Morning for Sokroshera Chapter Fourteen

By Timothy Smith, 2020

Morning for Sokroshera Chapter 14

Tim’s novel of Russian America (Kodiak Island area)

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Thursday, March 19, 1964: The dive off east beach (to solve a mystery from the 1830’s)

Arnie pointed to Salem’s dripping bucket, in which were several nondescript items. Salem asked a deckhand to fill the borrowed plastic dishwashing tub full of salt water. Then he carefully began lifting out what they’d found, placing the items in separate corners and under the water. “This preserves them longer,” said Salem. “Out in the air, they’d disintegrate quickly, and in fresh water they might fall apart, too. They were in salt water, so we keep ’em in salt water until the science boys can get their hands on ’em.”

“So what you got?” asked Owen casually, barely containing his excitement. Arnie acknowledged the question with a curt nod, and spoke first. “This appears to be what’s left of a leather valise or shoulder bag, and it was found beside and slightly under the bones... er, the remains. Leather can last for years, depending on how it was tanned, and this appears to be old, handcrafted, thick leather, not the paper-thin stuff used for purses today.” Then he looked at Brother Toma and asked, “Do you know what this might be? I found it partly covered by the leather. It’s some kind of metal box.”

Brother Toma pulled a similar metal box out of his own robe, and was quiet for a long moment; Judson realized he was trying to get his emotions under control first. “These... are given to Monks, to carry relics and objects of their calling. Mine will have a special cross in it when I am formally tonsured—when I can be called Father.” The impact of Brother Toma’s explanation was not lost on the group; the divers had indeed found the effects of a Russian Orthodox Monk. Herman was squinting at every move the divers made, thinking so hard his head had to be hurting.

March 27 – Good Friday: A talk and transaction at the store, an early dinner, and…

Laura paused for a long, quiet moment, and Judson saw a bit of Barbara in her gaze. That would be impossible, thought Judson, since Laura and Barbara were not actually blood relatives—unless Barbara’s quiet, thoughtful ways had somehow rubbed off on Laura, or Laura’s ways had made Barbara blossom into herself. Judson, mimicking one of the gestures so often used by this wonderful person, placed his hand on her arm without a word. His supply of Ludens Honey Licorice Cough Drops was once again running low, so he grabbed a box. He also decided to buy one Uno Bar and a can of Shasta Cream Soda, and think about all of this on the walk home. He pushed his purchases across the counter, and Laura made change. It was a simple, ordinary, uncomplicated series of small events, but it was the last transaction ever to take place in the old cannery store.

That evening, the Hansen men had an early dinner of grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. Judson ate with an adolescent’s appetite, seemingly unhampered by the soda and candy bar already inside him. Judson told about his conversation with Laura, and when he compared her to Barbara, Jeffrey smiled and nodded. Apparently, he liked that about her. They had nearly finished eating when they heard a loud rumble, like a big plane overhead or a freight train going by. They both decided to step out onto the porch for a look, and suddenly the world began coming unglued. It was about 5:36 p.m., the moment in the lives of thousands of Alaskans that would forever mark the division between Before and After. They hadn’t reached the door before the increasing and insistent rumble explained itself. Earthquake!



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