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       Clive Cussler and Dirk Pitt Revealed, p.1

           Clive Cussler
 
Clive Cussler and Dirk Pitt Revealed


  Clive Cussler and Dirk Pitt Revealed

  By: Clive Cussler with Craig Dirgo

  eBook created by: cdog

  Introduction With more than 90 million copies of his books in print,Clive Cussler has earned his moniker "The Grand Master of Adventure."

  He has also been called America's Jules Verne. His works are translated into forty different languages, and the exploits of his primary character, Dirk Pitt, are read throughout the world.

  In 1996, Cussler branched out into nonfiction, co-writing with Craig Dirgo The Sea Hunters, a volume about the exploits of his nonprofit foundation National Underwater and Marine Agency. To the amazement of critics and the publishing community alike, the book reached number five on the New York Times hardcover best-sellers list. The introduction of the paperback edition of The Sea Hunters gave Cussler his first number one best-seller. He followed up in 1997 with the return of Dirk Pitt in the hardcover novel Flood Tide, which opened on the New York Times hardcover fiction list at number three, moving to number one the following week, a first for a Dirk Pitt novel.

  What, then, does the future hold for the author who has often said, "Ienvisioned writing a small paperback series; when I started I thoughtthat if I could make ten thousand dollars a year I would be a happyman."

  In this, the companion book to Cussler's works, we will examine the phenomenal success he has achieved and look at the evolution of the Dirk Pitt novels.

  Delving into Clive Cussler's life, we will see how life imitates art andthe close ties that are present between Pitt and Cussler. No work aboutClive Cussler would be complete without a section devoted to his famouscar collection or a concordance listing the characters in Pitt'sadventures.

  Join me now as we dig deep into the world of Clive Cussler.

  Craig Dirgo

  xiv

  The Reunion

  The evening air was brisk, an overture for the approaching cold ofwinter, when a yellow and green cab stopped at a security gate on thesouth end of Washington's National Airport. The guard studied the passthat was extended by a hand from the rear window, then handed it backand spoke in an official tone.

  "Stay on the road. You're in a restricted area."

  The driver swung onto the narrow service road that ran parallel with theeast-west taxi strip on the southern border of the airport. "You surethis is the right way?" he asked, seeing nothing but an empty field.

  "I'm certain," answered the gray-haired man in the backseat. "I've beenhere before."

  "May I ask what you're looking for?"

  The man in the backseat ignored the question. "Pull up at that polewith the red light on the top. I'll get out there."

  "But there's no sign of life."

  "Can you return for me in about forty minutes?"

  "You want to stand out here in the middle of nowhere on a cold night forforty minutes?" asked the uncomprehending driver.

  "I enjoy solitude."

  The cabbie shrugged his shoulders. "OK. I'll take a break for a cup ofcoffee and come back for you in forty minutes."

  The man passed the driver a fifty-dollar bill and stepped from the cab.

  He stood in the middle of the road beside the pole until the redtaillights of the cab faded in the distance. Then he stared at, aghostly building that seemed to materialize out of the night, itssilhouette becoming defined against the lights of the nation's capitalacross the Potomac River. Slowly, the building became physical andrecognizable as an old aircraft hangar with a rounded roof. At firstglance it appeared deserted. The surrounding land was covered withweeds, and the corrugated sides of the building wore a heavy coat ofrust. The windows were boarded over, and the huge doors that oncerolled open to admit aircraft for maintenance were welded closed.

  The man standing in the road was not alone, and the hangar was notabandoned. At least two dozen cars were neatly parked in rows among theweeds. As he watched, a Lincoln Town Car pulled up to the frontentrance door of the hangar, and an elegantly dressed woman exited thecar, her door held open by a valet parking attendant.

  As the man approached, he could hear the sound of voices mingled withlaughter and the music of a Dixieland jazz band blaring out "Waiting forthe Robert E. Lee." Before he made his way to the entrance,

  the man with the mane of gray hair and matching beard paused for amoment, listening to the wave of conversation from inside. Finally, hestepped through the doorway and handed his overcoat to a girl who gavehim his receipt. A doorman, dressed suavely in a tuxedo, came forward.

  "May I have your invitation, Sir?"

  The gray-haired man looked at him and said with quiet authority, "I donot require one."

  The doorman's face went blank for a moment, and then, as if realizinghis mistake, he said, "My apologies, Sir. Please enjoy the party."

  Then the intruder passed into a scene that he had envisioned in his minda hundred times and that could only be described in a novel.

  Row upon row of beautifully restored classic cars were positioned acrossa vast white epoxy-sealed floor.

  Their gleaming mirror like paint seemed to fluoresce under the brilliantoverhead lights mounted on the girders in the rounded roof. A Germanjet from World War II and an old 1930s Ford Trimotor passenger aircraftstood parked in the far corner of the hangar.

  Next to them sat an early-twentieth-century railroad Pullman car andwhat looked like a small sailboat put together by either a small childor a drunk. The man smiled as he examined a bathtub with an outboardmotor that sat on a small platform.

