Mortal Stakes

Mortal Stakes

By Robert B.Parker (1975)

Spenser gets hired on a private tour of duty by the Red Sox GM to check up on his star baseball  pitcher, Marty Rabb, of whom he’s heard whisperings that Rabb might be blowing an inning or a whole game, here and there. Bets are usually made on the games, and such doings can lead to certain odds in a game, thus some people may be able to benefit substantially from betting of the baseball games.

Marty Rabb married a woman who was a prostitute and got to know her when he is her customer. Linda Rabb the wife had even done an erotic film in her youth. One of the telecasters Maynard working for the team tried to blackmail Marty and Linda Rabb together with the Frank Doerr as the mob. The blackmail item was an erotic film that Linda Rabb had done when she was in her youth.

Nobody likes a loudmouth such as Maynard. Spenser asked one of the baseball guys, and he said that Maynard is nasty. If he hears any gossip, he spreads it. Other members in the team do not dare to offend him, but they certainly do not like him. So next time if you see a loudmouth, and who is not well liked, everyone scared of him, this is the type of person who is likely to blackmail or threaten others. If he owns money or gambling debts to the mob boss, it is even more likely for such a person to blackmail.

I think Spenser is very kind in this story to help out the Rabb. He even offered his services to help Linda Rabb for only a dollar. He even teaches Linda Rabb to be open with her past, so that the couple will no longer be threatened by Maynard.  

“If I make a public statement about the way I used to be, we’ll be free of Maynard, won’t we?”
“I think so,” I said. “He can still allege that Marty threw some games, but that implicates him too and he goes down the tube with you. I don’t think he will. He gets nothing out of it. No money, nothing. And his career is shot as bad as Marty’s.”

She kept her face buried in the coffee cup.
“I can’t think of another way,” I said.
She lifted her face and looked at me and said, ” Could you kill him?” I said, “No.”
She nodded without expression, ” What would be the best way to confess?”

“I will find you a reporter and you tell the story any way you wish, but leave out the blackmail. That way there’s no press conferences, photographers, whatever. After he publishes the story, you refer all inquries to me.

I guess with blackmail, sometimes it is easier and simpler to cut off all the stress by being very open about things. Everybody is vulnerable, nobody is a saint. But when you confess and you pull it out into the open, people can’t blackmail you in the dark.

I like the ending of the story in which Spenser hit Lester hard who is sort of Maynard’s bodyguard. And he theatened Maynard and his bodyguard not to ever come and harass the family again. I really like it the way Spenser handled the case at the ending. It is cool.

Spenser was talking to Susan about his system or code of conduct. “Two moral imperatives in your system are never to allow innocents to be victimized and never to kill people except involuntarily. Perhaps the words aren’t quite the right ones, but that’s the idea, isn’t it?” I nodded.
“And,” she said ,” this time you couldn’t obey both those imperatives. You had to violate one.”
I nodded again.

 Spenser violated one of his code of conduct in order to save the poor woman Linda Rabb and her family. It was a sense of conflict to him that he expressed to Susan. I guess in life sometimes there are times we may be forced to make a decision which violate our code of conduct, and when one compromised on it, one will never have the same sense of self he had before.


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