Today I have an extract from Emily Gallo’s recent release, The Last Resort. First of all, here’s what the book is about…
An old sixties musician and his trim mama run a pot farm in the Emerald Triangle of northern California and welcome an exonerated ex-con, a Las Vegas prostitute, a union organizer from the Bronx, an escapee of a sex slave cult, a retired carney with Parkinson’s Disease, and an old Mississippi blues guitarist down on his luck. Together they create a last resort, a modern version of home and family.
GARBERVILLE IS A TOWN OF LESS THAN A THOUSAND THAT SWELLS IN THE FALL WITH AN ANNUAL MIGRATION OF YOUNG PEOPLE FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD. They are lured by the chance to make thousands of dollars manicuring the marijuana plants that have been cultivated surreptitiously in the forests, farms and hamlets for decades. The town sits right off the 101 freeway, two hundred miles north of San Francisco, in the lush Emerald Triangle, so named because it is the largest cannabis-growing area in the United States. There are so many pot farms that it has been said that everyone’s livelihood is somehow dependent on the marijuana industry.
Dutch Bogart moved here in the early 1970s, bought an old homesteader’s farm deep in the forest, and started growing long before it was legal. He grew up in southern California and had been writing songs and playing guitar from an early age. He played the coffee house circuit and graduated to clubs and music festivals. Local musicians who went on to become famous themselves started playing his songs and his course was set. His guitar style was southern blues, but his songwriting fell neatly into the more lucrative rock and roll category. Disillusioned and drained by the bright lights and groupie mentality, he decided he had enough money and recognition to focus solely on songwriting, with occasional gigs for kicks and inspiration.
He designed his house on Frank Lloyd Wright principles: large, low and angled with lots of redwood and glass. There was plenty of room for visiting musicians, a studio to jam and record in, and original art on the walls. He refurbished the barn into a dormitory for the trimmers and made it the best living situation for workers in the Emerald Triangle so they would keep coming back every harvest. He didn’t want to have to hire and train new ones who proved incompetent or untrustworthy. This was the worst part of the business. The operation was well hidden from strangers by the old homesteader’s apple and walnut trees and the surrounding forest of oak, madrone and fir.
Dutch stopped playing guitar and pushed back his long gray hair when he heard Juniper’s car pull up. Harvest season was over and Juniper had been gone for the last few days, so it had been quiet on the farm. It was just Homer and a couple of trimmigrants from Quebec, who had asked to stay on for a few days because they hadn’t decided where to travel next.
Dutch went outside to greet the arriving trio, giving Juniper a questioning look when he saw a young woman stumbling out of the car. She was so thin and frail that she could have been a child, but Juniper had already told him on the phone that she was in her mid-twenties. “This is Scarlett. She needs to rest, so I’ll take her to my room for now until we figure out where to put her,” Juniper said hastily. She put her arm around Scarlett’s shoulder and guided her into the house.
About the Author
Emily Kaufman was the girl growing up in Manhattan in the fifties and sixties. In the sixties and seventies, I attended Clark University and lived in San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and Seattle doing the hippie/peace/love/protest thing. In the eighties and nineties, Emily Saur lived in Northampton, MA and Davis, CA and was the more conventional wife, mother of two, and elementary school teacher.
In 2006, I retired from teaching and became Emily Gallo when I married David, a professor of economics, and moved to Chico, CA to continue our journey. I started writing screenplays and television and moved into novels. David, Gracie (our Schillerhound), Savali (our cat) and I now divide our time between two and a half acres of gardens, orchards in Chico and a 750 square foot condo on the beach in Carpinteria, CA.