Read Atime in heaven Online

Authors: Warcup, Kathy

Atime in heaven

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8

A TIME IN HEAVEN

INTRODUCTION

Katie Warner was an upper elementary teacher at a private school in western Pennsylvania.  She had taught science there for years.She enjoyed teachinglife science and physical science, but her favorite classto teachwas environmental science.The outdoors held a special place in her heart and she expressed this love in how she taught all ofher classes. Her love of nature was not only expressed in the content of her lessons but alsoin the picturesof wolves, and eagles, andgrizzlybearsthat decoratedher classroom walls.Some of her students affectionately called her Mother Nature.

The students in Katie’s classes this past yearhad beenanexceptionalgroup. They were smart and so curious about the world around them.She had enjoyed every minute she spentteaching them.By the end of the year,Katie knew that her students haddeveloped an appreciation and anew respect for their environment.But the group coming to her next fall was a different story. They were going to proveto bea challenge.The faculty at the school had labeled them“theclass from hell’ from the time they were in kindergarten. When school was over in May, Katie decided to take a vacation in August justtooemotionally prepare for the coming year.

Thiswasn’t going to be just any vacation. Thetripshe had planned forthis summer was going to be a great adventure.  Katie was going to Alaska. She had been on cruises to Alaska before, but this time she was staying at a wilderness fishing camp called Heaven.  The camp was located on an islandalong the western coast of Alaska.  She would take a jet plane to Seattle.  There, she would catch a floatplane to the fishing camp located far from roads and phones.  It made her smile every time she thought of being in the wildernessby herself.  Well, not quite by herself, she was taking her two year old Labrador retriever with her.  Sadie had become Katie’s best friend and they shared everything.  Leaving her every morning to go to work was so hard for both Katie and Sadie, but now they would spend two weeks exploring the Alaskan wilderness together.

Jesse Danvers had been on the top of the music charts.  He had been on numeroustelevisionshows and even in a major motion picture.His concertsaround the worldhad always been sold out.Nature andthewildnesshad always been his passionand it was reflected in his music. His celebrity allowed him to beon the advisory boards of severalwell-knownenvironmentalgroups.Jesse loved sharing his music and his love ofthewilderness to anyone who would listen to him.His life was good. 

Then,his marriage started to dissolve.  They had grown apart as Jesse toured more and more, and his wife began a career and a life without him. Thedivorce from the woman he had planned on growing old withand the death of his fatherhappened within a month. These two eventssent Jesse into a tail-spin.He found that he couldn’t emotionally handle the confliction between his professional and personal lives. His music was put on the back burner and alcohol started to weasel its way into his life.  Partying took the place of touring. Not being in the public eyeasmuch, sales of his music dropped off and he lost his record contract.

After another failed marriage, a couple of DUIs and a rather seriouscaraccident, Jesse worked hardgetting his lifeback together again. Now, there was new music, and it was good.  People were listeningagain. He was in the studio finishing his new CD when he got the word from his manager that a new recording contract was in the works. Things only got better with the news of an extensive Asian tour. He wouldbe gone for more than a month playing Japan, South Korea, India and even,China. ToJesse, it meant getting the band together and rehearsing for weeks to get ready.Life was looking good again.

Nowthatall the rehearsing was behind him andthe tourwasstarting in a couple of weeks,Jesse made the decision to take two weeksfor himself,and go fly fishing in Alaska.  With his manager’s blessing, he booked a stay at a remote fishing camp on an island called Heaven.

THE FLIGHT TO HEAVEN

Both Jesse and Katie had planned on arriving in Seattle the day before theirAugust tenthfloat plane trip to thefishingcamp.  Katie’s plane from Pennsylvaniagot into Seattlearoundmidday andshesettled into a hotel for the night.  Jesse’s flightwas delayed and he didn’t arrive attheSeattleairportuntil almost midnight.  Theirfloatplane was to leave at noonthe next day, but a little after midnight, they both got a call on their cell phones fromthe pilot, Mike Smith.  He told themthat a storm was moving in and if they wanted to get to their vacation, they needed to meet him at the plane and be ready for takeoff at 5 amthe next morning.

Just before dawn,Katie was trying to hold on to her fishing gear and her two year old yellow lab, Sadie, as she hurried toward the plane that would be taking her on her much anticipated vacation.  She loved fishing about as much as she loved Alaska, so it made perfect sense to combine the two this summer.  And then there was the “class from hell” that she was facing this coming school year. This time away is just what she needed to get herself ready for the coming school year.

