Gray Mountain

Free Gray Mountain by John Grisham

Book: Gray Mountain by John Grisham Read Free Book Online
Authors: John Grisham
Tags: Fiction, Suspense, Thrillers
was tired.
    “Poor thing,” Mattie said when he was gone. “He and his wife have separated. She moved back to Roanoke with their daughter, a five-year-old who’s about the cutest thing you’ll ever see. His wife, Judy, never adjusted to life here in the mountains and just got fed up. I don’t feel good about them, do you Chester?”
    Chester said, “Not really. Judy is a wonderful person but she was never happy here. Then, when the trouble started, she sort of cracked up. That’s when she left.”
    The word “trouble” hung in the air for a few seconds, and when neither of the Wyatts chose to pursue it, Chester said, “Dinner’s ready.” Samantha followed them into the kitchen where the table was set for three. Chester served from the stove—steaming chicken with rice and homemade rolls. Mattie placed a salad bowlin the center of the table and poured water from a large plastic jug. Evidently, enough wine had already been served.
    “Smells delicious,” Samantha said as she pulled out a chair and sat down.
    “Help yourself to the salad,” Mattie said as she buttered a roll. They began eating and for a moment the conversation lagged. Samantha wanted to keep the conversation on their side of things, not hers, but before she could preempt them, Chester said, “Tell us about your family, Samantha.”
    She smiled and politely said, “Well, there’s not much to talk about.”
    “Oh, we’ll help you along,” Mattie said with a laugh. “You grew up in D.C., right? That must have been interesting.”
    She hit the high points: the only child of two ambitious lawyers, a privileged upbringing, private schools, undergrad at Georgetown, her father’s troubles, his indictment and imprisonment, the humiliation of his widely covered fall from power.
    “I think I remember that,” Chester said.
    “It was all over the press.” She described visiting him in prison, something he discouraged. The pain of the divorce, the desire to get out of D.C. and away from her parents, law school at Columbia, the federal clerkship, the seduction of Big Law, and the three less than pleasant years at Scully & Pershing. She loved Manhattan and could not imagine living anywhere else, but her world was upside down now, and, well, there was nothing certain in her future. As she talked, they watched her closely and absorbed every word. When she’d said enough, she took a mouthful of chicken and planned to chew it for a long time.
    “That’s certainly a harsh way to treat people,” Chester said.
    “Trusted employees just tossed into the street,” Mattie said, shaking her head in disbelief and disapproval. Samantha nodded and kept chewing. She did not need to be reminded. As Chester poured more water, she asked, “Does all drinking water come from a bottle?”
    For some reason this was amusing. “Oh yes,” Mattie replied.“No one drinks the water around here. Our fearless regulators promise us it’s safe to drink, but no one believes them. We clean ourselves, our clothes, and our dishes with it, and some folks brush their teeth with it, but not me.”
    Chester said, “Many of our streams, rivers, and wells have been contaminated by strip-mining. The headwater streams have been choked off with valley fills. The slurry ponds leak into the deep wells. Burning coal creates tons of ash, and the companies dump this into our rivers. So please, Samantha, don’t drink the tap water.”
    “Got it.”
    “That’s one reason we drink so much wine,” Mattie said. “I believe I’ll have another glass, Chester, if you don’t mind.” Chester, who evidently was both chef and bartender, did not hesitate to grab a bottle off the counter. Since she would not be driving, Samantha agreed to another glass. Almost instantly, the wine seemed to hit Mattie and she began talking about her career and the legal clinic she founded twenty-six years earlier. As she prattled on, Samantha prodded her with enough questions to keep her going, though she

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