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Chocolate on a Stick



Chocolate on a Stick Chocolate on a Stick
May 14, 2011
Amazon Kindle eBook
eISBN: B0052OUNTC
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August 2005
Baycrest Books
ISBN 978-0-972-84506-9

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An elderly Appalachian couple, who've fallen in love in Memphis, take to the road in a red Corvette because their wacky children decide to send them to separate retirement homes. Soon the police are in hot pursuit as they try to reach their goal of California so Velma can get her first glimpse of the ocean.

 

Reviews

"Contemporary author Carole Bellacera jumps into the romantic comedy sub-genre with both feet in this laugh a minute story, written from each and every character's point of view. While most of these insights are very funny, Velma's story is heartbreaking. However, she is the strongest voice heard and is basically saying the past is the past, and, my favorite, sex at seventy-three is as good as it was at twenty-three. Louie loved his late wife dearly, but he's been alone a long time and to him, Thelma is his CHOCOLATE ON A STICK. A very clever plot, peopled with great characters and outstanding narrative, makes this book appealing and fun to read." -- Betty Cox, Reader To Reader

"Carole Bellacera is one to think 'outside the box,' and she really does it in CHOCOLATE ON A STICK. It's not like any romance you've read lately, because not many romances have seventy-year-old protagonists. It's fun, crazy, and a little weird, but read it. You'll like it. You might even recognize a family member of two. I know that independent little foxy Velma could have been my grandma." --Lucele Coutts, NovelTalk.com

"The story romps along at a rapid pace, leaving the reader breathless at times, wishing for a bit of calm. Still, it is refreshing to read a comic adventure starring a pair of young-at-heart senior citizens, Velma and Louie. They are rambunctious, randy and full of fun. Even the supporting cast in Carole Bellacera's CHOCOLATE ON A STICK is outrageous and larger than life. Their descriptions are so colorful the reader easily pictures them. Each character speaks in their own first person chapters, revealing their inner and outer development...a lively, laughable read."  --Geri,  Love Romances

"CHOCOLATE ON A STICK, while very different, is a delightful novel. Readers will wonder what trouble two seventy-year-olds can, and will, get into. They will be challenged, along with Velma, as Louie acts like the youngest grandfather you will ever meet. Bellacera definitely wrote a funny tale!" -- Shelley Bush, BookReviewCafe.com

"An entertaining and zany tale of love that knows no age and adventure that knows no bounds. This is a fun and heart-warming tale told from each character's perspective (i.e., first person). Full of comical and side-splitting dialogue that will have you cheering the "old geezers" on to their final destination." --Teresa Sanders, Romance Designs

"This is a very different type of read than the ones Carole Bellacera has written in past. It is funny yet contains a serious social issue that is addressed. The elderly have rights even though their grown up children might not agree with their choices and the lovebirds prove that they will do whatever is necessary to lead their own lives. CHOCOLATE ON A STICK is a sweet charming geriatric romance." --Harriet Klausner 

"This is pure delight – you’re gonna wanna read this one! You’d never recognize this as being a Carole Bellacera book as it is entirely different in style and theme from anything else she has ever written. Well, we are blessed that she wrote this for it’s priceless! Filled with all kinds of endless folk expressions and wonderful characters and delightful dialogue, this is a very special story that is told in a very special way. A terrific love story like no other and both poignant as well as funny." --Donna Doyle, Romance Reviews

"This is a rollicking story, cross country, for these two elderly lovers who become cult characters as they elude their family and the police across the United State. Peppered with the ins and outs of their relationship and colored with the descriptions of their decidedly screwy children, this book moves at a fast pace. The dialogue is laugh out loud funny and the antics of these two elderly “youngsters” will delight readers. 

While the book, written by chapters from different character perspectives, is a comedic take on the romantic relationship between Velma and Louis (not to be confused with Thelma and Louise!) there is a deeper message embedded in the pages. Bellacera reminds us that love makes the world go round regardless of age. Her delightful book will appeal to all ages but especially points out that full romance is a definite reality for the geriatric set." - Jeri Neal, theromancereadersconnection.com

Excerpt

Chapter 1 - Velma

I'll tell you right now, this ain't no "Thelma and Louise" story. Leastways not with the same ending. I'm here to tell you about it, so it's mighty clear Louie and me didn't drive off no cliff into the Grand Canyon. We might be old, but we ain't brain-dead. Yes, we was on the run, and yes, we had the cops and the kids after us, and yes, we had all of America rooting for us. But that's where the similarity ends.

