MCKENZIE BRIDGE — Tuesday 17:00
Three hours of good light remained when Larry Tanner and Richard Lee parked in a Forest Service campground a mile upriver from Tom Harris's home. Richard set up a camp for one. Larry, dressed in camouflage, worked his way downstream and assured himself the house was not watched. A yellow plastic tape with POLICE LINE - DO NOT CROSS every few feet circled the entire house. Satisfied he was the only one about, he put a motion detector far enough down the drive to allow him time to clean up and get out if anyone drove in. Closer in, he positioned tripwires to alert him to an approach on foot.
With his protection operating, he used the remaining daylight to check for evidence of previous surveillance. He shook his head; signs were everywhere. Amateurs. They hadn't even tried to be careful. At each surveillance point, he used a camera with a telephoto lens and high-speed film to record which part of the interior of the home could be seen.
The house, a large, two-story rectangular log home, sat in a riverside clearing, surrounded by old-growth timber. The longer dimension paralleled the river twenty yards north. A steep shake roof, with a dormer for each window, capped the second floor. Two wide porches, covered by the roof, ran the length of the house on both sides. But for a break in the middle for steps, a railing enclosed each porch.
When darkness came, Larry stood on a railing corner, swung himself up to the roof, and entered the house through a second story window to avoid dealing with police seals on the doors. He turned on lights only as needed. The length of the road in and the heavy timber ensured he would know of a vehicle's approach in time to extinguish them. If a tripwire went off, whoever broke it would have already seen any light, but Larry would have time to get out. The monitor on his belt would tell him which wire had been hit; he would exit in the opposite direction.
He focused first on the bedroom where Ellie Harris and her father-in-law had died; it was the most critical and best-handled while he was fresh. After the bedroom, he would check out the specific items Dunk had mentioned. Finally, he would cover the remainder of the house. It would be a long night; the need to clean up as he proceeded would slow him down.
COUGAR HOT SPRINGS — Tuesday 20:00
Maynard Lippa was a snitch, not a good one, but the young man had high hopes. Those high hopes kept his eyes glued to the binoculars he used to watch the six naked bodies in the hot springs below his position; that and the fact that three of the six were comely young women.
They were in the second of three pools in the steep, heavily forested ravine. The top pool was the hottest and smallest, the water springing from the deepest part, keeping the sandy bottom in constant turmoil. No one could handle the top pool for more than a couple minutes, if they could get in at all. The second pool had been dug in the path of a small, cold stream that bypassed the first pool; the mixing of the spring water and the stream reduced the temperature to a level allowing fifteen minutes of usage before overheating. The third pool was the largest and coolest; it had been known to handle twenty people if they were all friendly.
The six were talking, laughing, now and again sipping wine from glasses otherwise precariously balanced on the lava rocks surrounding the pool. They were unaware of the unmoving, camouflaged shape fifty yards away. Though now close enough that he didn't need the field glasses, Maynard continued to use them, zeroing in on specific body parts. The failing light made it harder to see but allowed him to safely move even closer.Oh, come on, do some soda, or some pot, jeez. But he knew that probably wouldn't happen. The three couples had been alone now for more than half an hour. If they were going to do drugs, they would have done them when the others left. Everyone else had departed earlier, unwilling to risk the $150 fine if the U.S. Forest Service caught them in the area after dark.
Maynard slowly settled into a new, even nearer position. Shit, at least start screwin'. He hoped for some reward for the time he had spent.
He wanted to get closer yet, but past experience cautioned him. It was moving too close that had cost him his front teeth. On that occasion he had come within twenty feet of two couples copulating in the third pool. He put his binoculars on a rock, unzipped his fly, and was masturbating when his increasingly rapid arm movements knocked the field glasses off the rock. They clattered down the stony embankment and landed on the belly of one of the women, making her emit an oof rather than an aah. In the poor light of that evening, her partner didn't recognize what was resting on her abdomen. However, he picked it up and shortly made the required connections.
Maynard had done his best to escape, not even bothering to zip his fly. Unfortunately, the two males in the pool were both first-string members of the University of Oregon football team, one the center and the other a guard, and each was double Maynard's one hundred twenty pounds. They caught him and severely punished him, seriously abusing his testicles. The hard right jab to the face from the two hundred and fifty-pound center was an afterthought. In time Maynard's scrotum had returned to its normal size and color, but he had not yet earned enough from his execrable profession to afford new teeth.
