Chapter 5: Shamans Involved
Copyright© 2020 by Graybyrd
The gold shone through the sparkling quartz structure like glittering webs in a white butterfly’s wing. A waterfall of quartz, wide sheets of it, flowed through and across the granite face of the mine.
Michael Peterson, dressed in dull brown coveralls, hammered steadily against a hand-held star bit. Tink, tink, tink, each blow sending a trickle of granite dust falling from the hole. A series of deep holes pierced the rock face, some above, some below the glistening quartz ribbon. By early evening he’d be ready to place a small blasting charge in each hole and from a safe distance he’d blow them. A pile of gold-laden rubble would lay at the base of the rock face, waiting for sorting.
Before he was done and ready to leave, he’d have filled a dozen leather bags with gold pried from the exposed seams in the quartz rubble.
Changed into his beaded buckskins, Mike rode a roan saddle horse and led a gray pack mule, its pack saddles rocking and swaying. He’d follow an obscure side canyon track down through thick timber to merge, unseen, onto a trail following a tributary branch of Wolf Creek.
He’d been gone for two weeks. He was ready for a hot bath, a char-broiled steak, and an evening of pleasant company with Jim and Vi Brightman at their ranch home.
This will do for the year, he thought as he rocked gently in the saddle, yielding to the rhythmic, rolling gait of his horse. He’d deliver the gold to a long-trusted agent in Wenatchee, one hundred miles south. The assay report, the sales report, and a cashier’s check would be mailed to their accountant who would file the tax documents required by state and federal authorities. The balance of the funds would be transferred to private branch accounts.
“Come with me to Wenatchee this trip, Graydon,” Mike asked. “You’re eighteen and it’s time you were brought into our project. We’ll overnight there. You’ll meet our metals dealer, learn our income and reporting procedures, and learn how to review the tax reports and payments with our accountants. You’ll sign on as a corporate officer and be authorized to receive and disburse funds.”
Graydon hesitated; he hadn’t expected this.
“You’re both sure?”
“Without a doubt, young man. Perfectly sure!” Jim affirmed. Mike smiled, his eyes flashing to Graydon that he was being foolish to doubt himself.
“Okay. Who’s driving?”
Mike laughed; Jim suppressed a guffaw. Ever since Graydon had gotten his driver’s license he was eager to drive, especially a longer trip like the hundred-mile run down the Methow River highway to Wenatchee.
“Uh... “ Graydon hesitated. “I came for something else,” he blurted. “I think we’ve got a problem, or ... we’re going to have problems, like something’s coming. Something that’s got Mom worried. Mike, it’s giving me one of those ‘feelings’ and I can’t shake it. Mom’s seen things coming through the Winthrop Ranger’s office that has her half-scared. She’s so worried that she’s started keeping a journal, recording document titles and summaries, and names and dates. When she told me, I had a flash, a bad premonition. I told her that she was getting drawn into something dangerous. I warned her to bring that journal home and keep it locked up and not to tell anybody about it. I cautioned her not to let anybody see her taking notes or paying too much interest.”
Graydon fidgeted nervously where he sat in Vi’s favorite porch rocker. A cold glass of lemonade dripped condensate onto his leg, expanding an ignored wet spot on his jeans.
Mike turned his attention to Graydon and watched, thoughtfully. Jim took up his pipe, knocked the dottle into an ashtray, scraped out his pipe bowl with his penknife, and slowly tamped in a new charge of tobacco. This was his life-long habit of freeing his mind for serious thinking. Soon, blue-gray tendrils of smoke rose in curls to the ceiling.
“What else?” Mike asked, knowing there was more on Graydon’s mind.
“I’ve got no clear idea, yet,” Graydon answered. “But I questioned Mom carefully about everything she’d seen. I think the National Forest land on Virginian Ridge is being targeted for a big ski resort. I think your ranch is threatened, Mr. Brightman
“Damn!” Jim snarled.