Read Deadfall Online

Authors: Franklin W Dixon

Tags: #Detective and mystery stories, #Hardy Boys (Fictitious characters)

Deadfall

BOOK: Deadfall
10.75Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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This book made available by the Internet Archive.

DEADFALL

Chapter

"Those raspberry pancakes were the best I ever had, Stan!" Joe Hardy said as Stan Shaw's four-by-four truck bounced down a narrow, tree-hned mountain road. "What a way to start the day."

"I start practically every day like that—when the berries are in season." Stan's weathered face split into a wide grin. "Thanks to the raspberry bushes in my backyard."

Joe smiled. Though Stan was over fifty years old, the tall, lean environmentalist had the manner and build of a man half his age.

"It wouldn't matter if they were cactus bushes," remarked Joe's eighteen-year-old brother, Frank, from the cramped backseat. "Joe's the breakfast king."

"And lunch," chimed in Callie Shaw, winking at Frank next to her. "And dinner. And—"

THE HAf^DY BOYS CA5EFILES

"Okay, already," Joe protested. "1 was just trying to compliment our host. It's not every guy who'd let a couple of strangers camp out in his house."

**You're not strangers. You're Caliie's friends," Stan said, slowing the truck as the road made a tight curve. To the right, the mountain fell off into a narrow valley in which Joe glimpsed a cluster of buildings—a tiny logging village.

'That's Crosscut, Oregon—not quite as big as New York City, but it's all we've got," Stan drawled.

Seventeen-year-old Joe smiled and glanced back at his brother. Joe's muscular build and blond hair were in strong contrast to Frank's slimmer physique and brown hair. The brothers knew each other so well that each could often guess what the other was thinking.

At the moment, Joe knew, they were both remembering what Callie had told them about her uncle Stan on their flight from the East. Stan had been stationed in Crosscut for nearly ten years as a field representative of the Save the Redwoods Alliance. The local mill owners had come to tolerate his lectures on preserving endangered plant species and protecting local wildlife. Stan had felt he was making progress in helping people make a living from the forests without destroying them.

In the past couple of years, though, ecology activists from other, less responsible organizations, and even interns sent to learn from Stan,

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had become more aggressive, and the loggers were reacting angrily. Now it was a cold war between the environmentalists, or *'Greens," and the loggers, who beheved that people Uke Stan were out to take away their jobs. During the past year fistfights had started breaking out between some of the loggers and a group of over-eager Greens.

Though Stan had come up with several plans that offered timber to the mill owners as well as protection for animal and plant wildlife, the loggers were still convinced that he wanted to take away their jobs.

Gallic decided to visit her uncle to see if she could help him, and had asked Frank and Joe to come along in case there was trouble.

Stan knew that the Hardys' father, Fenton, was a well-known private investigator, and that the boys were also amateur detectives. He probably figured that the Hardys weren't there just to hike and enjoy the scenery. But if he wanted to pretend that Joe and Frank were ordinary visitors, that was fine with them.

''Here we are," Stan announced as the truck reached the bottom of the mountain. The village of Crosscut swung into view once again. "Til stop in at the general store. You kids can easily walk from there to the foot of Cascade Trail."

"Wow." Joe took in the three-block stretch of buildings set against the tree-covered mountains. "The town looks kind of lost with those giant mountains in the background."

THE HARDY BOYS CASEFILES

Faded wooden signs indicated the Potbelly Cafe and Tichman's Grocery, which were separated by a shoe repair shop with a gaudy neon sign. On the other side of the street were the Crosscut General Store and the Sportsman's Pool Hall.

''We didn't get to see much on our way in from the airport last night. This looks like real backwoods territory," Joe said.

"Don't count on it," Stan said with an edge to his voice. "Folks here are more savvy than you think." He parked the truck in front of the general store. "Looks like we've got a lot of laid-off loggers hanging around waiting to prove it, too."

"Laid off?" Joe and Stan climbed out of the truck, followed by Frank and Callie.

Stan nodded toward a mud-spattered red pickup sitting in a row of battered station wagons and four-wheel-drive vehicles. "See that pickup?" he asked. "It belongs to Buster Owens, owner of the Horizon Lumber MiU out on Highbridge Road. He's shut his mill down for two weeks, starting today. He says he can't afford to keep operating with his old equipment, so he's stopping all work while he rerigs the mill. He has the loggers on half pay in the meantime, and they're not happy about it."