He considered getting closer, but saw the beam of a flashlight showing intermittently through the trees down the ravine, on the quarter mile trail from the road. That would be the Forest Service police; time to go. He melted slowly back into the woods until it was safe to use his flashlight and started for his camp, a half-hour walk over the next ridge. He had made the trip nearly every night that summer.
Brian Killough and John Schumaker waited, sitting on a small log facing a fire pit in Maynard's camp. The bark had been stripped off, making it smaller and harder. The two men were squatting more than sitting. The sun still lit upper regions of the sky above, but in the heavy timber the forest floor was already dark. In the valley sixty miles to the west the temperature had reached ninety degrees that day. Here, on the north side of a ridge and four thousand feet higher, it never climbed out of the sixties. Now it had dropped into the fifties. There would be no frost this night, but the low would be in the thirties. The cool air was damp; it felt colder than it was.
Brian should have dressed warmer. He was not a happy man. An Easterner born and bred, he felt threatened by this environment. What little field time he had with the agency had been in large eastern cities, and he took his vacations in the Caribbean. Nothing in his experience had prepared him for this. The trees were huge, towering above him. The forest floor was clammy and spongy, an accumulation of years of fallen fir needles. How far to the nearest sidewalk, the next streetlight?
Schumaker enjoyed the other man's obvious discomfort. In the dark he could even smile without risking censure. You fat little shit. You wanted to interview the snitch as soon as possible. You asked for this.
“Are you sure this is safe?” Brian said. “Maybe we should have a fire?”
“That would silhouette us.” God, you're dumb.
“The hot springs, they're called Cougar Hot Springs, right?” [REF0701]
“So, there used to be cougar around here ... back in pioneer days?”
“Still are. Quite a number they tell me. I've seen two while on surveillance.” Schumaker smiled in the darkness.
“Do they attack people?”
“Only if you get between a mother and her cub. Same as the bears.”
“Bears?” Brian's voice cracked.
“Yeah, black bears, not grizzlies. No grizzlies in Oregon. The nearest grizzlies are in northern Idaho.”
“That's the next state over.”
“Black bears ... you ever see one?”
“All the time. I've stopped counting.”
“Jesus.” Brian shivered. He told himself it was the cold.
“Relax, Mr. Killough, the informant should be here soon. There's no danger. In fact, the woods around here are filled with hippies, whole families, kids, everything. They live here during the summer, a few of them all year. In the morning they go down to the hot springs to wash up. Helluva crowd sometimes. A few of them are dealers, mostly pot. It's not worth our time, but it looks good on the reports. You know, it shows we're not ignoring marijuana.”
“How did you recruit him?”
“We were running a surveillance of the hot springs when we saw him watching them too. He's some kind of pervert. Likes to beat off while he peeps at naked women. After we'd seen him a few times, I jumped him one afternoon, scared hell out of him. I told him what we were doing and that we could use some help. He didn't think much of the idea until I showed him the clipping. After that he was real eager.”
“Yeah, I carry a clipping out of USA TODAY.[REF0702] It quotes a congressional report that we paid one of our informants $780,000 in one year. Impresses the hell out of people. Goddamn informants make a helluva lot more than we do. That same year there were sixty-five snitches that made over $100,000. It's not right paying more money to snitches than we get; it's not right. All they are is a bunch of god damn criminals.”
“We're working on it, John, we're working on it,” Brian lied. “This informant, Maynard, the Harris bust was the third one he'd put you on to?”
“Correct, sir. The first two were pot dealers. We had a hard time getting through to Maynard that we weren't interested in individual users, that we wanted the dealers. He watches the hot springs. If he sees somebody using, he follows them hoping to locate their source. He's not real bright. Looks like hell. He got beat up pretty bad a few months ago, lost his front teeth.”
“He claims he happened on a deal going down in the hot springs parking area for a couple kilos of cocaine. The dealer had two friends with him. He said they beat him up and told him to keep his mouth shut or they'd do worse.”
“You believe him?”
“It's possible, but we're sixty miles from town and there's nobody up here with money for coke. Could have been a transfer, I suppose, but, no, I don't think I believe him.”
“But you believed him about Harris?”
“As I said in the report, he'd put us on to two pot dealers. He proved himself. Besides, it'd be one thing to lie about who beat him up—we can't check that out—but he knows we'll bust anyone he can locate and identify. And he knows that if he points us wrong, he won't get a second chance. I explained that to him real good. I told him about the screwups in Southern Cal, and that we won't tolerate any monkey business.” Schumaker didn't like this. He and Killough had already covered this ground twice before. Everyone on the team had agreed, they would keep telling the same story no matter how many times they were asked, sticking to what the report said.
