Busted Axle Road
Chapter 8

Copyright© 1993, 2001, 2010

It was getting to be along in the afternoon before Mike got the van back to Spearfish Lake. It was time for the kids to be home from school, so Mike thought he'd better swing by and check on them.

Nine was perhaps a little on the young side for Tiffany to be home alone with Henry, but so far it had worked out all right. Still, if Mike or Kirsten were out in the late afternoon, they tried to swing by the house just to check on the kids.

The situation was essentially normal when he walked into the house. The TV was blaring, and Henry was watching the afternoon cartoons that were really too violent for him, but what could you do about it? Tiffany was sitting at the kitchen table, working on her homework. Math, it looked like.

And that was as good an illustration as any about why Mike didn't worry too much about having Tiffany come home from school, and watch Henry. There was no telling her to do her homework; she'd have it done. Tiffany was very sober, responsible, and competent for a nine-year-old, and somehow, Mike wondered how they'd come up with raising such a child. Henry was more like you expected for a six-year-old, a typical pain in the butt, but Tiffany could keep him under control when Mike and Kirsten couldn't.

"What's the homework today?" Mike asked.

"Multiplying three-digit numbers," Tiffany replied, and then frowned, "It's HARD, Daddy."

Mike looked at the page she was working on, and the erasures indicated she'd been having trouble with the last problem. He could see why. "You want to be a little neater with getting your columns in a row," Mike said. "You're adding the same number in twice, there."

Tiffany looked the problem over, and went over it with her pencil. "Oh, goofy me," she said after a moment. "There it is. Thanks, Daddy."

Perhaps now was the time to get to the bottom of everything. "What's this Mommy told me about a snake in the bathtub this morning?"

"Mommy saw it in the tub, and screamed, and killed it," Tiffany said. "I'm sorry she killed it. It would have made a nice pet."

The day Kirsten would allow Tiffany to keep a snake for a pet would also be the day that hell froze over, Mike thought. "Did it come up out of the drain?" he asked.

"I didn't see it come out of the drain, but it was partway in the drain when I got it," Tiffany smiled. "Mommy was so scared that she pooped on the floor."

Mike snickered, but kept it to himself. Kirsten hadn't been kidding when she'd said it had scared the shit out of her! That explained a lot of why Kirsten was bothered; the embarrassment, on top of the being scared, would account for a lot. "We'd better keep that between you and Mommy and me," said thoughtfully. "What happened to the snake?"

"I took it to school, and Mrs. Clark said that Mr. Pacobel said that it was a Northern Water Snake."

"Well, if it was a water snake, it wouldn't have made a very good pet, then, would it?"

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