Legal Issues Ch. 01


Thick clouds of dust billowed behind the sleek black sedan as it sped along the small dirt road. Overhead, a single lazy cloud cast a huge shadow across the rolling green pastures on either side of the road. A huge line of wheeled metal structures sprayed crops with sinuous streams of water as a single green tractor pulled it further down the field. “You know,” the driver said to his passenger. “It’s a little funny to say this but I’ve never really been in the country. Have you, miss?” The lady in the back seat made no answer so the man continued. “I mean, I honestly think that this is my first time seeing horses and things. In real life. I’ve probably seen them when I was a kid on some field trip but I can’t remember. It’s embarrassing to think of that. It’s not that I-” Lynn scowled at the stack of papers on her lap. Glancing up briefly, she spoke to the driver. “I’m trying to focus and you’re distracting me. I’m not in the mood for idle chatter.” The driver’s eyes flicked to his rear view mirror before returning to the road. Lynn shuffled her papers, refocusing over the rumbling noise of the car crunching over rocks and dirt. Sloping fields of green grass alternated with corn and other crops as the car passed farms that spread further and further apart the longer they drove. “It’s actually quite beautiful out-” the driver started. “Listen,” Lynn interrupted. “Stephen, wasn’t it?” “Shaun, actually, miss.” “Shaun. It would be fairly easy for me to have you fired. Not reassigned. Fired. I’ve asked you to be quiet and I expect you to listen. I wouldn’t be coming out to this wasteland if it weren’t important. Otherwise, my firm would send a junior partner to handle this. And they would drive themselves out here. I don’t give a damn about the scenery and if I have to ask you again to be quiet, I won’t even make a phone call. You’ll simply drive me back when I’m finished and then go home. We won’t expect you back. Now. Please don’t speak until we’re there.” Knuckles white on the wheel, the driver clenched his jaw and focused on the road ahead of him. The young woman returned to her files and the silence in the car grew oppressively. The car turned and then suddenly vibrated fiercely as it drove over a wide cattle guard laid into the ground. Lynn looked up from her papers, blinking her eyes at the bright light filtering through the tinted car windows. Small wooden sheds, chicken wire fences and various pieces of machinery dotted the path leading to the old, sprawling main house. With a voice devoid of emotion, the driver intoned, “We’re here, miss.” “Thank god,” Lynn said. “Wait in the car. If he’s smart, I’ll be finished in less than thirty minutes. If he’s not, it’ll take longer.” “Yes, miss,” Shaun replied, eyes still straight ahead. Lynn stepped from the car, knuckling at her back as she stretched from the long car ride. The air smelled of dust and manure and animals. Lynn wrinkled her nose from the various smells before making her way to the large house further down the path. Eyeing a few loose chickens that somehow weren’t being murdered by a pair of roving cats, the young Ankara bayan escort woman knocked on the front door. A small cat, orange showing through a light covering of dust, investigated Lynn’s black shoes. She shooed it away and it turned, tail proudly in the air as it strutted off. Another orange cat and a larger black one joined up with the first and they took turns to sniff at each other, curious about the newcomer. The front door opened suddenly, forcing Lynn to take a quick step back. A man stood at the entrance, taller than her 5’2″ slim frame. The man, older than her by a few years, stood barefoot in well-worn blue jeans and a stained white shirt. He had a square jaw with just the hint of a dent in a chin covered with stubble. His straight blond hair was caked with bits of dried mud and the man brushed a few strands away from deep green eyes. He glanced at her and then looked beyond to the car waiting behind her. In the eaves above, a small, gentle light glowed to life. Awakened by the new arrival, it hovered and twirled before sinking into the wood of the house. “Can I help you?” The man asked. “Are you Mr. Chapman? Christopher Chapman?” The man looked back at Lynn. She read caution and curiosity in his yes. “Yes, I’m Chris Chapman. What can I do for you?” “I’m Lynn Hathaway from Spiel & Filhart & Hathaway? You spoke to my-” “Your assistant. I told him-” “Associate, actually.” Lynn corrected. Blinking, the man continued. “Associate. I told him I wasn’t interested.” “Mr. Chapman, I’ve already spoken to your neighbors and they’re willing to sell. If we had an agreement from you, P&G Chemicals would be able to build their-” “I said I wasn’t interested.” “The remuneration would be quite substantial, Mr. Chapman,” Lynn pressed. Christopher sighed. “Look, Ms. Hathaway, I was just in the middle of lunch. Why don’t you come in for a second and we’ll talk for a bit. And it’s just ‘Chris’, not ‘Mr. Chapman.’ I keep looking for my dad when you say that, only he’s not alive anymore. Come in. Can I get you some water or something else to drink?” “I’ll take a little water, please. Thank you.” Lynn looked around the front room as she entered. Decades of living littered the entire room. Old photos, some color and some black and white lined shelves that were strewn with knick-knacks from other eras. Faded green reclining chairs and a matching couch faced a large fireplace. Chris looked back at Lynn. “My father died a year ago. I haven’t made the time to clean up or rearrange anything yet.” The odd clash of old and new continued in the kitchen. Speckled green Formica countertops were arranged around a shiny black induction stovetop. A large LG refrigerator hummed quietly in the corner, surrounded by blackened cast iron pots and pans. On the counter next to a simmering pot of soup lay a large, opened cookbook. The smell of onions permeated the kitchen. Chris gestured to a small table surrounded by windows. “Have a seat. I’ll grab some water.” The old wooden chair creaked as Lynn sat. A thin local newspaper sat next to a bowl of half-eaten soup in Escort bayan Ankara front of the other chair across from her. Lynn rolled her eyes at the main story – a young gap-toothed girl holding a first place ribbon in front of a large horse. “Suzanne Getters,

