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Valued Social Butterfly
Posts: 8,623
Registered: ‎07-25-2008

The Inheritance Revisited

Message 91 of 92 (3,838 Views)

(Note:  This is a continuation of "The Inheritance" which you will find on Page 4 of this site.  December/January word prompts: wind, cobwebs, meadow, for sale, cedars, accident, twinkling, depression, reluctant, carpenter)

 

It had seemed like such a good idea. Madison had told herself “there are no accidents” when she had inherited a house from her ex-husband. After a quick trip to look over the situation and to clear away the cobwebs , she was back home with the addition of another dog that came with the house. She had been concerned how her precious Tedi would react, having been accustomed to being an only dog, but after a few days the two settled into a friendship that seemed to still be growing.

On the way home there had been such great ideas for the stretch of land in the North Georgia mountains. The barn next to the house had captured her imagination on many levels. She could picture it filled with all those dogs and cats whose sad faces were shown on her Facebook page needing homes. Perhaps the addition of Daisy was just the first of a long series. Surely there was a purpose for this unexpected gift that had been dropped in her lap.

Only a few hours after returning home, Madison called her best friend to tell her the news. Until then she had told no one of that remarkable and mysterious phone call. She felt she needed to check out the situation as she was having a very difficult time believing it was real. Her marriage to Robert had been so short and so long ago. She had been feeling a bit guilty that she had thought of him so little between the time they had split and now. They had not parted on the best of terms, but those hard feelings had been replaced by so many more recent experiences, both sad and pleasant. She had been thinking the whole thing might be some sort of cruel joke, although the voice on the phone, identifying himself as an attorney, had sounded legitimate and the Robert that she had known was not a player of practical jokes. He was usually attempting to medicate his depression with alcohol. Of course these fears and doubts had been alleviated after reading the letter he had left for her.

There was a party to celebrate the good fortune and each of her friends seemed to have another idea of how this windfall could be used. Several even volunteered any help that might be needed in order to carry out any of these plans. It was a great time. The ideas were flowing and there was a different plan daily. All of those dreams from her youth came flooding back, twinkling through her mind with amazing speed. She also realized there were ghosts from the past that needed to be dealt with before decisions could be made as to the future.

Many times her friends asked when she would return to see her new home. She knew they were hinting that they would like to go with her as they were all curious. She had many reasons to give them for her delay but the real reason was that she was reluctant to bring up more issues that she wasn’t ready to face.

Now it had been six months and she knew it was time. It had been a winter of reliving the past, which somehow felt fitting, but now it was spring and it was equally fitting that this be the time of a new beginning. She had kept all the utilities turned on through the winter but each time she paid the bill she was reminded that she needed to consider putting a “For Sale” sign on one of the properties. But which one?

With tails wagging, Tedi and Daisy jumped into the back seat of the car. They seemed to know this was not a trip to the vet, but rather to some adventure. Perhaps they noticed the other things that went into the trunk. In addition to clothes for a few days, Madison was also taking her painting supplies and her computer. She knew that any decisions she might make would have to include her ability to work. As an artist she was lucky in that she was not tied to any one place and she had been inspired by the distant mountains as she stood looking out those large windows. It wasn’t a lack of inspiration that she was worried about but rather the presence of ghosts.

It was interstate for the first hour and her passengers admired the scenery from their respective windows. It was only after the turnoff onto the two lane highway that she noticed a change from Daisy. Her posture became more erect and her ears changed position. Madison reached the shopping center and thought about stopping for a few things, but noticed that the dogs were so tense that she feared opening the door. Tedi seemed to be almost as excited as Daisy and she wondered how many times Daisy had made this trip before. Until now, Madison hadn’t realized that there were ghosts to be faced by her dogs.

By the time she reached the driveway there were whining sounds coming from the back seat and scratching sounds on the glass as the car was stopping in front of the house. Tedi wasn’t certain what was going on but seemed to think it was something wonderful and was all ready to join the fun. As soon as the door opened Daisy was jumping over the seat and bounding out the door, scampering up the front steps. Her cry was a combination of whining and barking. She was followed by Tedi who stopped long enough to look behind her to make certain she was being followed.

