Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Sneak Peek: Dust Bowl Dreams

How about a sneak peek? Dust Bowl Dreams debuts on September 17 from Rebel Ink Press and I thought I'd share a tidbit.

Here's the blurb and an excerpt from the first chapter:


                                                          

Life’s never easy for a good-hearted man who decides crime is the answer to his troubles.

No rain in the summer of 1933 is bad news for Oklahoma farmer Henry Mink. The local banker wants the mortgage on the farm paid and unless Henry comes up with the dough, his widowed mother and four young siblings won’t have a home.  Jobs are scarce so he decides to rob a bank.   His sweetheart, school teacher Mamie Logan, doesn’t like the idea and neither does Henry’s kid brother Eddie but Henry’s out of options.

He leaves home and robs a bank at nearby Ponca City. When he returns home, he pays off the mortgage but new troubles show up. Mamie is his greatest joy and they become engaged but by fall, Henry has no options left but to rob another bank.  If he can pull off one another big job, he figures he’ll be set until the hard times are over but few things in life go as planned.  His desperate efforts will either secure his future or destroy it forever.

If Henry’s family survives and Mamie’s love endures, he’ll need a miracle.

 

Western Oklahoma

June 1933

 

            Blue summer sky stretched into infinity above the parched land and open Oklahoma prairie.  As Henry Mink walked into the north wheat field, dry brittle stalks beneath his boots crunched like broken glass.  He knelt and scooped up a handful of soil.  Henry sifted it through his fingers and a puff of wind caught it, blew it away like powder as he sighed.  The drought dried up everything and he knew now he’d have to leave the farm.  His mama and the little ones wouldn’t make it if he stayed.  This year there’d be no crop and no money unless he did something about it.  His daddy, Tom Mink, dead three years past, would turn over in his grave if he knew the state of the farm Henry’s grandfather claimed back when the Cherokee Strip opened in ‘93.  Daddy wouldn’t ever agree to mortgage the place but after his death, Mama lacked options so she did.  Half the money went to pay for the funeral, the rest kept them going for awhile.   Now, however, without money in hand, Henry knew the bank in town would take the home place and he couldn’t let it happen.

 If it’d rained, they might’ve saved the crop, but nothing remained to salvage.  Relentless heat baked the growing wheat to death.  Rich farmers with black land farms and good water might hold out, maybe. But between the drought and the Depression, he doubted the Mink family would.  Henry swore beneath his breath and rolled a cigarette, waiting to see if she’d come.  

            He sprawled beneath the shade of a small hickory tree growing against the fence line and smoked, the slow spirals drifting skyward to vanish in the humid heat.  Henry stared upward to watch a pair of red tailed hawks glide through the cloudless sky with enviable grace.  When he looked back across the cornfield, Mamie emerged from the trees as silent as a deer.  She walked around the rows of wilted, brown wheat and skirted the field.  Henry sat up as she approached then found his feet.

            “Hey, pretty girl.”

            Her straight sheath dress failed to conceal the curves of her body and Henry admired the view.  He wanted to undo all the little buttons from her throat to her knees and remove the garment, but he didn’t dare in his daddy’s field.  Instead he let his eyes devour her and as he grinned Mamie must’ve read his mind because a pink blush spread over her cheeks.

            “Hey, yourself, Henry,” she said with a toss of her head.  Unlike most of the gals, Mamie kept her hair long, down to her waist, but right now she’d pinned it all into a bun at the back of her head.  Her hairstyle made her look just like the school teacher she was. If he could, he’d take her hair down so the soft dark curls would cascade down her back and over her shoulders, but Henry knew he couldn’t, not here or now. “Did you decide what you’re going to do?”

            “Yeah,” he said.  He’d pondered it a long time, thought about trying to go into Woodward, Ponca City or even Tulsa to find work, but everyone said there weren’t any jobs anywhere.  “I’m going to rob banks.”

            Mamie’s pretty blue eyes narrowed and she frowned. “That’s not funny, Henry.”

            “Honey,” he said with all the patience he could summon. “I’m serious.”

            Her freckled skin paled above her light green dress and her lips parted. “Henry, you can’t mean it.”

             “I do.  The crop’s gone and without it, I don’t know how Mama can feed the little ones through the winter, let alone pay the mortgage.   Eddie’s fifteen so maybe he could earn some money if there were any jobs, but the others are too small.  Ain’t any jobs out for a man to make a decent living so I figured if Charley Floyd can do it, so can I.”

1 comment:

KT BISHOP said...

love it....

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