CHAPTER FIVE HUNDRED AND TWENTY-ONE
Thursday night — 9:05 p.m.
Dr. Nelson Weeks got off the 15 bus and stepped out onto Colfax Boulevard. After a late night, he’d had a long, difficult day. He’d been on the witness all afternoon. They’d met with the Prosecutor to go over his testimony. He was likely to be in the witness box for most of tomorrow. After meeting with the Prosecutor, they’d met as a team at Ava’s house.
This case would stand or fall based on their forensic work and their ability to explain complex science to a jury. They needed to be strategic. They ate amazing New Mexican food made by Maresol and talked shop. He’d walked to Colfax to clear his head. A short trip on the 15 Colfax bus took him to Race Street and Colfax Boulevard.
He made no attempt to kid himself.
He’d come this way so that he would have to pass the Castle before reaching his home. If the light was on, he was going inside.
And if the light wasn’t on? What would he do then? Text Blane? Call? Drop by anyway?
Shaking his head at himself, he started down Race.
He stopped short just outside the Castle gate. From where he stood, the Castle and its wild inhabitants were awake. People were milling around in the back of the Castle driveway. He thought that this meant everyone was in back, but he wasn’t sure.
He couldn’t help but smile. He was about to put in the code that Jacob had given him when he saw Heather, carrying Wyn, walking toward him.
“How was today?” she asked as she let him inside.
“Okay,” Nelson said. “Good. Hard. And …”
Nelson put her hand on Heather’s arm.
“You know that Blane came to see me last night,” Nelson said.
Nelson gave a serious nod to give context to his words. To his surprise, Heather grinned at him.
“Yes,” Heather said. “And, was that okay?”
All at once, he felt a flush of surprised, relief, delight, and embarrassment. Nelson cleared his throat. Heather smiled.
“He makes me really happy,” Nelson said softly.
“Good,” Heather said. “That’s really good.”
Heather put her arm over his shoulder, and they walked toward the back.
“I’ll take your jacket and get you some dessert,” Heather said. “Would you like …?”
Heather gestured to Wyn.
“Love him,” Nelson said.
Heather gave Wyn to Nelson. The baby grinned when he saw Nelson’s face.
“How is he today?” Nelson asked.
“Oh, he’s still mad at me,” Heather said with a shrug. “But that’s his right.”
“That doesn’t bother you?” Nelson asked.
“Oh,” Heather said. “Depends on the moment. Sometimes, it really hurts. He’s so different from Mack. Mack just takes everything as it comes.”
“Wyn has a little Olympian God in him,” Heather said.
Nelson laughed. She pointed to the back.
“Blane’s in the back,” Heather said. “Honey’s husband is home from a long trip. He’s in the military. We never know when he’s leaving or coming home.”
“Honey?” Nelson asked. His brows dropped in confusion.
“That’s right. You haven’t really met Honey, have you?” Heather asked. “She’s Jake’s sister. You’ve probably seen her. She’s in a wheelchair?”
“I don’t think so,” Nelson said. “I mean, maybe we’ve met. We’ve been in the same places at the same time but …”
“You’ve been pretty focused on Blane,” Heather said. Nelson blushed. “As it should be.”
“You sat with her daughter Maggie last night,” Heather said.
“She’s adorable,” Nelson said.
“Maggie?” Heather asked. “She really is a special child. You made a big impression on her.”
“I did?” Nelson asked.
“She’s been telling everyone that she met a handsome prince last night,” Heather said.
Nelson grinned and stood up a little straighter.
“Head on back,” Heather said. “I’ll drop your jacket and grab you some dessert. We’re hiding some of it from the fairies.”
Heather winked and Nelson grinned.
“Beer?” Nelson asked.
“In back,” Heather said.
She started toward the Castle side door. When he didn’t move, she waved him toward the back. He watched Heather until she reached the door.
“Go!” Heather said.
Smiling at her, he looked down at the bundle in his arms. Wyn was looking up at him. In that moment, Nelson felt as if the baby could see everything the good and anything bad inside of him. Nelson smiled at the baby, and the baby touched his face.
“More than a little Olympian God,” Nelson said as he started toward the back.
Blane was standing so that Nelson could see the side of his face. As he approached, Blane turned to look at him. Blane smiled that heart pounding smile, and Nelson stopped walking. Blane took one step and kissed him on the lips.
In front of everyone!
