Busted Axle Road
Chapter 103: December, 1987

Copyright© 1993, 2001, 2010

After the last council meeting in November, Mike had avoided the Spearfish Lake Cafe for a week or so, reasoning that Ryan Clark might well be there. Not that Mike was avoiding him, but he didn't want to get into a washup of the events of that night.

That wasn't the case with the first December meeting, which had been held the evening before. Mike thought it was nice to have a free Wednesday morning, one when he wouldn't have to be in to work till nine or so; he could have a leisurely breakfast, rather than just a hurried cup of coffee.

Predictably, the sewer was a topic of discussion, but it wasn't as hot a topic as it had been two weeks before, but Mike tried to stay out of the discussion, and a couple of other times tried to lever the discussion into different channels.

George Lindquist sitting across the table gave him one chance. "I've got to admit, George," he said, "You solved one major problem for me this year."

"What's that?"

"Every year, I've got about two dozen friends and relatives that I have to send Christmas presents to, and it's always a hassle to come up with something for some of them. I mean, what the hell do I send to Jenny Evachevski, for instance? This year was easy. I just sent them a book."

"That's one way to get rid of them."

"How are they selling, anyway?"

"Oh, they're selling all right," George said. "I mean, I didn't expect to have spectacular sales, but they've been all right. We'll make out all right, and have them around for a while."

"Well, just so long as you're not buried in them for the next ten years," Mike said. "I was talking with Fred Linder over in Warsaw a week ago Sunday about it, and he seemed pretty pleased with it. He said it's solving his Christmas present problem, too."

"I can't believe Christmas is almost here," George replied. "Kids'll be out of school the day after tomorrow, and it seems like they just started school."

"God damn it," Ryan Clark said, in response to a question from down the table. "We didn't fire that jerk. He quit. That's not to say that we wouldn't have fired him if it came down to a vote."

"It looks like you treated him kind of rough," someone said.

"He deserved it," Clark said. "He was into mushroom management. Keep 'em in the dark and feed 'em shit. He had the idea that he was smarter than the council, so he only needed to tell us what he thought we ought to know. There's no way you can make a competent decision under those circumstances."

Mike gave in. There was no way he could stay out of this discussion. "It wouldn't have been so bad if he had been smarter than the council," he said. "But some of the stuff he did was pretty damn dumb."

This time, it was Mark that decided to try to change the topic a little. "Have you heard anything on that idea I had? The one about the enlarged plant?"

"Not much," Clark said. "Musgrave said last night that the engineers liked the idea, but they hadn't come up with a figure yet. Maybe a month or so. At least we've got some time to look at the problem, now, and not have to head off half-cocked."

"Why's that?" George said.

"We did hear from the EPA," Clark said. "They realize that the problems we've had with this snake thing has slowed us up, so they're giving us another year before they start fining us. That's good, since we never could have had either the retention pond, the expanded plant, or the sewer separation in place by next July first, not starting now, anyway."

"That does take a little of the heat off," Mike commented.

"It takes a hell of a lot of the heat off," Clark said. "We can break ground in the spring, whatever we do, and do it right, not rush off half-assed and do the wrong thing, or whatever Kutzley told us we had to do."

Mike decided to do a little prying. Clark was going so good, he might let out something of what had happened behind closed doors the night before. "I know you guys had an executive session last night," he said. "I took off and worked up the story. Did you guys decide to go ahead and sue the Fish and Wildlife Service to get the Critical Interest Area lifted?"

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