In the spring of 1884, young Johnny Fry and his little black cat, Jinx, set out on a trip he has dreamed of all his life. It doesn’t take him long to realize the ride on the Pony Express Trail, where his father had ridden many years before, is nothing like his childhood imaginings. Along the way he meets robbers, drunks and killers who force him to defend both himself and his ‘little buddy’, if he wants to get where he’s going alive and in one piece. Fortunately, he makes some friends as he travels. Handy, a big, blue-eyed, broad-shouldered Swede fresh off the farm who joins him in Nebraska, and George Washington Moore, Wash to his friends, an ex-slave and former Buffalo Soldier turned mountain-man, seeking the freedom he never seems to get enough of.
Together the four of them (don’t forget Jinx) travel a perilous, treacherous path through the mountains of Wyoming and Utah and across the deserts and mountains of Nevada and California toward his future.
Among his fortunes and misfortunes: an accident puts him in a hospital for two months where he meets a wonderful red-headed nurse, who’s a survivor of the Mountain Meadows Massacre; he is twice forced to defend himself from a man who wants to reclaim something Johnny doesn’t even know he has; and he has a confrontation with a gunman who wants revenge for a brother who got what he deserved.
The West of 1884 was still the wild and beautiful place of legends. Billy the Kid and Jessie James were not long in their graves; Wyatt and Virgil Earp were alive and living in California; and the Texas to Kansas cattle drives were still alive in the memories of many.
Surrounded by the perils and beauty of the Old West, Johnny must become a man because it’s that or die.