Copyright© 2020 by Graybyrd
“Mr. Adams, we employ you to prevent exactly the sort of impending complications I’m beginning to sense from our new project. In concise terms, please explain what is going on out there? One of our most critical landowners was shot. It appears, Mr. Adams, that you may have lost control.”
Bertrand Adams had never met Augustus Atwood, Chairman and CEO of Alpine-Colorado Corporation. He had never been invited to Atwood’s offices. His only contact had been a distant meeting with a second-level assistant, and a telephone confirmation of his engagement for the Virginian Ridge project. He felt a cold rivulet of sweat running down his back. His hand shook; he squeezed his telephone handset so intently that his stubby fingers turned white at their knuckles.
“S-sir, I ... uh, that is ... we had nothing ... nothing whatsoever to do with that attack. Those men ... thugs, really ... we had fired them. They had no association, no role ... nothing to link them to our project.”
“I understand that you employed them, Mr. Adams. You accepted a recommendation and approved their selection. In fact, you terminated their employment barely a half day before they attacked and wounded not only our prime property owner, but also a close friend and associate of his in the same incident. Is my understanding of the event correct, Mr. Adams?”
Adams felt an urge to get on his knees under his desk to begin digging a hole in the carpet for himself. Fleeting visions of ruin and impoverishment flashed through his mind.
“Th-that is ... is essentially correct, sir.”
“I trust that you will take corrective measures, Mr. Adams. I extend this opportunity to repair the situation only because our original purpose for employing your firm is still valid: until our various permits and property acquisitions are in place, we require a certain separation of identities, as we explained in our earlier agreement. I must caution you, however, that if the situation in that location continues to spiral out of control, we will be forced to intercede. I trust that you understand the probable consequences. Do you, Mr. Adams? Do you understand?”
On the second day after the shooting, a pair of Okanogan County Sheriff’s deputies rounded up Jaydee Simons, Ron Sylvester, and Spud Colbert, arresting them on charges of assault and attempted murder. A local attorney hired by an assistant from Adams’ law offices counseled them at the county jail.
“Mr. Patterson positively identified you three; it looks open and shut, gentlemen. The only question is how much time the three of you will spend in prison. Do any of you dispute that fact?”
“Yeh, I do,” Jaydee grumbled. “Spud ‘n I had nothin’ to do with the shootin’. It was that asshole Ron. It was his gun and he yanked it outta his belt and started blastin’ away. Me ‘n Spud didn’t do nothin’ but bang on their truck a little. This is a bunch of bullshit!”
“Listen to me very carefully, you ignoramus!” Darrell Fife hissed through his clenched teeth. “You were there. Your friend Spud was there. The law considers you all equally involved and equally culpable. It does not matter who held the gun or who pulled the trigger. The three of you will go down together. Is that clear?”