John D MacDonald – Barrier Island

“I just don’t understand all this. I tried every way I know how to make you happy, honey bun I just don’t understand `;05.’ it. It’s the worst thing that… that ever… ever happened to me.”

She realized he was crying again. She took a deep breath and let it out in a long sigh. “Oh shit, Buddy. Cut it out. I want to get this thing settled.”

“Will you do me one favor?”

“What’s the catch?”

“If you do me this one favor, then I’ll go along with anything you want.”

“What’s the favor?”

“You just put this whole divorce idea out of your mind for six months. Just don’t think about it at all. And then you won’t get so anxious about doing it in such a big hurry.”

She thought it over. “I have your word?”

“You sure do, honey bun

“Okay, on one condition. Stop hassling me for those six months, Buddy. No flowers, no loving telegrams, no phone calls. And stop putting that money in my account every month.”

“I want you to have the money.”

“But I don’t want it. I don’t need it. I don’t want to take it!”

“Well… could I take you out to dinner once a month?”


“How about I take you out to dinner in the middle of the six months, like three months from today. That would make it the third of December. Just so we can find out how… we’re getting along.”

She sighed again. “Okay, okay, okay.”

“Suppose we run into each other like on the street or at a party or something. Can we say hello, how are you, that stuff?”

“Yes we can. But we are not going to make a special effort to run into each other, are we?”

“I guess not. No. I won’t do that. Will you tell Dan to come back in six months?”

“Yes, I will.”

“Maybe he won’t have to come back at all. Maybe by then you’ll get over this idea.”

“Buddy, what I’ve got isn’t a head cold or a limp.”

“If you’d only tell me why.”

“I told you. I just don’t want to be married anymore. To anybody.”

She heard him sigh. It sounded a little bit ragged. “How are things going otherwise?” he asked.

“Pretty good. But I think Wade and Bern are going to split up. I’m not supposed to be telling this to anyone. It won’t be until after the Bernard Island suit is settled. I hear you’re in on that.”

“Yes I am,” he said, new life in his voice. “Me and Bobby Tom. It’s been all set for the eleventh, Thursday, a week from tomorrow. We’ve got some kind of visuals we’re taking over there. We’ll have two van loads of stuff. And you wouldn’t believe the documentation. And we’ve got some real impressive appraisers to take the stand.”

“Do you think you’ll have an easy win?”

“We’ve had these conferences with Tuck Loomis and his people. We’ve got to show the Court that they could really have gotten all their ducks in a row and developed that island and they could have turned it into something great, something that would be a showcase for the whole Mississippi coast. All they have to do is show that it would be a damn poor place to build on. I just feel it might be easier to be on the other side of this case. But we’re getting all geared up.”

“Buddy, you keep your guard up, hear? Just be careful what goes on around you. You are a good honest man and people can use you.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“You know I went with Tuck before I married you.”

“Yes, I know. And I can’t understand how you could let a man old enough to be your ”

“We went through that years ago. Now hush up. There isn’t anything I can tell you except that Tucker Loomis has never in his life gone into any kind of a fight without he has an edge. He works things out in advance so that they come out his way every time. He laughs a lot. I just mean if you see anything going on you think is wrong, you get out. Tell them you’ve got the flu. Go to bed for a week.”

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