Busted Axle Road
Chapter 99

Copyright© 1993, 2001, 2010

"The beauty of this particular part of the plan," Harris Harper said, "Is that essentially, it allows the organization to buy the 61-footer for us, and totally legally, too."

"Ingenious," Dale McMullen agreed. The two were discussing PLAN SAIL, which was Harper's plan to turn the Defenders of Gaea totally and untraceably legitimate, over a three year period, which would allow them to retire without fear of prosecution. They wouldn't have to have their fingers on the keys any longer to keep auditors and investigators from finding things they didn't want found. "How'd you manage that?"

"Pretty simple," Harris said. "You and I go ahead and buy the boat outright. We've got the cash to do it, but we could go to a bank, just to make it look better. Then, we arrange for the Defenders to lease it from us. That still gives us the option to use it when we want to, but if we run a couple of high-profile operations with it, it'll make the use look legitimate."

Dale nodded his head. "What kind of operations do you have in mind?"

"Some sort of Cousteau or Greenpeace thing. You remember last summer, when Heather was talking about the Japanese whaling fleet? What happens if we go out looking for them, and take a video crew with us. We can get tapes of the whale killing under way, and maybe do something that looks a little symbolic. Or, maybe something like Japanese drift netting. They kill a lot of dolphins that way."

McMullen shook his head. "Might be safer than taking on whale factories," he said. "A 61-footer sounds pretty big to us, but it's a pipsqueak thing, even next to one of those whale catchers. Those whale factories and catchers are pretty fast, too. We might have a hell of a time catching them."

"That's why I like the 61-footer we looked at Saturday," Harris said. "It's pretty fast, anyway, and those two big diesels under the cockpit will bounce us along a lot faster. Anyway, I'm sure we can come up with several projects to justify the boat's use, while we get to go sailing."

Dale smiled. Buying the sailboat wasn't really an environmental project, unless you considered checking out the grass skirts in the South Pacific as an environmental issue. They'd paid their dues. "So, how does this fit into the whole picture?" he said.

"It's not the whole thing, but it's a key," Harris said. "It's a high-visibility money pit. Basically, what we do is announce in the magazine that we're going to make a big drive to cut administrative expenses. We make some highly visible cuts, nothing terribly important, since the biggest cut is phasing out our cut. At the same time, the boat -- I think we want to call it the "Defender," don't you? -- will throw the financial picture into a turmoil. We can dump a lot of money into that operation legitimately. Then, after somewhere between two and four years, we, as the Defenders, can decide that the boat project is costing more than it's worth, and terminate it. You and I would still own the boat, but it would account for more money in the organization. At the same time we're phasing out our cut, we cut back on fundraising efforts a little, which means that the bottom line remains about the same. I figure we go on line with this the first of the year, now that we've got the best of the money we got from the Jenny Easton spots."

"I can see that," Dale nodded. "There's a lot of the old switcheroo going on there."

"Right," Harris agreed. "That's the general idea. It's still going to be four or five years before we could destroy all the records, but in three years we could leave. The only thing in the open records that could be considered evidence is deliberately ambiguous and misleading. This plan, and my set of records are the only way to tell what's really going on."

"You'd better keep a close eye on those records," Dale said.

"I always have," Harris said.

They were interrupted by the phone. Harris picked it up, to find that it was Mollie. "I've got Heather on line two," she said. "She wants to talk to Dale."

"We're busy right now," Harris said. "I'll have Dale call her back."

"There's no place to call her back," Mollie said. "She said she's calling from Minneapolis, on a pay phone. She says it's urgent."

"Hang on just a second," Harris said, turning to Harper. "Heather's calling from a pay phone in Minneapolis, and she wants to talk to you real bad. You want to take it here, or in your office?"

"I'll talk to her here," Dale said. "Why don't you put it on the speaker?"

"OK," Harris said, punching a button. "What's up, Heather?" he said. "What's so interesting in the Twin Cities?"

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