CHAPTER FIVE HUNDRED AND EIGHTEEN
Wednesday late-afternoon — 4:15 p.m.
With Sam Lipson at the wheel of the SUV, he drove them straight to a diner just outside of town where he fed the boys plate after plate of food while Delphie drank tea. When they were full and fed, they took turns in the bathroom before heading out into Leadville.
Delphie took the passenger seat, and Sam the driver’s seat. In the way of brothers, the boys pressed themselves into the middle seat. Blane took the far back seat where he could spread out. Sam waited until they were buckled in before starting on Sam’s historic tour of Lipson. They were just heading toward Leadville when the youngest brother, George, leaned forward
“Can I ask you something?” George asked.
“Sure,” Sam said.
“That lady, you know the one that came out of the hole we were watching?” George asked.
“Abi?” Delphie asked.
“Is she…” the boy leaned forward, He said the last word in almost a whisper, “human?”
“No,” Sam said with a shake of his head.
“No?” George asked. “What does that mean?”
“There are a lot of creatures who look like human beings but are not,” Sam said. “It’s weird to me. Sometimes, it kind of freaks me out. But we’ve met all kinds of people in the last few years.”
“Where?” the eldest brother, Gregg, asked at the same time the middle brother, Gary, said, “Why?”
“Jacob and I went to the Isle of Man,” Sam said.
“That’s really where it started,” Delphie said. “Meeting the fairies.”
Sam glanced at her and smiled.
“What do you mean ‘fairies’?” Gary asked.
His brothers looked at him and nodded at his question.
“Fairies,” Sam said. “At least that’s what they call themselves.”
“They were talking about the fairy queens,” Gary said.
“According to Abi, there were four fairy queens who arrived on this planet,” Delphie said. “Two were taken care of and two were not. Much of what happened in the last few days was about the fairy queens.”
“The war?” Gary asked.
“The fairy queens were going to go to war,” Sam said. “They share the planet with us. When they go to war, they mess up our world.”
“A lot of people have died when the fairies have gone to war,” Delphie said.
“Entire civilizations,” Sam said.
The boys fell silent for a while.
“But that’s over?” George asked.
“No war?” Gary asked.
“No war,” Sam said.
“Due in no short part to your hard work,” Delphie said with a nod.
“What did ‘Abi’ do to that guy?” Gary asked.
“She obliterated his body and soul,” Sam said, evenly.
The boys gave dramatic shivers.
“It made me feel weird,” George said. “Scared and angry and just wow! All at the same time.”
“Creepy,” Gregg said.
“I was like…” Gary opened his mouth in a horrified, shocked look.
“I was too,” Sam said.
Delphie nodded in agreement. They fell into a thick silence. Blane tapped the top of the middle bench.
“It’s certainly something we’ll never see again,” Blane said. “Being around Abi is really great. She’s amazingly kind. I really like her. Jake does too. Her partner, Fin, is just a good guy. Weird, but good.”
“That’s the guy that showed up?” George asked. “We know about black people because we watch television.”
Gregg, the eldest brother, punched George in the shoulder.
“Don’t be a racist,” Gregg said.
“I’ve never seen a black person in person!” George said.
“He’s not a person, dumb ass,” Gregg said. “He’s a fairy.”
“They just said that,” Gary said in a low tone.
“Plus, you don’t say ‘black’,” Gregg said. “They’re African-Americans.”
“Fin’s neither an African, nor an American,” Blane said, mildly. “He was born on the Isle of Man.”
“Like the Bee Gees?” Gary asked.
“The Bee Gees are white, dumb ass,” George said.
“Most fairies are black,” Sam said. “At least the ones I’ve seen.”
“They are an ancient people,” Delphie said. “Outside of the babies born this year, the youngest among them is many hundreds of years old.”
“The Isle of Man was populated in 6500 BC by people out of Africa,” Blane said. “Fand, Fin’s mother, was there long before then. Her beloved, Manannán, landed there sometime around in the early CE.”
“Current Era,” Gregg whispered, and his brothers nodded.
“We looked up his myth,” Blane said. “He’s in a poem from the 1500 CE. But by the 1500s, Manannán was less a man and more of a God like creature. The fairies create a fog that kept invaders out of most of the island. According to Jake, he was kind of like the mayor of a small colony on the Isle of Man. Queen Fand met him when he moved there.”
