Power Blind

Power Blind by Steven Gore

Book: Power Blind by Steven Gore Read Free Book Online
Authors: Steven Gore
A student at Berkeley.”
    â€œLooks like nothing came easy in that family.”
    â€œThe kid used to haul himself up those huge fractionating towers hand over hand.”
    Gage understood the technology, so didn’t ask for an explanation. Crude oil was heated at the base of the tower and the rising product was separated out by boiling point and then siphoned off.
    â€œForearms like piston rods. He was trapped a couple of hundred feet up when the thing blew.” Skeeter put the bottle down on the bench beside him. “It was a chain reaction. A pressure release valve failed on the line carrying kerosene. It sprayed onto a generator they were using to run scrubbers to clean a drain. Set the thing off. The fire ran up the tower, then exploded. The diesel line blew. The gasoline line blew. A firestorm. None of the guys could get down. They were like marshmallows on a stick. It still makes me heartsick to think about it.”
    Skeeter lowered his head and rubbed his temples. His eyes were wet when he looked up.
    â€œIt was a tough case to lose . . .” Skeeter’s face hardened. “Except we didn’t lose it. It was stolen.”
    â€œWhat do you mean?”
    â€œWe . . .” Skeeter paused, as if finding himself halfway down a trail he had no idea why he was taking, and it was heading toward a cliff. “Why are you interested?”
    â€œI’m not sure about the why, but I can tell you the what. I’m trying to find out more about Brandon Meyer’s role in the case and I’m especially interested in Porzolkiewski’s father.”
    â€œInteresting guy. Sounds born in the USA, no accent at all, but underneath he was a starry-eyed immigrant. The American dream and all that, but the explosion turned it into a nightmare. I go by his shop whenever I have an appearance in federal court. Every time I walk in I’m surprised he’s still there. I thought he’d have blown his brains out by now.”
    â€œHe took it that hard?”
    â€œIt wasn’t the money. It was losing his wife and kid, and plain old corporate betrayal. The company hired a PR firm before the fire was even out, got a lot of mileage saying how they were going to help the families, how they’d get to the cause of the explosion, how everybody would be taken care of, scholarships for all their kids. They even had Porzolkiewski appear with them at a press conference, televised around the world. I guess they were trying to reassure the folks at their foreign drilling operations and refineries. At the same time, their insurance carrier is lying in wait to attack, setting up to blame one of the dead guys, a pipe fitter—”
    â€œTo make it a workers’ comp case so the company wouldn’t be liable and wouldn’t have to pay out.”
    â€œExactly.”
    â€œI imagine four dead guys would’ve been worth a lot of money once the jury got a peek at the autopsy photos.”
    â€œThat’s what we figured, too, but after we met Porzolkiewski and got a sense of him and his kid and what they’d been through, the case stopped being about money for us.”
    â€œWhat was Meyer’s part in it?”
    Skeeter tugged at the right shoulder of his sweatshirt, pulling it closer to his neck, then did the same with the other. Biceps and triceps pumped, skin tight.
    â€œCan’t say.”
    â€œYou mean you don’t know?”
    â€œI mean I have a trial starting in his court next week. I’m not even going to speak his name outside of the courtroom until the case is over.” Skeeter extended his open hands. “You know what happened the last time I appeared in front of him? I’ll tell you what happened. He screwed us all through trial and we lost. And we can’t appeal until this next trial is over because it means pointing the finger at him.”
    â€œFor what?”
    â€œYou know how he cuts off witnesses, then rephrases what

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