My sister and I are pounding away on the nextCash epic. We’re up to Chapter 5.
And here’s a short excerpt from Chapter 1
The last thing Trudy Coffman wanted on a blistering July day was a trashy alley. As a specialty pet food merchant and the owner of the only pet food bakery in Midland, Texas, she insisted that the area around her shop’s back door be kept neat and clean. LaBarkery did not need an open invitation to bugs and vermin. Trudy had been known to rent a high-pressure hose and blast the alley.
Recently, to her everlasting consternation, the City had placed a Dumpster almost directly behind her back door. The other shop owners up and down strip mall claimed to feel the same about the alley, including the owners of the mom and pop burger joint two doors away. But so far, they hadn’t contributed much physical effort to keeping the Dumpster area clean. As far as Trudy could tell, they hadn’t even reminded their teenage employees who closed at night and took out their garbage to have a care whether they hit the Dumpster.
So after she finished her lunch, she gathered her trash and stepped out into the sunlit alley to dispose of it. To her horror, the area around the Dumpster looked as if a garbage bomb had exploded. Trash cans were upended, including hers. Debris lay everywhere. She knew that unfortunately, she had no choice but to pick all of it up. Besides her personal stake in keeping the alley clean, her neighboring tenants had come to depend on her as the “alley policeman.”
Her shoulders sagged. The temperature hovered around a hundred. “Oh, hell,” she mumbled.
She recognized some of the refuse as coming from her own shop, but sure enough, most of
it had come from the burger joint. On a sigh and a grumble, she righted the garbage cans, placed her plastic bag of trash inside one, then bent and began to pick up the surrounding litter.
Just as she reached for a sack of discarded French fries, a large scruffy dog came from behind the Dumpster and began to wolf down everything in sight. Common sense told her to give a stray dog a wide berth, but he was so thin his sides were sunken and her heart went out to him. Among the things she had never been able to ignore was an animal in need. And for proof, she had two rescue cats, two dogs, an opinionated parrot, two hens and a one-eyed rooster at home.
As she replaced the lid on the trash can, she said to the stray, “Hey, sweetheart, are you friendly?”
The dog looked up at her with soulful brown eyes and wagged its tail, but kept its distance, as if it feared a blow or some other cruel response. From the looks of it, it had been on the street a long time.
She felt a stab in her heart. “Awww, don’t be afraid. I won’t hurt you.”
A soft voice seemed to work. The dog inched toward her. Wagging its tail more, it began to dance around. Trudy noticed it was male. She didn’t know when she had seen an animal so starved since a weekend trip to Juarez with her friends. Down there, mongrels ran free, but they were timid and scared, slinking around with their tails tucked between their legs.
The dog wore a collar, so he had belonged to someone. She saw no tags. Unfortunately, now he had fallen on hard times and was getting by the best he could. A heaviness filled her chest. She related all too closely. Been there, done that. Not that long ago, she, too, had belonged to someone, then been abandoned.