Copyright© 2020 by Graybyrd
Metes and Bounds
Graydon found himself standing in a recessed doorway set three feet into the side of a dull-red brick wall, a wall that stretched away for fifty feet in both directions. High above his head he’d seen a row of closely-spaced wooden-sash windows, some displaying flower-pots on their sills with curtains in their upper half.
Must be apartments up there, he guessed. He faced a stained glass-paned door, massively framed and fitted with heavy bronze hinges and locking pull handles. Gold-leaf lettering on a black slate spelled out “A. Goode, Attorney at Law.” Underneath, smaller letters said “Offices.”
James Brightman and Michael Peterson stood behind him.
“Push on in, Graydon,” Jim said. “We’re expected.”
Graydon needed both hands to push the heavy door open. Jim and Mike followed him. They stood on a thick green carpet.
I’m sinking an inch into it! Graydon grumbled. He looked ahead. A virtual forest of potted shrubs, ferns circling their bases, stood in waist-high ceramic planters set on low brickwork platforms. The ceramic pots glowed with muted patterns of brown and green and dark red. They followed a winding path to emerge into a reception area.
“Good morning,” a cheery voice called from his side. Graydon swiveled his head to the right. An elderly lady sat at a massive oak secretarial desk. “Are you the gentlemen from Winthrop?” she asked. Her narrow neck emerged from a thin lace border crowning her starched white blouse. Billowing sleeves piled against scarlet arm garters kept her wrists clear for typing.
“Yes,” Graydon answered. Arm garters?
“Mr. Goode is expecting you,” she smiled. She pressed one of several small function tabs on an intercom device at her right hand. “The Winthrop party is here, Abner,” she announced.
“Excellent! Send them through, please.” a disembodied, deep voice spoke from the machine.
“Straight ahead through the double doors,” she gestured, then turned back to her secretarial extension. She lifted a headset and resumed her earlier position at her office typewriter.
Graydon pushed through the door and stopped. Facing him was one of the largest men he’d ever seen in his life. Jim and Mike nearly bumped him forward a step before they stopped behind him.
Abner Goode stood behind a massive, ornately carved desk that resembled photos Graydon had seen of the President’s desk in the White House, a historical centerpiece of the oval office. Except this desk seemed larger, at least half again as wide and deep, and more intricately carved with mountain and forest scenes. The man standing behind it seemed to overpower it, his huge hands resting casually on the back of an equally ornate and carved office chair.
Desk and chair, a matched set, sized to reflect the stature and imposing presence of their owner, Graydon thought. Richly tooled leather, nailed and tucked into diamond blocks with gleaming brass-headed tacks at their corners, padded the chair back. A similar-styled rectangle of tooled leather binding framed a dark-green felt work pad on the desktop. A brass-beam cantilevered green-shaded lawyer’s lamp sat on the desk’s front edge, centered between double-stacked mahogany letter trays holding papers and folders.
“Welcome, gentlemen,” he rumbled, his deep, smooth voice seeming to reflect off the wall of windows behind him despite the thick layers of deep red velvet curtains hung from ceiling boxes running the entire breadth of the room. They reached to the carpet.
It’s deeper by at least another inch! Graydon thought, still marveling at the plush pile they’d traversed earlier.
“Please, take a chair,” the man rumbled again, swinging his hand toward the row of guest chairs facing his desk. Graydon crossed over to the last in the row; Jim and Mike followed.
“You told Ellie that you have a letter from Purdy Kendricks for me. Do you have it with you? May I see it, please?” Graydon was a bit put off at the man’s brusque question.
No hand shake? No introductions? he wondered.
“Yes sir. Mr. Brightman has it,” Graydon answered. Jim rose from his chair, reached under his light jacket, and pulled the letter--more of a hand-written note, actually--from his shirt pocket and extended it to the lawyer. Abner rose to take it and settled back into his chair. He picked up a silver-framed pair of reading glasses from the base of his reading lamp, rested them halfway down his nose, and began to read. He rumbled from time to time as if internally commenting on whatever impression he got from Purdy’s words.
Graydon glanced around. A hat tree stood in one corner. A rancher’s silver-belly Stetson hat hung from one hook; a dark tanned-leather jacket hung from another. The usual rows of shelves bearing ranks and rows of legal volumes filled the other end of the room. Several glass-fronted lawyer cases stuffed with file boxes stood against the wall near the door they’d entered.