Jesse, with his fly pole and guitar, wasalsohurrying toward the plane that would be whisking him away. Not that he needed to get away, buthejust needed to get some rest.  Jesse was about to embark on his concert tour that would include muchof Asia.  He’d been rehearsingnonstopwith his band for the past month, now he was going to get recharged for the weeks ahead on the road.  He wasn’t complaining though.  This was the biggest thing to happen in his career in years.  He wanted to be ready for the challenge of performing practically every night in a different city. After all, he wasn’t that twenty-five year old with endless energy any more.

Katie was the first to arrive at the plane.  She was greeted by the pilot, Mike Smith.  Smith was an experienced bush pilot, and he lookedevery bitthe part.  Katie guessed that he was about50 years old, maybe 55.  He was dressed in a redand blackplaid shirt, a blue down vest and a pair of jeans that were torn at one knee and frayed at the ankles. His boots looked about as old as his was.He probably hadn’t shaved that morning;maybe, hadn’t showered either. Hecertainly hadn’t combed his bushy graying hair.

“Good morning, miss,” Smith said as Katie came up to the plane. “You one of the passengers to Heaven Fishin’ camp?”Katie couldn’t help notice the look of disgust on Smith’s face when he saw Sadie.

“Yes, sir.  I hope we’re not late?  Sometimes Sadie here,has her own schedule.” Katie said as she looked down at her lab.  “Did my luggage get here ok?”  She handed Smithher fly pole and backpack.

“Already on the plane.”  Let’s get you and your friendthere inaback seat. She’ll be more comfortable back there, and I ‘spect so will the other passenger.”

“So, there will be only two passengersgoing to Heaven?” Katie asked.  She liked the sound of it.  Fewerpeople would mean more of a wilderness experience for her.

“Yes, miss.  Just you and a male passenger.”Smith looked to the front of the plane.”Looks like he’s here,too.”

Katie was just stepping up into the plane, when she looked up to see the other passenger. He had on a blueand red plaid shirt with a leather vest.  An oldcowboy hatpartially covered his face, but she could tell that he had long blonde hair. As she took her seat, she took a better look.  “Oh my God. Jesse Danvers! I’m going fishing with Jesse Danvers!”  Katie surprised herself that her excitement didn’t comespewingoutof her mouth sounding like some nutty fan. Shewas thankful shehadn’t said it loud enough for even Smith to hear her.She was relieved that no one heard her.

But there hewasone ofthe biggest influenceson her life.  It was because of JesseDanversthat she had become a science teacher, more specifically an environmental science teacher. Katie had first been drawn to his music.It was filled with metaphors about nature. And his love songs were of pure andhonestlove.Later his philosophyand political standshad led her to loveand appreciatethe environment even more.Being a teacherhadlet hershare this with those that could make a difference in the world – the children.  She had even come to Alaska for the first time because of this man.  And now he was getting on the same plane that would take them to Heaven. 

“Keep control” she said to herself as she began to perspire a little.

Smith took Jesse’s fishing pole and guitar and put them in the plane’s hold. Jesse got into the plane. When he reached his seat, hetook off his hat and offered his handto shake Katie’s hand. “Hi.  I guess we’re going to be fishing buddies for a couple of weeks. My name is Jesse Danvers. Andyours?”

“Katie Warner and this is Sadie,”she told himnodding to her lab.Then her mouth took over for her brain. “Oh,I know your name.  I’m yourbiggest fan.”  In her head, she was shouting, “Stupid,stupid,stupid!!”

“I didn’t know there were any of those around anymore,”he saidas he gave a little laugh.  He put his hat back on, sat down in his seatand buckled his seat belt.

“Miss, let’s get buckled up. And hold on to that dog.” Smith barked at Katie as he got into the plane and buckled himself in.Katiedidn’t likethis pilot very much.

The engine of the plane started and they were heading down the runway.  Jesse was feeling a little uneasy.  There was something about that womansitting behind him that attracted her to him.  But that’s as far as he was going to let it go.  This trip was to get some rest, not start a relationship.  Not now.He had waited far too long to get his career on the right track and no one was going to knock him off that track.And besides, he wasn’t going to get involved with another fan.

