John D MacDonald – Barrier Island


“Closed on the low for the day. How much Maxim you say you bought?”

“I didn’t say. Not much. A few hundred shares.”

Persons smiled to himself. Woody had called him from West Bay last month to see if he could find out how much the Judge had gone for. No great problem. He had a good contact at the stockbrokers where the Judge maintained an account. Swane had put in a limited buy order and gotten twelve hundred shares at eight, then moved it up to eight and five-eighths and gotten nine hundred at eight and a half and three hundred at eight and five-eighths. He had made his last buy at nine, two thousand shares, and all of it margined. He had bought it all during the week of July twentieth. Forty-four hundred shares which had cost him almost thirty-eight thousand plus brokerage commission. And he knew the Judge had started moving out at eighteen, and then nineteen, and closed out the balance at twenty. So call it eighty-four thousand less commissions. And call it a forty-five thousand short-term gain, or probably about thirty after taxes. When he had reported by phone, Woody had said that the Judge’s good fortune would make some other people happy too. It was agreed that the Judge was a nice fellow. He deserved the best.

Bern Gibbs was on time for his eleven a.m. appointment with Tucker Loomis out at the Loomis house in the Parklands development. He parked on the long curve of the driveway and went into the entry atrium and heard the faint sound of chimes inside the house when he touched the bell button. A panel was pushed aside in the top half of the door and a middle-aged woman looked at him and said, “Yes?”

“My name is Gibbs. Mr. Loomis is expecting me.”

“Just a moment, please.”

After he had waited for several minutes, Loomis came around the side of the house, shouldering into a yellow shirt. He wore dark blue shorts and white deck shoes with the laces missing.

“Hey, Bern. Sure glad you could shake loose on a Saturday morning. Appreciate it. Let’s drive on out to the back gate. What kind of car is this here?”

“BMW, Tuck.”

“Kind of a cute little thing. Me, I like bigger cars. Look, you just head on out that way, and when we get to Mockingbird Lane, turn left and go to the end.”

Bernard Gibbs parked, and after Tuck opened the gate they walked along a path that led east and north, climbing gradually until they were at the top of a knoll, high enough to overlook piney woods and brush lands and the curve of a stream filled by the rains. “What maybe we can do,” Tuck said, “is pick up a little bit more than fifteen hundred more acres, shaped like an L. So it runs across this five hundred way there to the east, and then comes around and up against our boundaries to the north of us here. We’re working on it. Now you tell me what you think about when you think of how we ought to go ahead on this whole two-thousand-acre addition to Parklands.”

Bern felt as if there wasn’t quite enough room in his chest for his heart, and certainly not enough room for a deep breath. “I would say you and your people should go absolutely first class. What I’m saying is that the yacht and tennis club and the golf and country club you built for the first phase are more than big enough to take care of the first phase of Parklands even after it’s completely sold out. I think maybe the theme here should be nature. Keep every stick of hardwood we can. Make the roads match the terrain. Off there to the southwest where I would guess from here you might have the least desirable construction areas, some shortsighted developers might think in terms of townhouse condominium but that, to me, would degrade the whole project. No, I would say use those areas for nature walks, jogging, maybe stables and horse barns. Lean heavy on big tracts, security, natural values.”

“Are there enough people with that kind of money?”

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