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   Chapter 5 Keeper of the Crossroads

Keeper of the Crossroads By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 35440

Updated: 2018-03-13 10:50


Chapter 5

Jamie rubbed his eyes as he rolled out of bed. He blinked hard and looked towards the window. There was no fairy staring back at him. He shook his head and smiled softly to himself.

"Must have been the dream, " he muttered standing and stretching. Jamie thought about the dream as he showered and dressed for the day.

"It felt more like a memory than anything else, " he mused. "Probably a fusion of all the trips through the woods with Albe mixed in with the crazy field guide." He smiled again, this time it was tinged with sadness. Albe was gone. He didn't know why the dream made him believe it more than the visit with the lawyer, but it did. Jamie put the last of his things in his duffle bag and chugged the last remaining bit of orange juice from the carton. It had been the only thing left in his fridge.

"Won't have to worry about spoilage, " he told himself. He put the empty carton in the trash and tied the top of the bag in a knot. He would have to remember to throw it away as he left. Jamie began loading the car with his belongings. It took two trips, followed by a third to remove the trash. The sky was still nearly night dark with only a tinge of pearl tracing along its edge when Jamie pulled his car out of the parking lot and onto Elm Street. His mind was still on the dream. Everything, with the exception of the fairy, felt too much like a memory for him to dismiss it.

He ordered breakfast from a fast food drive through and aimed his car towards the highway. He managed to make it to the on ramp before his phone started to ring. Marilyn Manson signaled the fact that his mother was awake. He let it ring as he took his first bite of biscuit. The phone fell to silence. He took another bite and began to count to ten. He made it to eight before the phone rang again. This time the Bandito's played. Apparently Michael was up.

"In all fairness, " he told himself. "I do get sucked into projects and forget the rest of the world." He was less inclined to be amiable when the third rotation of calls began. He set his biscuit down in the wrapper and picked up his phone. When the call ended he turned the ringer off and set the phone back in the seat beside him.

"I wonder how long before they start trying Jasmine's phone?" Jamie wondered as he picked his breakfast back up. He tried very hard not to spill his breakfast, but still ended up with crumbs raining down the front of his shirt. When he finished eating he brushed them away, idly wondering where all the crumbs of the world went. After all this was quite often how he ate and he had been doing this the entire time he had owned the vehicle.

"Logic says there should be crumbs up to my eyeballs by now instead of a slightly dusty floor board. Of course the occasional vacuuming helps, " he said. Not that he actually vacuumed. Jamie was pretty sure when he took his car to have the oil changed and the fluids checked they did something like vacuuming because his car always smelled kind of astringent.

"Like pine mixed with lemon and bleach, " he thought. The biscuit finished, he threw the trash into the bag and took a great big gulp of his soda. The cup was almost too large to fit in his one hand comfortably and he wondered when they had gone to gallon sized drums as the standard drink measurement.

He set the drink down and turned off the main highway. Jamie took the various turns and twists in the road with a practiced ease that he had not shown his family when they had come out with him. Mostly he supposed it was because their presence did not create a condition that made him comfortable. He wondered if they could even tell if they had gone east or west on the main highway in the first place.

"Obviously none of them were graduates of the Albe School of pay attention to the details or get left behind." After the various turns and twists, he turned into the drive and stopped his car at the gate. He got out, unlocked the gate, got back in the car, pulled it through and relocked the gate behind him.

"Somehow it's a little less obnoxious a task without others waiting in the car while you do all the work, " he thought.

Jamie drove up to the house and parked in the same spot he had driven to the day before. He cut the engine and stepped out of the vehicle. Somehow things looked different to his eyes than they had the day before. Jamie found his hand dropping to the medallion Albe left him. He had fallen asleep with it on and had not bothered removing it when he dressed. He looked at the house. There was a slight shimmery haze around the outside of it that had not been there before. It reminded him a little of a heat haze. The breeze that stirred his hair was crisp and filled with autumn scents.

