Busted Axle Road
Chapter 5

Copyright© 1993, 2001, 2010

By lunch hour, Mrs. Clark had suffered about all she wanted to of the fourth grade for one morning. She needed the break.

The break that the elementary teachers got wasn't as good as the ones the teachers got over in the high school; there, they got a full hour of break time each day -- well, a fifty-minute hour, and that was close enough, and they got lunch hour, too. The elementary teachers only got the thirty minute lunch hour, and sometimes it wasn't enough to recover and get ready to put up with the kids for the last couple of hours a day.

Most days, Mrs. Clark was just happy enough to sit in the break room, try to bring her blood nicotine level back into balance, and try to gather her strength, while she wished she taught at the high school, wondering what had ever convinced her she wanted to teach elementary school.

At that, she was glad she'd turned down the chance to go over to the middle school this year. The elementary kids were bad enough, but when they got a little older and reached puberty, it was hormone hell over there.

But, today was different, mostly because she remembered that she'd smoked her last cigarette in her purse in the break room just before class started. There was a cigarette machine over in the high school break room, and it was the closest one she knew of. Besides, she thought that John Pacobel, the biology teacher, was on break during her lunch hour; that gave her the chance to get that bag with that snake in it off of her desk, where she wouldn't have to think about it.

Sure enough, Pacobel was in the break room, going over some papers that appeared to have something to do with sports. The biology teacher was also the girl's softball coach -- or, perhaps, the other way around might have said it better.

Pacobel took tremendous pride in the fact that he'd coached the girl's softball team to a state championship four years before. When you drove into town, right under the sign that said, "Spearfish Lake" was a sign that read, "Class B Girls Softball Champions, 1983." It didn't say, "Home town of Jenny Easton," Spearfish Lake's most famous resident, even though the popular pop singer had made enough money to buy the whole town if she wanted to.

However, Linda Clark wasn't exactly John Pacobel's greatest fan. She'd been at the state final game against Camden St. Dismas, back in 1983, and remembered how Pacobel had almost blown it by leaving his daughter in pitching while she was getting shelled. Only a tremendous last-inning save by Brandy Evachevski, Jenny Evachevski/Easton's younger sister, had pulled the game from the fire, and Pacobel acted as if it had never happened.

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