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Joe Novara

Joe Novara, Author of I'm Here
Retired corporate trainer and writing instructor, Joe Novara and his wife live in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Writings include novels, short stories, poems, anthologies and articles. Seven of his young adult novels are accessible through http://www.storyshares.org/users/view He also maintains a web/blog titled, Writing for Homeschooled Boys http://joenovara.wordpress.com. His latest novel, Come Saturday…Come Sunday, (Cawing Crow Press, 2016) is available through Amazon. Reviews: Just some author friends…

WEBSITE: http://joenovara.wordpress.com
BLOG: https://freefloatingstories.wordpress.com/ FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/joe.novara

New Title(s) from Joe Novara

I'm Here by Joe Novara After 25,000 Masses by Joe Novara

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I'm Here by Joe Novara I’m Here is a coming-of-old-age novel about three unattached men and the women who come to grace their lives. Tre, a retired creative writing professor, takes up residence in a senior community so his injured hip can heal without the challenges of his three-story house. Marjorie, his former non-traditional student, invites Tre to join her resident writing group and eventually a fuller relationship. A childhood buddy, Sal, is in the community as well, but unhappily so. When Sal finds a way to escape institutional living, Bernice, a long-time neighbor and friend welcomes him into her home and life. Vinnie, soft-spoken carpenter, life-long bachelor, happens upon Tre’s ex-wife and the startling joys of relationship. What do the women in this silver romance see in these men…can they count on them to be there for them?

                                                                             Excerpt
Word Count: 40000
Buy at: Smashwords (all formats) ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Amazon
Price: $ 3.99


 
After 25,000 Masses by Joe Novara After 25,000 Masses is a sequel to I'm Here, published by GSP in October of 2018, and is the story of a retired priest who sets out to free himself from the constraints and bonds of his lifelong vocation. Fr. McRae decides that he has done a good job of being a priest and can now, in good conscience, step away from the calling and all of its demands. Open to new possibilities, he goes on an Elder Tour where one of his fellow travelers turns out to be a woman who knew him as the school chaplain when she was a senior in high school. It takes Bernice a while to recognize Fr. Tim and, given her boredom at being the only unattached woman on the tour, takes her time teasing him into acknowledging his former life which in turn means admitting to her girlish ‘crush’ on him. The story soon moves beyond their improbable early connection to the exhilarating possibilities of elder love.

                                                                         Excerpt
Word Count: 20000
Buy at: Smashwords (all formats) ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Amazon
Price: $3.99
   
   

Excerpts

I'm Here

Tre

Sal’s lip quivers as he chews his vegetable soup, like he might be ready to cry. He stabs at his mouth with his embossed napkin trying to staunch the overrun. “Purging,” he mumbles at the risk of dribbling more soup. “My daughter and son-in-law want to throw out all my stuff. They kept telling me to purge. To basically dump my whole life on the curb.”

Funny thing. We grew up in the same neighborhood. Lived across the street from each other for years and now we’re stuck in the same retirement home in a maze of endless, carpeted corridors with varnished handrails leading to elevator coves and the occasional outside door. As if we could get very far even if we left. It’s a prison basically. And they call it Shelden Ponds.

Turns out, Sal got sentenced because he took too much time trying to decide what to keep and what to throw out. So, by now they probably got a dumpster on the front lawn and are shoveling out his place, so they can sell it and pay for him to live in his cream-colored apartment. I feel sorry for the poor bastard.

Now, me, I ended up in here when my hip got shattered in a car accident. When they got ready to release me from the hospital I couldn’t just go back home where my bed and bathroom are upstairs, not to mention the titanium plates, rehab and a lingering infection.

So, my daughters, Carrie and Lisa, decided to ease their consciences by getting me into this place where I could navigate with an electric cart like some old lady in the supermarket. They don’t realize I still got game. And as soon as I get on my pins again, I’m outta here.

I mean, look past Sal, poking at his broccoli casserole… by the way, did you ever notice that these senior places all smell like overcooked broccoli? Where was I? Oh yeah. Look past Sal and you think of Lake Michigan with white caps. There’s a sea of white hair bobbing up and down all around me. I’m drowning in senility here. I’m not as old or as frail as these folks. I’m not in the target demographic for this place. They can’t sentence a juvenile to life. I’m only seventy-three, for crying out loud, surrounded by eighty-five-year-olds… mostly.

