With Just Say Maybe going into the final editing phase, I’m getting geared up to attack the book I’m going to be putting out after that: Don’t Look Back in Anger.
Don’t Look Back in Anger is a “sort of” sequel to Twenty-Five at the Lip in the same way that Just Say Maybe is a sort-of preguel. They’re related in that they have minor characters from Twenty-Five at the Lip as well as cameos with main characters from Twenty-Five.
There is a lot of back story involved in Don’t Look Back in Anger, as a great deal of it has to do with personal reflection. Here’s a small piece of that, featuring some Twenty-Five at the Lip characters you’ll probably recognize.
From Don’t Look Back in Anger
“Can you say ‘Goodbye’ to Mr. Henry, Valerie?” John LeClaire asked the little blonde girl in his arms. She looked shy and buried her face against his shoulder. Albert smirked and leaned against the glass countertop of the peanut store. Valerie peered out from behind her arm to see if Albert was looking at her and smiled as only a three-year-old could.
“Bye!” Valerie said giving him a happy wave. John kissed the girl’s cheek. Albert waved back at her and asked, “Do you like lollipops?” Valerie nodded enthusiastically. Albert opened the top of a candy jar and pulled a Dum-Dum from it. He handed it to her and she quickly replied, “Thank you!” John adjusted her against his hip as she worked to get the wrapper off her lollipop.
“Thanks for pushing that grievance for me, Albert,” John said, effectively concluding the impromptu meeting. Albert nodded and removed the glasses from his face, folding them into his shirt pocket.
“Anytime. You know that,” Albert said. He enjoyed his job as union steward and any chance to help out his guys he took. Most of the older men had moved on or retired, and so there weren’t many who remembered who Albert Henry had once been. The door opened and the bell rang as Joanne Peirce pushed it open, a little boy clutching her hand walking beside her. He went straight for the counter and looked hungrily at the chocolates behind it.
“Hey, Mr. Henry,” she said, keeping a mindful eye on her boy at the counter. Albert came around the counter and hugged her.
“John,” Albert said. “This is Joanne Peirce, one of my girls who used to work here. Valerie looked at her and waved her hand at Joanne.
“Hi,” Joanne said, shaking his hand when he offered. “Psst, Calvin come say hello.” The boy scraped his velcro-shoed feet across the floor, not taking his eyes off the candy until brought before Albert.
“My God, he’s huge.” Albert said touching the boy’s head. Valerie leaned over to get a better look at Calvin who squirmed uncontrollably.
“Hi…” Valerie said to Calvin. Calvin looked at her, unsure of the greeting and looked at Joanne just to be sure.
“Can you say, ‘hi’?
“Hi,” he said quietly, giving her a short wave of his hand. Valerie stuck her tongue out at him and raspberried, and giggled excitedly.
“Okay Uptown Girl, let’s get home,” he said hosting her back up again. “Thanks again, Albert. Nice to meet you,” he said to Joanne who smiled back as he left the store.
“What can I do you for?” Albert said. Joanne sighed and looked at the floor and then back up at Albert.
“I’ve got a problem, Mr. Henry. I’m living back at home with Mom again…”
“I’ve been having some medical problems,” Joanne said. “Nothing catchy, but it’s gotten difficult to live on my own… with two small kids, anyway. Money is always an issue and I just lost my job…” Her eyes began to water and just then Geraldine came out of the back, initially happy to see Joanne, but sensing trouble switched into mother mode. “I was hoping you might need someone…”
“When can you start?” Albert asked putting his hands on her shoulders. Joanne sobbed, and Geraldine came around the counter and embraced her. There was always a place for Joanne at the peanut store.