The Cana Diversion - William Campbell Gault - ebook

The Cana Diversion ebook

William Campbell Gault

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Opis

While tangling with radicals, Brock stumbles on a colleague's corpse. Brock Callahan, ex-private investigator, is still not used to wealth and retirement. In fact he is struggling through a game of golf when the clubhouse calls with the curious news that his wife is in jail, pulled in at an anti-nuclear protest. Callahan hires Joe Puma, private detective and onetime peer, to post bail for the budding radical. A few days later, Puma is dead, and Brock begins to wonder where the student movement's shadowy roots lie. The agitators want to stop the proposed Mirage Point reactor, which sits at the intersection of mob money, corrupt utilities, and the violent rage of the radical fringe. And as Callahan knows all too well, California doesn't run on nuclear energy; the state is powered by the dirtiest fuel there is - old-fashioned, murderous greed.

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Contents

Cover

About the Book

About the Author

Title Page

Copyright Page

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

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Cover

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About the Book

While tangling with radicals, Brock stumbles on a colleague’s corpse.

Brock Callahan, ex-private investigator, is still not used to wealth and retirement. In fact he is struggling through a game of golf when the clubhouse calls with the curious news that his wife is in jail, pulled in at an anti-nuclear protest. Callahan hires Joe Puma, private detective and onetime peer, to post bail for the budding radical. A few days later, Puma is dead, and Brock begins to wonder where the student movement’s shadowy roots lie.

The agitators want to stop the proposed Mirage Point reactor, which sits at the intersection of mob money, corrupt utilities, and the violent rage of the radical fringe. And as Callahan knows all too well, California doesn’t run on nuclear energy; the state is powered by the dirtiest fuel there is - old-fashioned, murderous greed.

About the Author

William Campbell Gault (1910–1995) was a critically acclaimed pulp novelist. Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, he took seven years to graduate from high school. Though he was part of a juvenile gang, he wrote poetry in his spare time, signing it with a girl’s name lest one of his friends find it. He sold his first story in 1936, and built a great career writing for pulps like Paris Nights, Scarlet Adventures, and the infamous Black Mask. In 1939, Gault quit his job and started writing fulltime.

The Cana Diversion

A Brock Callahan Mystery

William Campbell Gault

 

BASTEI ENTERTAINMENT

 

Bastei Entertainment is an imprint of Bastei Lübbe AG

 

Copyright © 2015 by Bastei Lübbe AG, Schanzenstraße 6-20, 51063 Cologne, Germany

 

For the original edition:

Copyright © 2012 by The Mysterious Press, LLC, 58 Warren Street, New York, NY. U.S.A.

 

Copyright © 1982 by William Campbell Gault

 

Project management: Lori Herber

Cover adaptation: Christin Wilhelm, www.grafic4u.de

Cover design by Jason Gabbert

 

E-book production: Jouve Germany GmbH & Co. KG

 

ISBN 978-3-95859-335-0

 

www.bastei-entertainment.com

 

All rights reserved, including without limitation the right to reproduce this e-book or any portion thereof in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of the publisher.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

1

INCIDENTS, COINCIDENCE. … IF JAN hadn’t gone to jail, Joe Puma might never have known I was in town. And if he hadn’t learned that, he couldn’t have told his wife, and I never would have become involved in his shoddy business.

The above is confusing; let me put it into sequence.

I had this sidehill birdie putt of about nine feet on the thirteenth green. After two consecutive presses, I figured it was a sixteen-dollar putt. I was playing with two doctors and a lawyer; sixteen dollars meant nothing, to them. But I had become solvent only recently. With my economic conditioning, sixteen-dollar putts will always be scary.

I gave it a lot of thought and surveillance, as the pros on the boob tube do, and was walking back to putt when I saw the kid who picked up range balls coming along the fairway in an electric cart.

He was obviously coming from the clubhouse with a message. Since both doctors in the foursome were obstetricians, the chance of his having a message for me was remote. But I waited. I am not too sound on sidehill putts.