"And when they're not happy," Callie added grimly, "they tend to take out their frustrations on guys like Uncle Stan."

Stan shrugged resignedly and started up the

Deadfall

wooden steps. Joe and Frank and Callie followed close behind.

''Wow," Frank said as they entered the store. ''Just like in the movies."

Joe looked around the room. It was a little like the set of a western film. One half of the large, warehouselike building was crammed full of shelves displaying everything from snack food to bolts of cloth. A short, wiry man in a worn corduroy jacket sat behind a cash register and appeared to be working on his accounts. The town post office, with its gleaming brass mailboxes, was set up along the back wall. To the right, a heavy set woman, who Joe guessed was married to the man in the corduroy jacket, rushed about refilling coffee cups for a collection of rough-looking men at the lunch counter.

"Yeah, but this smells better than a movie," Joe said, inhaling the rich, greasy aroma of bacon and eggs. Joe eyed the men in their worn jeans, faded plaid shirts, and heavy boots. The men had noticed Stan and his guests, but so far they'd only glared and turned back to their coffee.

"Hey there. Will," Stan said, nodding to the man behind the cash register. Then he focused on the men eating breakfast and gave one of them a casual wave. "Buster! How's it going?"

Joe noted which of the men waved back. The mill owner was a big man—over six feet tall and could be over three hundred pounds. He wore a lime green cap with a purple-and-orange Horizon

THE HARDY BOYS CASEFILES

logo, jeans, and a flannel shirt, as most of the other men were, but hanging from his wide leather belt was the largest key ring Joe had ever seen.

"Uncle Stan thinks he's got Buster nearly ready to try some new logging methods,'' Callie murmured to Joe and Frank as they searched the shelves for trail mix. ''But Buster still doesn't want to be friendly to him in public."

She was about to go on when the door was banged open. All three of them whirled around to see a short, balding man in a camouflage jacket race into the store. He had a brown beard and mustache and wild-looking blue eyes. ''Shaw! I've been searching all over for you, man," the short man said to Callie's uncle Stan. "Let's go! We've got a major emergency!"

"Calm down, Vance," Stan said with a nervous chuckle. "What seems to be the trouble?"

"Some Horizon Lumber trucks are headed west to cut a stand of redwoods," the younger man announced excitedly, not even trying to keep his voice down. "We've got to stop them!"

Stan glanced toward the loggers with an embarrassed expression. Joe saw several of the lumbermen exchange sour looks over their food.

"Who is that guy?" Joe muttered to Callie.

"Vance Galen," Callie murmured back. "He's Uncle Stan's assistant from Save the Redwoods. Stan said he's the guy who started the fighting last summer."

Joe studied the angry, potbellied man and de-

Deadfall

cided he looked a little ridiculous in his camouflage jacket. It was as though he was dressed for war when everyone else just wanted breakfast. No wonder the loggers disliked him.

''Horizon's shut down, Vance, remember?" Stan said to the room in general, trying to ease the very real tension. ''Buster's right here. Why don't we ask him what's going on?"

"It's none of your business," shouted one of the loggers. He was a hefty man, a little shorter than average height, with a dark beard and mustache that covered half his face.

"Yeah!" piped up a skinny, long-haired man sitting next to him.

"We're sitting here out of work and you still treat us like the bad guys. I wish we were out there cutting down those trees!" the heftier man argued.

"That's Mike Stavisky and Freddy Zacka-rias," Callie murmured to the Hardys. She remembered them from the last time she had visited. "Both of them were involved in the fights last summer."

"All right, that's enough," Buster said. He set his coffee cup down and got up from his stool. Immediately, the room fell silent. Frank decided anyone that big could quiet any room.

"First of all, Vance, those trucks are on their way to my equipment yard for maintenance, not to cut trees," Buster said to the angry activist. "You should know better than anyone that not only are those redwoods protected by the state

THE HARDY BOYS CASEFILES

of Oregon, but they're also on public land. The contract on that land has expired, and nobody's going to be cutting trees there until the Forest Service draws up a new contract."

'* Since when are you so concerned about following regulations?" Vance Galen retorted. '*You'd turn the state of Oregon into a parking lot if you could make a buck off it!"

