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Join Delbert and Sylvia again as they face his life in a wheelchair and deal with the feeling he is now half a man in search of a new mission in life. You will be embroiled in their emotional struggle to rescue a teenage drug addict which in turn leads to a campaign against drug running in Pacific Northwest waters in the 1960’s.

Delbert designs and builds a novel silent flying boat to hunt down smugglers only to be caught in a deadly conflict with them. Conflict too, between morality and a disturbing immorality which leaves their two loves sought in jeopardy to the very end.

Historical Fiction, Feels Real      Dixie Goode

I LOVED this book!   Djambe

Two Loves Sought

CHAPTER ONE

When Delbert Pillage crash landed his jet fighter on Royal Colwood Golf Course, he saved lives but it cost him both feet and left him paralyzed from the waist down. In those first days, he fought for life because the accident brought back Sylvia Cairns. But to what? A broken man with half a body?

As days went by, her love and constant nursing became a beacon for him. She quelled the self-doubts generated by sharp pains in his back and sometimes others that seemed to shoot from his imaginary feet. But would he ever have a life again? A worthwhile life?

In a way it reminded him of his youth, tormented by bul¬lies, defended by Sylvia. Back then, he learned to cope with the harassment and grow into his potential through Sylvia’s gentle support and encouragement. Even when he lost her, he strove to be worthy of her faith in him. And through his intelligence, suc¬ceeded beyond their expectations. Now the injury and pain tortured him and dashed his chances of flying again. Though the crash reunited them, how could he give her the life she deserved? That question became intense when she wanted to get married.

“I can’t burden you with taking care of me, always limited in what you can do.”

Her impassioned response shocked him.

“Over the past three years I have longed to be with you. It never went away and I came to realize I made three bad mistakes; failing to avoid the rape, botching the abortion and, most important in hindsight, not letting you decide your own course of action. It’s wrong to make other people’s decisions for them. When a man proposes to a woman he has already made up his mind. All that remains for her is to accept or reject the proposal. I’m proposing to you, Delbert, will you marry me?”

He had followed his heart and mumbled yes. From that moment on, he determined to ignore the signs of pity that fluttered across people’s faces and refused to consider himself disabled. For her sake he would make the most of his new situation.

Now married, they delighted in each other’s company. The trials through which both persevered heightened their joy each day together, almost a honeymoon without end. It did have a beginning, however. Publicly marked by their August 1960 wedding on Salt Spring Island, which captivated local residents and left them with talking fodder for years to come. Privately, it was not so clearly delineated. In the weeks leading up to the wedding, Delbert recovered from a back operation which left his fourth and fifth lumbar vertebrae held together by a metal rod over his severely damaged spinal cord. He was very much a patient and Sylvia his nurse. They kissed and gently hugged but that was the extent of their intimacy.

By the wedding day, Delbert was out of a back brace and free to do whatever he could. They discovered a more intimate relationship both possible and thrilling. Yet, though his happiness was genuine when together, Delbert often succumb to depression when alone. He felt robbed of so much of his previous life style.

Sylvia caught him in one of those moods as he sat staring out the window at a persistent drizzle. She quietly walked up behind, put her arms around him and whispered in his ear.

“A penny for your thoughts.”

He leaned his cheek against hers. “That would be a poor investment.”

“Let me decide.”

“You want to hear confession, Sister Sylvia?”

She jabbed him good-naturedly in the ribs. “Yes, if that’s what you want to call it.”

He paused. “You give me such joy it’s not right to express sadness but try as I might, I can’t always ignore what the accident took away.”

“Like flying?”

“Flying and more. Life with the Martin’s opened my eyes. Dan taught me to fly. Charlie taught me the value of exercise. I became convinced that both physical and mental activity are crucial for one’s well-being. Now both are lost.”

“Compromised, not lost.”

“Seriously compromised.”

“That’s up to you.”

“I have a forlorn hope that somehow my spinal cord will heal itself and I will walk again with artificial feet. Maybe even run.”