"I wonder if the house really is alive, " he asked himself. Jamie took the stack of papers Albe had left him and the set of keys and walked over to the house. The stairs were solid under his feet and he wondered if he would have to publicly acknowledge the house before it would actually start speaking to him. Visions of the ship in the Hitchhiker's Galaxy flew through his head and he wondered if a talking house was even a good idea. He paused on the steps.

"If it is alive it would be rude not to acknowledge it before entering." He toyed with the keys for a moment and wondered if the house could only talk when he was inside it. Somehow it seemed ruder to enter the house and then acknowledge its existence.

"Kind of like ordering for your date when you didn't know if she was allergic to shellfish or not, " he thought.

"Um house?" he began feeling a little uncomfortable and quite silly. "Sorry I don't know exactly what you are called."

"I'm called House actually, " he heard. The voice was a soft whisper and he had no better luck pinpointing where the voice was coming from than he has the day before. The voice was neither male nor female but a rather androgynous in between voice. Oddly enough it had a wisp of an English accent, which he found strange.

"Oh, " he said. "House then. May I come in?" A low chuckle sounded.

"My, my, how polite. Must be Albe's influence. Too bad he didn't rub off on the others. You may of course enter. You are after all the Keeper now and I am the abode of the Keeper.

"I am the Keeper?" Jamie asked a bit non-plussed.

"Yes, you wear the medallion." He looked at it in the sunlight. It didn't look any more impressive out here than it had in his apartment.

"So you know all about this Keeper stuff?" He asked the house.

"I know how to guide you. A bit, " the house admitted. Jamie got the impression that the house didn't like to admit there were things it didn't know. "However I would appreciate it if you would come inside for this conversation since after all it tires me to speak outside of my confines. I can only really talk to you like this because you are on my door step and are in fact the Keeper."

"All right, " he responded taking the keys and unlocking the door. Jamie shrugged; at least there was a possibility that his questions would be answered. The house smelled clean and fresh, as if a troop of maids had just completed their work and hustled out of the back door to avoid being seen, but it felt emptier. He stepped inside and closed the door.

"Okay, so what can you tell me about this Keeper deal? Everyone seems very light on the details."

"Ah well, that is perhaps because it is fairly complicated." House began. "You know that Albe was the Keeper, correct?"

"In as much as I know anything, " Jamie replied setting his papers down on the front hall table his mother had admired. He looked at the brass card holder his brother had picked up. It had been empty when he left. Today there were eight cards in is shiny depths. He frowned. "Was someone in here?" he asked.

"They can't come in when you are not here, " House said. "I would never allow that." The house sounded vaguely offended.

"Of course not, " he said consoling it. "But these cards were not here yesterday."

"Oh no, they weren't, " he was told. "They were dropped off at the door. I whisked them to the card holder for your approval." Jamie flipped through the cards. The names all sounded rather alien and he placed them back in the holder. They looked more like old fashioned calling cards rather than business cards.

"I suppose we can deal with that once I have figured out exactly what is going on."

"Well you are now the Keeper. You are the one to whom the house and lands belong. We serve you. The lands are the boundary between the worlds. Some cross between and live in one or the other and others never leave. Some stay in the woods. They need to be watched. You are of course neutral and not involved in any disputes unless there is a problem that cannot be resolved. Well not, resolved by anyone other than an outsider. We are pretty neutral in most cases.

"The worlds?" he asked.

"Yes there is the world of the seen and the world of the unseen, " came the answer. 'Well unseen for most. You can see obviously, otherwise you wouldn't be of much use as a Keeper." Jamie decided to let the talk of worlds slide for the moment.

"So I'm like a supernatural version of Switzerland?" Jamie asked the house as he flipped through the cards again wondering if the potential visitors listed their worlds along with their names. "Good to know." The image of the fairy from the bird's nest flashed across his mind. He thought of Albe erasing the trail of prints leading to a bird that the fairy had not known to hide. Jamie shrugged and started to put the cards down when a name leapt out at him. It was the same name as the drawing in his book. The name of the tomte. Jamie raised his eyebrow knowing that couldn't be a coincidence. He set the cards down. He felt a little shaky inside.

