Pasture Prime @StoryADayMay 17

Not a very good one, I’m afraid, but it’s a busy busy weekend!

Pasture Prime

by Marian Allen

17“It’s nothing,” said Assistant Head Librarian Holly Jahangiri of the Meadow of Flowers District Council City Old Earth Texts Living Library. “It’s personal.”

She folded the letter she held and tucked it into her tunic pocket.

I shouldn’t have read it in front of a book. They have themselves to think about.

The “books” of a living library were people who, in an excess of enthusiasm for a particular tome, delighted in memorizing it and reciting it on request. A living library consisted of dormitories, a dining hall, and, of course, an administration.

“You got me worried, now,” the book said. “But if you don’t care to confide in me, that’s up to you.” He turned away.

Holly wanted to apologize, but she couldn’t remember his title. She didn’t spend much time with the Westerns.

She remembered and called him back. “I’m sorry, Shane. It’s just unprofessional of me to burden you with my problems.”

“We’re kinda like family here, Miss Holly. Your problems are our problems.”

“Not really, but it’s kind of you to say so.” She sighed and gave in. “It’s my mother. She has three acres of prime pratty grazing land that a local pratty baron wants to buy. My mother doesn’t want to sell. He’s trying to pressure her.”


“Oh, the usual tricks: He goes into bars and cries and tells people she insulted him.”

“He call any witnesses?”

“He has five henchmen who all tell the same story. She may be forced to sign the land over to him in reparation for hurting his feelings.”

“Well, ma’am, that sure is troublesome.”

“I’m taking a few days off to go stand by her.”

“O’ course you are. Best of luck.”

“Thank you. – Oh, and Shane, don’t tell any of the others.”

He touched his forehead in a sketch of a hat-tip.

It was only later that Holly realized it was a gesture of respect, not of agreement.


Holly was glad she took the pedal train instead of driving her hovercar. The hovercar would have made the trip from Council City to her home town of Boonieburgh, but helping pedal the public conveyance kept her mind off her mother’s dilemma.

As the train neared the Boonieburgh station, the conductor’s voice came over the loudspeaker. “Slow down, now. Slower. Slower. Please remove your feet from the pedals to avoid injury when the engineer sets the brakes.”

A moment later, the squeal of metal on metal accompanied the jerk-and-bump of the train coming to a halt by the station’s wooden platform.

Beyond the station was a chilling sight: Bigman Moneybags, the pratty baron, with his five henchmen, stood spread across the main street of Boonieburgh.

Before she disembarked, the stationmaster, an old friend from school days, came aboard to find her.

“He heard you were coming. He’s waiting for you, Holly. He plans to …. Well, word is, he plans to file a formal complaint. His boys will back up anything he says. Maybe you’d better go back to the city.”

Holly wrapped her signature purple feather boa around her neck and squared her shoulders.

“A Jahangiri never backs down from a formal complaint.”

“Don’t say I didn’t warn you!”

Holly stepped out of the train showing more courage than she felt. Her legs were weak, and not just from the exertion of pedaling the train through the countryside.

She heard another train car door open and close behind her, but thought nothing of it until Moneybags and his boys shifted uncomfortably, the henchmen all looking to their boss for a signal of what to do.

Holly looked over her shoulder, and saw seven men spread out to mirror Moneybags’ five. All seven men nodded to her. One of them was Shane.

He said, “I rounded ’em up, ma’am, every one I could find in every branch living library in Council City. We’re all Shane by Jack Schaefer.”

A man in the blue tunic and white sash of Boonieburgh’s law enforcement organization came between the two groups.

“Now, then,” he said, “can’t we settle this thing reasonably?”

“Yes,” said Holly. “He can stop harassing my dear old gray-haired mother.”

Moneybags said, “I’ve got five boys who’ll all tell the same story.”

“And I’ve got seven who’ll tell a different one.”

“Well,” said the sheriff. “There you go, then.”

Moneybags snatched the hat off his nearest minion’s head and threw it on the ground, stamping on it in pique.

