Busted Axle Road
Chapter 97

Copyright© 1993, 2001, 2010

The day before deer season opened was a Saturday morning. The town was filled with men in orange jackets, driving out of state cars and trucks, and so was the Spearfish Lake Cafe when John Pacobel dropped by about ten in the morning, to find Heather Sanford in a booth. "Mind if I sit in?" he asked.

"No, go ahead," she said. "You know, after the Halloween Party, I was beginning to like this place. Now, all of a sudden, it makes me sick."

"Deer season?" John asked. "It's one of those things that a lot of us hate, but we've learned that we have to put up with."

"There's no reason you should have to put up with such senseless butchery," she said. "These murderers make me sick."

"Well, I don't care for deer hunters myself," John said. "But, over the years, I've come to apprehend a bit of the logic of the situation. You see, when this area was logged over a hundred years before, it created a habitat that's ideal for deer, and continued logging on a sustained yield basis has kept it that way. At the same time, in our wisdom, we exterminated all the natural predators. The deer are going to die, whether they're shot, or they starve to death. If they're shot, it adds to the local economy. So, we tolerate it."

"Upset the balance of nature, for money," Heather said sourly. "That's what it all comes down to. Mix that with a desire for senseless killing, and you have deer hunting. My God, John, these animal have rights, too. I wish I could do something about it."

John could see very quickly that there was no point in reasoning with her on the matter, and it could only lead to an argument. "Have you heard from Los Angeles how much longer you're going to be here?" he said, trying to change the subject.

"No," she said. "I asked them again this month if I could go somewhere else, since nothing is happening here, but they won't let me, so I have to stay here and be subjected to this genocide. I wish the hell I could get out of the Defenders and get involved with some organization that has the guts to do something."

Once or twice before, John had gotten hints that Heather was not totally satisfied with her job. "I know you've been sending out resumes," he said. "Is it that bad?"

"John, there's so much that we could be doing," she said. "Easy things, things that would do a lot of good. I've told you about my idea about the whales. But, we don't do them. My bosses seem more concerned with where the money is coming from than they do about what good they could do."

"It takes money to do things," John observed.

"Yeah, I know that," she said. "But I spend most of my time working on raising money, not on things that matter. That's why I keep sending out resumes. I want to work on something that matters. If the Defenders won't do it, maybe someone else will. Then, what really bothers me is that the only reason I'm here doing nothing is that one of my bosses found someone to pay for me being here, and they want me to stay here, even though I'm doing nothing. It's a total waste. God, I could be doing something useful."

"That's a shame," John said. "But, money talks."

"It talks too damn loud," Heather said. "Just like the hunters, it burns my gut to think of all that I've wasted here."

"Who knows?" John said. "Your time could come. Maybe something would happen, or maybe your funding source will give up."

"I hope so," Heather said. "If we have to deal with funds, I wish someone could come up with the money to do something about all this senseless butchery of poor, innocent animals, but even I know that you can't solve anything with a picket sign. Maybe in the courts, something could be done."

"People have tried," John said. "It's a waste of money."

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