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Authors: K L Nappier

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Full Wolf Moon

BOOK: Full Wolf Moon
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Full Wolf Moon
FULL WOLF MOON
Book One of the
Full Wolf Moon Trilogy
A Novel By
K.L. NAPPIER
Copyright © 2004, 2007, 2009 owned by K.L. Nappier
All rights reserved under United States, International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions.
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, graphic, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping, or by any information storage or retrieval system, without the written permission of the author.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Cover Art by Joe Kleinberg
www.directaccess.tv
Publishing History
Double Dragon Publishing eBook Edition/2004
Aisling Press Paperback Edition/2007
Presse Libertine eBook Edition/2009
Presse Libertine Paperback Edition/ 2009
Acknowledgments
How could I begin an Acknowledgments page with any other than the Indiana Writers Workshop? IWW has seen me through literary thick and thin for over twenty years.
But, during the rewriting and re-release of this novel, IWW suffered the loss of one of the founding members and matriarchs of our group, Patricia Watson Grande. No one was more dedicated to the principles of the group than Pat. No one could be more sorely missed. What she gave to me shows in everything I write. Pat, may you and Marge and Bob Stonehill spend eternity having "a marvelous time looking at God."
Above all, my deepest appreciation goes to my family. From the Florida Gulf to the Windy City region to the Gateway to the West to the California Coast, you are all never farther from me than my own heart.
R.I.T.R.
FULL WOLF MOON
A Novel By
K.L. NAPPIER
Prologue
Navajo Reservation, Northern Arizona
March, 1942
First Night. Full Moon.
The beast crested the lip of the plateau, the sands of the desert like sharded bone, blanched under moonlight. One mile away the lights of Long Walk glittered, the scents of the settlement dilute at this distance but sorted easily inside an unnatural muzzle, over broad tongue, through scythe-like fangs.
Its pelt sparking silver under the full moon, the beast tensed on haunches grotesque with power, its nose tilted to the cold desert night, lust for fear and blood rushing upward into a howl that ruptured the night's hush.
Its eyes narrowed. Its maw settled into a steady panting. When it was ready, the beast galloped over the dunes, swift as plague, until it was in the streets of Long Walk.
Chapter 1
Lakeside Post Assembly Center
Disjunction Lake, Eastern California
August, 1942
Midmorning. First Quarter Moon.
After the accident, Max learned to lean on his lesser senses to compensate the blur of his eyesight. So, with the window down in the taxi, it was the lack of scent that he noticed most about this place. It seemed odd to him that the dark, moist-earth aroma of water would be absent from a lake town. He had expected this post to be similar to his old station in Washington state, where the loamy scents of timberland were heavy in the morning air. But this tour's locale had more in common with the deserts of Arizona that he had just left behind, their smells fleeting and delicate, laced with sage.
The cabby steered beneath the assembly center's main watchtower and, at last, Max was greeted with a strong aroma. The tower's beams smelled of new lumber. Two M.P.'s gazed down from above, their vigil striking him as both noble and gargoyle-like. According to the briefing he had received, just last year this place was a sprawling collection of campgrounds and cabin rentals. Now the cabins housed the military, and long, bare dormitories rowed the grounds where families once pitched vacation tents.
The cabby pulled into the officers' graveled parking area. Max paid him and walked toward the bare wood building marked in large, white letters UNITED STATES ARMY and, under that, ADMINISTRATION. Even with the aid of his thick glasses, the letters were fuzzy around the edges, but he could read them well enough to know that was where he needed to go.
The building was only big enough to house essential offices. The processing of internees was being done next to it under a large, khaki awning that billowed and sagged in the lumber-scented breeze. Max could make out the forms of eight soldiers -probably corporals- seated at a table beneath it. The soldiers flanking them would be M.P.'s.
Before them stretched eight lines of people. From this distance, their clothing formed a multicolored bar to Max's eyes. But he estimated there were, perhaps, two hundred of them. Two hundred lined up in the dust, far from their homes, waiting to be taken away. Waiting in silence, every one of them, down to the babies. The drone of information being given at the front of the lines was the only sound.
