Busted Axle Road
Chapter 102

Copyright© 1993, 2001, 2010

It was a Monday morning. An onshore wind had blown out much of the LA smog today, and the view from Harris Harper's office was all that the Los Angles view should be. Like many other people, he didn't want to get to work this Monday; he preferred to just look out the window, and wish that he were elsewhere. That day was drawing closer, now that the retirement plan was falling into place. He heard his door open, and turned around to see Dale McMullen walking into his office, carrying two cups of coffee with him. "How was your weekend, Harris?" he asked.

"Oh, pretty good," Harper replied. "I spent some time thinking about PLAN SAIL. Came up with a nice twist. The 61-footer is kind of small for the stuff we want to do with it, so I got to thinking, mostly about Greenpeace and their operation. What if we get an honest to god ship? Something like an old tuna clipper, or trawler, or something about that size? It'll look a little more impressive, and still be the money pit we need. Then when we're ready, we can sell it, and downsize to to something like the 61-footer as an economy measure. That'll help justify the economizing we'll need when we get to that point of the plan."

"Sounds good," McMullen said. "Sounds respectable, for that matter. I'd really rather go out helling around on the 61-footer, but if it'll help cloud the financial picture, so much the better."

"Well, I think that maybe you and I don't want to be too directly involved with it," Harper said. "After all, it doesn't want to be a pleasure boat. Maybe you or I could take a trip when we need the publicity value."

"You're saying put someone else in charge of it?"

"Yeah, that insulates us a little," Harper said.

"Got any ideas who?"

Harper shrugged. "We'll need a regular captain, but we'll also need a representative from the Defenders. Considering that it'll be about spring before we're ready to go, Heather could be available. She has that interest in whales, anyway, and she's certainly capable of handling the responsibility. That's kind of a penny-ante thing we've got her stuck on."

"Might not be a bad idea," Dale said. "She's still freezing her butt, I guess. This'll make it look like a nice reward for this Spearfish Lake thing. I got some E-mail from her this morning, wondering what the status of the funding is."

"And?"

"I haven't been able to talk to Jenny Easton personally," McMullen said. "I got this Blake guy she keeps around, and told him we need another fifty grand for legal expenses and to keep our operative there. He told me that she wasn't going to be able to do anything until after the first of the year."

"Well, that's not that far off," Harper said. "I hate to keep Heather dangling on a string, though. She hasn't sounded too happy in her reports."

McMullen shook his head. "I think we can leave her there for another month or two. Say, the first of February. If we haven't got any more funds out of Jenny Easton, let's pull the plug on this whole snake thing. With PLAN SAIL, the Jenny Easton funds aren't that important, anyway. Her donations are tied to the operation, and she monitors what's going on with it, so we have to justify what we're doing. It's not like it's just a general donation, like the money we got from her promos. I had plans for that being a big cash cow, especially if we could drag it out, but if we're going to turn straight, there's no point in trying to push it very hard."

"Sounds strange when you say it," Harper said, with a wry grimace. "But there it is. What do you want to do about Heather?"

"Bring her back here, and give her something else to do. This ship thing might be just the ticket, and it'll get rolling about then. That ship is a hell of a good idea you had, Harris. If we get more money out of Jenny Easton, then we can leave her there. The publicity won't hurt. I'll write her a letter, and tell her to stick it out a while longer."

"She doesn't sound too happy," Harper observed. "Maybe we'd just better write it off now, and be done with it."

"No," McMullen said. "For two reasons. First, Heather knows, or at least thinks, that we have a couple months worth of funds left, and she'll wonder why we're giving up. And, what the hell, she may be right. She may be able to pull off a cheap victory that we can trumpet. Just because we're backing off on the skim doesn't mean that we can stop fundraising. There are still projects to support, payrolls to pay, and like that."

"It just means that we don't have to work so hard at it," Harper agreed. "That's good, too, since we need to be winding down a little. That'll help fuzz things up, too."

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