There’s not too much to do around here. Not too many people coming or going either. But when someone does, that’s when people start to gossip. Once people come to Redmington they rarely leave, no reason to. Well, except to go to the market or go buy a fancy new truck. Those who are here are happy to be and those who don’t, well we never get to know them so they don’t really count as people do they? That’s what made that one guy seem so very, very strange. He showed up one day in a fancy suit with a briefcase. His suit was too fancy for him to be a teacher. That’s what made me notice him the most. He got on the school bus with all the Anderson kids, but he wasn’t their dad, or a teacher, or anyone I’d ever seen before. I figured he was just a traveler from the airport that somehow got lost heading to Lincoln. So here was this man, sitting there in the middle of the bus with a rolling suitcase and a fancy briefcase. He tried to make a call on a very small, very portable phone, but the kids were a bit rowdy 'cause it was a Friday and everyone was having sleepovers. Sleepovers make for extra kids on the bus. I figure the guy finally gave up because he suddenly came to talk to me as I slowed down to drop off the Murphy twins. “How much longer until you drop off the Anderson kids?” He demanded to know. I told him that they were one of my last stops so it would be about another 35 minutes.
“You’ll make an exception today and drop them off first won’t you.” I looked into my shirt pocket and saw that he’d tried to give me $50.
I smiled at this stranger. “Nope I’m afraid not, all these kids have just as much right to get home. Why don’t you have a seat and enjoy the scenery.” I don’t know where he was from but it was easy to see that he did not know the way that a public school bussing system worked. Grumbling he snatched the money out of my hand and sat in one of the empty seats. Aside from making several irate phone calls to people he called punk and several vulgar names, he was quiet for the rest of his ride. Now I don’t condone eavesdropping but he seemed to be talking to several clients and it sounded as if he knew a lot about the field of law.
When I pulled up in front of the Anderson farm I made it a point to pay particular attention to the man’s reaction to the place. At first he was disbelieving but the disbelief soon moved into a look of slight contempt. He picked up his fancy briefcase and marched directly off the bus. When he got to the front door of the farmhouse he rapped loudly on the door before opening the door and proceeded in.
“Do you know that man Jimmy?” I asked the oldest of the three Anderson children.
“No, but Mom said that if that man likes the farm then we’re going to get a lot of money to move to another house. She says they’re going to dig under the house and find bones of dinosaurs, but I don’t believe her.” With that he hoped off the bus and headed straight to his bike there was nothing I could do but turn the bus around and head back to the school, I’d hear about this man soon enough.
The first thing this strange man did when he got to the front door was survey the layout of the farmland. It didn’t appear to be anything special, but he’d been in this business for long enough to know better than to think that. He knocked on the door in a series of loud rapid knocks. There was the sound of a dog barking from the back yard and movement in the room just beyond the door that stood in the way of his plans. As soon as the door was opened the man burst into the house talking rapidly.
“I’m Mr. Collins. We’ve spoken on the phone. You are Ann Anderson correct? No matter, down to business. Now as I said over the phone we at Swanson, Swanson, and Collins are willing to put down a pretty penny for this rat hole that you call a home and a livelihood. I stated over the phone that we are willing to give you $250,000 for this land and the rights and titles to it. I came out here to get the papers I need to have the files signed more quickly. There you go, now sign it so I can leave. By the way you do drive don’t you because I need a ride back to Lincoln and I’m sure as hell not hitchhiking.”
By this point the woman seemed to have recovered her composure somewhat and she replied with a predictably cheery “Hi.” Mr. Collins pushed right on through.
“Once these papers are signed we will need you to evacuate the premises within the next five days because I have already contacted a wreaking crew and they will be here on the twenty seventh to knock down your house.” You do know how to read correct. If not just sign it and we’ll be finished.” Mr. Collins conveniently forgot to tell Ann that there was a fortunes worth of oil underneath her husband’s property. Besides, he told himself, what’s one slip of the mind when you’re trying to get what you want. He stared at the woman as she looked at the papers. She shakingly took them from his hand and flipped to the second page.
“There’s nothing more in there than I already told you,” the man snapped as he snatched back the pages from her. She looked up blinking slowly at him. It was then that Ann Anderson finally spoke up.
“Well, it’s just that we didn’t expect you to move us outta here so soon. We thought we’d be here for another couple of months. You know, just get the kids used to the idea of moving.”
“Well you’re not lady, you’re going to be moving so that we can harvest the oil off this land. I uh I mean so we can dig up the ancient Aztec artifacts that are buried underneath your house.”
By now Mr. Collins seemed to be very, very irritated by the situation. So it irritated him even more when Ann told him that she would drive him into town so that he could find a place to stay overnight and that she’d pick him up in the morning to discuss this further. “You know, once ya got some sleep drilled into ya by a pillow.” Ann giggled as Mr. Collins grumbled under his breath and looked out the window at the fields and fields of plains land that he’d seen since he’d left the city.