Summerman

Summerman cover final 1-25-2015 copy

In the eagerly anticipated fourth book in B.R. Snow’s popular Damaged Posse series, Summerman finds himself staying close to home and, of course, he isn’t shy about enlisting the help of his three cohorts in crime. Set in the magnificent surroundings of the Thousand Islands, Summerman needs to juggle several problems simultaneously and each one brings along its own challenges and predictably hysterical outcomes. Summerman is faced with stopping his uncle’s Senate campaign along with the plan he and his defrocked priest partner in crime have come up with. Summerman also has to deal with the return of his ex-girlfriend, Grace, and her two daughters as well as his nephew’s plan to put Summerman’s band back together. On top of all that, Summerman’s grandmother, Mamo, has a few surprises in store as well. Doc, Merlin, Gene are all back as is Murray; unfortunately for Uncle Dick, he is in particularly fine form.

****

One of the funniest and surprisingly poignant books to come along in a very long time. One part murder mystery, one part crime adventure, one part love story; all parts fall on the floor laughing. Summerman is simply a great book. The Damaged Posse series has officially become my favorite.

****

Chapter 1

Reentry.

Not the worst thing I’ve ever gone through; but it’s a lot like it.

It always begins the same way. The transition from spirit to human, the unique bane of the part-timer. From distant observer to willing participant. Jerked, literally, from the free-floating comfort zone that comprises nine months of my life into the frigid pull of the current; its strength impressive when submerged at ninety feet in the narrow channel. Not a pleasant way to start my summer but I guess it’s a small price to pay for 93 days a year of being alive when, from a technical perspective, I’m dead.

And if you’re already confused about what the hell is going on and what I’m talking about, don’t worry. I’ve been going through this for fourteen years now and I still don’t fully get it. Hopefully by the end of the story you’ll have a better idea. And if you do, please feel free to share it with me. As you’ll see, I can use all the help I can get. As I continue drifting upwards, I relax as my thoughts and memories find their respective cubby holes and patterns begin to reassemble. Despite the dark cold I smile as I kick against the current and pull my way towards the surface.

Where’s Murray? I open my eyes and blink frantically until my eyes, naked like the rest of me, are forced shut by the overpowering cold of the water rapidly flowing over and past me. I long to be floating above the beaches of Rio or riding on Murray’s back racing across the outer edge of Andromeda. Inside total darkness I’m overpowered by an initial awareness of self, enticed, and then pulled forward by memories. An unassembled collection of thought and matter slowly coalescing until the realization of my surroundings is driven home by sensory overload. My legs and arms struggle to find their rhythm as I slowly ascend towards the surface.

Where’s Murray? He should be here by now. At my side, where we both need him to be. My head clears enough to enable coherence. I begin the annual rite of assembling my initial list.

1. Locate Murray. Where the hell is he?

2. Say hello to Mamo and Paco and give them hugs.

3. Play with Murray.

4. Feed Murray.

5. Locate Murray. It’s so important it goes on the list twice. And when I do locate him I’ll be able to cross two items off.

Now I’m back in a more familiar place and, despite the frigid darkness responsible for my fear and anxiety, I know that this part of my annual passage will soon be over and replaced by more pleasurable sensations. The warmth of the sun coupled with a cool breeze capable of simultaneously producing sweat and goose bumps.

6.Take a boat out and go fishing with Mamo.

7. Have a couple of Guinness. Yes, I know that it’s 5:30 in the morning but part-timers don’t have time to worry about time of day.

8. Get Murray a couple of Guinness. It’s okay; he’s a part-timer too.

Now I’m drifting through a gentler current as I ponder the sights and sounds of a cloudless summer evening lying back on soft green grass staring in wonder at a sky filled with countless stars, many of which I’m very familiar with. And I smile as I recall the touch of firm yet soft skin pressed against mine, something else I’m very familiar with. But it’s been awhile.

