Busted Axle Road
Chapter 15: May, 1987
CopyrightÂ© 1993, 2001, 2010
John Pacobel would rather have left for Athens on Friday night, but they'd had to play a rare evening double-header at Lynchburg to make up for a rainout of the home opener. Fortunately, the field was lit and it was light until late, anyway, but it made for an awful late evening to get back to Spearfish Lake. His appointment with Pam was for eleven, but that meant that he had to get up very early and drive hard to make it, but the alternative was driving all night and having to sleep alongside the road, not good when he wanted to put forth his best appearance, for more reasons than one.
What made it worse was that they'd lost both sides of the double-header, their first real league matchup of the season, and that made the rest of the season look not very promising. The opportunities the girls had missed ... it was very frustrating.
What was even more frustrating, he realized, was that he could never think about what he needed to think about when he needed to think about it. For ten days, he'd been thinking about the snake, when he should have been thinking about softball. Now that he was actually on his way to do something about the snake, all he could think about was the way the girls had screwed up the softball game.
Oh, well, it was going to be a beautiful day. Some warm weather had pushed in, making for an unseasonably nice spring day, even in the early morning hours. With any kind of luck at all, it should be a good day, both with the snake and with Pam. Either way, it ought to make it worth a short night and a long drive.
It was indeed a long drive to Athens, and the traffic was fairly heavy. Pacobel glanced at his watch repeatedly; making his appointment with Pam at 11 was going to be a very tight thing. Fortunately, Pacobel knew the Athens University campus well, and he had a couple of minutes to spare when he pulled into a parking space outside the biological sciences building.
Pam was waiting for him in the herpetological lab, along with a tall, young, bearded man in a lab coat. "John, this is Professor Gerjevic," Pam said by way of introduction. "When you said you had an interesting snake, I thought he might want to take a look at it."
While Pacobel was glad of the extra expertise in evaluating the curious little snake, he was also very good at picking up vibrations himself, and the vibrations he got weren't promising for his secondary motive for the trip. Either Pam had asked Gerjevic to be there as a sort of chaperon as well as for his expertise, or there was something going on there that was a little beyond the normal teacher/student relationship. Either way, his own chances of getting on the scoreboard were just about zilch. "This is kind of an interesting little guy," he said. "Probably a Northern Water Snake, but the markings seem consistent with a Gibson's Water Snake, at least in any of the references I've got access to.
Gerjevic took the jar, and held it up to the light, and studied it for a moment. "It could well be a Gibson's," he said. "If it is, it would be a major find. Too bad that it's damaged. How did you come by this?"
"A kid brought it to class," Pacobel said, simplifying the story. "It crawled out of a bathtub drain, and the kid's mother whacked it."
"Out of a drain, huh?" Gerjevic said. "Well, if it were living in a sewer, that would account for being out of the torpid stage this early in the season."