Lenny Castellaneta 1225 Mistletoe Lane

ISBN 13: 9781413767544

1225 Mistletoe Lane

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9781413767544: 1225 Mistletoe Lane

Christmas 2000: a blissful time when Y2K mania was gleefully recalled as farcical overreaction, and Yankee fans everywhere were still reveling in the aftermath of the Subway Series. On the surface, there's little reason for native New Yorker Jim Carrelli, now a left-coaster, to be so miserable. But he has dragged a lot of baggage into the new millennium, and it's weighing on him as heavily as Jacob Marley's chain. Feeling no pain during an outing to his favorite watering hole, Jim spills his guts, revealing the source of his mounting misanthropy to his neighbor Galen, a loquacious mysterious older gentleman with unusual taste in automobiles and haberdashery. Digging past Jim's selfishness and Long Island parochialism to discover a good heart underneath, Galen makes him an offer of a lifetime. Brimming with nostalgic humor and sharp cultural commentary, 1225 Mistletoe Lane adds a contemporary twist to a hallowed holiday theme and reaffirms the Dickensian notion that we are all just "fellow passengers to the grave."

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Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

The warm December sun was readying for an early exit, like your brother-in-law from the restaurant table just before the check comes. Jim pulled into his driveway and got out of the car as Molly busily watered a lawn that didn’t need watering; it had died from neglect years ago. A small but steady stream escaping from behind the nozzle was soaking her dress, though she didn’t seem to notice. He looked on, more befuddled than Mr. Spock at a Cheech and Chong film festival, before walking over and lending a hand. He didn’t know why these things still surprised him, but they did. Maybe he detected something behind those vacant eyes, something that made him believe a fully sentient being still dwelled within.

"Jeez, Molly, the nozzle’s leaking! You’re getting soaked!"

"Oh, well for heav-en’s sake. I did-n’t e-ven no-tice."

He grabbed the hose from her and tightened the wayward sprayer. She seemed pleased by the gesture, even if not fully understanding the need for it. "Well, my good-ness. Thank-you Jim." He smiled, then started for Galen’s house. "Oh Jim, by the way," she called out. He turned back. "Mis-sus Wil-helm, the la-dy down the street, her lit-tle dog-gie died to-day. He was ve-ry, ve-ry sick and she took him to the vet and he died. I just thought you should know." He had no idea why she thought that, since he knew neither the dog nor Mrs. Wilhelm. But he didn’t let on.

"Uh, yeah . . . thanks for sharing."

"You’re quite wel-come," Molly answered, her head absently bouncing like a bobble-head toy. She resumed watering the weeds and dirt with that same glazed stare his students donned whenever he lectured on infinitives, participles, or most any other topic that required them to think. Jim started to walk away, stopped, twisted around to momentarily gaze at her again, then continued back down the driveway to Galen’s. But his neighbor suddenly appeared in front of him; his attire d’jour, a zoot suit and fedora.

"Hi, Jim."

Jim fleered at the outfit but said nothing as Galen turned his attention across the "lawn."

"Hi, Molly." She looked up, smiled, and waved, seemingly forgetting the hose in her hand. Water thrust forward but fell short of her friends as they each jumped back a few steps. She went back to her mud manufacturing while Galen’s eyes lingered on her in pity for a few seconds. "You know," he confided solemnly, "she’s way behind on her mortgage, and the bank’s trying to foreclose. I shudder to think what’s going to happen."

Jim nodded in agreement. "Yeah, where the hell am I going to live?" He saw Galen frowning but, as in Saracino’s with Father O’Hanlin, had no idea what the look was for.

"What?!" asked a defensive Jim.

Galen ignored his insensitivity, desperately hoping he wasn’t really that self-centered, or everything would be ruined. Then, out of nowhere, Jim asked, "Hey, how long have you known Molly?" The concerned tone in his voice was a relief to Galen.

"Oh, many, many years. Since long before you were even born."

"And how long has she been like that?"

"Hmm, let’s see, about thirty-five years now. She and her husband moved in when they were newlyweds. But they were in a terrible car accident shortly after that," he winced. "He and a friend died and she . . . well, that’s how it left her."

Jim spun about to look at his landlady, his gaze now tinged with pity. "Doesn’t she have any family?"

"Well, they didn’t have any kids, and she never remarried. I don’t know of any brothers or sisters."

"So she’ll probably end up in a convalescent home. God, that’s a shame."

"Yeah, it is," Galen sadly concurred. Neither said anything for a bit before Galen finally broke the silence. "Come on next door. I’m ready to unveil my secret."

Review:

"1225 Mistletoe Lane is a wonderful story, filled with humor and sentiment, about caring for other people." -- Annick Mertens, Euro-Reviews: Women's Fiction Reviews, August 2005

"1225 Mistletoe Lane is an enchanting read... Lenny Castellaneta crafts a fascinating tale..." -- Lighthouse Literary Reviews, Oct. 2006

"1225 Mistletoe Lane... a holiday treat... a fun read you probably won't put down until you've finished with a smile." -- Judy Salamacha, The Bay News, Dec. 21, 2005

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