Mariska Sarkozy’s Double Life

Back at the nut ranch, Javernick sat in his study with a freshly filled brandy snifter and an unopened copy of the L.A. Times on his cherrywood desk. The headline said the USS Reuben James, a destroyer, had been torpedoed by a Nazi U-boat near Iceland and more than one hundred American sailors had perished.   

But he’d yet to begin reading the article because the encounter with the lineman was still fresh in his mind…If the man on the road was a Bell Telephone employee, why wasn’t he wearing some type of uniform or at least a company hat? It also seemed odd that there were no company markings on the van. Could they be using independent contractors? He didn’t know, but the man’s strong English accent seemed especially suspicious when he considered Mariska’s anxiety about British intelligence agents…Maybe she wasn’t imagining things, perhaps they really did have her under surveillance.  

The divided light French doors were pinned open, and Mariska appeared. She wore a red and white gingham apron. “I’m making Chicken Paprikash for dinner, Claude. Would you like me to fix you a plate?”  

“Thank you, Mariska, but I was sampling food products for the new restaurant this afternoon and I’m still quite stuffed…But before you go, I have something I want to talk to you about.” 

“Yes, Claude.” Her demeanor was as edgy as usual. 

“Please come in and relax for a few minutes.” He motioned towards an armchair and she walked into the room and sat down. He lit a slim panetela and sat back in his chair. He made eye contact and smiled before he began, to make her feel at ease. “I’m anticipating spending more of my time at the casino now that the construction is finished, and I want to see how you would feel about working for me in my penthouse residence.” 

“It’s above water?”   

“The penthouse level is eight floors above the surface of the lake, and it has a detached guest suite with an outdoor entrance that would give you an element of privacy. Everything in it is brand new, and it has an exterior deck with southeast exposure, perfect for the desert climate because it gives you sun in the morning and shade in the afternoon. The view is tremendous.” 

“That sounds lovely.” Finally, a small smile.  

“It’s a bit remote, but it has all the amenities and we’re flying in supplies on a weekly basis. Anything you might need from L.A. can be delivered.” 

“An appealing offer, Claude, and frankly, I could use the change of scenery.”  

“That’s obvious…So, you’d like to take me up on it?”  

“Yes, I would. It sounds like a terrific opportunity.”  

“Fantastic. I think you’ll like it.”  

“My friend Vazul Dobos is looking for work again. I told him I would find out if there’s anything for him at the casino.”  

“You mean the acrobat from the circus?”  


“Well, I’m looking for someone to operate a fueling station for the boats. Not a glamorous job, but he’d have a degree of independence.” 

“It might be something he’d like.”  

“Let me know. We have plenty of employee housing available.”  

When Mariska told Javernick that she thought she might be under surveillance, it was con artist misdirection. She knew the British SOE were closing in on her and he was bound to find out about them sooner or later, so she made him aware of them, and then played the part of innocent victim.  

For Mariska, the new job location was a welcome development. When she relocated to the casino, she might lose them completely, well at least temporarily, because British intelligence agents were the best in the business, and they were bound to track her down, but the casino’s remote location at the center of the lake might create a stumbling block because it would be harder for them to keep her under surveillance. 

If Javernick had realized that Mariska was an Axis spy, he certainly wouldn’t have hired her in the first place. Every man is flawed in one way or another, and Javernick’s biggest weakness was his uncritical trust in people he had formed alliances with. Once a man or a woman was on his team, and had been treated well, it was hard for him to accept the notion that they might turn on him in the end. His faith in Melvin and Roland was not misplaced, he was certain of that, both were decent men, and he would trust either one with his life, but Mariska was both a malicious foreign agent and a professional liar though he’d yet to discover it. 

The truth was, Mariska Sarkozy had never worked for the circus, nor had her assistant, Vazul Dobos. The story was a ruse designed to gain Javernick’s trust. In truth, the two of them had traveled to America to steal scientific technology. They’d already broken into a rocket propulsion laboratory in Anaheim and copied classified information on microfilm. The details had been conveyed to the Nazis’ Peenemünde Army Research Center where the A-4 rocket was under development.  