"So, " he asked the house. "Do you have any clue where I should start? I brought the inventory the lawyers gave me and technically I am supposed to be checking things off." Jamie felt the house shift. It was as if it had taken a breath and was thinking.

"I think perhaps the inventory is not such a bad place to begin, " House suggested. "Although, you will need to look into getting a housekeeper soon." Jamie thought of Millie the housekeeper who had been here during his childhood visits.

"I don't think I really need one, " he began. "I mean the maid service comes once a week and really I could just stock the freezer with frozen dinners and a couple boxes of cereal and be done with it." Jamie shrugged. He could almost feel the house radiating disapproval.

"And when you have guests?" It asked. Jamie thought of Erin the bank teller and idly wondered what it would be like to have a woman here. Would the house turn away like a polite roommate or would it watch? He decided that was best not a path to continue following.

"I don't really plan on having much company, " he told the house.

"Really?" it said. "Because I don't see that you will have much choice. They will come to you for advice and to see where your stance is on certain topics and they will want to sit and chat with you on occasion to let you know the status of things. I'm certain you don't know the specific dietary requirements of many of them, after all they are not exactly humans." House sniffed loudly. "And while it isn't really my place to say so, I don't really think it is appropriate to leave the health of the Keeper in such precarious balance with such questionable food as frozen dinners."

"Some of them are quite good, " Jamie said. "I'm not sure if they are good for fairies though." Jamie thought about it and wondered where one would hire a housekeeper with that sort of required skills. Somehow he couldn't see placing that ad in the local newspaper or on craigslist.

"Any thoughts on where to find a proper housekeeper?" Jamie asked. Perhaps there was some sort of inter-world employment agency.

"I believe there is a way I can send the message out. One who is appropriate will show up. Would you like for me to send the message?" Jamie sighed.

"Maybe you had better, " He replied. There was a tightening tingle in his belly and then a release as if a great breath had been exhaled.

"There, " House said, sounding pleased with itself. "I have sent the message. Is there anything else you require of me?"

"Not really, unless you know if Albe got internet service out here."

"I do not quite know, " House said. "You will have to test his nets and their ability to serve on your own. If there is nothing else, talking like this and sending messages tends to tire me out. I would sleep now, unless you have need."

"Oh no, I'm sorry to tire you out, please sleep. Thank you."

"You are welcome Keeper, " House said. The sense of a presence around him faded and Jamie blinked realizing that he was now standing in the foyer of a perfectly ordinary house. He shook his head. He could test for the internet later. Right now he should get started on the inventory.

"Perhaps it'll help me figure out a few things." He pulled the mass of papers out and flipped to the first page. The inventory was quite detailed and there were notes for nearly every item. There was also a small box he had to check to let the lawyers know the item was safe and sound inside the house.

"This should be fun, " he thought. "In a way." The notes actually told him a little bit about what Albe had been up to. "Actually, " he thought seeing several different handwriting styles, "It might actually tell me what several family members have been up to." Jamie saw the first page was entitled front formal parlor. Jamie turned to the left of the main hall and walked in. This was not the room his family had been in and Jamie felt a little odd being in this parlor. Memories of his uncle Albe taking mysterious visitors in here swam up in his vision.

When he visited and the doorbell rang, the house keeper, Millie, would bring the guest to the front parlor, leave them there, tell Albe and then take Jamie back to the kitchen until the visitor left and Albe joined them in the kitchen. Jamie had asked Millie about the visitors once and been told that it was Albe's business and that it needed to be left alone. She had also warned Jamie about going into the parlor.

He hadn't been banned from the room because it held forbidden secrets, but told to keep out for a more practical reason. The room had to be kept in a state of readiness for surprise visitors and Millie didn't think it was appropriate for them to find Jamie playing in a guest's parlor. To assuage his curiosity, Albe had taken him into the parlor and shown him around.

"The room isn't anything special, " Albe told him on that trip through. "Just a nice place to bring visitors. We stay out of it because we don't want to mess it up. Besides, " Albe had told him with a confessional wink. "I'm not a big fan of this room. I always feel odd about even denting the seats cushions with my bottom." Jamie had relaxed and never bothered with the room when he visited. He also noticed that Albe never really went in unless he had company, so it didn't worry him.

