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Authors: Dana Stabenow

Nothing gold can stay

BOOK: Nothing gold can stay
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Dana Stabenow

A DF Books NERDs Release

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the authors imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.


Book / published by arrangement with the author

All rights reserved.

Dana Stabenow

This book may not be reproduced in whole or part, by mimeograph or any other means, without permission. Making or distributing electronic copies of this book constitutes copyright infringement and could subject the infringer to criminal and civil liability.

For information address:

The Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Putnam Inc.,

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The Penguin Putnam Inc. World Wide Web site address is



Books first published by The Signet Publishing Group, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc.,

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

and the “
design are trademarks belonging to Penguin Putnam Inc.

Electronic edition: February 2002

Table of Contents























This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the authors Imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

The Penguin Putnam Inc. World Wide Web site address is

for Dawn
the perfect niece


As always, I have taken a high and free hand with the geography of Alaska. Some of the place names are right, but few of the names are in the right places. Storytellers privilege.

My thanks to Dennis Lopez, for teaching me the difference between boy trucks and girl trucks. My education is now complete.

My thanks to Mary Kallenberg, for so generously buying a Jayco popup for Liam.

My thanks to Jim Kemper, Worlds Greatest Meteorologist, for the storm.

As for Uuiliriq, his is a story I first heard from Mary Ann Chaney, who spent seven years of her childhood in Manokotak, a Yupik village forty miles west of Dillingham. Her parents, Van and Alice, were Bush teachers who believed strongly in the incorporation of the local culture into the curriculum. Whenever Van had to leave town on school business, he asked Yupik elder Simeon Bartman to take over his classes. Simeons method of teaching was to tell stories, a medley of Yupik history and legend. The students didnt know it then, but he was passing on an oral tradition that goes back centuries. So, my very special thanks to Simeon Bartman, whose memory casts a long shadow.


Newenham, September 1

A seven-foot Jayco popup camper perched unsteadily in the back of a Ford F250 truck is not the best of all possible beds for a six-foot-two-inch man. Even sleeping corner to corner, Liams feet still stuck over the edge. There was no toilet, no shower and no place to hang his clothes, in particular his uniform, which, to uphold the dignity of the Alaska State Troopers, maintain the authority of the judicial system and invoke the might and majesty of the law, should at least begin the day unwrinkled.

On the other hand, the Ford F250 was parked in the driveway of Wyanet Chouinard. He had free access to Wys kitchen, Wys laundry room and Wys bathroom. He had free access to Wy, when Tim wasnt home, as the door to Wys bedroom was six feet down the hall from Wys bathroom. Even if the bed in that bedroom was smaller than the one in the Jayco popup, Wy was in that bed, and he didnt really give a damn if his knees stuck out over one end of it and his head and shoulders the other.

Of course, Tim was home now, having returned from fish camp the day before to start school the day after Labor Day, so nights in Wys bed, comfortable or not, would be severely curtailed. Shed made that clear last night. “No hanky-panky with the boy in the house.

“Is it hanky-panky if were married?

“We arent married.

“Then lets get married.

“Not yet was all she would say. “Not yet.

He rolled over on his back and stared at the ceiling fourteen inches from his nose, thinking of her less than fifty feet away, waking up in her bed. She slept in T-shirts, no panties. Handy, as he woke up with an erection pretty much every morning. Hed certainly put it to good use during the last month.

Not this morning. He cursed his way out of bed, stamped his legs into sweats and let himself out of the camper. He stretched and examined the southeastern horizon, where most of Newenhams weather came from. Partly cloudy, looked like. He lowered his eyes and stood for a moment regarding the Ford F250. At least it was a boy truck.

“A boy truck? Wy had said.

“As opposed to a girl truck, Liam said.

“And a girl truck is?

“A smaller truck. Like a Ford Ranger, or a Dakota Sport.

She looked from the big brown truck to the little gray truck parked next to it. “Like my truck, do you mean? My trucks a girl truck?

“No, your trucks an old mans truck.


“Because its rusty and all the bumpers are dented and it needs a ring job and a front-end alignment and you have to hold the door on the canopy open with a bungee cord and add a quart of oil with every second or third gas tank, but it still runs. That makes it an old mans truck.

“Ah. So big trucks are boy trucks and little trucks are girl trucks, except for little trucks that need paint jobs, which are old mens trucks.

“Yes, he said. “Except for any truck of any size painted banana yellow.


“Or lipstick red.

“Uh-huh, she said.

“Then its a girl truck.


