Busted Axle Road
Chapter 49

Copyright© 1993, 2001, 2010

As Jennifer had expected, it was a lot of fun to walk into the Record-Herald office the next morning with her hair done up, wearing a pair of cutoff bluejeans and a T-shirt advertizing a rock concert ten years past. As expected, the mailroom crew was all smiles, and there was a lot of reminiscing and gossiping that went on all through the early hours, while the staff waited for Mike's return from Camden.

Only Kirsten seemed out of sorts; and that wasn't surprising, as heavily pregnant as she was, on a day that was already hot, and would get hotter before it was over with. Jennifer could remember how joyfully pregnant Kirsten had been with Tiffany, ten years before, and how out of sorts she'd gotten near the end.

It seemed that pregnancy wasn't the only thing that had Kirsten out of sorts. "Nanook of the North and his buddy, Sergeant Preston, picked up another dog last night," she reported to Carrie. "This was a stray that someone had picked up. He looks like a husky, and his name is King, so they didn't think about it," she went on. "Any minute now, they're going to be studying maps of Alaska."

Jennifer had heard about the dog team on a phone call with her mother a couple weeks before, but she was the only one that hadn't heard about the latest adventures, so Kirsten had to fill her in. Mark had taken the tractor and mower, and had cut a series of trails into the weedy, overgrown field across the road from Mike and Kirsten's. It seemed like every evening, Mark or Mike were out being towed around the field on the ATV. Never for long in this heat; just long enough to give the dogs a little workout and work on their training. "At least usually they'll come to a stop within a hundred yards of where you tell them to stop," she reported, "So, I guess that's progress."

"I'll have to come out and watch. It sounds like fun," Jennifer observed.

"It sounds like madness," Kirsten said. "And, the madness is catching. Last night, Tiffany made a real serious pitch to me. If little hemmorhoid-maker here is a girl, she wants to name her 'Susan.'"

"That's a nice name," Jennifer said.

"Not when she wants to name her after Susan Butcher," Kirsten snorted. "You know who Susan Butcher is? She's the gal that won this thousand-mile sled dog race in Alaska the last two years."

"I can think of worse reasons to give kids names," Jennifer said. "In fact..."

"Don't you dare," Carrie broke in, knowing that her daughter was about to needle her about Brandy's name again, "We were a little goofy when we did that."

" ... Susan is a nice name, and the fact that her namesake is such a strong, powerful person would be kind of nice. Can't you just see the first woman president being named, oh, 'Candy' or, 'Peaches'?"

They all laughed at that one. When the laughter died down a little, Jennifer asked, "Well, have you worked out a name?"

"If it's a boy, it's going to be 'Mike, Jr., '" Kirsten said. "That was settled a long time ago. We really haven't come up with a name for a girl, though 'Amanda' seems to come up fairly often." She frowned, and gritted her teeth for a minute, then went on with a more serious tone in her voice, "And, if it's a girl, we're going to have to settle it pretty damn soon."

The tone in Kirsten's voice alerted Carrie. "How soon?" she asked.

"Real soon," Kirsten said. "I mean, REAL soon."

"Are you saying..."

"Yeah," Kirsten said. "They've always come quick. I don't think I'd better hang around waiting for Mike to get back."

"I'll take you," Carrie offered.

"Somebody had better be sure that Mike gets over to the hospital as soon as he gets back," Kirsten said.

"I'll go with you," Jennifer offered. The three went out to Carrie's car. Kirsten told Jennifer that she'd been keeping a bag in the car with her for days, and Jennifer ran over to grab the bag. The drive to the hospital only took a few minutes, but Kirsten was glad to be there; things were happening quickly, now.

Carrie and Jennifer decided they'd better stick around until Mike arrived, just in case. It was a good decision; because as Kirsten had predicted, things did happen quickly. They couldn't have been at the hospital twenty minutes before Kirsten was being rolled into one of the delivery rooms. "Come on along, you guys," Kirsten said. "If Mike's not here, I want someone to hold my hand."

Jennifer wasn't sure she wanted to, but knew enough not to argue. It turned out she knew the nurse that got gowns for her mother and herself, and there was a second of greeting of old friends, and a second of greeting of Dr. Brege, who had been her doctor when she'd been a kid. Beyond that, Jennifer didn't know what to expect, but Jenny sort of helped out, right then; she realized that it might be something to remember, since there was no telling when something of this sort might come up in a role. Fortunately, Mike arrived a few minutes later, and she was able to stand back and watch a baby girl be born.

There was something to think about in what she saw; in fact, much to think about. "I think it's time we left," Carrie whispered, and Jennifer agreed. Quietly, they snuck out into the hall, to leave the proud new parents to their privacy.

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