Once the door was unlocked Daisy went racing through the house. It broke Madison’s heart to realize the disappointment she would feel when her search failed. Tedi went sniffing a systematic route through the house, beginning with the kitchen. She must have realized this was where the food was kept because she immediately seemed less tense as she proceeded through the other rooms.

The sounds of paws on the floor came from above as Madison heard the progress from one room to the next, accompanied by the same sound as before. It was with a start that Madison realized this was the first time she had heard any sound from Daisy and she remembered that Robert had mentioned that in his letter too. That knowledge made it even more heartbreaking, but Madison had no idea of how she could comfort her friend.

Tedi was working her way upstairs while Madison took inventory in the kitchen and made a list of the things she might need at the store. Luckily there was still coffee for the morning. She had brought food for the dogs, some canned chili and a can of tuna for herself in case there was nothing left in the freezer. She also had some bread, microwave popcorn, potato chips and a few condiments. In the freezer she found a package of steaks that still looked good and some vegetables, including some tater tots. The store could wait.

She was relieved to hear the unusual and mournful sound had ceased from upstairs. She found it difficult herself to mount the stairs. Robert’s bedroom was at the top of the stairs on the right and she remembered the letter she had found there propped against the photo. Both the letter and the photo were now 200 miles away, but their memory was still strong as was Robert’s presence as she glanced into the room to see both dogs curled up on the bed that had been his. Neither seemed to notice her as she peeped in and she thought it best not to disturb them. Instead she headed for the guest room where she had slept before.

Unlike the master bedroom, this one didn’t have it’s own bath, but there was one right next door. She took a few minutes to empty her bag, hang a few things in the closet and take the toiletries in the bathroom. Towels were found in the closet across the hall. A nice long bath would feel good, but first there were ghosts that needed to be cleared. The razor and the shaving cream was still sitting on the counter along with the after shave. It appeared Robert had changed his preferred brand, which was a blessing. Madison wasn’t certain she could deal with the aroma of English Leather that once permeated any place where Robert had spent time.

All of the items in the medicine cabinet went into a bag along with the toiletries from the sink and tub. She would put them in the trash tomorrow, but for tonight they could stay in the kitchen. She was surprised that neither dog joined her as she took the partially thawed steak into the frying pan. It was the first time she could remember to actually eat alone.

After consuming her meal in front of the TV she realized she was exhausted. It felt strange to think about going to bed without feeding the dogs, but they were in no danger of starving. Peeping into the master bedroom she could see the outline of both bodies, She thought she saw the reflection of Tedi’s eyes on her, but there was no movement. Madison decided that nice long bath could wait until the morning. She barely had the energy to change clothes before getting into bed, thinking it felt odd to be alone. Normally Tedi and Daisy slept on either side of her, but she wasn’t awake long enough to think much about it.

The sun was streaming in the window when she awoke, realizing things felt normal. She had to move one of the dogs in order to get out of bed. At some point in the night they had joined her. Madison thought this must mark some sort of acceptance on the part of Daisy and she knew that her Tedi had been a good friend through this difficult time. She found herself wishing she had such a friend to help her through the days that lie ahead.

There was a chorus of dancing paws in the kitchen. Their missed meal from last night was making them impatient for their filled bowls. Madison placed two slices of bread into the toaster before filling their bowls which were then emptied in a matter of seconds. A few minutes later and they were both out the doggie door.

Madison used the toast to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Along with a mug of coffee, she went outside to watch the fun of exploration of new territory. She expected to see Daisy do another search outside as she had inside the night before but there were no dogs to be seen when she closed the back door.

The morning sun made the meadow look inviting. There were wild flowers beginning to bloom at home and Madison wondered if they had begun here, even though it was further north. A bouquet would certainly liven up the house. But then she thought she caught a glimpse of movement around the darkened door of the barn. This seemed a good time to explore this other building that was now hers. A large shadow was cast by the building and the temperature seemed to drop as she drew closer. She wondered if she should return for a jacket but then she heard barking that she recognized as Tedi and without thinking, ran toward the sound.

