Chapter 9 Summary
Chapter 9 begins with Hazel and Doc's return from their collecting trip in the Great Tide Pool at the tip of the Peninsula. Mack and the boys watch from their perches at the Palace Flophouse as Hazel unloads the sacks of starfish from Doc's truck and carries them into the laboratory. They continue to watch as Hazel, jeans still wet in places and salt crusting in others where they were drying, makes his way up the hill and home.
Mack, trying to sound out Doc's state of mind in order to gauge the timing of implementing his plan, inquires about Doc's mood. Hazel says he is happy because they caught the number of starfish required to fulfill Doc's order. This is welcome news to Mack, who, after some mulling, decides it will be best for him to go to Western Biological alone. He has to see to it that Doc agrees to let him and the boys go on a frog collecting expedition so that they are able to pay for the party.
Instinct and experience have taught Doc to be wary whenever Mac comes to the door. Mac chatters nervously and Doc waits patiently for Mac to finally spit out what he has come to ask. Finally, Mac asks if Doc has any collecting needs, as he and his crew need to make a little money. Doc mulls it over and agrees that he does need several hundred frogs and will pay five cents apiece for them. Mack is delighted and promises to find all Doc needs and more.
Mack's excitement is stymied, however, when he realizes that he and the boys have no way to get to the collecting pool. He asks if they can borrow Doc's truck but Doc declines; he is using it for a trip to La Jolla. Both men are disappointed; Mack needs the money and Doc truly does need the frogs. It occurs to Mack that he might be able to borrow Lee Chong's old truck.
Mack thinks of another problem: he has no money for gas. He asks Doc to front him three dollars but Doc has been burned before. Instead of handing Mack the money, he instead agrees to pre-pay for ten dollars worth of fuel at the gas station.
Trudging over to Lee's, Mack meets with another snag. Lee's truck is broken down. Mack asks the grocer if his boy Gay can fix it, would Lee let them then use it? Lee Chong agrees, seeing as how a broken down vehicle was not doing him any good anyway. Never content until he knows just how far he can push things, Mack asks for a pint of whiskey on credit. Unsurprisingly, Lee refuses.