Mariska made herself a plate of Chicken Paprikash and ate by herself in the kitchen. When she was finished, she revisited Javernick in the study. “I’m going to ride over and speak with Vazul about the job offer.”  

“Thank you, Mariska. Let me know what he says.”  

She walked out to the small guest house where she lived. The main drive was lined with sycamores and black maple, and though the leaves had already turned, most had yet to fall, and the breeze created a rustling sound as it blew through the branches. It was a balmy autumn evening, warm enough to ride her motorcycle into Van Nuys.  

Mariska went inside and changed her clothes; from her conservative housekeeper’s attire to a provocative motorcycle riding outfit. She put on a leather skirt and a tight, jet-black blouse. Her small-sized breasts made it easy for her to go braless. She pulled on tall, lace-up boots and standing before the mirror, applied a bit of eyeliner and flamenco red lipstick, then a dab of Pomade in her pageboy hair and she combed it straight back.  

After donning a stylish leather bomber jacket, she went outside and started up her brand-new bike, a fast 1941 Indian with a four-cylinder engine. It had fancy blue and white cowlings and was loaded with chrome from the tip of its exhaust pipe to the flare of its bell-shaped headlight.  

She pulled on her helmet before climbing on the bike, then took off down the main drive. The engine roared to life as she opened the throttle and after a twenty-minute ride she reached Van Nuys. She parked the bike outside the boarding house where her espionage assistant, Vazul Dobos, was staying. Compared to the affluence of the nut ranch, the place looked like a low-class dump. 

She’d called to let him know she was coming, and she was pleased to see he was prepared to serve her when she entered the seedy room—he was on his knees, naked as a jaybird, with his eyes on the floor.  

Mariska carried a short trotting whip. She took a seat in a hardback chair and propped her right boot up on a low ottoman. “Get busy, you worm. 

Dobos went to work polishing her boots with a shoeshine rag, dabbing it in a tin of black shoe polish now and then, overcome with masochistic enthusiasm, his face to his work and his snow-white posterior high in the air.  

“I have good news. Javernick is taking me to his new underwater casino. I’ll have my own quarters on the penthouse level of the new hotel.” She ran the business end of her short whip down the length of the space between his buttocks, and he trembled with risqué desire when she stopped to tickle his anus. 

“In Nevada? But what will become of me?”  

“Javernick has a job for you too.” She stood up, dropped her skirt, and artfully fastened a dildo harness around her shapely thighs and waist. “You’ll operate a fuel pumping station.”  

“A gas station attendant?” And with the slightest hint of insolence, “How splendid, your highness.”  




Angelo “Big Ears” Iacono was behind the wheel of a 1939 Mercury 8 sedan, and he slowed the car to a stop outside a red brick storefront in downtown Las Vegas. It was a nondescript building in the shadow of a large-scale construction project, The Desert Hare Casino and Hotel, one of several high-rise structures going up fast in the mob-controlled city, their steel-blue frames dwarfing the older neighborhoods as they climbed towards the sky.   

Iacono parked the jet-black car close to the curb and pulled on the parking brake. Anthony Falanga was in the passenger seat, and he watched as a man standing on the sidewalk quickly snuffed out his cigarette, then went inside.  

“One of Viscuso’s lookouts,” said Falanga.  

“Huh?” said Iacono.  

“The guy who went inside, Big Ears. He’s letting Viscuso know we arrived.” 

“I don’t understand why I need to sit in the car while you guys go in and eat,” said Joey the Bum Branigan from the backseat.  

“Because you ain’t a made man, Branigan.”  

“Yeah, and I’ve done more jobs for Fat Chuck Rizzo than both you goombahs put together.” 

