My mom is a rather good writer, but doesn’t do anything about it. Since she’s already not talking to me, now is as good a time as any to share my some of her writing with the world. Here is an excerpt from chapter one of the latest book she’s working on. Enjoy!

“This is going to be more trouble than it’s worth.” she thought to herself as she pulled the horses to a stop on the street. Street was being kind to the mud path that ran between buildings lined up on either side of it in the afternoon gloom. Likewise, buildings was being kind, she thought as she eyed the jumble of wood shacks leaning against each other, just waiting for one strong wind from the mountains surrounding them to blow one against another, and then down, like dominoes.

Everything in her told her to cluck the horses into a fast walk and just keep going. But her rear was sore from bouncing against the hard wooden seat, and every bone in her said it was on the verge of breaking with the next rut. A look down at the horses just confirmed what her tired body was telling her. They stood, heads hanging, not even bothering to nip at the few pitiful tufts of winter grass that had dared pop up in the slowly freezing mud beneath their feet. They had been walking steadily since early that morning, never slacking their gait, never missing a step, and she felt a tug of remorse for not having realized they might need a rest too, until now. Still…another look at was optimistically named the Prairie Inn made her hesitate again.

“In” trouble no doubt.” she muttered, but along with the not-so-polite stares of the few men lazing outside the front door came the unmistakable scent of meat cooking, and something that might be coffee. Her stomach rolled, and she gave up, tying off the horses to the break and climbing slowly down off the wagon seat.

Smoothing the skirts of her dress, she set her chin and, nodding to the men on the porch, walked through the door with as much dignity as any woman walking into a saloon, in a town in the middle of nowhere without her man, could muster. It was better and worse than she had thought. Sudden silence met her entrance, but worse was the low, whispered conversation that started a moment after she passed each table. Raising her head an inch higher, and still drawn by the smell of roasting meat, she walked purposefully straight up to the bar.

Not bothering with a smile she looked the bartender, a small man in a bowler,straight in the eye. Mattie had learned early on in the west that men might covet, and even abuse women, but they admired directness and honesty, even when it came from a woman. Since she was by nature both of those things, she used them to her advantage whenever she could.

The little man behind the bar looked nervously from one end of the bar to the other as if trying to figure out how to get away from a rattlesnake without getting bit.

“Can I get you something’? Ma’am?” he added as an afterthought.

Mattie suppressed the urge to smile. “Yes sir. I’m just going through town, and couldn’t help but smell the delicious odor of steak from your place. This may not be the correct place for me, but if it isn’t can you tell me where I might find a little supper before I move on?” From somewhere behind her a voice snorted, “Delicious odor of steak? Get ‘er something’ Barley! Ain’t no one called the smell of your food “delicious” for a while! Girl must be plumb starved!”

A spattering of laughter accompanied the comment, and Mattie held the little man’s eyes. He stood for another few seconds, just staring at her with his mouth a little slack. With a slight shake of his head, as if to clear his mind, he touched the brim of his bowler with a finger.

“Yes’m. Randy shot an elk this morning down by the creek. It’s our dinner special tonight.” Again the laughter behind her. “I’d be happy to get you a plate. If you don’t think the company here is too uncouth for you!” this with a glare at the room behind her. Hoots and whistles and “Whoa! Uncouth!” followed, louder now. This time Mattie did smile. “That’s very kind of you Barley. I’m sure it will be fine.”

Again, the little man just stayed where he was for a moment, then slowly coloring, he shouted at the room behind him, “Hey you no-mannered, your Mother would be ashamed of you bunch! One of you get up and give this LADY a seat!”

“Well, you’ve got both feet in it now girl. Nothing to do but walk,” she thought. So, steeling herself against what was to come, Mattie turned to face the room.

To be continued…

This post was generously brought to you by business insurance. Barley may need some insurance after Mattie eats the meal he’s fixed for her. 😉


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