Jesse did a pretty good job at convincing himself to just let her be.  But he knew there was chemistrybetween themand that could be trouble.

As the plane lifted off, Jesse asked Smith how long it would be until they reached the fishing camp.  Smith replied, “About two hours or so.”

Jesse tilted his seat back and rested his cowboy hat over his face saying, “Then, if you’ll all excuse me, I’m going to take a little nap.I didn’t get muchsleeplast night.”

Katiewas trying very hard not to stare at Jesse, so she looked out the plane’s window.  Shenoticed thatSmith was flying the plane unusually low. They were barely clearing the tree tops.“Are we going to fly any higher? I figured we’d be seeing more scenerythanjustthe tops of trees.”

“There’s a lot of turbulence higher today, miss, so best we keep‘erlow.”  He knew that wasn’t true.  Hewas keeping the plane lowand under the radarbecause hisflight plan saidhistake off would be at noon not 5 a.m. – the timeit was now.“Thisfirst time to Alaska?” he asked changing the subject.

“No.”Katie replied.  “I’ve been here two other times, but on cruise ships.  This time, I wanted to actually see the real Alaska, not just the tourist stops.”  Katie looked out the window again, hoping to seesomething besidestree tops.  “Do you fly to the Heaven Fishing camp a lot?  Is there much to see on the way?” she asked Smith.

“Usually three or four times a season.  This is my last trip.  Gonna retire soon.” He didn’t like all this talking.“Just keep looking; you might see a bear or a moose along the way.”

“You can retire from being a bush pilot?  I wouldn’t think you could save enough to live on.” Katie questioned Smith.

“Most can’t, but I expect to be getting some good money soon, then I’m done.”

“But you’ll be flying us back in a couple of weeks? Right?” Katie asked.

Mike got a strange little grin on his face that Katie couldn’t see, and replied, “No miss I’m not coming back to get you.”

Since there wasn’t much to see, Katie leaned back for a little nap too.She put her hand reassuringly on Sadie’s head. As she closed her eyes,shethought ofhow she could make JesseDanversthink she wasn’t a total twit.Katie couldn’t believe the nonsense that hadalreadyshot from her mouth.

2.THEARRIVALIN HEAVEN

“Better wake up miss, we’ll be landing soon.” Smith turned and lookediratelyat Sadie.“I wouldn’t want that dog spooked.” Smith announced as Heaven Island appeared ahead.

Smith’sloudvoice woke everyone.  Sadie jumped to her feetwith a loud bark, but Katie put her hand onthe dog’s back to reassure her.Sadie lay back down.

Jesse sat upwith a start. After quickly looking around and getting his bearings,he adjusted his hat as he stretched and yawned.  He looked back at Sadie,but shewas calm with her eyes closed.

Katie said apologetically, “I’m sorry if she scared you. She is the gentlest thing in the world; you don’t have to worry about her.”

“Naw, she didn’tscare me. I had a lab once.  Great dogs.” Jesse said to Katie as their eyes briefly met.

His look and gentle voice made Katie relax. Or was it that he likes labs,too?  Whatever it was, she didn’t feel like a nervous little “teeny-bopper” any more.  This was someone she wanted to know better.  The attraction was more than that of beinghis fan. Their eyes metagain.  They both looked away. Katie knew that she couldn’t act on herfeelings.After all,Jesse Danvers is a famous musician; what would he want with her? She shook her head and accepted thathe is on this trip to get somerestand do some fishing.  She had to respect that. She decided to be pleasant but to keep her distance.

“Hold on to your seatandthat dogof yours.” Smith ordered.“It’s gonna get bumpy.  The water has some waves on her today.”

The plane touched down and bounced a couple of times. The planehadlanded on the bay side of the island.Smith taxied the plane toward land, where there was a dock visible.  He shut down the engines and drifted inalongsidethe dock.

When they had stopped, Smithunbuckled his seat belt andmoved toward the door between Katie and Jesse.  Sadie wasn’t too happy and gave a low growlto let the pilot knowher displeasure with him.  Jesse looked down at the dog a little startled.  Katie said in a whisper, “She’s never done that before. I don’t think she likes ourMr.Smith.”

“I’m not too sure of him either, girl” Jesse directed his comment toward Sadie.  With her tail wagging, she gave Jesse something as close to a smile that a dog can give.Katie saw that Sadie and Jesse were bonding.  She smiled.

