John D MacDonald – Barrier Island

“I thought of one in the night.”

“Like what?”

“Like you’ve got an average ten-foot depth in the whole Sound, all eighty-something miles of it, and you have got it shallowing off pretty good as you come up on Bernard. I’d guess that on the north side of the island, a hundred yards off the beach, you haven’t got more than three feet of depth. Barges would have to come in to unload. That means a lot of ecofreaks whimpering about the dredges covering up their pretty green seaweed. And it would mean a lot of fussing with the Corps of Engineers. So let’s have a plan in there that we were going to dredge the channel for the barges and the yacht club and we were going to pipe it way ashore, over to this low place here.” Tuck turned his chair and used a pencil to point to an area on the map on the wall behind his desk.

Boob had a big round red face and a big high forehead. He hit himself in the forehead with the heel of his hand. “I should have thought of that. You are one smart man, Tuck. It makes another problem though. That’s salt marsh. Protected wetlands.”

“So find someplace else to put it! Jesus! Make a new dune somewhere. Get Cal to estimate total cubic yards of sand and figure out how big the dune would be, and get the son of a bitch on the rendering and on the table model.”

“Okay. Sorry about that. I’ll take care of it right off.”

“Don’t get up. You stay right here a minute.”

“What’s wrong?”

“I don’t know if there is anything wrong. Are you still working on how to screw those two old country boys from Jackson out of that fifteen hundred acres out beyond Park-lands?”

“I give it some thought now and then.”

“Don’t give it any more thought. Don’t go rattling around the country trying to deal. I’ve been two years putting this island project together and I want it to go sweet and smooth and quick. And it seems to me that we’ve all been dividing our attention too damn much. Too many ‘arns in the far,” as my daddy used to say. Nobody really minding the store. I don’t know why I should be nervous but I am. What you do right now, you go back to the first piece of paper on this whole Bernard Island thing and you go through every sheet, every paragraph, every sentence and every word.”

“Tuck, honest to God, that’s just what Bobby Tom and Buddy over to Sam Loudner’s office have been doing. And if they found a thing wrong with any of ”

“Boob, you’re all the time talking when I’m talking to you. Just once in a while you ought to stand back until I ask you something.”

“Sorry about that.”

“Now I’m asking you. I knew Bobby Tom Schlesinger was going to represent us at the condemnation, but I thought Ray Humber was going to work with him. What happened?”

“Well, I guess it was Sam Loudner’s decision, Tuck. Ray is going to leave the firm come the end of September. So not knowing the scheduling or knowing if there’ll be an appeal, it seemed best to put Buddy Yoder on it. I guess Sam didn’t check it with you because he knows you know how good Buddy is.”

“So why didn’t you check it with me, Boob?”

“On account of this is the first I knew Sam didn’t tell you.”

“Okay, okay. That’s what I mean about things getting disorganized. We’ve got too damn much going on around here. I don’t care if Buddy and Bobby Tom think everything is stone perfect. I want you doing just what I said dropping everything else and reviewing everything we’ve got and everything we’ve done up ’til now. Can you do that for me?”

“Sure. No problem.”

“How’d Buddy make out up in Washington?”

“He camped right on old Senator La Rue until finally some staff people took him over to Interior and got him in to see the right people and they decided it was within their guidelines and they let him have the permit and authorization.”

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