08/28/22 Snippet, SHIFTED SANDS.

I didn’t really want to write any Tom Vargas today, but part of Chapter 2 popped into my head. I thought it’d be wise to get that down, before I forgot it. So here’s some of the new book, in its rawest form.

“But seriously, Tom. It was Honors Night. Did you have to chase the guy all the way to the podium? And then throw him into the orchestra pit?”

“Yes!” I said, too brightly. “First off, think about what would’ve happened if I had let him take the podium. That letter of ‘thanks’ he had would’ve started a brawl the likes of which the Billy has never seen. And a dozen feuds.”

“The nobility likes to feud,” Dory muttered. “And I like to watch them do it. When they’re feuding, they’re not wasting the Castle’s time with stupid plots.”

“Sure, but usually the nobles slap each other’s faces. This time, the hands would’ve have knives in them. You see the letter that guy had?”

“No comment, Shamus.”

“So you did see it. Some of the stuff in there, you don’t want the nobles to even think about. A lot better to give them a big, splashy distraction instead, right?” I puffed out a little. “That’s one thing Shamuses are good at. Distractions.”

“And property damage. Do you know how expensive musical instruments are?” She looked at a paper. “Like xylophones. You would not believe how expensive a xylophone is. Did you have to throw the man right onto it?”

“Off the record?”

Dory gave me another stinkeye. “Okay. Sure. Why not?”

“Yeah, I had to throw the guy onto the xylophone.”


I gave her my most somber look. “They’re dangerous. Never trust a musical instrument that looks that much like a skeleton.”

Watching Dory try to process that was almost as much fun as throwing the guy into the xylophone. But my innocent amusement was short-lived; Dory visibly rallied. Well, it’s part of her job. “I’m gonna miss these little chats, Tom,” she said, with a big, happy, liar’s grin. “I hope you will, too.”

Well, that didn’t sound good.