[from “Missing, Presumed…” a Liam Campbell short story]
ELI SYLVESTER HORRELL, fisher , husband, father, went overboard halfway between Dutch Harbor and the Pribilof Islands. Weather conditions that day in January included fifteen-knot winds and twelve-foot swells. The crew of the JERI A. had seen Horrell go in. In spite of an intensive search by the United States Coast Guard, the JERI A. , and three other crabbers, his body had not been recovered.
Now it was June. Horrell’s widow, two sons and one daughter were seated in the front row. The widow, daughter and youngest son were weeping. The oldest son stared at nothing, white-faced and without expression.
Magistrate Linda Louise Billington, known to friends, defendants and bar patrons as Bill, was new to the state, new to the town of Newenham, and new to her job. The hearing had come less than six months into her first term of office. It was a balmy spring day, sixty-three degrees with sunny skies and a light breeze. The last of the snow had melted, the last of the mud had dried and the birch and the diamond willow and the alder all showed tiny leaves of a bright, vivid green. She wanted to be outside, catching her first monster king salmon, or climbing her first Alaskan mountain, or taking her first ride in a float plane with a real Bush pilot, or even slapping away her first horde of the infamous Alaskan mosquitoes. She looked around the cramped, windowless courtroom lodged in a forgotten corner of the prefabricated building that served as the seat of the third judicial district of the state of Alaska, and thought, How I Spent My Summer Vacation.
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