Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Mails.

George 'English' Robertson and Tommy Dunne had been holed up in The Eastern Fork Roadhouse for ten days and ten nights. English was on his way back to Fairbanks and Tommy was headed for Nenana. Both men were in the employ of the U.S. Mail Service, their dogs and their sleds kept the far flung reaches of the Northern territories in contact with the outside world.

Karl 'The Big Swede' Haglen had just burned the last deck of cards and was contemplating pouring the last six bottles of whiskey down the drain. Each of the two mushers had won and lost his sled, his dogs and, more importantly, his mail contract to the other several times. Presently, The Big Swede was in possession of both contracts, sleds and dog teams, by virtue of him been a better card player than either man and a sober one at that. Been a good businessman, The Big Swede would return these to both men when the thaw came and they could be on their way. They would, after all, need them if they were to continue carrying the mails. And without the mails there would be no need for a roadhouse.

The snow had stopped but the drifts reached the eves of the lower roof. The two dog teams remained outside, one on either side of the roadhouse lest they fight, curled up in the holes they dug in the snow. Huskies and Malamutes, hardy dogs, well suited to the extremes of cold. The Big Swede, as was custom in these parts, had extended credit to both English and Tommy Dunne enabling them to feed their teams the 2lb of dried salmon and 1/2 lb of tallow each dog required daily.  

The two mushers were awoken on the eleventh day by the sounds of their dogs  barking frantically. Quickly dressing both men ran out to tend to their respective charges. A droning sound filled the sky, the dogs circled and howled and circled some more. The noise grew louder and louder. English brought his bearskin mitten covered hand to his face to shield his eyes and scanned the skies and there, in the distance but getting closer and closer, he saw Ben Clarkson's Wasp Hamilton. The plane was following the dog trail.
'Tommy! Tommy, have you seen this?'
The plane flew low and Clarkson tipped his wings as he past over the roadhouse.
'Seen it English? Have I see it? There'll be no more Gee and Haw for me, Haglen, you can have my fucking dogs, I'm getting me into the Aviation business just as soon as I get back to Fairbanks!'


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