No Regrets

No Regrets by Ann Rule Read Free Book Online

Book: No Regrets by Ann Rule Read Free Book Online
Authors: Ann Rule
be proud of his prowess, and, indeed, hewas. The young boy who had stowed away in Norway to make his way to America had more than proved himself.
    If Rolf had his way, he intended to work until he died at the helm of a ship. And he came close to doing just that. But he would soon have both his reputation and his physical body threatened by a cataclysmic event. Rolf would become, if not “famous,” then infamous in the annals of shipping in the Northwest—long after most men would have retired.
    On June 11, 1978, Rolf was either seventy-eight or eighty-one—depending on which of his birthdates you believed. He was healthy and he loved his job and the camaraderie he shared with other members of the Puget Sound Pilots’ Association. He was an institution, a grand old man who was much admired by far younger members. Everybody liked him, and he was in the midst of life when most men his age were sitting beside their fireplaces, or on a patio in Arizona.
    He and Ruth had their fine home that was almost paid for, and, despite their violent domestic issues from time to time, their marriage had survived for seventeen years. Survived, perhaps, but no one could say it was exactly thriving.
    Amazingly, Ruth was still jealous of Elinor, and continued to suspect that Rolf was sneaking away to meet with her for who knew what kind of carrying on.
    While it was true that Rolf and Elinor had never really lost touch with one another, it’s doubtful that at this point there was anything even slightly illicit between them. They were close friends, and Rolf loved the two sons they shared. Over the years, he made many trips to his homeland in Norway, and if Elinor was there when he was, theysaw each other. He still sent her money behind Ruth’s back from time to time.
    In early 1978, Rolf finally decided to put in for his pension. By the end of the summer, he planned to say goodbye to the ships and his piloting duties, and return to Lopez Island for good.
    But then something shocking happened that no one who knew Rolf Neslund would ever have predicted. This extremely careful and canny pilot destroyed one of the most important bridges in a city so surrounded by waterways that every bridge is vital to the orderly passage of traffic.
    When the first pioneers arrived in what would one day be the great city of Seattle, they settled on Alki Point. Many years hence, the waterfront land they called “New York Alki” (Chinook tribal jargon for “bye and bye”) was to become “West Seattle.”
    Back then on November 13, 1851, the Denny Party, including Arthur A. Denny, Charles Terry, and other famous pioneer families, suffered through a bitter cold and rainy winter with only jerry-rigged shelters. Their wives sobbed with homesickness and their children sickened. No one could ever have convinced those first settlers that West Seattle would one day become a most desirable place to live for the working men and women who commuted to downtown Seattle.
    Seattle is landlocked to the north and to the south, with Lake Washington on the east and Puget Sound and Elliot Bay on the west. Its destiny has always been dependent on waterways.
    The Duwamish River Waterway separates West Seattlefrom the main part of the city. This is a comparatively narrow ribbon of water, just wide enough to make it impossible for West Seattle dwellers to reach Seattle without crossing a bridge or taking a ferry. Without a drawbridge, commuters would have to drive south, east, and north again—almost twenty miles out of their way—to get to work, go to the downtown theaters, hospitals, sports events, and other important sites in the heart of Seattle.
    In 1978, the West Seattle Bridge was certainly in need of refurbishing. Back in 1924, the first of two bascule-designed bridges over the Duwamish Waterway was completed—the ultimate in modern construction at that time. An identical span opened in 1930. Forty-eight years later, the old bridge sorely needed replacement. It was

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