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Authors: Marsha Qualey

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Everybody's Daughter

BOOK: Everybody's Daughter
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Table of Contents


Everybody’s Daughter

For my father, and in memory of my mother

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Everybody’s Daughter

By Marsha Qualey

Copyright 2014 by Marsha Qualey

Cover Copyright 2014 by Untreed Reads Publishing

Cover Design by Ginny Glass

The author is hereby established as the sole holder of the copyright. Either the publisher (Untreed Reads) or author may enforce copyrights to the fullest extent.

Previously published in print, 1991.

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the publisher or author, except in the case of a reviewer, who may quote brief passages embodied in critical articles or in a review. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your ebook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

This is a work of fiction. The characters, dialogue and events in this book are wholly fictional, and any resemblance to companies and actual persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

Also by Marsha Qualey and Untreed Reads Publishing

Thin Ice

Venom and the River: A Novel of Pepin

One Night

Close To a Killer


Revolutions of the Heart

Everybody’s Daughter

arsha Qualey

For my father, and in memory of my mother

Chapter 1

Beamer Flynn lay on her bed and scratched a design on the frosted window with her thumbnail. From that bedroom window in the second-story living quarters above her family’s bait and tackle shop she could watch the approach and hear the passing of the eastbound highway traffic, first visible two miles away where the road broke over the forested hill, then lost until it roared past the bait shop. This morning, however, the cold weather had entirely frosted over all the windows in her room, blocking her view of the acres of forest and the black stretch of highway that connected her home with the world. Beamer had awakened early and immediately felt herself closed in a crystal world, a strangely warm and comfortable ice palace.

She had lain in bed for an hour, waiting for the rising, warming sun to peel back the frost from the window. She had listened to the sparse traffic on the highway and imagined its destination and nature: that would be a highway patrol speeding toward doughnuts and coffee at the nearest truck stop; that’s a fuel truck hauling heating oil to the scattered country homes; that’s a traveling salesman heading happily toward Duluth after a night in a seedy motel.

A car pulled into the shop’s parking lot. Beamer’s father came out of the store and greeted Daniel, and Beamer listened as the men exclaimed about the cold while clapping their hands and jogging quick steps in the snow. Beamer began scratching out the words “get lost” in the frost; then, pressing her fingertips against the glass, she erased the message with crisscrossed lines of tiny ovals.

Daniel was one of the family’s oldest friends, a former member of Woodlands, the now-disbanded commune her parents had helped form eighteen years ago. She knew Daniel would be at the store most of the morning. He had just checked out of an alcohol treatment center—his second rehabilitation in three years—and Beamer’s parents welcomed him at all times for all reasons. It was a small thing to do; they loved him.

Beamer dressed and went downstairs. Her father and Daniel were sitting by the wood stove in the store, fondling their coffee cups and speaking in low tones. Daniel had brought a bag of assorted doughnuts, which was warming on top of the stove. Beamer poked around in the bag, found a plain one, and sat next to her father. She dunked the doughnut in his coffee, chewed, and listened to Daniel, who was telling a joke and happily included her in his audience. She waited for the punch line—it was a long joke—then murmured goodbye and went outside.

She pulled the cuff of her sweater down over her fist and polished the open eyes of a huge concrete fish that stood next to the store’s entrance. Wally Walleye, Beamer’s younger brother, Johnny, had christened him. The garish purples and greens of the monster fish contrasted with the Victorian facade of the building. The store had originally been someone’s summer place, a replica of that owner’s city home built halfway between a small lake and a once narrow and gravel-covered road. The road had been paved, repaved, and finally labeled a major highway, and the ever-increasing traffic and widening shoulders had chased a succession of owners from the house.

Beamer’s parents had bought the building six years ago, using their share of the money earned from the sale of the commune’s business, land, and buildings. They spent eighteen months fixing the house and remodeling the lower level into a store—an unnecessarily long time, but time they claimed they needed to make the transition from being commune members to being small-business owners. They adjusted, and Beamer and her brother settled happily into the luxury of private rooms and bath.

When the commune disbanded, many of the members, the Woodies, stayed in the area. Now they used the bait shop for a meeting place, settling in for evenings of happy chats and weepy confessions among the display freezers of prize catches, tanks of minnows and frogs, and racks of T-shirts emblazoned with leaping fish.

They talked about everything during those evening conversations. Beamer had often cringed and withdrawn when they discussed and relived her birth. They passed around that favorite memory as if it were a friendship quilt, each friend adding and changing: Sue—no, LuAnne!—caught the baby; Jeffrey—no, Peter!—took the pictures; Maud—no, Sam!—cooked the birth-night supper. Three details were intact: it had happened nearly seventeen years ago; the moon had been full (that’s how Beamer got her name, Merry Moonbeam Flynn), and Daniel, dear Daniel, had been asleep in the kitchen and missed it all.

Daniel stuck his head out the doorway. “Telephone, dear Moonbeam. I believe it’s your young Mr. Reynolds. Would you like me to deal with it?”

Beamer went inside, patting Daniel’s arm as she passed him. “I can handle Andy. Thanks anyway, Daniel.”

It was Andy. “So, how about a movie tonight?” he said without any preliminaries.

“Am I driving, or are you?”

“You’ll be glad to know the car is fixed and I’ll drive. If the movie doesn’t sound good, there’s a party at Wendy’s at nine, as soon as her mother leaves for work.”

