I took a change of clothing and went out to the car. The world had stopped spinning, and a meal would go a long way toward quieting my headache, but what I needed most was to be in another town, seeing different scenery and thinking different thoughts. I drove north toward Eureka.
Fifty miles made a lot of difference. Here the highway skirted the coast; the air was cool and foggy. High clouds obscured the sun and there was a smell of the sea in the air. I found a rustic motel near the center of town and checked in, then spent the rest of the afternoon and evening walking off the excesses of the night before.
Eureka was one of those towns that had gotten rich and then lost it. It was full of Victorian houses, built during the lumber boom, that had fallen on hard times and were now being restored. The atmosphere was laid back, with an odd mix of northwoods outdoorsman and post-hippie boutique. Underlying it all was the hardscrabble economic reality of boom and bust lumbering and commercial fishing. It gave the place an edge. I liked it.
I watched the sun set behind a fog bank, then went back to the motel. I left my new number with Cabral’s office manager so Ed could find me, and turned in early.
The phone rang at seven the next morning. Ed came on and said, “Touch me, Ian, I can walk on water.”
“Congratulations,” I replied, with some sarcasm.
“I mean, I’ve performed miracles.”
“Good for you. Tell me.”
“Like you said, Cameron Davis only owns one piece of property in Humbolt county. It’s the house he lives in. Its a mansion, really, secluded and well guarded and I would bet that no one who comes near it is allowed to have even a pot seed in his pants cuff. The man really keeps himself separated from his work.”
“That’s what Johnson said.”
“I checked the surrounding counties. Just like you suspected, nothing. Then I started our troops looking for pieces of land owned by corporations. I could give you a list, but take my word for it, Cameron Davis has kept half the lawyers in northern California busy. We found thirty-two corporations which owned land and were themselves fully owned subsidiaries of another eight corporations. Those eight were all owned by another three corporations. Those three were owned by a single corporation called Davicam, which was owned by . . .”
He was in a better mood than I was. When I didn’t feed him a straight line, he finished lamely, “By Cameron Davis.”
“Yes. Altogether, Davis owns ninety-six pieces of land, not counting the seventeen you found that his kids and in-laws own. There may be more. I’d say we’ve got him. All of Davis’ land is in small parcels except one. He owns a three hundred acre section of open oak woodland near Willits. According to topographic maps, there is only a shack near the road, but I wondered. Why own a hundred small parcels and only one with a real perimeter? So I contacted a friend of mine in the CIA. He and Daniel and I helped BTF on a case ten years ago. He got me satellite photos of the place and guess what. There is a regular complex of buildings right in the center of that three hundred acres.”
Of course today any six year old kid with a smart phone can get satellite photos. Just Google it. In 1989 only the military had that capacity. more tomorrow
Obviously that last paragraph wasn’t in the original written in the early nineties, but was added for this 2016 flashback version.