Date Published: 2/16/21
Publisher Acorn Publishing
It’s 1958. Racial tension and class disparities have everyone on edge in a small Montana town. Despite their differences, three women of the community become the unlikeliest of friends.
BOBBI VERNON is a quirky teen, who will do whatever it takes to drive her teacher’s new Chevy convertible. Adding to the already volatile mix, she meets Pretty Weasel, an Indian basketball player, who calls her Chokecherry Girl. She dreams of dating him and wearing his class ring.
PATSY OLSON, after two failed marriages, is desperate to get her life back. After opening a beauty shop with a shaky bank loan, she watches Coach Vernon, Bobbi’s father, arriving for school each day. Attracted yet wary, she needs the business of the town ladies, including the Coach’s wife, Lois.
MARY AGNES LONE HILL, an alcoholic Crow Indian who was sent far away to a brutal Indian school as a child, now cleans houses for the town ladies and longs to end her estrangement with her son, Pretty Weasel.
These three women are drawn together through an illicit love affair, a stolen car, and a shooting that changes their lives forever.
Chapter One – 1958
The worst thing about babysitting for the O’Malley’s was the dead baby. When the bell rang at their mortuary next door, Bobbi would leave the kids and unlock the door so family and friends could view the deceased.
There she was, the silent baby tucked into a satin lined box like a doll under the Christmas tree. Her tiny hands remained fixed in place, pointing to nothing or maybe to heaven.
For other baby-sitting dangers, Bobbi devised a strategy. After all, in 1958 she was a freshman in high school and knew a few things. So when the dads drove her home, she scooted to the far side of the front seat. If they grabbed her, she’d pull Grandma’s darning needle from her sleeve and jam it into their arm.
You’d be surprised how many husbands tried to feel her up. The men left home in ironed white shirts with clean-shaven cheeks smelling of Old Spice and talking in company voices. But during the evening, they grew stubble, breathed whiskey fumes and pawed at a flat-chested fourteen-year-old girl.
- The year in which Bobbi tangled with the adults—Patsy, the beautician, Mary Agnes, the Crow Indian, and Miss Bauer, the new teacher. Bobbi knew she should have obeyed the law and her parents. She never thought it crucial until she stood before the judge.
“Donna,” she’d said to her best friend, “honestly, I wanted to kneel with prayer hands like the picture of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, maybe with the Platters playing My Prayer in the background. Not because it was religious, but because it sounded sad and romantic. Dad said no! No kneeling and no music in Judge Henderson’s chambers.”
“I love The Platters! That would have been so cool,” Donna said.
“No shit,” Bobbi replied.
The trouble started the first week of March when she discovered the car parked behind the high school. A ‘58 black Chevy convertible with red leather seats, slick red steering wheel, acres of polished chrome, and white wall tires like frosted donuts. A black and red shining jewel.
Bobbi rode to school that day with her dad. From behind the school, they had a clear view of a new business—a beauty shop in an old house trailer. The blonde beautician stood in her doorway, smoking and staring at them like they were something to see.
Dad glanced at the blonde, and then entered the school through the back door. Bobbi paused by the Black Beauty, smoothed her hand over the hood, inhaled the fragrance of the high gloss wax and felt the sun-soaked shiny metal.
A young woman stepped out of the school’s back door and lit a cig. Her eyes were deep set behind heavy-framed black glasses. Her brownish, unwashed hair curled like bacon over her forehead. She wore a rumpled tweed skirt, white Oxford shirt, and penny loafers. Altogether, she gave off a quality of raw, lean power.
Bobbi knew all of the instructors, so she assumed this must be the new English teacher.
“My new rag top. Like it?” the woman asked.
Bobbi sucked in a lungful of air. She’d never ridden in a convertible! “Very cool,” she stammered, hoping she wouldn’t pee her pants.
The teacher displayed a faint expression of her lips, something stealthy, a smile that was not a smile. She tossed her cigarette and went back inside the school.
About The Author
Award-winning California author and poet, Barbara Meyer Link, has had three stories aired on KVPR, a National Public Radio Affiliate. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in numerous literary magazines and small presses. She also received the Sacramento State University Bazzanella Prize for fiction. Her memoir, Blue Shy, was published in 2010 and awarded first prize in the Sacramento Friends of the Library First Chapter contest. She co-authored Coffee and Ink, a handbook for writing groups and was a past editor of Sacramento’s Poetry Now. In addition, she was a poet/teacher for California Poets in the Schools for over fourteen years. Most recently, she was awarded second prize for poetry at the Mendocino Coast Writer’s contest.
Partial list of publications. American River Review, Poetry Now, Mindprint Review, Anima, Missouri Review, Women’s Compendium, Hardpan, Earth’s Daughter’s, (2014-2016) Whitefish Review, Dead Snakes, Noyo Review, Piker Press (on Dec 5, Dec 12)
Blue Moon Literary & Art Review (2019, 2020)