|MacNeil Goldspit and the K.K.K. Power Grab
by Dashweld Hamlet
It all began on a gloomy Oregon winter
afternoon in Portland’s
Chinatown. The winter had come in the previous evening and
the leaves from the trees in the Place du Condorde Socialista, and we
to rise in the night and close the shutters against the wind and the
The next morning in the rain was almost as gloomy as the next afternoon
in the rain. The streetlamps were on
by three P.M. I was having a drink with the Fat Man in the Blue
when Gardenia stuck his head in the door. A shaft of blue
from a high window caught his cueball eyes as they rolled around the
and stopped on us. He came in and minced over, in his three piece
suit and spats looking like a tiny Hercule Poirot. His voice is
He looks like and sounds like a whining rat in a sewer pipe.
“Goldspit has done it,” he said to the Fat Man.
I knew Gardenia from the
case of the pickled herring, whch involved the murder of a
editor by the hostess of the now-defunct public broadcasting news
program, Seven Days. He was shifty and nervous, and had the prey
concentration qualities of a viper. He was a natural associate of
the Fat Man, who has his hand in every small time scam and racket in
(At least, that's what I thought at the time). The heavyweight
stuff around here is run by MacNeil Goldspit and the K.K.K.
Klutz, Kitzenjammer and Kulongasbag. All four are bigtime
figures. They pull all the big strings in Oregon.
The Fat Man swatted a fly on the table. “Well,”
he said, “it seems the gods of the aeries have picked another plum for
their basket.” His tiny pig’s eyes looked off into the distance
his voice dropped to a whisper. “Think of the revenues!” he said
with a deep and envious criminal respect.
“What’s this all about, you fat hypocrite?” I asked him
A chuckle rolled out of the fat folds of his face.
“It is nothing of interest to the citizens of the gutter,” he said
My name is Shovel. Clem Shovel.
call me Razor. I don’t have many friends as you understand the
I’m a private dick. The information I need in my line of work
from low places.
I didn’t have any cases at the moment, so as the Oregon
day went from mostly dark to very dark and rainy, I returned to my
broke out a bottle of cheap bourbon and sat at my desk looking
through the paper to see if there was anything about the powers
be in it. The rain was blowing in through the half open window,
the peeling paint on the sill a just-waxed gloss. The traffic on
Burnside Avenue, two blocks to the north sloshed and honked
Across 2nd street an ex-advertising creative director
named Brian Mountebank sang in slurred lyrics to his bottle of MD 20-20
as he weaved his way down the rain-blackened sidewalk. I
his voice. He used to work for Jung & Rower before he cost
the Freightliner account by telling the company management they should
green up by dumping their big rig line and just manufacture Yugos with
big trunks. Once an up and coming suit, he was now a
The advertising business is like a liberal. It talks about heart
all the time, but what is beating in its chest would power a tiger
What there was in the paper didn’t tell me
When the Oregonian is put to bed, Oregon’s political big four are there
under the sheets. The lead item was about the local power
Once a privately held monopoly, it had been picked up by Enron, a giant
energy fraud created during the Clinton Administration. When Bush
won the White House, the crap hit the Enron fan. He had his
and Commerce departments dig into things. It turned out that
was the largest corporate campaign donor to a California Democrat who
used his executive position to protect energy supplier price increases
while freezing consumer costs. The taxpayers had picked up the
In L.A. the surcharge had been 30%. He had driven California into
the dark, but had protected his donor’s interests while Democrats ran
Now, the local division of Enron was to be
A proposal to make it a P.U.D. had recently been defeated by the voters
after a major political campaign by the utility, and now -- there it
-- the most dangerous man in Oregon, MacNeil Goldspit, along with his
was going to team up with a Lone Star State leveraging company and take
the system for themselves. What they were going to do with it,
wasn’t mentioned. The natural assumption would be that they would
run it from then on out as a private company. That, I thought,
one of the missing pieces in this puzzle. The paper didn’t say
but the recent campaign to defeat the P.U.D. initiative had been funded
by money funneled to Goldspit. This could be nothing more than an
end run around the voters.
To me, this purchase smelled like a
Tillamook dairy barn
at high tide. MacNeil Goldspit was to be the top dog, and his chief
would be a former head of TriMet, the most botched up transportation
in state history, and another example of a public project completed in
spite of voter turndowns. This had to be the roundabout way to
government cash cow, but how could the Fat Man profit from it?
I was staring at the paper thinking this was none of my
business when the phone rang and it became my business. I picked
it up. It was the Fat Man.
“Gardenia has disappeared,” he said.
“We have to
The rain was blowing sideways when I opened the door to
the Blue Parrot and walked inside. The Fat Man waved me over to
“What’s the story?” I asked.
“Mr. Gardenia was shall we say ‘looking into some
opportunities for me’ and did not report in as expected,” said the Fat
“And, you are concerned about his welfare, I imagine.”
The fat chuckle. “Yes, of course,” he said.
“Why don’t you have one of your thugs go find him?” I
“There are – difficulties – Razor. I believe you may be
the best man for the job.”
“Difficulties,” I said. “What kind?”
“MacNeil Goldspit,” said the Fat Man.
“Good Lord!” I said.
“Exactly,” said the Fat Man.
