If you need a bit more incentive, here’s an excerpt from Hands-On, the short story that anchors the collection. Enjoy!
Excerpt From Hands-On
He was waiting for me on the beach below Dallas Road. Like a good animal rights hippie, he was dressed entirely in synthetic fabrics and was munching on a carrot stick. As I crossed the sand and logs that separated us, I saw a seagull swoop down and perch on a rock fifteen feet away from him, eyeing his food. He watched it like a cornered dog. For someone who apparently cared so much about wildlife, he didn’t appear to have an especially close connection with it.
He was still staring nervously at the seagull when I said, “Hello.”
He jumped. “Oh!”
I extended my hand. “Shawn Scott.”
He had a handshake like wilted celery. “Um, Sunrise McCrery.”
I handed him a folder. “Here’s your team. We had some extra manpower, so we upgraded you to a team of four at no extra charge.”
His hands were shaking slightly as he opened the folder and flipped through the papers, but there was a determined glint in his eyes. He really wanted to free this tiger. I waited for a few minutes as he scanned through the information I’d given him.
“Um?” he said.
“You have a question?”
He cleared his throat. “I, um, I realize this may be an odd request…”
“We get plenty of those,” I assured him.
“This, um, the Baconmancer…”
One of Ian’s stupid nicknames. It had begun as a way to keep our guys’ real names a secret, and turned into an outlet for Innis’s juvenile sense of humour. “What about him?” I said. “It’s all in there. He makes bacon appear out of thin air, cooked any way you like. It’s good bacon.”
“Um, I’m sure it is, for people who like that sort of thing.” He put enough vehemence into those words to scare away the seagull, which had hopped closer and had been just about to snag a chunk of carrot. “But you see, I’m a vegan, and I’m not sure, um, I’m not sure I’d be comfortable working with, um, a pig murderer, you see.”
“Oh, don’t worry at all,” I reassured him. “He’s never hurt a pig in his life. I’m completely serious when I say his bacon appears out of thin air. It’s… call it synthetic bacon, if it helps. Besides, he doesn’t eat the stuff, either. A lifetime of overexposure to bacon has turned him into a vegetarian.”
He twisted his mouth up as he thought it over. “I see,” he said. “Well, I suppose he will be fairly useful for, um, for luring the target out of its cage, um, I suppose.”
“A keen tactical insight.”
He perked up a bit at the compliment.
“I’ll have the group meet you at midnight along the highway to Sooke,” I continued. “The spot is marked out on a map in the folder. As far as their abilities go, use them in whatever way seems necessary. If nothing else, they’ll do what they’re told, and they can do their share of heavy lifting. Well, except for AFO. His arms tend to come off sometimes.”
“Don’t worry; he can reattach them. But it’s a hassle. Best to let him drive or something, I’d say.”
“If you have any trouble, give me a call. You know my number.”
I turned and walked back to my car.
Read the rest of Hands-On by downloading Feel-Good.