Alberta Clipper



Alberta Clipper

John Salter


Stories about murder, desperation, mystical paths and cures - fascination stories of people caught by weather, by mischance, or by themselves.  Whatever situation John Salter deals with, he deals with it concisely and without blinking in a misplaced effort to soothe matters and deliver a pleasantly edifying read.  Out of the northern cold like a winter storm, these stories will ride and shake you, reminding you that there is a dark side and that it isn't flitting in some science fiction movie, but stumbling about here on this planet we're pleased to call terra firma.

ISBN:  0-942979-89-3, Trade paper, $12.95                 Sale $4.50

ISBN:  0-942979-88-5, Library binding, $28.00            Sale $12.00

About the Author: 

John Salter derives a good deal of his feel for character from his varied past careers and homesteads. He has lived in eight states and he has worked as a postmaster, a convenience store clerk, and as a director of a California Indian Education Center. John is married and is the father of three children. Though John has published in quite a few literary magazines, this is his first story collection.

Excerpt from the Book:


    I didn’t take Jack Sample’s watch.   That would be crazy.  Walk around with a dead man’s watch.  It wasn’t no Rolex but it did have a chunky gold band that anyone could spot.  The law would have seen it was missing if they found him.  Jack's arms was dark, from the sun, but under the watch his skin was white.  Like his legs.
    Hannah, she wanted the watch, but I told her no.  If this was Sacramento, maybe, or Reno.  But not up in the woods.  People would notice.  “It don’t matter,” she said.  “I’m dying anyway.”
    “No,” I told her.  “You’re only a dying a little at a time.  Could be years.”
    Old Jack, he was on his stomach, on Hannah’s bed.  Buck ass naked.  Still looking at the window like he was when I come through it with the bat.  I put the watch back on his arm.  I had trouble with the clasp.  It went this way and that way.  “It’s backwards,” Hannah said.
    “What’s backwards?”  I asked her.
     “The watch.  The time part.  Upside down or whatever.”
    I went to fix but she grabbed my arm.  “Leave it,” she said.  She started laughing.  She started laughing but it was her crazy laugh and in a minute it changed over to crying.
    I didn’t take Jack’s watch but I took his money.  Four hundred bucks.  All arranged, small bills first.  All the presidents facing the same way like they just come out of the cash register.  Money was different than a watch.  It could spread out, like dead water when you throw in a rock.
    I messed it up before I put it in my pocket.  I had plans for that money.  Give some to Hannah, for little Charlie, and use the rest to get up to Arcata.  In prison a guy from Humboldt State came down to visit some of us in the art program.  Said he could fix me up with a place to sleep.  Study art up there.  This guy did time himself, way back.  Told me face to face, said guys like me better not go home after they get done.  Said home becomes a prison, prison becomes a home.  Something like that.
    I almost forgot about Jack’s car.  Had to be bright red.  Parked in front where anyone could see it if they glanced up from the highway.  I went out to look it over while Hannah took a bath to wash Jack off her.  Mostly I wanted out.  Out of the house.  Jack dead in there.  Hannah crying in the bathtub.  I wanted to clear my head.
    I lit one of Hannah’s Kools and walked around the car.  Didn’t touch it, just walked around it.  All the doors was locked.  Fucker locked it up tight.  If Hannah had been ready with her money he would have been in and out in five minutes.  Maybe less.  Might have only stood on the porch while she went for her purse.  Might have even let the engine run.  Made me think he had it all planned out, driving up Indian Hill.  Moving that cinnamon toothpick around in his mouth.  Maybe thinking about her long hair, down to her waist, almost.  Maybe thinking about more.
    Hannah, she kept herself up pretty good even after little Charlie was born.  My other sisters sure let theirselves go.  All those babies left something behind.  Not Hannah.  It was softball done it for her.  In school she was pitcher for the girl’s team.  Took them all the way to state her junior year.  Me and Gran, we followed the team all over.  Down to Chico.  Up to Susanville.  All over.
    Hannah could run, she could bat.  Did it all.  She could have gotten herself a scholarship but at the end of the season she got caught messing around with Coach.  Turned out a lot of people knew what was going on but kept their mouths shut on account of Hannah being so good and Coach being such a nice guy.  What happened was Coach’s wife drove to Redding to surprise him at a tournament there.  The motel guy let her into his room and she found some of Hannah’s things.  Hannah’s underwear and the cream she used for her lupus.  If it wasn’t for that cream, Coach could have maybe lied, but his wife, she found the tube, found where some of it had rubbed off on the sheet.  That’s what they said, anyway.  The school didn’t fire Coach but he quit.  Someone told me he was working over to Elko, not coaching no more but working in a casino.  His wife moved away, back to Iowa or somewhere like that.  Hannah dropped out.
    She kept playing softball for awhile.  On the county leagues, on the all girls teams.  Hannah run her team like it was the army for a couple of years.  No beer until afterwards.  No swearing.  Then her lupus got worse and she didn’t want to go outside no more, at least not on sunny days.  The doctor told her it was okay as long as she wore the cream and long sleeves, but she didn’t want to risk it.  She didn’t want to leave little Charlie alone.