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.”
Praise for ‘Service Before Self’
“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
“No way Auggie. You know the rules,” Ryan scolded, waving a dismissive hand in the face of the little man.
Auto parts, littered the counter top. The sink was filled with a black, noxious liquid and what appeared to be the better part of a motorcycle engine. At the far right of the top was a paper grocery bag.
The little man wrapped on arm around it, sweeping it from the countertop.
It had been full of garbage, wet garbage and the bottom immediately fell out, sending its contents to the floor with a watery sound and the dull tin of empty cans. Left behind on the counter was a putrid, milky liquid and a small mass of writhing maggots.
To my shock, he slid the back of his right hand quickly across it, smearing the liquid, scraps of the bag’s remains and maggots alike onto the floor.
“Come… for you, I make lunch,” Auggie announced and threw two pieces of moldy bread on top of the very spot he had just wiped with his hand.
I shot a panicked look to Ryan, praying to God he would save me.
The corners of his mouth twitched with amusement. His gaze made me shiver with the certainty of the mean streak that ran deep inside him.
“Auggie. You know he can’t… not without losing his job,” Ryan said, patting the little man on the back.
A wave of relief washed over me and then, instantly, was replaced by the fear of the punishment from an open sigh.
“For you? Is tuna,” he said, holding one of the stale slices in his hand, looking hopefully to Ryan.
“Can’t old friend. Still need my job as well,” he replied.
“Ahh, is shame,” Auggie said undaunted, replacing the bread on the counter top, slathering the first piece with mayonnaise He slipped a small, unlabeled can onto an electric opener, tapping the top lightly. The can spun, whirling softly, jumping a little at the end and the device stopped of its own accord.
Without missing a beat, he turned the can upside down on the bread, emptying its contents before tossing the can onto the stack of trash on the floor.
It took me a few moments to recognize the small, shiny, gelatinous mound in the center of his bread.
“It’s cat food,” I said, my mouth hung open in disbelief.
“So? Is all the same. Is tuna,” Auggie shrugged, spreading the can’s contents with a second piece of bread before taking a huge bite out of the sandwich.
My stomach pitched and I turned away before the unthinkable could happen.
“Auggie, we’re pressed for time. What can we do for you?” Ryan asked, covering his smile with his hand and looking away.
“Ahh, yes, yes is toilet… is nothing. Please, for you, some lunch,” he said, holding out the half eaten sandwich.
“Rules are rules Auggie. As much as the newbie here would love to join you, I would be obligated to turn him in, get him fired and nobody wants that. Now, show me your toilet problem,” Ryan explained, patting the little man on the back once more.
We followed him through a narrow doorway, down a dark hall. We had to turn sideways to make our way pass a series of high school lockers that had been bolted to the wall.
“Is here,” Auggie said, lightly kicking open the door.
The smell hung heavily in the air, thick, palpable.
Ryan stuck his head in quickly before returning to the hallway.
“Christ, Auggie. How long has it been?”
“Is hard for say. When Christmas?”
“Auggie that was seven months ago. It’s been down since then?” Ryan shouted angrily.
The smell made me believe it.
“No. What Auggie just animal? Is working sometimes, must give delicate help, is all,” he said.
He suddenly threw himself against the door, making it bang loudly against the wall and kicked the handle on the toilet.
The bowl filled with water, pushing its contents and the smell through the walls to assault us before over flowing onto the floor.
It gurgled for a moment and then suddenly fell to the halfway mark, stopping.
The sharp whistle of the tank filling again rose in pitch, becoming shrill, almost ear splitting before reaching its goal and stopping with a loud, chattering bang of the pipes in the wall.
“See? Is almost fine,” Auggie announced, pushing the last of his sandwich into his mouth.
“It might be the tank,” Ryan said, whirling on his heels to return to the kitchen.
As bad as the kitchen had been earlier, it was now a haven compared to the hall.
“Is tank? Why Auggie not think such a thing?” he said as if Ryan’s comment had turned on a light bulb in his head.
“When’s the last time you opened it Auggie?” Ryan asked sternly, marching, as best he could, for the front door.
“Not Auggie… you last time,” the little man said defensively.
“Fuck man, that was almost four years ago,” Ryan chided, stopping to face him.
“Who knows time? Is come, is goes. Sometime hot, sometime cold, all the same. Sometime you come, sometime Jessica. Very busy here, no time to watch clock. Much work to do,” Auggie half shouted in return pushing pass him, yanking open the front door.
“Sorry man. You’re right. I’m sorry, I forgot myself. I apologize,” Ryan said sincerely following him outside.
At first I didn’t think I was going to like this book – especially with the extremely descriptive words of people’s homes that they went in to work. Think hoarders, roaches, etc. Gave me the heebie jeebies! However, once we got past that the book really does have a deeper meaning. Ryan is always telling Toby that it is Service before Self. That you are there to do a job and not judge anyone’s situation.
Ryan is a pretty tough character. He was in a gang and a drug user/pusher, but he managed to turn himself around. However, gangs don’t always want to let you leave. Toby is the new kid on the block at the company and in the short amount of time this book is set (1 week), both Toby and Ryan learn a lot from each other – about trust and who you can rely on.
There is some humor in this as well with some minor characters – Dorothy Mae and Billy Bob.
This isn’t a long book and was a fairly quick ready for me. We give it 4 paws up.
About the Author
Tegon Maus was raised pretty much the same as everyone else… devoted mother, strict father and all the imaginary friends he could conjure. Not that he wasn’t friendly, he just wasn’t “people orientated”. Maybe he lived in his head way more than he should have, maybe not. He liked machines more than people, at least he did until I met his wife.
The first thing he can remember writing was for her. For the life of him he can’t remember what it was about… something about dust bunnies under the bed and monsters in my closet. It must have been pretty good because she married him shortly after that. He spent a good number of years chasing other dreams before he got back to writing.
It wasn’t a deliberate conscious thought, it was more of a stepping stone. His wife and himself had joined a dream interpret group and we were encouraged to write down our dreams as they occurred. “Be as detailed as you can,” we were told.
He was thrilled. If there is one thing he enjoys it’s making people believe him and he likes to exaggerate. Not a big exaggeration or an outright lie mind you, just a little step out of sync, just enough so you couldn’t be sure if it were true or not. When he writes, he always write with the effort of “it could happen” very much in mind and nothing, he guarantees you, nothing, makes him happier.
He has consistently placed in the top 3 in 189 writing contest in a variety of genres and has been featured in magazines a couple of times to raise money for Saint Jude’s Children’s Hospital.
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