Busted Axle Road
Chapter 6

Copyright© 1993, 2001, 2010

"It shouldn't have been that easy," Mike thought. "Something's wrong. What is it?"

With Carrie gone to the Woman's Club deal, and with Webb at Rotary, they were going to be shorthanded in the back room, so Mike left Sally back at the shop once they'd finished with the Spearfish Lake and Albany River drops, offering to make the country run solo. At least no inserts this week, he thought. Even though they brought in part-timers to help with the inserting when needed, inserting on top of everything else was a pain in the butt. The long solo run out to Warsaw and back would give Mike another favorable opportunity to think, and it was clear that he needed the opportunity.

How many times had he gently pressured Kirsten to do something about the house, only to have her brush him off? Now, one snake, and she couldn't wait to sell it. He hated to see Kirsten upset, as she'd gone through a lot of agony in her life, and seeing her hurting made him hurt. Probably the worst of it would blow over in a few days, and at least they'd have a move made to get rid of the house. It wouldn't be the first time he'd ridden out one of her episodes, and he knew he'd just have to hang on and ride until the storm blew over.

North of the lake, Mike slowed to turn up County Road 919. Shaundessy's Bait and Tackle at East Turtle Lake sold about five papers a week in the winter, but made up for it with fifty a week in the summer, so it was worth the stop, only a mile or so off the main road. It took a minute to go in and deal with the papers, but a good five minutes to get out of there, shooting the bull with Emil over where the perch were biting and where the ice was still safe -- nowhere on the river or the smaller ponds, but there was still some good ice out on the east side of the big lake.

Back in the van, Mike headed back out on the pavement. He pointed the van west, and set his mind on automatic. He absent-mindedly made the bundle drops in Hoselton, then drove on to Warsaw. There'd been a lot of rebuilding in Warsaw since the great fire of '81; the new paper plant had thrown money into the community that hadn't been there before, and these days, you could hardly see any trace of the fire. There was one thing that Mike still missed from pre-fire days, though.

The big reward for making the Warsaw run before the fire had been the lunch stop at Millie's Pizza. Simply put, Millie's had made absolutely the must luscious, heavenly pizza ever to pass between a set of teeth. Mike had been saddened to watch the shop go up in smoke, and would have been more saddened as he watched had he known that it would be replaced with a third-rate coffee shop that could screw up a simple hamburger. He usually didn't even stop there, but held out till he could get back to Spearfish Lake. Today, however, he was a little thirsty, and decided to risk a cup of coffee.

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