"Hey, hey!" Stan shouted as the loggers began shouting insults again. 'This isn't doing anyone any good. Vance here got a little overexcited, that's all, and we both apologize. We don't want any of you to lose your livelihood, you know that. We're just here to show you how you can harvest trees without destroying a national treasure."

''Trees are trees, Stan!" a logger shouted from the lunch counter.

"Maybe so," Stan replied. "But if you cut 'em all down without leaving any or at least replanting, you're going to wind up with no trees pretty quick. And then not only will the local wildlife be in big trouble, but your children, and their children, will be, too. How can they be loggers if there aren't any more trees?"

"Not bad," Joe heard Frank whisper to Cal-lie. Joe watched as Callie smiled proudly at her uncle.

"The Greens aren't your problem, anyway, boys." The voice came from a man leafing through some mail by the post office. He was a tall, thin, middle-aged man with craggy features,

Deadfall

light, wispy hair, and piercing blue eyes. In his jeans and flannel shirt he looked more like a mid-western farmer than a logger.

''Bo Johnson!" Stan called with fake heartiness. "I didn't see you back there. So, what do you think the problem is?"

"Bo owns Johnson Lumber," Callie whispered even before the Hardys could ask. "Horizon's biggest competitor."

"The problem," Johnson said, stepping toward the lunch counter and pointing with his stack of mail at the loggers, "is Horizon Lumber's management. What kind of outfit lays off its entire staff just to put in a little equipment? If you boys worked for me, you'd be out there in the woods today making top dollar instead of arguing with the likes of him."

Johnson gestured disdainfully toward Vance Galen. Galen turned red in the face and made a move toward the older man. "Why, you—"

"Hey!" Buster Owens put a hand up, stopping both Galen and Johnson in their tracks. Then he turned to Johnson. "What kind of trouble do you have in mind this morning, Bo? Want to start another fight? I can call in Sheriff Ferris to referee if you want."

"I didn't mean anything by it." Johnson, smiling, lifted his hands in mock surrender. His eyes slid back to the loggers, and he nodded. "I'm just saying that that Forest Service contract is going to be awarded to Johnson Lumber. And

THE HARDY BOYS CA5EFILES

the minute we can move in to cut those trees, you fellas know where to come for work/'

After giving the furious Buster a salute, Johnson strolled toward the door. '*Oh, and, Stan," he added as he passed the Greens, '4 may give the sheriff a call myself. Looks like your boy, Vance, needs restraining again."

''Some town," Joe commented half an hour later after he, Callie, and Frank had hit the wilderness trail. Already they were surrounded by lush, cool forest. ''Is it my imagination, or were those folks incredibly uptight?"

"1 warned you it wouldn't be a picnic," he heard Callie answer behind him. "It's understandable, really. Guys like Bo Johnson don't understand what Uncle Stan and the rest of the Greens are doing. And Greens like Vance Galen forget that the loggers are people who need to make a living."

"That Forest Service contract they were talking about," Frank said. "Why is it so important?"

"The private land is nearly logged out," Callie explained. "And the Greens have convinced the state government and the federal forestry people to think long and hard about the logging methods they'll allow on public land in their next contract. Stan's hoping they'll permanently forbid any cutting of redwoods and all clear-cutting."

"What's clear-cutting?" Frank asked.

"That's when loggers cut all the trees in a stand without leaving anything behind," Callie

Deadfall

explained. "When they do that, the rain washes the topsoii away. The next thing you know, nothing can grow there. If the loggers would cut a little here, a little there, and plant a tree for every one cut down, the forests could be saved. The logging industry and the forests could go on for generations.''

Joe led the way around another bend in the trail. The path was muddy from the rain the night before, and tiny streams of water trickled over the moss-covered boulders at the edge of the path and dripped down toward the valley below. Closing in on the other side of the hikers were lush ferns. From the tops of the pines, birds called loudly. It was a shame, Joe reflected, to think of these beautiful mountains stripped bare.

"If you want to see what a clear-cut field looks like, check out the view to your right," Callie cried a few minutes later, as though she'd been reading Joe's mind. They paused to peer through the trees at a large cleared area farther up on the mountainside.

BOOK: Deadfall
10.75Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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