Abner Goode did not look like any lawyer Graydon had ever seen; not, of course, that he’d ever seen that many except for those in movies and more lately on television. Goode looked more like ... well, something of a cross between a construction worker, a logger, and a miner. He was big, massively big. His hands were rough, calloused, and he saw evidence of scars on one hand. His face was square, creased, burned brown like many of those who worked outdoors on job sites or on horseback all day. He wore obviously expensive clothing, but it was what a rancher dressed for a formal occasion might wear: heavy twill slacks and a plaid-patterned Pendleton wool shirt. He wore a western string tie, a polished moss agate clasp on two leather thongs tipped with carved silver. His sandy brown hair, turning gray at the temples, was close-cropped. He wore a closely-trimmed mustache, already turned full gray. Graydon figured him to be in his late fifties.
A deep rumble interrupted Graydon’s wandering inspection. He was startled to see Goode heave himself out of his chair and move swiftly around his desk to tower over Graydon, peering down at him over the tops of his reading glasses.
“Damn!” Goode exclaimed, a huge smile splitting his face. “By damn!” he rumbled again, extending a huge hand towards Graydon, expecting a handshake in return. Graydon nearly toppled backwards in his chair, he was so startled by the big man’s action. The massive chair saved him from that embarrassment; he was able to regain his composure in time to reach out and take the man’s hand.
“Obviously you are Graydon Williams!” Goode exclaimed. “It is a pure pleasure to meet you, young man!”
Goode turned to regard Graydon’s elder companions.
“I would guess that you are James Brightman,” he said to Jim. “You have the look of a rancher. And you must be Michael Peterson,” he looked to Mike. “You look exactly as Purdy has described. That’s been some time ago. It’s been quite some time, I admit. Sadly I’ve not seen the old gentleman as often as I’d like, these past few years.” Goode extended his hand to both men, then returned to his chair behind his desk.
“Forgive my lack of manners when you came in,” he apologized. “It’s been my experience that nearly without fail anyone representing themselves as acting in Purdy Kendricks’ interests has less than honorable motives. I’m not implying I suspected that of you fellows, but I did need assurance. This letter of Purdy’s did that, and more.”
Graydon glanced at Jim and Mike; both of them were grinning back at him like they’d known to expect this all along. Perhaps they had.
“Graydon Williams,” Goode boomed.
Damn! Graydon thought. This is like talking to a thunderstorm!
“Young man,” Goode rumbled again. “Do you have any idea? Any idea at all what Purdy Kendricks has laid on you? I’ve barely got half a grip on it myself, and I’ve handled his affairs for over twenty years, and my father managed them for nearly thirty years before me. That’s him, on that far wall, by the way.”
Graydon and his friends looked to their left: centered in an opening above the bookcases, highlighted by small spotlights, an oil painting showed Goode’s father standing behind the very same desk now in front of them. He stood as tall, but instead of a patterned Pendleton shirt and string tie, he wore a double-breasted suit and cravat, over a waistcoat crossed by a gleaming golden watch chain.
“I assume that you gentlemen know the contents of Purdy’s letter?” Goode asked.
“Mr. Peterson and I do,” Jim replied. “We’ve read it. Graydon has not. Mr. Kendricks ... Purdy, he talked with Graydon privately after he gave Mike and me the note. We signed it as witnesses. Neither of us heard what Purdy might have told Graydon, except for what Graydon has shared with us.”
“Hmmm... “ Goode rumbled. “Makes sense. There’s stuff in this note that doesn’t concern Graydon until later, I suppose. I assume that you two gentlemen are something like minders, or mentors for this young man?”
“Yes,” they both answered. Graydon glanced around, about to protest that he was still in the room, but the older men continued to talk around him.
“So if, or when the other portions of this note become pertinent, you two will come forward to assist?”
What portions? Graydon’s mind protested.
“Yes,” Mike replied.
“Very good. Alright, that’s enough of that. What I’ll do is take the clear intent and instructions of Purdy’s letter, and prepare the appropriate legal documents in support. I’m sufficiently familiar with Purdy’s mind and actions to prepare everything needed to withstand any challenge. Now, I think it is time to show you three what’s involved in this heavy charge that Mr. Kendricks has laid on our young friend. Come with me; we have the appropriate maps and plats in our research library.
The region-wide map collection hung from a wall-mounted rack whose extended fingers reached outward in a fan arrangement. Each six-foot-long finger held a map. Goode sorted through them, swinging each into position to examine the map legend until he had identified those he wanted. He separated the Okanogan County group; one map displayed the entire county in its entirely. The scale was small to accommodate the huge area. He slid that from its track and spread it out on a large table.
“This side displays the Methow Valley,” Goode pointed to its western half. “As you can see along the valley’s west edge, Virginian Ridge forms a virtual bulwark between the private lands of the valley, and the public lands that run up to the Cascade Mountain crest that separates the county from the coastal region.