Hello, everyone! This is the first chapter of The Mystery of Lucky Shoe Ranch. I hope you'll enjoy it!
~Kathryn (aka Chatty Kathy)
“Jake,” said 19 year-old Tom. “You’re not helping!”
The two teenage brothers were raking leaves in front of their suburban home near New York, New York. Jake Benson, the youngest, was sitting on the porch drinking warm apple cider.
“I’ll help in just a minute,” he said, rubbing his frozen hands.
“Mom wants us to get these leaves raked before she comes back from the store,” Tom said, urging his 18 year-old brother.
“All right, all right,” sighed Jake. He walked over where his big brother was making a pile. Taking his rake, he began to help gather the wrinkled leaves.
“Good afternoon, boys,” said a voice. The boys looked up and saw Mr. Sanchez, the mailman.
“Hi, Mr. Sanchez!” Tom exclaimed. The elderly man walked over to the boys and handed them a stack of letters.
“See you later,” he smiled, tipping his blue hat.
“Bye!” the boys called in unison. Jake leaned his rake against the house and sorted through the letters. He was about to take them inside, when a certain letter caught his attention. Staring at the envelope, he asked Tom,
“Who do we know in Spring Valley, Montana?” Tom walked over to Jake and looked at the letter.
“It’s postmarked Spring Valley, Montana, all right.” Jake rubbed his chin.
“Spring Valley, Spring-of course! I know who!” he exclaimed.
“Who?” Tom asked, puzzled.
“Uncle Sam and Aunt Jean!” he said, ripping open the cream-colored envelope.
“Oh yah, and cousin Derrik and Molly, too!” Tom exclaimed. Jake pulled out a piece of blue stationary and began to read:
Dear Jake and Tom,
How are y’all? Our ranch, Lucky Shoe, has been havin’ trouble. Our handymen have just gone and left us. They just all quit without no reason. Now you know we can’t run the ranch by ourselves, and we can’t afford new handymen. We was wondrin’ if y’all would come and help us out. Just until we can get some more handymen though, ya hear? Come and get a load of some dusty, western air! Can’t wait to see you!
With heaps of love,
Uncle Sam, Aunt Jean, Derrik, and Molly
“Wow, Montana! Do you think we can go?” Jake asked. No sooner had he said this than a loud honk rang through their ears. They turned to see their mother pulling up in the family’s station wagon. The boys jogged to the car with excitement. Mrs. Benson got out of the car with grocery bags filled to the brim.
“Mom! Can we go-ow!” Jake cried. Tom had given him an elbow to the rib. And a look. The boys helped their mother take the groceries inside the house and onto the kitchen counter.
“Oh, grocery shopping is exhausting!” she exclaimed, taking her scarf off her head and running her fingers through her grayish-brown hair. She walked in the living room and collapsed into a chair.
“So what’s your scheme this time?As long as it doesn’t turn out to be like the last idea you had I might let you do it.” Tom chuckled as he remembered what they had done a few weeks ago. They had attempted to fix their dad’s old motorcycle. On a test drive, they ran into the beautiful petunias of their grouchy neighbor, Mrs. McAllen.
The boys handed her the letter and watched her face anxiously while she read it.
“Well, we will have to wait until your father comes home from the office,” she finally said.
The boys were on pins and needles for the rest of the afternoon. Suddenly, they heard the rumble of their father’s old car. They raced out back and met him in the driveway.
“Dad, we might go to Montana!”
“It’d be awesome! Can we go?”
“Whoa, I have no idea what you’re talking about!” Mr. Benson exclaimed. “How about you explain when we get inside.”
Later that evening, at the supper table, the boys’ dad was told about and shown the letter. Since he was sure they could handle things on their own, as they had proved many times, he agreed to the trip.
“It’ll be good for you to get some fresh air and away from the suburbs for awhile,” he had said.
“I wouldn’t call it fresh air Dad,” Tom laughed. “Like Uncle Sam said, we’re gonna get a load of dusty, western air!”
Early the next morning, the boys hopped into the station wagon and headed for the airport. Mr. Benson was at the wheel. Tom and Jake sat in the back, and Mrs. Benson sat by her husband.
“Well, it’s a lovely day for flying.” she said.
“Yah, there isn't one cloud in the sky!” Tom exclaimed, looking out the window.
When they reached the airport, the boys said goodbye to their parents and bought their tickets. They boarded airliner #36 and found their seats. When they had put their luggage away and buckled up, a voice was heard overhead.
“Welcome aboard airliner #36. I’m Captain Martin and I will be your pilot. Each compartment has a flight assistant for your convenience. We want to make this a very comfortable trip. Please buckle up, sit back, and enjoy the trip!”
The boys looked out the window for a while but soon got tired of seeing miles of blue sky. Soon, both teenagers were fast asleep. Later, another voice blared overhead.
“This is your co-pilot, Amber Thompson. Please prepare to land. We will reach Gulf Creek Airport in 20 minutes.”
“Jake, Jake, wake up! We’re going to land soon!” Tom said, shaking his younger brother.
“Wha-what? Huh? What’s going on?" he asked, sleepily.
“We’re going to land in Gulf Creek in 20 minutes.”
“Gulf Creek is close to Spring Valley, right?” Jake asked, stretching.
“After we land, we have to rent a car and drive for about four hours,” Tom replied. Jake sank into his seat.
“Four hours? Where is Lucky Shoe Ranch? In the middle of nowhere?”
“Just about,” Tom laughed.