The Boarding House

The Boarding House

The first time I told this story I was staying in a boarding house in Kodiak City in the winter when the darkness stretches far into mid-morning. The night’s rain had continued and a steady wind was pushing wet streaks across the window glass. In the alley outside the last remnant of snow was washing away from the broken glass and other winter trash and a steady rivulet of black, dirty water ran down the street. An early riser, walking in the dark, pushed his covered face into the weather. In a streetlight’s cone, a pair of ravens argued over some morsel until one held out her wings and let the wind pull her up into the darkness.

            Downstairs, in the kitchen, I could hear someone getting ready for work. There was no morning paper, the flights had not come in from the mainland all week. The smell of new coffee met me when I went down. My roommate Jeffery came in, exhausted from a long night of taxi driving. We exchanged critiques of the weather as he passed on his way to bed.

            The landlady was an old woman, and she told me stories of the old town when she was young. I learned about the wartime blackout and what changed after the tidal wave from the Good Friday earthquake. On this day, because she was wise and polite and that was a fishing town, I told her the story of the men from The Captain St. Peter. 

            “But you never had a chance to thank them?” she asked when I finished. It would have been a good thing to thank that crew, men like that are uncommon. This afternoon, when you and Jeffery go down to the Anchor for your game of pool, get a glass of whisky and toast them, the men from the Captain St. Peter. Remember them for your good.”

            Then it was afternoon and I had a few things to do in town before Jeffery got up. Excusing myself, I put on my rain gear and boots to walk out into the wind and rain and down into the day.