Holly said, “My mamma did not hurt your feelings, did she? She did not insult you, did she? She does not have to give you her three acres, does she?”

“No, no, no! Curse you, you troublemaker!”

“Excuse me? Was that an insult? Sheriff, did you hear that?”

“I did. Mr. Moneybags, you owe Miss Holly an apology.”

“And drinks at Rodrigues’ Bar for me, my mother, and my boys.”

The sheriff drew his official cricket clicker and rattled off a series of ticks and tacks to signal an end to the negotiations. “So be it! Case closed!”

The celebration went on until the wee hours in Boonieburgh, for Ma Jahangiri was popular with most residents and Bigman Moneybags was not.

By the next afternoon, Holly and all the Shanes were back at their libraries. Holly made it a point to thank her branch’s Shane for what he’d done, even though he’d gone against her express wishes. Westerns were just like that.


Why is this weekend busy? I was at the Howard Steamboat Museum’s Art and Antiques Jubilee selling books with the other Per Bastets and we got rained all over. But we’re going back today. Yay, us!

A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Write about a false accusation.



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “Pasture Prime @StoryADayMay 17

  1. Holly Jahangiri

    May 17, 2015 at 7:47am

    Oh, you had me worried for nothing! I think it’s just wonderful, Marian! (And I guess it’s rude of me to avoid the westerns; henceforth, I shall make a stronger effort to get to know them. It’s the least I can do for such chivalry om their part.) And the pedal train! We should have those. Talk about your hybrid fuels!

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      May 17, 2015 at 6:00pm

      You’d save a fortune on the gym, right? Instead of going to the gym after your commute, you’d work out FOR your commute.

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  2. Jane

    May 17, 2015 at 8:50am

    Hi, Holly!

    Start with Louis L’Amour.
    You can’t go wrong.

    Loved the showdown.
    Shane will just be Shane, won’t he?

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      May 17, 2015 at 6:02pm

      Holly, don’t listen to her. Start with THE COWBOY AND THE COSSACK by Clair Huffaker. It’s brill!

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
      • Jane

        May 18, 2015 at 8:22am

        Riders of the Purple Sage!

        Barbara Worth.
        Well, it’s set in the west.

        Permalink  ⋅ Reply
        • Author
          • Jane

            May 19, 2015 at 11:25am

            You’re right.
            You know, I may have meant Zane Grey from the beginning!

            Permalink  ⋅ Reply
            • Author

              Marian Allen

              May 19, 2015 at 12:03pm

              Zane Grey is the classic, but folks love Louis, too. I tend to pick up stuff at random, like the Clair Huffaker.

              Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  3. Kiril Kundurazieff

    May 17, 2015 at 9:08am

    Oh, my Lord, I don’t even know where to begin!

    That was fascinating and hilarious and just plain fun.

    The pedal train had me laughing because I’m thinking about our current car-centered culture and places like Houston where the bike life is still evolving and Mass Transit is getting its 1st major upgrade and -re-imagining in 40 years, in August…The thought of being a part of a pedal train would freak out 90% of the people here. ;-D

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      May 17, 2015 at 6:07pm

      Yeah, I don’t think a pedal train has much hope here in the USA. You never know, though….

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  4. Holly Jahangiri

    May 17, 2015 at 2:30pm

    @Jane – OMG, first it’s @Mitch_M trying to convert me into a reader of sports news, now you’re after me to read Louis L’Amour… next thing you know, I’ll be rockin’ the cowboy boots and two-steppin’ to country-western music.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  5. Pierre Laberge

    May 19, 2015 at 3:50am

    It was short, good. and funny. I liked it.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      May 19, 2015 at 8:04am

      Thanks, Pete! I’ve been watching waaaaaay too many Maverick reruns. heh

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  6. Pierre Laberge

    May 19, 2015 at 12:11pm

    That was a good show! A good source of inspiration! Consider a look at Bonanza and Bat Masterson, too!

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      May 19, 2015 at 12:21pm

      We’re getting old shows from Netflix. Next in our queue is Quantum Leap. 🙂

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply

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