Gold Mountain
Chapter 23

Copyright© 2020 by Graybyrd


FBI Special Agent in Charge Maurice Patrick, accompanied by Agent Fred Everton presented their badges and demanded that Sheriff Johnson submit to questioning. He was to immediately accompany them to an upstairs room in the Okanogan federal building--the Post Office and Social Security Administration facilities on Central Avenue.

“Are you actually serious?” Johnson demanded.

“I’d advise you to limit your remarks, Sheriff, and maintain a civil attitude. We are quite serious. You have interfered in a federal investigation, caused injury to a federal agent, and withheld evidence and obstructed an agent in the lawful performance of his duties. For starters...”

“You mean that sorry excuse for a lawman your Agency issued credentials and turned loose on an unsuspecting public? Dougherty? Is that what this is all about?” Johnson interrupted.

“Are you going to come willingly or will you force us to take you into custody, Sheriff Johnson?” Patrick demanded. He gestured for Everton to move behind Johnson.

“I don’t think so,” Johnson answered. “But consider this. I have a roomful of witnesses who will testify that Dougherty’s insolent and arrogant treatment of material witnesses and cooperating citizens very nearly froze our investigation in its tracks. Sworn testimony! And I had our dispatcher log our attempt to notify agent Dougherty of an impending operation to raid the kidnappers and rescue the hostages; Dougherty failed to inform us of his whereabouts or how to contact him. That is an official, documented log entry, Agent Patrick. As for his ‘accident’ in which he recklessly destroyed his rental vehicle, wrecked my county unit beyond repair, nearly ran myself and my deputy down, and injured himself so severely he crippled himself so he’s disabled for life? That accident? It was witnessed by myself, my deputy, and by three County employees who heard the uproar of Dougherty’s violent turns and high-speed entrance into the County parking lot.

One of those witnesses was our locally-assigned Washington State Patrol Trooper John Evars who was in the courthouse offices overlooking the parking lot, on official business. He heard the squealing tires as Agent Dougherty nearly overturned his vehicle in the middle of Central Street. Evars wrote out a signed affidavit of ‘reckless endangerment’ among other driving charges he filed against your agent.”

“But that has nothing whatsoever to do with FBI jurisdiction in this kidnapping case, Sheriff. You have no authority in this case and we demand that all evidence, reports, warrants, and other documents be released--in full--to our custody.”

“Agent Patrick, I’m a patient man. And I not only uphold the law, I observe it fully and honestly as best I can. But I’ll tell you this: go piss up a rope! We have cleared the case without your help despite Agent Dougherty’s total incompetence and interference. I’m saddened to say that all the perpetrators at the scene were killed. As for the conspirators, they are being held under our jurisdiction on a range of charges involving State and County offenses. Their Federal offenses are a small part of all that.

“One last thing: while you and your assistant here reconsider this ill-conceived folly of a jurisdictional pecker-fight, look to your future involvement with state-wide law enforcement. There are thirty-nine counties in Washington State. Each has an elected Sheriff. Each Sheriff exercises independent authority, accountable only to their voters. We thirty-nine Sheriffs have a State Association, dedicated to dealing with threats and outrageous demands, such as you seem to be making.

“So, Agent Patrick, recognizing that every time a situation arises in which the FBI chooses to impose its authority upon our citizens, the first place you come is to local Police or Sheriff’s offices, politely requesting local participation, support, and endorsement. Think again, Agent Patrick. You are out of your depth, here. You are letting your pecker get ahead of your brain. So as I suggested, you and your puppy can whip ‘em out and go piss up a rope. Leave me and my deputies to carry on wrapping up a case which your man would have drop-kicked into oblivion, while getting two hostages killed. Now get the hell out of my face!”

Sheriff Justin Johnson had lost his cool. He’d later stand in front of Amber Jone’s dispatch counter and confess his sins. She simply asked, “Did they do it?”

“What?” he asked, looking up, startled at the question.

“Well, you told them to go do it,” she smiled her trade-mark evil grin. “Did they piss up a rope?”

“Don’t know. Don’t care. They got out of my county. That’s good enough for me.” Justin tipped his hat back, tilted his head, and gazed at his grinning dispatcher. “How does John put up with you at home? I never thought to ask?”

“He puts up with me just fine, Sheriff. After twenty-four years and three kids together, he still gets down from time to time ... and he kisses my toes!”

Justin was immediately sorry he’d asked.

“Explain again how this sorts itself out,” Purdy asked Abner. “We got ourself a limited corporation, you call it, where my Virginian Ridge property, the Brightman’s ranch, and all them Colorado holdings get bundled up. That’s right? And I’m part owner of something a whole lot bigger than what I had?”

“Roughly speaking, yes. It’s a Limited Liability real estate holding corporation. That’s just a way to toss everything in one pot that the interested parties share. That’s you, the Brightmans, the Jacobs family including Marilee, and Graydon and Mike,” Abner explained.

“So I’m still stuck with dealing with all that land I got no good use fer, and now I got a whole bunch more I’ve got no good use fer? Hell, Goode, I thought I shed all that bother when I wrote out that paper for Graydon?” Purdy scowled, hunched down into himself in the overstuffed chair that threatened to swallow his small frame, and grunted his disapproval.

“No, Purdy, relax. Consider it good news and bad news. Good news is, the group will handle the worries. If you want, you can sit back and watch and count your share of the proceeds. The bad news is that you’re still an owner, so you have to sit back and count your share of the proceeds.” Abner grinned down at the upturned, scowling face of his old friend.

“So they get the worries, and I git the money fer it?”

“Pretty much, yes. You do get to have a say-so when things come up, or you can just let Graydon speak for you. He still has that paper you signed.”

“Well ... I kin handle that, I reckon,” Purdy grinned. “As long as there ain’t so much money comin’ in that it gets me in hock with them tax people!”

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