“And I’ll bet your mama’s proud, but you see the sign on the door? It says private club and unless you’re Sicilian, they’re not gonna let you in, much less sit down to eat with Carmelo Viscuso.” 

“So, you get to sit out here and play with yourself,” said Iacono. 

“Eat shit, Big Ears.” 

“Keep your eyes peeled for gorgeous dames, Branigan” said Falanga as he climbed out of the car. “And roll the window down so you don’t stink up the automobile.” 

“Yeah, fuck you too, Tony.” 

The name of the place—The Bocce Club—came from bocce ball, an Italian bowling game that was played on an outdoor court in a walled off area outside. Inside the club, there was a private bar and small restaurant.  

Viscuso met with the Toledo mobsters behind a privacy curtain. The first thing Falanga noticed was there were no beverages or appetizer plates on the table, not a good sign in the Sicilian underworld. If no food was offered, it meant the boss was unhappy. 

Two of Viscuso’s soldiers, Carl “Easy Money” Sorbello and Sammy “the Grave Digger” Rosselli sat on the other side of the curtain, to make certain no one was eavesdropping on the conversation. Sorbello was a loan shark and Rosselli, a notorious button man.  

Viscuso was an older mob boss from Chicago. He’d been around the block a few times. He had tired eyes and a long face with sagging jowls like a bloodhound. “I had a conversation with Lou Civella yesterday, Tony. Does that name mean anything to you?”  

“Should it? I never heard of him before.”  

“You never heard of the Kansas City Meatman?” 


“He’s a well-respected capo operating out of L.A.”  

“What’s that got to do with me?”  

“When you tried to shakedown Claude Javernick, you were steppin’ on the Meatman’s toes.”  

“How so?”  

“Because Civella has exclusive rights to supply Javernick’s property with meats and other amenities.” 

“Yeah, but wait a minute, Carmello.”  

“No, you wait a minute, Falanga, and rephrase that retort with ‘Mr. Viscuso.’ It might get you further in here.”  

Falanga rolled his eyes towards the ceiling and shook his head with impatience. Viscuso responded by staring him down with an expression of utter contempt.  

“Relax, Mr. Viscuso.”  

“I’m not relaxed, Falanga. You insulted a major player in the organization.” 

“You mean, Javernick?” with surprise.  

“No, dipshit. I mean Lou Civella. He’s a well-respected man in New York.” 

“Yeah, but Mr. Viscuso. I asked you about Javernick’s joint before we went out there and you said he was unconnected.”  

“When did I say that?”  

“Last time we were in here, right Big Ears?”  

Iacono remained silent. He anxiously looked from one man to the other, then held up his hands like he didn’t know.  

“I don’t recall saying anything like that, Falanga,” said Viscuso.   

Falanga realized he wasn’t going to win. “Okay, Mr. Viscuso. Apparently, we had a misunderstanding. What do you want me to do now?”  

“I don’t want you to do nuthin’, Falanga. From this day on, Javernick’s casino is off limits. You ain’t goin’ near the place again.”  

In 1941, mobsters conducted much of their long-distance business on pay telephones. The phone booth offered a degree of privacy, and they could be sure the communications weren’t bugged. When Falanga talked to Charles “Fat Chuck” Rizzo, he was in one phone booth in Vegas, and Rizzo was in another in Toledo.  

It was early evening and raining in Ohio with a temperature in the high thirties. Rizzo was the local capo, and he was bundled up in a long overcoat with a tartan-colored scarf around his neck, a black fedora on his head, and a heavy five o’clock shadow on his pig-shaped face. 

The phone booth Falanga was standing in was cooking in the late afternoon Vegas sun. Hot enough to make him feel uncomfortable in his black dress suit, and he had the door open as a result. Iacono stood nearby to make sure no one came close enough to eavesdrop on the conversation. Falanga could hear the rain drops hitting the phone booth glass through the telephone connection.

“What’s the weather like in Toledo, Chuck?” 

“It’s raining cats and dogs, but don’t change the subject. I can’t believe you never heard of the Kansas City Meatman.”  