As he neared, he made out the familiar shape and color of an American Legion Women's Auxiliary hat. A few people ahead of that hat, the sun's rays glinted off polished disks, flashing against someone's chest. War medals. That would be an old man, of course, a Great War veteran, because the latest war had only just begun for the Americans. What wasn't clear to Max's wounded eyes was obvious to his mind. That woman and old man were making a point with their patriotism as they waited silently in line in the dust.
American clothes. American mannerisms. American hairdos. Japanese faces. Max didn't need to see well to know the common features of those in line. He saw shapes within the blur of color shifting, as if turning to watch him pass, and he looked ahead quickly, toward the doorway that was his goal.
The WAAC lifted her gaze from her work, then stood when he entered. "Good morning, sir."
"Good morning. Captain Maxwell Pierce to see Captain Eshelmann."
"Of course, sir."
She escorted him down a hollow corridor, interrupted here and there with square entryways still waiting for doors. Uniformed occupants, exposed to Max's view, had their noses to paperwork as if embarrassed to be so denuded. At the end of the hall, directly before Max, was the captain's office. The only one with a door.
Inside, the office was barren and unfinished, its new wood scent overwhelming. Max was close enough now to see faces, and this duty hadn't been the commanding officer's cup of tea, from the looks of him. His skin was gray as ash. Still the C.O. rose gamely from the box he was packing and shook hands, his demeanor relaxed, captain to captain.
"Victor Eshelmann," he said, by way of introduction.
"Maxwell Pierce. Max, if you like. Good to meet you."
"Have a seat." Eshelmann fished about in his shirt pocket. "Cigarette?"
"No, thank you. I don't smoke."
"Mmm." Eshelmann settled behind his desk and flicked the lid back on his lighter. "You may start before too long, with this assignment." He smiled wanly as he lighted up, then saluted Max with the cigarette. "Welcome to the wasteland, new C.O."
Max smiled in return. He was on his best behavior, but in reality he had little sympathy for this man. He removed his wire-rimmed glasses, pulled his handkerchief from a back pocket and wiped at the thick lenses.
"I'm not the commanding officer yet. And I know it's not always a pleasure to serve," he said as sincerely as he could.
Eshelmann didn't reply. He looked out the dusty window to his right and changed the subject. "Where were you stationed before, Captain?"
"In Arizona, Fort Morriston. I was expecting cooler weather and greener hills here at Lakeside. But looking around, I almost feel at home."
"Well, you have to keep in mind we're close to the Nevada border."
"Beautiful country back in Arizona," Max said, "if you're inclined to desert. Morriston's north, just outside the border of the Navajo Reservation there. I got to know a number of the residents from the town of Long Walk..."
He had intended to entertain the C.O. with tale about the locals, but stopped. Eshelmann didn't seem all that interested, nodding absently and looking toward the window, the one facing Processing. "Indians corralled on reservations, foreign nationals herded to Lakeside. Lord only knows where people like that get their resolve."
So where's your resolve, Captain? Max thought, but he left it unsaid. There was no point in admonishing Eshelmann. And it would be borderline hypocrisy. Max had yearned for assembly center duty as soon as Relocation was announced. He was glad Eshelmann couldn't cut it.
"I'll do everything I can to make the transition as easy as possible for them, Captain," Max replied.
"The general said you were the right man for this." Eshelmann stubbed out his cigarette in a saucer-turned-ashtray. "But, then again, you haven't had the chance to meet Doris Tebbe yet."
"Who?"
"Doris Tebbe. She's the Center Administrator for Tulenar Internment Camp. That's where our transferees are headed."
"The War Relocation Authority has a woman as C.A.?"
"Believe it or not."
"She there because of a favor or because she's good?"
