It was clear that Tom was very resentful of Brad, and Jamie knew she had a hand in what was happening between the two brothers.
Brad had left the room and she stood there with Tom, not knowing what she could, or better yet should, say to him.
“Do you mind telling me what happened, Tom? I’m not totally sure I should even ask, but if I have caused any kind of confusion, I would like the opportunity to clear it up.”
“I don’t think anyone is confused, Jamie. I think Brad is leaving out some important facts about how he came to own this place.”
Jamie tried to bite her tongue, but it wasn’t going to happen. “If you think your brother fabricated anything, you’re wrong.”
“So you’ve known Brad for how long, Jamie? A few short months? And now you swallow whatever he says, hook, line, and sinker.”
“It doesn’t matter how long I’ve known him, I would bet my life that it all happened exactly as Brad said it did.”
“We’ll see,” Tom said. “I have an appointment with an attorney tomorrow. I’m anxious to learn how a bank could foreclose on a property that didn’t have a loan against it. And as far as the taxes are concerned, Aunt Mildred said my grandparents had their own attorney set up an escrow account for the purpose of keeping the taxes and insurance on the property current.”
“Now I’m confused. Why is this being researched now?” Jamie asked. “Brad has not only owned this property for years, but he has built on it and just look at all the improvements he has made.”
“My Aunt has always insisted that my grandparents willed the property to her. Unfortunately, the will has been elusive. In the absence of a will, the deceased’s assets would normally go through probate and after all debt was paid, the remaining funds would go to the closest living relative.”
Tom kept looking toward the doorway to the hall. Jamie wondered if he was hoping Brad would come back to the room.
He continued his explanation.
“I was stationed overseas when my grandparents died, within months of each other, and I had no sympathy for Aunt Mildred, anyway. It wasn’t until you told me how Brad came to buy the house and property that I decided to question Aunt Mildred further.
When a will could not be found, and Aunt Mildred discovered the house and property had been badly neglected, she backed off. She expected to get a final accounting once everything had gone through probate and was sold, but she never heard anything and assumed the attorney’s fees and payment of outstanding bills had eaten up all the assets. She was naive about the process to say the least, and did not even know the name of my grandparent’s attorney.” Tom paused for a moment. “Neither of us were aware that the property was sold to Brad. Anyway, I hope to get more information, tomorrow.”
Tom turned to leave. “Tell my brother I’ll be in touch. I’ll let myself out.”
Once again, Jamie had a dilemma. Should she tell Brad what Tom had said, or should she let them battle it out themselves? She decided that she would tell Brad…but not before she paid another visit to the attic.
Arf was lying on the floor eating dogfood from his frisbee. “What do you think, Arf? Could you help me find some more paperwork in the attic?”
***Jamie and I went up to that musty old attic again. It isn’t really my favorite place to be, although it is kind of fun to find stuff up there. Maybe there would be some frisbees or balls up in the attic.
When we got up all those stairs, Jamie showed me some scraps of paper and I got the idea she wanted me to play a game. It’s called, I find more paper and bring it to her. I looked everywhere. When it started to get dark, Jamie found a flashlight and started shining it into the corners and the drawers of the old furniture. Then, she saw a filing cabinet way over in a dark corner, behind a bed with a huge headboard.
“Maybe there is something in here that will help us,” Jamie said. She tried to pull the top drawer out and found it was locked. She tried the second and third drawer and they were locked, too. Finally, she pulled on the last drawer. It took some effort, but it opened.
“There is a folder in here, but it looks empty,” she said. She was about to shut the drawer when she almost dropped her flashlight. Arf happened to be looking where the light was briefly shining and spotted something. He let Jamie know that he saw paper taped to the back of the drawer. It turned out to be a small envelope. When Jamie opened it, she found two keys inside.
She put one of the keys in the lock of the top drawer and it came open. The only thing in there was a flat wooden box which was locked with a padlock. Thankfully, the second key opened it.
Inside the box was a manila envelope that held several folded legal sized papers.
“Bingo!” Jamie said. “Good work, Arf. Now…should we see what is in this thing, or should we go straight to Brad and give it to him?”