An excerpt of Book 3: "Corky and the Alaskan Quake, An Alaskan Adventure Suspense Novel"
This is a work of fiction and the names and resemblances to persons, living or dead, or to any business, or aircraft numbers are entirely coincidental. I am solely responsible for the contents in this novel.
The geographical locations do exist. Copyright 2014 by William C. "Bill" Richardson. Cover images copyright 2014 by Bill Richardson.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. This book is also available as an e-book.
Second Edition: Jan. 2014 Printed in the United States of America ISBN: 978-0-9885311-8-5
Chapter 1 Lucinda Miranda
The White Puddle Café in Anchorage was famous throughout Alaska for their fine tasting hamburgers, milkshakes, and delicious French Fries that were made in their own kitchen. Inside the usually crowded small establishment were ten red vinyl covered tall stools lined up along the curved counter.
The large glass front windows let everyone on the sidewalk look into the small diner to check if a counter space was available.
And because of the rotating cushions on the stools anyone sitting at the counter could turn and watch the people on the sidewalk.
Set back along one wall and not readily visible from the street were three chrome trimmed tables covered with red and white-checkered cloths. Four metal chairs with red vinyl padded backrests and cushions that matched the front counter stools sat at each table.
As Corky opened the door to the White Puddle Café, the little tin doorbell loudly announced that it had been disturbed.
Mark, who was sitting at a back table with their friend Marian, heard the tinkling noise and thought maybe his special lady was coming in after calling her sister. As he looked towards the jangling bell, Corky was just entering the room so with a quick motion he was out of the chair and on the way to greet her.
"Hi, Sweetie! Everything okay with Cora?"
"Yes, and my sister wants both of you to get a big hug," Corky replied with a sparkle in her eyes as she reached for her boyfriend.
Now that several days had passed since their Super Cub crash, Mark's right shoulder wasn't stiff so that he gave Corky a tight loving embrace.
The two stood apart for a moment, and after a quick kiss Mark took her hand and caressed it gently as they walked to the table. Marian, their Iliamna native friend and business associate, was pretending to be reading a menu.
“Marian, I have a hug for you from Cora,” Corky offered.
“I always take hugs. How is Cora?” Marian asked as she stood up so the two could embrace, and then patted each other on the back before she sat back down.
“She’s doing real well and said to thank you for being so helpful in keeping our airplane charter business organized.”
With a graceful movement Mark used his right arm to pull a chair out for Corky to sit on.
"Thank you, Mr. Donnelly. I see your injured shoulder has improved," she remarked as she turned to Marian, and with a feigned tone of horror asked, "Did this man drink too much coffee?"
The brown-eyed lady raised her left eyebrow and with both eyes slightly closed looked directly at Corky, and as if she was telling a secret, slowly, and quietly, answered, "I'm not sure if it was the coffee, or the sudden itching he got a few minutes ago. He went to the gentleman's room mumbling something about, 'It's time for it to come off!' When he came back all I could see was a face full of Irish teeth and his arm swinging. He hasn't been the same since."
The three broke into a deep laughter that was as much from the moment’s humor as it provided a release from the happenings of the last two weeks or so.
"Well, we've a lot to talk about," Marian stated. "However, I think we should wait until after we're served our delicious home-made hamburgers. In fact, Judy's coming with them now."
"Hey, Corky! Can you believe that these two comedians wanted me to put hot sauce on your hamburger?" Judy teased as she carried three plates of hamburgers and fries: two on one arm and the third with the other, to their table.
"The milkshakes will be here in a moment. So Marian, here's your double-cheese with bacon and home-made fries; Corky your double-cheese and fries; and for our special friend Mark, a Mexican burger with jalapenos, habaneros, chili peppers, and hot sauce. Now the licorice milkshake that was made special for him should be able to cool down that burger. If not, there's a fire extinguisher by the front door," she added without so much as a grin while the food was placed on the red and white gingham covered table.
Mark wasn't sure how serious Judy was about his hamburger. She was known to give her many customers a lot of humor as well as good service. "Well I can take the heat, Mighty Food Deliverer!"
The three young ladies watched intently as Mark lifted the top of the homemade bun to see what it might be hiding. He started laughing when a face of melted cheese looked up at him. Half of a red onion ring was used for the mouth and sliced black olives created the two eyes that had small pieces of lettuce for eyebrows. The large nose was a v-shaped piece of yellow banana pepper.
The four friends were still chuckling as Judy added, "I haven't seen you folks for a while. As soon as I get the milkshakes bring me up to date on where you've been and whatcha been doing?"
"We'll hit some of the highlights as we're still figuring out what's happened to us," Corky replied.
"Oh, the mystery of your adventures is always so intriguing and fascinating. Hang on, I'll be right back," Judy remarked while heading to the kitchen area. In two minutes she returned with three tall glasses full to their brims with milkshakes.
