Our Zodiac rounded the end of a long gravel spit. I was relieved. I had not wanted to trudge through another interminable stretch of deep sucking stones. Not with our frail doctor in tow. The bay we entered was flat, round and large. The south end seemed to be the center of development. Above some scattered industrial plants, surrounded by the usual dockside junk of derricks and containers, stood an imposing Victorian building. White, with blue accents, it rose majestically over everything else visible on the island. As our speed slowed, I looked back at Don, perched across from Marlys, both sunk into the large rubber tubes of the Zodiac hull. His eyes flicked down to Marlys’ ankle, and back up to me. His recognition grew broader. I understood. The anklet was not an exact copy of the original. It was the original. Don had taken it from my drawer when he’d been in my cabin. I had been in the bathroom getting ready. So much for the vaunted privacy of everyone’s belongings, I groused.
My thoughts went even further. He could not have missed the gold nuggets, yet he’d said nothing. I wondered if the nuggets were still there. I breathed in and out deeply, trying to accommodate everything. The complexity of things occurring on and around the ship was almost too overwhelming to grasp. Everything was running together, then apart, then back together with a bizarre illogic. I, of course, now prepared myself to make believe I was a real doctor again. The sum total of my training consisted of working in Peace Corps clinics across the underdeveloped world. Mostly, I had worked for service. I would come in almost dead, get healed, stitched and medicated, then work off the ‘fee.’
I noticed the way in which light struck the Russian Orthodox Church. Russian Orthodoxy dominated all of the island religions. It had come with the whaling trade, which was now non-existent, except for a few native tribesmen who brought in a couple of Baleen’s every year. Native harvesting, they called it. People still came north from the lower states to protest even those few kills. If they stayed long enough and sailed the Bering at all, their misconceptions about a limited whale population went away.