Just as she entered the building she became aware of a human sound also. As her eyes adjusted to the dimmed light she noticed a glow coming from a rear corner. “Tedi,” she called. “Daisy, come here, now.”

The barking sound stopped and was replaced with a whining. Madison tried to recognize which animal was making it, but it was then that she heard another sound, unmistakably not only human, but also male.

“It’s OK guys. I won’t hurt you. Good, boy.”

Now there was a chorus of growls. Somehow Madison was relieved. She knew it was irrational, but her first thought had been that it was Robert who was there. She knew she might not recognize Robert’s voice after all these years,, but she was certain that growls would not be coming from Daisy, should it be her friend and master.

Wishing she had brought, not only a jacket but also a flash light, Madison spotted a pitchfork near the entrance which make her feel a bit safer as she inched her way toward the light. Her apprehension was not relieved in the slightest as she crept around an empty stall, her weapon in front her did not make her feel very secure as the unmistakable male figure became silhouetted in the light from the open read door.

Apparently he had a better view of her that she of him. He certainly noticed that she was armed. “Wait a minute,” he uttered. “I didn’t mean to do any harm. Would you please call off the dogs while I introduce myself.”

“I think I’ll just let them be, if you don’t mind.” Madison didn’t want to tell him that Tedi and Daisy were not that well trained and probably would not obey.

“I assume you are Madison? I guess this isn’t the best way to meet. I talked to Mr. Lumpkin and he told me that you were not using the barn at the moment and I was looking it over. I might want to rent it from you.”

“Mr. Lumpkin? You mean the attorney? He hasn’t said anything about it to me.”

“I just talked to him a few days ago and just made the proposal. You can call him if you like. My name is Craig Butler. He knows me.”

“Don’t worry. I’ll definitely be calling him.” Madison said with what she hoped was a very professional voice. Somehow she was feeling more shaken than she wanted.

“Well, then. I’ll just leave now. Here’s my card and you can give me a call after you talk with Jason.”

“Jason?”

“Lumpkin, Jason Lumpkin. Sorry, Jason and I went to school together and I have a hard time thinking of him as a lawyer. Seems he should still be the kid down the street. Anyway, I hope I’ll hear from you. I think this could be good for us both but I’ll leave it to Jason to explain.”

She hadn’t realized she was still holding the pitchfork in front of her until he used one of the prongs to attach his card. As her eyes had adjusted to the lack of light she had been able to see a bit more of the man in front of her, but the sight of his back as he left and the sun suddenly hit the massive shoulders covered by a plaid shirt made her think she certainly hoped the proposal was a good one.

Instead of heading back toward the house, she followed out the back of the barn, The aroma of cedar was noticeable as she passed the point where he had stood. If that was a cologne it was very unusual but not at all unpleasant. 
 

Madison was tempted to follow further than the door, but decided to stay where she was still in the shadow of the barn. His truck was parked a few yards away and she hoped to get a better look at his face if he turned around. Unfortunately, all she could see was the dark slightly wavy hair which had probably passed it’s time for a hair cut. When his truck had vanished around the bend she returned to the house.

Tedi and Daisy were still sniffing around the barn, but apparently they realized that treats might be in the offing as they followed her. With another cup of coffee she found her cell phone and found the number on speed dial. It was answered by a female voice which she took to be his secretary and was told it would be just a moment for Mr. Lumpkin. She suspected it would be more than a moment as she settled down to listen to Barry Manilow singing “Mandy”. At least she was a fan of Barry Manilow.

Barry was interrupted in the middle of writing the songs. “Ms. Morrison, I was just going to give you a call. I’ve had an interesting proposal that I think might interest you.”

“If you’re speaking of Mr. Butler, you’re a little late.”

Mr. Lumpkin sounded shocked. “You mean he got in touch with you. I thought I made it clear that I would contact you.”

“Well, I don’t think he had much choice after I found him in my barn this morning.”

“Oh, you must mean you are in town. I didn’t know.”

Madison was tempted to say something sarcastic about the need to make her presence known ahead of time, but since she really wanted information it seemed prudent to save that for another time.