Sylvia felt strangled by a wave of sadness. She fought to conceal it. He needed direction, not commiseration.

“Didn’t the doctors say the damage was permanent?”

“Yes.”

“Then we should find new physical and mental activities for you. Let any feeling regained be an unexpected miracle.”

“I’ll try.”

As the days passed, Sylvia helped Delbert when needed yet subtly encouraged him to do as much as possible for himself. That proved easy since he was driven to avoid placing a burden on anyone, least of all her. His priority became development of upper body strength in order to gain mobility in and out of his wheelchair. A reasonable goal fraught with unanticipated challenges which frequently left him dejected by the lack of progress.

Just learning how to climb into the chair proved difficult. To dress himself he had to bend far forward to pull underwear and pants over even his shortened legs. Then lean from side to side to work them up. Bathroom visits were harder to master. He had a bar installed to help swing himself between chair and toilet. The room design did not cater to his needs. Still, with perseverance he developed a successful technique.

In his previous life with feet, he enjoyed a ten kilometer run most days. He missed that almost as much as his feet. At Sylvia’s suggestion, he laid out a route for a daily morning roll on the sidewalks of Victoria. From their apartment on Rockland Avenue, it headed north to Oak Bay Avenue, east to Newport and south to Beach Drive. The stretch along Beach Drive would give a spectacular view of the coastline before it split off onto Fairfield Road. Then the route headed north on St Charles to Fort Street and back onto Oak Bay Avenue for the return to their apartment. Just over seven kilometers with a hilly part in the last half.

“That a long circuit,” Sylvia cautioned when he described it to her. “Shouldn’t you start with something shorter?”

“I have to challenge myself to get the full benefit.”

Resigned, Sylvia watched him set off. The first third was a gentle down slope. Easy going and Delbert made good time though it did little for his muscles. The second third along the coast required significantly more exertion in return for the view.

When he turned up St Charles the situation changed abruptly. The effort required to roll uphill far exceeded his expectation. He ground to a halt in half a block, exhausted, turned sideways and set the brake. The hill now looked like a mountain.

His breathing returned to normal after five minutes so he turned and started up. Within a hundred feet, he gasped for air again. His arms and shoulders ached. What was I thinking? I’m not going to make it. It took a longer rest this time.

The third stretch showed mercy on him with a shallower grade. He made a full block before the next rest stop. Then it steepened once more. At the next pause to gather what strength he had left, it looked impossible.

I should have run in the other direction. It would be a long shallow climb that way. Maybe I should turn back even now. Do I have enough energy to make it all the way around?

Sylvia must have started to worry. She’ll come this way to find me. If I go back, she’ll chase me all the way around. Have to press on. He began to push on the wheels. Arms rubbery and aching from the exertion, he made it less than a hundred feet before the next stop.

When she came over the crest of the hill, Sylvia spotted him hunched over, head bowed. She called to him.

“Delbert! What happened? Are you alright?”

He gave her a small wave and waited, humiliated. He cried on the inside but struggled not to show it.

“This hill is too much for me. I should have gone in the other direction.”

“You overdo it, dear.”

“I feel so helpless. Doomed to never climb slopes. Such a burden on you.”

“You’re a joy, not a burden. It takes time to build your strength.”

“Maybe more than a lifetime.”

“You don’t need to become a Charles Atlas overnight. Nobody kicks sand in your face.”

“I’m sorry. I wish I had your patience.”

“Let’s see if two person-power can conquer the hill.”

With Sylvia pushing and Delbert working the wheels they made steady progress. At the top, they both panted to regain breath. Then set off at a leisurely pace for home.

Recovered now, Delbert thanked her for the rescue.

“You’re right, I need to recognize it takes time and focus on a gradual build-up.”

“The day will come when you can muscle your way up hills like that.”

“In the meantime, I’ll run in the other direction.”

“You mean roll. But I wish you would start with an easier route.”

“I can handle this one in that direction and it’ll make me stronger quicker.”

