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Mickey Paquette lives a quiet life occupied mainly by working to help his father—his mom died when he was twelve years old, his dad’s a recovered alcoholic. Mickey doesn’t make waves at school and doesn’t worry about his social life. Near the end of his schooling, Mickey stumbles on an intriguing notion to celebrate those academic years —to try to gain an entry in the Guinness World Book of Records. He hatches the idea to break a world record after watching two friends throw and catch grapes at lunch. After embarking on his quest, Mickey soon discovers he has an amazing mix of friends, helpers and adversaries, most of them tangled up in the often-vicious environment of small-town rumor, romance, and politics. Despite setback after setback, he pursues the record—but will there be one final stumbling block? Mike Ryan is the author of the EPPIE AWARD winning novel BEGIN WITH ME.
“Barry, what are the seven ways a batter can reach first base?” asked Mickey Paquette.
“Seven?” replied Barry Haskins. “Hmm, let me see.”
Both boys waded in the river, a soft warm breeze fanning their faces on this Labor Day.
“Okay—base hit, error, walk, dropped third strike, hit by pitch, fielder’s choice. How many’s that?”
“I’m stuck. I give up.”
Mickey Paquette stood two inches under six feet, with light brown hair. Summer sun brought out the blonde highlights. He had his mother’s light blue eyes, a medium-sized straight nose, high cheekbones, and thin lips. His body was thin yet sinewy.
His best friend Barry was stockier with broad shoulders, thick legs and biceps that would have pleased a steroid user. His hair was dark; his disposition light. His nose curved slightly downward with a slight bend in the middle.
“Good one, Mick. You ready for your last year of public school?”
“Senior year’s going to suck,” said Mickey.
Summer vacation, always a delight, always too short, was one day from completion.
“Twelve years of school almost done,” said Barry. “We have to join the real world.”
“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” said Paquette, who took a rock and skimmed it off the brown waters of the Blackstone River. “I like my world here.”
“You going to college?” asked Barry, sitting with his butt on the bank and his feet in the warm water.
“I guess so. It’s expensive. Syracuse would be great for journalism, but I don’t even know if I could get in. Never mind afford it.”
“Give Syracuse a shot. Even if you couldn’t afford it, it would be nice to know if you got accepted.”
“Maybe. Even if I go to a state school, I’ll probably have to take out a loan. Four years of school and I’ll be in debt before even drawing a paycheck.”
Paquette picked up his IBC Root Beer and swigged. The brown soda bottle could have passed for a beer.
“What about you, Barry?”
“The old man wants me to work for him. I’m thinking ‘Army.’ I can be a plumber any time.”
“You want to get shot at?”
“The old man was a soldier. I’m an American. It’s the very least I can do.”
“Holy shit! You’ll make some recruiter piss his pants in delight the day you sign up.”
This bend of the river was a favorite spot for the two friends, a place where they discussed all matters vital, and not so vital.
Mickey pressed the sweating soda bottle next to his right temple. “I’ve done nothing special. I’ll probably be lucky to get into a community college.”
“You’re smart, Mick. You know a lot of trivia.”
“Too bad there wasn’t an SAT for trivia. When I like the subject, I’m fine. Math and science blow. Hate both of them with a passion.”
“I like them.”
“That’s because you’re good with your hands. Your father, whether he’s a hard ass or not, taught you many great skills. You can fix cars, put up drywall, and unclog a toilet.”
“So? I’m not sure what I want to do. We’ve lived here our whole lives and now we have to face adulthood. I’m not ready.”
“Me neither. I want this year to be great.”
“How’re you going to do that?” Barry swirled his legs in the water. He watched tiny fish swim by him.
“I don’t know. Football rules the town. If you play football, you’re treated like a god. My dad, your dad, and Travis’s all played on the same team.”
“I know. My dad says your dad had a cannon for an arm. QB and centerfielder.”
“You dad was no slouch either. A great lineman.”
“I know. He always says, ‘For chrissakes, Luc Paquette and Dougie Stout got all the headlines. I did all the dirty work. No wonder I became a plumber.’”
Both boys laughed.
“Mickey, why don’t you try out?”
“I haven’t played football since Pop Warner. I’m not a big fan of being pummeled.”
“You’re a good quarterback.”
“Barry, that’s playing touch football. I’m no Travis Stout.”
“He’s the boy wonder. And the best student.”
“You have to remind me, Barry?”
“The genius of our everyday humanity is to find something within our ordinary and even mundane lives that we can transform into something special, even amazing, that can inspire those around us and bring joy and purpose into our lives. In EPPIE AWARD winning author Mike Ryan’s outstanding book GRAPES FOR A GUINNESS character Mickey Paquette does just that, finding that special something in no less an object than the humble grape, in this tale of life’s experiences and achievements which is itself a very special book.” Steven Douglas Womack, author of CYCLOPEAN RESCUE
Book Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
No. of Pages: 276
Paper Weight (lb): 11.6