“So, I never heard of him. What’s he like the Pope or something?”  

“Close to it. He’s attended commission sit-downs in New York City.”  

“That don’t make it right what him and Viscuso pulled on us.”  

“What do you mean what him and Viscuso pulled on you?” 

“Viscuso told me and Big Ears that Javernick was unconnected. Wasn’t more than a week ago. So, we make our move and all of a sudden we’re steppin’ on the Meatman’s toes?”  

“A misunderstanding, Falanga.” 

“I don’t think it was a misunderstanding. I know what he said. Here’s what I think happened—we made our move and Javernick went crying to Civella. That’s what I think.”  

“So what?”  

“So, we were there first.”  

“You were there first? You’re not standing in line at the racetrack ticket window, Falanga. What you’re doing now is screwing around with a major player’s territory, so you need to just forget it. Capiche 

“It ain’t that easy. Viscuso disrespected me and Big Ears.”  

“So, what are you gonna do about it?”  

“Make our move on Javernick’s casino. We were there first.”  

“Look, Falanga, you’re not starting anything with Viscuso or Lou Civella. Both are major players, and both are higher in the organization than your sorry ass is ever gonna be.” 

“Well, if we’re in disagreement, maybe me and Big Ears need to go off the reservation.” 

“Yeah, you go off the reservation, you ain’t comin’ back in. You think you’re a big man, Falanga, but you ain’t shit…You ain’t nuthin’ but an over-dressed guinea from Kokomo.” 

“Yeah, fuck you too, Chuck.”  

“No, fuck you, Falanga,” and the line went dead.  

Falanga hung up the phone and turned to see Iacono staring at him with his jaw dropped. He held up his hands. “What?”  

“You just told Fat Chuck Rizzo to fuck off?”  

“That’s right, Big Ears. Rizzo and the rest of them can all fuck off. We came all the way out here from Toledo thinkin’ we were gonna get a piece of the action, but we ain’t gettin’ nuthin’. That was the message at the sit-down when no food was offered.”  

The Mercury 8 was parked nearby, a couple of blocks down Fremont Street from Viscuso’s club. There was another new casino going up on the other side of a chain link fence and deafening construction noise filled the air. As the Toledo mobsters walked towards the car, they heard a pushy foreman yelling profanities, the popping of a welder’s torch, and the hydraulic whine of heavy machinery moving dirt.  

When they reached the car, they found Branigan leaning against the front grill smoking a cigarette.  

“So, what are we gonna do now, Tony?” said Iacono.  

“Give me a cigarette, Branigan.”  

Branigan pulled out a pack of smokes and shook one out. Falanga put the cigarette in his mouth and Branigan offered a light. He took a hit, exhaled and then holding the cigarette between his teeth he continued: “What we’re gonna do now is knock off Javernick’s casino…That mick outfit you ran with in Cleveland, Branigan. Oscar Duffy and his tommy gun crew. You think they’d travel for a big payoff?” 

“Yeah, I think it’s likely, Tony. Tough times in Cleveland. Too many dogs after the same bone.” 

“Get on the horn then, Branigan.” Falanga tossed him a roll of quarters and pointed towards the phone booth. “Tell Duffy and his boys to head out here if they’re lookin’ to make some dough.” 




It was always something with the federal bureaucrats, and after complaints from the Park Service about the air traffic at the casino, a designated landing zone had been created on the surface of the lake. The ruling by Judge Ambrose in 1933 had ordered the government to accommodate Javernick in the operation of the casino, so it was easy for his attorneys to mollify the park rangers when they complained about the pontoon planes. To appease the government authorities and in the interest of safety, Javernick cordoned off a designated landing zone with buoys and signs that were posted to keep boaters away. 

Javernick was inbound, on his return trip from L.A., and he skillfully landed the plane on the surface of the water. After mooring it to one of the docks, he walked towards the entry. He passed by Jace Lyle, one of Roland’s security men as he approached the automated double doors.  

