Janice Coraopolis was the girl that everyone liked She was pretty, which is more important to some people than to others. She was intelligent, which was more important other people than it is to others. She was unceasingly kind which is important to just about everyone.
She was authentic as Louise would say. Her kindness seemed to have no agenda. It just was. She wasn’t the most popular girl at General John G. Pershing Elementary School, but she was easily the most well-liked by those who knew her.
Her parents ran the Sweet Stop – a candy store near the train station. The irony of their choices wasn’t lost on anyone.
Janice was on her own path – with little to distract her – until that first tug on her heart.
Janice Coraopolis couldn’t understand the tug at her heart what she saw Hercules the Lesser in the hall or when she saw him sitting alone on the steps of the school.
She didn’t tell anyone – not even Becky Showalter – but she found herself thinking about Hercules the Lesser pretty much all the time.
She asked around to see if anyone could tell her anything about him, but she soon learned that no one was even really aware of him – let alone knew anything about him.
He was a 12-year-old enigma.
It didn’t take long for things get back to normal for the folks at General John G. Pershing Elementary School. Hercules the Lesser reclaimed his place in the background and blending in with the lockers. He continued to spend his free time in the music room staring at the keys in a perfectly polished piano.
Hercules the Greater was back at basketball practice in making the grand entrances into every classroom on his schedule. His was a charmed existence and he soon realized he didn’t even really care about it.
The only actual difference now – and no one was really aware of it – was Janice Coraopolis begin to make it her business to be acutely aware of where Hercules the Lesser was and what he was doing.
Hercules the Lesser was anxious because he was afraid his recent brush with popularity might force him to be social when he returned to school. He may have to sit with other kids when he ate lunch. He may have to learn to kick a ball or shoot a basket. He wasn’t sure what to expect.
He figured he could ask Booger Wilson for guidance during this stressful time.
Secretly Hercules the Lesser was excited about what his shift in popularity meant to Janice Coraopolis. If she – finally – noticed Hercules the Lesser – it would all be worth it.
The days leading up to the return to school were filled with anxiety for Hercules the Lesser and for Hercules the Greater for the same reason. They were on opposite sides of the reason – but they couldn’t have known that.
Hercules the Greater had to figure out how to face his friends with the knowledge he had lost the King of the Parade crown and more importantly to a kid that no one ever really seemed to notice before that day.
Miss Kravitz played with the New Age Jazz Combo to ring in the New Year. This year they featured a tribute to John Coltrane. She allowed herself her a kiddie cocktail and she played like they were coming to take her piano away.
After the kiss Roger would put some popcorn in the microwave and Louise would pour two fresh Brandy Alexanders. They would turn their attention back to the television set and eat popcorn and drink Brandy Alexander’s until Louise fell asleep with her head on Roger’s shoulder. Eventually he would turn the movie off and allow himself to drift off to sleep there on the couch with the only woman he’d ever loved. They were ready to face another year together.