Busted Axle Road
CopyrightÂ© 1993, 2001, 2010
Mike and Kirsten had gone right in to see Frank Matson the first thing Friday morning. They hadn't expected any problem; Frank had stuck his neck out a little ten years before, when they bought their house, and had never missed a payment. Frank was a friend, anyway, and his main comment had been, "About time you got a decent house." Still, he'd had to run it past the loan board, which didn't meet till Tuesday, so the two had decided not to break the news to the kids until they'd gotten the official word.
Tuesday was always a tough day around the Record-Herald; it was paper day, and this was a big paper for this time of the year. The problem was that there wasn't a lot of news for the front page. Mike had banked on the County Commission meeting filling out a big chunk of it, but thanks to vacations and hospital stays, the commission had come up one short of a quorum. This was an off week for the city council, too, so that knocked out the possibility of another regular headline. The school board had met Monday night, but had managed to make it through an absolutely nothing meeting in fourteen minutes flat. The only possibility of a headline there was that they had managed to finish a meeting in fourteen minutes, rather than the normal four boring hours. While the story Mike had turned up about the plant expansion in Warsaw would go a long way toward filling the front page, but it lacked the Spearfish Lake local angle needed for a lead story.
Mike really had needed a lead story, and the only possibility he could think of would to be to do an in-depth story on the storm sewer separation, The thought even bored him, so he didn't put a lot of effort into it. He called up city manager Don Kutzley, and talked with him for a few minutes, getting a couple of possible quotes, but nothing he didn't already know. A conversation with Jack Knoblauch, the sewer system superintendent, came out with about the same results.
Finally, as the afternoon wore on, Mike pulled a story about the need for the storm sewer separation out of the clip files from a couple years before, plated the quotes and losing the grant application over the top of it, and called it good enough.
"Nothing really wrong with it," he told Varner, who wandered in to report that he had no last-minute items that would make a lead story, "Except no one will pay attention to it until they realize how hard it's going to hit them in the wallet, and until this grant business gets settled and the bids are let, no one will know how bad that's going to be." Mike finished spell-checking the story, saved it to a disk, and gave the disk to Varner. "Set it up for a three-column block, and a two-deck head, then run it off," he ordered. "I'd better wander up to the layout room and see what other garbage we've got that we can make a front page out of."
"Aye, 'tis done," Varner replied. He'd been an English Lit major, with drama and journalism minors, and Shakespeare sometimes worked its way out. He headed off to the 286 that was connected to the Laserprinter, and Mike started to get up when the phone rang.