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DARBY DOOMSDAY % the next day Howard met with Birch, F. Latour, Tess, and Missy in Cooty’s cabin. F. Latour and Howard separated from the group and stood together in a corner of the cabin. F. Latour showed Howard the papers that Birch had dug up. Elenore was Irish, English, French, and Native American. Father and son talked in whispers. “Too bad we didn’t do this research when mom was alive,” F. Latour said. “Yeah, it made her sad that she didn’t know who her people were,” Howard said. “She found some solace in religion,” F. Latour said. Howard shook his head, then struggled to speak to his son, but no words came out. Go ahead, say it. I can’t. Then just drop dead right here. Okay, I’ll give it a shot. “I never treated you the way I should have—I’m sorry, Freddy. I mean Latour.” “It’s okay, Pop.” For a moment it might have appeared to an observer that father and son would embrace, but they didn’t. They left the corner and joined the group. The treatments Luci and Wiqi were giving Cooty had worked wonders . He might not be able to operate a machine gun, but he could take care of himself. Cooty was fully dressed in his robe and acorn hat sitting at his table with folded hands. He looked fifteen years younger, an elderly gentleman, not a slack-jawed centenarian. The company 257 gathered around the table eating stew with wooden spoons made by F. Latour. They conversed as they ate. Light chatter. Howard stood, took Cooty’s cane off the footlocker, gestured with it as if he were Moses parting the Red Sea, and shouted, “Okay, now what?” And he put the cane back on the footlocker and sat down at the table. Birch, sitting cross-legged on the floor, glanced at his father beside him. F. Latour got that funny looking-at-the-sky face that used to infuriate Howard when F. Latour was Freddy and a young kid trying to distance himself from a domineering dad. F. Latour seemed about to speak, but halted and just shook his head. “Grandpa Howard should know the truth,” Tess said. “Good idea,” Howard said. Birch was not so sure. “Grandpa, why do you have to know our business here?” he said softly. “Couldn’t you just . . .” He couldn’t bear to speak the words. “Just retire, turn in my badge as town constable.” “You don’t have a badge, Pop,” F. Latour said softly. “He don’t have no stinking badge,” said Missy. She was the only one at the table who had never allowed herself to be intimidated by Howard Elman. “Something’s bothering me,” Howard’s voice thundered. “It’s the forgotten woman, Delphina Jordan. The woman lost a son and a husband. If I don’t deserve the truth, she does. And I plan to tell her everything I know. Her boy is dead and in cold storage at Dartmouth College, and her ex has been kidnapped. Who can say what his end will be?” Birch put his palms against his forehead, looked at his father. “Dad?” “Okay, I’ll explain it,” F. Latour said. “Pop, I want you to listen, and don’t interrupt, okay?” “Okie-dokie,” Howard said as if he meant it. “For Birch and me, everything is about the Trust lands, the conservancy ,” F. Latour said. “Squire Salmon had a vision, but he was a little short on legal niceties and cash flow. Our goal is to build an ironclad land trust for the future. To accomplish that purpose we can’t allow the town of Darby to morph into a burb, or worse into a trailer park community . The best way to do that is to partner with the Connissadawaga 258 tribe and plc, which we’ve done, and to create zoning laws to exclude the people we don’t want and include the people we do want, while at the same time generating income. Bottom line: we need a grip on this town. “Missy, when she’s elected state senator, will look out for our interests in the state house. If the public learns that Missy shot a sixteenyear -old boy, even if it was justified, Missy won’t be elected and, worse, the publicity will cast a pall over the Trust lands, our video game company , and the Salmon name. “Then there’s that other element that has...


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MARC Record
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