Sylvia sighed. There was no way to hold him back.


CHAPTER TWO

Within two weeks he rolled the route without rest stops. The challenge became the time it took. Then one morning he announced he would try it in the harder direction.

“Why?”

“To prove I can do it now. If I’m not back in an hour come find me on the hill.”

It did take two rest stops but he made it around. One of the endless challenges he would face was conquered. Of those that remained, he was particularly concerned with the atrophy of his legs. He knew the danger of blood clots, skin sores and brittle bones from the lack of circulation. Sylvia was taken aback when he said he needed a way to exercise his legs.

“What on earth are you talking about?”

“I’m serious. I need a way to move my legs with my arms. Movement is necessary to circulate blood and keep at least a little muscle activity.”

“Honey, you’re not a contortionist. Do you want me to move them back and forth or massage them?”

“No. I’m already a chain around your neck. I want to unburden you, not enslave you. I have an idea for an exercise machine using bicycle parts.”

It sounded weird but Sylvia welcomed a project for him to tackle. What emerged looked like a bicycle chain drive with pedals at each end.

“See, we would attach these pedals to my stumps. When I crank this end, my legs will move back and forth as if they pedaled a bicycle. If nothing else, it will give me arm and shoulder exercise. I think it will decrease the atrophy in my legs and improve circulation down there as well.”

“Guess if it doesn’t cause pain, it might help.”

“The pains I feel will occur just like they do now. It won’t affect them.”

“Who would build this contraption?”

“A bicycle repair shop should be able to build the first Pillage Exercise Contraption.”

He laughed which made her follow suit. Together they measured the dimensions needed to fit him sitting in his wheelchair. A search through the yellow pages revealed an outfit that prided itself on custom built bikes. After lunch they paid a visit.

The man behind the counter had a neatly trimmed beard and leathery face from a life in wind and sun. Of medium height, thin and wiry, it was easy to imagine him cycling a hundred miles a day, up hills and down. He sprang from behind the counter with infectious enthusiasm.

“Hi folks, I’m Tony. How can I help you? A bike for you, Ma’am?”

Delbert responded, “Not at this time. Can you build this?”

“What is it?”

“An exercise machine which will let me work my paralyzed legs.”

Tony studied the sketch.

“So you want it to move your legs when you pedal it with your hands?”

“You got it.”

“We need to gear it so it doesn’t move them too fast when you pedal comfortably.” He laughed. “Guess we should call them carpels instead of pedals.”

Delbert laughed. Sylvia didn’t.

“Sure, I think I can piece this together. You happy with the dimensions?”

“Yes.”

“One thing I’m not clear about is how the lower pedals will attach to your legs. Would it be okay for me to take a look at them?”

Delbert pulled his pants up to show his stubs. Tony nodded and thanked him.

“It will cost between three and four hundred bucks.”

“That’s fine.”

“Give me your phone number and a week, maybe two if I get busy.”

* * *

It took a week and a day to hear back. Delbert had become anxious, afraid he was not taken seriously. Tony sounded excited over the phone though he probably always did, given his boundless energy.

“Your machine is ready for a trial run.”

“Great. We’ll be over in an hour.”

Delbert recognized it sitting in the corner as soon as they entered. He wheeled to it, impressed with Tony’s professional workmanship. In no way did it look kludged. Tony had set it on a wider base than expected. That allowed Delbert to easily wheel into position. Tony lifted his legs and inserted them into cup shaped receptacles mounted on the lower pedals.

Delbert grasped the upper pedals or carpels as Tony called them. When he began to crank, one leg was pushed up but the other simply slid out of its cup.

“Damn,” Tony exclaimed, “I forgot you can’t push back. We need to fasten your legs to the pedals. Hold on, I’ll make straps.”

He was a few minutes in back before returning with two short buckled straps.

“This is not a solution but it will let us test the gear ratio. What I need to do is replace the cups with a longer, padded support to rest your leg on. Then use two straps to hold it. This might hurt.”