Jamie walked into the parlor feeling like an interloper. There was nothing in this room that could really be described as personal. No family photos or any of the trinkets Albe loved to collect and tell stories about. With a start Jamie realized that those stories might not have been just stories. If all of this Keeper stuff was true then all of those stories might be true. That broach his mother so coveted really might have come from a great lady of the elven kingdom. He shook his head in wonder and disbelief. Somehow a talking house was easier to accept than fairy land.

Jamie checked off the chairs and tables as well as the sofa from the inventory. He quickly walked around looking at furniture and marking it off the inventory as present and accounted for. He knew this was probably going to be the easiest and most boring room to go through so he was glad he was getting it out of the way quickly. He reached the last major item of the room which was the secretary. He checked the heavy piece of furniture off his list and realized there were several smaller items still listed as being in the secretary. He tried to pull the desk top down and found it was locked. He checked the inventory again and noticed that there was a side note.

"Key under the red striped chair's seat cushion, left, " he read. Jamie walked over to the two red striped chairs he had finished checking off the inventory. The cushions were red and gold striped and the rest made of dark wood. There was a matching side table with a red and gold runner and an antique lamp that turned on with a key. The set reminded him of something out of a Victorian novel and he wondered if they had originally been purchased when the house was first built. He picked up the left chair and flipped it over. He found the key taped to the wooden bottom of the chair. Jamie removed the key leaving the tape where it was and put the chair down. With the key in his hand he walked over to the secretary and was about to unlock it when there was a knock at the door.

"I believe your housekeeper is here, " The house said sleepily.

"That was quick, " Jamie replied. He tucked the small key into the front pocket of his jeans and went to answer the door. As the door swung wide a small man was revealed. He stood at about five feet tall and was wearing a deep purple suit that reminded Jamie of r

ipe plums. Under the jacket was a plaid vest and a lilac colored shirt. Both had gold buttons. The vest was a purple and gold plaid to match the suit, Jamie noted.

The pants matched the jacket and were purple with a plaid stripe down the side of each leg. The shoes looked to be purple snake skin and were polished to a high gloss. They had the most impossibly pointed toes he had ever seen curling up on the ends like high end Christmas elf shoes. All that was missing were the bells. On the small man's head sat a large brimmed purple hat with a long trailing purple feather. Jamie blinked.

"May I help you?" He asked hesitantly. Surely this person had not arrived to fill some sort of supernatural housekeeper ad. The man looked up at him and smiled. His face moved as if it were made of putty. The grin caused his face to be creased with impossibly deep wrinkles.

"Oh I think it is me that will be helping you, Keeper sir." The man said with a wink. "I've come as to be the housekeeper." Jamie blinked and let his eyes noticeably take in the suit. The man laughed a mere staccato burst of gunfire sound.

"Don't let the suit be fooling you. I like to travel well. It keeps the riff raff at bay. I know how to work and how to dress for work as well sir. I was sent with the recommendations of the High Talbot if that makes you feel any better." The little man took a folded piece of paper from his pocket and held it out to Jamie. Jamie took the page and unfolded it. For a moment the handwriting looked like unrecognizable scribbles. Then it resolved itself into actual words. Jamie blinked unsure if the words had actually moved or if his eyes were playing tricks on him.

"I recommend this person to your employ. He has all of the qualifications needed as a member of the Keeper's staff." Jamie read. It was signed High Talbot Aldrous of the House Duval. Jamie nodded.

"I see. Who is the High Talbot?" The man looked surprised and then laughed.

"I be forgetting you are new to the post sir. He's the one who certifies that we be okay to work in the other side of the gap, the human side if you will."

"Oh I see, is there a Low Talbot?"

"I don't know actually. There might be, I tend not to mess with the likes of the high courts that often."

