Busted Axle Road
Chapter 125: March 1995

Copyright© 1993, 2001, 2010

Mike took Wednesday off to recover. He slept late, then got up, got a cup of coffee he really didn't want, then plopped down in his chair in the living room. He felt like reading, but didn't really think of anything that interested him. Daytime TV was trash, of course. He took the remote and turned on the VCR; maybe someone had left a tape in it that was worth watching, although the odds were that it was more of Henry's cartoons.

It wasn't cartoons; it was the tape that Kirsten had made on the finish line at Sunday. He had already seen it seventeen times at least, but he watched the climactic moments once again: the teams racing across the ice, pounding along side by side, Tiffany so tiny behind the drive bow of the sled, but so intense and dedicated. Once again, he heard Kirsten's yell of "Come on, Tiffany," shouted right into the videocamera's microphone, and once again he followed the teams racing down the chute as Kirsten had panned to follow them across the finish line. He and Mark had seen the tape the first time as they sat shivering in the hot tub an hour after it happened, and though they'd watched this segment several times, they couldn't fault Ryan Clark's judgement of the viewfinder playback that Ringo had about a nose-length as they'd crossed the line in the snow. After Josh and Tiffany had driven the dogs back home and put them back on their tethers, they'd come in, watched it too, and agreed. Josh then borrowed Mike's VW Rabbit, took Tiffany down to the store, bought a twelve-pack of coke, and presented it to her.

That was a twelve-pack that would go undrunk. It sat on the bookshelf in the living room, right now, with Jackie's neat freehand lettering on it: 1988 WARSAW RUN CHAMPION, TIFFANY LANGENDERFER-MCMAHON. What a proud kid she'd been!

It was rather depressing when he thought about it. All in all, it was the most expensive six-pack of beer he'd never had. To put all the time, the money, and the work into those great dogs he had, and to have to sit shivering in a hot tub watching their greatest moment on the VCR was rather anticlimactic, to say the least. He and Mark had already agreed that the finish of this race really didn't settle the question of who has the faster team, and agreed they'd try to settle it again next year.

The phone rang. Mike paused the VCR, and picked it up. "Hello?"

"Hi," said an unfamiliar voice. "Is this Mike McMahon?"

Probably a sales call; it would be just his luck. "Yes."

"Are you the Mike McMahon that's in that big story in the Camden Press today?"

"Haven't seen the Press," Mike admitted. "I'm not sure why there would be anything about me in it, anyway."

"Aren't you the Mike McMahon that ran a dogsled from Spearfish Lake to Warsaw, and then had your daughter finish the trip for you after you got sick?"

"You mean, that's in the Press?" Mike replied, amazed. They'd run a small story in the Record-Herald, and a photo, on a page with a bunch of other stuff on the Winter Festival.

"Yeah, there's a photo of the finish, and another one, of your daughter hugging her lead dog. Nice story, too."

"I'll be damned," Mike said. "I'll have to get a copy." Several, in fact, for framing and scrapbooks. There must have been a reporter around, looking for features.

"Did you know that's the longest dogsled race that's ever been held in this state, that I can find out about?"

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