John D MacDonald – Barrier Island

“Should make Woody real happy.”

“I hear it did.”

“I’ll tell Woody at poker Saturday night I heard the permit has been canceled. I like to see the way his eyes bug out. Now you can run along, Boob. But remember. No new games until we get this here condemnation award taken care of.”

Boob hesitated. “I was just wondering.”

“Wondering what?”

“You want me to go back and check over everything, right? But I don’t think it would be such a good idea I go to Sam Loudner and ask him if it is all set that Judge Swane gets the case.”

“God Almighty, Boob! The clerk of the court got two thousand dollars to make sure Swane sits on the case. You should know because you carried the money up there and handed it over. You trying to check on yourself? Trying to find out if you kept it or lost it?”

“I was just ”

“Get the hell out of here!”

Tucker Loomis got up and went to his window wall and looked down at the street. He saw the little figure of Boob Davis down there in his white suit walking around to the bank parking lot. The little figure swaggered. Tuck felt annoyed. “That little of’ boy is just too cute. A boob he ain’t. And I have the strong feeling he’s been slicing off a little more than his share for a few years now. Little tricks. Little folk dances. Favors for people I deal with in return for a little cash under the table. Get this whole case off my mind and I’ll have to get into this and set him up. Prove it one way or the other. Can’t have people that cute around me. When they see the chance to take a really big slice, they take it and leave town.”


it was the fourth item in the inch-high stack of mail Wilbur Barley’s secretary had put in the precise center of the blotter on his gray steel desk at ten after nine on Monday morning, the fourth day of August.

The small memorandum stapled to the top left corner had been handwritten by C. Perry McGuire himself. “Let me have your comment when convenient.” No salutation, no signature.

The cover letter was from a Gordon Hammond and it was on National Park Service letterhead and began “Dear Per.” After some social chat about not seeing each other in such a long time, the letter went on to say, “The attached information came into my hands quite by accident. You will see that the deeds are for building sites on Bernard Island, which we have laid claim to and are preparing to pay for. I am not free to disclose the name of my informant, but he assures me that these four chaps are quite unable to pay those prices for land, and they are all employed in somewhat menial capacities by one Mr. Tucker Loomis, who is president and principal stock owner of the Bernard Island Corporation, and is a resident of West Bay, as are all four of the alleged land buyers.

“The second piece of information is a list of the permits and certifications that any developer of Bernard Island would be quite unable to secure, according to my informant. I want to assure you that he is a knowledgeable person in these areas.

“I know that you remember as I do the outrageous price we had to pay for that addition to Annabelle Forest three years ago, when we faced a similar ‘rip-off conspiracy and could do nothing about it. So I offer these bits of information not out of any desire to meddle, but in hopes they will be of some use to your people when this action comes before the Court. Forgive me for not sending them through channels as They tell us we should, but we both know that had I done so, you would have received them long after the whole affair was over and done.”

Wilbur Barley studied the four deeds and the list of certifications and permits. He dropped the correspondence into the bottom right drawer of his desk and kicked the drawer shut. He felt very warm, and then he felt chilly. A shivering sensation had begun deep inside of him, between belly and backbone. His hands were steady. His breathing was steady. He took his pulse. It felt normal. But the shivering was there. It was somewhat like excitement. Like the excitement of seeing that little boat down there when he and Harry had flown over it and circled back to land. It was a little bit like the shivering excitement he felt whenever he headed for the Grand Jury

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