Chapter 6

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It drizzled rain the whole way from the Dancing Bear to the office of his father's lawyer, Lincoln Chronister.

The first thing to strike Barlow upon entering the attorney's office was the smell of old law books. Bookcases full of the volumes lined the entire rear wall.

The man extended a hand. "Call me Link."

Barlow shook his hand and automatically responded with, "Pleased to meet you."

Link pointed to one of the leather chairs surrounding a small conference table. "Have a seat."

Barlow did as the man asked. Link sat opposite him and cleared his throat. "Let's get started." The lawyer opened a file folder and pulled out a document. "I can read your father's will for you verbatim, but it contains a lot of legalese. Is it okay if I cut to the chase and summarize the salient points?"

"Fine by me."

"Good. Your father stipulated his wish to be cremated with no viewing of the body and no funeral service. You can have his ashes if that's what you want."

Barlow scoffed. "Yeah, right."

Link tapped the document with his index finger. "To be clear, are you telling me you don't want your father's remains?"

"Correct. I don't want his remains."

"His funeral expenses have been prepaid, so I don't expect any deductions from the estate will be necessary for those services." Link leaned back in his chair. "Your father wrote your mother out of his will. He made mention how the divorce settlement more than covered anything he would ever owe her."

"That's a stretch. My mother gave that man the best years of her life."

The lawyer stared at Barlow. "Young man, your father has left his entire estate to you, the house, the business, all of his possessions." He slid a ring of keys across the tabletop toward him. "These keys are for your father's house, his construction office, and all of his vehicles and equipment."

Barlow wasn't sure he heard properly. "What?"

"You are the sole beneficiary of the estate."

Barlow's heart raced, not with excitement over the inheritance, but with horror. He slid his chair back and stood. "I want none of it."

Link's mouth hung open. "In all my years, I never...you need to think this through."

"My father has men who have worked with him. Good men who have been loyal. Why isn't he passing the construction business on to them?"

The lawyer shrugged.

"That bastard," Barlow uttered. "Why did he do this to me?"

"Maybe it's his way of making amends," Link said. "Don't do anything rash, Barlow. A lot of money is involved."

"I don't want it."

The attorney closed the folder and slid it to the side. "I've been your father's attorney since before you were born. I don't presume to know what happened between the two of you, but I knew Forrest well enough to tell you he had a keen business sense. If he left his possessions to you, it's because he knew you would do right by them."

Barlow scoffed. "I haven't seen the old man for ten years. How does he know what I'm capable of doing?"

"He must have figured you would make a good steward for his construction business."

Unable to wrap his mind around his father's intent, Barlow uttered, "I never wanted this."

Link sighed. "You're just like him, stubborn as hell. Look, Barlow, maybe in death this is your father's way of reaching out to you. In any case, like it or not, it's all yours now."

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