Copyright© 2020 by Graybyrd
Marilee turned eighteen! And Graydon turned nineteen.
On paper, both were landowners worth millions. Purdy had passed on. Abner had arranged for Purdy to live in a small home on the Columbia River on the edge of the Colville Reservation where he spent his last days visiting the tribal elders and reconnecting with his lost heritage. Abner checked in on him every week, sometimes spending an entire day in the old man’s company, finally taking the time to hear Purdy’s stories of times past. Purdy died in his sleep one night. But he’d left a hand-scrawled note on the nightstand beside his bed. He seemed asleep in death, at peace with a smile on his face as if he’d greeted someone in his last moment.
The note said, “Goode. The kid gets it all.”
The Brightmans returned to their ranch and found the house and outbuildings in good shape, undisturbed and undamaged in the short time they’d been forced away. The lawsuit restored everything that had been taken away, except for Jim’s team. He put out inquiries and found the man who’d bought them. Jim bought them back. The old horses seemed delighted to be home.
He never did find where his old Jeep went. He was forced to buy a new replacement. “Not as good as the original,” he grumbled, “but it will have to do.” Vi teased him about it. “So! New and shiny won’t equal old and worn out, eh?”
“You don’t understand,” he growled. “I was used to the old one. I knew all of its quirks. Now, this new thing. I’ve got to learn it all over again.” But when she wasn’t looking, he grinned. He did like the new and shiny, after all.
Mike Peterson returned to his cabin in its secluded corner on the Brightman ranch. It was undisturbed. Although he’d miss staying with Father Ambrose and Sister Agatha with their far-ranging late-night conversations, he was delighted to be back to his hidden cabin, the surrounding forest, and his privacy. He began gathering firewood to heat rocks for a cleansing sweat bath.
Augustus Atwood and Jason Embridge were found guilty on all counts and sentenced to twenty years each in state prison; Atwood tried to cut a deal for a reduced sentence in exchange for turning state’s evidence against Carlos Montoya, the gang connection. Atwater’s request was refused. A federal organized crime unit followed up on various leads and sent a strike force into southern New Mexico. Montoya, his lieutenants, and another dozen members were killed in a shootout near Las Cruces during a drug shipment intercept.