“The movie, as long as it’s sexy and violent.”

“What a tease. I’ll be there at seven.”

Beamer replaced the phone and turned her back to avoid her father’s calculated indifference and Daniel’s wide grin. Her night was taken care of, but the day loomed empty and long.

Her mother and Johnny were gone for the day. And with Daniel hanging around, she wouldn’t be needed at the store. The bait shop was the largest, newest store of its kind in the area, “the finest fishing and sporting mecca in the North Woods,” a Minneapolis sports columnist had written. When the weather was good for fishing, the store was busy and Beamer worked long hours alongside her parents. This year, however, winter had come late and business was slow. The ice was still thin on some of the lakes and rivers, and only the foolish went out. Three weeks ago, with the first freeze, a few eager fishermen had towed and dragged ice-fishing houses out onto Wapata Lake, the lake behind Beamer’s house. For two days the store did a good business in carry-out cocoa, fishing gear, and winter bait. Then the temperature rose, and every day Beamer watched the fishing houses sink slowly. They were the beloved summer workshop projects of men who intended to spend long hours out on the ice, catching cold and later catching hell from the women who weren’t welcome. Some of the houses sank entirely out of sight, but some were caught midriff by the next freeze, a lasting freeze that locked the useless, dwarfed houses in place for the whole winter.

Beamer decided to go skiing. She went to her room, stripped to socks and underwear, and stood in front of her dresser, deciding how much warmth she would need. She eyed and fingered the silver-and-blue Lycra body suit folded neatly in the bottom drawer. She had bought it last fall and worn it skiing only once. It screams, “Look at my body, look at me!” she decided. She preferred to be unnoticed.

She finally selected long underwear, pulled it on, and put on her jeans and sweater again. Dressed, she stared in the mirror, confronting her hair, a shoulder-length confusion of near-black curls. She carefully wrapped the mass in an oversized bandana and stuffed the lump into a worn, stretched ski cap. The full cap added three inches to her tall, slender frame. She squashed it down, then plumped it back up. Beamer enjoyed being tall, enjoyed being eye-to-eye with most of the boys she knew.

“You like being tall,” Andy had once said, “because you think people won’t notice how pretty you are.”

“I like being tall,” she had replied, “because it’s easier to reach into the fish freezer.”

Once downstairs in the family’s private back room, she put on boots, pocketed gloves, and grabbed her poles. She opened the door to the shop and lifted her poles, signaling her intention to her father. He crossed his legs and stared at her for a long moment before nodding, a silent, grudging approval. Beamer left before he could change his mind. Skiing alone was stupid and dangerous, but what could she do? Andy and most of her friends lived twenty miles away in Grand River, and Johnny had given skiing up for hockey. Stupid and dangerous it might be, but it was often her only escape.

“Stoo-pid, stoo-pid,” she muttered, skiing to the cadence of the word. She pushed and glided along the trail that circled the lake. At the high clearing on the north shore she rested. There was little human settlement in the area, and from this spot she could see it all—the bait shop, the waferboard factory, the shantytown of sunken fishing houses. Beamer left the lake trail and took a narrower path into the woods. After a mile the path broke into the open at a small lake, Wilton Lake.

Wilton Lake and the surrounding acreage had for years been owned by a reclusive old man, Randolph Dunn. No one had known much about Mr. Dunn, only that he had moved to the area after his World War II discharge and had always kept one or two dogs, usually golden retrievers. The Dunn property abutted the commune’s holdings, and the Woodies had at first been delighted to discover their neighbor. An old-timer, they exulted, one who can teach us things. Two representatives visited Mr. Dunn that first spring. He waved his pistol and sicced his dogs on them, and that was that. Thereafter the Woodies kept their distance. One winter, while on a late-night walk with his dogs, Mr. Dunn had fallen through thin lake ice and caught cold; he had died at home two days later. The ground was frozen too hard for burial, so the body was stored in a hospital locker—sixty dollars’ rental—until spring. According to Daniel, who always knew the town gossip and news, Mr. Dunn’s cabin, land, car, and dogs passed to a wealthy nephew who lived in Chicago. The cabin stood unoccupied and was now a favorite summer spot for trespassing picnickers and hikers.

Beamer caught her breath and shielded her eyes. A column of white smoke spiraled gently from the clearing below; someone was using the Dunn cabin.
That’s strange,
she thought.
Maybe it’s been sold.
She debated checking out the inhabitants, then pushed off in the opposite direction. “Survival rule number nineteen,” she said as she skied. “Avoid strange people when you are alone in the woods.”

She was sometimes tempted to ski the trails with her eyes closed. She could do it, she knew them that well. She knew their dips, rises, and curves, the exposed roots and low-hanging branches. She knew which trail led to the stand of rare virgin pine and which ended in the bog. The trail she was on now was the shortest route between the old commune and her present home. It angled sharply away from the lake and after a few yards in the trees dropped down a long, steep hill. Beamer tucked her poles and crouched, riding low and fast. At the bottom she rose and leaned into a turn, then kicked and glided into a sprint out of the woods. The trail ended at the back of a long, flat-roofed building, the sole structure in the small clearing. Beamer stepped out of her skis and through the deep snow to a window. She brushed snow off the glass and looked in, knowing well what she would see, seeing much more than was there. This ugly building had been her first home; she had been born here.

BOOK: Everybody's Daughter
7.21Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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