Except for the subject matter, it had been a repeat of one of those nothing and everything conversations they had so delighted in when they had first met, three years and a lifetime ago. In the interim, he had lost his wife and his son to a drunken driver, and very nearly his job as well, and she had acquired a new home, an air taxi and an adolescent son. They were still getting to know each other, feeling their way, on a direct heading, he hoped, for a permanent relationship, formalized by the local magistrate and vows, the whole nine yards.
Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, The last of life, for which the first was made.
Browning, not his favorite poet, but this time right on the mark.

The front door of the house was unlocked, and he padded down the hall.

Someone was already in the bathroom. He looked around and saw that Tims door was still closed. Employing the covert tactics taught him at the trooper academy in Sitka, he opened Tims door and saw the boy deeply asleep beneath a tangle of blankets, a book open on the floor next to his bed, noise coming from a set of headphones that had slipped from his ears.

He grinned and closed the door.

The bathroom door locked from the inside. “Tim? Wys voice came from behind the shower curtain.

Liam stepped out of his sweats and pulled the curtain to one side. Wy blinked at him through the water running down her face. “Liam!

He stepped into the tub and pulled her against him.

“You cant be in here!

He lifted her and kneed her legs apart.

“Tim is right down the

He kissed her and slipped inside her in the same moment.

“haaaaaall, she said. Her other leg came up to wrap around his waist. “Liam, she whispered.

“Wy, he whispered back.

“We shouldnt be doing this, she said weakly, and arched her back to take him all the way inside her. “Tim might wake up. He could come in, he might

He paused. “Want me to stop? He kissed her, the water running warm down his back. “Ill stop, he whispered.

“Noooooo, she said, and after that they didnt talk.

Liam and Wy were both late for work, and Wy was later because on a whim, she had reversed back into the driveway and run into the house to put on her gold hoop earrings. Liam had given her those hoops during a four-day trip to Anchorage three years before. The trip hadnt ended well and she hadnt worn them since. Today seemed like a good day to resurrect them. She was unaware of just how complacent the smile on her face was when she left home for the second time that morning, headed for Mad Trapper Memorial Airport and the headquarters for Nushagak Air Taxi Service, which business consisted of one Piper Super Cub, one Cessna 180, one small shack and Wy, owner and chief pilot.

Nushagak Air Taxi held the contract to deliver the U.S. mail north of Newenham, to settlements scattered along and to the west of the Nushagak River. Bristol Bay Air Freight held the contract for the east side of the river and for the communities south and west from Newenham to Togiak. Dagfinn Grant, the owner and operator of Bristol Bay Air Freight and Wys direct competitor, had been her nemesis ever since the United States Postal Service had decided to spread governmental largesse around and carved off a slice of Grants mail route to award to Wy. It was only ten villages, with mail service once a week year-round, but to Wys one-woman operation it meant the difference between paying attorney fees for Tims adoption or letting Tim be remanded to the custody of his mother, who had nearly killed him the last time he was in her care.

To Finn Grant, it meant war. When Wy was approached by potential passengers on a day that was booked solid, she directed them to Bristol Bay Air Freight. When Grant was approached by potential passengers on a day that was booked solid, they were told that there were no other air taxis in Newenham and that hed try to squeeze them in sometime later in the week. Grants pilots were forbidden, on pain of instant dismissal, to give Wy any information about weather or strip conditions anywhere in their mutual flying area, and Grants mechanic had been docked a days pay when he sold Wy an oil filter at cost.

Mechanics by nature being contrary, cantankerous and fiercely independent creatures, this one had told Grant to take his job and put it where the sun dont shine and marched across the primary Newenham runway beneath the nose of a taxiing Alaska Airlines 737, there to offer his services to Wy, at a discount. She couldnt afford to hire him on full-time, but she was grateful for the offer, and when he set up his own shop shed directed pilots his way. Troy Gillis had been servicing her Piper Super Cub and her Cessna 180 for a year now. The engines on both planes had never sounded better, and when a boat skipper with more malice than brains had ripped up the fabric of the wings on her Cub that spring, Troy had had them recovered in two weeks.

Of course, this was just something else for Finn Grant to hold against Wy. She kept sending him her overflow business in hopes that in time he would come to realize how ridiculous the feud was. He ran a single Otter and two Beavers. With her Super Cub, she could get into strips for which his aircraft were too big, and her Cessna hauled only a maximum of six people. Finn could haul twelve in the Otter alone.

BOOK: Nothing gold can stay
13.05Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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