You Can’t Always Get What You Want?

“Well, it appears that there is nothing distinctive. Perhaps…” Clara Hathaway’s voice trailed off as if she were deep in thought. She fanned herself absentmindedly with the real estate brochure. “…Perhaps we could build?”

Clive Greene sighed. They were sitting in the back of Staley’s Store. The store was actually more or less a diner. But it did carry some groceries. It had a delicatessen counter and an ice cream bar. Clive thought their coffee was the best he’d had, mainly because it was still percolated. The real reason they were at Staley’s though, was because it was centerally located. He had driven Ms. Hathaway and her grandson all over the valley and had not been able to show her anything that might make her happy. Besides, it was lunchtime and he was hungry.

Clara Hathaway was the epitome of a spoiled rich woman. Clarence, his boss, had told him that Ms. Hathaway was the widow of Paul Tatsuo Hathaway. So she had money with a bold, italic capital M. But she was not the woman he’d expected. What made it so futile was that the house she wanted was not for herself, but for her son and her grandson. He looked at the six year old boy who was neatly folding real estate brochures into various paper airplanes. So far, he had not thrown any.

Staley’s was, apparently, a hit. The boy loved the juicy mess of a hamburger and the chocolate sundae. “Gran-Clare, it’s the best burger I’ve ever had.” He was a cute, polite boy, obviously wanting to go outside and run—or play in PayDirt Creek. Gran-Clare, however, would not let that happen today. Clive smiled again as he thought about how the boy had reacted to the little waterfall at the cabin in the forest just up the road. For a moment he thought the boy would jump into the pool at the bottom of the falls.

“Mr. Greene, what about that? Is there a place where we could build?” For some unstated reason, Clara wanted a place in this valley. She had insisted on Beaver Ridge Village. He had told her there was nothing like what she wanted. But she insisted on seeing the valley. Clara’s question might be the answer. He held up one finger and touched his lips, “Maybe…” Oh, yes, she could build something. But not what she wanted. What she wanted, apparently, was a Beverly Hills mansion that looked like a log cabin tucked neatly in a cove at the bottom of a waterfall on top of a mountain with a great view. He had tried to explain that waterfalls do not exist on top of mountains, thus she wanted a cove on top of a mountain. That was not going to happen, either. He said nothing, hoping this impossible client would decide to back to Rockbrough.

“Gran-Clare,” Paul Hathaway III asked pleasantly, “could we go back and see that little waterfall? I know you said the cabin was not right, but I’d like to see the waterfall again.”

Clara Hathaway smiled almost wickedly at Clive and asked, “Would you mind letting the boy see that place again. He seems to really like it.” She paused in thought a moment and then asked further, “Maybe we could tear the cabin down and build a nice cottage on that site?”

Clive sighed again. “Well,” he said, “If you could find a way around the deed restrictions. That whole section is inside the national forest. The Harrison family kept ownership, but, as I told you, placed restrictions on the land and the cabins to help protect the environment. You cannot tear down or modify that cabin. It has to be maintained and preserved as it was when Amos Harrison lived there. It would be a costly court battle and, even if you won, remember that the only view is of the little village. You can’t see a sunrise or sunset.”

“Well, Mr. Greene, I am not sure you want to sell anything. Clarence told me you were his best agent. But you constantly tell me why I can’t buy what I want. What about up there?” He had tried to avoid any of the McQuillan property, but Clara was tapping the map he had placed on the table. She was pointing to the top of Watson’s Roost, the highest point in the area.

“We can ask. The McQuillan clan is very unlikely to sell. But we can ask.” Clive paused for a moment, took a deep breath, and then offered a last ditch proposal, “May I take you to another part of the valley? I’d like to show you something if you think you’d like to build.” As he talked, Clive spread out the map of Beaver Ridge Village and the surrounding area. He pointed to the place he was describing as he said, “The Smith’s have sold much of their old farm, turning it into a subdivision called “The Meadows” but it’s all what we call low-ground. They have not even tried to sell the higher land. It’s over on the eastern side of the valley. They call it ‘Backside Ridge’ but if you bought it, you could name it whatever you wanted. May I take you over there and let you see what you can? It’s not developed at all. There’s no road up to the top, but you can see the ridge line from the street below it. Now, I have no knowledge of a waterfall in that area, but you will have a view from the east sweeping north and ending in the southwest. I have not been up there, but if there is any place in this valley that would meet most of your desires, it would have to be that ridge up above The Meadows.”

Clara nodded her head and said, “Well, we have a bit more time. But first, could we go back by that little cabin near the waterfall. We both want to see it again. Even if we can’t build there, we’d like to look at it one more time. It’s such a beautiful place.”

Clive agreed, knowing that the ‘we’ actually meant the boy. So they headed back up Beaver Ridge Road. When they got there, Paul jumped out of the car and headed straight for the waterfall. Clive noticed that he was carrying his paper airplanes. When he and Clara caught up with the boy, he was standing on a rock at the edge of the little creek, carefully placing his folded creations in the water. Clive laughed out loud. They were not airplanes, they were boats. Paul placed the first one in the water and then jumped off the rock onto the dry bank and ran downstream a few yards to a place where he could watch the paper boat flow over the falls. He launched another boat and then turned to his grandmother, saying, “I’m going to put the last one in below the falls. It will float all the way down to the sea!”

Clive just could not say anything about the paper boats being litter in the eyes of forest rangers. The boy was so very excited. And a couple of pieces of paper would not hurt that much, he hoped. As the third boat sailed out of sight, the boy climbed back up the trail to the top of the falls and said, “Okay. Let’s go see this next place.”

There was not a lot to see. The road passed through some suburban subdivisions and meadow-like fields. There was a big, fancy Methodist Church, but little else except for houses, many under construction. Clive had stopped near the church and pointed out that they were at a trail crossing. The Backside Ridge Trail went up toward the ridge on their left and down to the Cross Valley Trail on their right. He told them that the place he was thinking they might like was the top of the ridge. They could see it from almost anywhere in The Meadows.

As they turned left onto another street to get a bit closer to the ridge, Paul said, rather loudly, “Stop! Please stop!” Then he said “Look!” He was pointing at a cliff face. Suddenly, Clive saw what the boy was seeing. There was a long narrow waterfall. It started about a third of the way down from the top of the ridge and flowed over the cliff. It was a tiny stream, but it fell about a hundred feet.

Maybe, Clive thought, I am his best agent after all.

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