John D MacDonald – Barrier Island

“I’m a lot closer to his partner, Bern Gibbs. We figured out it was Rowley tried to shove a stick in our wheels. Look, I didn’t mean to come down so hard on you boys. I was mad as hell. There’s a lot at stake here. It wasn’t your fault I had you sign those papers. I just want you and Feeney to forget it. Okay?”

“What I came to ask you about, Mr. Loomis, this Feeney he keeps after me. He’s not exactly a hot head, you know. But he don’t like anybody jerking him around like this Rowley did.”


“He keeps after me he should call the number on the card and ask this Rowley to come back to Feeney’s trailer, he wants to tell him something. Feeney wants that I should be there and the two of us we should bump him around some. Feeney says it would teach him a lesson. I don’t know if it’s such a great idea and I told Feeney I’d see what you think, whether it would mess up anything for you.”

The images of Maria in heat kept sliding into the edge of his mind, mouth torn sideways, eyes swooning, belly sleek with sweat.

“I don’t know,” he said. “Well, why not? But not with Feeney. I don’t want him there even. He starts yakking and there’s no damn way in the world to shut him up. What you do, Jack, you take Mike Wasser with you. Set it up when Feeney’s working the gate so you can use his old white pickup. Don’t mention any names at all to Rowley. Just tell him he should keep his nose out of other folks’ business. Don’t do a hospital job on him and don’t break up his face. Bust up his middle and knock him down and kick his ass blue.” He stood up and Simms stood up on cue, and as Simms followed him to the door he said, “You got any questions?”

“I’m wondering what to tell Feeney.”

“Work it out yourself. I don’t want him in on it.”

“When should we do it?”

“We go to court on Thursday. Better do it before then. They may have the son of a bitch set up to testify. Maybe he’ll forget what he was going to tell them.”

As soon as the front door was closed and locked, Tuck hurried back to Maria. As he came through the door, dropping the robe on the floor behind him, she hopped off the bed and positioned herself as before on the big square leather hassock they had moved into his bedroom from the living room. He grinned at her and knelt between her knees.

After they were back on the king-size bed he dozed for a time and then came awake with a start and saw that it was almost three-thirty. He poked her awake. She lifted a sleep-mazed frowning face and said, “Wha’s up?”

“You got a lot to do before Shirley gets here to relieve you.”

She grabbed his wrist and turned it to see his watch. Hers was pinned to her uniform. “Sangre de Cristo!” she said and hopped out of bed and headed in a hurry toward the bathroom. Watching her he marveled that her behind looked bigger and rounder when it was bare than when it was under the white fabric of her uniform.

Something was making him uncomfortable and soon he realized he was uneasy about Jack Simms’ visit. Feeney’s idea wasn’t a very good idea. The more he thought about it, the stupider it seemed. Too damn anxious to get back to the interrupted piece of ass. Agree to anything in that condition. Lose his head, like the little dog on the railroad tracks. He backed up and thought it through. What could happen? If Rowley wanted to make a big case about it, nobody would know what the hell he was talking about. Maybe Rowley reached for the wrong woman and the husband or boyfriend kicked the living shit out of him, and he was trying to make it sound like something else entirely.

He knew he should get up and go find Jack Simms in the marina area and call it off. Muscle stuff is pointless, especially when there are so many more satisfying ways to make a man sorry he’s alive. He yawned and stretched and yawned again, thinking about getting up.

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