[ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]
.These two rumors had given rise to a third, thatsubsistence as well as commercial fishermen were arming for Armageddon,so that the fish hawks in the area were prudently avoiding any lowflyovers.Conversation inevitably came around to the morning's bear attack."Guywas lucky," Bobby said."Bear could have taken him out, too.You figurehe ran?""Wouldn't you?" Kate shot a glance across the table at Mr.and Mrs.Baker.Food, drink and the accumulated events of the day had renderedthem oblivious.They sat unheeding, shoulders slumped, eyelids athalf-mast, dozing with their heads propped in their hands.117 "Weird situation," Bobby said, ignoring the Bakers' potentiallydelicate sensibilities."Why weird?""Why didn't they have a gun? It's spring, for crissake, the bears areup, everybody knows that."Kate licked her fork and put it down."Bobby, how often have we had thisconversation? Every time some transcendentalist type reads too muchRousseau and hikes out into the wilderness to become the neo-noblesavage and starves to death, you get up in arms.Carol Stewart was inthe wrong place at the wrong time.It isn't a pleasant way to die,certainly.But it isn't all that uncommon, either.There are a lot ofbears in Alaska, and occasionally one eats somebody, usually somebodywho has broken the rules of human-ursine cohabitation.And therefore,"she added, "somebody whose loss can only benefit the gene pool.Peopleare dumb, is all, even the experienced ones.Maybe especially theexperienced ones." The memory of her own close encounter by the creekthe day before lent an extra fervor to her words, and made Bobby giveher a curious look."What was it somebody said, you can't go brokeunderestimating the intelligence of the American people?""Human-ursine cohabitation?" Bobby said."So I have a vocabulary," Kate said."Sue me."After dinner Chick pretended an injury to the four-wheeler that neededimmediate attention requiring assistance and dragged Mandy outside.Since Mr.and Mrs.Baker had passed out end to end on the long couch,oblivious of any future malign influence Kate might exert, she went.Bobby kicked back in front of his ham radio, shooting the breeze withKing Hussein of Jordan, a regular correspondent and another avid ham.He looked sublimely at home, and he should have, because he'd built thehouse to order when he came into the Park the same year as Dan O'Brian.It was one big square room without any dividing walls or doors, exceptto the bathroom, and no rugs, to accommodate his chair.The center wastaken up by a pillar of electronic equipment reaching high into thepeaked roof.A table buried in118 more electronic equipment encircled the pillar, from which Bobbytalked to ham radio operators from all over the globe, took Park weatherreadings for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration andbroadcast his pirate radio station whenever he was in the mood.The restof the house was arranged around the pillar; a king-size bed in thenorthwest corner, the kitchen in the northeast corner, the bathroombetween.The living area of the house took up the south side east towest, a sprawling expanse featuring two armchairs and a ten-foot couchplaced strategically in front of a huge stone fireplace flanked bytriple-glazed picture windows framing a picture-postcard view, SquawCandy Creek in the foreground and the Quilak Mountains in the background.As Kate and Dinah were clearing the table, a third voice interruptedBobby's conversation with the ruler of the sovereign state of Jordan.Bobby listened, replied and said, "Gotta go, King, I got visitors.Beennice talking to you."King Hussein's deep, precise voice gave a courteous signoff.Theinterrupt was KL7CC in Anchorage, with a telephone patch from JackMorgan."Well, hey, Jack.How are you?"In Anchorage, Jack leaned back and propped his feet on a thick pile ofcase files, a broad grin spreading across his face.Bobby's voicewouldn't have sounded like that if Kate had been hurt."Well, hey,Bobby, how you doing?""I'm fine, but Kate's looking a little flattened around the edges."There was a brief, startled silence and Bobby said quickly, "Justkidding, Jack.I guess you heard about the jet engine falling on herhomestead?"The relief in Jack's voice was palpable."Bill did, on the radio fiveminutes ago.I've been stuck in the office all day, I didn't knowanything about it." A note of humor crept into the deep drawl."Theysaid which park and they said the homestead belonged to someone namedShaktoolik, so I figured it could only be Kate.You sure she's okay?""Absolutely, but I'll let her tell you that herself."119 "Hey, Jack," said Kate, who had drifted irresistibly into range ofthe mike."I'm okay.""I'm awful goddam glad to hear it, Shaktoolik.Bill says they're sayingthat engine weighed about eight thousand pounds.""It used to.It weighs about ten pounds now.Per piece."A chuckle."So Chicken Little was right.Mutt okay? The homestead?"In Niniltna, Kate, well aware of listening ears tuned in from Chickaloonto Chistochina, replied, "Mutt's fine, the homestead's fine and otherthan being sick of hearing about Chicken Little, I am too.""I'd like to see that for myself.""Strap on the Cessna and come ahead on up.""Soon's I get the chance, I'll take you up on that invitation."The sooner the better, they both thought."So," Kate said lamely."What have you been up to lately?""Oh, we got us a doozy this morning.Drunk stabs a buddy to death and hefeel so bad about it he tries to hang himself from the Captain Cookstatue at Resurrection Park, but the knot comes undone.He falls downthe hill through a bunch of devil's club and winds up in the mudflats."A slow smile spread across Kate's face."I like it so far.""It gets better.He decides since he can't hang himself he might as wellgo to work-he's a burger flipper at some fast-food restaurant-so heclimbs up the bank and walks down the middle of Fourth Avenue, coveredwith mud and devil's club stickers and the dead man's blood and, getthis, with the noose still hanging around his neck [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]