Monday, August 1, 2011

Chapter 73: The mysterious note

Victor came out of his bathroom rubbing a towel on his hair when he spotted it. He walked over to the nightstand and picked up the slightly crumbled piece of paper.

“What the heck?” he mumbled. “Hand for sole?”

“Land! Land for sale, you idiot!” Richard shouted at him.

“Hmm…land for sale… Krane…. Is that a five or a three?”

“A three. Can’t you read? And that says Kramer,” Richard said, totally annoyed.

“Richard, dear, it is rather sloppy handwriting. You should have had me do it,” Heidi said. “I have excellent handwriting.”

“Well, la-de-da! You do your haunting your way, I’ll do my haunting my way, thanks,” he grumbled.

She glared at him. “We are not haunting them!” she said.

“Yeah, whatever,” Richard said turning back to Victor who frowned at the paper then tossed it into the trash can. “What the hell! You need that paper. You gotta call Kramer and buy that land.”

Victor totally ignored this and proceeded to his closet.

“Why does he have to?” Heidi asked.

“He’ll find out as soon as he takes Violet there,” Richard said. “Fat chance of that now that he tossed it away.”

“We have ways of making the living hear us…so to speak,” Heidi said. She slipped her ghostly hand into the trash can and took the paper out. She then smiled and vanished through the ceiling leaving her son and Richard behind.

“Hate when she does that,” Richard mumbled as he watched Victor pull out yet another suit. “Don’t you ever get tired of wearing those? For Pete’s sake, it’s Saturday! Do you even own a pair of jeans? You’re pathetic!”  Shaking his head in utter disgust, Richard zoomed out through the wall muttering mutinously under his breath.

Victor frowned at his suit. “It’s not likely I’ll get clients in today. Only have one appointment and even if others came in, it’s Saturday. Something more casual would do fine,” he said putting back the suit and getting out a pair of khakis and a polo shirt.

“Wow,” he said, once he stepped out of the house and the sun hit him. “Feels like summer already.”

“Nice day for a picnic with someone you love, don’t you think?” Heidi suggested.

Victor grinned. “It’s Violet’s day off,” he said to himself. “Wonder if we could?” 

“Only one way to find out,” Heidi said. “But you should go to the office first. There are a few things for you to finish up.”

“Yes, I should do that first, then Violet,” he said, excitement welling inside him.

He arrived at his office several minutes later and had just sat down at his desk. “What the heck is going on?” he said, staring at what seemed to be the exact same note which he found in his bedroom.
He warily picked it up and frowned at it, as if it were a venomous snake ready to strike. He flipped it over to the back side and slightly relaxed. “Man, I was thinking...could this be the same one? Okay, get a grip,” he said chuckling nervously as he read the note:
Victor, I know you said you were looking for land.
I saw this and thought it would be prefect.

It wasn’t signed, but it looked a bit like Ella’s handwriting. He flipped it over again and frowned at the scrawl on the other side. “So, who wrote this side?” Victor spoke aloud.

“What the hell difference does it make? Just call!” Richard said. “Three-five-nine…that’s right…no! That’s an eight!”

“Who the heck can read this scribble?” Victor snapped.

“Who are you talking to?”

Victor spun around knocking the phone onto the floor. “Ella, what are you doing here? It’s Saturday,” he said, retrieving the phone from the floor.

“I’m quite aware of the day, but I left something here yesterday. Are you alone?” Ella said, watching him curiously.

“Before you came? Yes,” he said grinning at her. “I saw your note and I was trying to make it out.”

“My note?” she said frowning at him. “I left you no note.”

“Then who…where did this come from? First it was at…” Victor stopped and looked at the mysterious note. This was very odd indeed, but if he told Ella exactly how odd, that the note seemed to be following him around town, she’d surely have him committed.

“May I see it?” she said taking it out of his limp fingers. “No, I did not write this. Wonder who did? Where did you find it?”

“On…on my desk,” he said absently.

“Your desk?” she shrieked. “Do you mean to tell me someone was here while we were not? Is anything missing?”

“No, all’s fine..I think. Everything’s the same as we left it except…”

“Except for this mysterious note,” she said eying it angrily. “If I as much as find a paper clip out of place…”  With that she went out to her own desk and made a thorough checking of every nook and cranny, file cabinet and drawer.

“Anything amiss?” he asked, joining her.

“No, but I’m still not happy,” she said frowning as she closed her top drawer.