“Mr. Callahan,” the kid called, “I have a message for you.”

“What is it?” I asked.

He looked embarrassed. “It’s, uh, personal.”

It was my turn to look embarrassed, but mostly I was frightened. Personal could mean accident, personal could mean death, personal could only mean Jan, my wife.

It was Jan. “She’s in jail,” the boy told me quietly. “She wants you to come there right away.”

I climbed into the cart. “Something came up,” I called to the others. “Something important.” What else could I say—that my wife was in jail? I was a new member.

We rode in silence for about fifty yards and then the kid opened up. “No need to be embarrassed, Mr. Callahan. We got a call from Judge Vaughan’s wife, too.”

That put Jan in select company. Lois Vaughan was our town’s most admired woman worker for worthy causes. But what worthy cause could land both of them in the clink?

The San Valdesto County jail was high on a hill north of town, close to the general hospital. The parking lot was half-filled when I got there and more cars were coming in. I pulled the Mustang into a space at the far end—just as Judge Vaughan’s Mercedes pulled into the adjoining space.

We both got out and he looked at me over the top of his car, a tall, portly and obviously irritated man. “Jan, too?” he asked me.

I nodded.

He shook his head. “Damn that woman! Recording for the blind, the Salvation Army, the Heart Fund, the Children’s Home Society—that’s not enough for Lois. She’s got to get herself involved with those pukey militant punks, too.”

“Punks?”

“Punks,” he repeated. “The only thing those kids know is protest. The only work they can handle is carrying signs.”

“CANA,” I guessed.

He nodded. “What else? Let’s go in and bail them out.”

Citizens Against Nuclear Armageddon—CANA. The local paper had been giving them the front page for a week. Ground had been broken out at Point Mirage, two miles from where we stood, for a projected nuclear power plant. CANA protesters, most of them from the local campus of the state university, had been picketing the place.

Toward the entrance we walked, across the blacktop shimmering in the unclouded sun. “I had Doc Ellers down three holes with four to go,” he told me, “and then this!”

How sad, how cruel, that Armageddon should interrupt anything as important as that. … I said nothing.

“What in hell is this world coming to?” he asked me.

Armageddon? “You got me, Alan,” I said.

The waiting room was full of long benches; the benches were about half-occupied. They looked like parents to me, solid-citizen types.

At the counter, Alan told the woman behind it, “I’d like to talk with Sheriff Clune.”

“He’s busy, sir, “she said.

“Well, you run in and tell him Judge Vaughan is here and let him decide how busy he is.”

She gave him the bureaucratic glazed look for about ten seconds. “One moment, sir,” she said quietly, and went to a phone on a nearby desk. She was back in less than a minute. “He’ll see you. His office is—”

“I know where it is,” he told her. “Let’s go, Brock.”

Sheriff Clune was as tall and thick as Judge Vaughan, but more—well, more macho looking, all cop. He got up from his big desk in his big office as we entered. “Alan, what can I do for you?”

“You can release my wife in my custody.”

“Lois?”

“She’s the only wife I have. She was brought in with those CANA creeps.”

Clune smiled. “You won’t need me for that, Alan. Only about half a dozen are being held, and I’m sure Lois isn’t one of them. She’s probably waiting for you outside right now.”

“I hope so,” Vaughan said. “If she isn’t, I’ll be back.” He went out, and slammed the door behind him.

Clune sighed, and looked at me.

“The Judge forgot to introduce me,” I said. “My name is Callahan. My wife was probably in the same group. I’ll go outside and look for her.”

He frowned. “Callahan? Just one moment.” He bent over his desk and went through some papers. “Is that Mrs. Brock Callahan?”

I nodded.

“This is a slightly different case,” he explained. “Most of them were guilty of unlawful assembly, and we decided to forget it. But assaulting a police officer. …?”

“With what?” I asked. “What is he, a midget?”

