Saturday, November 15, 2014

Sample Saturday - November 15, 2014

Welcome to Sample Saturday. This week's sample is from a published short story called The Usual Game.

The Ford sputtered and died.

Verl allowed the car to slip backward down the side of the steep mountain road to the almost-flat place where the switchback zigzagged in the other direction, then turned off the lights and set the brake. Night surrounded him with insect chirps and the crisp, tangy odor of creosote as he stepped off the running board of the 1926 Model T.

I shoulda put in gas at Clarkdale, he thought, and wondered if the gas can was as dry as the tank.

The young man let his eyes adjust to starlight for a moment, breathing deeply, hoping to cut the concrete dust that filled his lungs with the night air. Even if his was a dirty job, it was honest labor, like he'd promised Betty. Construction work was good for the economy of the young state of Arizona, and pretty well paying for him.

He felt the wad of bills in his pocket. Maybe his earnings weren't like before, but soon there would be enough money for him to drive down to Phoenix to visit Betty and Ma. He could wire his wages to them, but he longed for some home cooking, and for the sight of Betty's laughing face when he came in the door.

Verl felt along the running board for the gas can. He untied it, then gave it a shake. Should be a good two gallons in there. Plenty to get him up the hill to his lodgings in Jerome.

He got the funnel out of the toolbox, uncapped the tank, and slid the funnel into the hole. Pungent fumes rose from the opened can as he lifted it, carefully adding the liquid to the tank. Then he was finished, and a tuneless whistle flowed through his pursed lips as he put away the gas can and funnel.

"Let's go on home," he said, patting the car.

Verl fired up the engine with the electric starter and eased off the brake to make another run up the steep road. The car settled into the proper gear and putted into the long ascent.

The engine died again.

Verl set the brake and started her up. The car putted a few more feet, then gave up.

Still whistling, the young man tried again. A few minutes later, the whistle was ragged, and so was the patience. And Verl was back at the change-around point of the dugway. He slapped his big hand against the dashboard. I heard these Tin Lizzies were temperamental, he thought. I got to get home soon, or Fong'll throw out my supper. The moon rose over the horizon of the valley, silvering the car and the road.

"I wish I had more gas in the tank," he said before he realized he was speaking out loud. "Maybe that's the problem . . . ." His voice tapered off as he remembered what the auto agent had said when he bought the car several months before: "Jerome, heh? Well, keep in mind that she has a gravity feed on the fuel. When you're low on gas and break the vacuum, you might have to back 'er up that steep hill."

Verl leaped out of the car and sighted up the road. It looked straight enough, and with that moon, he had plenty of light. He restarted the engine, pulled the car into a tight left turn, and backed up the hill.

Thank you for visiting. I hope you enjoyed the sample. The Usual Game (Short Story) is available as an electronic book at these online outlets: Smashwords all formats | Kindle | nook | Kobo | iTunes Bookstore

Don't miss the big ebook sale that begins on Monday. I've included Trail of Storms and Gone for a Soldier in this huge event:

Click the "My Books" tab at the top of the page for more information about my books and short stories. Purchase links are included. The "Special Collections" tab includes information and links to my novella, Faith and the Foreman, and a short story in the Owenverse, Bloodied Leather, which gives a glimpse into the future of the Owen Family. Don't forget to come back next Saturday for another sample of my writing.

Bestselling author Marsha Ward wrote the novella, Faith and the Foreman, in the best-selling Timeless Romance Anthology Old West Collection. She is the author of an acclaimed novel series featuring the Owen family. Book 4, Spinster's Folly, won the 2013 USA Best Book Award for Western Fiction, and recently was named Finalist in Western Fiction in the 2014 International Book Awards. A former journalist, Ward has published over 900 articles, columns, poems and short stories. She is the founder of American Night Writers Association, a.k.a. ANWA.

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