Read A deeper sleep Online

Authors: Dana Stabenow

Tags: #Mystery And Suspense Fiction, #General, #Mystery fiction, #Suspense, #Fiction, #Political, #Thriller, #Detective, #Mystery, #Mystery & Detective, #Fiction - Mystery, #Crime & Thriller, #Adventure, #Mystery & Detective - Women Sleuths, #Women Sleuths, #Alaska, #Shugak; Kate (Fictitious character), #Women private investigators - Alaska, #19th century fiction, #Suspense & Thriller, #Indians of North America - Alaska

A deeper sleep (10 page)

BOOK: A deeper sleep
6.68Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

 

shysterguy: It may come to that. These folks seem ready to call out the National Guard.

 

"You miserable little shit," Kate said out loud. "What'd I do?" Bobby said, injured.

 

"She means the other miserable little shit," Dinah said serenely, and went to the kitchen to open cans of salmon for sandwiches.

 

parkdick:
     
You want me to be your process server.

 

shysterguy: Did I mention the National Guard? We were thinking—

 

parkdick:
     
WE were thinking?

 

shysterguy: Okay, I, I was thinking. I was especially thinking when the Park Service started mobilizing for Iwo Jima here. If some mild-mannered, inoffensive little Park rat—

 

Kate snorted.

 

shysterguy: —I heard that—

 

"Sure you did," Kate said, toying with the mouse, running the cursor over the sign-out option on the drop-down menu in a suggestive manner.

 

shysterguy: —I was thinking that if some rational person who knows everyone involved would go talk to these people and try to get them to back off before somebody brings out the assault weapons, it would be a good thing for all concerned.

 

Kate thought about it.

 

shysterguy: Kate? You still there?

 

parkdick:
      
How much are you paying me?

 

shysterguy: The general thinking seems to be whatever you want to get the feds off our backs.

 

parkdick:
      
Lots. It'll be lots.

 

shysterguy: Attagirl. I'll fast-track the court order and fly it in on George first available. And Kate?

 

parkdick:
     
What?

 

shysterguy: You never heard me say this (you especially never heard me say this anywhere near Ranger Dan) but tell the Smiths to get themselves a smart lawyer. I've seen the paperwork the Park Service used to get this writ and it's totally based on technicalities. The current administration is coming down heavy on the side of the rights of the property owner, not to mention easier public access to parks and wildlife refuges in the public domain. Most Alaskan judges are already there, and it's a toss-up which Alaskan juries hate more, technicalities or the federal government. Barring an appeal to the 9th District, the Smiths will get a friendly hearing.

 

Brendan signed off.

 

"Yeah," Kate said, pushing back from the console, "but will you love me tomorrow?"

 

Sec. 11.41.100. Murder in the First Degree

 

(a) A person commits the crime of murder in the first degree if

 

(1) with intent to cause the death of another person, the person .. .

 

(B) compels or induces any person to commit suicide through duress or deception .. .

 

—Alaska statutes

 

She wasn't a weakling—she used to help her dad pull gear at the setnet site, and she could tote potatoes out of her mom's garden a bushel at a time—but the truck was so big, and she was so tired.

 

She paused to mop her face on her shirtsleeve. She cast a furtive glance over her shoulder at the house, scanning the windows overlooking the yard, worried that he would see her. Fear bent her over the jack handle again, working it up and down. The barely healed bone in her right arm ached with the motion, and she shifted her stance, but that just made the bruises on her back hurt. She shifted her stance a third time, so that she stood halfway under the enormous wheel well of the truck.

 

It wasn't a very good jack, and she'd get it up so far and it would slide down. Her movements became more frantic because time was running out and she knew he was coming, because he was always coming, and he wouldn't be pleased that she hadn't finished changing the tire. She knew by then that there was nothing he wouldn't do when he was displeased, from forcing her to have sex right there on the ground to locking her overnight in the wood-shed. She was still cold from the last time. November was a harsh month to be out all night in nothing but a T-shirt and jeans and moccasins.

 

Maybe he would only beat her. It was the best she could hope for. And she healed up pretty fast so that no one knew.

 

She didn't want anyone to know, ever.

 

The tears were running down her face by the time she got the tire off. It weighed more than she did, and she had to let it fall. It rolled down the icy driveway to thump into the porch and fall over.

 

The door to the house opened, and she jerked in a panic, bumping into the jack. It wobbled. The truck leaned over on its unsupported side. She looked up and saw the wheel well coming down.

 

She had plenty of time to dodge out of the way.

 

She didn't.

 

FOUR

 

With what any Park rat would have considered true heroism, Kate tackled what she considered to be the most hazardous segment of Brendan's assignment first. Heroism notwithstanding, she took Mutt with her as insurance.

 

Her battered red pickup poked a cautious nose up over the edge of the Step and halted, engine idling, clutch thrown out, ready for a quick getaway. Kate poked an even more cautious nose up over the edge of the dashboard to peer through the windshield at the Park Service buildings clustered together at the side of an airstrip of snow so hard-packed it looked like an elongated hockey rink. The view was slightly altered by the canyon-sized crack that ran from side to side on her windshield, courtesy of a rock kicked up by Martin Shugak's truck when he passed her on the road into town last fall. She was going to have to speak to Martin about getting mud guards for his rear wheels.

 

Smoke was rising from the chimneys of the office buildings, mess hall, and bunkhouses. Neat paths had been cut through the snow, deeper here at two thousand feet than in Niniltna two miles down the valley.