Delbert laughed. “That’s one thing it won’t do. I like your idea for attaching them.”

With the legs more or less fastened to the cups, Delbert was able to work the exerciser. Pedaling felt comfortable and leg motion was at a safe speed. Both men were pleased. Sylvia watched, still skeptical about the whole thing.

“Come back tomorrow about this time and I’ll have it finished. By the way, it comes apart so you can break it down for transport home.”

* * *

When they got it home, Delbert started right in pedalling. Sylvia heard it whirring away from the kitchen. After almost an hour she interceded.

“Don’t overdo it. Work up gradually.”

“Okay, I’ll call it a day. Feels good. Actually more beneficial than the circuit.”

A week of using the device daily convinced Sylvia of its value too. His legs had more color, circulation improved. A plus in his mind was the additional exercise it provided for his upper body.

He kept secret the other ache in his heart—flying. At times he dreamed he was back in the cockpit of the Avro Arrow. He could feel the tremendous thrust pushing him back in his seat, see the control panel with the altimeter spinning up at an unprecedented rate. Then the pain signals sent from his damaged body would wake him. It left him to fight the ensuing depression. Why am I afflicted with pain from the part of my body that has no feeling? He knew they were secondary signals but that didn’t help. Am I doomed to spend the rest of my life like this?

At these times he needed Sylvia’s calming influence but he burdened her too much already. Just the thought of her love and devotion carried him through the darkest hours. In many ways I’m a lucky man. If only I could still fly an airplane.


CHAPTER THREE

On Friday morning he wheeled along Fort Street, focused on the sidewalk ahead. Out of the corner of his eye he spotted a person huddled in the shadows between two buildings. It was just a glimpse but it left him with an impression of someone in trouble. He braked to a stop, spun around and headed back to investigate.

A young girl sat, her back against the building. She appeared to be in the fifteen to seventeen range. Provocatively dressed but grubby. Her long blonde hair showed signs of neglect. She cried silently and shook uncontrollably.

“May I help you?”

Her eyes attempted to focus on the wheelchair and its occupant.

“Can you help yourself?”

Delbert ignored her sass. “Are you lost?”

“Yes, more than you’ll ever know. Just leave me alone.”

“You’re in drug withdrawal, aren’t you?”

“Why don’t you mind your own business…if you want to help, give me twenty dollars. I’d offer sex in return but I can see that wouldn’t interest you.”

He ignored the dig. “To buy more drugs?”

“Oh, fuck off mister. You’re no help.”

“When did you last eat?”

“Leave me alone!”

“I won’t contribute to your habit but my wife and I can feed you and help you get treatment.”

“Now a fucking cripple wants to help me. Why don’t you worry about helping yourself?”

“I do. Every day.”

“You want to throw me in a drug tank. No way.”

“I was thinking of something more productive, like methadone treatment.”

“When that’s over I’ll be right back here again.”

“Perhaps, but a meal and bath right now is better than lying in the gutter, shaking and crying. Come on.”

He turned and started to wheel away, then stopped after fifty feet. She stared at him, gave him the finger. He waved her to follow and waited. After a few minutes that seemed much longer, she slowly stood up and walked toward him. He moved on again at a walking pace. She tagged along behind.

* * *

Sylvia became concerned. He was taking longer than usual to complete the loop. Has he fallen or been hit by a car? She started to trace his route backwards. As she turned the corner onto Fort Street, he came into view. He moved slowly toward her. Something was wrong. Has he wrenched a shoulder? I wish he wasn’t so aggressive with that chair.

For the first time, she noticed the waif who walked half a dozen paces behind, as if led on a rope. Is there a connection? Does she plan to attack him? He waved when he saw her. Does he know the girl follows him? She hurried to meet them.

“Hi dear. We have company for breakfast.”

He turned to the girl. “This is my wife, Sylvia. My name is Delbert. What’s yours?”

“Cynthia.”

