Copyright© 2020 by Graybyrd
Encounters & Revelations
Graydon and Mike had chosen to stay in a modest motel well outside of Denver, away from the congestion, noise, and choked highways. Both were disturbed by Atwood’s revelation that some form of extreme pressure would be used to acquire the Brightman ranch. And of course there was the matter of Mike’s cabin secluded in the timber-covered upper corner of the Brightman ranch, above the hay fields.
No one answered Mike’s late afternoon call to the ranch. He waited an hour and called again. Still no answer. He and Graydon left for a meal; they located a family-style restaurant, and afterward drove up into the foothills. They found a parkland trail and hiked up to an overlook of the area. Denver lay in the distance under a cover of polluted, stagnant air.
Later, back at the motel room, Mike tried to call again. Still no answer. Their absence concerned him but perhaps they were visiting friends, or had gone for an overnight trip to Okanogan, or to Wenatchee to shop and visit.
Early the next pre-dawn morning they located a city park and found an isolated corner for exercises and meditation until the sun rose higher to start a new day. Country breakfast at a family cafe was quite good; the remainder of the day found them back in Denver researching Alpine-Colorado financial and business operations. The corporation, privately held, had no public information listed with financial brokers, but they did locate an adviser active in recreation and property investments. He seemed knowledgeable concerning Alpine-Colorado’s reputation and business practices: Predators was the word they heard. Alpine-Colorado was reputed to be quick to attack weakened competitors, fast to make extravagant promises, and slow to honor their commitments.
They contacted several referrals they’d been tipped to visit; many were hesitant to openly answer questions. A few opened up as they warmed to the subject and confirmed the bad impression: predators. One broker with Denver bank connections said that no bank in the Denver area would lend to Alpine-Colorado based on their record of defaults. Somehow, their source explained, CEO Atwood had continued to secure outside financing from unknown sources. He did mention rumors of south-of-the-border connections, but he refused to elaborate further.
Late that afternoon back at the motel, Mike tried calling the Brightmans. Still no answer. Worried now, he called Fr. Ambrose.
“It’s not good, Mike. The federal tax people, the Internal Revenue, they took the ranch. They posted it with government ‘no trespassing’ signs, put government padlocks on the house, and took the livestock to the auction yard. Those poor folks. They tried to rent a room at the Winthrop motel to stay while they work things out, and they found their checking and savings accounts have been seized. If they hadn’t been driving back from the lawyer’s office in Okanogan, they’d have lost their car, too.”
Mike swore softly under his breath.
“Tell them they’re not alone in this. Of course, they’re not alone! Tap into our reserve funds; set up a new bank account. Call it our ‘Pasayten Peak legal defense fund.’ Issue a cash stipend of two thousand to the Brightmans for living and travel expenses. Have them contact Abner Goode immediately for a referral to the best tax attorney in the region. Graydon and I have another day here, to bait the hook with the Alpine-Colorado people. They’re so hungry for Purdy’s property they’re salivating. They’ve already said far too much. I’ve no doubt they’re completely behind this IRS seizure. Now we’re going to insinuate ourselves a lot deeper and find their connections behind the scenes. I’m convinced they have somebody in a high seat of power pulling levers for them; otherwise, the Forest Service wouldn’t be falling all over themselves to grant land swaps, permits, and public land leases.”
“Consider it done. Be careful,” Fr. Ambrose replied. “Nobody since Daniel has walked into the lion’s den and come away whole. So you and Graydon watch yourselves. I’m convinced that the attack on Purdy and Patch ties back to that Denver outfit too, so beware.”
“Of course. We’ll be careful. We’ll be busy tomorrow, but we can be reached here tomorrow evening. Next morning, we’ll hit the road back to the valley. We’ll stay in touch along the way. If anything else happens before we arrive, you handle it. Keep Purdy informed, and the two of you call Abner Goode. Make sure everybody’s on the same page. When Goode said we were ‘going to war,’ none of us knew how prophetic that was.”
Again Mike and Graydon sat at the Alpine-Colorado conference table facing Jason Embridge, V.P. of Development, and Augustus Atwood, CEO and principal stockholder.
“Gentlemen, thank you for meeting with us again on short notice,” Graydon opened. “I have reconsidered your earlier offer for Mr. Kendrick’s properties, and evaluated your development project as shown to us yesterday. I’ve formed an opinion that I’m prepared to share with Mr. Kendricks, and I have a counter-proposal regarding the inclusion of his properties in the Virginian Ridge recreational complex. I’ve prepared a brief synopsis for your consideration. Consider it a starting point for further discussion and, if necessary, your counter.”