a Women Writers' Showcase
One Ride too Many
By Sharon Poppen

"Thanks, buddy."  T-Roy jumped from the pick-up and slammed the door.  He tugged his saddle from the truck bed and called to the driver.  "My old lady's probably got the place cluttered with the laundry and sewing she takes in, but I'll have her rustle you up a beer for giving me a lift."

"No.  Gotta get home, but good luck on your next go round."

T-Roy coughed through the dust cloud of the retreating truck, squinted in the bright sunlight and began lugging his saddle up the driveway.  Once the dust settled, the sun slid behind a cloud making it easier for him to see.

What the hell?" he muttered at the sight of a couple of men whitewashing the newly sanded, wood siding of the house.  He quickened his step wondering where the money was coming from.  His call home a couple of days ago, met with a disconnect recording.  He'd assumed Patsy hadn't had the money to pay the bill.

Movement to his left drew his attention.  Three Palomino mares stood just inside rickety rail fencing.  "Where'd you come from?"  He moved to the fence and stroked the ears of a cream colored beauty.  "Patsy buy you?"  He patted another of the horses.  "If she did, you girls won't be here long.  'Cause if she's got that kind of money, I need a new truck."

His guilt at spending his third-place prize money in saddle bronc riding on the last three nights with a rodeo queen was fading fast.  He continued towards the house, stopping next to one of the painters.

"Who said to do this and who's paying ya?"

"The missus."  The painter didn't miss a swish with his brush.

T-Roy noticed the old, warped front door was gone and its expensive looking oak replacement leaned against the doorjamb.  He shook his head and strolled into the parlor, or at least what used to be his parlor.  The inside of the house had been stripped of all furniture and the floors had been sanded back to their natural wood grain.  He dropped his saddle and yelled.  "Patsy!  What the hell is going on here?"

"Yes?  Can I help you?"  A woman came in from the kitchen.

"Who the hell are you?"

"I'm Donna Phillips.  Who are you?"

"I'm T-Roy Jackson and this is my house."

A man appeared from down the hall and joined Donna.  "What's this about being your house?"

"That's what I said.  Now where's Patsy?"  T-Roy looked into the kitchen to find it stripped bare.  "What the hell is going on?"

"Mr. Jackson, I'm Greg Phillips.  My wife and I bought this place a couple of weeks ago.  It was in foreclosure.  We were concerned about moving Mrs. Jackson and the children out, but just a couple of days ago, the banker called and said she was gone.  She'd won the lottery.  Seems it was one of the largest ever, over a hundred million I was told."

"The lottery?  Patsy won the lottery?"

Greg nodded.  "Yes.  She dropped by yesterday and insisted we take $50,000.  Said it was to make up for letting the place come to this sad condition."

"Where's she now?"

Donna shook her head.  "We don't know.  We had no idea there even was a Mr. Jackson.  But, she did leave a message for a Peter Pan."

"Peter Pan?"  T-Roy asked.

"Yes.  She said if Peter Pan came looking for her, tell him she was in Never, Never Land."  Donna inched closer to her husband.

"What the hell does that mean?"  T-Roy snarled.

Donna had trouble holding back a smirk.  "She said Never, Never Land like he'll never, never find us."

The End

Sharon Poppen, Lake Havasu City, Arizona – Her novel ‘After the War, Before the Peace’ available at www.xlibris.com/sharonpoppen.  Her western serial ‘Hannah’ available at www.keepitcoming.net.  Has received awards from the Arizona Authors Association and National League of American Pen Women. Contact her at poppen@citlink.net