Busted Axle Road
Chapter 74

Copyright© 1993, 2001, 2010

"The women are going to kill us," Mark said.

Mike shook his head. "Blame it on me," he said. "After all, I'm the one with the soft head."

"I should have known that, after the last time we went to the pound."

"Blame it on me," Mike replied. "There's no point in you getting in trouble with Jackie over it. We'll tell the women that it's the start of my team. I don't think Kirsten wants three fatherless children."

"If we get back, and Henry Toivo's shown up while we've been gone, you'll be a dead man," Mark teased.

Henry Toivo was not a subject to tease Mike about, and Mark knew that. As soon as he'd said it, he wished he'd never said it. But, Mike shrugged it off. "If he did, then there's no problem with this, anyway."

"Well, let's keep 'em down to my place for a while, at least until they get used to the situation," Mark offered.

"I'm willing," Mike agreed. "I just don't want to put you out."

"No problem."

They rode on in silence in Mark's pickup truck for a long time. "Oh, well," Mark said finally. "This is going to make for a real team. At least, it's really going to look like a dog team."

As luck would have it, Jackie and Kirsten were sharing a cup of coffee in Jackie's kitchen when they drove up Mark's driveway. Mark, Mike and Cumulus were hardly out of the cab of the truck when the women came outside to see how bad the damage was.

"Is that four dogs I see in the back there?" Jackie asked. "I thought you were going for one, maybe two at the most."

"We got there," Mike admitted, having agreed to take the heat, "And there were these four. We just couldn't make up our minds which two to keep, and they were all going to be offed this afternoon, so I decided to take all four. If they work out, it'll be the start of the second team. If they don't work out, well, they're getting their last chance."

It had actually been hard to make a decision. All four of the dogs seemed to have a lot of husky in them, and all got along with Cumulus. There had been two more that hadn't, or Mike and Mark could have easily have brought six dogs home with them.

"But, four dogs," Jackie said. "You only built two new doghouses."

"We're going to have to build two more," Mark said with a shrug. "A couple of them can be tied out in the T-hanger until we get more houses built."

They unloaded the dogs from where they'd been tied with necklines at the each corner of the back of the pickup, and one by one tied each to a fence post behind the hanger. Three of the dogs were gray and black and white, in various patterns; the fourth was dingy brown, mixed with black. He was thin, and his fur was scraggly and matted, and he had a scar on his nose that made it look like he'd been in a fight some time before. "You could have left that one behind," Kirsten suggested.

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