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High Desert Chronicle - Dulce V (Chapter 10)

Charlie Notsinneh fished the noisy cell phone out of the left front pocket of his shirt.  It was an annoyance that Lori insisted on.  “Yes ma’am?” he said when he saw Lori’s name on the caller ID.  “Daddy, Jenny just called.  Sailor’s gone.”   He was already walking toward the old pickup  “I’m on my way.”

Charlie and Lori knew Sailor had been fighting pancreatic cancer for the past seven months. While Sailor had not shared all the details and had insisted on making most of the trips to the doctor alone, they could still see the obvious physical toll the disease was taking.  Sailor had been honest with both of them on the prognosis; little could be done to stop the fatal track the cancer was taking.  Charlie smiled as he remembered the evenings on the porch; enjoying some good whiskey with his old friend.  Those times made all the more precious because both men knew they would not continue forever.  Charlie stared forward through the pitted windshield “You old bastard, checked out on your own schedule didn’t you?”  He was five minutes from Lori’s office.

…………….

Marian Sawyer didn’t consciously  work at being mundane and incredibly boring.  It had just worked out that way and she never gave it a second thought.  After the tumultuous and uncomfortable marriage to Dave Connell she knew an exciting lifestyle was not for her.   She had married an unremarkable agricultural salesman and moved to a suburban home outside of Oklahoma City that could have just as well been in Dallas or Atlanta or Charlotte.  She drove a nondescript Ford mini van and bought her clothes off the rack at Wal-Mart.  Until she had retired last year, she had held a series of unremarkable clerical jobs.   Her days now consisted of errands and watching her stories on afternoon TV.  All in all,  her life was well, unremarkable.

That just made the single sheet of yellow legal pad paper all the more unsettling.  It had arrived this morning via overnight mail. She picked it up off the kitchen counter and re-read it for the fifth time.

Dear Marian,

There is no easy way to put this.  I have pancreatic cancer and if you are reading this it means I have died.  I need your help settling up my estate. It will be helpful to me and financially beneficial to you.  Please contact my lawyer, Lori Notsinneh, and she will fill you in on the particulars.  I have enclosed $750 cash for traveling money.

I have every confidence that you can do this Marian.  With Lori’s help, it will not be that hard.

Dave

She picked up the phone and dialed the lawyer lady’s number in Dulce.

…………….

Lori had held Sailor’s Power of Attorney for almost two decades and was well familiar with his business and financial affairs. She oversaw the management of over a dozen commercial and retail properties he owned in and around Dulce and she managed his investment portfolio which had grown substantially over the years due to her guidance. She was quite aware that he had been involved in ‘things’ beyond the law in his younger years from stories told on her Daddy’s Porch after the good whiskey flowed.  Sailor had never once asked her to do anything remotely illegal. As his lawyer, she had kept his financial business extremely discreet. Even her own Daddy knew next to nothing about Sailor’s business investments.

Sailor had scheduled an appointment 90 days earlier regarding what he had called ‘an important matter.’ He had arrived right on time and settled himself into the worn leather chair in front of her desk. “Lori, I have pancreatic cancer and it is going to kill me. I need your help in setting my affairs in order while I’m still able.” Her first reaction was “Does Daddy know?” “I told Charlie 2 months ago Lori. We decided there was no use troubling you with it until it was necessary.” Lori eyes welled up with tears “How long do you have Sailor?” “The Doc says 6 to 9 months and there will be no crying! Tough lawyers like you don’t cry for God’s sakes. Time to get those big girl pants on gal. We got work to do.”

3 days later, Sailor had flown them down to Albuquerque to meet with the top probate lawyer in the state.  He had made a few changes in the will Lori had drawn up for Sailor.  The flight back had been fairly quiet as both Lori and Sailor were deep in thought.  Lori broke the silence “I hope I am up to this Sailor.”  Sailor looked at her “You know you and your Dad have meant the world to me Lori.  He is the brother I never had and you are the daughter I always wished I had.  You know damned well I have led an interesting life and it has been a helluva ride.  We all die sometime and I have no regrets.  All you gotta do Lori is follow the instructions in the lockbox and be a good Executor.  Hell, even if you screw it up a little, what does it matter?  I ain’t gonna be around anyway.”

An hour after the first phone call from Jenny the contents of the lockbox were arranged neatly on the side credenza in her office. There was a small amount of cash and some gold and silver coins along with titles to various vehicles and land holdings and 3 sealed envelopes addressed to different people in Mexico that were to be mailed ‘in the event of the death of Dave Connell  Jr.’  The will itself was straightforward. She was going to continue managing his properties as she saw fit for a good yearly salary.   His investment portfolio had been converted to an investment trust.  Proceeds of the trust would provide some retirement income for Charlie and herself when that day came.  The trust also had provisions to fund the education of any of her future children.  The Notsinnehs would never be filthy rich but they weren’t going to the poorhouse anytime soon either.  Sailor’s ex-wife Marian Sawyer would be in Dulce in two days to go through personal belongings and prepare  the land, RV and personal contents for an auction. Marian would be the beneficiary of those proceeds.  In typical Sailor fashion,  the Crown Victoria airport car went to Charlie and the old ’69 Chevy truck went to Lori because “there is nothing hotter than a good looking woman in a ponytail and a ball cap driving an old pickup truck.”   She brushed back a tear as she reviewed the section of the will pertaining to Teague Robertson.

Lori had never met ‘Cowboy’ Teague Robertson but she had overheard a few stories on her Daddy’s front porch which featured him.   Cowboy was fixin’ to become a rather wealthy individual and the new owner of Buck.  ‘Well, no time like the present to introduce myself.” She picked up the phone and dialed Cowboy’s number which went to voicemail immediately.  “Mr. Robertson,  My name is Lori Notsinneh and I am Sailor’s lawyer in Dulce.  I am afraid I have some unfortunate news to share with you. Would you please call me at your earliest convenience?”  She replaced the phone on its’ cradle and got up from her desk.   It was time to go meet her Daddy at the Funeral Home to finalize those arrangements.

 

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