The bartender.


She gave the bar a last swipe and stood back, admiring it’s gleam.  The tables in the booth and on the floor were spotless, the ketchup and mustard and A-1 bottles full, the salt and pepper shakers topped off.  She had enough clean cutlery and dishes to feed an army.

It had been a rocky start, all those years ago.  She had gotten on one plane after another until she had run out of cash.  The bar had had a help wanted sign in the window, and she went to work that night.  Two years later it was hers, along with a big, fat mortgage she’d paid off early.  Newenham had been a boom town in those days, boats so thick on the water you could walk across the Bay and never get your feet wet.  Hundreds of boats and billions of fish and no end of buyers from Japan, a country hungry for fresh fish.  And in her bar hundreds of fishermen, ready to step up with a fistful of twenties and ring the bell behind the bar.  Those had been some wild and very profitable years. 

Now there were fish farms from Scotland to British Columbia to Chile, and the North Pacific was being systematically fished out by processors with nets a mile, two miles long, ripping up the bottom of the ocean and every living thing with it, regardless of size or sex.  The king crab had been the first casualty, then the herring, then the salmon.  Now the fishermen were fighting over rights to fish the pollock, whose own population was already so low the Steller sea lion herds that fed on them were starving themselves out of existence.  The fishermen’s associations vowed and declared that the pollock population had nothing to do with the sea lions, but hell, it was perfectly clear to anybody whose livelihood wasn’t on the line.

Excerpt from Better to Rest, the fourth Liam Campbell novel.

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