John D MacDonald – Barrier Island

Well, I was there and there just wasn’t anything Mr. Barley could do about it. He had a package in his hand in a brown envelope. He signaled the airplane and it came over and Tuck held a wing while Mr. Barley stepped from the platform to the pontoon and climbed into it. So then we came on home. Tuck seemed real happy about how the meeting had gone. Tuck got my van and drove it down to the dock and I left in my borrowed clothes carrying my blue dress. And that was it.

MOCINEK: Could you describe Mr. Barley?

YODER: I’d guess he was between thirty-five and forty. He was pale and a little bit fat. He combed his blonde hair forward so that he had bangs across his forehead, cut off straight. He had glasses with gold wire rims. He wore white slacks and gray running shoes and a green short-sleeved sport shirt with a gator on the left breast. He wore it tucked into his pants. He wore a brown belt, a dress belt, and it looked wrong with the rest of his outfit. He didn’t look as if he was ever outdoors much. Oh, and he had a little pale blonde mustache.

MOCINEK: Can you describe the plane and the pilot?

YODER: The pilot wore a baseball cap and I couldn’t read what it said. He had on dark glasses. He was tan and I got the impression he was quite thin. The airplane was mostly white and it had thin light blue stripes on it. There was brown tape on the rudder thing, I guess hiding the numbers.

JUNK INS How about the envelope?

YODER: Well, it was a brown mailing envelope, the thick paper kind that opens on the wide side and not at the narrow top. It looked as if it had two thick paperback books in it, end to end, and then it was folded over. While the plane was coming back, Mr. Barley pulled his green shirt out of his pants and put the envelope against his stomach and tucked the shirt back in, because he would need two hands to climb into the airplane.

MALLORY: Was any specific amount of money mentioned? YODER: No. Just that it was in hundreds.

SPELLING: How and why did you get in touch with Mr. Mallory?

YODER: How? Well, I knew of course that Mr. Barnes had been writing a lot of things about the Bernard Island Corporation and the court case, and I knew that he was a good friend of Mr. Rowley, and so I went to Mr. Barnes and introduced myself and asked him how a person would go about getting in touch with the FBI. He said that Mr. Mallory had been in touch with him, and so he gave me the phone number Mr. Mallory had given him.

SPELLING: That leaves the question of why, doesn’t it?

PATRICK: I think I object to that tone of voice, Harvey. Helen Yoder appears here voluntarily.

SPELLING: Terribly sorry. But you will ask her to answer the question? I am always curious about motive.

YODER: He doesn’t have to ask me to answer you. I phoned Mr. Mallory because I wanted to. Ever since Tucker was awarded that huge sum of money I’ve worried about how he fixed it.

SPELLING: You thought it your duty as a citizen?

PATRICK: Porter, please ask your in-house attorney over there to back off. Otherwise I am going to advise my client to stop her voluntary testimony about this. She seems to offend his delicate sensibilities.

MALLORY: You hear the man, Harvey.

PATRICK: I happen to know why she decided to appear here. But it is a can of worms you don’t want to open.

SPELLING: You can be subpoenaed, Patrick.

PATRICK (laughing): And made to reveal privileged information? Where’d you get your mail-order degree, fellow?

SPELLING: I will not put up with insolent shit from this

MALLORY: Spelling, get the hell out of here. Go out to the bar, nurse a beer. Anything. But don’t stay here.

SPELLING: My orders are to


YODER: Now that he’s gone I guess I really have no good reason to hide why I’m here. I work for a very fine man named Wade Rowley. I’m a successful real estate salesman. I made thirty-seven thousand dollars last year and I’ll do a little better this year. My success is due to his patience and direction. Okay? Wade has been trying to extricate the agency from a relationship with Tucker Loomis that his partner, Bernard Gibbs, established. Wade was against the commercialization of Bernard Island. He went to Park Service people and gave them information that four deeds to land on the island were false. The Park Service man sent that data with a letter to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Mr. Barley evidently found out about it and got in touch with Tuck. Then Tuck told Bern Gibbs, and the two partners then had a terrible quarrel and decided to split up. Eleven days ago somebody called and left a message for Wade Rowley to go to the trailer of an employee of Tuck’s named Mr. Feeney.

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Categories: John D MacDonald