Welcome to the Rubber Rose Ranch
It is the finest outhouse in the Dakotas. It has to be.
Spiders, mice, cold drafts, splinters, corncobs, habitual stenches don't make it in this company. The hands have renovated and decorated the privy themselves. Foam rubber, hanging flower pots, a couple of prints by Georgia O'Keeffe (her cow skull period), fluffy carpeting, Sheetrock insulation, ashtrays, and incense burner, a fly strip, a photograph of Dale Evans about which there is some controversy. There is even a radio in the outhouse, although the radio station in the area plays nothing but polkas.
Of course, the ranch has indoor facilities, flush toilets in regular bathrooms, but they'd been stopped up during the revolution and nobody had ever unstopped them. Plumbing was one thing the girls were poor at. Nearest Roto-Rooter man was thirty miles. Weren't any Roto-Rooter women
anywhere, as far as they knew.
Jelly is sitting in the outhouse. She has been sitting there longer than necessary. The door is wide open and lets in the sky. Or, rather, a piece of the sky, for on a summer's day in Dakota the sky is mighty big. Mighty big and mighty blue, and today there is hardly a cloud. What looks to be a wisp of a cloud is actually the moon, narrow and pale, like a paring snipped from a snowman's toenail. The radio is broadcasting "The Silver Dollar Polka."
What is young Jelly thinking, in such a pensive pose? Hard to say. Probably she is thinking about the birds. No, not those crows that just haiku-ed by, but the birds she and her hands are bamboozling down at the lake. Those birds give a body something to think about, all right. But maybe she is thinking about the Chink, wondering what the crazy old coot is up to now, way up yonder on his ridge. Maybe she is thinking about ranchly finances, puzzling how she's going to make ends meet. It is even possible that she is pondering something metaphysical, for the Chink has more than once subjected her to philosophical notions; the hit and miss of the cosmic pumpkin. If that is unlikely, it is still less likely that she is mulling over the international situation--desperate, as usual. And apparently her mind is not on romance or a particular romantic entity, for though her panties and jeans are at her feet, her fingers drum dryly upon the domes of her knees. Perhaps Jelly is thinking about what's for supper.
On the other hand, Bonanza Jellybean, ranch boss, may just be looking things over. Surveying the spread from the comfort of the privy. Checking out the corrals, the stables, the bunkhouse, the pump, what's left of the sauna, the ruins of the reducing salon, the willow grove and the cottonwoods, the garden where Dolores teased a rattlesnake on Monday, the pile of hairdryers still rusting among the sunflowers, the chicken coop, the tumbleweed, the peyote wagon, the distant buttes and canyons, the sky full of blue. Weather's hot, but there's a breeze today and it feels sweet, swimming up her bare thighs. There is sage smell and rose waft. There is fly buzz and polka yip. Way off, horse lips flutter; she hears the goats at pasture and the far, faint sounds of the girls tending their herd. The bird herd.
A rooster clears his sinuses. He's loud but absolutely nothing compared to what those birds can do if the hands don't keep them quiet. They'd better!
Still sitting, Jelly focuses her dreamy gaze on the rooster. "Someday," she says to the empty seat next to her, "if that Sissy Hankshaw ever shows up here again, I'm gonna teach her how to hypnotize a chicken. Chickens are the easiest creatures on earth to hypnotize. If you can look a chicken in the eyes for ten seconds, it's yours forever."
She pulls up her pants, shoulders her rifle and ambles off to relieve the guards at the gate.
Welcome to the Rubber Rose. The largest all-girl ranch in the West.
Excerpted from Even Cowgirls Get the Blues by Tom Robbins. . Excerpted by permission of Bantam, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.