Dick Lilly is a former Seattle Times reporter who covered local government from the neighborhoods to City Hall and Seattle Public Schools. He later served as a public information officer and planner for Seattle Public Utilities, with a stint in the mayor’s office as press secretary for Mayor Paul Schell. He has written on politics for Crosscut.com and the Seattle Times as well as Post Alley.
Harms said nothing when Falconer finished telling him about Vancouver. After a moment, he got up and very slowly and deliberately collected the empties and went into the kitchen. Falconer heard the bottles clatter into the recycling bin, then silence. After a while he heard a toilet flush in the back of the house. The refrigerator opened and closed, bottle caps rattled into the recycling and Harms reappeared, carefully setting two bottles of Redhook between them on the picnic table.
“Well, so, what do we know?” It was Monday morning. Sun poured through the penthouse office windows, burnishing the bamboo floors and varnished fir window and door frames. They were drinking coffee, Falconer, elbows on the small conference table, holding a large ceramic Starbucks mug imprinted in green with the Seattle skyline.
From where he was parked across Point Gray Road from the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club, Falconer could see through the gate and across the parking lot to the club’s porte cochere and make out anyone coming or going. He’d been there since six, only a little after he’d spotted Victor Wallingford’s classic 85-foot motor yacht, unmistakable with its deep green hull, from a viewpoint at Jericho Beach a few miles to the west along the route all incoming boats would use. His location gave him a good chance that he could spot Wallingford and his buddies as they came out to catch a ride or a cab and follow them into town. Sitting in his car in the lot for a closer look would only get him rousted by the doorman or some heavier security. Falconer mused: boom in that business everywhere thanks to real and imagined terrorist threats. He nibbled on a cold piroshky, one of several he’d bought – always the tourist – from a stall at the Granville Island Market.
“Thanks for meeting me on such short notice.” With a plastic fork Falconer stirred globs of blue cheese dressing into a sizeable pile of greens, tomato wedges, onions, bean sprouts, red beans, garbanzo beans and a few other things scooped from the salad bar. Lunch by the pound.
“That wasn’t cool, Eric, you being at Barclay’s this morning when our people arrived.” Bobby Harms’ bright white smile was hidden behind tight lips. They were on the Starlight deck, the space between Falconer’s penthouse and his office, open beers on the food-stained wooden table between them, the evening sun still warm, but the mood was not genial.
“Lotsa people know this guy. Sorta,” said Danny. “They’ve heard of him because he’s some kind of dealer, or they remember talking to him in a bar. They remember the snake tattoo. No one I talked to remembers a name. Some of them called him The Snake or Snake like that was his name. Seems to be what he goes by.”
Falconer followed Bobby Harms’ directions and took the ramp off U.S. 2 onto Ebey Island. Barely a mile east of I-5 and not twice that from downtown Everett, a left turn under the causeway and he was on a two-lane leading back in time to a place the suburbs passed by. Weedy horse pastures, mostly empty, sometimes home to a few sheep, and abandoned orchards were scattered on either side of the road. Gravel drives led back to small houses cloaked by the trees, thick moss on the roofs. The area hid from prosperity. “No Trespassing” signs on the fences advertised the locals’ views. These were independent people who could of necessity make do with an old farmhouse or moss-stained trailer on an island in the Snohomish River delta. The inevitable floods turned away the reasonable.
“He wasn’t there. Hadn’t shown up and that surprised them all. I sat next to a woman, Rosalyn something or other, from his office, receptionist-administrative assistant, majordomo, sounds like. Going to these fundraisers and rubbing shoulders with political types at the boss’s expense seems to be a perk of the job at Carl Barclay Associates. Rosalyn said she’d talked to him before lunch and he was planning to be there.”