That lady at 2:00-high appears a little more my age. Now she’s eyeing me. You go ahead, sweetheart. Don’t let me stop you from staring. Do we know each other? She looks familiar. But then, if you’ve lived in this town for thirty years and taught at the university, a lot of people can look familiar.

She’s not turning away. In fact, she’s giving me a little smile. Damn. And now the woman next to her is following her gaze, checking me out. They whisper and giggle. Are we back in third grade lunchroom? Or maybe a better analogy—are the alpha mares scoping the new stud in the pasture? Dream on, doofus. The hallways aren’t wide enough to drive our carts side-by-side as we ride into the sunset. But that’s going to change. For me. Just wait.

“Sal, who’re those women in the table off your left shoulder?” He puts down his spoon and napkin, straightens his shoulders, hands bracing the table for a creaky turn. “No, don’t look,” I say.

He sighs, lifts his chin in the general direction. “Them?”

“Yeah.”

“The ‘Yah-yahs, that’s what we call them.”

“We? There’s only like ten guys and two hundred women here.”

“And the five of us who aren’t married stick together. You make six.”

Why doesn’t that excite me? One more newbie and we could be the Magnificent Seven. Until I get out of Dodge.

“Why Yah-yahs?” I ask.

“How do I know? That’s who they are. They’re always together, on all the committees. Decorations. Flower shows. All that…”

The woman with the dark eyes and eyebrows under a well-coiffed pewter helmet… I’ve come to fancy that look, lately… offers me a head bob. Why do I feel like I’m about to be vetted by the League of Women Voters?

“Yeah, they’ll be scoping you out. Fresh meat. Ha!” he barks, color rising in his cheeks along with an incipient grin. “Reminds of the story of the new guy in the Catskills hotel… you heard this one?”

“I don’t know yet… go on.”

“This guy shows up at a hotel in the Catskills. A blue hair lady slides up next to him. ‘So, you’re new here,’ she goes. ‘Where’re you from?’ He goes, ‘Prison. Just got out.’ The lady says, ‘What were you in for?’ The guy says, ‘Murdered my wife.’ The lady goes, ‘So, you’re single.’”

Sal laughs and laughs. Then he starts to cough. About the time I decide I should hand him my water, ‘pewter lady’ is standing next to me. No cane. No walker. Nice legs.

“Sal must have sprung one of his groaners on you. Don’t encourage him. It’s bad for his COPD.”

“I see,” is all I can think to say.

“You’re new here. Welcome to The Ponds. I’m Marjorie. Marjorie Olson, with the welcoming committee.”

         Back to I'm Here

After 25,000 Masses

Chapter One

The tour guide paused in the middle of the church and raised his chin, revealing a prominent Adam’s apple bobbing above a red bow-tie and purple plaid shirt. Tim recognized the man as someone who reveled in his task, savoring the attention that came with his carefully memorized speech for this stop in the tour. This was a man who liked to play the expert, if only on the history of Amelia Island.

“Who can tell what parable is being portrayed in this stained-glass window?” the guide asked. Before anyone could respond, he continued, “It’s the parable of the Prodigal Son.”

Tim knew it wasn’t. It was the story of the Good Samaritan, but he wasn’t going to tip his hand or upstage the poor fellow. He had held forth enough times over the years to let someone else have a turn. He decided to simply tune him out the same way dozy parishioners had endured his homilies.

How many sermons had he given? How many masses? On average, ten a week, counting weddings and funerals, for fifty years. That was over 25,000 masses. God, that was a lot. No more. He was done with all that. Retired. Honorably discharged. It was time to be just plain old Tim McRae, retiree on a senior tour. A chance to make new friends who wouldn’t be calling him Father. Maybe even a lady friend. Whoa!

“Let’s get back on the bus, folks,” the tour guide announced. “Next, we’ll be heading to the house where the Pippi Longstocking movie was filmed.”

Tim smiled to himself as he played peek-a-boo with the Atlantic Ocean glinting between shoreline condos. Mention of the red-haired storybook girl with pigtails reminded him of a woman he had met in Aspen years ago—she too a redhead, but with mini-ponytails sticking out between her ski hat and goggles strap. Could a woman have two ponytails, one on each side? The woman kept glancing at him as they rode the chairlift to Big Burn. She finally said, “You remind me of a priest back in Grand Rapids.”

