Busted Axle Road
Chapter 96

Copyright© 1993, 2001, 2010

George Lindquist was just getting ready to leave the Spearfish Lake Cafe when Mark and Mike came in, and he didn't need explanation of what had happened; he could tell from the big grins on their faces. "Been out mushing?" he smiled as he paid his tab.

"Yeah," Mike admitted. "A little. Nice morning for it."

Though it may have been near lunchtime, Mark and Mike both ordered big breakfasts. "Too bad I wasn't there to see Tiffany run your team," Mark said. "I'd have liked to have seen that."

"She was about the proudest, happiest kid you could imagine," Mike said. "Guess I'm going to have to let her do it again, some time."

"Next thing you know, she's going to want her own team," Mark laughed.

"She can wait a while for that," Mike responded. "It's going to take a lot of mushing to keep the dogs in shape, especially for a trip like Warsaw and back. All they've had so far is short sprints, and I can see we're going to have to push them a little."

"Yeah," Mark said. "And, they're going to lose their edge a little as it is. Starting a week from tomorrow, we can't run them for two weeks, and they're going to have to sit on their butts."

"Why's that?" Mike asked.

"Deer season," Mark replied sadly. "I'm going to move my dogs inside the hanger. Cumulus goes on a chain and stays there until deer season is over. You're going to want to move your dogs into the barn."

"God, is it that bad out there?" Mike asked. He'd completely forgotten about rifle deer season, which was a big thing around Spearfish Lake. Mike didn't hunt deer, mostly because Kirsten wasn't too happy about it, and he had no great drive to fight her about it. George Webb, his boss did go out deer hunting, but Mike knew that sometimes, he didn't bother to take a rifle. It was an excuse to go out into the woods for a week or two with the gang, get away from his wife, drink beer, play cards, and tell tall stories. Which was all right, Mike guessed, even if it was beside the point. Still, he could see why deer hunting would appeal to some people, even if it didn't appeal to him.

"Let me tell you," Mark said, real anger rising in his voice. "Jackie and I used to have a horse, but some asshole shot it, thinking it was a deer. If I ever find out who it was, he's going to get a flying lesson from about five thousand feet over the lake."

Mike started to ask what Mark meant by that, but remembered that Mark had been a paratrooper. This was a downside to living on Busted Axle Road that Binky hadn't mentioned, but Mike had lived in Spearfish Lake long enough that he should have thought of it. "There are a lot of idiots out there," he commented.

"Sure are," Mark said. "Look, maybe I'd better tell you. Don't let the kids play outside, and don't let George run loose. He's got white on him, so don't leave him outside a minute more than necessary, and never wear white outside. There are assholes out there that if they see a flash of white, they think it's a dear, and BANG!"

"You don't hunt, do you?" he asked.

"Back when I was in school, I lived for hunting," Mark said. "Then, when I got back from Vietnam, hunting season rolled around, and I discovered that I had absolutely no desire to do it. Haven't thought about it till this year, when I got to thinking that I could save a few bucks on dog food, but I still don't want to do it."

"Somebody we know is bound to shoot a doe that they don't want, "Mike suggested. "We could ask around."

Mark shook his head. "Yeah, but we'd still have to gut it out, probably, and dress it out for sure, and that's a hell of a mess. I'd just as soon buy dog food."

"You're probably right," Mike admitted.

"The hell of it is," Mark said sourly, "For two weeks, we'll probably have good sledding snow, and we won't dare take the dogs out. Even if they're hooked to a sled, some idiot will probably decide they're running deer, and open up with his assault rifle. Assholes. Then, we'll have bare ground for a month."

"They're not the only assholes running around," Mike said, equally sourly, mentally flipping a nickel in his mind. He looked to each side; they weren't close to anyone. Still, he lowered his voice. "Look, we've got an even bigger problem."

"What?"

Mike kept his voice low. "Webb and I are sitting on a big story right now, but we may decide to go with it, anyway. I only heard hints of it, but I got enough hints to file a Freedom of Information request with Kutzley. I got the paperwork yesterday, and it's not good news. Not for me, not for us, not for the city."

Now, Mark looked interested. "Something involved with the sewer?" he guessed.

"Yeah," Mike said. "Kutzley screamed like a stuck pig when I hit him with it. It seems the city is looking at a way around the sewer separation, in case the EPA decides to go ahead and cite them anyway for the plant overflows. You know what I'm talking about?" Mark nodded, and Mike went on, "It seems someone came up with the idea of building a retention pond to hold the sewer overflow until they can get around to process it. You know where they want to build it? Right in my front yard."

"That's miles away from town," Mark said, furrowing his brow.

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