Terrified of public affection, Nelson broke off the kiss to look around.
No one even bothered to look at them. Jacob had been standing next to Blane. He stepped forward to shake Nelson’s hand and welcome him into the little gathering. A tall, muscular guy that Blane introduced at “Aden” also shook Nelson’s hand. Blane put his arm around Nelson.
“Hey M.J.!” Blane said.
Blane reached out to touch Honey’s husband M.J. Scully’s shoulder. M.J. turned to look at Blane.
“I want to meet …” Blane started.
Nelson gasped and recoiled, breaking away from Blane.
M.J. jerked backward so fast that he tripped and fell.
Nelson pressed Wyn into Blane’s arms. His blood pounding in his ears, Nelson spun around He ran down the driveway. He’s just reached the gate when Jacob caught up with him.
Jacob put his hand on Nelson’s arm.
“Stop!” Jacob commanded.
The pounding in his ears was so loud that Nelson could barely hear Jacob. He bent over to keep from throwing up. There were footsteps in their direction. Aden arrived as did Blane.
“Please …” M.J. said from ten feet away. “Don’t go.”
There was a whirring as Honey came up behind him.
“What is …?” Honey asked.
Nelson stood up to look at her.
“Oh my God,” Honey said as she exhaled.
“What is going on?” Blane demanded of Nelson.
When Nelson couldn’t respond, Blane turned to M.J. and Honey. Neither of them would meet Blane’s eyes. Sam Lipson stepped in front on Nelson.
“Looks like we need to sit down and sort this out,” Sam said.
“Really, I’ve had a long day and …” Nelson started.
“You want me to believe that you’ll sleep tonight, son,” Sam said.
Nelson glanced at Blane and then back at Sam.
“Really, it’s okay,” Nelson said.
“It’s not okay,” M.J. said.
Without turning to M.J., Sam nodded his head.
“Come inside,” Sam said. “We’ll sit down like adults and work this out.”
Gently pushing, Sam got M.J. and Honey moving toward the Castle. Used to doing whatever Sam asked, Blane started toward the Castle as well. Nelson didn’t move from where he was standing. Jacob stood with him.
“Whatever it is,” Jacob said in a low tone, “you can be sure that my dad can help sort this out.”
Nelson looked up at Jacob.
“He has a lot of experience with this kind of thing,” Jacob said.
Nelson looked at Jacob. Before he said another word, Nelson threw up into the little patch of grass in front of the house.
“Good thing the photographers aren’t here,” Nelson said wiping his mouth with the sleeve of his shirt.
Jacob laughed. Nelson looked up at Jacob.
“I love my sister,” Jacob said. “I fucking hate those photographers.”
“What do you have to lose?” Jacob asked.
“I should clean up.” Nelson looked down at the pile of chewed New Mexican food.
“I’ll get it. You don’t know where a hose is or the hose bib,” Jacob said.
“Are you sure?” Nelson asked.
“Of course,” Jacob said. “You’d be surprised how much vomit happens in my life.”
“Really?” Nelson asked.
Jacob grinned in response. He gestured to Jeraine. “Hey, Jeraine!”
Jeraine looked out at the street to see which adoring fan was hailing him. Laughing, Tanesha hit his chest with the back of her hand. Jeraine turned to her and scowled. She pointed to Jacob. Jacob waved Jeraine in his direction.
“Can you take Nelson inside?” Jacob asked.
“Of course,” Jeraine said. “What’s going on?”
“There’s some issue between Nelson and M.J.,” Jacob said. “Maybe Honey too. Dad is going to do his thing with them.”
“I thought you’d want to be there,” Jacob said.
“You’re right,” Jeraine said. “Blane’s friend is in trouble. I’m in it.”
Surprised, Nelson just gawked at him.
“Aren’t you usually a narcissistic asshole?” Nelson blurted out.
His words must have carried because Tanesha burst out laughing. She nodded to Nelson.
“You’re in luck,” Jeraine said.
“Why’s that?” Nelson asked.
“Tonight’s my night off from being a narcissistic asshole,” Jeraine said. He put his arm around Nelson and maneuvered him toward the front door. “Come on. I’ll show you a secret.”
Jeraine walked Nelson up to the vine heavy porch. He took out a key and opened the front door to the Castle.
“Most people don’t know this door opens,” Jeraine said.
He pushed the door opened.
“How did you …?” Nelson asked.
