Excerpt from A Dredging in Swann by Tim Garvin, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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A Dredging in Swann

The Seb Creek Mysteries #1

by Tim Garvin

A Dredging in Swann by Tim Garvin X
A Dredging in Swann by Tim Garvin
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  • Published:
    Jan 2020, 304 pages

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Mark Anthony Ayling
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BIG DOG

Leo Sackler woke that morning and felt the free-from-prison gladness come again, waking him with its ordinary kindness. He was drifting on gladness, is how he thought about it. It was like a hungry man, a starving man, and now he's in a food-everywhere place, and the food is not tricky. You turn and there it always is—at your fingertips, at your elbow, right up on you everywhere—only it's freedom instead of food, the gladness of freedom, deeply better than food—to be free every morning and anything whatsoever to do. First go out on the porch, urinate off the porch into the morning trees and sun, then cross the big room into the big kitchen, fry a plate of eggs, eat them all or not, have toast, a pot of coffee, then out to the well, free to work or not to work. But definitely work.

He had been out seventeen days, but he hadn't found the letter until the second week, so he had only been digging out the old well for five days. But he was already down more than fifteen feet. She didn't say how deep the well was back in the day, but if it was thirty feet and the digging went soupy and he had to hire help, he would hire help and just be the video man.

He learned he had a knack for the new things, even after forty-eight years absent from the world. He had heard about the iPhone but had never seen one, and when he left the phone store with his daughter, Virginia, and they sat in his truck and she explained and taught, he focused hard through the gladness and found it all simple to see. He was going to be able to live in this new world.

Now it was getting toward noon. He had made a dozen trips up and down the ladder, made another foot at least, might make another before the rain came. When the rain came, he would stop working. It came to him he could get naked and walk around in it, leave on his tennis shoes and do a rain scamper like a child. That's just what he would do. It would be foolishness, because it would not be enough, not even to wash him. But it would be partway enough, and he would most definitely do it.

He felt the shadows deepen, then felt a patter of clods on his hair and neck. He stuck the shovel hard in with his boot and looked up to see another little clod rain coming. It scattered on his forehead and eyelids. He was ten feet below the man on the surface, a tall man with the morning sun behind him, a shadow man in jeans and a baseball cap.

The man said, "What the fuck you doing down there?"

Leo said, "Don't be throwing clods down on me, please, sir. You want my attention just call down. What I'm doing is just what it look like. I'm digging my well. How can I help you?"

"I come to see you. I went through your house, saw all your stuff. I could have had my way with your goods. You're Leo Sackler?"

"Yes, sir. How can I help you?"

The man stepped sideways out of the sun, and the hole brightened, showing Leo's brown face, polite, irritated, and fear-suppressed. The man moved again, and the hole redarkened. The man said, "I like your truck. That's a honey. How much you pay for that? I know they ain't cheap."

"How can I help you?"

As Leo put his foot on the ladder's bottom rung and started to climb, the man kicked the top rung, and the ladder jumped halfway across the well before it clattered back on the brick wellhead. One of the rungs collided with Leo's forehead. He dabbed his skin for blood, but it was dry.

The man said, "They say you a millionaire today."

Leo unstuck the shovel and dropped it across his shoulder. The spade could be a shield, if it came to that. He said, "Speak your piece."

The man said, "I'm going to start you at a thousand dollars a month. That's no more than a mosquito for a man like you. I'm the big dog in the neighborhood, and no man is safe but through me. From burglars or arsonists or snipers neither. That's my pronouncement to you. Best advice, do not get squirrelly. What's your answer?"

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Excerpted from A Dredging in Swann by Tim Garvin. Copyright © 2020 by Tim Garvin. Excerpted by permission of Blackstone Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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