My name's Velma Luanne Huddleston. I'm seventy-three years old and up until last August, I lived at the Happy Valley Home for Retired Citizens in Memphis, Tennessee. That's where I met Louie, the love of my life. He lived down the hall, and I met him one day by the mailboxes. We got to talking and he told me about his grandson who had made it big in a rock group called Hairy Armpits or Harry Krishna or some such nonsense.

Anyhow, as he was going on about his rock-star grandson, I listened politely, thinking as how that hardly was something to brag about, if you know what I mean. Gavin was one of them long-haired ignorant-looking creatures that prance around on a stage in skin-tight leather pants, high-heeled boots and just as naked above the waist as the day he came into the world. I know, 'cause Louie showed me one of his MTV videos made back in the mid-Nineties when Hairy Armpits was the biggest rock act in America, or so Louie said. It was news to me. I'd never heard a lick about 'em. But to be fair, I wasn't a big MTV fan. Anyhow, for the life of me, I didn't understand why them girls in the crowd we're going crazy at the way Gavin would flip his long brown hair around and strut on the stage like a barnyard rooster with his pick of the chickens. But Louie was just proud as pie when he talked about that young'un, and who was I to burst his bubble about it? Lord knows I don't have a lot to brag about in my family.

Farvis is my only son, and I don't mind telling you, he's just a mite slow. If you ask me, it's because of all that liquor my late husband, Skank, put away. I think it did something to that sperm of his. Contaminated it or something.

Farvis runs a used car lot called 'ElvisMobiles.' It's right on Elvis Presley Boulevard in Memphis, and like everybody else in this town, he makes use of The King's good name to draw in customers, and hasn't nary a bit of shame about doing it. Once a year, right before the big spring sale, he dresses up like Elvis and goes on over to the front of Graceland with a film crew and makes a commercial for ElvisMobiles. And every blame time, the cops come and haul him off to jail 'cause he won't move off when the guards tell him to. Farvis figgers he comes out ahead, though, even after his wife, Loretta, pays off the fine because his annual appearance at Graceland has turned into something he calls a "media event" and that brings in all these new customers. So, maybe he ain't so slow, after all. Well...I'll let you decide for yourself after you hear my story.

Now, I mentioned Loretta, Farvis' wife. Well, for the life of me, I don't know what that man sees in that woman. All I know is, he took his ducks to a poor market when he married that one. She's just as hateful and disagreeable and awnry a woman as you'd ever want to meet. And just between you and me, she looks like forty miles of bad road. (Not exactly Victoria's Secret material, if you get my drift.) And you know what else I think? I think Farvis was having his way with Loretta long before the wedding cake was cut, and her daddy found out and came after him with a shot-gun. Why else would he have bought himself a life sentence to that sour-faced Bible-toting straw-stick witch who can't open her mouth without a stream of scripture spilling out of it. I'm not saying I'm an unbeliever. Hell! I pray every night before I crawl into bed. But I'll be doggone damned if I go around spouting off scripture to any Tom, Dick or Harry that happens to cross my path. That exactly what Loretta does ever chance she gets. And pray? Oh, my Lord. That woman must bug the hell out of God. I'm surprised He hasn't sent down a lightning bolt to render her speechless just so she'll give Him a little rest. I swan! I'll bet Loretta prays to the Almighty every night for a smooth and satisfying dump the next morning.

Anyhow, Farvis and Loretta get along about as good as two rabid dogs fighting over a hunk of bloody sirloin. They don't fight physically, you understand. Far as I know, Farvis has never lifted a hand against her. I guess he didn't inherit Skank's mean streak, and much as I don't care for Loretta, I wouldn't wish Skank's mean streak on my worst enemy. No, they don't fight with fists, but with words. Pick, pick, pick. It likes to drive a body crazy listening to them going on. Sometimes you just want to hog-tie 'em and plaster a big piece of packing tape across their wagging mouths. One time, Louie swore he was gonna do just exactly that, and I wouldn't put it past him.