 

At first viewing, no one had yet dug revetments for machine gun emplacements. Kate put the truck into gear and rolled discreetly up onto the small plateau that divided Park flatlander from Park mountain goat.

 

The light was on in Dan's office. She backed into a parking space, left the keys in the ignition with the engine idling, and went in.

 

He was hunched over his desk, scowling ferociously at a pile of paperwork, a man with orange-red hair the consistency of steel wool and bright blue eyes which on most days held a latent twinkle that invited everyone to laugh along with him at pretty much everything life had to offer. Kate opened her mouth to say hello, and his phone rang. Without looking up he reached over, picked up the receiver, and let it fall back in the cradle.

 

Kate closed her mouth again and gave some thought to a strategic retreat.

 

Mutt, suffering no such self-doubt, shouldered her way past Kate and bounded into the room and up on Dan's desk, scattering paper in every direction.

 

"What the—"

 

Mutt pounced, pushing him back in his chair with her front paws and giving him a tongue bath that would have wrung Bobby Clark's heart with envy.

 

"Jesus!" Dan said, trying and failing to twist out of reach. "Call her off before I drown, Kate!"

 

Mutt dropped back to all fours, scattering more paper, and grinned down at him.

 

He was not noticeably charmed. "Off!" he said, pointing at the floor. "Off the desk, right now!"

 

Before he could duck out of the way, she licked him again and then bounced off the desk, more paper flying, and headed for the mess hall where she knew there would be something edible and someone to either beguile or terrify into handing it over.

 

In a situation like this, Dan O'Brien could be relied upon to laugh loud and long. He opted this morning instead to curse, loud and long, while he picked up after Mutt. "Can't you control that fucking dog any better than that, Shugak?"

 

Kate said nothing.

 

Dan looked up at the extended silence, and he had the grace to look a little ashamed. It made him mad all over again. "What do you want, anyway?" He stood up suddenly, a sheaf of papers in one hand. "Oh. Oh, yeah, now I get the call I got this morning. You're here about those goddamn squatters, the Smiths, aren't you? Aren't you?"

 

"Yes," Kate said.

 

The mildness of her tone was a clear warning, but today it was like waving a red flag in front of an already enraged bull. "Jesus, Kate, do you know anything about these—these people?"

 

"No," she said. She sat down and smiled up at him. "Why don't you tell me."

 

He tossed the bundle of papers on his desk with no regard for in what order they landed and strode to the wall to pull down a map of the Park. Niniltna, Ahtna, and Cordova were small red urban enclaves in a huge sea of green, spotted with blue parcels indicating Native land, much of which followed the course of the Kanuyaq River and the coastline of Prince William Sound. Widely scattered and very tiny yellow polka dots indicated the less than 10 percent of the Park that was privately owned. There were a very few, very small, and very scattered brown parcels indicating areas of natural resources for which the Parks Department had with a show of great reluctance granted various exploration companies permission to look for natural resources, mostly timber, coal, and oil. Word was that someone had won a bid to explore for gold on a privately owned creek very near the land the Smiths had bought. She wondered how eager the Smiths would be to build when they heard a gold dredge would be starting up next door.

 

Dan stabbed a green portion north-northwest of Niniltna with an accusatory forefinger. "They rented a goddamn bulldozer from that well-known tree hugger, Mac Devlin—who has been laughing it up all over the goddamn Park ever since—and cleared four miles'—four fucking miles!—worth of road through a previously pristine section of a federally created, publicly funded national park. In the process they knocked down a section of spruce trees wasn't one of which was less than a hundred years old and crossed Salmon Creek a dozen times or more. I don't have to remind you that Salmon Creek is one of the main tributaries of that area, do I? Or that it's prime spawning ground for Kanuyaq River reds?"

 

"No," Kate said.

 

"Or that it's so healthy, the beaver population has finally come back enough that it's harvestable?" He flung himself into his chair, which rolled backward to crash into the wall. "I got notice of the sale, Kate, and I did my by-God duty, I hired a surveyor—at public expense—to run tape and set markers to show the new owners exactly and precisely where the boundaries of their land were. And they go and start building their goddamn house right on the western property line! They've got forty fucking acres, for crissake! They don't need to be hanging the ass end of their fucking cabin into the Park!"

 

He held up one hand and began to tick items off on his fingers. "I wrote to them when they first got here, and they refused any mail with a Park Service return address on it." Tick. "They could have filed a request for legal access with the service. They didn't bother, they just Catted right on through." Tick. "They've got an airstrip they won't use because none of them's a pilot and they say George is too expensive." Tick.

 

He clenched his hands and glared at Kate. "I won't be calmed down here, Kate."

 

"Okay," Kate said.

 

"I won't be soothed, placated, or mollified."

 

"Understood."

 

"I want to bust heads, is what I want to do, but I won't, because the federal government pays me not to."

 

"Good."

 

"But I'm pissed off and I see no reason not to be!"

 

"Me, either," she said devoutly.

 

"After they got done with their road, they started blading trails for their goddamn four-wheelers and their fucking snow machines! Jesus! There's such a thing as the public interest, Kate!"

 

"You betcha."

BOOK: A deeper sleep
6.68Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Murder Close to Home by Elizabeth Holly
The World's Largest Man by Harrison Scott Key
Rogue Soldier by Dana Marton
Broken by Christina Leigh Pritchard
The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King
Grasshopper Glitch by Ali Sparkes
Wicked! by Jilly Cooper
Hard Girls by Martina Cole
Earning Yancy by C. C. Wood