Mary Helen Stefaniak – The World of Pondside
With help from Pondside Manor’s quirky, twentysomething “kitchen boy” Foster Kresowik, wheelchair-bound resident Robert Kallman creates The World of Pondside, a video game that delights the rest home’s residents by allowing them to virtually relive blissful moments from days long past–or even create new ones.
One-legged Duane Lotspeich is overjoyed when he can once again dance the tango. Thrilled octogenarian Laverne Slotnick cheers on her favorite baseball team from the stands at Candlestick Park with her beloved husband–who died years ago. Even the rest home’s overwhelmed head administrator escapes her exhausting job by logging onto a much more luxurious virtual world.
Robert’s game may have enlivened the halls of Pondside Manor, but chaos ensues when he’s discovered dead, strapped in his wheelchair and drowned in the rest home’s pond. If any resident witnessed his death, they’re not telling–either covering up or quite possibly just forgetting. And it’s far from clear to anyone–much less the police–if this brilliant man’s death was suicide or murder. After all, who’d want to kill a dying ALS patient?
When Robert’s popular video game goes dark, its players grow desperate. The task of getting it back online falls to tattooed kitchen worker Foster, who enlists help from a raucous bunch of misfits suffering from various stages of dementia and other age-related afflictions. Their pursuit–virtual and real–has unintended consequences, uncovering both a criminal conspiracy and the dying wishes of Foster’s friend Robert. From Pondside Manor, an astonishing journey is embarked upon–blissful, treacherous, and unforgettable.
Packed with sharp wit and compassion, Mary Helen Stefaniak has written a rousing, perceptive, and utterly original novel.