Page 104 of Overload



The plan which Georgos had worked out was to blow up the huge cooling water pumps at the La Mission generating plant, the same plant where-nearly a year ago, and disguised as a Salvation Army officer-he placed a bomb which damaged the generator the newspapers called Big Lil.

He had learned about those pumps while studying textbooks on power generation to determine where GSP & L would be most vulnerable; be also visited the Engineering School of the University of California at Berkeley, where technical drawings of La Mission, and other plants, were available for anyone to inspect.

Georgos knew-again being realistic-that there wasn't a chance of getting inside the main building at La Mission, as he had succeeded in doing before. It was now too well guarded.

But with resourcefulness, and some luck, he could get to the pump house.

The eleven massive, powerful pumps there were essential to the operation of five generating units, including Big Lil. In destroying them he would knock out the entire generating station for months.


It would be like severing a lifeline.

The best approach was from the Coyote River. La Mission was built directly on the riverbank, enabling the plant to draw water for cooling and return it to the river afterward. Getting to the river side of the plant was where the rubber dinghy would come in. After that, Georgos would make use of the scuba diving gear, at which he was expert, having learned underwater demolition during his revolutionary training in Cuba.

Georgos had studied maps and knew he could drive to within a half mile of La Mission and launch the dinghy at a deserted spot. From there the current would help him get downstream. Getting back to the van, and escaping, would be more of a problem, but that aspect he deliberately ignored.

He would enter the pump house underwater, through a metal grating and two wire mesh screens in which he would cut holes; the tools to do it were stored with his underwater equipment. The cylindrical Tovex bombs would be strapped to his waist. Once inside, he would place the bombs, which were in magnetic casings, simply and quickly on the pumps. It was a beautiful scheme!-as it had seemed right from the beginning.

The only remaining question was-when? Today was Friday.

Weighing everything, Georgos decided on the following Tuesday. He would leave North Castle as soon as it was dark, drive the Volkswagen van the fifty-odd miles to La Mission, then, on arrival, launch the dinghy immediately.

Now, the decision taken, he was restless. The apartment-small, dreary, sparsely furnished-was confining, especially during the daytime, though Georgos knew it would be foolish to take chances and go out. In fact, he intended to remain in the apartment until Sunday night, when the purchase of more food would become essential.

He missed the mental exercise of writing in his journal. A few days ago he considered starting a new one, now that the original was lost, captured by the enemy. But somehow he could summon up neither the energy nor the enthusiasm to begin writing again.

Once more, as he had done so many times already, he roamed the apartment's three cramped rooms-a living room, bedroom, and kitchen-dining area.

On the kitchen counter top an envelope caught his eye. It contained a so-called Consumer Survey which had come in the mail to the apartment several weeks ago from-all of sources-Golden State Piss & Lickspittle. It had been addressed to one Owen Grainger, which was not surprising because that was the name under which Georgos rented the apartment and paid three months rent in advance to avoid questions about credit.

(Georgos always paid rent and other bills immediately, by mailing cash. Paying bills promptly was a standard part of terrorist technique when seeking to be inconspicuous. Unpaid bills brought unwelcome inquiries and attention.)

One of the items on that stinking Consumer Survey had made Georgos so angry on first reading it that he threw a cup he happened to be holding against the nearest wall and shattered it. The item read:

Golden State Power & Light apologizes to its customers for inconveniences as a result of cowardly attacks on company installations by small-time, would-be terrorists who act in ignorance. If there are ways in which you think such attacks could be ended, please give us your views.

Then and there Georgos had sat down and written a forceful, scathing reply which began: “The terrorists you presumptuously describe as small-time, cowardly and ignorant are none of those things. They are important, wise and dedicated heroes. You are the ignoramuses, as well as criminal exploiters of the people. Justice shall overtake you! Be warned there will be blood and death, not mere 'inconvenience' when the glorious revolution . . ."

He had quickly run out of space and used an extra sheet of paper to complete a truly splendid response.

A pity not to have mailed it! He had been on the point of doing so on one of his night excursions when caution warned: Don't! It might be a trap. So he had let the completed questionnaire remain where it was, on the kitchen counter top.

The postage-paid envelope which had come with the questionnaire was still unsealed and Georgos took the enclosure out. What he had written, he realized again, was masterful. Why not send it? After all, it was anonymous; be had already torn off, and discarded, the portion of the questionnaire which had the name "Owen Grainger" and the apartment address. Even that had been printed by a computer, something Georgos recognized instantly, so it was impersonal, as mailings from computers always were.

Someone ought to read what he had written. Whoever it was would be jolted, which was good. At the same time they could not fall-even if reluctantly-to admire the writer's mind.

Making another decision, Georgos sealed the envelope. He would put it in a mailbox when he went out Sunday night.

He resumed his pacing and-though he didn't really want to start thinking again about that long-ago day and the cornered rat.

14

At approximately the same moment that Georgos Archambault made his decision to bomb La Mission for the second time, Harry London faced Nim Goldman.

"No!" London said. "Goddammit no! Not for you, Nim, or anybody else."

Nim said patiently, "All I've asked you to do is consider some special circumstances. I happen to know the Sloan family . . ."

The two men were in Nim's office. Harry London, standing, leaned across the desk between them. "You may know the family, but I know the case. It's all in here. Read it!" the Property Protection chief, his face flushed, slammed down a bulky file.

"Calm down, Harry," Nim said. "And I don't need to read the file. I'll take your word about the kind of case it is, and how messy."

A short time ago, remembering his promise to Karen the previous evening, Nim had telephoned Harry London to see if he knew of a theft of service case involving a Luther Sloan.

"You bet I do," had been the answer.

When Nim disclosed his personal interest London had stated, "I'll come up."

Now Harry London insisted, "You're damn right it's a messy case. Your friend Sloan has been bypassing meters-lots of them-for better than a year."

Nim said irritably, "He isn't my friend. His daughter is."

"One of your many women friends, no doubt."

'Knock it off, Harry!" Nim, too, was becoming angry. "Karen Sloan is a quadriplegic."

He went on to describe the Sloan family, how both parents helped Karen financially, and how Luther Sloan had gone into debt to buy a special van for Karen's use. "One thing I'm certain of. Whatever Karen's father did with any money be made, he didn't spend it on himself. "

London said contemptuously. "So does that make thievery any better? Of course it doesn't, and you know it."

"Yes, I know it. But surely, if we also know of extenuating circumstances, we could be less tough."

"Just what did you have in mind?"

Nim ignored the caustic tone. "Well, maybe we could insist on restitution, let Luther Sloan pay back whatever was stolen, giving him some time to do it, but not launch criminal proceedings."

Harry London said coldly, "So that's your suggestion?"

”Yes, it is."

“Nim," London said, "I never thought the day would come when I'd stand here and hear you say what you just did."

"Oh, for Chrissakes, Harry! Who knows what they'll say and do in certain situations?"

"I do. And I know what I'm saying now: the Sloan case will take its course, which means a criminal charge is going to be laid within the next few days. Unless, of course, you decide to fire me and do it your way."

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