“Well, Mr. Burton just told me that he had a project in mind that he thought could benefit us both and that he had talked to you about it. He said you two were friends and you could vouch for him. I think I need to know about this proposal or project or whatever.”

“He was right. I can certainly vouch for Craig. We have known each other since grammar school and have been friends ever since. We lost contact for a while during college but when we both decided to come back to our home towns, well, you know how it is with old friends.”

Madison started to say she really didn’t know since she had lost contact with almost everyone she had known even in college. But that was not the issue now. The attorney didn’t need a response anyway.

“Craig is our local artist, although he’s also a gifted carpenter and almost everyone in town owns a piece of his work. I believe Robert had several pieces of his.”

Madison tried to picture the furniture in the house that might have been made by Craig. She hadn’t paid a lot of attention to anything yet. So much of it was still under piles of boxes that needed to be thrown out.

“That’s really interesting, but what does he want with my barn?”

“I’m afraid that was actually my idea. You see Craig lost his wife about a year ago and he’s been coping with the loss by burying himself in work. We had dinner last week and I told him I missed the excitement he used to have when he got a new idea for a piece of furniture. You see he does commercial things but then every now and then he gets an idea for something really special. He confessed he hadn’t been doing any of that recently but was finding that he missed it too. In fact he had been regaining his interest in sculpture that he hadn’t done since college. I understand he was quite good, but gave it up in order to support his wife and family.”

Madison didn’t want to sound overly excited, but the idea of those broad shoulders and dark wavy hair belonging to an artist, and possibly unattached sounded both interesting and scary. She wasn’t totally comfortable with the feelings she was experiencing.

“I don’t understand what this has to do with me and my barn,” Madison said, hoping her voice was sounding more calm than she felt.

“Oh! Didn’t I mention that. His workshop is filled up with his carpentry business and there’s no room for a studio. I told him about your barn that wasn’t being used and he thought it might be perfect. He would pay you rent on the property and would be there to keep a lookout too.”

Madison felt a smile creeping over her face as she thought about the call she would make very shortly.

 

(to be continued)

 

 

Valued Social Butterfly
Posts: 8,623
Registered: ‎07-25-2008

The Inheritance Revisited

Message 91 of 92 (3,838 Views)

(Note:  This is a continuation of "The Inheritance" which you will find on Page 4 of this site.  December/January word prompts: wind, cobwebs, meadow, for sale, cedars, accident, twinkling, depression, reluctant, carpenter)

 

It had seemed like such a good idea. Madison had told herself “there are no accidents” when she had inherited a house from her ex-husband. After a quick trip to look over the situation and to clear away the cobwebs , she was back home with the addition of another dog that came with the house. She had been concerned how her precious Tedi would react, having been accustomed to being an only dog, but after a few days the two settled into a friendship that seemed to still be growing.

On the way home there had been such great ideas for the stretch of land in the North Georgia mountains. The barn next to the house had captured her imagination on many levels. She could picture it filled with all those dogs and cats whose sad faces were shown on her Facebook page needing homes. Perhaps the addition of Daisy was just the first of a long series. Surely there was a purpose for this unexpected gift that had been dropped in her lap.

Only a few hours after returning home, Madison called her best friend to tell her the news. Until then she had told no one of that remarkable and mysterious phone call. She felt she needed to check out the situation as she was having a very difficult time believing it was real. Her marriage to Robert had been so short and so long ago. She had been feeling a bit guilty that she had thought of him so little between the time they had split and now. They had not parted on the best of terms, but those hard feelings had been replaced by so many more recent experiences, both sad and pleasant. She had been thinking the whole thing might be some sort of cruel joke, although the voice on the phone, identifying himself as an attorney, had sounded legitimate and the Robert that she had known was not a player of practical jokes. He was usually attempting to medicate his depression with alcohol. Of course these fears and doubts had been alleviated after reading the letter he had left for her.

There was a party to celebrate the good fortune and each of her friends seemed to have another idea of how this windfall could be used. Several even volunteered any help that might be needed in order to carry out any of these plans. It was a great time. The ideas were flowing and there was a different plan daily. All of those dreams from her youth came flooding back, twinkling through her mind with amazing speed. She also realized there were ghosts from the past that needed to be dealt with before decisions could be made as to the future.