“This is hardly a time for levity, Mr. Callahan. The officer is over at County General right now, having some stitches taken in his scalp. Evidently she hit him on the head with her sign.”

“I see. Was it provoked or unprovoked assault?”

He stared at me. It was almost a glare.

“My wife,” I said, “weighs one hundred and eleven pounds and is an extremely law-abiding woman. As a matter of fact, I don’t think she’s even had so much as a parking ticket.”

“I’m sure the judge will take her record into account.”

“Judge? She’s being held for trial?”

“She is. Bail has been set at five thousand dollars.”

I had no further words for him. I went out and slammed the door, as my predecessor had, and went back to the big waiting room.

And there (incident two, coincidence one) at the bail counter was Joe Puma.

“Callahan!” he said. “What the hell you doing in San Valdesto?”

“Living. And you?”

“Oh, some bail bonds, some divorce work, credit and security checks, whatever makes me a buck. Been up here two years.” He paused. “You still handling bail bonds?”

I shook my head. “That’s not why I’m here. I’m retired. Joe, I don’t have much money on me, and my wife is being held on five thousand dollars bail. You take care of it, and I’ll mail you a check for five hundred tonight. Unless you accept credit cards?”

He shook his head. “No need, Brock, baby. I trust you. Let’s go over here and fill out the forms.”

I sent him the check that night. So what did I owe him? It’s hard to explain to a layman, but I’ll try. We were peers, or had been. We had prowled the Los Angeles streets together, despised by police, scorned by citizens less honest and gutty than we were. We had to scramble for every dirty dollar, which meant we had to cut a corner now and then. Who doesn’t? Let’s just say he was my kind of bastard.

When the deputy brought Jan out, she was steaming. “Cossacks!” she screamed. “Storm troopers! Who’s the head man around here?”

“Sheriff Clune,” I told her. “I’ve just come from his office. Let’s go home.”

“Like hell! Where’s his office?”

“Jan, please—”

She said, very evenly, “Wait in the car if you want to. I’ll find his office.”

I knew that mood. I said, “Follow me.”

The door was ajar when we got there. Jan pushed it open. Sheriff Clune was behind his desk. He looked up, frowning.

My bride had regained her composure. She said with quiet dignity, “I think you should know, Sheriff, that not only did your deputy call me an obscene name, he threatened me with physical violence. Lois Vaughan will confirm that. I expect you to take appropriate disciplinary action.”

Down the hall in silence, out to the parking lot.

“What was the obscene name?” I asked her.

“Spindleshanks.”

I kept a straight face. “And the threat?”

“He said, ‘You hit me with that sign, spindle-shanks, and I’ll break it over your pretty head.’”

“It’s possible,” I said doubtfully, “a clever defense attorney might make something out of that.”

“We won’t need an attorney. Did you notice how worried he looked when I mentioned Lois Vaughan?”

Nothing from me. I held the door of the Mustang open for her. She got in and I went around to climb behind the wheel.

“Are my legs really that thin?” she asked.

“They are thin, but very well proportioned. And you certainly have a pretty head, as the man said. I’m not sure we have a case.”

“There’ll be no case. I don’t want to cook. Let’s eat out.”

“Okay.”

“There’s a CANA meeting at eight o’clock,” she told me. “I think you should come with me. I think you should get involved in community affairs.”

I didn’t argue with her. She could do far worse than hitting me over the head with a sign. She could get one of her convenient headaches.

“I’ll go, “I said.

2

THE MEETING WAS HELD in the Odd Fellows’ Hall, a properly named forum for the assemblage. They were a mixed group, both long- and short-haired students, a few militant firebrands, counterbalanced by the solid, stolid, older Citizens Who Care.

The firebrands ranted their noisy absurdities, studded with non sequiturs. The concerned senior citizens were more rational, but duller. Most of the students either sat and listened quietly or asked pertinent questions, a comforting thought for the future.

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!