Flung headlong into the Dog Days of summer by multiple mysteries that may or may not be related, Jo Harper and Frog Carpenter face:
An uncanny schoolmaster!
A bubbling, bucking Model-T!
Old West outlaws!
and the worst thing of all...the first day of school!
In this sequel to WAITING FOR A COMET, Jo, Frog and sure-shootin' lady Constable Abby Drake return for another visit to the exciting town of Willowby, Wyoming in the hot, dry summer of 1910.
Right after sunrise on the first day of school, Jo Harper beamed with radiant pride while constable Abby Drake pinned a polished silver star over Jo’s heart. The deputy's badge gleamed in the early sunlight, and just to be sure, Abby bent over and breathed hard, fogging the surface before giving it a final touch with her big, red hanky. Standing tall beside Abby's oak desk, Jo dropped her chin to her neck and tried to read the badge upside down. It sure enough said "Deputy Constable." She reached up and pinched her own ear.
“What’d you do that for?” said Abby.
“Wanted to make sure it wasn’t a dream,” said Jo.
“How dumb is that?” said Jo’s friend, Frog Carpenter.
Around them, Abby's office came awake as the shadows of night melted away and the stove's iron coffee pot burped its fresh brewed fragrance into the air. Jo heard the familiar clop, clop of horses and wagons outside, taking to the streets of Willowby, Wyoming and, as befit that progressive year of 1910, she caught the sound of an automobile chugging to life in the distance.
"You're a full-fledged deputy of the law now, Jo," said Abby. "Even if we do need to keep it between ourselves. I'm not putting it down in my log. It’s too much paperwork, and the city council would never approve a twelve-year-old girl deputy."
Jo fought the tears coming to her eyes. She blinked hard and turned away from Abby, but the constable hooked a calloused finger on Jo's chin. Jo looked at the old woman and smiled.
"A good sob of joy ain't nothing to be ashamed of," said Abby.
Abigail Drake didn't get to be as old as she was by letting things go. Jo pegged her at around sixty, but with the energy of somebody just starting out. Standing with her back to the window, Abby's windburned features were hidden in shadow. She was far from what anyone would call a ravishing beauty, especially with only one real eye— and a second one made of glass. But Jo, whose mother died years before, saw the compassion in Abby's face. A warm smile tempered the stern discipline of her jaw and tough, long gray braid hanging over her shoulder. All the good folks in town admired Abby. And the bad people were scared of her to the worn out soles of their shoes.
Jo wondered if she could ever command the kind of respect from both sides of the law that Abby had earned. She turned to the framed mirror that hung beside Abby's desk. Her gingham red shirt contrasted nicely with the green of her eyes. Unlike other girls on this first day of school, she wore rough beige canvas trousers. Her hair was the color of night, worn long in a sturdy braid that hung straight down her back. She took another peek at the star on her chest. "One day I'll wear this star out in the open."
"It's best kept between you and me for now," said Abby.
Bio:Richard Prosch writes western crime fiction that captures the history and lonely frontier stories of his youth, where characters aren’t always what they seem and the wind burned landscapes are filled with swift, deadly danger. Richard’s work appeared in The Protectors, an anthology to benefit children; and most recently, his short story "Hester's Vanity" was featured in the hardcover anthology Rough Country from High Hill Press. His newest collection, One Against a Gun Horde is now available for Kindle at Amazon.com. His work has also appeared at Optimist International and online at Boys' Life, as well as many non-fiction print publications.
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