“Fin?” George asked.
“His father, Manannán,” Blane said.
“Fin must be really old,” George said. “Do you ask him about it?”
“He’s spent most of his life on the Isle of Man,” Blane said. “They have an entire area there. He’d never even thought of leaving until Jake and Sam went there. He really only knows about what was going on in his little world. Kind of like you guys and Leadville.”
He put his hand on the boy’s shoulders and they smiled.
“I’ve been home taking care of the kids,” Blane said. “We had some fairies visit from other Queendoms. I was fascinated at how distinct they were from each other. I mean they are fairies, right? That should make them kind of the same. They are not. Most fairies don’t ever leave their Queendoms. There’s only a few of them out of their small, controlled world. Fin and Abi live with us with their kids.”
“Fin’s not really so different from you,” Blane said. “But one thing — he doesn’t see you as ‘white’ or him as ‘black.’ That’s a modern distinction, something created in America.”
“Gregg’s told us all about it,” George said. “He wants to be a civil rights lawyer.”
“I’m going to be a civil rights lawyer,” Gregg said. “Help people who are hurt by the system.”
“Good for you!” Delphie said, even though she knew his path would be much less straight forward than that. “You’re really going to make a difference in this world.”
They cheered for Gregg and his ambition.
“So,” Blane said. “Fin, Abi … The stuff that happens around them is definitely different. But they are good folks. Our kids love their Zoe and Zaidy. Even though they are different from us — look different from us and have amazing powers — their hearts are beautiful. After you get your mind around all of this, you’ll like them.”
If only to say that they were willing to like them, the boys nodded.
“We cannot forget that Abi saved our lives,” Delphie said.
“Levi Johannsen would have killed us,” Sam added.
“He’s tried to kill me any number of times,” Delphie said with a nod. “He was planning on killing our bodies at the very least.”
“Capture our souls,” Sam said.
“Capture our souls?” George asked in an excited voice. “Really?”
“Is it a problem that Fin and Abi have black skin?” Blane asked.
“Not for me,” George said. “I just have never met anyone like that.”
“He appeared and disappeared out of nowhere,” Gary said.
“He didn’t care if we saw him,” Gregg said. “Like we didn’t matter at all.”
“My guess is that there’s not much you could do to hurt him,” Blane said. “He’s just powerful.”
They fell silent for a while. George turned around to look at Blane.
“Do you think he’d show me how to do that?” George asked. “You know appear and disappear.”
“Where would you go?” Gregg said, punching George again.
“Hey!” Blane put up his hand to block Gregg’s punch.
He shook his head at Gregg and Gregg shook his head that Blane wouldn’t understand.
“Fin might take you with him,” Delphie said. “But the skill is really a fairy skill. It’s something they can do that we can’t.”
The boys looked at Delphie with awe.
“He’s taken Blane places,” Delphie said.
“I throw up every single time,” Blane said. “It is not pretty. I’d rather not go by fairy. The little kids, Katy and Paddie, had a terrible fever after going with them.”
“It’s not natural for us,” Sam said. “We humans were born of the earth. We don’t do great when we travel away from it.”
When no one responded, Sam added, “At least that’s what I think.”
“Where’s Abi from?” George asked.
No one responded. The silence lagged.
“I don’t think anyone knows,” Delphie said. “She doesn’t. Like most of us, she found herself exactly where she was created.”
“She’s from the earth,” Sam said. He glanced at Delphie who nodded. “That’s a lot of stuff about race and people and fairies. Makes our tour of Leadville kind of boring. Are you still up for it?”
“I am,” Gregg said.
“I want to see where you grew up,” George said.
“Hey look there’s mom,” Gary said.
They looked out the window to see a woman wearing medical scrub coming out of the supermarket on the edge of town.
“I thought you said she was working until six,” Gary asked Gregg.
“That’s what’s on her schedule for this week,” Gregg said.
Gregg took out his cellphone and looked at it. The screen was dark. He tried to turn it on but it sparked and started to smoke.
“My phone’s dead,” Gregg said.
“That’s probably why she’s not at work,” Gary said. His voice rose in panic. “She’s looking for us!”
“Dumb ass,” George said.
“It’s not my fault that the phone broke!” Gregg said.
