Publisher: Tirgearr Publishing (February 24, 2015)
Tour Date: May/June, 2015
Available in: ebook, 154 Pages
A recent transplant to Southern California, Toby Grant has landed his dream job. He’s a service tech for Handy Dandy Services—the premier handyman service in the southland. Things don’t go well for Toby on the first day when he is teamed up with Ryan Burnell, a twenty year veteran of Handy Dandy. Toby quickly learns the hardships of being Ryan’s partner, and finds himself in one uncomfortable situation after another. In an effort to understand his new partner, Toby accidentally uncovers Ryan’s unsavory past involvement with drugs, burglary and other things he shouldn’t know about. He also learns that Ryan’s last partner of five years—Delsin Honaw— had been murdered…stabbed twenty-seven times. Haunted by one misunderstanding after another, Toby learns the true meaning of the company’s motto—“Service before Self.”
"Come on man. Help me out. Show me how to use it," I pleaded.
"I don't need a navigator," he said stiffly.
"Ah, but if I'm supposed to be Johnson's partner, maybe he will."
"He won't need one either. He's been with the company almost as long as me," he said, twisting his hands on the wheel as he spoke.
"How long has that been and what happened to the last guy who sat on this side of the truck?"
I thought we were on a roll at least he was now talking to me.
"Push this," he said, stabbing a thick finger into the face of the device. "When this box shows up, put in the job address. Set the town... it will do the rest," he offered, spinning it back in my direction.
I began to plug in the information, stumbling with the small keys before getting it right. To my dismay, the screen blinked several times before
announcing the address could not be found. I did it
three times making sure each attempt was perfect in
my determination to succeed.
"What the hell did I do wrong?" I asked frustrated.
"Let me see the ticket," he snapped, taking the clipboard roughly from my hand.
The tone in his voice set me on guard we were heading down hill again. I could feel it.
"Oh Christ, not today... Teslenko," he said glumly, handing the clipboard back to me again. "I know this guy... he's a regular. You won't find his place on a map. It's in the middle of the fucking sticks. Damn and I just had the truck washed."
Again silence filled the cab as the vehicle rumbled along. I wasn't sure where we were going but we drove for more than a half hour until we left the freeway for the side streets. What was unexpected was another twenty minute ride into the foothills of Hemet and to the very edge of the blacktop itself.
Ryan made no attempt to slow down as we left the pavement and flew onto a well-used, washboard and rut
infused dirt road.
After an agonizing fifteen minutes I searched about for a house, a trailer, a tent, anything at this point to stop the punishment my kidneys were taking.
"What the hell?" I asked after we hit a pot hole so hard I hit my head on the roof of the truck.
"Hang tight, wait till you see around the next corner," Ryan said.
I was suddenly filled with apprehension... it was the first time he had smiled all day.
We bounced along as the road turned hard to the left and then... straight up. Huge clouds of dust trailed behind us as the tires spun, throwing rocks and dirt alike, struggling under the weight of the climb. The back end of the truck fishtailed painfully close to the edge of the road as more of it disappeared over an ever deepening brink.
What had appeared to be low, pleasant, undulating hills when we began were now steep shear drops as the dirt road became less defined and the weeds more prevalent.
Then, as the ground disappeared and the front windshield filled with nothing but sky, the truck climb over the last hill, hitting the ground hard on the downhill side.
Suddenly the landscape in front of us shifted.
We had entered a small, relatively flat valley of sorts, no more than four or five football fields
long, ringed by a series of little hills, resembling a crater. Running loosely down its center, a dirt road wondered to the far end and then turned around on itself like the eye of a needle.
On the south side of us, lined up side by side, eight, old, rusted and junked out cars stood guard, their doors, hoods and trunks either had been removed or now stood open. Across from them, three small wooden buildings, each bulging from every opening with full trash bags stacked several feet high. Virtually every square inch of this little utopia was covered with broken furniture, bicycles, washing machines, desks, televisions, bathtubs, hot water heaters, airplane wings, restaurant signs, machine parts of every type and kind imaginable. It appeared that the world had ended and the last remnants of civilization's existence had been dumped here, leaving the rest of the world clean to begin again.