“You needn’t worry, Ella. I’m sure someone just slipped in while you were…”

“I’m never away from my desk and I never allow just anyone to waltz into your office!” she snapped.

“Okay, then…you know, it must have been Laurie,” he said, inventing wildly.


“Freddy’s wife, she came in one day while you were out and I was on the phone. We didn’t get a chance to talk. She left right away and she probably left this note,” he said.

“And you only just noticed it today?” Ella said skeptically.

“It was…kind of hidden under something else,” he said, shrugging and looking down at the note again. “Can you make out what it says?”

Ella watched him with pursed lips then took the note back and studied it carefully.

“Hand to sail ... Norse crane? Those numbers are hard to make out, threes or fives…could go either way. Must be a phone number. Hmm, a sail for your boat and a Norwegian bird. It must be the number for the Audubon society,” she said.

Victor glowered. “Have I ever told you you’re no help?” he retorted.

“Of course not. I’m always of the utmost help to you. You just refuse to believe it,” she quipped.

He laughed. “I thought it said land for sale and this looks a bit like Norris Crane. What do you think?”

“Well, that would make more sense.”

“It does?”

“Morris Kramer does have a huge hunk of land for sale up on Somerset Hill.  It’s belonged to his family for a century. Developers are all dying to get their hands on that land. They could build several dozen single family dwellings or even more condos. That may be why he wants an exorbitant amount of money for it. He hates pristine stretches of land ruined by overzealous developers. They may have to wait for him to kick the bucket though. He won’t sell to anyone unless they sign away their rights to anything other than one or two single family dwellings.”

“You know this man then?”

“Of him. He’s practically a hermit. He might already be dead for all the notice anyone takes of him. I don’t think I’ve seen him more than two, three times since his wife died some ten years ago. Does a lot of traveling I heard. Was quite a business mogul back in the day. Heard he’s doing some consulting or some such.”

“And this land…where did you say it was?”

“On Somerset Hill right past the waterfall. Oh, Victor, it’s beautiful! Ponds, waterfalls and streams, hills and dales, a huge stand of evergreens, tons of catalpa, oak and maple trees and hiking trails throughout. It’s gorgeous in spring when the rhododendrons and azaleas bloom, plus the lilacs and a million wildflowers. My daddy always said there was great fishing there. From the clearing you get a fantastic view of Lake Kramer, too.”

“Sounds great, like it ought to be a recreational park,” Victor said. 

“Well, for the most part it is. At least everyone here in Catalpa Valley has gone to Somerset Hill at one time or another to picnic, for hiking, fishing and swimming or to take their horses through the trails. I remember as a little girl going to the Kramer family reunion every single year. What fun we had! Of course there has been tragedy there as well. In winter the wild kids take their snow mobiles out there and ATVs in summer and you must know carelessness causes accidents. For the most part Somerset Hill is synonymous with fun.”

“Then it would be a shame to put a house on it. Why would he want to sell it?” Victor asked frowning at the note.

Ella sighed. “I suppose he knows his time on Earth is limited. He is getting up there in years and he has no heirs that I know of. He and his wife could never have children and all the Kramers have died out,” she said sadly.

“Surely not all of them? I thought they were a very prominent family in Catalpa Valley. You told me they were,” he said.

“They founded the town, yes, but they were…well, they were struck with a string of bad luck and they quite literally have died out leaving only Morris Kramer. And a grouchier old man you could not find if given a millions years. Who can blame him though? All those millions and no one to leave it to,” she said, sighing again.

“Indeed, that is sad,” Victor said. “I’m going to give him a call. If nothing else, I could buy it and preserve it as is. That should ease his conscience.”

“I don’t think you have that much money, Victor, and if you do, I want a raise!” Ella said, grabbing up her purse and heading to the door.

He laughed, waved her off and went into his office.

“Morris Kramer,” Victor mused aloud once seated at his desk staring at the note again. It seemed to ring a bell. Ronnie had mentioned a professor by that name, but it wasn’t likely the same person. 

He dialed the number and waited. Just a voice mail. He left his name and number, then hung up.

Victor sat for a few minutes staring into space. “Somerset Hill does sound nice. Wonder if Violet would like to picnic there?” he muttered to himself as he once again took up the phone.

“Finally! I thought he’d never figure it out,” Richard said.

“And what exactly does he need to figure out, Dear?” Heidi asked.

Richard grinned. “You have your secrets and I have mine,” he said, walking through the wall and vanishing before her eyes.

“I hate when he does that,” Heidi said, irritably.

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