Take a Peek Into Josephine's World...

Excerpt from Secure the Ranch:

Then I heard it, coming up fast from behind, the roar of an engine propelling a truck with major muffler problems. It backfired. I jumped a couple inches in my seat and my heart skipped several beats. Headlights flashed in my rearview mirror. Solow howled again, his head stretched out the window as far as it could go. I made a right turn onto Central Avenue, stifling the urge to stomp on the gas pedal. The truck behind us followed at the same speed until we left the streetlights behind.

Highway nine was a windy two-lane road that followed the San Lorenzo River through the redwood forest from Boulder Creek, all the way south to Felton. There were no street lights, just sharp turns, narrow bridges and steep drops down to the river.

“Brace yourself, big guy.” I put my foot down hard, the engine coughed, and we sped up only to slow down for a sharp turn.

And so it went, turn after turn with the Dodge bearing down on our tailgate like an eight-cylinder cat playing with a four-cylinder mouse. I had a white-knuckle grip on the steering wheel, sweat running down my back and my jaw was tighter than a double-knotted shoelace. I had driven through the valley many times and knew my way around, but the McFee's had the “home advantage”.

I felt a hard jolt from the right rear of my truck. Solow yipped.

In slow motion, we spun to the left on two wheels, across the other lane and instantly turned a closed garage door into a million toothpicks. The one-car garage, perched high above the river beside a rustic cabin, stood about five yards from the highway. The little house was typical of many in the area, probably built in the thirties or forties when building codes were lenient or nonexistent.

Thankfully, we stopped before my pickup could break through the back wall of the garage and drop eighty feet down to the river. I heard Solow whine and didn't blame him. I felt like a good cry myself.

Shaking like crazy, I cautiously opened the door and climbed out. Once I had my balance, I stumbled down a dark path to the cabin. The porch light blinked on and the front door opened. A very distraught elderly couple dressed in pajamas looked at me as if the Martians had landed.

I stepped into the light and apologized profusely. Feeling wobbly, I wrapped my arm around a porch pillar. I always hated it when females fainted in the old movies, and I never wanted to be a fainter. But there I was, feeling numb and shaking like a maple leaf. Next thing I knew, I was laying on a couch too short for my body. My feet were up on the armrest. Pieces of peanut butter sandwich clung to the toe of my right sandal. “So that's where Theda's sandwich went,” I mumbled.

The plump little old lady patted the goose egg on my forehead with a wet cloth. “I'm so sorry I ruined your garage door. I'm sure my insurance will pay for a new one.” I looked up and thought I was hallucinating. A huge caribou head hung on the wall behind the couch. Its yellow marble eyes glared down at me accusingly.

“Relax, dear,” the frizzy-haired woman said. “You've had a terrible shock.”

The elderly man stomped into the house with his pajamas in a twist and announced that his collection of stuffed animals was a complete loss. It seemed odd to me that he wasn't nearly as concerned about his garage door as he was about some silly stuffed animals.

“I'd be happy to buy you some new ones,” I said, feeling horribly guilty. The little lady looked like she was ready to split a gut. “Honey, you can't buy them. You have to kill the mangy animals and then they're stuffed and ready to spend thirty years in the garage, or until a nice accident takes them out.” She couldn't hold back any longer and let loose with uncontrollable laughter, slapping her knees and wiping her eyes. Her husband stomped out of the house.


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