Busted Axle Road
Chapter 4

Copyright© 1993, 2001, 2010

Another tough thing about being pregnant was that you had to pee every thirty seconds, Kirsten thought, sitting behind her desk at the Record-Herald. She bit her lip and tried to hold on as long as she could.

She had managed to settle down a little from the shock of the snake crawling out of the drain, mostly because she had to deal with getting Tiffany and Henry off to school, whether she was up to it or not.

And, she really hadn't been up to it. With an embarrassment that had been sharper than the shock of seeing the snake, Kirsten had cleaned up the mess on the bathroom floor and had thrown away what was left of the hair dryer, but getting dressed had been a struggle. Thank goodness that Tiffany had taken charge as if nothing had happened, or sleepyhead Henry would still be snoozing.

She'd made it down to the office by nine, but she hadn't been able to deal with much of anything. She hadn't told anyone about the snake -- the aftermath was just too embarrassing to admit, much less contemplate. Every time her mind wandered, and it wandered repeatedly, she could see the snake there in the bathtub, and the more she thought about it, the worse it got to her.

No matter how bad she had to go -- and by the time that Tiffany had Henry ready for school, it was pretty bad -- she could not force herself go to into the bathroom again. It was hard to get made up in the bedroom, but it would have to do, no matter what. Even as bad as she had to go to the bathroom by the time she got to the office, she could barely force herself to go to the bathroom there before the pee was dribbling down her leg.

And now, she had to go again. She wondered if she'd ever be able to use a bathroom again without seeing a snake wiggling in the bathtub.

It probably would have been better if there had been something to do but sit there and think about the snake, but Wednesdays were her slow day as the Record-Herald's advertising manager, at least until it was time to work on the papers. Usually, she sat around the front office and shot the bull with her friend, Carrie Evachevski, the social editor, and had an extra cup of coffee, but Carrie was off covering some North Spearfish Lake Woman's Club thing, and everybody else had gone someplace or another. There was nothing to do but to sit there alone and think about the snake -- and about how bad she had to pee.

It was ten before Mike McMahon made it back to the Record-Herald with the papers. The next few of hours were always a hassle, since the post office got very antsy if they didn't have the papers addressed locally by three or so, when the carriers came off their routes and began to set up their shelves for the next day; they got very antsy if they didn't have the rest of the papers by five, in time for the mail truck. With nearly 5000 papers to address, that meant some hustling on the part of the Record-Herald staff.

Usually, Kirsten helped with the unloading of the van, but she'd missed the odd week or two in the last month, when she wasn't feeling good. It didn't seem to Mike as if her pregnancy was going as well as the others had, but with only Mark, his sportswriter assistant Pat Varner, Kirsten's assistant, Sally Szczerowski, and Webb, the job went slowly. This week, Sally was supposed to ride with Mike while making the store drops, so Mike set her to counting bundles while he went to see what was keeping Kirsten.

He found Kirsten in the front office, staring morosely at the wall. "Hey, c'mon," he told her. "There's an Addressograph waiting for you."

"Thank God you're back," she said. "I think I'm going crazy."

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