John D MacDonald – Barrier Island

Mr. Gibbs intercepted the call and decided to keep the four o’clock appointment. He thought, I guess, that it had something to do with this whole mess, and maybe Wade was being tricky. So he went and he got killed. The coroner’s report said that he died of a kick or blow to the throat that smashed the larynx, and that he had been hit in the face with such force it cracked the jawbone on the left side. It seemed to me that the idea was to lure Wade Rowley to that place and beat him up, to teach him not to mess with Tucker Loomis. Knowing Tuck as I do, I think that would be the sort of thing he would arrange, to send some men there to beat up on Wade. But I guess they didn’t know him by sight, and when Bern showed up they beat on him. I called Mr. Mallory because I got the feeling that Tucker might not want to leave a job undone. He’s like that. He’s very stubborn and he holds grudges. I decided he would probably wait a couple of months or a year and then send somebody after Wade. He never forgives anybody for anything, ever. That’s why I’m here. If I can get him into real trouble, I certainly want to. Bern was not a nice man, really. But he didn’t deserve that! Nobody deserves being kicked to death and left in the bushes for a dog to find him.

PATRICK: Gentlemen, let me step in here for a moment. Regardless of what Mrs. Yoder and Mr. Rowley and I might think about Bern Gibbs’ death, the local police have closed their file on it. They say the murder was committed by two young men from the Louisiana area who killed Bern to take possession of his forty-thousand-dollar car. They were killed in it in the early hours of the next day over in Alabama trying to run a roadblock.

JUNK INS What do you think of Mrs. Voder’s account of the killing?

PATRICK: I find it just as plausible as the case against the two young men.

MALLORY: Excuse me while I look at my notes. Okay. Now then, Mrs. Yoder, have you heard Tucker Loomis or anyone close to him talking about a company called Maxim Engineering? Or about a buy out?

YODER: No, not that I remember.

MALLORY: Have you heard any mention of Cordray Communications?

YODER: No sir.

MALLORY: Do you know a man named Dennis Short?

YODER: Yes, I do. Not real well. He works for Woody Daggs. Woody owns Regal Construction. He’s done a lot of work for Tuck and they are good friends. Buddy, my husband, knows Dennis Short better than I do. They play golf together a lot. I’d say Dennis was the number two man at Regal, after Woody.

MALLORY: Do you know Warner Ellenson?

YODER: He used to be mayor. Everybody knows him. I sold the Ellensons their lot at Parklands.

MALLORY: At the time you were… seeing Tucker Loomis, can you recall who his close friends were at that time?

YODER: I’ve named two of them, Mr. Daggs and Warner Ellenson. J. Harrison Derks, he’s president of the Citizens

Bank, and Fred Pittman and Colonel Barkis, they’re investors in real estate and so on, and they own part of Parklands. Let me see. Sam Loudner, he’s an important lawyer. Buddy is in his firm. That’s all I can think of. They play golf together and go hunting together and go fishing together and go off to Vegas together. I mean it is an important group of men and there isn’t much that can go on in West Bay if they don’t approve of it.

MALLORY: Does the name Stuart Persons mean anything to you?

YODER: The short time I worked in Tuck’s office I had to place calls to him. Out of town someplace. I can’t remember where.

MOCINEK: Mrs. Yoder, I am very grateful to you, even though I have heard some things here today which make me very sad indeed. I must ask you a very delicate question, and I hope you understand. In the event this should come to trial and you should be called as a witness, will the defense be able to come up with anything that will discredit you?

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Categories: John D MacDonald