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Book by MacDonald John D
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After seven years of bickering and fussing, the Fort Lauderdamndale city fathers, on a hot Tuesday in late August, killed off a life style and turned me into a vagrant.
“Permanent habitation aboard all watercraft within the city limits is prohibited.”
And that ordinance included everything and everybody from the Alabama Tiger aboard his plush ’Bama Gal, running the world’s longest floating houseparty, all the way down to the shackiest little old pontoon cottage snugged into the backwater mangroves.
It included Meyer, the hairy economist, living comfortably aboard his dumpy little cruiser, The John Maynard Keynes, low in the water with the weight of financial tomes and journals in five languages and chess texts and problems in seven.
It included me and my stately and substantial old barge-type houseboat, the Busted Flush. The edict caught me off balance. I had not thought I was so thoroughly imbedded in any particular environment that being detached would be traumatic. Travis McGee is not hooked by things or by places, I told myself.
But, by God, there had been a lot of golden days, a lot of laughter and happy girls. Moonrise and hard rains. Swift fish and wide beaches. Some gentle tears and some damned good luck.
Maybe that is what made the gut hollow, an old superstition about luck. Long long long ago I stepped on a round stone in darkness and fell heavily at the instant that automatic weapons’ fire yellow-stitched the night where I had been standing six feet four inches tall and frangible. I had two souvenirs from that fall--an elbow abrasion and the round stone. I still had the half-pound stone after the elbow healed. I kept it in the side pocket of the twill pants. Then they leapfrogged two battalions of us forward by night to take pressure off some of our people who’d dug in on the wrong hill.
Our airplane driver didn’t care for the attention he was getting and kept his air speed on the high side as he dumped our group. I came to the end of the static line with one hell of a snap, and there was such a sharp pain in my ankle I thought I’d earned another Heart. I pulled the shrouds around, landed on shale, favoring the right leg, rolled and unbuckled, unslung the piece, and listened to night silence before I felt my ankle. No ripped leather or wetness. Pain lessening. Then I missed the round rock. When the chute popped, the rock had popped the pocket stitches, and it had gone down the pant leg, rapping the ankle bone on the way out, hurting right through the oiled leather of the jump boots. And I felt at that moment a terrible anxiety. “My rock is lost. My luck is lost. Some bastard is sighting in on me right now.”
Later I realized that I had made some bad moves during those next five days before they pulled us all back.
This was the same feeling. I’d clambered up onto the sundeck of the Flush so many mornings at first light and had looked out at my world from the vantage point of Slip F-18 and known who I was. True, the great panorama of the sky had been dwindled over the years by the highrise invasions. But it was my place. I’d taken the Flush out a hundred times and brought her back and tucked her, creaking and sighing, against the piers, home safe. Safe among her people and mine.
I guess there weren’t enough of us, all told. The City Commissioners authorized a survey and found out there were sixteen hundred people living on boats within the city limits. That isn’t much of a voting block in a place the size of Lauderdale. And boat people are not likely to act in unison anyway.
We’d all been pretending it would be voted down, but they made it unanimous.
So all day Wednesday, little groups formed, re-formed, moved around, broke up, joined up again aboard the watercraft at Bahia Mar.
Meyer lectured an embittered audience aboard the ’Bama Gal, standing on the cockpit deck amid a decorative litter of young ladies, quaffing Dos Equis, spilling a dapple of suds onto his black chest pelt.
“They say we have added to the population density. Let us examine that charge. Ten years ago perhaps a thousand of us lived aboard cruisers and houseboats. Now there are six hundred additional. During those ten years, ladies and gentlemen, how many so-called living units have appeared in this area? Highrise, town houses, tract houses, mobile homes? They were constructed and trucked in and slapped together and inhabited without thought or heed to the necessary water supply, sewage disposal, schools, roads, police and fire protection. All services are now marginal.”
“Fiffy thousand more shore people, maybe, huh?” said Geraldine, mistress of the old Broomstick.
“They say we have created sewage disposal problems,” Meyer intoned. “Doubtless a few of the live-aboard people are dumb and dirty, emptying slop buckets into the tide. But for the majority of us, we have holding tanks, we use shoreside facilities, we want clean water because we live on the water. Thousands upon thousands of transient cruisers and yachts and houseboats stop at the area marinas every year. Hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of marine hardware, paying a high ticket for docking privileges and bringing ashore a lot of out-of-town spending money. And we all know, we have all seen, that it is the transient watercraft which cause a sewage disposal problem. They do not live here. They take the easiest way out. They do not give a damn. But will the City Commissioners pass a law saying transients cannot stay aboard transient boats? Never! Those transients are keeping this corner of Florida green, my friends.”
He was applauded. Yay! We would march on City Hall. They would see the error of their ways.
But Johnny Dow put the whole thing in perspective. He cleared his throat and spat downwind, turned away from the rail and said, “Ad valorem, goddamnit!”
“Speak American,” said one of the Tiger’s playgirls.