He hated when that happened—getting dragged back into his role in the middle of a get-away vacation. Maybe she was a parishioner, one of 18,000, at St. Cyril’s. But then, maybe not, and he would never see her again. So, he deflected, and asked her what the odds were of running into another good-looking guy like him. She cut him slant-eyes before popping her goggles down and hopping off the chairlift. Of course, she came up to receive communion from him the next Sunday, glowering from furrowed brows as she stuck out her hand for the host. He was caught red-handed and red-faced from sunburn on the glaring slopes.

During the bus ride, Bernice tuned out the tour guide babbling into the PA system about the local excitement of a real Hollywood film crew and studied Tim across the aisle and one row up. Ha, she huffed to herself… the only single guy on the tour. And him short as me. Said he was a counselor at the group introduction. Looks more like a priest to me. Guess you could call a priest a counselor. But how many counselors wear black pants, black shoes and black socks? Guy needs a wardrobe consultant. She shook her head. Nah, he’s a priest. Look at the way he sits—like he’s got a candle up his butt, and he tilts his head with this I’m all interested look. Bet he throws in a dearly beloved or two before he’s done. Yeah, he’s a priest.

Wait a minute, she thought as Tim offered his profile, something about him rings a bell. She snapped her fingers twice, waking her long-term memory. The priest we had at St. Cyril’s. Senior year. It was his first parish. Me and Cindy had a priest-crush on him. Can you believe? But, it really could be him, just older, like when they age someone on a computer.

As the group filed off the bus, Tim stopped at the edge of his seat and motioned Bernice forward, pausing to check her name tag. He smiled. She caught his hazel eyes, smiled back. For crying out loud, it’s him, she realized. Father Tim. She tried to remember his last name. Mc… something. McRae. Fr. Timothy McRae. Yeah, but he was so determined to be cool back then, he insisted we call him just plain Tim, which only made him more a priest to us. He wore his hair long, sideburns and a mustache. And the night Martin Luther King Junior was killed he gathered us all at the rectory to share, to absorb. He was cool then. I wonder what he’s like now. Might be fun to find out. Not much else going on since he’s the only unattached guy on the tour.

That evening, Bernice looked across the supper buffet to spot Tim sitting alone. As she scooped a serving of vegetable lasagna, she weighed opening gambits in her mind. If she pounced on him with the priest tag, he might flinch. After all, there was so much flak about bad priests these days, he might just want to duck into his shell. Or then again, he might not even be a priest anymore. There was a lot of that going around. She nodded to herself as she sprinkled parmesan over her entrée. She would respect his privacy, she decided, just play it light and see where it led.

Tim looked up to see Bernice bearing down on him. She knows me, he realized. It’s the smile of recognition around the eyes. And she’s going to expect me to know her. Could she be another past parishioner? He couldn’t remember them all. There had to be thousands. But she could easily remember him. He closed his eyes, sighed and braced himself for ‘Father this’ and ‘Father that’ over the next half-hour.

“Can I join you?” Bernice asked.

“Of course,” Tim replied.

Noticing that he had begun on his lasagna, she asked how it was.

“Oh, fine. Like all the food on this program.”

“Yeah, great all around,” Bernice said. “Well, maybe not today’s tour guide.”

Tim looked up from his plate, past raised eyebrows, utilizing the one-second delay of broadcasters, priests and politicians to assess their audience before responding with a conspiratorial chuckle. “A bit taken with his own importance, you might say.”

“Uh-huh,” Bernice concurred. “And how about that stained-glass window bit? I mean, anybody who’s ever flipped through the Bible knows the difference between the Prodigal Son parable and Lazarus and Dives. You don’t need to be a Bible scholar…” then pointedly added, “or a priest.”

Oh, no you don’t, Tim thought. She was not going to get him to correct her, tell her it was really the Good Samaritan. Clever lady, trying to draw him out. But, he wasn’t going to bite, not just yet. “I wonder why you would mention priests. You wouldn’t be a Catholic, would you?”

“Why do you ask?”

“Well, you could have said minister. Ministers of any Christian denomination would be familiar with the Bible. Maybe even more so than priests. My guess… you come out of the Catholic tradition.”

Back to After 25,000 Masses
 

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