“Good afternoon, Mr. Javernick.”  

“Call me Claude, Jace. We’ve certainly known each other long enough to dispense with the formality.”    

He went inside, greeted the check-in clerk at the front desk by her first name, then walked up the fire stairs to the forty-eighth floor where Melvin and Roland had their offices. The interior decor was modernistic—lots of stainless steel and flat finished plaster with no wood trim. The use of flammable materials had been kept to a minimum throughout the buildings.  

Roland had a private office, but he was sitting in the reception area, hunting and pecking on an electric typewriter when Javernick walked in. “Hello, Claude. How was the flight back?”  

“Fast and easy. Only way to travel. I may never cross the desert in the caddy again…I’m glad I caught you here because I have a couple of things to discuss with you and Melvin. Is he here too?” lifting his chin towards a closed office door.  

“Yeah, he’s in there tabulating casino receipts.”  

Javernick walked over and lightly tapped on the door. “Can I come in?”  

“It’s open, Claude,” came Melvin’s voice.  

“Why don’t you join us, Roland.” Javernick went inside and took a seat in one of the armchairs casually arranged in front of Melvin’s desk. Roland followed. 

“Elias brought in two more Paiutes,” said Roland as he sat down next to Javernick. “Cash Bravebird and Flint Swiftwater. I hired both.”  

“Put them up here at the hotel?”  

“They’re sharing one of the bigger suites on the fifty-second floor.” 

“I’m assuming they can shoot as well as Elias.”  

“Yeah, the Shivwits Band starts them off young.” 

“Takes keen eyesight and a steady hand,” said Javernick.  

“I talked to Kaylee about the wedding reception,” said Melvin. “She loves the idea of having it on the promenade. She asked me to say thank you.”  

“That’s tremendous, Melvin…What’s the date again?”  

“November 15th. The Saturday before Thanksgiving.” 

“I’ll get in touch with Busta Briggs and make sure the Hepcats are available…How’s business in the casino fairing?”  

“We’re in the black. I can go over the numbers with you right now if you have the time.”  

“Let’s do that later. While I have both of you here, I want to talk about the security problem that came up at the grand opening.”  

“The Toledo mobsters,” said Roland.  

“Yes, and with that issue in mind, I looked up Nick Lococo when I was in L.A. He’s the man I was buying bootleg whiskey from during Prohibition.”  

“If my memory serves me right, he’s connected to the mob too.”  

“That’s right, Roland. Lococo is Kansas City Cosa Nostra. The capo in L.A. is a man by the name of Lou Civella. He owns a sizeable slaughterhouse in K.C. and he’s a well-connected man in the underworld. A much bigger name than that Falanga scoundrel. I made a deal with Civella to supply the restaurant with meat and produce. Linens too. In exchange, he’s going to make sure Toledo doesn’t give us any more trouble.” 

“And that’s it?” said Melvin. “They’re not going to want anything else?”   

“Civella operates on a more sophisticated level. He’s not a common street thug, though I’m not that happy about having to deal with anyone from the mob, believe me.” 

“We won’t be seeing his crew in the casino, then?” said Roland.  

“Not on a regular basis, but a week from Saturday, Civella and Lococo will be paying us a visit. Carmello Viscuso is the Vegas capo for the Chicago mob and the three of them will meet here to hash things out. What they call a sit-down. In the interest of keeping relations between the competing factions copacetic. They’ll bring their muscle along for security, so we’ll be entertaining a significant number of made men from the Sicilian underworld.” 

“That should be interesting,” said Melvin.   

“We’ll go about business like it’s a normal night. The sit-down will take place in a private setting and the men they bring along will be on their best behavior. Like I said before, Civella is a more sophisticated operator than that Falanga lowlife and I go way back with Nick Lococo.” 

“I remember the crates,” said Roland. “You bought a boatload of bootleg hooch from the Lococo Concrete Company during Prohibition.” 