Many times her friends asked when she would return to see her new home. She knew they were hinting that they would like to go with her as they were all curious. She had many reasons to give them for her delay but the real reason was that she was reluctant to bring up more issues that she wasn’t ready to face.

Now it had been six months and she knew it was time. It had been a winter of reliving the past, which somehow felt fitting, but now it was spring and it was equally fitting that this be the time of a new beginning. She had kept all the utilities turned on through the winter but each time she paid the bill she was reminded that she needed to consider putting a “For Sale” sign on one of the properties. But which one?

With tails wagging, Tedi and Daisy jumped into the back seat of the car. They seemed to know this was not a trip to the vet, but rather to some adventure. Perhaps they noticed the other things that went into the trunk. In addition to clothes for a few days, Madison was also taking her painting supplies and her computer. She knew that any decisions she might make would have to include her ability to work. As an artist she was lucky in that she was not tied to any one place and she had been inspired by the distant mountains as she stood looking out those large windows. It wasn’t a lack of inspiration that she was worried about but rather the presence of ghosts.

It was interstate for the first hour and her passengers admired the scenery from their respective windows. It was only after the turnoff onto the two lane highway that she noticed a change from Daisy. Her posture became more erect and her ears changed position. Madison reached the shopping center and thought about stopping for a few things, but noticed that the dogs were so tense that she feared opening the door. Tedi seemed to be almost as excited as Daisy and she wondered how many times Daisy had made this trip before. Until now, Madison hadn’t realized that there were ghosts to be faced by her dogs.

By the time she reached the driveway there were whining sounds coming from the back seat and scratching sounds on the glass as the car was stopping in front of the house. Tedi wasn’t certain what was going on but seemed to think it was something wonderful and was all ready to join the fun. As soon as the door opened Daisy was jumping over the seat and bounding out the door, scampering up the front steps. Her cry was a combination of whining and barking. She was followed by Tedi who stopped long enough to look behind her to make certain she was being followed.

Once the door was unlocked Daisy went racing through the house. It broke Madison’s heart to realize the disappointment she would feel when her search failed. Tedi went sniffing a systematic route through the house, beginning with the kitchen. She must have realized this was where the food was kept because she immediately seemed less tense as she proceeded through the other rooms.

The sounds of paws on the floor came from above as Madison heard the progress from one room to the next, accompanied by the same sound as before. It was with a start that Madison realized this was the first time she had heard any sound from Daisy and she remembered that Robert had mentioned that in his letter too. That knowledge made it even more heartbreaking, but Madison had no idea of how she could comfort her friend.

Tedi was working her way upstairs while Madison took inventory in the kitchen and made a list of the things she might need at the store. Luckily there was still coffee for the morning. She had brought food for the dogs, some canned chili and a can of tuna for herself in case there was nothing left in the freezer. She also had some bread, microwave popcorn, potato chips and a few condiments. In the freezer she found a package of steaks that still looked good and some vegetables, including some tater tots. The store could wait.

She was relieved to hear the unusual and mournful sound had ceased from upstairs. She found it difficult herself to mount the stairs. Robert’s bedroom was at the top of the stairs on the right and she remembered the letter she had found there propped against the photo. Both the letter and the photo were now 200 miles away, but their memory was still strong as was Robert’s presence as she glanced into the room to see both dogs curled up on the bed that had been his. Neither seemed to notice her as she peeped in and she thought it best not to disturb them. Instead she headed for the guest room where she had slept before.

Unlike the master bedroom, this one didn’t have it’s own bath, but there was one right next door. She took a few minutes to empty her bag, hang a few things in the closet and take the toiletries in the bathroom. Towels were found in the closet across the hall. A nice long bath would feel good, but first there were ghosts that needed to be cleared. The razor and the shaving cream was still sitting on the counter along with the after shave. It appeared Robert had changed his preferred brand, which was a blessing. Madison wasn’t certain she could deal with the aroma of English Leather that once permeated any place where Robert had spent time.