But I'm getting off the subject. My brain always did run faster than my mouth. The day this whole mess began, Louie was out taking me for one of our driving lessons. Old Sam Burkhart who is as blind as a bat these days, and has no use for driving, loaned Louie his Ford Fairlane, and Louie had been teaching me to drive it for the last few weeks. He just couldn't believe it when he found out I'd never driven a car in my life. See, he was driving tractors on his daddy's farm outside of Bell Buckle when he was ten, and he went on from there to drive big semi-trucks from Natchez, Mississippi up to Minneapolis, Minnesota twice a week, and in his spare time, he raced stock cars on weekends all over the South. I don't know if there's a lick of truth in this or not, because Louie loves to tell a rooster tale, but he claims he even drove one of them ice machines for a spell up there in Minnesota. You know what I'm talking about. Them big old machines that smooth the ice rinks for the figure skaters. Anyhow, what I'm getting at is that Louie had been driving something or other since he was knee-high to a grasshopper. And when he found out Skank had never taught me to drive, well, he just decided then and there that something had to be done about that. It was a damn shame, he said, that a woman seventy-three years old had never once in her life driven a car. And Louie, who was a Chevy man, said even if it was a Ford Fairlane, and that was only a step up from a one-foot scooter, it would just have to do.

So, here I was, driving Sam Burkhart's Ford Fairlane, and doing a mighty fine job of it, I might add. 'Course them pedals was a little confusing, I have to admit. Trying to remember to push one thing down while letting another thing up, and then trying to shift them gears at the same time...why, it's a wonder a body could remember a thing with all that going on...especially with Louie yelling in my ear, things like, " Second, Velma! You can't go from first to third!" I liked it better when he just shut up and sat there with his hands over his eyes. 'Course that weird sound he was making down in his throat was a mite distracting.

Anyhow, we finished our lesson that day and pulled back into the parking lot at Happy Valley, and that's when I saw Farvis' car parked there in the visitor's lot. I saw it first, 'cause Louie hadn't peeled his hands away from his eyes yet, and I just knew something bad was wrong. This quare feeling just went through me. Some folks call it "the sight," and until that moment, I never knew I had it. But Farvis never came to the home on week days, so something had to be up. And that "something" wasn't gonna be good. I didn't need the "second sight" to tell me that.

"We got trouble," I said to Louie. "Farvis is here."

It was trouble, all right, but we didn't know how much trouble until Louie saw two other cars in the parking lot. One was a flashy-looking bright red '86 Trans Am with Tennessee vanity plates glaring VA VOOM. It could belong to nobody else but Genovadene Madison. And the other car was the ugliest-looking '83 Volvo station wagon you ever did see that had South Carolina tags on its bumper. Belonging to none other than Jeneeva Madison.

Louie looked over at me, and I saw Trouble waiting for a ride in his blue eyes. And he said two words that sent a shiver straight through my old bones. "The twins."

The twins is Louie's girls, Jeneeva and Genovadene. Now, I'm not one to talk bad about somebody, but I just have to say that Louie's wife must've had her cork unscrewed just a mite too loose when she named them baby girls. I swan! Did you ever hear such odd names in your life?

Well, I guess she knew that old saying about 'if the shoe fits," because them two girls are just as quare as Dick's hatband. They's identical twins, but you wouldn't know it to look at 'em. How can I put this so you get the picture? Okay. I think I got an...what's the word...an allegy for you. You got a city, see? Let's say...St. Louie. Kind of ordinary...nothing real memorable about it, lessen you count that big old arch looking out over the river. Then you got Las Vegas...all bright lights and flashy going-ons and the like. Well, Jeneeva is St. Louis and Genovadene is Las Vegas.

You see, Genovadene would look just like Jeneeva, excepting for three things. Clairol's Born Blonde, Maybelline's entire line of cosmetics and Dr. Wiley J. Mortmeier of Nashville whose medical specialty is breast implantation. Got the picture?

See, Genovadene is trying to make it in show business. She "sings" in a honky tonk in Nashville four nights a week. Well, she calls it singing. I call it caterwauling. That woman can't carry a tune in a tin cup, if you ask me, but since nobody did, that's what she does. Sings in a honky tonk. (More likely, it's not her voice that draws in the crowds, it's her bosom which she shows off in skin-tight dresses cut down to her knee-caps.) A forty-eight year old woman should know better!