“Those were exciting times, back in the Roaring Twenties.” 

“I miss the speakeasy in the old hotel,” said Melvin. 

“Where you learned how to drink,” said Roland with a laugh.  

Javernick sighed. “Yessir boys, seems like it was just yesterday.” 




When Congress passed the Boulder Canyon Project Act in 1928, it didn’t take long for Everett Beekman to visit Saint Thomas and Rioville, and he didn’t come alone. The controversial legislation passed muster on June 25, and a month later, Beekman’s entourage traveled the Arrowhead Trail to visit the condemned settlements.  

It was the hottest part of the summer and the stifling monsoon season had brought more humidity than rain, though there had been a couple of significant gully washers since the Fourth of July holiday. Most of the rainfall in the Mohave Desert fell in a handful of July and August thunderstorms. Torrential rains with inches of precipitation, and in minutes, the flooded washes would become too dangerous to cross.  

Beekman’s procession was thirty-three men and women strong, and they came in a variety of automobiles, mostly Pierce-Arrows, Packards, and Fords. Most of the men and women he’d brought along were fellow bureaucrats from the Bureau of Reclamation, and he was also accompanied by Tasker Digby, one of Nevada’s U.S. senators.  

The people in Saint Thomas wondered why it was necessary for Beekman to come with such a large entourage. Levi Syphus said they didn’t want to be outnumbered by a hostile crowd, though when word got out they’d arrived, over a hundred townspeople gathered under the shade trees between the post office and the Gentry Store, where the lengthy automobile procession finally stopped. Melvin Royce was one of them, he drove over from the family farm in his brand-new Packard, and he brought along his sister Charlene. His parents were too upset about the situation to attend. His father said, “I’m afraid I might take a swing at the sonofabitch, Melvin, so your mother and I will stay right here.”  

Beekman climbed up on a picnic table bench and addressed the crowd: “I’m Everett Beekman from the Bureau of Reclamation, and we’ve come to talk to you about the Boulder Canyon dam project and what will happen next. Unfortunately, Saint Thomas is beneath the maximum water level of the new reservoir so you’re all going to need to evacuate.”  

“How soon do we need to leave?” called out a man in the crowd.  

“Not right away. It’ll take a couple of years to build the dam.” 

“I’ve lived here all my life,” called out another. “How will you compensate us for our land and what we’ve built?”  

“The bureau has contracted with an appraisal service in Washington. They’ll be visiting soon.” 

“An appraisal service? How do we know their decisions will be fair?”  

“There’s an appeals process if you disagree.”  

Levi Syphus waded through the assembled townspeople until he was close enough to Beekman to speak without raising his voice. He was a well-respected local, Harry Gentry’s next-door neighbor. “How bout we figure it out on our own? You’re not giving us a choice in it, so what if we tell you what the town’s worth to us?” A wave of agreement rolled through the crowd.  

“Well, I certainly can’t stop you, if that’s what you want to do, and I can assure you the bureau will consider your offers, but we have a process, established by statute, so the appraisers will have the final say.”  

When Melvin looked around at his fellow townspeople, he could see the anger in their eyes. They were the people he’d grown up with and known all his life, he addressed most by their first names. Melvin knew the residents of Saint Thomas well, and he was certain they weren’t going to let Beekman off easy. 

Senator Digby had distanced himself from the bureaucrats. He was walking through the crowd introducing himself and shaking hands, and it looked as if he was doing his best to listen to what the people were saying to him. Reassuring to the townspeople, because the bulk of the bureaucrats were bunched up together, keeping to themselves and regarding them with what appeared to be a mixture of suspicion and fear. Most were from back east, and they looked awfully soft to Melvin as compared to the rugged souls who inhabited his hometown.   

Saint Thomas was a special place. A green oasis that the original settlers had carved out of the unforgiving earth with their bare hands. How could the government put a price on what they’d created? How could they pay the people fairly for the work that had gone into digging the irrigation canals, and turning the raw desert into productive farmland?  