After Smith had secured the plane to the dock, heput the steps downfor his passengers.Without saying a word, hewent about starting to unload their luggage.

Jesse got outof the planefirst and offered a hand tohelpKatie, butinsteadshe handed him Sadie’s leash.Jesse looked a little confused, but took the leash.Katie realized what she had just done and thought to herself,“How dumb was that?”

WithSadieand Jesse off the plane,Katie followed them tohelpget the luggage fromthe plane.  But Smith had already gotten mostof theirthings off and lying on thedock.  The two of them were to be at the camp for only two weeks, so they had brought minimal luggage.

“Get what you can this trip.  I’ll come back for the rest of your stuff after I show ya around the place.” Smith said picking up a couple of suitcases.  Jesse handed over Sadieto her master,and then gathered up his fishing gear and his guitar.  Katie had her hands full with Sadie.  Being a lab her first inclination was to get into the water.Katiemanaged to keep the leash tautwhilegetting her fishing gear and her backpack.  Theentourage headedup the dock toward the tree-lined path that would take them on an adventure they never dreamed of.

“This is Heaven Fishing Camp as she is. The cabins are back that trail.”  Smith grunted as he pointed to a dirt trail going between a stand of tail, regal Sitka spruce.The first of six cabins were visible from the dock.“The lodge is past the cabins at the end of that trail”

It was a short walk to the first cabin.  The small log structurewas nothing fancy, just a very rustictwo room cabinwith a small porch.  “Best part of these cabins is the indoor plumbing” Smith commented ashe unlocked and pushed open the door.  “Mr.Danvers, I guess this-un is yours.” He handed Jesse the cabin key.

Jessewent into the simplecabin andput down his things on the bed.  “Let’s see what we have for you, miss.” Smith said as he started to walk away.“Wanna follow us Mr. Danvers; we’ll do the tour now.” He was speaking very fast and impatiently.“It’slooking like rain, and I want to get back before the storm sets in.”  But that wasn’t why he was insucha hurry.

Smith shut the door behind Jesse and the groupstarted walking down the path. They passeda cabin on the left,and thenapproachedthe next one on the right. This cabin looked just like Jesse’s, but there was an old chair sitting outsideon the small porch.

Smith pushedpast Katie to open the door. In doingso, hebumped Sadie.  Again, she growled at the pilot. Katie followed him inside anddropped herthingsdownin the middle of the floor.As she looked around, she commented to Sadie,“Not bad, huh, girl?  This will do fine forthe nexttwo weeks.”

“Let’s get moving, okay?” Smith said as he handed Katie her key.“The lodge is a little farther down this path.”Smith directed the group.   Hequicklytook the lead, leaving Jesse and Katie to follow. Whilewalkingto the lodge, Jesse and Katie were side by side with Sadie between them. They both fought theimpulseto look at the other. Not giving in, they walked behind Smith looking straight ahead.

Strollingquickly, Smith pointed to a path taking off to the right.  “The pond is right down there.  You’ll probably want to explore around there on your own. Lots of big trout in that pond.”   It was becomingmore than just a little bitobvious that he wanted this tour to speed up.

As they cameupto the main lodge, they could see that it was alargetwo-storylog building.  Nothing fancy, but it looked welcoming. There were huge pines all around it.

Smithtook them aroundto the other side of the buildingto the main entrance. Heledthemup a few steps onto the deck.  Here there was a set ofdoubledoors leading into the lodge’s lobby.The doors were already open.Smith looked surprised, but then said, “The owner told meto leave the lodge unlocked for you people.  I guess you’re the last guests for the season.” Smith ledthe two campersinto the lodge.  He flipped the switch on the walland nothing happened, “Oh damn,the electric is off again.It tends to come and go. It’ll probably come back on soon.”Smith had told another lie.

Jesse was looking around suspiciously.  He thought that is was very strange that there were no other staff members to be seen.  He wasn’t keen on the idea of being alone on this island when Smith left.  He tried to shake offthe idea.  He told himself that there had to be staff somewhere.

Once inside, the lobbydécorlooked like a much used fishing lodge. There was a musty smell that reminded Katie of her neighbor’s barn. Hanging on the wallswere trophies of monster fish, elk, caribou and grizzly bear.  Most of them looked like they had been there for a mighty long time. The wooden floor had well-worn pathsleadingin many directions. One,they could see,led to the staircase at the other end of the large room.

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