Eshelmann gave a short laugh. "She has connections. But she's the toughest damn skirt I've ever met, and I suppose that makes her good. Pushy broads get on my nerves, personally. But maybe that's your type, Captain, and you two will get along fine." He sighed, fingered through his shirt pocket for another cigarette. "I'm just damn glad my transfer came through... It's not that I'm soft on the Japs, you understand..."
"I didn't think --"
"And I'm not blind to the hysteria, either. Those people out there will be safer in the camps than their own homes."
Eshelmann stood and walked over to the window, lighting up on the way. When he spoke again, Max wasn't sure if Eshelmann was addressing him or just talking to himself.
"We'll just all be safer."
/ / / /
When Max left the C.O., his heart was pounding. He could barely wait until Eshelmann was packed and out. This tour had real purpose to it, real meat. At this particular relocation project, the commanding officer's duties even included authority over the military police stationed at Tulenar. The workload was enormous, more than enough to keep him occupied, more than enough to put him to bed at night too exhausted to think. He was nearly out the reception room door when the secretary's phone rang and the WAAC said, "Captain Pierce, a call for you."
He turned to the secretary. "Already?"
"It's Mrs. Tebbe, sir."
Max took the phone. "This is Captain Pierce."
"Captain, Doris Tebbe, C.A., Tulenar. I just wanted to say welcome to the zoo."
"Thank you..."
"We need to arrange a get-acquainted session as soon as possible."
"Certainly, Mrs. Tebbe. When I get settled I'll --"
"Will this evening work out for you, Captain?"
"No. No, it won't. I've only just arrived today."
"Well, I assume your kitchen cupboards are bare, then. Why don't I meet you for dinner at a location convenient to us both. Are you staying at the Starbright Motel or the Red Shore?"
"Mrs. Tebbe, I plan on a very early meal. I'll be back at Captain Eshelmann's office by six tomorrow morning."
"That won't be a problem for me. I plan on an early morning myself."
Max bit back a curt refusal. There was no use in starting off on the wrong foot. He gave her his address.
She said, "Have your driver take you to 'Yow Lee's Dim Sum'. Do you like Chinese food?"
"The usual fare.."
"Then a change will do you good. Is four too early?"
"Four o'clock...?"
"See you then, Captain."
Max handed the receiver back to the secretary, who was smirking. He smiled. "Civilians."
/ / / /
Walking through the restaurant's door, Max couldn't even tell which patrons were men and which were women. He moved toward the lone figure sitting at a far table on assumption. But once he was close enough, he would have known Mrs. Tebbe had there been women alone at every table. Like a man, she stood when he approached. She looked just the way he had expected after their telephone conversation; tallish, in her mid-thirties, broad-shouldered beneath her prudent, gray suit. She was the first to offer her hand. Her dark red hair was sensibly fashionable - but mostly sensible - tucked into a black, no frills snood.
"Captain," she said, "I knew it was you when you walked in the door. You look just like your voice sounds."
"It's nice to meet you, Mrs. Tebbe." They sat.
"Yow Lee's is a favorite of mine," she said. "Only dim sum. It's really a lunch item, but Mr. Yow's no fool. He knows most government people don't keep regular hours, so he's extended his. Plum wine, Captain?"
"I've never tried it."
Mrs. Tebbe pushed her wine glass toward him, then hailed a waiter. "Give it a sip. I'll order a bottle."
Max was tempted to decline the bottle. Mrs. Tebbe's manner irritated him as much in person as on the telephone. But he had to admit to himself that he liked the plum wine, thick and sweet on his tongue, and he thought it was ridiculous to refuse out of some vain principle. He told himself to relax. He'd been fairly warned by Eschelmann and, in any case, would he expect a woman in her position to be dainty and coy?
Max looked around the restaurant, then caught sight of Mrs. Tebbe and himself in a mirror on the near-by wall. He thought he looked like the dainty one, slender-faced and lanky, thick glasses flashing. Annie used to tell him that he was the Jimmy Stewart type, gracefully handsome. He touched the silver that spanned his temples to his ears. He was suddenly aware that Mrs. Tebbe was watching him.

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