"Okay, fill me in quickly and I'll leave you to your gossip. I'm going with my hubby on a moose hunt close to Cantwell early tomorrow. The night temp up there is already hitting below the freezing mark. We're going to try and spend a week and just enjoy the great outdoors, but this might be a real cold-weather hunt causing us to leave real soon after bagging a moose.
"You guys still flying those Cessna 206s and Super Cubs? We might need your services to go farther back into the woods," Judy stated more than asked as she sat down and joined them at their table.
"Yes!", the three fliers responded as one voice.
While Marian and Mark started eating their burgers Corky brought Judy somewhat up-to-date. "Well, about two weeks ago Mark and I flew on a sightseeing trip over to the Pacific Coast on the other side of Homer. We crashed unexpectedly and endured one of those windy Pacific weather fronts for a day or so."
"Thanks to Corky's positive attitude we made it out of there with minimal damage," Mark offered.
Corky just smiled and continued. "Shortly after that one of our best clients in Igiugig, Nels, passed away and left us all in shock.
"Marian had been scheduling our charters with him via her Iliamna home and I'd been delivering his shipments to the village without knowing that he had been a doctor, carver, and much more.
"He left me with an estate that the details are being worked out by his lawyer.
"Mark and I have combined our two charter businesses and we're getting busier and busier.
Also, a strange lady tried to bushwhack one of my planes without much success. She's under arrest and to add to all of that we've met a very nice man Sven, from Denmark, and enjoyed some super incredibly good smoked Pike from Alisha.
"That's a pretty good summary, I think," Corky finished with a smile.
"Makes me tired," Marian said quietly, before taking a sip of her strawberry milkshake.
"Just one adventure after another Judy," Mark added, knowing that Corky had just touched on a few highlights, without mentioning the gold mining claims, of what there life had been like for the last several days.
Judy shook her head, smiled and commented, "You people never have a dull moment.
"Well, I'm going to say good-by, grab my coat and head out the door to our hunting adventure.
"Oh, and Corky, that’s a pretty carving on your necklace! Anybody I know give that to you?" Judy asked as she smiled and tipped her head at Mark.
Corky immediately looked lovingly at him as she replied, "He bought this for me over at Oscar's Jewelry Store, that’s just across from the big bank. It turns out Nels carved it from a river agate."
"It's beautiful and congratulations to you two," Judy responded, and then turned to face Marian. "Please, my good friend. Be sure these two keep their feet on the ground. See ya'll later."
"As if I don't have enough to do. Have a successful hunt Judy," Marian responded as the trio waved good-by and started eating.
After a few minutes of delicious consumption Corky took a big sip of her rich chocolate shake and broke the silence with a quiet, but matter-of-fact statement.
"Well, my friends, I repeat that we have a lot to talk about. Maybe we should just hit the highlights and cover the details at another time. Before we start I want to be sure Marian that I don't keep you from being with your sister tonight."
The native lady nodded her head and replied, "I've been thinking about that. If you don't mind I'll stay at your folk's place instead so we can get an early start tomorrow. The temperature has been going down at night and getting real cold. The last time we were here there was some ice along the shores of Lake Hood and Spenard. No doubt there will be more of it tomorrow so we may be breaking it loose from around the floats. The main channel and the lakes won't be frozen yet though.
"I'd like us to stay together so you don't have to wonder when I'm going to show up."
"That's fine with me, Marian. You can always stay at the house. And let's check your house key to be sure it works properly. The lock was stiff, so maybe it needs some lubricant.
“Mark, do you still have your key?"
"Yep. Let's pick up some groceries on the way to the house and I’ll get a small tube of powdered graphite for the lock. Do you ladies want to talk more now or continue later?"
"Let's get started. Okay?" Corky asked.
Marian and Mark slowly nodded their heads in agreement.
"Okay. In the last few days, our friend Nels has died and left quite a legacy. He was a very private person living with a false name who not only was a very successful gold miner and agate carver," she stated while rotating the brown bear agate on her necklace between a thumb and finger. “And as he was a trained doctor, he kept giving generously of his medical know-how which has helped to keep the local native healing culture alive.
“And Nels aided many people without asking for anything in return with most of them not even knowing that he had been involved in improving their health. Until a few days ago only two or three people knew of his Danish background and that Sven, the Danish Consulate in Anchorage was his son, or that there were any other living relatives.
"He named me the executor of his estate as well as the beneficiary of much of his property that included a considerable amount of gold.
"Now that he bequeathed his mining claims to me I feel an awesome responsibility to be sure I keep them active. And most importantly for me is that all of this has brought Mark and I closer as more than just friends," Corky added and gave Mark's hand a tight loving squeeze.
"These events have reinforced my long and sincere friendship with you, Marian. You've been a staunch supporter and great friend. Thank you!"
Marian, in her typical native way, nodded her head and said nothing.
"I'm going to ramble and hit a few high and low spots and then we can sort out as much as we can: when we can. We’ll have a lot of changes and unknowns coming our way," Corky remarked as she started talking faster and faster. "And without trying to sound like some kind of director, we have to get our planes ready for winter....