  Hanging from the girders and along the walls were antique metal signsadvertising gasoline brands, car manufacturers, and soft drinks, many ofthem no longer in existence.

  In another corner of the cavernous hangar an ornate iron circularstaircase wound up to an apartment above the main floor where the hostlived. The intruder did not make his way up the stairs. Not just yet.

  There was no curiosity. He already knew every square inch of theapartment in his mind.

  Tables arranged in the aisles between the cars were already filled withpeople conversing as' they drank California estate reserve wine orFrench champagne and dined on the gourmet delicacies from several buffettables stationed in a circle around an enormous ice sculpture of aMississippi steamboat that rose from a sea of blue ice with a mistswirling around its paddle wheels. The buffet table featured polishedsilver chafing dishes and iced platters kept filled with seafood ofevery variety by a small army of waiters and chefs.

  The body of the man hovering around the serving lines was nothing lessthan colossal. He did not look happy. He was dabbing sweat from hisbrow and neck as he admonished the maitre d' of Le Curcel, the Nfichefinthree-star restaurant he had hired to cater the party.

  "These oysters you sent over are the size of peanuts. They simply won'tdo."

  "I shall have them replaced within minutes," the maitre d' promisedbefore rushing away.

  "You are St. Julien Perlmutter." It was a statement, not a question,from the gray-haired man.

  "Yes, I am. May I be of service to you, sir?"

  "Not really, but I've always been envious of your lifestyle. Agourmand, a true connoisseur of the finer things, the nation's leadingmaritime history expert. It can safely be said that you're not a commonman."

  Perlmutter patted his ample stomach. "There are,however, a few disadvantages to loving good food and drink."

  "Speaking of food and drink, may I express my compliments on arrangingsuch an elaborate party?

  The food and wine selection and table settings are beyond compare."

  Perlmutter's face lit up. "I accept your gracious compliment, Mr. ..."

  But the stranger did not answer. He had already turned and bega
nwandering amid the party guests.

  Unnoticed and unrecognized, he made his way to the bar and waited inline behind a pair of lovely ladies who ordered two glasses of VeuveClicquot Ponsardin Brut champagne. One was tall, very tall, with blondhair that was almost yellow. She stared from a strong face with highcheekbones and through deep blue eyes. The other woman was smaller,with radiant red hair and gray eyes. She had an exotic quality abouther.

  "I beg your pardon," he said, looking at the redhead, "but you must beSummer Moran." He shifted his head slightly. "And you are MaeveFletcher."

  Both women instinctively looked at each other and then at the stranger.

  "Do we know you?" Maeve inquired.

  "Not in a physical sense, no."

  "But you recognize us," said Summer.

  "I guess you could say that I'm familiar with your existence."

  Maeve stared at him and smiled thinly. "Then you must know that Summerand I are dead."

  "Yes, I'm quite aware of that. You both died in the Pacific Ocean," hesaid slowly. "Ms. Moran in an underwater earthquake and Ms. Fletcherfrom theeruption of twin volcanoes. I regret things couldn't have worked outdifferently."

  "Could events have been altered for a happier ending?" asked Summer.

  "They might have."

  Maeve stared over her champagne glass at him.

  "This is eerie."

  Summer gave the man a calculating look. "Do you think Maeve and I mightever be resurrected?"

  "I rarely speculate on future events," answered the man. "But I'd haveto say the prospects are dim."

  "Then it's not likely we'll ever meet again."

  "No, I'm afraid not."

  He stood aside as the ladies excused themselves. He watched them movewith a feline poise as they made their way through the crowded hangarand thought it was a great pity that he was seeing them for the lasttime. He stared at Summer and began to have second thoughts.

  The bartender broke his reverie. "Your pleasure, sir?"

  "What brand of tequila are you pouring?"

  "Patron and Porfido."

  "Your host has excellent taste," said the stranger.

  "However, I would like a double Don Julio anejo on the rocks with limeand a salted run."

  The bartender looked at him thoughtfully. "Don Julio is Mr. Pitt'spersonal favorite. It's also his private stock. Very little of it isexported from Mexico."

  "He won't mind. You might say he drinks it because of me."

  The bartender shrugged and poured the tequila from a bottle hiddenbeneath the bar. The intruder thanked him and stepped to a nearby tablewhere several attractive women were seated engaged in girl talk.

  "I guess we should consider ourselves lucky," said Eva Rojas, a pretty,vibrant woman with red-gold hair.

  "Unlike Summer and Maeve, we survived to the end of our adventures."

  Jessie LeBaron, refined and lithe-bodied in her mid fifties, patted herlips with a napkin. "True, but except for Heidi Milligan and LorenSmith, the rest of us never reappeared."

  The exquisite Julia Lee, her Chinese features soft and delicate,recalled, "After Dirk and I returned from Mazatlan, Mexico, we both wentback to our respective jobs, and I never saw him again."

