Adam came downstairs well after 10:00 in the morning.
His wife, Angela, made it known by her silence that she was not talking to him. This didn't bother Adam at all; the last thing he wanted was talk to her. Still, he knew he had say something and the earlier he started talking; the better it would be for the both of them.
“Bought some land last night.”
Angela stood by the sink, looking out the window toward the grain bins. Her back was turned to him so he could not see her face but he imagined the fumes rising from it.
“It’s forty acres south of Waltham,” he said.
A coffee cup, that a moment ago was safely cradled in her hand, bounced off the breadboard and bowled into the spice-rack, scattering its contents.
Adam wisely took no notice.
Struggling to stay calm, Angela eased herself into a chair across the kitchen table from her husband. “So you went to The Pit, got drunk with your buddies and wrote a check for every dime we have – ignoring all of the things we agreed to spend it on.”
“It was too good of a deal to pass up,” he said.
Angela wished she still held her coffee cup. This time it would not hit the spice rack.
“You bought land from BILL DAHLER!!” she screamed.
The fact that she knew a detail he had not told her, caught him by surprise.
“You don’t think word gets around that fast?” She said, “I've been on the phone all morning with people telling me what a ninny my husband is. Around Waltham, they call that land The Forbidden Forty?”
He started to say something but she cut him off. “Let me tell you a little story that I heard about Bill Dahler’s dad.”
Adam looked a bit mystified but he let her continue.
“During the depression,” she said, “his old man tried to make a living by selling magazines subscriptions. He was so bad at it that he couldn't afford the bus fare to get from town to town, so he rode the rails.”
“Somewhere, who know where, he picked up a dog and to pass the time, he taught the dog tricks. People loved that dog and someone always wanted to buy it and he was so broke that he sold it. In fact, he sold that dog in every town west of the Mississippi.”
"I am not sure where you are going with this," Adam said.
Angela continued. “And every time he sold the dog, in a day or two, it would run away from its new owner and find Bill. No one ever thought of locking the dog up because it was so well behaved.”
Adam loudly scratched the bristles on his chin. “Where are you going with this?” he asked.
“I did some checking,” she said. “I talked to Sandy Johnson at the County Clerk’s Office. She said that land parcel has been bought and sold nine times in the last decade and every third sale was to Bill Dahler. It seems as if Bill has found himself a dog.”
“I know all about that,” Adam said.
“I knew he was shopping it around, so on Tuesday when you were at your hen-party with the quilting ladies, I drove down and looked at it. You are right, it’s one miserable piece of ground. There is nothing around it for miles but swamp.”
“Then why the hell did you buy it?”
“Oh, Dahler has got it looking pretty,” he said, “Nice crop and everything – but I figured out what he is doing.”
“I am not going to like this, am I?” she asked.
“The land is lower than everything around it, yet it was remarkably dry. I found the pump he hid down there. His scheme works like this. He pumps the land dry, plants a crop and when it matures to full bounty, he sells the field. He then turns off the pump and lets nature take it's course.
When the new owner realizes they have been sold a swamp kept dry by an illegal pump, they will check into draining it, but that is a bureaucratic nightmare. Next thing you know, one of Bill’s friends or family will offer to buy it back for a dime on the dollar and around and around it goes.”
“So what do you plan to do, run a merry-go-round?”
Angela’s face hardened… but Adam’s softened into a gentle smile.
She knew that look. The man always found a way to redeem himself
“You clever old coot,” she said. “What ARE you thinking?”
“There is a developer from the Twin Cities who thought he could pull a fast one on the Department of Natural Resources. He drained what is called “an intermittent marsh” and made a fortune building on it. But the DNR caught up with him and now the poor man is desperate to compensate for his transgression. He has to find land that can be returned to an intermittent marsh. Do you know of any land like that?”
“Oh my God!!”
“Yup, I just got off the phone with him,” Adam said, “it looks like we sold Bill Dahler’s dog for a profit of $40,000.”
“Not only that..” Adam said, “but think of all the people who Dahler screwed over the years. When word gets out, I’ll never have to pay for a beer again.”
“Honey,” Angela said, “this time it worked out for you - but I don't think we can afford to have you drinking free beer at The Pit. Do you know what I mean?….”
This week's challenge: write a squabble.
- Take two or more characters at random and toss them into conflict.
- Spouses are always good for a squabble - but they know how to do it. How about their very first squabble?
- Write about squabbling animals. For instance: an elephant and a donkey get into it over politics.
- Or how about two people who totally agree with each other - but for the wrong reasons?.....
Post your article to Gather Writing Essentials.
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Include "Monday Writing Essential" in your title.
- Try to post by next Monday but don't worry if you don't finish in time. I will be glad to include your post the next week.
Last week's challenge was to write a modern fable. Here are the responses. As always, if I missed your response, please let me know.
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