"Oh, and what is your name?" The little man's eyebrow shot up and something in Jamie's brain woke up remembering Albe's stories. "My apologies, I am still a little fuzzy this morning. Not enough caffeine. I meant to ask what it is you would like me to call you." The little man relaxed.

"Well I was thinking about that on the way and I have a human name for when I'm out here and all so you can call me Delta Harmony. Del for short I believe." Jamie smiled and wondered if the man was trying to make a joke. The name sounded like it belonged to a drag queen.

"That is a nice name. Del won't you come in?" Jamie gestured towards the parlor. Del raised an eyebrow and smiled.

"Happy to Sir." Jamie motioned him to one of the red striped chairs and he took the other one. Jamie noticed that the chair appeared to almost lower itself a little so the smaller man would feel comfortable. Del seemed pleased to be asked into the parlor.

"Can I ask where you came up with your current name? It is quite … distinctive." Jamie asked. Del smiled.

"I heard it somewhere a long time ago when I was passing through New Orleans. Seemed like something that would suit me." Jamie decided not to pry.

"So have you always been a housekeeper or is this a new thing?"

"Well, " Del said with a grin. "I've always tended house you could say, but I can't claim as lofty status as tending the house of a Keeper. Some of the great lords, yes." He replied and then winked at Jamie. "Now back in the day, of course there were other human homes I've tended, but those days are long past. I had a mind to try my hand at something and well this sort of came up before I could make up my mind to do anything else. So I'm here. If we suit I'll stay. If not I can make my way back." For a second Del seemed hesitant. Jamie smiled.

"I think you'll suit. And House said that only someone qualified would show up so I'm guessing you'll know how to deal with some of the visitors?" Dell nodded. And he seemed for a second a bit surprised by Jamie's description of House. Jamie wondered if even in fairy land a talking house was uncommon.

"Well then if I'm accepted I'll be getting to work. You'll be wanting a good lunch if you've got the work of settling in ahead of you." Dell stood up and the chair went back to its normal size. Jamie wondered if it was the house being accommodating or if there was something special about these chairs. Del didn't seem to notice.

"And what do I do about pay?" he asked. Del laughed.

"That's already settled by the High Talbot." Del told him in a voice that brooked no argument.

"Um okay. I think Millie's rooms were towards the back behind the kitchen." Del nodded.

"Makes sense then, " He replied. "I'll settle my bags and then start on that luncheon."

"No rush, " Jamie said. Del nodded and headed back to the kitchen. Jamie shook his head. Suddenly a mental light bulb went off in his brain with a flash.

"Damn, " he said. "I think that was a brownie." He blinked hard and tried to reconcile the man in the purple suit to the small creatures who took care of houses in his mind.

Idly he wondered if a brownie was something like a tomte, and if not then how one told the difference. Jamie blinked again and thought of Millie. She had been a little shorter than Del was if his brain was remembering correctly. She hadn't seemed that small since she had mostly been around when he was still a child. He wondered if they were from the same area and if they knew each other. Jamie shrugged. He was definitely going to have to spend sometime in the library and with the book his uncle had left him.

There were several other volumes of fairy lore in the library if he remembered correctly and he had at one time or another read most of them. Since Albe had no television when he either went off for a bit on business or if the weather was bad, Jamie had often amused himself with the books in the library.

"That will be for later, " he thought. "Let's at least get one room complete first." He turned back to the secretary. Jamie tugged the key out of his pocket and unlocked the top desk part. The top folded down to present a surface suitable for writing. The desk was covered with green velvet that was worn in places. There was an ink stain on the right hand corner as if someone with an ink pen had dawdled too long when trying to come up with the next line of a letter. Jamie could see the jars of ink set into inkwells in the main portion of the desk and a fountain pen resting between them. The ink jars were half full. One had black ink and the other blue.

The fountain pen when he picked it up was the kind with a little metal lever. He knew from watching Albe that the tip of the fountain pen would be dipped in the ink and then the little metal lever would be pumped to suck ink into the chamber and then snapped into place so the ink would not run out of the tip. Jamie turned the pen over in his hands and looked at it. He remembered Albe making notes in his journal with the pen and always thought the old fashioned writing instrument was much cooler than the ball points he wrote with at school.

