An excerpt of Book 2: "Corky and the Alaskan Oldtimer, An Alaskan Adventure Mystery by Bill Richardson
Copyright 2012 by William C. "Bill" Richardson Cover image copyright 2009 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 for most e-readers.
Third Edition: Feb. 2015 Printed in the United States of America ISBN: 978-0-9885311-7-8
Chapter 1 - The Recovery
“It’s another beautiful morning,” Corky thought, as she looked at the rugged Kenai Mountain tops from the Homer Hospital parking lot. The small white building had been built on a hill that provided not only a panoramic view of the coastal mountain range, but also of the four-and-a-half-mile-long, narrow strip of land, called the Homer Spit. The natural barrier jutted straight from the mainland into the deep waters of twenty-mile-long Kachemak Bay. “Those mountain peaks look like they’re covered with powdered sugar from the year’s first snowfall. I hope Mark has looked out his window to see this wonderful sunrise and view.” After a few moments she turned from the majestic scene and entered the Hospital’s Main Entrance.
Quietly, she walked into her friend’s room and saw that he was propped up with pillows and appeared to be asleep. For several minutes she just watched him and realized he had become more than a good friend. “Somehow, I’ve got to find out how he feels about me, but I guess I don’t need to be in a hurry about that. I do need to tease him, though, about those white bandages covering his right shoulder and the red mark on his forehead. They make him look like a cartoon character. Hopefully, those are the only plane crash injuries he’ll have to deal with.” Reaching over to him, Corky took hold of his hand. Instantly, Mark opened his eyes, smiled, and responded with a long gentle squeeze before softly saying, “Good morning, gorgeous.” Neither of them turned the other loose.
“Morning, Lazy Bones. Have you seen the beautiful sunrise?”
“Indirectly, as I’ve watched the colors change inside the room.”
Corky smiled back and asked, “You ready to start flying, my friend?”
“Absolutely, I’m ready to fly, but with this shoulder wrapped up I can’t flap both arms,” Mark responded with a grin.
”Well, you still have your humor, which is a good sign that at least part of your brain must be working okay,” she teased. “So, Mr. Donnelly, did you talk with the doctor this morning?”
“I did, and he said that this shoulder wrap could come off in a few days. With exercises, it should be in good shape, and he doesn’t think I have a concussion from hitting the instrument panel. The slight disorientation is temporary and should go away anytime; but if it doesn’t, we’ll deal with it then. Thanks to you, Miss Corcoran, I’m here. I owe you big time,” he stated and squeezed her hand again.
“No, you don’t. I’m just so glad we both made it,” Corky replied as she leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. Mark moved his cheek against hers and they were still enjoying the moment when a woman’s voice filled the room.
“Excuse me, oh mighty crash survivors.”
Corky immediately stood up, looked at the source of the voice, and smiled. After a quick squeeze of Mark’s hand, she turned it loose and headed for the lady. “Cora! Come in, come in,” she said excitedly and walked over to her sister.
After a warm hug, Cora held Corky at arm’s length and said, “Thanks for calling me last night, Corky. I’ve been so worried about both of you. I would have been here sooner, but the Nikolaevsk Road is a mess from the rain.” As Cora moved over and touched his arm, she asked, “Mark, my good friend, how are you doing?”
“Hi, Cora. Thanks for coming to see me. I’m doing fine and after my shoulder heals, I’ll be able to fly again.
“And how are you doing? Sorry we missed your birthday,” Mark replied in a rush of words.
“Well, a bad excuse would have been better than having to go through an airplane crash,” she stated with a smile. “And besides, your plane cost more than a birthday present, which I don’t need anyway. So my present is that you two are safe. My tall and handsome Russian husband said to tell that short non-Russian Irishman to get well.” Cora remarked.
Mark replied with, “Agus féadfaidh sé do biotáillí a bheith i gcónaí cinn maith!”
Corky and Cora looked surprised. “That was cool, but what was it?” Cora asked.
“A bit of Irish for something like: ‘And may your spirits always be good ones’.”
“I didn’t know you could speak Irish, me boy! Now, what can I do to help?”
Mark looked at Corky, and then spoke directly to her, “You and I haven’t talked about it yet, but I have three charter flights that need to be completed. Since I’m going to be laid up for awhile, I wonder if you could finish them. What do you think?”
“Of course I will, Mark. I was going to ask you about that today. I have a couple of charters of my own to fly in the next few days and I’ll just incorporate yours into the calendar. That gives us a day or two to figure out where you’re going to stay until you’re much improved. You won’t be chopping wood or driving for awhile until that shoulder heals. Well there’s plenty of room at my cabin, especially in the wood shed,” Corky teased, and then added, “I won’t be available to help you everyday while I’m doing the flying. Until the rest of our friends get back from fishing and hunting no one will be able to check on you at either place.”
“Well, I think the answer is simple enough,” Cora quickly responded. “You stay at my place in Nikolaevsk until you can get accommodations in Homer.” With a twinkle in her eyes she looked at Corky, and then at Mark.
“If that works for everybody, let’s do that. I’m grateful for the support,” he said.
“Then it’s a done deal. I’ll come into town everyday to check on you until you’re released. The road will be passable until the next rain, if it occurs again, before freeze-up. The temperature is forecast to be below freezing in a day or two, and that will definitely firm up the road,” Cora declared. “Is there anything I can get for you from your place, Mark?”
