John D MacDonald – Barrier Island

“Except you and me.”

“And we’re not talking about it, ever. Drunk or sober, not a word, ever. Right? You talk and we go to prison and I get you killed the first week.”

“I’m scared, Mike. I’m really scared. That damned Feeney and his ideas. He got us into this.”

“Wipe the fingerprints off the car. Not that anybody will ever check them. But just to be safe.”

“I’ve got the shakes.”

“Shut up and open the trunk, Jack.”

They lifted the body out and put it on the hard dirt. Simms went out to where he could check the area. When he whistled, Wasser picked the body up and hurried around the end of the trailer an dover into the heavy brush in the neighboring lot. Breathing hard, he shoved the body deeper into the bushes. Simms brought the shovel and they put it beside the body. They had to go back to the body and search for the man’s keys.

It was a fifteen-minute drive in late-afternoon traffic to the Bayway Mall parking lot. Simms was glad to see the white pickup following him closely. He found a parking lot, parked, and trotted to the pickup and got in quickly.

“You got the keys?” Mike asked.

“Look, that’s a forty-thousand-dollar machine. I left the keys in the ignition and the doors unlocked. Somebody takes it, it makes the investigation tougher. And you can bet your ass there is going to be one hell of an investigation of this.”

Once they were a mile away from the mall, they both felt better. When they got to Parklands they waved at Feeney as he let them through the gate, parked the white truck and took the keys back to Feeney.

“False alarm, pal,” Jack Simms said. “The man never showed up.”

Feeney registered disappointment.

“We’ll get him next time. We ought to lay some plans,” Mike said.


“You going to be there tonight? Me and Simms, we’ll stop by after dark and bring a bottle and sit around and lay it all out, okay?”

“Fine by me,” Feeney said, grinning, showing his popcorn teeth.


Ezra Feeney, as was to be officially established on the following day, was relieved of gate duty at ten after six on September ninth, and arrived at his travel trailer at about six-thirty.

On his way home he thought about his new friends, Jack Simms and Mike Wasser. It made him feel good to think that they were going to come around this evening and bring a bottle and drink with him. It had been a long time since he’d had friends like them, younger fellows, all muscle and spunk. It bothered him that he had some kind of problem making friends. He knew he was friendly and open and he smiled a lot. He found it easy to talk to strangers, and they seemed to enjoy talking to him. He knew he had a lot of interesting stories to tell. He had been all over the country, working every kind of job you could imagine. He would think he had made a new friend, but after a month or so the new friend would kind of drift away, make excuses. He knew he didn’t say any mean things, or do any mean things. He was always willing to loan out anything he owned except his dog. But here these fellows were being real friendly. Maybe, he thought, it was because he’d been born right here in West Bay, and that made some kind of difference. Maybe it was time to put his roots down for good. Stop roaming. Maybe start going to church for the first time in thirty years. When the boys came around this evening he would tell them about his daddy getting squashed when they launched the big boat, right here in West Bay.

He parked under the big tree in his usual spot. It was about an hour to sunset and the shadows were long. Fred was pacing back and forth behind the chicken wire, whining and doing his little welcome dance. When Ezra let him out, Fred scooted for the bushes. Ezra went to unlock his trailer door and found the boys hadn’t locked it when they left. He was annoyed. He had told them twice. There was a gang of black teenagers who scavenged the dump and roamed the area and sometimes trashed empty houses.

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