After all that, we’ve still not made progress. We’re still bogged down in chapter 20, with one more topic to discuss before we can move on to chapter 21: Real estate.
“I can’t help thinking the real estate offices, the tax rolls, any information you can get on the properties arond the town, might show something. I couldn’t follow it when I was still there, but all the recent real estate deals didn’t feel quite right to me.”
Is he relying on an intuition, a hunch, some information not perceived directly by his senses? GASP! He’s using ESP right now!
Meanwhile, across town, Bernice has pulled up in front of another real estate office only to find out that they’re closed. Despite their sign saying their office hours extended several more hours, they’re closing up shop right in front of her. Oh, and their microfiche is broken.
Thankfully, she happens to know the owner of the other real estate office in town volunteers for little league on Thursday afternoons (did you know it’s now Thursday?), so maybe she won’t have got the memo that they’re meant to be closed to Bernice.
Harmel informs Hogan that Kaseph was “drooling over the college”, trying to take it over by placing his people on the board of regents and buying the real estate. He hasn’t completed this yet, but he’s bought a lot of homes nearby.
Harmel also hands over the findings from the college accounting office. The story becomes clear: Kaseph wants to buy, but the college won’t sell. Suddenly the college finds itself in deep financial trouble, and Kaseph’s still looking to buy, and now the board of regents is under his thumb.
Marshall asks the question that’s on all our minds:
“What would a man like that even want with a little town, or with a whole college?”
“Hogan, a guy with the power and bucks that guy seems to have could take a town like Ashton and do anything he wanted with it.”
That…. doesn’t answer the question, but okay.
Peretti ends chapter 20 here, but 21 begins with Bernice doing more real estate research, so I’m going to keep going.
Bernice has lied her way into the office, and headed straight for the “criss-cross files”, which tell her given a person’s name what they own in the town. She can’t find anything under Kaseph, but she finds out that the grocery store is owned by Omni Corporation, which we know to be under Kaseph’s holdings.
The market was tax assessed at $105,900. I’m beginning to think Peretti had a past life as an accountant or a real estate person. Omni Corporation turns out to own over a hundred listings, which she dutifully copies down quickly. Then the lady up front gets a call from the boss and lies to him, saying Bernice wasn’t there. Bernice takes off, replacing the things and promising not to rat out her new friend for letting her in.