Chapter 6

The best way to make a scheme a success is simple: stay as close to the truth as you can. Then scheme that Hoyt and Tipton hatched over dessert followed that plot. Here is how it unfolded.

A couple of weeks later, a well-dress businessman walked into the realty office that Susan and Ty ran and asked to speak with the owners. Susan was in the office, but Ty was – of course – out on a job. The businessman assured Susan that this was an important matter that would be to their benefit. Susan agreed to call the business man back that evening as soon as Ty was available.

When Ty came home at the end of the day, Susan told him about the mysterious visitor. She had a gut instinct, she told Ty, that this was not a scam. The guy seemed to be on the up-and-up. She Called Tipton back and they agreed to an 8:30 meeting that evening back at the the real estate office.

The businessman was standing outside the office waiting when Ty and Susan drove up. The two of them walked into the office together to greet their visitor. They walked to the quasi-conference room way the back of the office that was also a walk-in filing cabinet. Clearing aside some of the folders waiting to be filed, Ty created enough space for all three to sit at the table.

“My name,” the man told them, “is John Tipton. Have you heard of the Beresford Trust?”

He went on to explain, in a brief thumbnail, about the history of the fund. while not disclosing the mysterious once-a-decade investments. Its current custodian, he told them had selected the two of them to receive an annuity of $500,000 a year for the rest of their lives.

Ty and Susan were speechless. Tipton could see the wheels turning in their heads. Tipton had done his homework before coming up with that number. Their best year ever in the business had earned them less than $300,000. And that required a great deal of work and sweat from each of them. Five hundred thousand? A year? This seemed to be too good to be true.

They challenged Tipton with questions about details, how they had been chosen, why, who, and every other angle they could.

The only questions Tipton dodged were those that would have exposed Hoyt’s identity.

When the questions slowed down, Tipton put a cashier’s check on the table. It was for $500,000.

“Take this,” he said, “deposit it in your bank. Wait three days to make sure it clears. Then if you’re as cautious as I am, wait another three weeks just to be sure there is nothing wrong with that check.” He tapped the piece of paper on the table for effect. “If this isn’t exactly what I say, you can ignore me and I will never bother you again.”

Tipton was a bit of a showman at heart. He waited until they looked up at him. What he saw was disbelief. And hope. The hope that this might be true.

“I can tell you that it will check out with your bank. The check is real, the funds have already been drawn on the trust account. When it does clear, and you are convinced that this is real, please call me the arrangements for next year’s check.” He paused again to wait for the right effect.

“Here’s my card,” he told them as he set a business card beside the check. “I have been retained to help you with investment advice. I will consult with you in any capacity you like at any time during the next 90 days. By then I expect you will be comfortable with the arrangements.”

He stood, shook hands with each of them and left without a word. Behind him there was only stunned silence.

Over the next two weeks, Tipton had similar meeting with each of the guys on Hoyt’s crew. They would all receive $100,000 a year for life. It wasn’t a bunch of money, but Hoyt figured it was enough to take the pressure off, allow them to put their kids thorough college, afford a nice house, take a good vacation. He hoped it wasn’t so much that it would make them act crazy.

When everyone had been told of their good fortune, Hoyt arranged to meet Susan and Ty for breakfast the next Saturday.

“Darnedest thing,” Hoyt started off. “Some guy named Tipton showed up and told me about some trust fund that was going to give me a bunch of money. I had no idea what to do about it, but …” he paused

“Us, too,” both of them said at the same time, then laughed. “Like you said,” Susan said. Her eyes were simply sparkling. “Talk about something you never expected.”

“Neither did I,” Hoyt said quite truthfully. “It looks like if I manage things right, I won’t need to work at flipping houses any more. I like the work, and I love working with you two, but I’m not sure my heart is in it any more.”

They nodded.

“I don’t want to leave you in the lurch,” Hoyt said, “but I think I’d like to quit.”

“When were you thinking of leaving?” Susan asked.

“Well, whenever it won’t hurt your commitments or you business.” Hoyt looked carefully to make sure they understood how much real emotion was behind that statement.

Ty laughed. “I know just how you feel, buddy. This stuff with Tipton has me thinking just how much I care about finishing the properties were working on right now. I don’t know. I will suck it up and finish them, but like you said, my heart may not be there any more.”

“So?” Hoyt let the question hang.

“Can you stick around to finish the Red Fern property?” Ty had run down a list of inventory and that was the only one he cared about. The others? Maybe just auction them off as-is. Let someone else take a hand at flipping them.

Hoyt smiled. The Red Fern place was perhaps the coolest house he had worked on. The core of the house had been designed by a real architect back in the 50s, but two additions and a really bad remodel had hidden all the beauty of the place. He would love to see it finished right, to let the original house shine through.

“Sure,” Hoyt was still grinning at the vision of a complete Red Fern in his mind. “I’ll finish that and then I’ll take off for parts unknown – if that works for you.”

“It does,” they said at the same time, ending their conversation with laughter and on a high note.

Coming soon: Chapter 7

Fiction Imitating Art