She stared at Sylvia, nervous, still trembling yet in awe of the woman’s beauty. Sylvia’s warm smile seemed to comfort her.

“Hello Cynthia. Come on. Our place is just a couple of blocks over on Rockland Avenue.”

Sylvia moved behind the wheelchair to push, then thought better of it.

“Lead on Master,” she said with a laugh.

He did, Sylvia and Cynthia in tow.

“Is that as fast as you can go?”

He sped up and soon the two females were trotting in a vain effort to keep pace. They both laughed when they reached the apartment, breathless. For a moment the tremors were gone but not for long. Sylvia put her arm around the girl in a semi hug and led her inside. The shaking became more violent.

“This won’t work. I need a fix. Let me go and leave you alone.”

Sylvia held her tightly.

“It will pass. You need food too.”

Delbert was on the phone.

“Doctor Hanson, Delbert Pillage here. I have an unusual request. Perhaps you can point me in the right direction. We came across a teenager suffering from drug withdrawal. Can you help us get her into methadone treatment?”

He listened for a while, then said, “Yes, I’ll hang on.”

Finally, “Okay, outpatient clinic at the Jubilee. Thank you.”

“The cops took me there once. When I wouldn’t tell them about my parents, they just sent me to Child Welfare. You may mean well but you’re wasting your time.”

“We’ll say we’re your guardians and take responsibility for you.”

“Why?”

“Because we can’t stand by while a young girl throws her life away,” Sylvia interjected, “like I almost did.”

That caught Cynthia’s attention. How could this beautiful woman have ever been in a situation like mine?

“We need to make you more presentable before we go to the clinic. I know you’re in pain now. Can you take a bath while Sylvia cooks breakfast?”

“I need a fix so bad.”

“I know dear,” Sylvia said. “Come with me. I’ll run the bath.”

When Sylvia returned to the kitchen, she told Delbert the girl shook so badly she almost splashed water out of the tub. She handed him his razor blades for safe-keeping and started on their breakfast.

“Perhaps soaking in hot water will relax her a bit.”

“She’s a pretty girl. What a shame. They always target the attractive ones.”

Fifteen minutes later breakfast was ready. No sign of Cynthia. Sylvia decided to check on her. She tapped lightly on the door.

“Cynthia?”

No answer. Alarmed, she called louder. Still no answer. She opened the door. Cynthia was lying with her head under water. Sylvia screamed, rushed in and pulled her head up. The girl was unconscious. She dragged her out of the tub onto the floor face down. Alternately pressing down on her shoulder blades and pulling up on her elbows first pumped out water. Finally, there was a cough, a gasp, another cough. Gradually Cynthia regained consciousness.

Delbert watched, helpless. Could I have done that without Sylvia here? Don’t know. He rolled to the bedroom to get a blanket. Sylvia was drying the girl. She wrapped the blanket around her, then sat on the floor and hugged her while the girl cried. The tremors began again before the tears stopped.

“Why didn’t you just let me go?” she whimpered. “You’re too valuable to lose.”

“No. I’m worthless.”

Delbert chimed in, “I know a girl who once felt that way. She now loves life every day. That can be your future too. Let’s eat.”

Sylvia half carried her wrapped in the blanket to the kitchen table and held a glass of orange juice for her to sip. The tremors nearly rendered it impossible. She could munch on a piece of cinnamon toast, liberally coated with sugar. After that, Sylvia coaxed her to eat some scrambled egg and drink a little tea. Delbert watched them as he ate and occasionally offered encouragement. The food eaten wasn’t much to nourish her but it would at least stave off starvation.

After breakfast, Sylvia took her to the bedroom in search of clean clothes that might fit. Most things were a size too large but eventually they found some Capri pants and a top that worked. Cynthia noticed a nun’s habit hanging in the corner of the closet.

“Why’s that there?” she asked pointing.

“I was once a novitiate.”

“What’s that?”

“A person training for the Sisterhood.”

“You wanted to be a nun?”

“It’s a long, sad story, Cynthia. I’ll tell it to you sometime.”

