They knew each other growing up and they’re full-fledged adults in 2013, but their lives are aimed in vastly different directions. Joe is arrested and charged with felony sex offenses, while Cherie is in graduate school, on the path to a promising career. Joe and Cherie grew up in the same neighborhood, shared a mutual adolescent crush, and came from loving, if imperfect homes. As adolescents, both experienced life-changing trauma.
This is the story of how two young people negotiate the influences of their environment, and family and peer relationships, amidst societal and cultural change in the mid 1990’s and early 2000’s, a time flooded with sexual explicitness and morally ambiguous messages. These phenomena complicate Joe and Cherie’s lives by playing on their individual vulnerabilities, especially in the face of corruption and cruelty. Once Joe and Cherie reconnect as adults, their past experiences and human frailties come back into play, rendering untenable prospects for their future.
From: Any Joe, copyright 2022, Maura Lin
At the outlet, he has purchased a bar of the Alpen dark chocolate,
imported from Switzerland, which is his girlfriend Sandra’s
preferred brand, and a gallon of milk for himself. Milk is truly his
favorite beverage, and that’s counting the variety of whiskey, beer
and wines he’d sampled in his college days. Sandra will complain
about the chocolate, but she’ll tell him how wonderful he is, and she’ll
share it with him after dinner. “You are too sweet,” she’ll murmur,
and she’ll give him a hug, wrapping her arms around him tightly,
kissing him with over-pursed lips and an exaggerated smack. “Now,
how am I supposed to stay on my diet, when you push chocolate
on me?” He and Sandra had met in college, and had been together
nearly six years.
Joe walks towards the far end of the parking lot, a safe distance
from the abrupt comings and goings of other vehicles. Sandra,
yes, she could lose just a bit of weight, but he likes her full hips and
breasts, and her softness, and her lovely deep brown eyes. She should
just eat a little less of everything, rather than insist on no-fat, low-fat
all the time. As he approaches his truck, he hums under his breath.
Easier said than done, moderation, that is . . . and he pictures Sandra
waiting for him, one eye on the clock, as she busies herself at the
stove stir-frying a medley of pea pods, chicken breast and water
chestnuts. He reaches into his pocket, locating the key to his aging
green truck, and inserts it into the lock.
“Not so fast, you asshole. Hands up!” The command, almost a
growl, comes out of nowhere. Joe freezes, too stunned to do anything
but breathe. His heart rises into his throat, its pulsations hammering
in his ears. He inhales deeply, and with a sigh, slowly, his wits
reemerging and his defenses awaking, he starts to turn.
To read more of ANY JOE, purchase at Bookbaby Bookshop or your local indiebound.org bookstore
Malaprops Bookstore and Cafe, Asheville, NC: malaprops.com
Adventure Bound Books, Morganton, NC: https://adventureboundbooks.indielite.org/
Blue Ridge Books, Waynesville, NC: http://blueridgebooksnc.com
Bookbaby Bookshop: https://store.bookbaby.com/book/any-joe
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/ (search for Maura Lin)