All of the items in the medicine cabinet went into a bag along with the toiletries from the sink and tub. She would put them in the trash tomorrow, but for tonight they could stay in the kitchen. She was surprised that neither dog joined her as she took the partially thawed steak into the frying pan. It was the first time she could remember to actually eat alone.

After consuming her meal in front of the TV she realized she was exhausted. It felt strange to think about going to bed without feeding the dogs, but they were in no danger of starving. Peeping into the master bedroom she could see the outline of both bodies, She thought she saw the reflection of Tedi’s eyes on her, but there was no movement. Madison decided that nice long bath could wait until the morning. She barely had the energy to change clothes before getting into bed, thinking it felt odd to be alone. Normally Tedi and Daisy slept on either side of her, but she wasn’t awake long enough to think much about it.

The sun was streaming in the window when she awoke, realizing things felt normal. She had to move one of the dogs in order to get out of bed. At some point in the night they had joined her. Madison thought this must mark some sort of acceptance on the part of Daisy and she knew that her Tedi had been a good friend through this difficult time. She found herself wishing she had such a friend to help her through the days that lie ahead.

There was a chorus of dancing paws in the kitchen. Their missed meal from last night was making them impatient for their filled bowls. Madison placed two slices of bread into the toaster before filling their bowls which were then emptied in a matter of seconds. A few minutes later and they were both out the doggie door.

Madison used the toast to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Along with a mug of coffee, she went outside to watch the fun of exploration of new territory. She expected to see Daisy do another search outside as she had inside the night before but there were no dogs to be seen when she closed the back door.

The morning sun made the meadow look inviting. There were wild flowers beginning to bloom at home and Madison wondered if they had begun here, even though it was further north. A bouquet would certainly liven up the house. But then she thought she caught a glimpse of movement around the darkened door of the barn. This seemed a good time to explore this other building that was now hers. A large shadow was cast by the building and the temperature seemed to drop as she drew closer. She wondered if she should return for a jacket but then she heard barking that she recognized as Tedi and without thinking, ran toward the sound.

Just as she entered the building she became aware of a human sound also. As her eyes adjusted to the dimmed light she noticed a glow coming from a rear corner. “Tedi,” she called. “Daisy, come here, now.”

The barking sound stopped and was replaced with a whining. Madison tried to recognize which animal was making it, but it was then that she heard another sound, unmistakably not only human, but also male.

“It’s OK guys. I won’t hurt you. Good, boy.”

Now there was a chorus of growls. Somehow Madison was relieved. She knew it was irrational, but her first thought had been that it was Robert who was there. She knew she might not recognize Robert’s voice after all these years,, but she was certain that growls would not be coming from Daisy, should it be her friend and master.

Wishing she had brought, not only a jacket but also a flash light, Madison spotted a pitchfork near the entrance which make her feel a bit safer as she inched her way toward the light. Her apprehension was not relieved in the slightest as she crept around an empty stall, her weapon in front her did not make her feel very secure as the unmistakable male figure became silhouetted in the light from the open read door.

Apparently he had a better view of her that she of him. He certainly noticed that she was armed. “Wait a minute,” he uttered. “I didn’t mean to do any harm. Would you please call off the dogs while I introduce myself.”

“I think I’ll just let them be, if you don’t mind.” Madison didn’t want to tell him that Tedi and Daisy were not that well trained and probably would not obey.

“I assume you are Madison? I guess this isn’t the best way to meet. I talked to Mr. Lumpkin and he told me that you were not using the barn at the moment and I was looking it over. I might want to rent it from you.”

“Mr. Lumpkin? You mean the attorney? He hasn’t said anything about it to me.”

“I just talked to him a few days ago and just made the proposal. You can call him if you like. My name is Craig Butler. He knows me.”

“Don’t worry. I’ll definitely be calling him.” Madison said with what she hoped was a very professional voice. Somehow she was feeling more shaken than she wanted.

“Well, then. I’ll just leave now. Here’s my card and you can give me a call after you talk with Jason.”

“Jason?”