“They hate us. Them politicals. You know what they make their money on. They come from the law and real estate and selling lots and houses. Ad valorem. We not putting dime one in their pockets. They drivin’ past seeing folks live pretty free, not needing them one damn bit, and they get scalded. We’re supposed to have property lines and bushes and chinch bugs and home improvement loans. Jealous. They all nailed down with a lot of crap they don’t like and can’t get loose of. So here we are. Easy target. Chouse us the hell out of town forever and they don’t have to see us or think about us. Figure us for some kind of parasite. Scroom, ever’ damn ass-tight one of them. Can’t win this one, Meyer. We’re too dense, and we make sewage. Easy target. Neaten up the city. Sweep out the trash. Ad valorem.” He spat again, with good elevation and good distance, and stumped across the deck and down the little gangway and off into the blinding brightness of noontime.
Meyer nodded approvingly. “Scroom,” he murmured. The end of an era.
We walked together back to the Flush and went aboard. We sat in the lounge, frowning and sighing.
Meyer said, “I saw Irv. He said something can be worked out.”
“Something can always be worked out. Sure. If a man wants to live aboard a boat, something can be worked out. If he can pay the ticket. A man could buy a condominium apartment right over there in that big hunk of ugly and make it his legal and mailing address and stay there one night a month and aboard all the other nights. Can something be worked out for all the people who get hit by the new law?”
“Then it isn’t going to be the same, old friend. And do we want any part of it, even if I could afford the ticket?”
“You short again?”
“Don’t look at me like that.”
“You in the confetti business? You make little green paper airplanes?”
“I have had six months of my retirement in this installment, fella.”
He beamed. “You know, you look rested. Good shape too. Better and better shape this last month, right?”
“Getting ready to go to work, which I seem to remember telling you.”
“You did! You did! I remember. That was when I asked you if you would help an old and dear friend and you said no thanks.”
“Meyer, damnit, I--”
“I respect your decision. I don’t know what will happen to Fedderman. It’s just too bad.”
I stared at him with fond exasperation. A week ago he had tried to explain Hirsh Fedderman’s unusual problem to me, and I had told him that it was an area I knew absolutely nothing about.
Meyer said, “We have thirty days of grace before we have to move away, boat and baggage. I just thought it would be a good thing to occupy your mind. And I told Hirsh I knew somebody who maybe could help out.”
“You got a little ahead of yourself, didn’t you?”
He sighed. “So I have to make amends. I’ll see what I can do by myself.”
“Stop trying to manipulate me.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Take a deep breath and say it. If it’s what you want, take a deep breath and say it.”
“What should I say?”
“Take a wild guess.”
“Well . . . Travis, would you please come with me to Miami and listen to my old friend Hirsh Fedderman and decide if you want to take on a salvage job?”
“Because you ask me so nicely, yes.”
“But then why was it no before?”
“Because I had something else shaping up.”
“And it fell through?”
“Yesterday. So today I need Fedderman, maybe.”
Praise for John D. MacDonald and the Travis McGee novels
“The great entertainer of our age, and a mesmerizing storyteller.”—Stephen King
“My favorite novelist of all time . . . All I ever wanted was to touch readers as powerfully as John D. MacDonald touched me. No price could be placed on the enormous pleasure that his books have given me. He captured the mood and the spirit of his times more accurately, more hauntingly, than any ‘literature’ writer—yet managed always to tell a thunderingly good, intensely suspenseful tale.”—Dean Koontz
“To diggers a thousand years from now, the works of John D. MacDonald would be a treasure on the order of the tomb of Tutankhamen.”—Kurt Vonnegut
“A master storyteller, a masterful suspense writer . . . John D. MacDonald is a shining example for all of us in the field. Talk about the best.”—Mary Higgins Clark
“A dominant influence on writers crafting the continuing series character . . . I envy the generation of readers just discovering Travis McGee, and count myself among the many readers savoring his adventures again.”—Sue Grafton
“One of the great sagas in American fiction.”—Robert B. Parker
“Most readers loved MacDonald’s work because he told a rip-roaring yarn. I loved it because he was the first modern writer to nail Florida dead-center, to capture all its languid sleaze, racy sense of promise, and breath-grabbing beauty.”—Carl Hiaasen
“The consummate pro, a master storyteller and witty observer . . . John D. MacDonald created a staggering quantity of wonderful books, each rich with characterization, suspense, and an almost intoxicating sense of place. The Travis McGee novels are among the finest works of fiction ever penned by an American author and they retain a remarkable sense of freshness.”—Jonathan Kellerman
“What a joy that these timeless and treasured novels are available again.”—Ed McBain
“Travis McGee is the last of the great knights-errant: honorable, sensual, skillful, and tough. I can’t think of anyone who has replaced him. I can’t think of anyone who would dare.”—Donald Westlake
“There’s only one thing as good as reading a John D. MacDonald novel: reading it again. A writer way ahead of his time, his Travis McGee books are as entertaining, insightful, and suspenseful today as the moment I first read them. He is the all-time master of the American mystery novel.”—John Saul
Les informations fournies dans la section « A propos du livre » peuvent faire référence à une autre édition de ce titre.
Description du livre Fawcett, 1987. Mass Market Paperback. Etat : New. N° de réf. du vendeur DADAX0449132471
Description du livre Fawcett, 1987. Mass Market Paperback. Etat : New. Never used!. N° de réf. du vendeur P110449132471
Description du livre Fawcett, 1987. Mass Market Paperback. Etat : New. Brand New!. N° de réf. du vendeur VIB0449132471
Description du livre Fawcett. MASS MARKET PAPERBACK. Etat : New. 0449132471 New Condition. N° de réf. du vendeur NEW7.0167226