Busted Axle Road
CopyrightÂ© 1993, 2001, 2010
Linda Clark managed to get through two cigarettes in the high school teacher's lounge before looked at her watch, and realized she had to head back over to the elementary school. With those, she could hold out till two thirty, and she wasn't thinking about the snake, which she left on the table with Pacobel.
The coach didn't realize it was sitting there for a while; he immediately went back to figuring out who to pitch in the season opener. Finally, he decided to go ahead and pitch the Hekkinan girl. After all, it wasn't a league game, so it wouldn't hurt much if she blew it, and it would make her father happy. Considering that her father was the A.D., she wasn't a prospect for postgraduate activities, and there was a little blonde that would feel grateful for starting later in the season...
It wasn't until he got up to leave that he saw the snake sitting there, quiet in its peanut butter jar. "Ought to just leave it there for the janitor," he thought, but then got a better idea.
Pacobel's last hour of the day was the Advanced Biology class. He only got enough kids to teach Advanced Biology every two or three years, by combining kids that had already taken Biology I, and these were sharp kids that really wanted to learn something. Though Pacobel had more of his attention on sports than on biology, he really enjoyed teaching his sophomores, juniors and seniors in the Advanced Biology class; those kids were there because they wanted to be, not because they had a science requirement they had to get out of the way.
The one pain in the neck in Advanced Biology was really two pains in the neck: Danny Evachevski and Josh Archer. They were sharp kids, or they wouldn't have been there, and they aced everything. They were also both football players -- Evachevski a senior and Archer a sophomore, although he'd been on varsity last fall. But they were both full of themselves, like a lot of athletes, rather a disruptive influence.
This was a project day -- the kids had a number of directed learning projects they were concentrating on -- but Evachevski and Archer already had their project under control, and would be looking for some trouble and were capable of finding it. The little snake gave him a chance to head the two off at the pass.
Pacobel had about five minutes worth of talk, mostly giving directions, before he turned the kids loose. He ended his little talk with, "Evachevski, Archer. I've got a little extra-credit project for you."
Those two needed extra credit like Seattle needs rain, Pacobel knew, but it made an excuse. Now that he had the class's attention, he held up the peanut butter jar with the dead snake and went on, "I had this left with me earlier. It looks like a Northern Water Snake, but something isn't quite right. I want you to tell me what it is."
Danny Evachevski nodded. "Can we use your Peterson's?"
"Sure," Pacobel said. "Use any of the reference books here in the lab." He was pretty sure it was in fact a Northern Water Snake, but the immaturity would make it harder to identify. That would keep the two busy, for at least a little while. He gave the two boys the snake, then pulled out the stat sheets, thinking again. If he gave the Hekkinan kid a start later in the season, maybe in a nonleague game, then...