Much to my relief, at long last as the road began to loop onto itself, we stopped in front of a small, dingy yellow, clapboard house, its windows covered with aluminum foil.
The front porch was set between two front projections I had assumed to be bedrooms.
My attention was caught by the front door having been opened.
"This guy is very abutophbic so remember, no matter what you see, what you hear and for God's sake what you smell... Service before self," Ryan said, drawing a deep breath, opening his door.
As I did the same, swinging a leg to step out of the vehicle, a shot rang out.
"Hang on newbie," Ryan said with disinterest, waving me back into the truck.
I couldn't get my leg back inside, or the window rolled up fast enough.
A second shot rang out and to my surprise, got little reaction from Ryan at all.
"Is mine. Is all mine. Now go." A man's agitated voice called from inside the house.
A third shot rang out and I ducked down into the front seat, fearful it had come closer to hitting the truck than the other two. My heart pounded in my throat, as I slowly rose, just high enough to peer out the window.
Praise for 'Service Before Self' by Tegon Maus:"From eccentric waste billionaires and very flirtatious women, to unbelievable roach problems and ghosts in the attic, Toby’s numerous adventures in this book will make you laugh repeatedly, however, be aware some will also make your skin crawl. And, all the while poor Toby has to follow the deadpan instructions both gestures and verbal of the reluctant Ryan and do his bidding at a flick of a coin. This story is not only a very funny, if cringe worthy insight into the working day of company representatives, and what sometimes they see when entering other people’s homes; but also an extremely gripping thriller in parts as Ryan is pulled back, yet again, into the world of drugs he left behind five years previously. I thoroughly enjoyed reading every page of this story and would happily recommend it as a brilliantly entertaining book."
-Susan Keefe, Book Reviews by Susan Keefe
Praise for Tegon Maus's 'Bob':Whether or not you believe the outcome, there is no denying that you will have great fun reading this very enjoyable science fiction story. It has all the essential components, good characters, a great plot and plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing, right up until the end."- Susan Keefe, Book Reviews by Susan Keefe
"I love Bob! And I love Bob. Both the character and the book left me wishing for more. Bob, the character is great. His character had me cracking up for most of the book. Not that Bob is trying to be funny. It's just that he is. And Bob the book is better because of Bob the character. Whenever a problem arises, Bob tells Pete not to worry....he's "got cousin." This book is great. You will be both laughing during and enthralled by the story. The characters are perfectly written and the dialog is wonderful. The way the story flows keeps you reading quickly and you'll find yourself at the end of Bob way too soon. The story is a must read for any sci-fi lovers, but even if you aren't a sci-fi person, you'll enjoy the story....mostly because of Bob."- Christy M., Christy's Cozy Corners
"Bob is science fiction but it is also suspenseful and funny. The characters are delightful. Bob, the man helping Peter (for a cost), is one of a kind. He’s not only funny and overbearing but he always comes through. He always has a “cousin” who can help them out. Emma is also unique as well as mysterious and Peter and Bob feel they need to help her. I was actually surprised at the end which is always good. I definitely recommend Bob. It has a little bit of everything: science fiction, humor, adventure, and suspense."- Dawn, Bound For Escape
"There’s lots of action in Bob and the story will hold your interest from beginning to end. It’s an easy book to sit down with and read late into the night with. I thoroughly enjoyed Bob’s cousins, from the black-skinned cousin to the Italian cousin that spoke only Italian yet seemed to answer Peter in English every question. I thought that the plot was plausible and the characters were realistic."-Kathryn Svendsen, Shelf Full of Books
Tegon Maus Website: http://www.tegonmaus.com/#!
Author on Tirgearr Website: http://tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Maus_Tegon/