Around a bend a grizzly boar sleeping peacefully on a gravel bar woke with a snort and glared around nearsightedly.

From Bad Blood, the twentieth Kate Shugak novel:

It was a beautiful morning, clear and cool.  Mist smoked up from the surface of the water, broken temporarily by the bow of the skiff moving upriver, closing in again behind its stern.  Night, in summer only a suggestion of twilight between midnight and two a.m., gave way to an intensifying rim of gold on that part of the horizon stretching from the northeast all the way around to the southwest.  Uncle Pat’s outboard was so finely tuned and so diligently maintained that its muted purr was barely audible above the rush of water beneath the skiff’s hull. Eagles chittered from treetops. A moose cow and two leggy calves foraged for the tenderest shoots of willow on one bank.  Around a bend a grizzly boar sleeping peacefully on a gravel bar woke with a snort and glared around nearsightedly. He rolled to all four paws and gave himself a good shake, his thick golden pelt moving almost independently of the rich layer of fat beneath, and lumbered into the water to bat out a morning snack of red salmon.

Tyler noticed none of this. He hated working the fish wheel almost as much as he hated getting up before the crack of noon.  Working the fish wheel was way too wet and entailed way too much heavy lifting for a man clearly meant for a cushier life.  Uncle Pat was well able to tend to the fish wheel himself, eleven hundred years old or not.  Tyler had had plans for today, plans that involved Boris and a scheme that was going to make them both rich enough to escape the influence of old farts like Uncle Pat and Auntie Edna once and for all and set their feet on the path to riches and the high life.  Park Strip condos in Anchorage, fitting themselves out in Armani at Nordstrom, parties at the Bush Company, weekends in Vegas.  They’d be MVP Gold on Alaska Airlines before the year was out, and then everyone who’d ever showed Tyler Mack the back of their hand had better by god look out.  Tyler was on his way to the big time, and no one and nothing was going to get in his way. He’d already proved that once, and he was ready to do it again, any place, any time.

He imagined Uncle Pat coming to him for a loan for a new kicker or a new shotgun, and smiled to himself. Of course he would give him the money. Of course he would.  He only hoped the old man would stroke out trying to say thank you.


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