11-year-old Waylon Willie Nelson has three jobs in his tiny desert town: lawnmower racing, selling tumbleweeds online, and taking care of Gran, whose Dr. Pepper-and-casino-loving ways have gotten her into a heap of trouble. Suddenly Waylon’s in way over his head on all three counts, trying to juggle disgruntled customers, a championship race, and Gran’s bad health. If only Waylon can figure out why Gran booted his mother out and get her to come back, maybe Waylon won’t be in this alone.
“If the buzzards are circling, does that mean we’re dead?” I leaned back in my chair and blocked the Nevada sun with my hand, sweat dripping down my arm. Three huge birds soared high above the cottonwood trees.
My friend Carmen tilted her head back. The floppy hat shading her eyes slipped off her head. She caught the hat and smacked me on the arm with it. “Those are turkey vultures, Waylon.” She plopped the hat back on her head and returned to her reading. If she wasn’t drawing in her sketch pad or messing with her phone, Carmen’s nose was in a book.
We sat at a table by the side of the road selling lemonade. And car washes. And cookies, and whatever we could. Carmen was saving up for college so she could escape this one-horse town. She wanted to be a businesswoman. I needed money to get my Gran a birthday present.
Make that trying to sell lemonade. We weren’t doing much of that.
It hadn’t been my only scheme for raking in the bucks. I had tried mowing lawns, walking dogs, being a pooper scooper, and hoping a bag of money would fall off the back of a Brinks armored truck passing by.