. Everett listened and asked a few questions. The conversation was easy. Their friendship had grown from when Scott was a shy sixteen-year-old. Everett had overseen Scott's investments ever since, and was personally responsible for the steady growth of his portfolio.
The banker brought him up to date on the latest numbers and pending issues. Although Scott's assets were extensive, he owned little that was tangible; a rental property in Fort Stockton that he'd inherited from his mentor, some personal property in storage, and the vehicle in the parking lot.
"I do have some excellent news," Everett said.
Scott knew the smile by now and waited.