At 4H Showing!” read the headline. “Here you go,” Chris told her, handing over a small glass of water. “Thank you,” Lynn said, placing the cup to the side with no intention of drinking anything from the cloudy glass. “So-” Lynn interrupted. “I’ll be blunt, Mr. Chapman. You’re the only one holding up the sale. Your neighbors are ready to go but we can’t do anything unless you agree.” “Which I won’t do,” Chris said. With a frown and an internal sigh at herself for leaving her documents in the car, Lynn began her speech. “I don’t understand, Mr. Chapman. We’ve spoken with your father when P&G initially surveyed. We’ve done our research. We know you’re just making enough to live off of but hardly any more than that. I’m sorry for your loss but your father was the farmer. You’ve spent most of your adult life away from here. I fail to see why you wouldn’t sell.” Chris looked through the window out into his property. Lynn could see the man’s jaw working and she imagined him mentally going over what he should say. So he’s the ‘more than thirty minutes’ type, she thought. “I-” Chris paused. “I hated this farm growing up. I was up before school, working. And then, back home, I was working again. That’s all it was. Work. The older I got, the more I wanted to move out. To make my way into the city and do something that wasn’t anywhere close to this. I went to college and messed around until I settled on a degree. I drank, tried some pot and just cut loose. My dad kept in touch and I visited here and there but never for long. I had a job to get back to. A life. I was seeing a girl and it was getting serious. I proposed and was taking extra hours to save up for a proper ring. Because that’s what you do, right? That’s what she wanted. A big wedding, a big ring, a big group of people to come out and see all the shiny things.” The man took a sip of his own water before continuing. “When my father died, I put it all on hold to come out and take care of things. My fiancée came out once and then went straight back home. Didn’t like the smell or the animals or the lack of a flat screen TV. I spent a week going through things. Reading the paperwork, understanding the will. And then another week.” Lynn desperately tried to find a way to stop the flow of words – to insert something in to change the subject. Before something came to mind, the man continued. “Have you ever seen the stars out here, Ms. Hathaway? Out in the country? There’s thousands of them. Out here, alone in my father’s house and under those stars, I realized something. I realized I’d changed one thing for another. One life of struggling for another. I kind of reevaluated what I was doing. My fiancée, she was a decent gal but away from the city, away from the constant go-go-go, I realized there was nothing there. I was building a life Bayan escort Ankara of things. My father, he… Him and his parents and their parents, they built this up. They took care of the land and animals and raised children and passed it on. They lived a good life and they were, well, stewards of the land. Something called to me that night and I listened. I invited my fiancée out to live with me and we spent almost a week arguing back and forth until she gave my engagement ring back. And now here I am.” “But, Mr. Chapman, I understand-” “I do well enough, Ms. Hathaway. I’m relearning old habits. I know my neighbors and we visit and chat. I go out into the community, to the farmer’s market and I meet the town folk. They remember me from when I was a kid and they’re more than happy to see me taking over my father’s land. I know almost everyone in that little town and we help each other. When I lived in the city, I didn’t even know the names of the people in the apartment next to me.” “Mr. Chapman, I appreciate the story, trust me, I do, but I’d really like you to consider-” “I won’t Ms. Hathaway. If I bring P&G out here, it’ll ruin the land. It’ll bring in workers, sure and more money but they will destroy everything around them. I hire on workers, too and I help the community with what extra money I have. I’m doing useful things and I feel damn good about it. I guess I just had to see what else was out there before I made up my mind.” Lynn stared at the man in front of her. His eyes were clear and sure and she knew he wouldn’t change his mind today. She sighed, glancing at her watch before standing. Chris stood with her. “I understand, Mr. Chapman. I will go back to P&G and run some numbers by them. I’m sure I can find something that more suits your needs.” “Ms. Hathaway, I sure wish you wouldn’t. I’m firm on what I said. My family trusted me with this farm and land and I intend to make sure I pass it on to my own children in even better shape.” “P&G has a record of excellence and is a leader in environmental-” “I’ve done my own research, Ms. Hathaway. I’ve looked at existing factories on Google Maps. I’m not stupid. I’ve seen what happens. I’ve read about the chemicals leeched into the soil around their plants in Indiana and Kentucky. The out of court settling they’ve done. Please don’t think I’m stupid just because I’m living out here in the country.” Around them, unseen to either, six little glowing lights gathered from the shadows. Each light bobbed in the air, pulsing with a hidden beat. They flocked to Christopher as he argued. Almost lovingly, they danced around him, their light high and bright. One of the lights broke away, flitting cautiously over to Lynn as the woman listened with her brows knitted together and her arms crossed. With its internal lighting low, the small glowing sphere circled her body, spiraling up to touch lightly against her head. A second light joined the first until all six investigated the stern lady. They flashed red and sickly yellow as they listened to the conversation around them. “Mr. Chapman, you’re primarily a dairy farm and, from our research, you haven’t even automated. Your farm is woefully behind the times and the amount of money it would take to install milking stalls and pens would be prohibitive,” Lynn argued. “I won’t have my cows locked in stalls all day, Ms. Hathaway.” A spark of anger slipped through the young lawyer’s control.

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