He had always told himself he would get one of those when he was an adult and then he would be as sophisticated as Albe. Except that he had never been able to find one. Apparently they had stopped making this particular type long ago. He had a fountain pen, it was true but it took cartridges rather than being dipped in ink. Somehow that didn't really seem the same.

The desk proper was divided into compartments for sorting mail and holding smaller items in the little drawers. Jamie put the pen down and started looking in the drawers. He found a stick of sealing wax and a stamp for marking the pooled wax in the first one he opened. The stamp, or seal he supposed it would be called, had a worn wooden handle. He turned it up to look at the design. The center was a symbol that looked like the medallion around his neck. On either side of the lightning bolt were letters. One side was an A and the other side held an F.

"Albrecht Fulton, " Jamie said aloud. As he held the seal a tingling started in his palm, similar to when he had grasped the medallion. Slowly, the A reformed itself into a J. Jamie blinked and then gingerly placed the seal back in the drawer. He took a deep shaky breath and let it out slowly. Apparently, he was going to have to get used to little things like this happening. He was not quite sure how many of these little encounters he was likely to face in the next coming days but he figured most of them would be done by the time he had managed to work his way through the inventory. That would hopefully settle things.

He found the items he had noticed on the inventory and made sure to check them off. They looked kind of interesting at some points but others were just random notes. He paused when he came to something that wasn't listed on the inventory. It was a small packet of papers. Jamie slid the set of papers out. It was wrapped in water proof oilskin and had ties around it like an old deed. He untied the stiff strings and folded it open. They were random letters and notes on them. The letters were written to Albe and all of the notes were taken in Albe's hand. Copies of the responses were not present but notations such as responded July 5 that I would assist or other such notations were listed at the bottom.

Albe's notes were sometimes in the margins and sometimes in the backs of pages. The notes were random and intriguing. Certain words were underlined while others had question marks above them. Jamie checked the inventory again. No mention was made of this packet. He checked the date on the letters and saw the first of them were dated two months ago. Jamie slapped the packet against his thigh. Idly, he pulled his phone out of his back pocket and called Jim the lawyer up. Jim's secretary slash sister in law answered.

"Evers and Evers Law office, how may I help you today?"

"Hi this is Jamie Fulton I have a random question for Jim if he's got the time. If not then I could ask him later."

"Oh I can see if he is available. Hold please." Jamie waited to the sound of Aerosmith musack and wondered how the band felt about the bastardization of their music.

"Jamie? Is there a problem? I wasn't really expecting to hear from you again so soon." Jim asked when he came on the line.

"No, not so much a problem as a random question, " Jamie assured him.

"Oh okay I'll do my best to find a random answer."

"Do you know the date that the inventory was last updated?" Jamie heard an indrawn breath and he wondered if it was wise to ask these sorts of questions.

"Well I'll have to check, Jaime. Please hold on a second." This time it was Elton John crucified in the name of pleasant hold music. Jim came back on the line before the song had gone a full verse. Jamie had hummed along. "I see by our files that we have a record of him coming in June 15th." Jamie looked at the date of the first letter. The letter was dated two weeks after the inventory had been turned in. He frowned at the letter wondering if that packet of papers had anything to do with Albe's disappearance. Jim coughed into the phone reminding Jamie someone was listening in.

"Um, thanks, " he said.

"Is there something wrong?" Jim asked.

"No, " Jamie replied. "I was just curious that's all. Some of the handwriting looked a bit old and faded and I was wondering how accurate it would be once I started going through the list and if I would have to be searching rooms for items that had been placed elsewhere." Jim laughed even while Jamie was wondering why he wasn't telling Jim the real reason.

"Oh Albe was pretty thorough. And he had been in and out a bit but not staying much so he would not have really moved anything since the last inventory without actually letting us know. He was quite particular about those sorts of things."

"Yeah well thanks. That helps a lot." Jamie said, preparing to end the call.

"Oh before you go, " Jim said as Jamie was about to hang up. "Will you be going out to the house any time soon?"