“Can we stop, Mr. Lipson?” Gary said. “Please.”
“I really want to see my mom,” George said in a low whiney voice.
“Of course,” Sam said.
Sam pulled into the shopping lot. With George shouting directions, he pointed them down the aisle where their mom was loading the back of her van. Sam waited for a car to pull out next to their mom’s van. He pulled in to the spot next to him. The boys were clearly well trained as they didn’t move until the car had come to a full stop. As soon as Sam put the SUV into park, the boys spilled out of the SUV.
Grinning at the boys, Sam turned to Delphie.
“Let’s give them a moment,” Sam said.
Nodding, she smiled and looked out the window. Blane moved forward to the middle bench in the SUV.
“Sam,” Delphie said.
She put her hand on his shoulder and pointed to the boys’ mother.
“Oh,” Sam said.
“What is it?” Blane asked.
“I’m sorry, Blane,” Sam said. “The boys aren’t your siblings.”
“They aren’t?” Blane asked.
“They are mine,” Sam said.
“To be fair, we should ask,” Delphie said, kindly.
Sam turned to look at her.
“Did you know?” Sam asked.
“I had no idea they even existed until Abi asked me to find someone like you,” Delphie said. “I’m sorry. I can’t see you, your family, and your life any more than I can see mine. I just care too much.”
Sam gave her a nod.
“What do you mean that they are your siblings?” Blane asked.
“That woman?” Sam pointed to the boys’ mother. “She took care of my father in the last years of his life. She was his caregiver.”
“She’s coming this way,” Delphie said, as she opened her car door.
Sam got out of the driver’s side and walked to the end of the SUV. He and the boys’ mother hugged. Delphie came down her side of the car. The boys’ mother seemed surprised to see Delphie. They hugged.
Blane had this odd sensation. He wasn’t exactly disappointed, yet still he felt a little let down. Most of his life, he’d been alone. When he was in foster care, he’d comfort himself with the idea that somewhere he had a real family — brothers, sisters, and a loving mother and father.
He didn’t have any of that. He’d never have any of that.
Blane sighed. He hadn’t realized how much that dream still lingered inside him.
In a breath, he was overcome with gratitude for Sam and Jacob and Heather and his children and particularly, Celia Marlowe. If she hadn’t rescued him — made sure that he knew he belonged with them — he might not be here to be disappointed now. They might not be his biological mother, father, and siblings. They were better than that. They chose him.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Sam asked.
The emotion in Sam’s voice shook Blane from his thoughts. Blane jumped out of the SUV. He reached the end of the SUV where they were talking before anyone said anything else. Blane put his arm around Sam’s shoulder.
“This is Blane,” Sam said. “He’s my brother’s child and my son.”
Blane blushed at the introduction. He looked at Sam, his father by choice. The woman looked Blane up and down. Blane felt like he was being searched head to toe.
“I apologize,” the woman said with a grin. “You look so much like Gregg, I thought maybe you …”
Blane shook his head.
“Sam’s father had always said that your brothers had killed all of his children,” the woman said leaning toward Sam.
“He was rescued by a Goddess,” Sam said.
“Of course he was,” the woman grinned at Blane. “You must be very special.”
Blane’s eyebrows moved up and down as the attempted to work out why the woman had said that he was special.
“Goddess,” the woman said.
“Oh,” Blane said. “It’s an expression. We all love the Goddess Hedone.”
“Isn’t she a half-God?” the woman asked. “Her mother is human.”
Blane blinked at her for a moment before turning to Sam. Blane gave him a “Are you okay?” look. Sam nodded.
“This is Ginger,” Sam said. “We hired her to take care of my father when he was in his last years. She knows the family secrets.”
“He was a real asshole,” Ginger said with a smile.
“Worse than that,” Sam said with a laugh. “Did he …He didn’t assault you or …?”
“No,” Ginger smiled at Sam. “I wanted a child. I met you and saw how great you were — You, Celia, Delphie, your kids. It’s pretty creepy to think about now, but I had a big crush on Valerie. Your dad said that his sons had all died or were assholes, like you, Sam.”
Sam nodded in agreement.
“Sounds like him,” Delphie said.