Jeneeva is in the entertainment business, too, but I guess you could say she ain't so visible. She works in a sex toy factory down there in South Carolina, pouring plastic into little molds shaped like a man's do-hickey. Yep. Jeneeva makes her living making plastic peckers! It's funny, too, if you know Jeneeva. Why, that girl would blush if you looked at her cross-eyed. She's just as backward as a treed 'possum.

Genovadene, on the other hand, if a body would pay her enough to do it, she'd walk down Elvis Presley Boulevard in nothing but spike heels and a G-string, singing Tammy Wynette songs. There ain't nothing she'd shy away from. Lordy me, and when she opens up her mouth, you just wouldn't believe the things that come out. Mean as a snake, that one is. If I didn't know better, I'd think Skank did some sniffing around Murphreesboro and had a go at Louie's wife. But ever so often, I see a little bit of Louie in the twins, so I reckon he must've daddied them two.

Anyways, we saw all them cars in the parking lot, and knew something fishy was up. So, we headed into the building and got into the elevator. I don't know about Louie, but I felt how one of them Frenchies must've felt on their way to getting their heads chopped off. Something was in the air and believe you me, it was reeking like day-old chicken livers.

I stepped into the 7th Floor lounge, and the first thing I saw was that old biddy, Carlene Pottard, just a-talking a mile a minute with Loretta. Knowing that Meddlesome Matty, she was probably getting Loretta up to date on the latest goings-on with me and Louie. She was the one that first let the cat out of the bag about me and Louie playing horse with a billy-goat. As if what we did in the privacy of our apartments was any of her blame business! But that's the way it was around there. Everybody knew everybody's business. Thanks to Carlene, I might add.

I'll set the record straight right now, seeing as how you're probably wondering about the sex-thing. I didn't waste no time in spooning with Louie. At seventy-three years, you don't have that much time to waste. And I'll put another thing to rest right now while I'm at it. Sex is just as good at seventy-three as it is at twenty-three. No, there ain't no swinging off the chandeliers and dixie-doodling the bedsprings until Sealy-Posturepedic has sent you a Hotline number for emergency service, but it's still pretty damn good.

See, Louie is just as cute as a bug's ear with his twinkling blue eyes and apple-red cheeks and that thatch of silver white hair that stands up like a horsehair brush no matter what you do with it. But looks ain't why I love him, and it ain't the sex neither. He makes me feel young again. And he makes me laugh. There, now. I said it. Louie and me are in love, and if he ain't sleeping in my apartment, I'm sleeping in his. And we ain't a bit ashamed of it.

Well, when Carlene told Loretta and Farvis what we was doing, I thought Loretta was gonna burst a blood vessel. Remember when your mama claimed she was gonna have a conniption fit if you didn't do such and such? You always wondered what a conniption fit was, didn't you? Well, if you'd been there the day that Carlene told Loretta about me and Louie watching the submarine races together, you would've found out. She started raving about sin and how Jesus would be so disappointed in us and if we didn't repent and stop living tally, well, we was just trotting down to hell on a fast horse in a porcupine saddle. One thing I'll say about Farvis. When Loretta starts spouting the religion, he gets mad as hops. He's like me that way. I don't like nobody preaching to me. I talk to God on a regular basis, and I don't need nobody else getting in on that conversation. Ain't no party line when you're talking to God, I always say. Anyways, Farvis told Loretta to shut her trap, and then said to me, "Well, I reckon there's no harm in you and Louie spending time together, Mama. It's not like we have to worry about you getting in the family way or anything."

To my recollection, that's the first thing Farvis ever said that made a lick of sense. So, it all blew over. I just had to put up with Loretta's sour face and sanctimonious sighs whenever they came to visit. It was all I could do to stop myself from throwing Louie on the floor and having my way with him right in front of the old bat so she'd have a stroke and be out of my hair for good.

Anyways, like I was saying, Carlene was just talking away with Loretta when we walked in. Farvis, Genovadene and Jeneeva was in there, too. Loretta was mopping at her face and neck with one of her prissy hankies, embroidered with a cross-eyed looking Jesus; I'd noticed lately she'd been getting the hot flashes, and as awful as it sounds, I was glad she was reaching the change of life. That meant Skank's awnry bloodline would run out with Farvis. I took a grim satisfaction in that, 'cause if Skank had had any dreams, it was that the Huddleston line would go on, even if he didn't. I guess if a body waits long enough, justice will win out.

