“The things some people name their kids.  You’d think they wanted them to get beat up in kindergarten.”

From Though Not Dead, the eighteenth Kate Shugak novel:

“That was his middle name.”  Dan remained incredulous, and Kate said, “It was in his will and everything.”

“Jesus,” Dan said again, “the things some people name their kids.  You’d think they wanted them to get beat up in kindergarten.  Okay, Samuel Leviticus Dementieff, a single man, applied for — “ his voice changed, acquiring an edge “ — a hundred and sixty fucking acres of unimproved land in March of 1938.”  There was a corresponding file number, and after ten minutes of yanking open various file drawers, swearing and a paper cut that left a trail of bloody fingerprints from 1935 to 1939, they had the file open on the table and were standing side by side, staring down at it.

There were three documents, all handwritten in that spiked longhand with the sky-reaching P’s that dated its creator as having learned to write English in America sometime before Leonard Czolgosz shot President McKinley.  Each document was clearly marked “Copy” with a black stamp.  The first was the application itself, in two paragraphs, dated March 30, 1938.  The paper was yellowed with age and the ink had bled and faded but the words were perfectly legible.

“’I, Samuel Leviticus Dementieff,’” Kate read out loud, “’of the city of Cordova, Alaska Territory, do hereby apply to enter under the provisions of the Homestead Act of 1862 the one hundred sixty acres in the Quilak Mountain foothills located approximately eighty-five miles east of the village of Niniltna…’”  There followed latitude and longitude of the four corners of the property, with a note made thirty-six years later of the property tax number given the parcel by what was then the state of Alaska.


Chatter Kate Shugak Uncategorized

Dana View All →

Author and founder of Storyknife.org.

2 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Hi Dana, I love the book excerpts you post. Not only does each one bring me back to that story, but each seems to be glimpse into the passages that you are especially delighted to have written.

    Happy holidays, Amy

    Amy Karatz 773.281.4000 Sent from my iPhone


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