The shakes had subsided slightly, either because of the food or the distraction or both. The girl combed her hair. They went outside to find Delbert already perched in the back seat, his wheelchair beside the open door. Sylvia folded and stowed it in the trunk. Cynthia closed the back door and climbed into the front.

“You look great,” Delbert commented.

“Not exactly my style of wardrobe but at least she didn’t make me wear the habit.”

She chuckled between shakes. He laughed. Under it all, she’s a clever girl. So much to offer, so much taken away. Can we restore her? Sylvia backed out and they were on their way to the hospital. Each had doubts about the success of their venture.


Now, let's fast forward to Chapter Eight to meet the villains. Their story will evolve in parallel with Delbert's.

CHAPTER EIGHT

Jake Moran’s dream of banging Hank Morgan’s daughter Lettie was interrupted by a violent shake.

“Wake up you lazy son of a bitch. It’ll be dark soon. We gotta get going.”

“Hell, Hank, I was just getting to the good part.”

“Hurry up. Get dressed. Meet me in the boathouse.”

Jake dragged himself out of bed. Hank would kill me if he knew I lusted after his sixteen year old daughter. One of these days I’ll lay her anyway. She wants it as bad as I do. He pulled on his boots and headed out.

Hank was topping off the racer’s gas tanks when he arrived. Jake unlocked the doors and swung them open.

“Should be a good night. No moon until three in the morning.

At just over twenty knots it would be a three hour run to Squitty Bay on the south end of Lasqueti Island. The sleek powerboat could easily cut the time by a factor of four but they didn’t want to draw unnecessary attention. They needed to be there by ten PM and it was only six thirty when they fired up the engine and backed out of the boathouse.

Hank’s daughter was sitting on what passed for lawn between the boathouse and her folk’s house. She raised a knee to slide her dress up and reveal her shapely legs. Jake and Hank returned her wave, each with different thoughts running through their heads. When Hank looked away to steer the boat, she pulled her dress up further to give Jake a view he would remember all night.

They took a leisurely course up along the Vancouver Island coastline, no different than hundreds of tourists and sportsmen. From their home at Musgrave’s Landing on Salt Spring Island, they headed north out of Sansom Narrows through Stuart Channel until past Gabriola Island, then an open shot up the Strait of Georgia to Lasqueti Island. They slowed to a crawl into the secluded south fork of Squitty Bay and dropped anchor. Their position gave a good view of the shipping lane east of Texada Island. By ten o’clock they had eaten a couple of sandwiches and downed a beer. Now they waited.

Half a dozen ships passed before they spotted the one that counted. It had three lights shining on the starboard side to form an equilateral triangle. Hank raised a powerful flashlight and gave them a short-long-short signal. A single brief flash was returned. Hank started the heavily muffled engine while Jake pulled in the anchor. They swung out to meet and follow the freighter. They used no running lights and kept the speed down to avoid creating too visible a wake.

Soon they were trailing the freighter barely a thousand yards behind. Suddenly there were two brief flashes from the ship. They slowed to a crawl and scanned the water for the buoys that would be bobbing in front of them. Hank spotted the first and steered to it. Jake reached over the side, grabbed the ring on the buoy and dragged it and an attached waterproof package into the boat.

It took more than five minutes to find the second one. For a moment it seemed they must have passed it and were about to double back when Jake saw it off their port side. They retrieved it. Before they moved on, a fifty pound sack of sugar was tied to each buoy.

The sugar came from a trick learned in the old rum-running days during Prohibition. If the police or coast guard approached, they would drop the rigs overboard. The sugar would drag the drugs and buoy under water. Gradually the sugar would dissolve and allow the buoy to return to the surface. A few hours after passing inspection, they would circle back and pick them up.

Tonight there was little chance of interception at this end of the operation. It was almost pitch black. Barely enough light to navigate, yet more than enough for Hank once he got his bearings. They made a high speed run home. The only real danger was hitting a deadhead log and the likelihood of that was remote. By one thirty they inched into the boathouse.