“Jake,” Jeraine said. “When I was having trouble with my brain, I used to come over here sometimes and sit on the porch with Delphie.”
Jeraine gestured to a corner of the porch.
“It’s an amazing, quiet, private place to think,” Jeraine said. “It’s cool in the summer and not too cold in the summer. Delphie’s out here a lot — just sitting and drinking tea.”
“Why don’t they use the door?” Nelson asked as they went inside.
“It was broken for a long time,” Jeraine said. “Then the paparazzi showed up. It’s just a lot easier to come and go from the side.”
Before Nelson knew it, he was walking down a hallway into the main Castle living room.
“This is an amazing house,” Nelson said in a low voice.
“You don’t know the half of it,” Jeraine said.
Jeraine stopped walking, and Nelson stepped to his side. Honey was sitting at near the armchair where M.J. was sitting. Honey’s sole focus seemed to be the tea cup in her hand. M.J. didn’t look up. Sam stood up and gestured for Nelson to take the other couch.
“Are you staying?” Sam asked.
“I thought maybe my man Nelson, here, might need me,” Jeraine said.
Blane came in carrying two mugs of tea. He gave one to Nelson and another to Jeraine. He turned around to find Fin standing in the doorway with another mug of tea. Fin gave Blane the mug of tea and went into the kitchen. Heather came in from the kitchen with a tin of cookies.
“Sandy’s been baking,” Heather said.
Sam snorted a laugh. Nelson shook his head that he didn’t understand.
“The fairies love sweet things,” Blane said. “Since they’ve been here it’s all we can do to keep up with their appetites.”
“Blane, me,” Jeraine said, “and Sandy have been baking up a storm. Even Miss T has made chocolate chip cookies.”
Jeraine nodded as did Blane. Heather took an armchair. Jeraine and Blane took the couch. Sam gestured for Nelson to sit next to him. Nelson glanced at Blane. With Nelson’s look, Jeraine got up and sat down next to Sam on the couch. Nelson sat next to Blane. They sat with their hands in their lap like school children.
For a moment, no one said anything.
“We don’t know what is going on,” Sam said.
No one said anything.
“Honey?” Sam asked. Honey was Sam’s daughter by marriage. He had more sway over her so he pressed, “What is this?”
She looked up at him and winced. He gave her a stern look, and she swallowed hard.
“Guy lived next door to M.J.’s mom’s house,” Honey started. She looked at Nelson, and said, “How are you, Guy?”
“Don’t you mean ‘Gay’?” Nelson spit out. “Or how about ‘Gay Semen’?”
Honey gasped. Her eyes flicked to Blane and then back to Nelson. She swallowed hard.
“Oh crap,” Honey said.
M.J. looked up at Honey.
“He’s ‘Nelson,’” Honey said.
M.J. looked at Nelson. Rather than say anything, he dropped his head into his hands.
“What does ‘Oh crap he’s Nelson’ mean?” Jeraine asked. “I may be an asshole, but that does not sound good.”
“We’ve just heard about Nelson,” Honey said. “‘Nelson the doctor.’ ‘Nelson, Blane’s new hunky friend.’ ‘Nelson who works with Ava.’ Our daughter is positively smitten with you. I was looking forward to thanking you for helping her last night and…”
Honey’s voice faded out. Nelson did not respond.
“Who is Guy?” Blane asked.
“It’s his name,” M.J. said through his hands. “My bitch of a mother used to call him ‘Gay,’ if she wasn’t calling him ‘Little faggot’ or ‘Gay Boy’ or…That other thing that he said.”
“‘Gay Semen’?” Jeraine asked. “Seriously?”
“She made his life a living hell,” Honey said.
“I didn’t even know that I was gay,” Nelson said. “I hadn’t even admitted it to myself. And you two … You cannot sit there now and pretend that it was only your mother.”
M.J. sat up straight.
“No, you’re right,” M.J. said. “I made your life a living hell.”
“Me, too,” Honey said. “I did that.”
Sam gave Honey an angry look. She wilted to his look.
“You told my father!” Nelson said.
“My mother did,” M.J. said. “I was just there.”
“He kicked me out of the house,” Nelson said. “I had nowhere to go!”
“What did you do?” Blane asked.
Feeling the weight of everyone’s stares, Nelson shook his head.
“I … I had nowhere to go!” Nelson said. “I was out there in the snow and …”
Nelson looked at M.J.
“You really don’t know?” Nelson asked.