"Yes, " Jamie replied.

"Good." Jim sounded relieved. "I know there are several people who have asked to make appointments with you to settle their affairs with Albe and they were wondering when would be a good time." Jamie thought about it.

"Could you give me until Monday?" He asked. "By then I should be able to make some headway on the inventory and won't feel so guilty letting up for awhile."

"Very good, " Jim said. "And while I have you on the phone, " Jim hesitated and Jamie thought this might be the real issue rather than the one about his uncle's friends. "I was wondering, your brother called this morning and he wanted to know how soon I thought the estate would be settled. I basically told him that was classified information and that I really couldn't share that with him. He sounded disappointed."

"Yeah, " Jamie thought. "He would be." Out loud he responded, "Thanks. I'm sorry he called. I haven't been answering his calls. So he probably thought he could get more out of you." He thought for a second and decided Jim deserved fair warning. "My mother might try calling as well."

"I see, " Jim said his voice neutral. "Technically Albe had me on retainer and he asked that I stay on for at least six months after his estate passed to you. I have already been paid for that time, but I just wanted you to know that in case you needed me."

"I appreciate that, " Jamie said. He took a deep breath and decided that as a lawyer there were a few things Jim might want to know. "That means what I tell you is confidential right?"

"Of course."

"Well I should tell you that I am planning to stay at Albe's for a while and that I have no plans to sell the land or the property. I want you to know that."

"Okay, " Jim said. "I have to say there will be several people relieved by that decision."

"Yeah well here is the thing. My brother really wants to sell the land and my mother really wants to sell the house and its contents." Jamie ran a hand through his hair. "I don't think either of them would be able to get out here if their life depended on it. I drove the other day and they weren't exactly paying attention to directions. So I'm not worried that they will show up with a moving van or anything, but my brother, well he could possibly bring investors to the notice of, well, you. And tell you it's on my behalf. Especially if he can't find me. I just want to make sure there is no way they could do anything…" Jamie let the thought trail off. Jim laughed. Unlike his normal good natured laugh this one had a bit of a hard edge to it.

"In the fourth grade Michael sold my spot on the baseball team to one of the other kids. I am very aware of his skills. Let's just say if he tries that it will be a pleasure to deal with him." Jamie could almost see Jim smile through the phone. There was nothing like settling a child hood score to brighten a grown man's day. Jamie let Jim go feeling much better about the situation and looked again at the papers.

They had been written after Albe had last been seen and were probably the last documents he added to the mix. Jamie flipped to the last page. It had been written two days prior to Jamie's being informed that Albe's estate had passed to him. Jamie folded the papers back up and tucked them into his back pocket. He tugged his t-shirt over the edge protruding out of the top of his pocket so it wouldn't be noticeable that he was carrying the slim package. Jamie finished inventorying the desk; his mind focused more on the papers. Could the matter they mentioned be what killed Albe? His mind was awhirl with questions.

The letter asked Albe to look into something, but the names and things mentioned were not things Jamie knew too much about. There might perhaps be information up in the library. Later he would have to go up into the library and see if anything was mentioned. There had to be some form of reference.

Nothing else in the desk was amiss and with a feeling of regret Jamie re-locked the desk. Then he re-taped the key to the underside of the chair where he had found it. It seemed a little excessive, but if he was going to be turning the house upside down he might as well know where the key was. Jamie moved to the side parlor.

Here were the knickknacks that were missing in the other room and the inventory reflected it. There was easily four times the number of entries listed for the little room. Jamie smiled. Here he had spent a great deal of time with Albe. He looked at the odd little artifacts scattered throughout the room and thought of all of the odd little stories that Albe had made up to go with them.

"Of course maybe he wasn't making them up, " Jamie thought. Was there really a Lady Iris who had gone into hiding when an elven lord wanted to claim her for his bride against the wishes of her father? Had Albe seen her safely to her grandfather's house where she married her true love and gave Albe a small statuette of an egret in flight as a present? The longer he stood in Albe's house the more possible such stories seemed.

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