The Melon Farmer Sample

THE MELON FARMER: A Good Time Girls Adventure
Caution: Read after Book One: The Good Time Girls
Somewhere in Kansas
July 1905


We would be dead were it not for the mule. While Pip kept us moving in a generally southwest direction, Theodore’s penchant for water kept us moving and not bags of bones along our route.

Martha Ruth didn’t do much but keep his reins loose and look back at Pip and me every so often to make sure we knew who was in charge of our escape from Sheriff John Ward and Cullen Wilder himself, should I have missed shooting him completely.

Pip says I did.

Martha Ruth says she was too busy getting Fred and No Name from their stalls and preparing our getaway to notice.

I myself was unsure at dawn, confident in my terrible aim at noon, and gnashing my teeth by nightfall. 

Pip had already moved her bedroll twenty feet away from me so her sleep was not interrupted by my need for her to tell me in minute detail all that occurred on the back steps of Verna Rolf’s farmhouse.


“No. Go to sleep.”


“I am sleeping, Ruby.”

“No, you’re not. You haven’t snored once.”

“I do not snore.”

“Yes, you do.” Martha Ruth rolled over on her blanket. “Like two logs with a bad case of whooping cough.”

“Haha. No. Not true. I am ignoring you both.”

I smacked my bedroll. “Pip, I saved your life. You should give me some consideration.”

“This Bible saved my life.” She scooted over, pulling it from the coat pocket of her latest stolen suit of clothes. She held it up so the campfire glowed on the red Levantine cover and shadowed the bullet-sized hole in the middle. “Now go to damn sleep.”

“I would be interested in finding all those words that got shot out of that good book.” Martha Ruth shimmied her bedroll over to my other side. Theo raised his head from where he grazed along the tree-draped creek, then went back to his repast. Fred and No Name snoozed, their heads lolling, no doubt dreaming of oats and a sugar cube. “My aunt could make use of them in her Sunday school class. She could lay the shredded bits on the floor and tell the children to figure out what went where.”

“That would be a cruel thing to do,” I said. “That bullet went through every book except Revelation.”

“I’d like to see their little faces when they pick up a Song of Solomon verse.” 

Pip tucked the Bible in the pocket of her jacket and lay back. She threaded her fingers behind her head and closed her eyes.

Martha Ruth tapped her lip and gave a considering look. “I hadn’t thought of that. Oh, well, good night.”

“Just out there.” Pip pointed across an expanse of tall grass to a slug of black that could have been a dwelling or a large rock.

I squinted my eyes. The horizon shimmered and blurred but I could just make out the squat structure and a few others that looked like a handful of dice had been tossed and discarded. “You think they’ve got toothpowder? My teeth need more than a twig and creek water.”

“Is that a hill?” Martha Ruth pointed to her right.

Pip reined No Name in a circle, taking in all the directions. “There’s not much place to hide. Should we need it.” She bit down on her lower lip. “Martha Ruth, you feeling like doing a sneak?”

Martha Ruth puffed up her chest. “Yes, ma’am. That is my bandit name and I am at the ready.”

“All right. Once the sun’s dropping, we’ll head in. You’ll ride Fred, and we’ll maneuver around to that far building.” She pointed at a long shed. “Then we’ll take it from there.”

“And me?” I asked.

“You stay here with the mule. And do the mending. That pair of socks have holes in the heel and chafing my skin.”

“You wouldn’t mind hemming the blue skirt I took from that laundry line?” Martha Ruth asked.  “It’s dragging the ground and getting all sorts of brambly things on it.”

So I was stuck with the creek guzzler and not part of the supply run. But Martha Ruth was a very good sneak thief and I was not. In addition, she was not a very good seamstress, Pip was worse, and thus my skills were required to keep the various togs we borrowed from clothing lines in good shape and fitting.

“Fine,” I said. “But don’t forget toothpowder. And soap. And if you come across a peach pie,  I wouldn’t turn down a slice.”


Thus, Theo and I remained in camp and they went off to be bandits.

I made a short shrift of the hemming and stitching. 

“Theo,” I said, “we are out of thread.” 

But not out of things to do. We were out of kindling and the log on the campfire was charred through, only a speck of glowing orange in one corner. I stood, brushed down my trousers, and meandered along the low rise to search out bits of dried twigs and broken branches. 

The sky darkened to purple, leaving room for stars to begin glimmering and darkening the stand of trees and beyond them the vast prairies and wheatlands. This gave me a shiver of lonesomeness. I thought a song might brighten me, so I sang.

’To whit’ says the old gray owl

In the sycamore tree

‘To woo’ says the old gray owl

In the syc…

“Who’s there?” I froze. 

The bushes and grasses rustled next to me.

“I have a shotgun and am not afraid to use it.” I let go of the twigs and held a length of branch to my shoulder. “Show yourself.”

“I suggest you put down your…weapon.” It was a woman’s voice, and poshly accented.

“No, ma’am, I will—”

Something hard hit the back of my head. My eyes flashed and then everything melted to black.