Jake closed and locked the doors while Hank unhooked the sugar and buoys. Two twenty kilo packages of pure heroin, he thought. Not a bad night’s work. Jake refueled the boat. Then they each lifted a package onto their shoulder and started up the path from the boathouse. With a flashlight to guide them, they walked past the two houses on up a trail that led into the woods. Half a mile up they turned off the path and crossed over a large rock outcrop. On the far side Hank dropped his package and moved some brush aside to reveal a small cave. They shoved the drugs inside and replaced the brush. Then retraced their steps to the houses.

“C’mon in and have a beer, Jake. That went real smooth tonight.”

Jake’s hope that Lettie would be up was rewarded. She appeared in a nightgown that left little to the imagination.

“What are you doing up, kid?”

“I woke up when I heard your boat.”

“Not likely. She’s too quiet when she’s throttled back. Now get back to bed.”

Lettie left but not without a smirk aimed at Jake. I would rip off that nightgown and screw you right here on the floor if Hank wasn’t in the room. He wondered how much longer this game could go on. Sooner or later he would catch her alone and satisfy the urge they both felt. For now, he concentrated on his beer.

“That was the easy part, Jake. Tomorrow we divide one package up into five kilos for Victoria and fifteen for Vancouver. On Thursday, the tricky run to the U.S. drop.”

“We get paid on delivery. How do the Chinese get paid?”

“The money is slipped onto the freighter in Vancouver for the Canadian package. Don’t know how the American side pays them. What do we care anyway? As long as we get ours.”

Musgrave’s Landing was a small bay on the southwest side of Salt Spring Island. There was no road over the mountains to it. With only a water approach, it made a useful stopover for smuggling. During Prohibition, the contraband was booze. Now, in the early 1960’s it was drugs. The market was insatiable and the water pipeline difficult to police, especially for heroin. The Customs folks kept the border crossing checkpoints well patrolled. On the water, they concentrated more on intercepting bales of marijuana. The chance of success was better.

The police learned from experience that it was useless to descend on Musgrave’s Landing. Searches always turned up nothing. It was just too easy to hide contraband and it probably never stayed there long anyway. There was no place in the vicinity to stake out the landing and intercept boats coming or going. As a result, the occupants of the two houses tended to be ignored in favor of concentration on other points along the route.

Hank, his wife Madge and Lettie lived in the big farmhouse near the water. Jake and his younger brother Curt lived in a cottage further up the hill. Curt was mentally slow. They never involved him in the operation. His job was to weed the vegetable garden, milk the cow, tend sheep, hunt and fish. A good hunter, he kept both families stocked with venison and frequently brought home a pair of ruffled grouse.

He had a sadistic streak which bothered Madge, however, they had no choice but to put up with him. Lettie encouraged his sadistic pursuits and laughed when he tortured squirrels and crows. He often fished for salmon and cod. When he hooked a worthless dog fish, he cut off its tail and dropped it back in the water. He would laugh as it wiggled the stump of its body, which provided no forward propulsion while it slowly sank to the bottom.

After repackaging the Canadian shipment on Wednesday, the two men waited for dark to slip out on delivery runs. The first drop for Victoria was relatively easy. Their contact hiked to the beach from Cherry Point Road, south of Cowichan Bay. Three men were involved. Two spread out along the beach in each direction to make sure the coast was clear. When satisfied, the third sent three quick flashes in their boat’s direction. Hank swooped in to the beach and the exchange of heroin for payment was made.

Hank and Jake took the money home and picked up the Vancouver package. This delivery involved a longer, more dangerous trip up through the Gulf Islands and across between Galiano and Valdes Islands, followed by a straight shot to Bowen Island where another land team waited. The drop operation was the same though the stakes were higher. They again used the sugar trick until they reached the beach.

On the return trip the money was placed in a watertight bag and attached to the buoy. These particular drops came off without a hitch. The hard one was yet to come.