“This is going to go on for a while,” said Melvin to Charlene as the questions from the crowd grew more pointed. “I’m going to head down to Rioville and let Claude know they’re coming…You want me to drop you off at the house?” 

“No, I think I’ll stay. I don’t want to miss anything. Ma and Pa will need to know what was said.” 

Melvin drove down to Rioville in his Packard. As he traversed the rugged route, he thought about the dam and realized the road he was on would be hundreds of feet underwater when the project was finished. 

When he reached the tiny settlement, he found Javernick in the speakeasy, and he described the scene he’d witnessed in Saint Thomas. They decided to sit on the front porch of the hotel and await the bureaucrats’ arrival. 

Roland appeared in his truck. He’d been in Saint Thomas dropping off steamboat passengers, and he’d seen the government entourage too. He parked nearby and climbed the short set of steps that led into the hotel.  

“Maximino and Little Juanito high-tailed it down to the landing when I told them the federal government was coming,” said Roland as he took a seat. “They’re afraid they might get deported.” 

“Nothing to fear from the Bureau of Reclamation,” said Javernick. “More than likely we’ll be met by a flock of incompetent buffoons.” 

They sat there in the shade and talked about a variety of subjects for over an hour, and there was still no sign of the bureaucrats. By late afternoon they noticed dark clouds building over the mountains to the south. A potent surge of tropical moisture was moving up the Colorado River Valley from Mexico.  

“Looks like rain coming,” said Melvin when he saw a lightning strike in the distance and heard the rumble of thunder.  

“We’re due for a good one,” said Roland.  

“And here comes the Bureau of Reclamation,” said Javernick, gesturing towards the steeply graded road that led into the small settlement.  

The bureaucrats parked their cars below the hotel, on a flood prone dirt flat that was perilously close to the Virgin River, a short distance upstream from where it met the Colorado. Melvin was about to tell them it was a bad place to park during monsoon season, but he held his tongue. Beekman and Senator Digby were in the lead, like a pair of shepherds leading a flock of sheep as the swarm of bureaucrats walked towards the hotel porch. 

Beekman climbed the short stairway and joined them. There were dark circles radiating from the sleeves of his starchy white dress shirt; he’d been perspiring heavily in the blistering desert heat. “I’m Everett Beekman from the Bureau of Reclamation.” 

“Claude Javernick, and I wish I could say that I’m pleased to meet you, Mr. Beekman, but quite frankly, I’m not.” He remained seated and regarded Beekman’s outstretched hand with disdain.  

Halfway up the stairs, Senator Digby looked like he was trying to suppress laughter. 

“We’re here to help you with the evacuation in any way we can, Mr. Javernick,” said Beekman.  

“Well, Beekman, I’m here to tell you that whatever you offer me for my property, it won’t be enough.”  

That was the start of the acrimony between Javernick and Beekman. In the years that followed, it never let up.  

The thunderstorms that moved up the Colorado that afternoon were historic in their intensity. What the meteorologists called a hundred-year event. Roland found a bucket later that he was sure had been empty, and following the heavy storms it contained almost four inches of captured rain. In the Mohave Desert, the lion’s share of annual precipitation sometimes fell in one day.  

Beekman’s party took refuge inside the hotel. A few of them ended up drunk in the speakeasy, and Eunice and Rose lured others into the Palamino Palace as the heavy rain continued to fall. 

Partway through the deluge, a flash flood formed in the Virgin River Canyon, and when the wall of water hit the parking area below the hotel, it picked up one of the cars and deposited it in the muddy Colorado—Beekman’s 1927 Pierce-Arrow, an expensive luxury model. The car floated off downstream and Maximino and Little Juanito saw it bobbing in the frothy current as it drifted past the steamboat landing. They were hiding from the bureaucrats in the shed that Roland used to dry his reefer. The ruined car made it all the way down to the dam site where the workers used a tower crane to fish it out of the river.  








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