Playing around with MacNeil Goldspit is like
TNT with a hammer to see what will happen. You can get killed for
doing him a favor. Once an enforcer for the Oregon Bar
he had worked his way up to mayor of Portland, Governor of Oregon and
the most powerful man in the state. They called him Don
They kissed his ring, though not in public. Some Klamath Lake
blinds were made of a kind of canvas that looked like the skin of his
He is as warm as moonlight on a chrome bumper. As
gentle as the fangs of a cobra.
And, he had Gardenia. If he got from Gardenia what
he wanted from Gardenia, he would learn the name of the man who was
to blackmail him, and the Fat Man would become a four man duck blind.
:”The remuneration,” the Fat Man said,
“Considering your affection for your own skin, I can’t
imagine there is that much money in Oregon,” I replied.
“There is,” the Fat Man said. “I had planned to ask for
diversion of all Department of Transportation funds into my offshore
or to reveal to certain conservative publications and radio talk show
the actual purpose of the power company takeover, with documentation..”
He had me. I knew from personal experience
that the Department of Transportation hadn’t built a road in
for decades. There had to be trillions salted away somewhere.
"But, something went wrong," I said.
"You never cease to amaze," said the
"One never knows what a man like you will say next. But, yes,
went wrong. I received a call from Gardenia an hour ago. It
consisted of a scream."
"Why do you care?"
"First, the call came to me, here. Goldspit
knows I am involved. Second, it turns out that he may end up with
on me, as well. A small matter of a ship which came into Portland
with its cargo manifest a bit short. Gardenia knows about
He might deal."
"So, he already knows you're the blackmailer.
Now, abouit the ship's manifest. What was missing?"
"Diamond saw blades?"
"No. Diamonds for the, oh, lady friends of
There is the matter of customs, and certain insurance companies. And,
course, my skin. I will pay you five hundred dollars to fnd a way to
the complexity of the situation."
That wasn't a difficult problem conceptually.
by rules of fear and intimidation. Favors and and disappearing
To affect a mind like that required the application of surprise
Goldspit must be convinced in a shocking way that I am doing him a big
favor. But, how exactly should it be done?
The interrogation arm of the state
of facilities located at each major college. Locally, that is
State University. I figured that they had Gardenia, there.
I was right. Working through the bushes next to the main
I spotted him duct-taped to a chair, his eyelids pulled up with
scotch tape. I moved a few feet to the left to see what they had
him looking at. It was a video tape of Hillary Clinton making a
speech. Gardenia’s mouth was taped shut, but I could see the
in his face contorting as he tried to scream.
MacNeil Goldspit was sitting on a desk, laughing.
The cruelty of liberal Democrats could turn the stomach of a maggot.
All the doors had armed guards. There were probably
guards in the halls, as well.
I checked again to make sure my secret weapon was secure,
then moved back twenty feet and ran head on toward the classroom
Crashing through, I hit the floor in a shower of broken glass, rolled
and jumped to my feet with an 8x10 autographed photo of Barry Goldwater
in my hand. I thrust it to within two feet of Goldspit. His
face lost its normal steely demeanor and twisted into a mask of
He tried to turn away, like a vampire avoiding a cross, but I held him
with one hand and began to chant.
“Extremism in the pursuit of liberty is no vice.”
His shoulders sagged. The fear of
whatever a liberal
thinks of as God was in him.
“You want more? I have a picture of Ronald Reagan
at the Berlin Wall.”
“Oh, God, not that!” cried Goldspit.
"And an audio tape of the collected wisdom of Newt
You want to hear that?”
He shreiked and began to babble.
“Shut up,” I said. “I don’t care how powerful you
are, Goldspit, or how many people you’ve turned into duck blinds.
Do you really think you can take on the homosexual community and
The door guards, armed to the teeth,
the room. Goldspit held up his hand to them and said, “The
homo—what do you mean?”
This was the crucial moment. It would work or I
“Gardenia is the Fat Man’s life partner,” I said.
"Take him out and you'll have every dainty darling of them in the city
after your hide. There are enough of them living in the Pearl
and northwest Portland to elect conservatives to every major political
seat in Oregon."
Goldspit shuddered. Afer a long moment, he said, “I’ll
deal. And, I owe you one for this, Razor. The key special
group in the party. God, but what a mistake I almost made.”
“You’re welcome,” I said. “I’m sorry I had to do
it this way, but you didn’t leave me any options. It was the only
way I could save you.”
“I’ll deal,” Goldspit repeated. “What does he
“No more parking tickets and to be the Grand Marshall
of next May’s Gay Parade,” I said. “Now, let’s get Gardenia out
here before anybody gay happens to look in the window. It’ll be
late for you, then. I won’t be able to help.”
Later, I deposited Gardenia, just a little
worse for wear,
in the Blue Parrot. When I told the Fat Man how I had bailed him
out, he turned purple and threw me out. I thought it was
of him to do it, but you get old soon expecting people to appreciate it
when you do them a favor.
That reminded me that Goldspit now thought he owed
me another favor. It’s not a good idea to have an Oregon Don believing
something like that. They like having people owing them favors,
the other way around, so I called him the next day and asked him if he
could fix my parking tickets, too.
That came to eight grand, which is the best fee
I ever got for a case.
I still don't know what the G.K.K.K. has up its
sleeve on this electric utility takeover scam, and, frankly, am not
I want to.
© 2003 Oregon Magazine