9. You know what I’m talking about.

The silence is broken by a low constant rumble slightly behind and to my left and I recognize the hum and thump of an engine heading my way. I’m slowed, then stopped, and pulled in the direction of the sound. Despite the total darkness, I can sense the presence of a massive object chopping its way through the water. On land, I know that observers will be remarking on the 600 foot ship’s effortless movements through the narrow channel surrounding by islands of various size and dimension. But below the surface, and now a short distance in front of me, I see the violent copper pattern of a spinning twenty-foot propeller largely responsible for the ship’s speed and trajectory.

I struggle against the pull of the propeller as it drags me dangerously close and I envision being churned into chum and scattered across the bottom of the St. Lawrence. At this point in the bizarre circumstances that comprise my life, I rarely experience anything considered truly new or unique. And when something does occur that I have not previously seen or experienced, I normally eagerly embrace those moments anticipating learning or enjoyment.

This is not one of those moments.

With the thunderous roar of the blades filling my head and with the backwash washing over me, I can sense, if not fully see, the relentless churn of the spinning copper blades. I slowly shake my head with the sad realization that this year’s journey may end before it truly begins and begin to surrender to the greater power directly in front of me, drawing closer by the second when I feel something grab my leg and stop my momentum. I smile, reach behind me and stroke the massive head covered with fur. While unseen, I know that the back legs and powerful tail are doing their best to match the propeller blades stroke for stroke. Gradually the pull of the ship dissipates, the silence returns, and my leg is freed. My ascent resumes and for the rest of the journey to the surface I’m accompanied and closely watched by my lifetime partner and best friend.

10. Give Murray a hug and a bone.

As we approach the surface, I feel the welcome sensation of the need for oxygen. Welcome since it signifies that, once again, I’m alive in human terms. My head breaks the surface and I’m shrouded in a shallow layer of steam fog. I feel the early morning air that, while still chilly, is still much warmer than the water. I take several deep breaths and let the cool air fill my lungs and I feel my brain sharpen as oxygen begins to work its magic. A shroud of foggy mist hovers over the surface towards shore and, as the sun rises, I can see it will soon burn off to give way to a clear summer day.

A few feet to my right, an object appears through the mist, a massive, fur-covered head softened by a pair of gentle brown eyes. Paws immediately drape themselves around my shoulders and I’m pushed back under the water. Struggling under his weight and excitement, I push away and pop back up coughing water and laughing. I grab him and hold on to him tightly until he resumes a controlled dog paddle. He begins to swim in small circles around me emitting several small barks and woofs.

“Jesus, Murray, you’re going to drown both of us.”

Murray responds with a few more barks and a series of licks from a tongue the size of a size-fourteen shoe.

“Okay, what are we waiting for?”

Instinctively, Murray begins to swim away from the channel towards shore. The pull of the current dissipates and soon I feel the water become warmer. It’s still cold but no longer the mind-numbing temperature of the channel. Murray speeds his way towards shore but continues to glance back to make sure I’m following. Despite his constant woofs urging me to keep up, I’m content breast stroking my way to shore so I can enjoy the view and let my head continue to clear and reengage.

The dawn is slowly opening itself to light and shades of orange and blue emerge through what’s left of the darkness. I continue my journey of several hundred yards to the shoreline of the mile long island where we’ll be spending most of the next 93 days. The wood, glass and stone main house partially hidden by pine and maple trees is barely visible through the mist. The library and a small boathouse, similarly constructed, sit perched on a stretch of barren granite that extends in a semicircle off one end of the island. A larger boathouse, along with three guest cottages, sits on the other side of the island that faces the mainland.

A magnificent bald eagle descends and passes within a few feet of my head and then gracefully exits out of sight. Murray barks at the bird but continues his relentless pursuit of shoreline. I smile as a flood of memories engage and then grimace at the onset of an ice cream headache as sensory overload overwhelms me.

11. Take some Advil.

12. Put some clothes on. It may be June, but I’m freezing my ass off.

****

http://amzn.to/SqukAkSummerman Final Cover 6-2-2013 copy