Farvis was pacing the floor, back and forth, back and forth, like one of them tigers you see at the zoo. Excepting this tiger's eye was a-twitching like crazy. That's when I knew for sure trouble was on the horizon. Farvis' right eye always twitches when he's nervous. I noticed, too, he had a new hairpiece on his balding head, and it was just as awful looking as his old one. Looked like something the cat kilt, ate, threw up and then drug through the barnyard.

Jeneeva was sitting on one of the sofas, just as quiet and meek as a little mouse. In her lap, she held the ugliest dog you ever did see, a long-haired chihuahua. Looked like a rat wrapped in a fur coat. This dog, Snuggles, is Jeneeva's baby. Never having been married, and living all alone in a tiny little house down there in South Carolina, Jeneeva must've been lonelier than a Catholic at a Southern Baptist revival, so she got herself this little dog to keep her company. And ever since, she's treated it like it's her own child. It's a sight to see. The minute we walked in, the dog jumped up on Jeneeva's lap and started yipping and snarling like we was a couple of creatures from Outer Space, and he had to protect her from becoming the main course on our supper table.

At the noise, Genovadene, sitting across the room, looked up from plastering more red lipstick on lips that was already so red, she looked like a big old fire engine coming atcha. Everybody else looked up too, and as soon as they saw us, Loretta and Carlene stopped talking. And it was so dadblamed quiet in the room, you could hear a mosquito fart.

I looked around at them, anchoring my hands firmly on my hips. "What the Sam Hill are you all doing here today?"

No one said a word. Farvis' eye twitched, and he looked away from me. A guilty look if I ever saw one. That old sick feeling I had inside my stomach twisted and burned and chewed at my innards. I hoped I'd put my pills in my purse. I had a feeling I'd be needing 'em soon.

"Well, don't ya'all just sit there looking jimmy-jawed at us," Louie said. "What's going on?"

Jeneeva and Genovadene looked at each other.

"Well, now, Daddy..." Jeneeva said in her shy little girl voice. "Why don't you and Velma have a seat, and let's have us a little talk."

I shook my head, and my eyes happened to fall on Carlene, sitting there in her wheelchair, looking at everybody like a cat who'd just caught herself a nice juicy canary.

"Carlene, ain't you missing 'Days of Our Nights' or 'The Bold and the Ignorant...or one of them other silly shows you watch?"

"It ain't on 'til two," she said, her eyes bright as a weasel who'd just spied a plump, juicy-looking chicken who'd showed up as a supper offering.

I took a step toward her and glared. "Well, something is on, so why don't you just high-tail it out of here so I can have some privacy with my blame relatives!"

"Well, I never!" With a pissy toss of her ragged gray head, she rolled her wheelchair toward the door.

"Yeah, but you wish you had," I muttered as she rolled past.

Farvis, who'd stopped pacing, looked at me, gave a big sigh and said, "You might as well sit down, Mama. We need to have us a little talk."

Louie and me looked at each other, and I could tell right off the bat that he was feeling just as uneasy as me about what was going on here. He grabbed my hand and we sat down on the sofa. I looked from Farvis to Loretta to Jeneeva to Genovadene, and not a one of them said a word. Like they was waiting for somebody else to start.

"Somebody died," I said, not believing it for a second. I couldn't think of one person who could've died that would've affected both Louie and me. It was something else. Something worse than somebody dying. And I could think of only one thing worse. "Well, answer me, dagnabbit! Did somebody die or not?"

Farvis shook his head. "No, Mama. That's not it." His eye was a-twitching like a wind-up toy gone berserk.

"Oh, for God's sake!" Genovadene stood up and placed her hands on her padded hips, splaying her legs apart like Xena getting ready to mop up the floor with the bad guys. Every eye in the room went directly to Genovadene's bosoms. She was wearing black stretch pants and a polka-dot lace-up blouse, which of course, wasn't laced up as far as it was supposed to be. I guess she figgered if she went to all the trouble of getting Dr. Mortmeier's $3500 special (two for the price of one), she might as well show 'em off. "I don't have all day for ya'all to get to the point! Daddy, Happy Valley is going bankrupt. It's closing down. So, the bottom line is Velma is gonna move in with Farvis and Loretta, and you are gonna go live down in South Carolina with Jeneeva."

That was it. The one thing worse than death. They was gonna separate me and Louie.

 

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