The Totem 1979

Free The Totem 1979 by David Morrell

Book: The Totem 1979 by David Morrell Read Free Book Online
Authors: David Morrell
Tags: Fiction, Thrillers, Espionage
genius, up there near one hundred and eighty.
    All that Dunlap had already checked on, going through old Newsworld files back in New York at his office. There were photographs of Quiller talking to reporters, of the conference that he had called, using all the power of his wealth, to tell them what he planned. Reporters had been glad to come, promised champagne, pheasant under glass, and caviar, eager too to find another Kesey. They had written many stories based on Kesey. Now they hoped to write a lot more like them based on Quiller, disappointed when they saw how straight he seemed. Quiller had them writing soon enough, however. First he told them how disgusted he was that he couldn’t get attention without bribing them to come, how he hoped the caviar would choke them and remind them of the sickness in the country. He explained his views about the nation, and he told them to go out and spread the word. They, of course, refused. Some were standing up to leave. But he had something yet in store for them. “The Exodus,” he called it. Two months further on, July 4, Independence Day, he would free his people from their bondage. Starting out from San Francisco, he would lead a caravan of misfits, malcontents, and dispossessed from City Hall at nine a.m. and take them to the promised land. He told reporters of the fifty acres, told them what he planned to do there, told them of the kind of ideal life he hoped to lead. Because he couldn’t change the nature of the world, he would turn his back on it and make his own. No hate, no wars, no repression. Only peace and mutual respect and harmony. He invited all the reporters in the room to join him. Mostly, though, he let them in on what amounted to a newsman’s holiday. Two months from now, they’d have stories all right, more than they could handle, visions of those photogenic hippies, traffic jams and confrontations, Day-Glo buses, vans and motorcycles, God knows what all, heading down the road. Local color and events. That was it: events. This had the feel of something major. Quiller got what he had wanted. They went out and spread the word.
    It was a media-created happening. Later, many would maintain that nothing would have taken place if reporters had been silent. But the media said that it would happen, and of course it did. Five thousand freaks of all descriptions, half as many vehicles. It wasn’t just a traffic jam. It amounted almost to a riot, police attacking the freaks, claiming the assembly was unlawful, dragging hippies off. Quiller put a stop to that. He’d used his money there as well, buying various permits from officials.
    And they started away, Quiller at the lead in a bright red classic 1959 Corvette, heading across the country. They went through Nevada and then Utah, others joining in along the way, a five-mile caravan of cars and trucks and bikes and buses, straight or twisted, some plain, others Day-Gloed, orange and green and purple, every color you could think of. It was something else, they said. It was also Quiller’s last cooperation with reporters. He had broken his first rule-don’t let people know what you’re doing. He’d been forced to. Without newsmen, he had no publicity. But now he had no need for them, and he ignored them all along the way. He reached Wyoming, moving close to home. He crossed the rangeland, worked up through the mountains, crossed more rangeland, then more mountains. Then he reached the valley, coming through the western pass, never getting close to town, simply heading north within the valley until he reached the loggers’ road and going up, and that was where the story ended. No reporter ever saw the compound. Lord knows, many tried. Quiller, though, was adamant. Echoing a famous Kesey slogan that a person’s either on or off the bus, he said that newsmen too were free to join. The catch was, they would have to stay. ‘You’re either in or out of the compound. There’s no in-between.” Many newsmen tried to

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