Schumaker saw a flashlight beam approaching through the trees. He cautioned Brian to be quiet and waited until the light came nearer the camp.
“Maynard, John Schumaker. We're in your camp.” He said it loud enough for his voice to carry to the light. It immediately extinguished.
“Mr. Schumaker?” Maynard said.
“Yeah. Come on in.”
The light came on again and advanced toward the two men. Finally, it picked out their faces. It paused first on Schumaker and then on Brian, making each of them squint in turn and, after a moment, involuntarily shield his eyes with a hand.
“That's enough, Maynard. Get it off us,” Schumaker said.
“Just wanted tuh make sure t'was you, Mr. Schumaker.” Maynard lowered the light's beam, used it to pick his way the final thirty feet into his camp, and switched it off. “I gotta be real careful, Mr. Schumaker, I don't wanna git beat up agin. People are gittin' suspicious. I don't know how much longer I kin stay here. I'd like tuh work for ya in Eugene or in Portland, maybe even Seattle.”
“We'll see what we can do, Maynard. In the meantime, we need you here.” Schumaker knew Maynard wouldn't survive more than a few weeks in an urban situation, knew he probably wouldn't survive much longer up here. “Maynard, this is Mr. Killough, he wants to talk to you about the cocaine dealer you told us about.”
“Sure.” Maynard had extended his hand at the start of the introduction; nobody took it. “Are you gonna bust him tonight?” He dropped the hand uncertainly.
“We already busted him, Maynard, two nights ago,” Schumaker said.
“Hey, right on, man! How much dope didya find? Do I git paid tonight?”
“Maynard, that's what I want to talk to you about,” Brian said. “The agents conducting the raid found only half a kilo of cocaine.”
“Oh, man, hey, I saw bags of it, bags of it,” he whined.
“Bags of it? How many bags?” Brian continued. Schumaker kept silent.
“Lots of'em. He was takin' it out'a boxes and crushin' it an' puttin' it inta plastic bags.”
“How long did you watch him?”
“Oh, a long time. After he finished puttin' it in the bags, I watched'm hide it. He was bein' real careful like. He'd take a bag an' put it someplace, an' then he'd come back an' git another one an' take it someplace.”
“Where did he hide them?”
“Oh, all over, even got a ladder and put some up under the roof. But t'was hard for me to see 'xactly where cuz t'was so dark. He had a flashlight, but I was 'cross the river.”
“But you could see him clearly when he broke it up?”
“Oh, sure, he did that in the house ... under a light. I watched'm with my binoculars, the ones Mr. Schumaker give me, but you can't see anythin' through'm without what you're lookin' at's in the light.”
“Maynard, we're going to take you to the house. I want you to show me exactly what you could see.”
“Oh, sure ... the dealer, he's in jail, right?”
“No, Maynard, he's not in jail, he's in the morgue.”
“Yes, Maynard, that's where they take dead bodies.”
Halfway down the trail to the road, Maynard had a question. “An eighth of soda is 'bout two hunnerd, so what's half a kilo
“A kilo breaks out to about fifty thousand on the street,” Schumaker said. “Half of that is twenty-five thousand.”
“I git twenty-five percent, right? What's that come to?”
“Seven thousand two hundred and fifty, Maynard. But fifty thousand per kilo is the street value. Street value is for use in public relations; that's what we tell the newspapers. Informants are paid on replacement value, the amount the dealer has to pay for his supply. You know that.”
“But that's a lot less.”
“That's right, Maynard, that's right.”
“So when do I git paid?”
“We're working on it, Maynard. We have to determine local street value. Then we send a request for payment to headquarters in Washington. They approve it and send it over to the Department of Justice. After that an order for payment is sent to the Treasury Department. It'll be several weeks. We'll get ahold of you.”
“Oh, man, I need the money real bad ... I wanna git my teeth fixed.”
[REF0701] What was commonly called Cougar Hot Springs is officially Terwilliger Hot Springs. The McKenzie River Reflections, Volume 16, Issue 43, July 1, 1994 carried an extensive article on drug dealing at the springs.
[REF0702] USA Today, Aug. 3, 1992, sec. A, p. 1, col. 4. This seems to be the most prominent of the several abstracts that tell of informant remuneration.