“Lumpkin, Jason Lumpkin. Sorry, Jason and I went to school together and I have a hard time thinking of him as a lawyer. Seems he should still be the kid down the street. Anyway, I hope I’ll hear from you. I think this could be good for us both but I’ll leave it to Jason to explain.”

She hadn’t realized she was still holding the pitchfork in front of her until he used one of the prongs to attach his card. As her eyes had adjusted to the lack of light she had been able to see a bit more of the man in front of her, but the sight of his back as he left and the sun suddenly hit the massive shoulders covered by a plaid shirt made her think she certainly hoped the proposal was a good one.

Instead of heading back toward the house, she followed out the back of the barn, The aroma of cedar was noticeable as she passed the point where he had stood. If that was a cologne it was very unusual but not at all unpleasant. 
 

Madison was tempted to follow further than the door, but decided to stay where she was still in the shadow of the barn. His truck was parked a few yards away and she hoped to get a better look at his face if he turned around. Unfortunately, all she could see was the dark slightly wavy hair which had probably passed it’s time for a hair cut. When his truck had vanished around the bend she returned to the house.

Tedi and Daisy were still sniffing around the barn, but apparently they realized that treats might be in the offing as they followed her. With another cup of coffee she found her cell phone and found the number on speed dial. It was answered by a female voice which she took to be his secretary and was told it would be just a moment for Mr. Lumpkin. She suspected it would be more than a moment as she settled down to listen to Barry Manilow singing “Mandy”. At least she was a fan of Barry Manilow.

Barry was interrupted in the middle of writing the songs. “Ms. Morrison, I was just going to give you a call. I’ve had an interesting proposal that I think might interest you.”

“If you’re speaking of Mr. Butler, you’re a little late.”

Mr. Lumpkin sounded shocked. “You mean he got in touch with you. I thought I made it clear that I would contact you.”

“Well, I don’t think he had much choice after I found him in my barn this morning.”

“Oh, you must mean you are in town. I didn’t know.”

Madison was tempted to say something sarcastic about the need to make her presence known ahead of time, but since she really wanted information it seemed prudent to save that for another time.

“Well, Mr. Burton just told me that he had a project in mind that he thought could benefit us both and that he had talked to you about it. He said you two were friends and you could vouch for him. I think I need to know about this proposal or project or whatever.”

“He was right. I can certainly vouch for Craig. We have known each other since grammar school and have been friends ever since. We lost contact for a while during college but when we both decided to come back to our home towns, well, you know how it is with old friends.”

Madison started to say she really didn’t know since she had lost contact with almost everyone she had known even in college. But that was not the issue now. The attorney didn’t need a response anyway.

“Craig is our local artist, although he’s also a gifted carpenter and almost everyone in town owns a piece of his work. I believe Robert had several pieces of his.”

Madison tried to picture the furniture in the house that might have been made by Craig. She hadn’t paid a lot of attention to anything yet. So much of it was still under piles of boxes that needed to be thrown out.

“That’s really interesting, but what does he want with my barn?”

“I’m afraid that was actually my idea. You see Craig lost his wife about a year ago and he’s been coping with the loss by burying himself in work. We had dinner last week and I told him I missed the excitement he used to have when he got a new idea for a piece of furniture. You see he does commercial things but then every now and then he gets an idea for something really special. He confessed he hadn’t been doing any of that recently but was finding that he missed it too. In fact he had been regaining his interest in sculpture that he hadn’t done since college. I understand he was quite good, but gave it up in order to support his wife and family.”

Madison didn’t want to sound overly excited, but the idea of those broad shoulders and dark wavy hair belonging to an artist, and possibly unattached sounded both interesting and scary. She wasn’t totally comfortable with the feelings she was experiencing.

“I don’t understand what this has to do with me and my barn,” Madison said, hoping her voice was sounding more calm than she felt.

“Oh! Didn’t I mention that. His workshop is filled up with his carpentry business and there’s no room for a studio. I told him about your barn that wasn’t being used and he thought it might be perfect. He would pay you rent on the property and would be there to keep a lookout too.”

Madison felt a smile creeping over her face as she thought about the call she would make very shortly.

 

(to be continued)