“He wanted more kids. To leave a legacy. I thought, ‘Why not?’ If the kids are anything like Sam, I’ll be the luckiest mom in the world.” Ginger smiled. “I was pregnant with Gregg when he died. Your dad insisted on donating so that ‘we’ could have more kids.”
Ginger gave Sam a big smile and then sighed.
“You’re right,” Ginger said. “I should have told you. But I didn’t want you to think that I wanted anything from you or from the estate. I just wanted the boys. That’s all.”
“He left you money,” Sam said.
“I used it for medical school,” Ginger said with a smile. “Gregg and Gary were just babies. We went to medical school together. I finished school and came back to start a small clinic here. Had George.”
Ginger looked at Blane again.
“I didn’t know about you,” Ginger said. “It will be nice to catch up.”
“Mr. Lipson was going to give us a tour of Leadville.” George popped up from behind his mom’s car.
Ginger put her hand on his messy brown hair. The boy was holding a popsicle and his mouth was rimmed red from eating it. Ginger wiped at his mouth with her thumb.
“Well, by all means, don’t let me intrude,” Ginger said. “I got nervous when I couldn’t contact Gregg. I knew he was doing something out at the cemetery.”
Ginger looked at Sam and then at Delphie.
“Were you able to save the planet?” Ginger said with a little sarcasm.
“Actually we were,” Delphie said with a smile. “Your boys really helped.”
Ginger assessed Delphie for a long moment before smiling. She nodded.
“Good,” Ginger said. She smiled at them. “Don’t let me get in the way.”
“Why don’t we help you get these groceries home?” Sam asked. “We can do the tour when you’re settled.”
“You know,” Ginger said with a smile. “I’d very much like to see the tour. Everything I know about you came through your dad. It wasn’t very positive or helpful. It would be good to connect the dots.”
“Boys?” Sam asked.
He worked with the boys to put the reusable bags full of groceries into the van. For a moment, Delphie and Ginger stood watching them.
“You don’t remember me,” Ginger said.
“I do,” Delphie said. “I was always so grateful that you could help. We didn’t want Sam’s father to be without care. He had no friends, no living relatives. It was clear that we couldn’t give it because … well, you knew the man. You were a God-send. Celia thought so, as well.”
“Celia was very kind,” Ginger said.
Delphie took a step forward but Ginger put a hand on her arm. Delphie turned to look at the woman.
“You told me,” Ginger said, and then swallowed hard. “You said, ‘Don’t hesitate. You’ll make the right choice. You’ll be just fine. You really should go for it.’ Just out of the blue. You and Celia were leaving. I was showing you out. I don’t think you’d said anything to me the entire visit. Then you were leaving and you piped up.”
“I’m so sorry, Ginger,” Delphie said. “It sounds really startling. I wish I could tell you what I meant but rarely remember what I say to people.”
Delphie leaned in.
“I’m kind of an asshole sometimes,” Delphie said.
Ginger burst out laughing and then shook her head.
“No,” Ginger said. “I went back in and the old codger brought up having kids. I took your advice. I didn’t hesitate. It was good too because he wouldn’t have been able to … you know … donate eventwo days later. The boys wouldn’t be here if you hadn’t said that. And, I went on to be the doctor I wanted to be.”
Delphie gave Ginger a big smile.
“Whenever I felt down or afraid or like I couldn’t do it, I hear your voice saying, ‘You really should just go for it.’ And I do,” Ginger said. Her eyes filling with tears. “Thank you for … being with me all this time.”
Delphie hugged Ginger. When they pulled away, Delphie gave Ginger a soft look.
“Do you mind if I’m an asshole again?” Delphie asked.
“What is it?” Ginger asked. Nervous, Ginger put her hand to her chest, “What?”
“You’ll meet exactly the right person in the next day or so,” Delphie said. “It will seem like a complete accident, but in time, you’ll find that it’s the result of lots of years of happy accidents. You’ll be with her, and she with you, until the end.”
Ginger hugged Delphie.
“MOM!” the boys yelled from the van.
Ginger pointed to the van and Delphie nodded. Wiping her eyes, Ginger went to the van.
“See you at your house!” Delphie said.
Ginger turned and nodded. Gregg and George got into the van with their mother while Gary got back in the SUV. Sam followed Ginger until they reached her home. Gary raced to join his brothers to carry in the groceries.
Denver Cereal continues next week…
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