“How about getting me a change or two of clothes? The door is unlocked. And please take all the food that you can find in the fridge, okay?”
“Done. I’m outta here. I’ll see you tomorrow, Irishman,” Cora said as she leaned over and gave Mark a hug good-by.
“Thanks, Cora. I’ll give you a call tonight to let you know what Mark and I decide about the charters. Love ya,” Corky stated. As the two hugged, Cora whispered in her sister’s ear, “Nice catch.” Corky said nothing, but gave her sister an extra squeeze.
After her sister left, Corky moved a chair over to Mark’s bed and sat in it as he slowly moved his hand towards her. Without any hesitation, she reached for it and held it gently with both of hers.
“Let’s talk about your charter flights so I can call Marian to reschedule anything we need to change. And then you get as much rest as you can,” she directed. Marian was Corky and Mark’s friend and business associate who managed their two flying services and most of the paperwork.
Mark nodded and responded quietly, “Let’s start with the sheep hunter, Jim Peters who is from Ketchikan, is at Green Lake. He is a friendly man and a savvy hunter. However, the three sports fishermen, Alain, Bertrand and Claire, from France, who are at Lower Copper Lake, are arrogant and poorly equipped. The husband and wife team, Paul and Angela Coleman, at Tutna Lake, are international trophy hunters and well prepared for a remote adventure. Remember to charge your time and costs to me. If you want, you can use my 206 instead of yours. If you can find my Super Cub and get it repaired quickly, you’re welcome to use it,” he teased while smiling. “I kept my insurance paid up, so I need to check on filing a claim for that crashed plane real soon.”
“I’ll use my planes, and I’m not going to give you any numbers, Mark. You’d help me without any hesitation. The flights will be completed on time so don’t worry about them. I’m real glad you’re okay. Now relax and try to get as much rest as you can before Cora puts you to work.” Just before leaving the room, Corky gave Mark another kiss on the cheek, squeezed his hand, and left.
At the post office, she picked up her mail of two bills and two package slips and stepped to the postal counter for the boxes. Knowing that the postmistress didn’t like the call bell to be more than barely tapped, Corky tried to push the button gently. The mail lady had a reputation for being cranky when anyone hit the bell too hard, or hit it more than once. A few people made a point of coming and just pounding the bell to irritate the short, older lady. After a few long minutes and just before Corky started to tap the bell again, an older woman with thin blond hair ambled in from the small mailroom that was only a few feet away. The blue-eyed postal worker peered over the top of her gray thin-wired glasses and proceeded to rapidly fire off a series of questions about her typically incorrect understanding of local events.
“You moving around okay, Corky? I heard that you and that Donnelly fellow fell off a cliff and the plane landed on top of you. Is that true? How in the world did that happen? You don’t look injured. Were you injured? What were the two of you doing on that cliff anyway? Was he trying to hurt you?”
“Wow, rumors sure travel fast in this small town. And this lady loves being at a place where everyone comes and talks about everybody else. No matter what I try to clarify with her, she’ll tell people whatever strikes her mood at the time. Oh well.”
“Hi, Mrs. Miranda. I’m okay. We were on a sightseeing trip, the plane crashed, and we got out before it went over a cliff. Mark Donnelly is in the hospital for a short time with minor injuries. I’ve two packages to pick up, and how are you doing?”
“I’m fine, Corky. Be alert, young lady. Don’t be falling for a fellow wanting to take you on some kind of a joy ride. Humph! Those two packages are heavy. I’ll put them at the side door for you. Meet ya’ there,” Mrs. Miranda directed, as she took the two slips and slowly proceeded back to her huge world in the small mailroom.
At the side door, Corky lifted one package and had started walking to her dusty truck when Mrs. Miranda stated with a quiet, motherly tone. “Corky, there’s a newcomer in town, a lady pilot, named Ellen Pointer. She asked me what I knew about you. Well, of course, I’m proud of what you do, and I told her you were a successful pilot. Then she wanted to know where you fly to, how much you charge, and who you fly for. She sounded awful sneaky to me. I said those details are for Corky to talk about, not me, as I stay out of other people’s business. My, oh my, did she get upset when I said that. The woman started telling me I was supposed to inform her of what I knew as I worked for the government. On the way out, she slammed the door, then got in her truck, and drove out of here real fast. Look over there and you can see some of my white Shasta flowers are broken down, and the those pretty red leaves on the Cotoneasters got a beating from the gravel she spread at my flower beds. You be careful around her, my dear.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Miranda, for your concern. I’ve never met the woman, but I’ll be careful, and you take care of yourself, too. Okay?” Corky said, as she picked up the last box. Mrs. Miranda gave Corky a quick, barely visible smile and closed the package delivery door. “I wonder who this Ellen Pointer lady is. Why is she interested in me?”
Corky read the address on each package: “Rudy Chernoskvi, Care of Corky Corcoran” and knew from experience that Nels Nelsen, the Oldtimer, was the actual recipient. Nels had his packages delivered to Rudy in Igiugig instead of to himself. She slid the boxes a little further into the pickup bed so she could close the tailgate. Just as it closed, a dust cloud erupted off the bumper and flew by her face. “Once winter is here and the road dust settles down, this truck is getting a good wash. I’m sure there must be some color under all that dirt.”