God is in the Pancakes: a novel by Robin Epstein community news and reviews about the author about the book

Chapter One – Continued

“You have a bad attitude, Grace Manning,” Mr. Sands says, his hazel eyes narrowing slightly as he gives me the once-over. “I like it.”

“And you have a lot of hair for an old man,” I reply, kicking the footrest of his wheelchair. “I think we should give you a Mohawk.”

“A Mohawk?” Mr. Sands tilts his head back and curls the corners of his mouth into a smile. “Sounds painful.”


“Are you clucking at me? Did you just cluck at me, young lady?” he asks, trying to straighten up in his chair.

“I did.”

“Implying I’m a chicken?”

“If the wing fits, Sand Man.”

“Miss Manning,” Mr. Sands says formally, in a tone I imagine he would have used in business meetings. “You are looking at a man who served in the First Marine Division in the Korean War, where I was stationed in the mountains by the Chosin Reservoir – the ‘Frozen Chosin,’ as it was known. The men of the First were officially called combat-ready soldiers, which meant we were the first on the ground fighting. Unofficially we were called ‘bullet catchers,’ because we gave the enemy something to shoot at. Over the course of my life I’ve been called a good-for-nothing jerk, a son of a bitch, and a whole lot of other things that would make both you and me blush if I repeated them. But in all my years no one but no one has ever called me a chicken. So go ’head, scalp me if you dare.”

“You really want me to give you a Mohawk?” I ask. “Are you serious?”

“I’d say ‘serious as a heart attack,’ but they don’t like people to joke about that around here.”

Mr. Sands, a resident in the Hanover House Retirement Community, is one of the only people in this place who would make a joke like that, which is part of the reason he’s my favorite resident. More accurately, he’s my favorite resident by a mile and I’m not just saying that because he’s also the guy who taught me how to cheat at Texas hold’em.

I’ve been working as a candy striper at Hanover House (“One of the premiere facilities for seniors in beautiful suburban Philadelphia!”) since school started, the beginning of my sophomore year. That was when my mother informed me it was time to get a job because, “It’ll help motivate you, Grace.” Before this time I’d never realized Mom thought my level of motivation presented a problem. I never knew she’d given the subject any thought at all, for that matter. But even though I’d never admit it to her, I actually wanted to get a job. Having a built-in reason to escape the house a few days a week seemed like a pretty good deal to me.

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