“No,” M.J. said. “You just disappeared. I was too caught up in my own bullshit that I didn’t even think to ask…”
“Your dad saved my life,” Nelson said.
“Michael,” M.J. said evenly.
“Of course, you hated him,” Nelson said. “He was a decent human being. Disgusting filthy creatures, like you, couldn’t even begin to understand some one kind like he was.”
“I hated him,” M.J. said. In his words, he seemed to accept that he deserved Nelson’s rage. “And, you are correct. I didn’t understand him. What did he do?”
“He found me sleeping in the space between the garages,” Nelson said. “He set me up in a hotel. A nice place. Gave me money for food. Fought it out with my dad to get my clothing. He paid for everything until I graduated high school. I was already accepted into Georgetown so I left when school finished. He paid for my bus ticket, talked to some friend of his who rented me a place. I stayed there all the way through school. He even checked in on me whenever he was in Washington.”
Nelson shook his head.
“He was really great, and you hated him,” Nelson said. “Of course.”
“I was wrong,” M.J. said.
“Then again I’m really great,” Nelson said. “And you despise me and all disgusting creatures like me. What is it you always say? ‘Why don’t you just kill yourself, faggot?’”
“I don’t despise you …” M.J. started.
“I always swore that if I ever saw you again I’d …” Nelson started.
Overwhelmed with emotion, Nelson shook his head and stood up.
“I’m going home,” Nelson said and stalked toward the door.
Blane hopped to his feet. Chasing after Nelson, Blane said, “Wait.”
Nelson just shook his head and kept walking. He walked past Jacob spraying the front grass with water from a hose. Blane caught him at the gate.
“Don’t call me,” Nelson said. “Don’t come over.”
“But, I …” Blane started.
“I feel like garbage,” Nelson said. “I haven’t felt this low since I was a child. I didn’t deserve it as a child and I certainly don’t deserve to feel that way now.”
Nelson shook his head. Blane reached out to touch Nelson, but Nelson batted away his hand.
“Just leave me alone,” Nelson said.
Nelson went through the gate and jogged to his house.
Blane stood at the gate and watched the street long after Nelson had disappeared into his house. Jacob kept his eye on Blane while he cleared off the grass.
“What do I do?” Blane said in a soft voice.
“Give it some time,” Jacob said.
“Time?” Blane asked.
His hand went to his chest. He whipped around to look at Jacob.
“It’s over, isn’t it?” Blane asked.
“Only if you want it to be over,” Jacob said.
“What the hell does that mean?” Blane asked. After a beat, he added, “What are you doing?”
“Nelson threw up,” Jacob said. “I was cleaning it off.”
“Oh,” Blane said.
Jacob stopped spraying. Blane followed him to where he turned off the water and coiled up the hose.
“Too bad you don’t know the Goddess of Love,” Jacob said.
“What?” Blane asked.
“Seems like what’s needed here is healing and love,” Jacob said. “Maybe you should make an offering to the Goddess.”
“Like what?” Blane asked.
“Put the babies down?” Jacob asked with a laugh.
“You think it would work?” Blane asked.
“You think she’d do it?” Blane asked.
“You can ask,” Jacob said.
Blane walked toward the side door of the Castle to go find Heather. He was almost to the door when Jacob said, “Remind her to bring an apple.”
Blane gave him a strange look but nodded and went inside. Jill had passed out after her finals and was sleeping or resting upstairs. So, Jacob went around to the backyard. The party was clearly over. This conflict between M.J., Honey, and Nelson had put a damper on the gathering. Everyone was inside. Jacob picked up a couple pieces of trash and checked to see if there was any beer left in the keg. Finding the keg empty, he poured out the ice from the bucket the keg had been sitting in and set the keg on the deck. He was just turning off the lights when Hedone came out of the back of the Castle.
“Goddess,” Jacob said.
He lowered his eyes. Through the French door, he saw the fairies getting up from their knees, having bowed to Hedone. He started down and she laughed
“Jacob Marlowe,” Hedone said. “Don’t kneel. Not you.”
“Did you …?” Jacob asked.
Hedone held up two apples. Jacob smiled.
“Good luck,” Jacob said under his breath.
“Luck?” Hedone asked.
Laughing, she disappeared around the house. He could hear her beautiful laughter long after he finished cleaning up and was upstairs putting the toddlers to bed.
Denver Cereal continues next week…
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