  "At least you enjoyed an exotic and romantic interlude with him," saidStacy Fox, brushing aside the blond strands of hair from her face. "Inmy case, he didn't even say good-bye."

  Hah Kamil, a lovely woman with classic Egyptian features, laughed.

  "Isn't this where somebody says it is better to have loved and lost DirkPitt than never to have loved him at all?"

  Lily Sharp, striking and svelte, and the captivating Dana Seagram satquietly, not speaking, their minds far away, Lily remembering when sheand Pitt found the treasures from the Alexandria Library in Texas, Danawhen she worked with him raising the Titanic.

  "It wouldn't be practical for Pitt to have married any of you," said thegray-haired man, breaking into the conversation.

  "Why do you say that?" asked Julia Lee as the women all turned andstared openly at the stranger.

  "Can you picture Al Giordino coming to your front door and asking ifPitt can come out and play? I'm afraid the scenario would not beacceptable."

  Then he smiled and abruptly walked away.

  "Who was that?" Dana Seagram asked no one in particular.

  "Beats me," replied Lily Sharp. "Nobody I've ever met before."

  The party crasher strolled over to a dark metallic blue 1936Pierce-Arrow sedan that was attached to a matching trailer. A group ofmen sat next to the trailer. The stranger peered inside at the linoleumfloor, the antique stove and icebox. He appeared to be studying thetrailer's interior but was in fact listening to the table conversationwith more than a passing interest.

  A tall, distinguished-looking man who spoke with a German accent pointedacross the table to a muscular bull of a man with a clean-shaven head."Foss Gly here was surely the worst of us all," said Bruno von Till.

  A wealthy-looking Chinese man shook his head in disagreement. "My votegoes to Min Koryo Bougainville. For a woman, she made the rest of usvillains look like milksops."

  Min Koryo, though frail and ancient, still had eyes that burned withevil. "Thank you, Qin Shang. But it cost me a horrible death. If yourecall, I was sent hurtling down the elevator shaft of the World TradeCenter from the hundredth floor."

  Arthur Dorsett, as ugly as any man created, grinned through yellowteeth. "Consider yourself lucky. After Pitt crushed my throat, he leftme to be consumed by molten lava."

  Foss Gly spread his huge hands expansively. "After beating me with abaseball bat, he jammed his finger in my eye socket clear through to mybrain."

  Tupac Amaru, the Peruvian terrorist, scoffed. "At 8 least he didn'tshoot off your genitals before killing you in total darkness deep in anunderwater cave."

  Yves Massarde, immaculately dressed in a white dinner jacket with ayellow rose in the lapel, stared vacantly into the bubbles rising in hischampagne glass and wondered aloud, "How could Pitt be even more brutaland vicious than the worst crew of villains ever created?"

  The gray-haired stranger leaned between Gly and Qin Shang and said, "Itwas easy."

  Before any of the men could say a word, he quickly resumed his coursethrough the partygoers, moving toward the far wall where an old railroadPullman car sat on a short section of track leading to nowhere.

  The gold lettering on the steel sides read MANHATAN LIMITED The lightsinside had been wired into the main junction box, and the opulentinterior was as brightly lit as when the car rolled over the tracksbetween New York and Quebec. Mannequins were artfully arranged in whatwas once called the parlor. At one table two men sat as if dining whilea porter in a white uniform stood and served.

  A distinguished, impeccably dressed man in his seventies sat in aVictorian velvet chair. Next to him on the couch was an attractivewoman half his age with ash-blond hair. She wore the uniform of a navalofficer, and despite the fact that she was sitting down, it was easy toimagine her standing at a height of six feet.

  "I'm sitting in the very same chair where Pitt bounced a bullet off myhead," said the elderly man with a British inflection.

  "Does he still call you Brian Shaw?" asked Heidi Milligan.

  "Yes, but I'm certain he saw right through me."

  "He never stopped suspecting you of being James Bond," said Heidi.

  The older man reached over, took Heidi's hand, and kissed it. "Thatwill forever be our little secret."

  The gray-haired intruder smiled to himself, then slipped away beforebeing noticed.

  Inside the old Ford Trimotor airplane, seated in an antique wickerbasket chair, a man dressed in Levi's with long blond hair tied in aponytail peered into the monitor of a laptop computer.

  "Surfing the Internet while a party's in high gear?" said the intruder."That's antisocial."

  Hiram Yaeger looked up at the stranger standing in the fuselageentrance. One of the overhead lights was above and to the rear of hisvisitor, and he squinted w
hile attempting to recognize the face of theman who spoke. The stranger was tall, nearly six feet, three inches,with a slight paunch brought about by age. His hair had grayed over theyears, as had the beard covering only his chin. His skin was tannedfrom the sun.

  He was probably in his middle sixties, Yaeger estimated, but he lookedyounger. The stranger wore a faint grin on his lips, but it was hiseyes that gripped Yaeger's attention. They were a mysterious bluegreenwith a light that twinkled from deep inside. The face was that of a manwho might have been a ship's captain in a past life, or a prospector,maybe even an explorer.

 
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